Albums I Really Liked in 2011 And The Ones I Didn’t

Amon Tobin: ISAM

If last year’s Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus was a technicolor dream, featuring you, running carefree through the greenest, lushest, sunniest, hippiest forest ever, then ISAM is that forest suddenly turning dark, you turning around and seeing a rabid chichuachua chasing you. With GOP red eyes. And a huge penis. Scary, huh?

Mesita- Here’s to Nowhere

Kudos to this dude: the gap between this and their debut is staggering. Imagine if Fleet Foxes made Grey Oceans as their first track and collectively thought ‘you know what yeah fuck this moody reverb crap in Bon Iver’s third eye, I wanna bring some joy strings this time around’  and you’re not far off I tell you…

Fleet Foxes- Helplesness Blues

WHICH IS NOT TO SAY I DID NOT ENJOY HELPLESSNESS BLUES, far from it. Fleet Foxes defeat the second album conundrum by delivering a triple distilled dose of more of the same; stirring, emotive, you’re-singing-along-on-public-transport-you-fool lumberjack soul, better done than anyone else. And they even slip in a mini jazz adventure with the sax on The Shrine/An Argument. All together now: ‘Sunlight over me NO MATTER WHAT I do.’ Class.

Shakka: The Shakka Crown Affair

Download this now. If you like R&B this is a justdoit moment like no other. Honestly. It’s free. It’s better than most albums you were supposed to pay for but didn’t because you borrowed it off the internet library.  Us brits haven’t really had an R&B male singer worth crowing about since Omar.  Shakka is that person. I’m not even on a ‘I know him so this is a hype thing’ I don’t, and even if  I did, so what. It’s not my fault my friends are talented creatives? It’s not my fault I have taste?!

Son Lux- We Are Rising

Shut up and go listen to ‘Claws.’ Like, how sick is that. No, that’s not a question. It’s the soundtrack to Prince William’s mind as he takes Kate down the aisle. It’s litterally melting my head. Seriously, I’m bleed grey shit out my nose. Killer. We are Rising sounds like Sufjan’s backing band decided to put all of last year’s extra creativity to us. Again, killer.

Ghostpoet: Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam

The 2nd decent hip hop album I had the pleasure of listening to this year. And can you even really call it hip hop? Exactly.

Sleeping States: Gardens of the South

The Track Gardens of the South is bliss, pure unadulterated sigh making heavenly tearduct bothering bliss. The rest of the album? A grower, but when it gets you, Sleeping States soaks you in thick. Markland Starkie’s voice sits somewhere between ‘crooning’ and ‘haunting.’ Modern blues at its best.

CANT: Dreams Come True

Chris Taylor is the producer and band member of Grizzly Bear. Dreams Come True is a different mammal (sorry), frustrating at first, as his teaser single Ghosts promised a juicy stop-gap before Grizzly’s next. On further listens CANT unclenched its delightful paws (sorry again) before me, and everything was pretty.  An amazing rock album from a producer who recently discovered the shit-your-pants-BASS-button commonly found in dubstep.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra-Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Last year it was Tame Impala, this year Unknown Mortal Orchestra win the award for Psychedelic Rock Album Came Out Of Nowhere And Brightened Up My Life. Unknown is the live band from the best house party you never went to. The one where everyone got off with everyone and they were dancing til two am and the neighbours complained at first but then they joined in because the music and the girlies were so freakin’ awesome! EVEN the nuns living downstairs! 

Jono Mccleery: There Is

All kinds of yay, available right here. I’d been waiting for Jono’s output under Ninja Tune for a while and half. Jono’s voice was crafted by the Finest Sunday Afternoon ever, and to finally hear his stirring tones wrapped in the production it deserves is a joy, a blessing, a ten ton yes, mate. If chillout is still a genre this is heads, shoulders, knees and toes above the competition.

Pattern Is Movement: All Together

Forward thinking, inventive, brave,  suprising, funny, challenging, exciting, can’t go-back-to-whatever-you-wuz-hearing-before-you-heard-it kind of pop, you dun know. Explosions in earphones. Pattern is Movement are making so much good music they sew two of them together just to make more room.

Metronomy: The Bay

Sometimes I wonder aloud to myself…. HOW THE FUCK IS IT THAT METRONOMY ISN’T BIGGER THAN THEY ARE?! Then I remember I don’t exist in the mainstream, so I don’t know how big they are anyway. Still, I don’t do numbered lists, but if I did, this would be close to one: Metronomy’ve gone from strength to strength with every release and this here is their crowning glory; end to end with seriously hummable electro pop.

Jamie XX/Gil Scott Heron: We’re New Here

I’m not a fan of XX. You wouldn’t really find me reciting Gil Scott Heron’s work any day soon. BUT THIS ALBUM IS OH MY DAISIES POW! Like, when I imagine people talking about poetry and music, THIS IS WHAT I IMAGINE. Bass music, post dubstep, future garage whatever you call it: it’s sickums, And New York Is Killing Me is the 2nd song of the year.

