Top 10 Albums of 2011


4 jan 2011, 23:55

So...I thought it had been a relatively slow year, until I came to actually make this list. The eclectic mix this year speaks volumes about the sort of music year I've had and making these lists is definitely one of the little pleasures of this time of year, a chance to rediscover forgotten gems and enjoy the music that has provided a soundtrack to the last 12 months. This is the bit where I gush and gush about brilliant albums...but when we're talking about the top 10, from a whole year, they are bound to be pretty damn good.

A few honourable mentions: Laura Marling, Dreadzone, Bonobo and LOSERS, all just fell out of the top reaches for the year.

But the list...

10) Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - The Logic Of Chance
This was a slow didn't quite have the instant hard hitting appeal of their debut but hidden within this album is some truly brilliant song writing. Granted, I wouldn't cite every track as a classic, with a tone verging on preachy slightly tainting tracks such as Get Better but if anything, this is the album of Dan Le Sac. Scroobius' brilliance has always been clear but this album gives Dan the real opportunity to show what he's made of.

Standout track: Snob

9) 65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway
This was somewhat of a discovery for me, as although I've seen them play before and always appreciated what 65daysofstatic do, they've never hit me with anything that has lasted on record. Until now. This album is hard work yet entrancing to listen to and rewards every bit of listening energy with intelligent and challenging music. From the second Mountainhead begins, it's clear you are in for a musical journey and put simply, 65daysofstatic deliver.

Standout track: Dance Dance Dance

8) Jonsi - Go
I couldn't wait for this release and I wasn't mistaken. It is a thing of beauty. It takes the epic sounds of Sigur Ros and scales them down, without reducing the emotional impact. Of course, it does help that Jonsi has one of the most distinctive and interesting voices in contemporary music.

Standout track: Boy Lillikoi

7) The National - High Violet
Another overdue discovery for me. This album combines melancholy sounds with optimism and thoughtfulness buried within the lyrics. The theme this year for me, in many ways, has been intelligent music and this album couldn't tick that box more. You can play it at a dinner party, in the car or turn it up loud; this flexibility speaks for itself on the quality of the record.

Standout track: Conversation 16

6) Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
So, this album MAY not be the most intelligent on the list and MAY not offer the most innovation. But my goodness, doesn't it sound catchy?! This is one of these albums I find myself returning to over and over again for the light, perky, indie sound. This band really have had a massive year and I can only see them going from strength to strength. If in doubt, just check out the standout track below and I dare you to feel miserable...

Standout track:Something Good Can Work

5) Ellie Goulding - Lights
Go on, pick on me. It's pop. Oh god. What's happened to me? Quite simply, it's a great pop album with nice production, nice lyrics and a nice singing lady. And I really like it and have definitely listened to it more often than things that would make me cooler, like 65daysofstatic. Though, I must add, The Writer is awful.

Standout track: Starry Eyed

4) Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
For many, this would be an obvious choice. For me however, it is shocking. I was well and truly an Arcade Fire naysayer, who couldn't quite see what all the fuss was about. Until this, truly brilliant piece of work. I love the melodies, the instrumentation and the richness of the sound and their live show at Leeds Festival only served to prove that I had been wrong and therefore must eat my words. This is an album I am positive I will listen to for years to come.

Standout track: Ready to Start

3) Everything Everything - Man Alive
As always, once we get to this stage, there is but a whisper between these top three albums. All three have blown me away and fill me with pleasure every time I put them on. And trust me, that's a lot of times. In a way however, Everything Everything deserve the most praise as for a debut, it doesn't get better than this. This combines all that has been good in the other albums in this list (intelligent, catchy, great melodies, beautiful) into one lovely, lovely whole. I can't wait to see what this band are going to go on to do in 2011 and beyond.

Standout track: Suffragette Suffragette

2) Foals - Total Life Forever
I'm not sure I am accomplished enough as a writer to explain what it is about Foals that does it for me. I've never quite managed to put my finger on it. In a way, it's actually very similar to Everything Everything ; they are intelligent, they write beautiful melodies, they write catchy music in places...but I suppose with a touch more of the epic, with more of a sense of worldliness.Can music be worldly? Or have I just reached the point where I can gush no more. Anyway, I struggle to find music fans who cannot at least appreciate why this band are so highly acclaimed: with this album, they blow me away from start to the challenge is choosing a standout track...

Standout track: Ooooh....Black Gold

1) Pure Reason Revolution - Hammer and Anvil
Does it make it any less predictable if I tell you there was such a small margin between this and Foals? Probably not. But for some unknown, mad reason, nowhere near enough people are singing this album's praises so I'm sticking in my corner. This album is the album Pure Reason Revolution have been trying to make for years; a blend of electro, progressive music and big rock riffs that combine to make a stunning listen from start to end. Even if you've listened to PRR before and not seen the light, give this one a's more listener friendly yet intricate at the same time and couldn't deserve to be heard more.

Standout track: Valour for new listeners, Blitzkrieg for those interested in 5 minutes of electronic, progressive genius.

So that's it for another year...this year, I've set myself a new challenge: to listen to a new album every working day. There is a separate blog to accompany that little task, which can be found atrecordaday.posterous.comso I wonder what influence that will have on my selections for 2011.


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