Manuel’s Belated Top Ten of 2011

mtc_top10_2011_imageAfter a huge delay, I finally found time to post my top ten albums of 2011. As I’ve written in previous comments, I’m surprised with how little overlap there is between our lists. Personally, I think my list is superior to y’alls. ūüôā However, I do concede that there are many albums that I never heard (e.g., Wilco, PJ Harvey, Jordie Lane, Kasabian, etc.). So it is entirely possible I simply missed out on some outstanding releases.

Preamble aside, here we go…

10. Band of Horses “Infinite Arms” (2010)genre: American Indie Rock
Typically beautiful and excellent album by these (now) New Folk Rock veterans.¬† But as you’ll see with the rest of my list, I made a deliberate effort to stay away from what I consider a tired, oversaturated Indie Folk Rock scene.

9. Elbow “Build a Rocket Boys!” (2011)genre: Emoschlock
No one has better production values than Guy Garvey.¬† Listening to this album over a good set of cans is an absolute sonic pleasure.¬† Still, this album lacked the gravitas of previous efforts.¬† That, however, didn’t stop me from giving it multiple chances to move me.¬† Did it ultimately succeed?

8. Joan As Police Woman “The Deep Field” (2011)genre: American Indie Rock
Joan Wasser continues her relatively anonymous assault on the music world.¬† Equal to her previous albums, this one was less Torch Song and more R&B.¬† I think what vaulted it over the top for me was finally seeing her deliver the goods live with a proper backup band.¬† That, and being super friendly after the show.¬† ūüėČ

7. Hard-Fi “Killer Sounds” (2011) genre: Lad Rock
As I’ve written previously, I didn’t think this album was going to last in my rotation for long.¬† I felt they lost their way with one too many trips to the club.¬† But it grew on me fast, to the point where I now think it’s their best album.¬† The lesson here is that the four of us are due for a visit to a disco, yes?

6. Two Door Cinema Club “Tourist History” (2010) genre: Sneaker Rock
This album rocketed up my rotation after a single listen.¬† They’re like Death Cab for Cutie after getting their drinks spiked with Prozac and a dash of meth.¬† That it didn’t get a mention from you fellas all year shocked me, especially since they’re from Northern Ireland.¬† C’mon Keef and Mork — represent!

5. Anna Calvi “Anna Calvi” (2011)genre: British Indie Rock
This is my favorite debut of the year.¬† If you try hard enough when listening to this album, you can smell the cigarette smoke coming out of your speakers.¬† Very talented, very sultry, to me she’s the female Jeff Buckley.¬† I look forward to see what she comes up with in the future.

4. The Horrors “Skying” (2011)genre: Post-Punk Revival
Their previous two releases were great, but disjointed affairs.¬† They seemed like a survey course of music’s underbelly:¬† Shoegazer, Gothic Rock, Punk, Noize Rock, New Wave, Garage Rock.¬† And because no one song blended all those genres, it was hard to figure out where they were headed.¬† But this album was laser-focused.¬† If Echo & The Bunnymen had children, this is the band that they would have spawned.

3. The Vaccines “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?” (2011)genre: Post-Punk Revival
Yes, this band sounds derivative.¬† I hear it all:¬† Glasvegas, The Strokes, even some Embrace (especially the voice).¬† But what an interesting mix.¬† I was sold almost immediately (thanks Mork!).¬† I only wish I didn’t pass up the chance to see them this year.

2. Friendly Fires “Pala” (2011)genre: White Funk
As much as I loved their first, this sophomore effort is superior.¬† This band, unlike The Horrors, doesn’t need three albums to define their sound.¬† They are New Romantics born twenty years too late.¬† A Red Bull-spike cocktail live, they were also the second best concert I attended in 2011.

1. White Lies “Ritual” (2011)genre: Post-Punk Revival
Dark and anthemic, this won this year’s iTunes play count sweepstakes by a landslide.¬† And I think after listening to it, you’ll agree that this is exactly the style of music you envision me listening to.¬† If Ian Curtis were alive to hear this album, he would probably beam with pride from the legacy he created.¬† Or he’d hang himself.¬† Again.

