It’s that time of the year when everyone is releasing their ‘Best Of’ lists. Not wanting to feel left out, I am doing the same.
First up is a list of all the albums that moved me in some way this year. They’re in no particular order.
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Epic in every way, this 2-disc release from Anthony Gonzalez managed to top Saturdays = Youth and is one of the most cinematic albums of 2011.
Zola Jesus – Conatus
Nika Danilova’s follow-up to Stridulum II found her in accessible but uncompromising form. A captivating album going from haunted Grouper-esque drone-folk and minimal techno to industrial pop and back. Amazing.
When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
An enigmatic, strange and beautiful record that comes across as a The Knife Covers Band fronted by Antony Hegarty (of Antony & The Johnsons). That’s a compliment.
Planningtorock – W
One of the best releases on DFA this year, W often takes a bit of dedication but is a lavish and rewarding listen for the thinking music fan.
Bjork – Biophilia
My love for Bjork transcends all. She’s been around longer than most people on this list, but is still the most exciting and forward thinking artist making music today.
Yelle - Safari Disco Club
French pop never sounded this good.
Little Dragon – Ritual Union
Sultry, soulful and eccentric, Ritual Union is consistently ground-breaking and lyrically challenging. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano is Sade, Björk, Marvin Gaye and Santigold, all rolled into one extraordinary package.
Metronomy – The English Riviera
NME said it best: “The English Riviera is a deep sea of ideas and imagination: a far-flung, limitless dreamworld full of romance, nostalgia, lovers’ tiffs and good old-fashioned shagging.
Azari & III - Azari & III
This album, for me, was the soundtrack to dancing like my life depended on it in 2011.
Washed Out – Within and Without
Best enjoyed when lying by the pool when it’s 30 degrees outside.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
A dreamy, mournful and compelling album of love songs to a series of places – some real, some imagined.
Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
Lykke Li came back slightly better and definitely bigger with an album filled with driving, booming percussion and cascading beats combined with her often bleak or malevolent lyrics.
Austra – Feel It Break
Chilly synths and cut-glass vocals, theatrical intesity and dancefloor-friendly beats, this album was The Knife with soul.
Gill Scott-Heron and Jamie xx – We’re New Here
Who knew the combination of Gil Scott-Heron’s gritty, well-worn voice and Jamie xx’s dubstep-hoods-up introspection would fit together so nicely.
SBTRKT - SBTRKT
“A mix of shiny vocals with tight, accelerated textures, steeped deep in a glorious combination of two-step, UK funky, dubstep, US RnB and Chicago house. Add that to the compendium of a killer pop sensibility, infectious bubbling rhythms, unbridled energy and astounding curation, and what we have here is the promise of this decade’s Timbaland.”
New Look – New Look
Sarah Ruba’s voice is an understated treasure chest of emotion on an album filled with angst and mystery. It’s been a while since a voice like hers has floored me every time I hear it.
Justice – Audio, Video, Disco
Their sophomore album divided fans, but I loved it. With this album, the Justice boys try their hands at ’70s arena rock, melding Italo-disco and singing hair-metal guitars with great success.
Beni – House Of Beni
Sydney producer and one-man party show Beni released a shape-shifting, solid-state wall-of-dance album. Someone needs to fill the gap Basement Jaxx left, right?
Modeselektor – Monkeytown
Modeselektor’s music always amaze me. Forward-thinking, intelligent and experimental dance music that’s fun to listen to. If Thom Yorke approves, then it must be good, right? Well, it is. And then some.
Siriusmo – Mosaik
And then there’s Siriusmo. This talented German wunderkid stole Daft Punk’s dusty crown and released an album filled with manic energy and playful ideas. Mosaik was my house-party mixtape of 2011.
Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials
I almost didn’t include this in my list, but there’s no escaping the power of Florence. She came back with a brilliant follow up to her debut – a darker, moodier and more cohesive collection of songs, produced by Paul Epworth.
James Blake - James Blake
An unsettling and strange modern pop record that has amazed and confused me in equal measure. I’ve never heard anything like it and I love it. Limit To Your Love and The Wilhelm Scream are my favorites.
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Pitchfork summed up Zonoscope perfectly: “an album of euphoric, starry-eyed dance-rock”.
Penguin Prison – Penguin Prison
A very long delay in release due to label switch-ups meant this album flew under a lot of people’s radars. And what a shame. This is such a great disco funk-pop album.
Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting
James Blake with soul. This album has soundtracked many nights walking the empty streets of London home and sitting alone on a night bus.
Junior Boys – It’s All True
I have a special place in my heart for the Junior Boys. Their music has a delicate sophistication that moves me. Personally, It’s All True was not their best, but it was still a beautiful record.
The Weeknd – House Of Balloons
Some people listen to Mary J, I listen to The Weeknd.