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Because the internet needs another album of the year list… 2011

December 29, 2011

Trans Musicales 2011

It had to be done. Sure, there are a plethora of outlets whose lists we all venerate highly but it’s always a self-indulgent pleasure crafting ones own right? One of those such sites, The 405, I played a small part in the creation of their Album of the Year shortlist (I won’t go into the full detail of tedium of our quasi-democracy choosings), and of course got to vote in the Staff Poll along with the vast coterie of writers.

In truth, I’m not entirely sure who I voted for in the end – in that the final two picks were pretty arbitrary form my point of view, and would have been perfectly happy to put my silly name to any of the top 10 albums that I have chosen below. It’s once again been a blinding year for music; the healthy shattering of genres – and culture in general – has continued to accelerate dramatically, and this is reflected in my own disparate list. A bit like Borges’ short story ‘The Library of Babel’, where a whole universe is contained in the form of a vast library, with literally unlimited possibilities for every text ever written. Right. And there’s so many I’ve still yet to listen to properly, or ‘get’. Maybe one day I’ll get to grips with the jerk circle surrounding PJ Harvey. Perhaps.

Stick around for my tracks of the year tomorrow ya’ hear?

Spotify Playlist here.

Metronomy – The English Riviera
An exert from my review
There’s a consistency and maturity across the album in terms of texture and atmosphere, it effectively acts as a love-letter to his native South West, of an imagined summer in Torbay; hence, The English Riviera. In ‘The Bay’, a synth-driven dance floor gem of a track, Mount declares: “Cos this isn’t Paris/And this isn’t London/And it’s not Berlin and it’s not Hong Kong/Not Tokyo!, but never explicitly declaring where we are; but Mount doesn’t need to, the strength of the astutely crafted inventive pop songs doing this on thier own.

Peaking Lights – 936
Post-fucking-beautiful-coruscating-kaleidoscopic-trip is not a genre term as far as I know, but should be just for Peaking Lights as there’s no point in attempting to place 936 into a genre, there really isn’t. The Wisconsin duo of Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis have their hands in dub, flirting at ethereal folk with winks towards warm psychedelia but whatever, it’s gorgeous; from the first beat of ‘All The Sun That Shines’ it drags you into it’s sun-blissed post-salvia world.

Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
There’s something remarkable in the simplicity of Girls – it’s all so familiar, tried and tested which makes it’s success all the more impressive. It’s largely due to the input and lyrical/vocal style of Christopher Owens despite his oft-nasal tones – and every track on the guitar-pop album is expertly crafted. All killer, no filler.

Azari & III – Azari & III
DISCO isn’t dead it’s just gone home.

Nicolas Jarr – Space Is Only Noise
I was fortunate to catch the prodigal talent of Nicolas Jarr at Melt! Festival in Germany, in a setting so perfect, so unheimliche, that I questioned the fabric of existence and cried reverbed tears that transcended time. I of course didn’t as I was drunk and with mates. ‘Twas on a beach just post-sunset, with 50 foot cranes looming over as the sparse, eerie yet warm sound undulated across the human entities.
The full-length debut is astonishing for someone so young, that has a loose base in house/techno but in execution is no-where near that. Downtempo, broody and dripping with… space, it’s the kind of masterpiece that needs to be played at 2am in the morning in headphones in a darkened room made out of a hollowed future substance. It may as well have fallen from the sky.

Grab a calculator and fix yourself

Jaime XX / Gil Scott Heron – We’re New Here
This got a bit of a kicking in certain sections of the music press (though a lot of praise too) – the argument often being that the original I’m New Here 2010 album by Gil Scott-Heron was a remix album in itself; the production was handled by XL Recordings-owner Richard Russell using a lot of pre-existing vocals. A bit like saying the Scary Movie franchise doesn’t work as it’s parodying a parody, in Scream. Which is actually true in that case.
Anyway. It incorporates the usual Jaime XX minimal garage stylings – and does a fine job with moments of genuine beauty, taking GSH to a bassy place never heard before. Aside from lead-single and wonky banger ‘NY Is Killing Me’, the beautiful ‘My Cloud’ is stunning and one of the tracks of the year.

James Blake – James Blake
There’s not a lot more to say about the James Blake album, so in an act of lackadaisical nonsense I won’t add to this. I toyed with putting Bon Iver’s album in instead, but a lot has been written about that too. Writing is way over-rated.

Perc – Wicker and Steel
Wicker & Steel has bulldozed it’s way like an unstoppable cloud of social despair to this list late-on in the day (thank you The Quietus for recommending). It’s often slightly awkward to articulate an album in the context of society especially when it’s relatively indirect like here in W&S; but it’s hard to deny that it plays very astutely to the backdrop of these unnerving social times. Post-riots, how can a track with the title of ‘London, We Have You Surrounded’, created by a London-raised urban dweller not be significant? Abrasive, dark and techno-inspired, as the album title suggests it plays between the organic and man-crafted and conjures quite the rhythmic nihilistic atmosphere in the process. Moreish, disquieting and loud. See also; The Haxan Cloak.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons
A fucking sensation; who knew R’n B could sound so sophisticated, yet so dirty at the same time? The whole album reeks of drugs from the one-man Toronto chap Abel Tesfaye, and has released a series of free mixtapes – House of Balloons undoubtedly being the strongest. ‘House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls’ from the very first listen was mind-blowing, the kind of track I played repeatedly for months on end; that and the seedy come-down of ‘The Morning’ immediately after, oh wow.

Fair Ohs – Everything is Dancing

The rest

Toys on technology: #2

Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Great follow-up to a nigh-on perfect album (In Ghost Colours). My review here.

Real Estate – Days

Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder

I Break Horses – Hearts

Andy Stott – Passed By Me

Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
Fun. My review.


Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

The Field – Looping State of Mind

Clams Casino – Mixtape

tune-yards – W H O K I L L

TEETH – Whatever

M83 – Before The Dawn Heals Us

Destroyer – Kaputt

The Horrors – Skying

Rustie – Glass Swords

The Haxan Cloak – The Haxan Cloak


A$ap Rocky – Deep Purple

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

Missed out on many End of Year lists. JANUARY 2011 IS IN 2011 PEOPLE

Starfucker – Reptilians

Radiohead – The King of the Limbs

FabricLive.59 – Four Tet

Lets’s Wrestle – Nursing Home

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

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