31st December, 2011

Another year in music

Twelve months ago I started something I now have to maintain: an annual roundup of the music I’ve fallen in love with each year. So, following the aforementioned 2010 roundup, here’s my year in music, 2011.

I reckon 2011 was a bloody good year for music, and working on a music app with music-lovin’ friends meant that I consumed even more than usual, which I thought impossible. Turns out that boiling twelve months of solid ear-pleasure into a couple of top-tens was super-hard. But like a true hero, I did it.

Top albums of 2011

This was tough. In the end, I had to be honest. So, as much as I love Feist, Anna Calvi made a better album. Elbow made their fifth-best album, and I barely played King Of Limbs. The Dum Dum Girls EP was just stunning. Fucked Up’s concept album was too long, but I couldn’t stop playing it. The Rapture and Vaccines albums made me want to have a pool party, and there are many other endless/pointless justifications…

  1. The Rapture: In The Grace Of Your Love
  2. Fucked Up: David Comes To Life
  3. Bon Iver: Bon Iver
  4. Dum Dum Girls: He Gets Me High EP
  5. Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones
  6. The Antlers: Burst Apart
  7. The Naked And Famous: Passive Me, Aggressive You
  8. Washed Out: Within and Without
  9. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
  10. The Vaccines: What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

Loads of solid albums didn’t quite make my top ten, including: Beirut (The Rip Tide), Feist (Metals), Metronomy (The English Riviera), Wilco (The Whole Love), James Blake, Elbow (Build A Rocket Boys), Arctic Monkeys (Suck It And See), Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Wild Flag, Anna Calvi, Dum Dum Girls (Only In Dreams), Laura Marling (A Creature I Don’t Know), Tom Vek (Leisure Seizure), Death Cab For Cutie (Codes and Keys), M83, Kate Bush, Tom Waits (Bad As Me), Okkervil River (I Am Very Far), My Morning Jacket (Circuital), John Vanderslice (White Wilderness), Beastie Boys (Hot Sauce Committee pt.2), Real Estate (Days), and Alex Turner’s Submarine OST.

The most disappointing release was Ashes And Fire by Ryan Adams. This gentle ear-breeze was made by the man who wrote Gold, and more importantly Love Is Hell. When he is hurting, bruised, drunk, and all washed up, he makes incredible music. When he is in love and sober, he is boring.

Top songs of 2011

The Lia Ices album wasn’t amazing, but the Daphne track was. Easily my favourite song of 2011, because I’m a big softy. Holocene is an obvious choice, but too good not to include. I wasn’t blown away by James Blake, but his Feist cover is incredible and full of weird broody space. Anyway, enough with all these reasonings, here’s my top ten…

  1. Lia Ices feat. Justin Vernon: Daphne
  2. Bon Iver: Holocene
  3. Dum Dum Girls: He Gets Me High
  4. Fucked Up: Queen of Hearts
  5. Frank Turner: Redemption
  6. James Blake: Limit To Your Love
  7. Elbow: The Birds
  8. The Naked And Famous: Young Blood
  9. The Antlers: Parentheses
  10. DJ Shadow feat. Little Dragon: Scale It Back

Recently Radiohead has returned to form with The Daily Mail, but just too late to make an impact on my list.

Top live performances of 2011

Unlike 2010, I barely saw any bands this year. Not sure why; maybe age. Anyway, here’s a top three:

  1. Elbow, Metro City, Perth Australia
  2. Local Natives, Speakeasy, Austin, Texas
  3. Bon Iver, Prospect Park, Brooklyn (I was behind a fence, so only heard it)

I also saw the Foo Fighters close SXSW but I was at the back, they played loads of new boring stuff, and it seemed preferable to chat and drink instead.


That’s it for another year. I’m sure you’ll think that I “forgot” something, but chances are I didn’t. It’s my list, covering what I liked. I researched it using my iTunes and last.fm stats for at least one hour, so it is probably fairly accurate.

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