Wednesday, 11 April 2012

List: Top 10 Albums of 2011


This is a combined list arranged by two Music Review Database writers (Eddie & Jordan). These albums may not be your favourites, you may not have heard them, but that's why we make lists. Lists are designed to send across a message to the reader, in this case it reads 'These are our favourite albums of 2011', our goal is for you to think twice about your picks and take into account our picks, give them a listen if you haven't heard, because that's when we achieve our goal.. Giving you new music. Of course it wouldn't be right mentioning just 10 albums, so here are some that didn't make the top 10 (in no order), but were very close and listed on the list of 50. 

The Antlers - Burst Apart
Real Estate - Days
EMA - Past Life Martyr Saints
The Weeknd - House of Balloons
Wild Beasts - Smother
Destroyer - Kaputt
Tim Hecker - Ravendeath, 1972
Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place





10. tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l


tUnE-yArDs second album features a wide array of experimentation surrounding several genres and styles of music that up to this point, were unexplored. Merrill Garbus creates heavily layered loops and adds instrumentation to create her music. The finishing product is one magnificent piece of music for the digital age, released on 4AD and featuring one of the weirdest vocalists ever. 



9. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes


Cat's Eyes is the side project of The Horrors front man Faris Badwan and opera singer Rachel Zeffira. They combined soul music with modern instrumentation. The outcome was a 30 minute album of delicate material touching on relationships and jealousy. This album was missed because it's a side project, but it's filled with beautiful tracks and Rachel Zeffira gives an outstanding vocal on all of her tracks. It was remarkable to see the duo play live and I hope they manage to release a second album because I admire their spirit and desire to release something different, yet keeping it simplistic in the process.



8. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine


Eight on the list is the debut collaborative effort between Scottish independant folk artists King Creosote and London based electronic artists Jon Hopkins. It's always a little different listing to two artists on the complete opposite lands of the music world, but these two combined their medium to create a sophisticated album for the patient listeners. It's a delight to listen to this album because it's so god damn melancholic. Jon Hopkins can manipulate sounds and he does so perfectly, adding his soft piano touch to the imaginative lyrics written by King Creosote.


7. Gotye - Making Mirrors


Novellist Stephen King once said that 'salvation and damnation are the exact same thing'. His face and voice may be transmitted across every major radio station and music channel (twice, maybe thrice at a daily rate), but that should never take away from how great Gotye's accompanying album, Making Mirrors, stood as a true testament to that anecdote. Like its cover, the record is coated with differing coloured tangents of joy, heartbreak, giddiness and overwhelming discomfort that brought Gotye - real-name Wally de Becker - out of the toy-box of electronics and sampling on 'Like Drawing Blood', and into a self-doubting reality that both pleaded and screamed its emotive detailing in equal measures.



6. Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica


Sample albums had always struck quite a chord with giving us this relishing swatch of grooves and out-of-place acuteness that brought about new vibes in both the music and the way in which we experienced it. Replica was not only successful in this respect, but it brought an amazingly heightened means of perception through its glitchy cut-and-paste appliance of found sound and found material. Along with Daniel Lopatin's signature use of analog synths and shape-shifting drones, Replica felt like both a re-imagining of the past and a reconciliation of the future. Away from his previous experience as an electronic drone compositor, Lopatin demonstrated a keen ear for sound that quite neatly and powerfully hit home.



 5. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues


Folk is not dying out, Fleet Foxes are bringing it back. Helplessness Blues made the top 5 because it just does make the top 5. The harmonic vocals matched with the excellent song structures created a blend between sentimental music and obscure 70's folk tracks. The title track has everything a single desires, it's purely magnificent and shows the stronger side of Fleet Foxes work. The band will continue to grow and release several strong albums over the coming decade, Helplessness Blues was just the warning of whats to come. It won't be long til Fleet Foxes top these lists.



 4. Bon Iver - Bon Iver


Bon Iver entered my world in 2008 with their debut album 'For Emma, Forever Ago'. They eventually erupted onto the circuit in 2011 with this self titled cracker of an album. Acclaim and awards aside, Bon Iver improved rapidly. They replaced the sparse recordings with compact instrumentation and poppy structures. This album has singles all over the shot with every track having it's unique sound and story, this is Bon Iver's gift to the world and we should all cherish it.



3. Braids - Native Speaker


Unsurprisingly, Braids make the top 3. Amongst the indie starlets and electronic wizards, Braids came out with one of the most textured and relaxed albums since the days of Cocteau Twins. Seven tracks of arpeggios and loops made up the Canadians debut album Native Speaker. The quartet found an isolated genre of music with dream pop and took to the recording studio with the reverb pedals and loops to deliver one of the most climatic albums of 2011. 



2.  PJ Harvey - Let England Shake


PJ Harvey was a dying name, she released a few mediocre albums since 2000's 'Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea', but she found her roots and released the best British album of 2011 by default. The structures are magnificent and the lyrics stand strong as PJ Harvey's greatest written tracks of her career. I focused more towards the vibe and vision of the album. It's the atmosphere that grabs my attention, the ode to WW1 on the melancholic 'England', the brass section on 'The Last Living Rose' and the chord progressions of 'The Words That Maketh Murder'.



1. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is M83's breakthrough album and sixth album in total. The electronic dance music finds a new audience with the delusional hooks and compact synthesizer sounds. The drum beats are fresh and feature some of the best sounds of 2011. Everything about this album stood out to me as excellent. The recording was amateurish according to M83, but the outcome is one huge piece of material. It's a double album and it doesnt fail to disappoint. Each side is alike and has several very strong single material. It's the best produced album of 2011 among other self declared awards given by myself. I suggest listening to this album if you still have not, it's up there with 2010's Have One On Me (Joanna Newsom) as the early 2010's greatest albums. 

~Music Review Database

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