GIITTV Writer’s Best of 2011 [Part 1] Albums 100 – 41

GIITTV Writer’s Best of 2011 [Part 1] Albums 100 – 41


December is a frenzied time of year. Whether it’s last-minute shopping, wrapping-up of contestant gameshows, or the inexorable orgy of archive that persists on music (and culture) blogs, something is always afoot. For me, personally, one thing that’s made writing for this particular music (and culture) corner of the web for the last 7 years so joyous is the sheer diversity within its ranks. Justly, we feel this has been reflected in our selection of some of the best LPs to be released this year. You’ll find pop stars seemingly juxtaposed by death metal acts, old hands rubbing shoulders with fresh faces, and a wealth of material pragmatic in its innovation; something which we ourselves strive for as writers.

The voting system we used to compile such breadth across genres was by no means an exact science, much like the heterodox gestures displayed at general assemblies outside St.Paul’s. However it has, by and large, helped us draw consensus, and we invite you to submit your own suggestions and comments below.

But before we go on, may I offer my own humble sorrow at the loss of one of the true modern greats of the industry, Amy Winehouse. Much had been publicised about her private life, in ways the Leveson Enquiry would do well to eradicate completely, however behind the veneer lay a bare and beautiful talent, and one which will be sorely missed. ‘I told you I was trouble’, she resonates with a wry smile.
– James McDonald [GIITTV Sub Editor]

100. Death Cab For Cutie – ‘Codes And Keys’ [Atlantic]

99. Foo Fighters – ‘Wasting Light’ [RCA]

98. Ben Howard – ‘Every Kingdom’ [Island Records]

It’s not often that a ‘singer-songwriter’ with genuine talent manages to stand out from the ocean of ‘men-with-guitars’ playing average songs about breakups and how difficult life is being introspective and bourgeois. Ben Howard has much more to offer than this. If you want some easy listening to bring back fond summer memories then buy this album; if you want goosebumps and a shiver down your spine then see Ben Howard live. – Lorcan O’Brien

 97. We Were Promised Jetpacks – ‘In The Pit of The Stomach’ [Fat Cat Records]

Making a rousing return with their second album, the Edinburgh-born, Glasgow-based four piece pick up where they left off with 2009’s debut ‘These Four Walls.’ Fast and frenetic mixtures of drums and dual guitars form the basis of much of the material on the band’s sophomore effort and whilst some of the stirring, gentler tracks from their debut are amongst my favourites, this bold, brash approach works well too. Delivering a more kinetic, rough-and-ready sound with ‘In The Pit of the Stomach’, WWPJ have clearly beefed up their tone with more thunderous drums and jagged guitars. – Paul Cook

96. Darren Hayman – ‘The Ship’s Piano’ [Fortuna Pop!]

Hayman’s new attentive and unhurried album, ‘The Ship’s Piano’, can only be described as being like a reassuring embrace from an old friend. Almost by stealth, the calming, yet touching, delectable numbers progressively build into moving tributes to romance. Hayman has, beyond doubt, composed a down-played, pronounced and hushed minor opus. One of the year’s slow-burners. – Dominic Valvona

95. The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – ‘Bag of Meat’ [This is Fake DIY]

Of the three albums released by the band thus far this is by far the most complete sounding; the tracks seem more a part of a whole than those on previous releases, on occasion nodding to one another with a reference here and there. There’s a lightness as well to the album that – whilst the band have never been glum – feels new and refreshing, bringing out a lot of arch theatricality and gallows humour that gives the records its own distinct personality. A very accomplished release from an already astute band. – Owain Paciuszko

94. Little Comets – ‘In Search of Elusive’ [Dirty Hit]

93. Destroyer – ‘Kaputt’ [Merge Records]

92. Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’ [Interscope]