James Blake: James Blake

I honestly believe there are two types of James Blake: James Blake, the beef in the UKG/minimal/Dubstep burger, and then there’s James Blake, the one who listens to Bon Iver and goes, ‘I’ll have some of that.’ The Bon Iver one won out of this album, which is why I spent the first few months cussing it. It grew on me. He’s wicked live. The end.

Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin’

I don’t understand why this albums didn’t get more props (or did it? I dont’ really know) Far more enjoyable than his last effort (though not a return to Instant Vintage levels) and a whole lot better than any Soul album that came out this year. Yeah, I said it. I DATE TROUBLE. I COURT CONTROVERSY.

Raised by Robots: Disorganisation will save us all.

Raised by Robots are what I imagine The King Blues to be, seconds before I hear what they are: Punk Rock, fierceness, urgency, emotion, dammit, not some silly sausage about needing love! I went to their facebook; no interaction since March. I really hope they haven’t split up. They need to do an album.

http://inamirror.tumblr.com/post/144157697/raised-by-robots-dinner-pill

Insomniax: The Green Cross Code

Part electro soul, part spoken word, part hip hop, all UK, all wicked.  Scrumptious production on synths served with cheeky lyricism.


Colin Stetson: New History Warfare Vol 2- Judges

OH. MY GOD. OH MY GOD. This… this is… I swore I would not do numbers in this list. I feel I have to be objective and give everything its due BUT JESUS RIDING A FIVE LEGGED BIKE AT FIVE AM DRESSED LIKE SUPERTED THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE HEARD THIS YEAR! It’s exactly the kind of sound I imagine a Terminator would make if it got hold of a saxophone. minimal riffs that  suddenly swing into a brutal direction, hypnotic repetition, ghostly vocals; it’s the evolution of Philip Glass, with horns. And I love me some Philip. Woo, Philip, laaaaawd. And Sharon Worden (My Brightest Diamond) features as well, which can only ever be a good thing, seeing as she is freaking awesome.

My favourite film this year was Tree of Life. This should’ve been the soundtrack. It could also be the soundtrack to a Parliament of Owls witnessing the birth of a Griffin. I’m not picky. It’s like you discovered you actually like coconut peanut butter chicken chocolate bars and lo and behold Cadbury make bars with all them ingredients, boom. And you’re certain anybody else who likes that too, both of you are bound to be mates.

SONGS I LIKED

MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND: BE BRAVE.

This was my favourite song of the year, bar none. I could not have rinsed it any harder if my iphone fell in the toilet. Sharon’s playful lyrics, her powerhouse voice, wooooooo!  I dare you to listen to this and feel nothing. Her album, All Things will Unwind, only disappoints because nothing else on it matches this.

Llane Da Havas: Final Form (Everything Everything Cover)

As the Zutons would probably tell you, sometimes the cover overtakes the original. Everything Everything are an… interesting… band. But Ms Da Havas took one of their songs and jacked it up with some fantastic stirring vocals. Pretty much the sole reason I think she deserves to be on the BBC Sound of 2012 list.

Sleepy Brown: You’re my Lady

Where’s the fucking album?

Sufjan Stevens Ft Buck 65: Blood pt 2

I want to make an album like this song. ‘Touch me like an old stamp.’ Kill me now, I’m happy enough. The vocal harmonics are OOOOF THE CHAIN.

Good Shoes: The Way My Heart Beats

I really hate it when I only like one track a band ever does. especially if it’s the first track I heard from them. Because I’m a completist, and I go ‘oh, this song is good, I really like it. Lemme go through their albums see if there’s more.’ And there isn’t. And that sucks.

But I liked this song though.

DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE YEAR

Kanye West/Jay Z: Watch the Throne

Kanye released the best rap album of 2010. Jay Z the best of 2009. Together, they produce the greatest display of an absolute waste since 2Pac got shotums.

Bjork: Biophilia.

‘Stale’ is a word I’d use. ‘Clasping at straws’ is a phrase I’d employ. ‘Bored me to death at Bestival’ is my honest conclusion.

Daedelus: Bespoke

I expected a lot. Righteous Fists of Harmony was one of my albums of 2010. And this album featured Bilal. That alone should’ve guaranteed an experience. Unfortunately the mathematics in my head are depressingly different from the real life result. A mess.

Radiohead: King of Limbs.

King of limp, more like. What, didn’t like the joke? Well, as least it cost less than this album, time and money wise.

Jill Scott: Both of them.

Jesus, what terrible bollocks did she press upon the world. Really? This is where you saw yourself almost a decade since Words and Sounds Vol 1? Jill, really? Bah.

Arctic Monkeys: Suck it and See.

There was a time when Arctic Monkeys were unassailable. My, it was only 2007 when I stated Alex Turner was the UK’s best rapper (shut up, you knew I was right: few lyricists can test the first two albums. Not for fear of God.) And I must admit I grew to love Humbug (after about 2000 forced listens). But you know what, what I loved about the first two albums is I didn’t need to try to understand his lyrics -simplicity is the hardest and most beautiful of geniuses- and it sounded like the band had an ear for a tune.  This smells like the engine’s running on fumes.

ROLL ON 2012.

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