2011 was truly a blessed year for music. Many of my favorite groups released new records and, as always thanks to NME, I found some fab new ones to geek out over. Without further adieu, here are my Top Ten Albums and Top Ten Tracks of 2011 (Click on the album or track to purchase).
10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
This Portland, Oregon band have a a combo lo-fi, groovy throwback sound that makes me smile. “Thought Ballune” is a must download.
9. American Revival – The Worst Is Over Now
My fave new local band by way of Pete getting me back into alt.country. Their debut is magnificent. Here is their first video which showcases one of the best local bars, Williams Pub.
8. Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!
Yes, these Ramsbottom, Bury lads sound like Genesis avec Peter Gabriel but so what? Every new release sees treasure after treasure.
7. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
I can’t wait to see all the music this band is going to make over the years. Caught them live in a warm up for the Arctic Monkeys last spring. Bril!
6. Noel Gallagher – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
It’s about time that Noel did his own thing. I say it all the time – he’s the better singer. This album has been like a comfy blanket to me of late.
5. Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
I was pleasantly surprised to see Liam try on some different musical styles. The results speak for themselves.
4. The Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
Another great fucking record from the Sheffield lads. I don’t think it’s possible for them to make a bad one.
3. The Kooks – Junk Of The Heart
Every three years The Kooks make an album that is seamless from the last one in its perfection. Just a joy to play over and over again…like this Simon and Garfunkel-esque gem..
2. The Original 7ven – Condensate
This barely missed being the album of the year. The only thing that honestly held it back was it came out later in the year (October) and I haven’t lived with like I did with my #1 pick. Morris, Jerome, Jimmy, Terry, Jesse, Monte, and Jellybean made the best Time album out of the five with this absolute corker of a record. Done without the help of that dude from Chanhassen, the greatest band in the history of funk delivered a stunner that has deepened my desire to be Morris Day.
1. Friendly Fires – Pala
The soundtrack to my summer and, indeed, the entire year. I think I have played this disc at least 200 times start to finish since it came out and I still find layers to it previously unheard. Pala sets a mood that is sorely lacking today, not just in music, but in our culture in general. I’m not entirely certain I can describe it in words but it’s reminiscent of what the most gorgeous flower would sound like as it blooms…in a club at 1:30am with piles of sweaty bodies writhing around to massive and thumping beats. And if it could tell Robert Browning-esque love stories. Like their self titled first release, Pala deserves to be forever enshrined in any Hall of Fame.
Lay back in the sun and listen to the title track…
10. “Whirring” – The Joy Formidable
I imagine this song as being the soundtrack to an indie love story. A true gem from this North Wales group.
9. “Endless Blue” – The Horrors
It begins like a gentle kiss from a beautiful woman and switches mid way through into a full on frenetic, saliva-dripped shag…just like love making should be.
8. “Boogabear” – American Revival
“I’m so tired of fighting the battle for who could care less…” singer Thomas Pendarvis croons in my fave from the Mpls alt. country outfit’s debut. This song is now officially the anthem of every bar in every small town for every person having a cold one. (No video here so go listen to the track by clicking on the song).
7. “Minnesota, WI” – Bon Iver
The Eau Claire, WI natives perfectly captured that autumnal shimmer that I write about constantly. A nice shout out to my neighborhood of the country.
6. “Wasted” – Glass Rock
I love the mood this song sets and the album cover art is the best of the year. It’s a photo I would take. And it came out on my birthday! (No video here so go listen to the track by clicking on the song).
5. “Shuffle” – Bombay Bicycle Club
This Crouch End, London group may become my new Brit Rock darlings. This track struck me as sounding very different from what I normally hear from across the pond. It’s free on Amazon!
4. “Days” – The Drums
This is my son’s best track of 2011. He wanted me to make note of it and it’s funny because it’s appropriate considering the video below. This Brooklyn based guitar pop outfit continues to make great music with their third release, Portamento.
3. “Post Break-Up Sex” – The Vaccines
If Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks is the best break up album of all time, this track holds the best break up song mantle. We’ve all been there, and it’s wonderful.
2. “Junk Of The Heart (Happy)” – The Kooks
A perfect pop song in just about every way. Luke does it again!
1. “Blue Cassette” – Friendly Fires
Not simply the best track of 2011, but one of the best of all time. Friendly Fires really outdid themselves with this stunning song that waxes nostalgic about cassette tapes and lost love. My heart melts every single time I listen to it.
Those are my albums and tracks. What are yours?