91. Real Estate – ‘Days’ [Domino]

Whilst some listeners could accuse the album of being a little repetative, it seems unmistakeable that this effect is the deliberate intention and ethos behind the music. ‘Days’ was purpose-built for kicking back. The record sounds like it is a product of the state of California, with an obvious influence of the Beach Boys, rather than developing from the other side of the country. It is incredibly hard to dislike this music.– Niall Kavanagh

90. Girl’s Names – ‘Dead To Me’ [Tough Love Records]

89. White Denim – ‘D’ [Downtown Records]

88. Tellison – ‘The Wages of Fear’ [Naim Edge Records]

‘The Wages of Fear’ marked a return to form for Tellison whose second full-length record had been a long time coming. The album demonstrated a slightly more considered approach compared to previous work, but retained a lot of the energy, in places, that makes them one of the more fun bands to see on the live circuit. – James Smith

 

87. True Widow – ‘As High As The Highest Heavens…’ [Kemado Records]

Compared to the monolithic sonorous labouring shifts of Earth, True Widow move at a right royal pace; managing to, mostly, dodge the achingly minimalist dirge gloom, synonymous with stoner doom. Their collection of nine paeans move between the dreamy cathartic slowcore of Jakyl, to the biblical scriptures eulogy of Boaz (imagine the Spaceman 3 reading the last rites as the Tower of Babel crumbles to the ground behind you). These crypt dwelling Texans bring a Mogodon induced Best Coast vibe to the meloncholy hardened wastelands of judgement day rock. – Dominic Valvona

86. Rob St. John – ‘Weald’ [Toad Records]

85. Kuedo – ‘Severant’ [Planet Mu]

84. Noah And The Whale – ‘Last Night on Earth’ [Universal]

83. J.Cole – ‘Coleworld: The Sideline Story [Columbia]

82. Misty’s Big Adventure – ‘The Family Amusement Centre’ [Grumpy Fun]

In many ways this record feels like a relative of 2007’s Funny Times moreso than any other Misty’s record, yet – though touching on many familiar themes – it’s a more bright and cheerful alter-ego sharing the same melodic and lively DNA. After the emotional exorcism that was 2008’s Television’s People, a complex concept album, with this LP they’ve brought the fearless experimentation of that latter record to the catchy choruses and pop stylings of earlier releases in what is undoubtedly a finely crafted, memorable, and instantly re-listenable treat of a record. – Owain Paciuszko

81. Brontide – ‘Sans Souci’ [Holy Roar]

80. Paisley & Charlie – ‘Songs in Black And White’ [Pebble Records]

79. The Moth And The Mirror – ‘Honestly, This World’ [Olive Grove Records]

The songs are all simplistic on the surface, and yet underneath are really quite complex, with a bold, layered sound to some and a seriously stripped-back sense to others. It’s the perfect antidote to the bite and chill of winter. Grab yourself a mug of Hot Chocolate, and maybe some cheese on toast, curl up on the sofa with the cat and press play. Honestly, This World is a stunning debut with its obvious, almost tangible and inescapable power. – Toni Spencer

78. 13 & God – ‘Own Your Ghost’ [Anticon]

77. Camile ‘Ilo Veyou’ [EMI]

76. Butcher Boy – ‘Helping Hands’ [Damaged Goods]

‘Helping hands’ follows in the line of great wistful indie pop albums; from Belle and Sebastian’s classic ‘Tigermilk’ to the Tindersticks ‘’Simple Pleasure’’ it’s refreshingly drawn of personal experience and assembled with the utmost care and attention. Filtered with quality and maturity; facets often cast aside in today’s fickle music industry, that thirstily seeks the next buzz band. In ‘Helping Hands,’ Butcher Boy have penned a third chapter in their trilogy of immense accomplishment. Invite it into your life, it’s essential listening. – Bill Cummings

