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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My 30 favourite albums from 2011 [10 - 1]

....and now the top ten:


10. Mayer Hawthorne - How Do You Do?
(Universal)
Former Stones Throw alumnus, Mayer Hawthorne is the funkiest white boy going and last year signed to Universal and released the great album that is "How Do You Do?" which features none other than Snoop Dogg on "Can't Stop", if you need more of a reason to listen I can confirm that every song's a winner but none more so than "A Long Time" where he manages to recount the history and all that was great of his hometown Detroit.
- fave track: A Long Time

9. Beirut - The Rip Tide
(Pompeii Records)
Zach Condon returned this year and managed to combine everything from Beirut's musical past and turn them into something that sounded new and fresh and a must-listen-to album. "East Harlem" and "Santa Fe" are reasons enough for buying this.
- fave track: Santa Fe

8. Stevie Jackson - (I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson
(Banchory)
So for the last few Belle and Sebastian albums I've been more and more inclined to love the tracks that Stevie Jackson wrote rather than Stuart Murdoch's, so imagine my mixture of delight and trepidation when I heard Stevie was a doing a solo effort, and I wasn't disappointed, this is an album that takes in a number of genres but never seems forced and is as pleasurable a listen you can have.
- fave track: Press Send

7. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
(Island)
So you're thinking "WTF!, not number 1 WTF!", well basically as brilliant as this album is and clearly there's master craftmanship going on, I rarely returned to this album throughout the year for casual listening and the next six albums on the list I listened the hell out of them, so that's why they're higher up. It is amazing that PJ Harvey keeps getting better and keeps managing to make albums you didn't realise you wanted to hear.
- fave track: The Last Living Rose

6. Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
(Turnstile Music)
The SFA front man does it again, this shouldn't be a surprise but I'm still waiting for him to do something I don't care about. He teamed up with Andy Votel to create the song that got stuck in my head the most for the last 13 months or so, in "Shark Ridden Waters", then he does mariachi pop on "Sensations in the Dark" and also creates one of his most beautiful lyrics in "If We Words, We Would Rhyme". A must own album.
- fave track: Shark Ridden Waters

5. The Stepkids - The Stepkids
(Stones Throw)
Definitely the funkiest album I listened to all year, it's also an amazingly creative album that while it takes in a lot of musical styles and goes all over the place, each song is amazingly consistently absorbing and comes together to make a great album. Turn it on, love it, repeat.
- fave track: Cup Half Full

4. Sonny & The Sunsets - Hit After Hit
(Fat Possum Records)
Sonny Smith was one of the great musical recommendations I was given this year, his creative output is frightening as any Google search will prove, but this album in particular is so tight and so good it's hard to believe, the sound is retro but it's made to sound so fresh, that's it's really hard not to just listen to over and over again. "Don't Act Dumb" and "Teen Age Thugs" are great rockers and "Girls Beware" is dreamy 50s pop but "I Wanna Do It" steals it for pure catchiness.
- fave track: I Wanna Do It

3. Liam Finn - FOMO
(Transgressive)
Neil Finn's son picked up the music gene, he's so good that I reckon he may have been genetically modified. His second album showcases him really hitting his stride, every song on this is great. "The Struggle" starts off as a fuzzy mood piece but by the chorus his gift for melody is there for all to hear, "Reckless" would have fit comfortably on a Shins album and "Cold Feet" is a classic pop song that should be on a loop on every radio station every day, but sadly isn't.
- fave track: Cold Feet

2. My Morning Jacket - Circuital
(ATO)
So a lot of people were flummoxed and baffled by "Evil Urges" so it was nice of My Morning Jacket to return with an album as good as "Circuital", it's an album that grabs you by the balls (or ears at least) from the first note with the hypnotic "Victory Dance" before heading into the great title track that even with a length of 7mins never outstays its welcome. "Wonderful (Just The Way You Are)" is Jim James at his most tender and then "Holdin' Onto Black Metal" with its sampled hook will set up home in your heart and your head and NEVER leave, it really is too good a song it's crazy.
- fave track: Holdin' On To Black Metal

1. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See
(Domino)
The Arctic Monkeys have gone from the band I cared the least about in the world when they started to making my favourite album of the year, which is a quite a leap. I started to get interested in them on "Humbug" but there was a lot about the album that I could simply take or leave, and you can't say that about this album. Obviously Turner's lyrics are compelling and as strong as ever but it amazes how every song sounds effortless and sounds like a band well beyond their years. Every riff is compelling, songs that shouldn't work like "Brick by Brick", it flows better than any album out this year and every song on it stood a chance of being a single. This is the album that I wanted to put on every single time I put my headphones on, so gets the privilege of being my album of the year.
- fave track: The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala



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