The albums that missed the cut include:

The Kooks “Junk of the Heart” (2011)
Brendan Perry “Ark” (2011) — best concert I attended last year.
Ian Brown “The World Is Yours (2007)
Other Lives “Tamer Animals” (2011)
Pearl Jam “Ten” (1991)

Time to discuss…


Mark’s Albums of 2011

Like Keith I agree that its been an average year for “new” music.¬†I wouldn’t say its been a¬†bad year but it hasn’t been a great year either.

I sat down and drew up a list of albums I remember listening to over the past year and this is what I came up with:

Arcade Fire, PJ Harvey, Foo Fighters, The Decemberists, Noel Gallagher, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, The Vaccines, Kasabian, Beady Eye, Elbow, Noah & The Whale, Ryan Adams, Lykke Li, Beirut, Wilco, Gomez, Liam Finn, Miles Kane, The Black Keys, EMA, Arctic Monkeys, Anna Calvi, Jordie Lane, Florence and the Machines, Radiohead, The Horrors, Friendly Fires, Glasvegas.

Honestly nothing really jumped out as life changing to me from the list…I’ve enjoyed a few of them but I wouldn’t say that any of the above albums will be having lots of air play in a years time. So my next thought was to go by play count on my ipod. That created this list:

1. Kasabian 1. Liam Finn (interestingly same play count as Kasabian) 3. Beady Eye 4. Noel Gallagher 5. Arctic Monkeys 6. The Vaccines 7. Elbow 8. Foo Fighters 9. PJ Harvey 10. Ryan Adams

I then doubted my play count method due to when the¬†album¬†was released, I may have deleted some and put them back on, I’ll have listened though other means etc., so I then decided to listen to a few of them again and make my mind up based on the here and now care factor. I came up with this (and I’m sticking to it):

10.  The Decemberists. Probably one of the earliest albums released this year. Reminded me a lot of the Irish folk music feel that you hear in bars up and down the country. Fav Track: Rox in The Box

9. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake. At first I didn’t like this album. Thought it was a bit weird and a bit out there. But I gave it another go and its grown on me over the past few months. No were near the heights of Stories From The City…but a good collection of songs. Fav Track: The Words That Maketh Murder

8. Noel G – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Another¬†album¬†I wasn’t sold by on the¬†first listen but it has¬†definitely¬†grown on me. I’m still a bit pissed that it didn’t go far enough away from the Oasis sound but some good songs on there. Fav Track: The Death of You and Me

7. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?¬†An album I was really ¬†looking forward to when it came out and it didn’t¬†disappoint. I take on board the criticism that it sounds like every other¬†British¬†band but I don’t really care…good short and¬†sharp¬†upbeat songs. Fav Track: Post break Up Sex (Then I go and pick a depressing fav song!)

6. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light.¬†I was a big fan of this¬†album¬†at the time it came out and kind of stopped listening to it for a while. Have rediscovered it lately and I still love it…Foo’s back to their best with Pat Smear back on guitar. Fav Track: Walk

5.¬†Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues. I really liked their first album and if anything this took it to a new level for them. I’ve been listening to a lot of Folk and Blues music this year so this was definitely up there for me. Fav Track: Helplessness Blues

4.¬†Miles Kane – Colour of The Trap. This album passed me by at first but then during a¬†lull¬†in¬†interesting¬†stuff to listen to I discovered it. It sounds a lot like Arctic Monkey’s b-sides…but¬†that’s¬†not a bad thing for me! Would it have got the¬†attention¬†it got if he wasn’t in the last¬†Shadow¬†Puppets, probably not, but still a good collection of songs on here and a good sound. Fav Track: Rearrange

3.¬†Noah & The Whale – Last Night On Earth. One of the best albums to come out of 2011 in my book. I think he’s got a great voice¬†that’s¬†quite unique in this era of mass production. Shame they look like a Top Man advert¬†every time¬†I see them on TV but I love the sound. Fav Track: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N