75. The War On Drugs – ‘Slave Ambient’ [Secretly Canadian]

74. Kurt Vile – ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ [Matador Records]

73. The Men – ‘Leave Home’ [Sacred Bones Records]

72. CANT – ‘Dreams Come True’ [Warp]

The solo debut, ‘Dreams Comes True’, benefits from the assiduously chosen session work Chris Taylor’s carried out for the likes of Arthur Russell, The Dirty Projectors and TV On The Radio: each of these artists and groups leave a trace and mark, suffused throughout the album’s ten tracks. Unlike the usual day job offerings, this series of vaporous, translucent, jumpy and entranced laments conjure up visions of a Prince (circa ‘Purple Rain’) fronted Radiohead, or an R&B Spaceman 3. CANT isn’t about to eclipse the ever-looming presence of the lauded Grizzly Bear, yet it proves Taylor can step out on his own. – Dominic Valvona

71. pneu – ‘Highway To Health’ [Head Records]

pneu have stuck to their guns here, albeit ones with a remorselessly devistating ballistic effect. The kit is a booming colossus throughout the record – all proceeds from which will be used to fund new snare skins – while the purists may argue that overdubbing guitars is sacrilege, but will conced they themselves would flounder in matching the pace. Perhaps the starkest example I have ever heard of two accomplished musicians enjoying their craft, while brazenly taking the piss. -James McDonald

70. WU LYF – ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ [Pias]

69. Young Legionnaire – ‘Crisis Works’ [Wichita]

This isn’t a flawless release, but it is definitely one of the strongest debut records of the year, and proves that there is still life in the classic three-piece riff-centric rock band. The heavy moments really hit home, especially the brutal coda of ‘Black Lions’, but tracks such as “Even The Birds’ and the surprisingly sweet ‘These Arms’ show some great versatility. The main hope this album brings up is that the band find enough time away from their main projects to work on more new music. This record is too promising not to. – Tom Reed

68. Gang Gang Dance – ‘Eye Contact’ [4AD]

It might seem odd to say that an album which opens with an 11 minute ‘song’ is poppy, but by GGD’s standards this is their poppiest album yet. It’s all relative, you wouldn’t think ‘pop’ when you first hear Lizzie Bougatsos’s vocals (think Bjork aged 3, right down to her cribbing words from a nursery rhyme, Hush Little Baby) but in between the strange samples and the snatches of half songs are some electro pop gems taking in buzzing basslines (‘Mindkilla’), duets with yer man from Hot Chip (‘Romance Layers’), and thunderous percussive workouts (‘Adult Goth’, ‘Thru And Thru’). For dancing as well as chin-stroking. – Holly Cruise

67. CSS – ‘La Liberación’ [Cooperative Music]

66. The Birthday Suit – ‘The Eleventh Hour’ [Self Released]

65. Mogwai – ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’ [Sub Pop]

‘Three years on from their last instalment, Mogwai’s seventh studio album, ‘Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will’ re-enforced their place as one of the biggest instrumental alt-rock bands in the world. This newer work forms a softer and more electric aesthetic and feel, compared to the iconic works of their earlier career like ‘Mr Beast’ and ‘Come On Die Young’.’ – James Smith

64. Alex Clare – ‘Lateness of The Hour’ [Island]

63. Emmy The Great – ‘Virtue’ [Close Harbour]

The woman’s reliably comforting, but she’s not a bloody pillow. Virtue makes such a colossal first impression it’s hard to imagine how I’ll feel about it in a year’s time. Whatever the case, I’m not exaggerating; my like of this album won’t decrease. It might explode. I might explode. In a year’s time, if you find me wielding this release as a vaccination to all the “scene affirming” gubbins out there, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Acoustic music doesn’t stand a chance. Everyone else might as well stop trying now. – Tiffany Daniels

