Year endings are a great time to catalog the good and the great: here’s a download from my son Danis at Red Rose Music in London, on the best 11 albums of 2011. KR.
2011 was a great year for music. There were at least 15-20 albums I loved and I have spent a good few weeks chopping and changing my final 11, then a few more figuring out the order they should go in.
If you don’t have time to read the whole thing I have included hash tag summaries to allow you to skim through and get on with your day.
First off, honourable mentions for Bon Iver, Danger Mouse & Danielle Rossi, Planningtorock, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx, Forest Fire and James Blake. #nextcabsofftherank
11. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow: Highly controversial pick as it only came out a week or two ago but I immediately loved it. I still don’t really know what the hell it is about but track titles like ‘Snowflake’, ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’ and ‘50 Words for Snow’ start to give you an idea. It is only 7 tracks long but clocks in at well over an hour and features some stunning arrangements. #1neige2schnee3sneeuw 4neu…
10. The Antlers – Burst Apart: I have tried to write about these guys before and always struggle to come up with things to say. There doesn’t appear to be anything remotely remarkable or marketable about them. A four-piece indie group from Brooklyn – how many of those are there around? But they continue to put out critically acclaimed records. Words like ‘atmosphere’ and ‘intelligent’ often get used, and I think they would probably appeal to fans of Arcade Fire and Radiohead. #hipsterhospice
9. SBTRKT – SBTRKT: When I first heard this album I must admit to a wave of anticippointment. I guess I wanted it all to sound like the first single ‘Wildfire’ and it didn’t at all. But as the months went by I grew to love it and I think it is the best offering from the post-dub-step/singer songwriter sound that really defined the year for me (in the UK at least). Better than the 3 Jameses – Jamie xx, James Blake and Jamie Woon. #pubstep
8. Action Bronson – Dr Lecter: It is said that you have to know the past to understand the present and Queens-based, Albanian-born rapper Action Bronson would no doubt agree with this. No auto-tune, no pop-star hooks, just throwback 90s East Coast rap. If Ghostface Killah spent 60 minutes rapping about gourmet food this is the album he would end up with. #michelinstarred
7. tUnE-YarDs – w h o k i l l: Tune Yards is Merrill Garbus who makes ‘looped’ music ala Liam Finn. Her music is centred around the ukulele, drums and her very distinctive voice, you will either be completely transfixed or utterly irritated. I am definitely the former #marmite
6. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake: I can’t say I have ever been a huge PJ Harvey fan and it took me a long time to bother with this album even after the near unanimous praise and the Mercury prize – but boy is it good. Throughout the album PJ acts as a sort of English historian and war correspondent telling the tales of World War I while still including catchy hooks and great compositions #greatwargreatalbum
5. David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights – Left by Soft: Disclaimer: anything made by members of the Flying Nun fraternity immediately moves up a few spots on my lists. Even with that this is still a great record. You get the impression that Kilgour could bang out indie-pop hits in his sleep. #tallyho
4. Peaking Lights – 936: This is a very unique album. Part psych, part dub, part woozy haze. It is repetitive but never monotonous. It is expansive but very DIY. It sounds like a sunny San Francisco day but was made in Wisconsin. #analoguealbumdigitalworld
3. Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne: Definitely not the best hip hop album I have ever heard, it’s not even as good as Yeezy’s 2010 effort ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. But what it does have going for it, is that it is one of the most fun and quotable rap albums in years. #fishfillet
2. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost: Their third release in 3 years and they keep getting better and better. If you don’t know them, here are the Cliff Notes. Lead singer Christopher Owens was a former member of the Children of God cult. His brother was murdered in said cult. He was forced as a child to busk to make money for the cult. As a teenager he escaped, then travelled the world until a Texas millionaire took him under his wing. Now he makes unbelievable music inspired by 50s and 60s pop. To say he wears his heart on his sleeve is an incredible understatement, his lyrics are extremely open and honest and he has a great ear for melody. Girls are my favorite band in the world right now by a long distance. #swoon
1. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise: If Girls are my favourite band, Nicolas Jaar is my favourite artist (I even dedicated a whole mix to him here). If you don’t know him already he is a 21 year old Chilean living in NY who splits his time between studying comparative literature and making music that is part house, part world, part hip hop. His debut album is unbelievable, his live shows are fantastic and he remixes everyone from Nina Simone to Missy Elliot. Go check him out right now #notenoughsuperlatives