Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My albums of 2011

In no particular order (although starting with my sisters band) here are a list of 17 albums that have sound tracked my year. I'm not going to pick my favourite as I think it has been an outstanding year for music and at various times through the course of the last 12-months, all of the albums listed have been a favourite. 

There are still albums from 2011 that I still intend to buy - FOUND, White Heath and Jonnie Common to name a few. Ridiculous considering I was standing next to Jonnie Common at his merch stall a few weeks ago enthusing about his music!

There is a real mix of music below, dig in, each album features a video to one of my favourite tracks from it. 

Love and Lemonade - Futuristic Retro Champions
Futuristic Retro Champions brought an end to almost 5-years of joyous pop music with this staggering 26-track compilation of their releases, demos, and unreleased tracks. Taking influences from the girl bands of the 60's, through to bang up to date electro pop, this is a gem of an album. Only £7.99 on itunes!

Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Euros Child (Gorky's) combine their songwriting talents with gorgeous harmonies and a sense of humour to create a wonderful album. Only £3.49 on itunes!!!! 'Never Alone' is also one of my songs of the year, absolutely gorgeous.

One of my albums of the year and their gig at Sneaky Petes in Edinburgh as part of their launch tour was one of my gigs of the year. CAS provide something genuinely different from anything else going on in the Scottish Music Scene. Anneke's vocals and twisted melodies are a joy. Bear (below) is a prime example of CAS at their best, layering voclas, melodies and sounds to create something truly special.

Build A Rocket Boys - Elbow
Guy Garvey and co returned with more big tunes, reflections on love and life and a warmth that few other bands can even dream about. Whilst not having anything as anthemic as One Day Like This, not many albums released in 2011 can boast two openers like The Birds and Lippy Kids. I love the lyric from the latter, reminiscing of youth 'walking on walls, stealing booze and hour long hungry kisses.'

Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
What can you say about Ryan Adams that truly captures his genius? He really is a one off. This is a stunning album that I can imagine myself going back to time and time again to really appreciate the depth of it. Yet in saying that, it is immediately accessible. You need to listen to the album to get the finished version of the song below, but this video is amazing.

Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
Faris Badwan's main band The Horror's turned many heads this year with the release of their 'Skying' album. I liked the reviews, bought the album, but I just can't get into it at all....yet. Faris is clearly a creative guy though and this is his side project with Rachel Zeffira. Bonding over a love of The Shrangri-La's and Phil Spector, they have produced a cracking album. 30-minutes long, well worth investigating. This title track is more Sonic Youth than Spector, I love the groove. 

This could easily be classed as a mini-album, however regardless of the length of the album, the quality is undisputed. Absolutely flawless in terms of the music and production. The lyrics and vocals are pretty incredible, especially on headphones. Gorgeous.

Cut Copy - Zonoscope
I got Cut Copy's debut album back in 2004 and although I haven't bought every album since then, they are certainly a band I have continued to follow. With Zonoscope, their third album, they have reached new heights. There are the synths, the beats, the bleeps, the hooks, the harmonies and all the stardust you associate with Cut's just done better. 'Where I'm Going' is pure pop with elements of the Beach Boys, while 'Need You Now' is Cut Copy at their MDMA sprinkled best, taking you on a trip and then releasing the beats. The closing number 'Sun God' lasts for a truly epic 15-minutes.

One of my favourite guitarists released his debut solo album. Stories and reflections from his youth are told with humour and brilliant playing. Try Me is pure Kinksy rock, while the lovely Feel the Morning closes the album in style.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes debut album was remarkable, it just seemed so perfectly formed. Could they repeat  it? Thankfully they could. They are fast becoming one of my favourite bands; great playing, harmonies to die for and beautiful lyrics and lead vocals.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Along with Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver made a mockery of the 'difficult second album syndrome' with the release of his eponymous album earlier this year. He didn't retreat to a log cabin this time, instead he added layer upon layer to produce stunning results. I wish I had gone to see him in Edinburgh.

Player Piano - Memory Tapes
I loved Memory Tapes Seek Magic album from a couple of years ago. Whilst I didn't fall for this in quite the same way, it did soundtrack quite a few summer days. Sadly there isn't any form of video at all on youtube for 'No. 79' which is just pure summer pop. There is for 'Sun Hits' which is just as good.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Surely his best album since Pavement? It starts with the brilliant 'Tigers' with catchy guitars and hooks and Malkmus rhyming stuff with Birkenstocks. The Jicks playing throughout is tremendous, the production is crisp and clean (by Beck), Malkmus sounds like he is really enjoying himself. 

The Babies - The Babies
I popped into Mono in Glasgow at the start of November and got talking to Dep about his albums of the year and he said that this was probably his favourite. I respect his taste, so I bought it and it is brilliant. Really raw pop. Much of it sounds like it could be live, there is a great feel to it as a result. 'All Things Come To Pass' is one of my highlights, great guitar and an almost nursery rhyme like melody. Just over 2 minutes long.

Adam Stafford - Build A Harbour Immediately
I've caught Adam live quite a few times over the last couple of years and enjoyed his live performances immensley. I've seen him in the small confines of the Captain's Rest, looping and layering his vocals to astonishing effect, on stage at Platform in Easterhouse supporting Jonny and more recently at his album launch at Stereo where he played with guests. Adam has an amazing ear for melodies and is incredibly creative with sound. I like this album so much that I bought it on ltd editon yellow casette as well as on CD. Check Adam's own track-by-track guide at the PEENKO blog. 'Shot Down You Summer Wannabe's' is my personal favourite, sadly that isn't on YouTube but this highlights Adam's talents.

Remember Remember - The Quickening
There are some bands that I keep hearing about, seeing their name and I never get round to checking them out. Remember Remember were one of those bands and how I have kicked myself for not checking them out sooner. They tick so many boxes for me; cool front man, diverse band members, experimental sounds with a pop edge..... They blew me away when they played the Detour night at the Science Centre and I can't wait to see them live again. 'The Quickening is an outstanding record that offers something new with every listen. 'John Candy' is a song that got me immediately on first listen and I never tire of it.

Noel Gallagher and the Flying Birds
Oasis ended in a mess. Liam Gallagher has become a caricature of himself, while Noel seems intent on highlighting that he was the chief all along. It's a sad state of affairs when two brothers are going to court and arguing through the media on a weekly basis (all publicity is good publicity as they say). On to the music though, Noel has produced a good album. Opener 'Everybody's On The Run' is widescreen, a huge song with brilliant strings. 'AKA What A Life' is a brilliant single.  

1 comment:

norrie said...

Brilliant list.