62. Josh T. Pearson – ‘Last of The Country Gentlemen’ [Mute]

61. Keith TOTP – ‘Fuck You! I’m Keith TOTP’ [Corporate Records]

60. Sparrow And The Workshop – ‘Spitting Daggers’ [Distiller Records]

59. Bix Medard – ‘Take A Deep Breath’ [Altair Musik]

Bix Medard’s second opus is pretty generous, with a running time of nigh on an hour, though their indolent coquettish drifting musical suites can be laboured – there’s at least four tracks that could safely lose a minute, before they fizzle out and run their course. ‘Take A Deep Breath’ isn’t just an album title, it’s also an instruction for the experience you’re about to partake of: submerged in a post Factory Records haze of drowning electro art. One of 2011’s more inventive and intriguing albums. – Dominic Valvona

58. Truckers of Husk – ‘Accelerated Learning’ [Shape]

‘Brace yourself’ – more a neighbourly reminder than authoritarian squawk, but nonetheless futile in the face of what’s to come. You’ll be picking the pieces of yourself off the floor for days, before reassembly with PVA glue. Cardiff’s yearly rationing of truly excellent bands is the defibtillator to London’s own stagnant soul, and while the locals have known of this particular gem for a while now, we’re just happy our trade relations are still intact. – James McDonald

57. Colormusic – ‘My _____ is Pink’ [Memphis Industries]

Whilst not as immediate as their previous album, this is a dense, multi-faceted and absorbing listen that finds the tracks tackling more adventurous and avant garde territory to previous work. It’s not wholly successful; some tracks finding it had to feel distinctive, others almost cruel in their desire to confound, but this is a fascinating and thrilling listen from one of the most interesting bands in contemporary music. – Owain Paciuszko

56. Suuns – ‘Zeros QC’ [Secretly Canadian]

Who are Suuns and what do they want with our computers and guitars? They’re the twisted, sinister end point for all that indie-electro-dance stuff which has been around in varying degrees of palatability for the last few years, and they have made a damn fine album which isn’t as hard to listen to as it might seem at first. Its ideas are kept brief and breezy, nothing outstays its welcome. It invites us to dance, but in the style of a close second place in the Turing test – these robots have almost made a record which sounds human, but not quite. And that’s why it’s so good.’ – Holly Cruise

55. Los Campesinos! – ‘Hello Sadness’ [Wichita]

54. Ghostpoet – ‘Peanut Butter Jelly & Melancholy Jam’ [Brownswood]

A ghostwriter is someone who writes for and gives credit of authorship to another. A ghostpoet, we can infer, is that specific kind of ghostwriter whose work takes on a more creative, flowing, literative interpretation of events. James Blake has been cited as the face of a new post-dubstep movement, but the genre should be more than deliberately minimal synths. Stretching across dubstep, garage, grime and experimental electronica, Ghostpoet might be the UK’s answer to Flying Lotus, and an exciting indication of dubstep’s impact on IDM. – James TAE

53. Dutch Uncles – ‘Cadenza’ [Memphis Industries]

Cadenza has a strong 80’s influence on the surface, recalling bands like XTC and Talking Heads, but behind the sheen of the razor sharp production lie some labyrinthine, twisting compositions that even have glimmers of mad prog-punkers Cardiacs and Hot Club de Paris. This is a quality effort, a proper thinking man’s pop record. Stuffed with ideas, tangents and adventure, this is a genuinely diverting record and more than the sum of its parts. If they can marry their flights of fancy tighter to their indelible melodies, they have a sound all of their own and are definitely ones to watch. – Tom Reed

52. Brigade – ‘Will Be Will Be [Home Spun]

51. The Beastie Boys – ‘Hot Sauce Committee Pt.2’ [Capitol]

50. The Real Tuesday Weld – ‘The Last Werewolf’ [Crammed]

The Real Tuesday Weld have once again provided a soundtrack to a Glen Duncan novel, and having attended Duncan’s reading at King’s Place in June, the book promises much. What I love about his writing is how beautifully he evokes, no matter what the subject matter, just how wonderful it is to be human, reveling in all the little sensations that sadly become obscured, overlooked, nearly forgotten after we’ve been doing it awhile. And dancing through the light of those feelings is just what I love about The Real Tuesday Weld’s music as well.  – Aug Stone

