how was your christmas? mine has been fun. present wise, i finally own a record player meaning that i can now play the piles of vinyl i’ve built up due to my complete lack of self restraint when faced with a pretty looking 12″. no longer will i have to shift uneasily or change the subject when somebody when i get home from flashback records and emma asks me why i’ve bought another record. having said that, 2011 has once again been dominated by digital music of course. your spotify account now links to your facebook, everybody has their top three played artists of the week feed through from their last.fm to twitter and you can’t move on the tube for people with a pair of beats headphones plugged into their iphone. some artists are fighting back though. it is not unusual to see a band release lovely vinyl versions of their albums with limited edition t-shirts, posters or chocolate brownies. but they still have to include that code for the digital download of course.
enough of all that though. let’s get on with the list. once again, i’ve nominated a top ten, with a single winner and then an extra addition which i simply couldn’t ignore. the 2011 apologies for just missing out go to battles, emmy the great, the kills, pj harvey, the pains of being pure at heart and last year’s winner cloud nothings.
he’s still a miserable fucker, but compared to for emma, forever ago this is positively rainbows & puppies. let mr iver take you on tour of his favourite places while he sits alone in a vets. (buy here)
their ep was one of my favourites of 2010 and this full length is a worthy successor. in a year when the beach boys announced they’re reforming for 2012, girls released an album that any californian worth their salt would be proud off. (buy here)
i’m still at a loss as to how a band can improve so immeasurably (actually, you can measure it. only in terms of back to the future though). still debating whether it’s as good as primary colours, but who would i have thought they’d be anywhere near this list four years ago? (buy here)
oh lykke. we all love lykke. her second album ticked all the boxes about growing up and while not as instantly pickupable (real word) as her first is far more accomplished overall. (buy here)
this was the album that i could just put on this year and drift away. what a a truly beautiful album. (buy here)
what isn’t to love about this album? nothing. the perfect advert for tourism of the english coast. (buy here)
there are lots of bands producing that lo-fi sound that i love so at the moment. the greatest example of the year though came not from a teenage genius in his bedroom, but a five-album veteran three piece. (buy here)
so excited i was about the release of this album that i dedicated a day to tom vek day. any other year he would have probably walked off with the winner’s badge. tom vek is back in a big way. (buy here)
the first new album i listened to of the year. a great start it was too. especially for a sonic youth and cajun dance party fan like myself. (buy here)
so, who wins? if you’ve been an avid reader of this blog over the year i’m sure you already know. a couple of years ago nobody knew whether they were a swedish collective or an east london teen. it transpired that they were in fact a guy who was already established as solo artist in his own right, and a girl who was a music journalist – and had in fact been asked to cover the band before people knew their true make up. i’ve seen them over a dozen times live and i hoped the album would live up to the high standards they’d set. it more than did.
summer camp introduced us to the fictional american town of condale. with teen crushes, a burgeoning rock band and ultimately death, welcome to condale and the accompanying fanzine takes us through an americana dream. it isn’t just the story that makes this album so good though. elizabeth has the sort of voice that is recognisable and easy to listen to. jeremy knows more about electronic instruments and how to use them than i know about cheese. the songs have more variety than early releases did and straight away remove the risk of becoming bored of the sound. this is a worthy winner. as an aside, if i was writing a list of my live performances of the year, i fancy summer camp’s gig at efes would top that too. (buy here)
i couldn’t complete the list without giving a shout out to alex turner’s soundtrack to submarine as well. my favourite film of the year was also my favourite soundtrack. just six tracks long, but it was pretty much all i listened to for a period earlier in the year. superb songs, brilliantly performed. (buy here)
in case you’ve ignored all of my subtle hints to buy the albums mentioned, you can listen to them all on this handy spotify playlist.