Thursday 29 December 2011

Albums of the Year, 2011

Another year, another Best Of list. A year in which music really did become like
water from a tap, thanks to Spotify in particular. A year in which the value of
having trusted sources to help steer you through those millions of tracks became
even more critical, whether that be a radio DJ (still the most common source of
music discovery) or through friends, or through other music brands, the most
future thinking of which hooked up with Spotify to create editorial voices in
that database, via apps. Still, enough blah, here’s the ten albums I loved most in 2011.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify

Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix
Their second wonderful acoustic album “Flaws” is still one of my favourites, but
this new one was most definitely not in the same vein: it had a more electronic
pop feel, and contains what is probably my #2 track of the year, “Shuffle”.

Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
This one’s a grower. If you give it the time it will get under your skin with melodies that are irresistible. Conor Oberst delivers a long, strong set of less acoustic sounding tracks than previously, including the wonderful “One For  You, One For Me”

Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Ok, so I admit to having been fairly obsessed with Bon Iver since his first beautiful and sad recorded-in-the-wild album “For Emma, Forever Ago”. This proper album #2, after much listening, doesn’t disappoint.

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Beautiful, wistful, sad songs, matching KC’s Scottish lilt with Hopkins' subtle electronica, including my #1 track of the year, “Bubble”. Quiet and beautiful.

The Antlers – Burst Apart
US indie band who finally broke through to near the mainstream with this their 4th album.Some may think it's a little, well, soft, but I love the melodies.

Feist - Metals
Canadian Leslie Feist's 4th album, and really the first time I'd paid much attention to her. Contains my #3 track of the year "The Bad in Each Other" which has a chorus to die for.

Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
Her 10th album, and probably the most uncommercial. Full of jazz influences with lots of piano, and generally downbeat, there are only 7 songs stretched out over 65 minutes. It's quirky (shagging a snowman anyone?) and bizare (Stephen Fry reciting 50 words for snow), but it's also gorgeous and enthralling.

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Second album from the Seattle beardies. Could they live up to their first much loved album? Would it be a tired sounding re-run? There was no need to worry, as they managed to move on easily, still sounding definitely like the Fleet Foxes, but bringing in new sounds alongside uplifting melodies.

Matthew Halsall - On The Go
At the risk of ripping off the Mercury's format of one jazz album, this is my favourite new jazz album of last year. He's a brilliant young trumpeter and composer, and this album is simply a great listen.

Bjork - Biophilia
7th proper studio album by everyone's favourite Icelandic singer. As usual, it's eclectic, innovative, difficult and stunning.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify

Albums of the year, 2010

Albums of the year, 2009

Albums of the year, 2008