Thursday, 5 January 2012

Five Albums of 2011

Yes, it's that time again, when I, along with countless other internet-dwellers, try to prove my cultural relevance by coming up with a list of über-hip albums of the year. This year my music purchasing has increased slightly after the aural recession of 2010, but not enough to justify a top ten, so a top five will have to suffice. Comments welcome! Here goes...

5. Rob St. John - "Weald"

This album had been on my list of long-awaited releases for some time, and it didn't disappoint. The vinyl is a thing of beauty in itself (yes, it's vinyl-only, digital kids) and, by turns, slow-burning and magisterial, it's a lovely record, full of charm and subtlety.

4. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - "Diamond Mine"

Perhaps not the strongest King Creosote album, but coupled with flowing soundscapes and homely production by Jon Hopkins, "Diamond Mine" is a real gem, and worthy of Mercury nomination (for whatever it's worth).

3. Johan Agebjörn - "Casablanca Nights"

I doubt anyone will be surprised that this makes my list. In lieu of a new Sally Shapiro record you might think that a Johan Agebjörn solo release might be a good stop-gap. But, with an impressive list of collaborators, including Wolfram and Legowelt (not to mention Sally, of course), Mr Agebjörn has pulled off an impressive feat by creating a really cohesive album, full of top tunes.

2. Admiral Fallow - "Boots Met My Face"

Maybe I'm just homesick, stuck as I am on the wrong side of the border, but there's something pleasing about hearing a good, honest Scottish accent on a record like this. Sure, it's indie-folk, which will no doubt be anathema to many, but it's an incredibly strong indie-folk album, with rich instrumentation, great lyrics and full to the brim with pop hooks.

1. Wolfram - "Wolfram"

Album of the year, in my book, automatically goes to any album with a guest appearance from Haddaway (yes!) But seriously, this is a cracking Italo-influenced album, full of collaborations and special appearances. This has been there or thereabouts on my listening schedule ever since I got my clammy hands on it earlier in the year. The production is spot on, with sweeping pads and sparky synth lines, throbbing basslines and melodies which just fit perfectly. The use of vocoder also gets extra points from me every time.

More info

Appreciative nods...

A few others just didn't quite make the cut, although I enjoyed them immensely.

M83 - "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"
Ladytron - "Gravity The Seducer"
Ali Renault - "Ali Renault"
The Moth and the Mirror - "Honestly, This World"
Junior Boys - "It's All True"

and, just for kicks, how about a Compilation of the Year? The sublime...

Jonnie Common presents... “Deskjob