Top 10 albums of 2011

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30 Dic 2011, 6:55

As 2011 draws to a close I have been pondering over many of the great releases of the year. Many of which were from newcomers or artists that I hadn't heard prior to this year. It has been a tough feat to narrow it down to 10 albums, but that's always a good sign of a great year of music!

10. James Blake - James Blake
I kept hearing great things about James Blake but only listened to his material late into the year. His debut album is highly impressive to say the least. Mashing up electronica, post-dubstep, soul and a lot of moody atmospherics, Blake’s diverse talent really shines bright.

Top Tracks: Limit To Your Love, Lindisfarne, The Wilhelm Scream

9. Funeral for a Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon
I’ve been a fan of FFAF for a while now, and I found the last 2 releases after their spectacular 2005 opus ‘Hours’ were rather underwhelming. They headed in a direction I was not a fan of. I still remained a fan though in the hope that they would emerge from their rough patch. And I am glad I did, because ‘Welcome Home, Armageddon’ is by far their best release in years. The FFAF of old are back but with a new and revitalized energy. From sheer melodic moments to all out heaviness, this album has everything that a fan of FFAF would want.

Top Tracks: Old Hymns, Man Alive, Broken Foundation

8. Katzenjammer - A Kiss Before You Go
Katzenjammer were an accidental discovery for me last year and I am so glad I stumbled upon their music. This all female quartet from Norway are amazing. Their use of vocals, harmonies and instrumentation is brilliant, with all four members playing multiple instruments and taking over lead vocal duties on various tracks. And they continue the trend on this follow up to 2008’s ‘Le Pop’. Playing every chord and singing every note with amazing amounts of passion, Katzenjammer are a very refreshing and fun listen.

Top Tracks: God’s Great Dust Storm, Shepherd’s Song, Lady Marlene

7. Memphis May Fire - The Hollow
Memphis May Fire’s debut Sleepwalking wasn’t a bad album. It had a few standout tracks, but I felt it wasn’t consistent. Their follow up EP ‘Between the Lies’ was a step in a very different direction and showed promising signs, acting as a bridge between their first and (then) forthcoming second album. ‘The Hollow’ is a huge progression for the band, and it is definitely in the right direction. This album is amazing. Brutal, emotional, heavy and sonically immense, MMF have defied the ‘sophomore slump’ in spades. From the get go, this recording’s intensity is off the charts, with blood curdling screams and great clean vocals to boot. A fantastic listen.

Top Tracks: The Victim, The Abandoned, The Haunted

6. Gotye - Making Mirrors
Everybody (unless you've been living under a rock for the past year) would now be familiar with the track 'Somebody That I Used To Know' from its insane amount of radio airplay, but that song is just scraping the surface of Wally De Backer’s latest offering, 'Making Mirrors'. 5 years since 'Like Drawing Blood' was released, this recording is a bigger, bolder and overall better album that its predecessor. From the use of lush horns and a xylophone to digitized vocals and multiple keyboards there are many genres being played with here and Gotye's musical background really comes forth for this amazing release.

Top Tracks: Eyes Wide Open, I Feel Better, State Of The Art

5. Foster the People - Torches
Yet another great debut album for an up and coming young band, Foster The People’s 'Torches' is an excellent offering from the trio of only 3 years. Mixing the sensibilities of alternative/indie rock with some nice touches of electronica, most of if not all of these tracks will have you humming or singing in the shower long after hearing them.

Top Tracks: Helena Beat, Call It What You Want, Houdini

4. Penguin Prison - Penguin Prison
While mainstream dance acts seem to constantly churn out ‘by the numbers’ music, it is really refreshing to hear a relatively unknown Chris Glover aka Penguin Prison release a debut effort so fun, catchy and full of 80’s hooks. This is smart dance music with great vocals and instrumentation throughout. A great party album any day of the week, this is the best dance release I’ve heard this year.

Top Tracks: Fair Warning, Don't Fuck With My Money, Golden Train

3. Kimbra - Vows
This year saw the release of many debut albums from a lot of promising acts, and Kimbra Johnson is at the forefront of the pack. Vows showcases an array of genres from soul to all out pop, and for it's 50 minute duration this is an electrifying listen. Kimbra’s amazing voice soars through each and every track taking the listener to new and exciting heights. At the young age of 21 with a debut this assured, Kimbra is definitely one to watch.

Top Tracks: Old Flame, Cameo Lover, Limbo

2. MUTEMATH - Odd Soul
A late but soaring addition to the many great albums of 2011, MUTEMATH have crafted a fantastic third album that is hugely different to their back catalogue. While their previous efforts were based around great alternative rock with a tinge of electronica, their latest recording channels a lot of bluesy rock reminiscent of The Black Keys. And they pull it off very well. This is a great recording that deserves to be played loud.

Top Tracks: Blood Pressure, One More, Walking Paranoia

1. Friendly Fires - Pala
These guys were a late discovery in 2011, and I am very glad I finally had a listen to their material. It was a close finish between this album, MUTEMATH’s 'Odd Soul' and Kimbra’s 'Vows' for my album of the year, but Friendly Fires’ sophomore release took it out in the end. This album is full of catchy songs and great musicianship. An enthralling and diverse listen, the majority of these songs are perfect for your dance floor shredding ambitions or for that lazy summery day in the sun. I can’t pick a bad song out of the 11 brilliant tracks on here, and for that, Friendly Fires get my number one album for 2011.

Top Tracks: Hawaiian Air, Blue Cassette, Hurting

Honorable Mention:

Art vs. Science - The Experiment
It is worth noting that initially I rated this album as one of the worst albums of 2011, but on repeat listens the album is actually really great. If you want fun and catchy party anthems, then this is definitely the album. Prepare to dance!

Emery - We Do What We Want
After co-frontman Devin Shelton parted ways with Emery prior to the release of this recording, I was very skeptical whether Emery could pull it off. After all, their past releases had centered largely around Shelton and Toby Morrell's great use of dual vocals and harmonies. My skeptical ways were dashed as soon as I heard this album. It is fantastic. Not only is there a huge emotional core at the recordings centre, but this is Emery's heaviest and close to best work to date

Tim & Jean - Like What
From their Triple J Unearthed High appearance a few years back, Tim & Jean have definitely made a splash out and about, and rightly so. They are a talented bunch of kids and their debut is a great dance album full of catchy feel-good songs. While it doesn’t really break any musical barriers, ‘Like What’ is chock full of fun and excellent tracks. A perfect album for the summer

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
Husky - Forever So
Cults - Cults
The Grates - Secret Rituals
SBTRKT - SBTRKT
Incubus - If Not Now, When?
Justice - Audio, Video, Disco
The Black Keys - El Camino
Grouplove - Never Trust A Happy Song
Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Bluejuice - Company
City and Colour - Little Hell
Sixx:A.M. - This Is Gonna Hurt

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