FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2011

This is more a quick list of albums I’ve enjoyed over this last year than some kind of definitive I-went-through-my-entire-iTunes-library-and-ranked-everything-in-order list. I might have missed a couple of releases – all I know is I really liked all these ones. You might too.

So without further ado, Album of the Year goes to…

Los Campesinos - Hello Sadness

Los Campesinos!Hello Sadness

Hello Sadness sees Los Campesinos! trying to refine their output into a concise body of work. A structured and focused album. Gareth’s imagery is darker than ever, and hidden within the album are melodic hooks and intricacies that take a while to become apparent (the vocal crescendo in “To Tundra” is nothing short of beautiful). Brilliant, and another great release to add to their discography.

Other albums I enjoyed, in rough order of how much I enjoyed them, kind of. Just look.

Johnny Foreigner - Vs Everything

Johnny ForeignerJohnny Foreigner Vs Everything

A very close runner-up for AotY. Messy on the first few listens, it truly opens itself up after a few sit-throughs, and it gets better and better. Loud, fast, interesting, moving. Time will determine its longevity and significance in their discography, but it’s definitely a huge step in the band’s journey – hopefully one of many more to come.

Thrice - Major/Minor

ThriceMajor/Minor

Consistent and strong. Not one song feels under-baked. There are a lot of huge cathartic sing-a-long moments, and I don’t care whether or not you associate that as being a good thing or not with Thrice, but I think lyrically and musically this is an incredibly good album. Stunning. If you only listen to one song from Major/Minor, check out “Words in the Water”.

Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon IverBon Iver, Bon Iver

Intricate. Delicate. Evocative. This is a great album full of great songs, and they paint a picture unlike many musicians ever could. It’s easy to understand why it got Pitchfork’s Album of the Year.

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

RadioheadThe King of Limbs

Arguably a step back towards their more experimental work, this was a tough album to digest. It’s entirely possible that this album takes even longer to appreciate and understand than a year, and maybe with more time I’ll enjoy it even more. It definitely has its high points, and it’s full of interesting textures – but I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. It still gets a place here though, ’cause it’s quite good.

Grieves - Together/Apart

GrievesTogether/Apart

With the help of producer, multi-instrumentalist, and beat-maker – Budo – Grieves has released a great album here. Criticised by many (unfairly so, I believe) for his consistently emotive lyrics, Grieves tells stories of girls, drinking, anxiety, and those monsters under your bed, amongst everything else, and while it can feel like a long haul at times, there are a pile of gems on this album. If you needed any more proof that the Rhymesayers crew were some of the best out there, this shouldn’t take long to convince you.

The Weeknd - House of Balloons

The WeekndHouse of Balloons

This particular instalment of The Weeknd’s trilogy of 2011 releases is making my list not because I believe it’s the best of the three, but simply because I haven’t been able to give Thursday or Echoes Of Silence a fair go yet.
That aside, this release is really interesting. I’ve never really been into R&B in a huge way, yet The Weeknd drew me in. And it’s interesting because it paints a picture of a world so foreign that I struggle to find any personal connections. It almost feels voyeuristic to listen to. It’s intriguing at any rate, and was well worth my time. It’s free too.

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Foo FightersWasting Light

A great album from a rock band still going strong, after all these years. Consistent, full of energy, and another strong release from a band that really are going to stand the test of time.

These last few albums haven’t had as many listens as those above, but from the amount of time I’ve given them, I like them a lot. Very much worth mentioning here.

Example - Playing in the Shadows

ExamplePlaying in the Shadows

Slow ClubParadise

Phantogram - Nightlife EP

PhantogramNightlife EP

FEATURE: Albums Of The Year – 2010

2010 was one of those odd years where I can’t say I listened to a whole heap of new albums. For example Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs only got a few spins, despite how good I think it is, just because I got distracted I guess. Anyway, without further ado – my top few releases of 2010, and some not from 2010 too.

Album of the Year: Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

I think I knew months ago that this would be my favourite. RiB displays LC!’s true talent in crafting amazingly evocative, relatable, indie-pop/twee music, and the size of the band (they’re an 8-piece) adds another dimension to their music. From start to finish this album doesn’t let up, and I really see it as the culmination of their hard work on previous releases. A brilliant album, well worth trying.

Notable mentions:

The National – High Violet

Birds of Tokyo – Self-titled

Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning

Delphic – Acolyte

Los Campesinos! – Alls Well That Ends [EP]

Johnny Foreigner – You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star But Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and the Sea So Calm – EP

There are other releases out there I listened to, but not enough to really appreciate or develop a real opinion of – so I’ll leave them out.

The rest of the year was spent appreciating Johnny Foreigner’s two albums, which are absolutely brilliant. They have cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands in the past three months, and hopefully will one day get the recognition they deserve. I also discovered the rapper P.O.S. who is amazing, with a great delivery and provocative lyrics.

For those interested, the past twelve months on Last.fm show my top artists as:

  1. Los Campesinos! – 2471 plays
  2. Karnivool – 1354 plays
  3. Johnny Foreigner – 1264 plays
  4. The National – 959 plays
  5. Radiohead – 853 plays
  6. Birds of Tokyo – 787 plays
  7. Dead Letter Circus – 664 plays
  8. Bloc Party – 523 plays
  9. We Are Scientists – 325 plays
  10. Death Cab For Cutie – 258 plays
  11. Thom Yorke – 253 plays
  12. Queens of the Stone Age – 231 plays
  13. Josh Pyke – 223 plays
  14. Modest Mouse – 198 plays
  15. P.O.S. – 182 plays

Happy New Year everyone!