Well folks here we are, the end of another year. So far Adam S and I have looked at our favourite tracks (part one & part two), gigs and EPs of the year.
Yesterday we started the countdown of our 50 favourite albums of 2011 and now, today, right here on Alphabet Bands, we will complete the countdown with one big list and the unveiling of the Top 5.
It’s been a cracking year for music and we are already extremely excited for what 2012 has in store. Business will return to normal next week with a couple of reviews etc and then it will all kick off again in January with more additions to the Alphabet Bands family, new videos, sounds and interviews, as well as the odd focus on deserving artists. We can’t wait; hope you are looking forward to it as well.
For now though, let’s finish our look back at 2011 with a big old list of some of the very best albums of the year. These are my personal choices of albums that I have really loved this year, nothing more than that.
To the list.
50. Young The Giant – Young The Giant
49. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
48. Lamb – 5
47. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
46. Wolf Gang – Suego Faults
45. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
44. Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide, Take Me Home
43. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
42. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
41. Blouse – Blouse
40. Hercules & Love Affair – Blue Songs
39. Danger Mouse & Danielle Lupi – Rome
38. Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
37. Washed Out – Within and Without
36. WU-LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
35. The Decemberists – The King is Dead
34. Raekwon – Shaolin VS Wu-Tang
33. Radiohead – The King of Limbs
32. Braids – Native Speaker
31. Cashier No.9 – To The Death Of Fun
30. Twin Sister – In Heaven
29. Treelight For Sunlight – A Dream Before Sleep
28. The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo
27. Ennui – Formation Of Tide
26. Destroyer – Kaputt
25. Friendly Fires – Pala
24. Fenech-Soler – Fenech-Soler
23. Nerves Junior – As Bright As Your Night Light
22. Cults – Cults
21. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
20. Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes
19. Apparat – The Devil’s Walk
18. White Denim – D
17. SBTRKT – Sbtrkt
16. Mara Carlyle – Floreat
15. Yuck – Yuck
14. Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows
13. Youth Lagoon – The Year Of Hibernation
12. Kyle Andrews – Robert Learn Love
11. Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost!
10. Ladytron – Gravity The Seducer
9. Caveman – Coco Beware
8. Joan As Policewoman – The Deep Field
7. Summer Camp – Welcome to Condale
6. Metronomy – The English Riviera
And now, the final five. Enjoy…
5. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Embracing the old and drawing influence from artists of yesteryear is not the most difficult thing to do in music; the real trick is making it sound entirely new and unique. With Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Christopher Owens et al have done just that. We‘re not talking about the kind of ‘making this sound your own’ that Louis Walsh bellows at every karaoke performer he sees on a Saturday night. No, we’re talking about the heartache tinged sadness of a prog-rock guitar solo, the jaunty pop sounds of a mainstream head bobber, the grind of early nineties Seattle based bands, all thrown together with delicate and emotionally raw lyrics and vocals. This is an album so carefully and beautifully crafted, with such exquisite melodies and musicality. Girls have truly established themselves as one of the most exciting bands around and in Father… they have produced an album that will remain on stereos long into 2012 and beyond.
Get the album here
4. Cut / Copy – Zonoscope
Make no mistake, Zonoscope is an exquisitely crafted record. Embracing a multitude of styles and influences, Cut Copy produced something very much of the time, yet quite retro feeling, something that is unmistakably antipodean, yet that infuses an energy and sounds from across the globe. From the beginning, in “Need You Now”, we are treated to over minute of a simple, yet infectious, repetitive beat that behooves the listener to nod away in time. Already you’re hooked, enthralled in its trance. When Whitford’s vocals kick in (which are perfectly suited to this form of pop music) it is like the hypnotist whispering instructions and like that, you’re gone, whisked off to a vast metropolis, bursting with skyscrapers spinning all around you as you run, searching for your loved one amongst the madness as the whole album opens out in front of you like an electro-funk labyrinth, waiting to be explored. This is a superb piece of tropical, tribal and groove-tastic synth-pop. Get it and enjoy it.
Get the album here
3. Cocknbullkid – Adulthood
Anita Blay is blessed with the kind of voice that made millions fall in love with Sade and then Skye Edwards all those years ago. It is heavenly and her songs are like ambrosia, uplifting and revitalizing, even when the subject matter is dark and melancholy. Dealing with her spiritually confusing upbringing and teenage depression, it is never an album that feels self-indulgent or melancholy. It is bright, colourful and, quite simply, this is a stunning album of pure pop delight and should be heard by as many people as possible.
Get the album here
2. Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves
Given our well publicised love for Devonté Hynes, it should come as no real surprise to anyone that he features on this end of year list. Nor, really, should it come as a surprise that it is for an album recorded under yet another moniker and showcasing a further step in his musical evolution. Hynes is unquestionably an incredibly talented guy. He’s not quite 26 and is already onto his third musical incarnation, following on from previous efforts with Test Icicles and as Lightspeed Champion. Each manifestation too has seen a stylistic jump, he has retained little of his indie-pop sound and instead dived headfirst into an altogether seedier, late 80’s, funk inspired world. Each of the ten songs are a triumph, with exquisite electric guitar patterns and riffs coupled with Hynes’ customary lyrical expertise, he has channelled his inner-Prince to dazzling effect. Coastal Grooves is Hynes’ most complete and accomplished album and on any other year, would probably have sat comfortably atop this list.
Get the album here
1. Kuedo – Severant
Planet Mu Records
There is no point wasting anyone’s time, this album is stunning. It’s as simple as that. Severant, as you will soon hear, is heavily influenced by Blade Runner and the sublime beauty of the Vangelis soundtrack that accompanied it. ” I wanted to capture a really futurist sentiment, kind of melancholy and grand luminescent, so I used the instrument that most evokes that for me – that sweeping Vangelis brass sound”, explained Jamie Teasdale (a.k.a. Kuedo). He nailed it. Like the staccato drums, the brass is almost ubiquitous throughout, swirling and swooping through your ears.
You cannot listen to Severant without being transported to some dark, dystopian future. It consumes you, close your eyes and you can see the spacecraft cruising above the gargantuan, neon encrusted skyscrapers, all while the rain teems down around you. Vangelis may be the predominant influence, but there are others. Jazz, hip-hop, drum and bass, UK road rap; all have been taken in, broken down and reconstructed to create dazzling, multi-layered soundscapes. When you’re not staring at this wondrous megalopolis you have been transported to, your head will be nodding, the beat taking you round the corner to the next delight.
There is a lot of synth music in the UK right now, there is a lot of dubstep in the UK as well; none of it sounds like this. Nothing even comes close to sounding as intelligent or as complete as this. You could quite easily find yourself lost in Kuedo’s world for quite some time; it’s a great place to be.
Get the album here
So there you have it, my favourite albums of the year. Now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think and any that you think I’ve missed.