49. Glen Campbell – ‘Ghost On The Canvas’ [Surfdog]

48. Connan Mockasin – ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ [Phantasy]

This, as confusing and daft as it may be, is an intergalactic adventure through the bizarre and unconventional. It feels as if from another time, another world; a lush hallucination of unchartered utopia a million miles from the doom and gloom of Earth. It positions Mockasin as a man unafraid to break with the norm, one who can squeeze more ideas into one song than most can fit in one album without it sounding forced or overly busy. Finally, it proves him to be one of the most innovative and interesting musicians around, pushing boundaries and bending minds. It’s about time he was recognised as such. – Rhian Daly

47. The Weekend – ‘House of Balloons’ [Self Released]

46. Laura Stevenson & The Cans – ‘Sit Resit’ [Don Giovanni Records]

45. Rival Sons – ‘Pressure And Time’ [Earache]

44. Love Among The Mannequins – ‘Radial Images’ [Function Records]

Citing anti-heroes whose deaths, or circuling themes thereof, comprise the flesh of the lyrics (while the music bores deep into the bone), Al Petersen senses the irony. ‘These people have all, in their own way, tried to leave their mark on history. I guess that’s what every band aims for with each release.’ Denoted by a learned tounge and an instrumental folly with a hands-in-pockets swagger, ‘Radial Images’ is one for the ages. Others would do well to study attentively. – James McDonald

43. Baxter Dury – ‘Happy Soup’ [Regal]

This third record from Baxter Dury comes, for me, burdened with the weight of his two previous records, each dark, grimy and beautiful, it’s been a long six years since his last album and my expectations for his new LP were high. Happy Soup is a peculiar and intriguing album, its stripped bare, with subtle and simple arrangments that sound almost barren in comparison to Baxter’s previous two records. But it’s a strange and compelling album that is ultimately as uplifting and optimistic as it is mellow and downbeat. – Owain Paciuszko

42. Rustie – ‘Glass Swords’ [Warp]

Yes, it’s all here; from the strutting glitch-hop of ‘Death Mountain’  to the irrepressible schizoid synths of ‘Ultra Thizz’, Rustie is a man with ideas for days. Each and every eccentricity seems intent to outdo the last. Yes, filled with jaw-dropping originality and framed by sheer unpredictability, the adventure Glass Swords takes you on may not be predictable, it may certainly not be an easy one – but as one of the few albums so diverse as to easily soundtrack a Sci-Fi epic, a Sega Game, or back a chart-topper, it’s a musical experience that everyone should let Rustie take them on. – Mike Colemann

41. Atlas Sound – ‘Parallax’ [4AD]

‘Parallax’ is a reflective exercise in an obsessives mind; a plaintive series of swooning, and crooner voiced coalesce songs, some picked from the obscurity of his ‘Bedroom Databank Tapes’ and others taken from recent exploratory pursuits. Cox’s third LP proper under the trademark Atlas Sound solo appellation, is a ponderous, if not indolent slow-burner. And though nothing immediately leaps out at you, the purposeful realization soon dawns on you that this is indeed a minor revelation; a soulful dip into the inner workings of Bradford Cox.– Domonic Valvona

We’ll run through the business end of the list on Thursday, so until then, get speculating!

3 thoughts on “GIITTV Writer’s Best of 2011 [Part 1] Albums 100 – 41

  1. NICE LIST.
    Connan Mockasin – ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ [Phantasy]
    Darren Hayman – ‘The Ship’s Piano’ [Fortuna Pop!]
    Atlas Sound – ‘Parallax’ [4AD]
    Destroyer – ‘Kaputt’ [Merge Records]
    True Widow – ‘As High As The Highest Heavens…’ [Kemado Records]
    White Denim – ‘D’ [Downtown Records]
    Real Estate – ‘Days’ [Domino]
    The War On Drugs, WU LYF, Death Cab For Cutie,..

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