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.

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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

1 comment:

  1. A fine selection, Herr Tronic!

    I'll second that championing of Wolfram, it's a belter - to my mind the finest Italo album since Heartbreak's 'Heartbreak'. Seeing as you've given it top billing I'll go these five as my faves of 2011:

    John Maus: We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (arguably the lo-fi synth auteur's pinnacle so far)
    Metronomy: The English Riviera (ended up being thoroughly impressed with this debonair collection of post-punk gems with the lightest French Touch; lived up to the hype)
    Connan Mocassin: Forever Dolphin Love (One of the year's most over-looked; a bewitching album of scratchy Kiwi pop)
    Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact (These guys continue to lead the way with their global mash-up of influences that still sounds incredible despite the imitators. Also probably my favourite cover of the year).
    Destroyer: Kaputt (My most listened to and, thus, my favourite. Was completely ignorant to these guys until this album and just starting to dip my toes into their extensive back catalogue. Smooth as butter, cloaked in mystique and with a decadent wink, 'Kaputt' is a fantastic album for fans of the Prefab Sprout and late period Roxy. Get on it!