2.¬†Kasabian – Velociraptor! I’m never going to say anything bad about this band as I think¬†they push the¬†boundaries¬†in British music scene to new limits every time they release an album. One of the best live bands around at the moment as well. This probably would have been No.1 for me if I wasn’t such a bit fan of West Ryder. Fav Track: Days Are Forgotten

1.¬†Jordie Lane – Blood Thinner. A recent discovery for me and I’ve fallen in love with this album since first listening to it. Exceptional guitar player and great folk voice for an¬†Australian. I went to see him live and it was unbelievable…he’s like a cross between early Dylan and Neil Young only with a banjo!!! This album is sure to gets lots of air play round my way over the summer months. Fav Track: Annabelle Marie or On The Net ‘Till Morn

What you think? I had trouble with the top 5 in the right order but pretty happy with the¬†overall 10 from the list I started with.¬†I found this list on the nme website right after I’d though about it way too long…if only I’d have known I could of copied and paste :)…although can you trust a list that has Kayne West on it. I think not!

Just Missed Out: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Most Disappointing 2011 Album: Radiohead – King of The Limbs

Favourite 2010 Album I Though Was Released This Year: Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Favourite 2011 Gig: Matt Langley @ St Peters Hall Paekakariki

Most Anticipated 2012 Album:¬†The Stone Roses Return!!! & The Shins – Port of Morrow. Oh and the new Weller album…see 2012 is already gonna be a better year!

Keith’s revised top 10 (Ten!) of the year

Keith's 2011 CoversSo I bow down to peer pressure. It is true! Here’s a top 10 of 2011 to make up for my measly top 5 post earlier.

I was probably a bit grumpy that day and just bashed it out. Now with much more careful consideration…. ūüėČ

1. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes (Sweden)

No change at the top. I got this album in the UK after reading bits and bobs about her in the music press and then listening to stuff online. The songs are strong, kinda quirky and she’s Swedish and gorgeous. What more could I want!

2. Wilco – The Whole Love (US)

And still number two. It works so well as an album. Some weird songs, some poppy ones, some quiet ones, the odd guitar blowout. Very cool indeed. Now they just need to tour NZ again!

3. Avett Brothers – I and love and you (US)

Been listening to this recently and has bumped itself up this list. Lovely melodies and harmonies. Pretty easy listening but they lyrics still have a bite to them.

4. John Grant – Queen of Denmark (US)

Speaking of lyrics, this album just gets better with each listen. I hear more and more words and phrases that you just don’t hear anybody else doing. He’s like Ben Folds but with a better voice and not quite so geeky.

5. The Vaccines – What did you expect from the Vaccines? (UK)

Bit of a departure for me this one. Over the past few years I seem to have veered away from the British music scene. The Vaccines debut has such great songs on it – short, sharp and sometimes funny. Find myself listening to this loads at work.

6. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire (US)

Sweet voice, cool guitar, decent songs. Nice one Ryan!

7. Decemberists – The King is Dead (US)

I liked the previous Decemberists album and this carries on nicely. It is kinda like REM in places and a touch less country than before. Again, great songs. Would love to see them live.

8. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (UK)

I think this was rereleased this year and was certainly the first time I’d got into it. The Keith Richards autobio made me start listening to this. Raw Stones – love it!

9. Liam Finn – FOMO (NZ)

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out. Listened to this again this week and the songs are so good. Neil must be proud!

10. Tired Pony – The place we ran from (UK/US)

Apart from Snow Patrol’s wonderful Final Straw, I’ve liked Gary Lightbody’s side projects more than the other Snow Patrol albums. The Reindeer Section and Tired Pony both seem a bit more down to earth with him not trying so hard to write big hit singles. Much better for it too.

Top gig in 2011

It was only a couple of nights ago but Lawrence Arabia’s gig at the San Fran Bathhouse was fantastic. Can’t beat a combination of great musicians, good songs, funny between song banter and the band having a blast.

Closely followed by The Phoenix Foundation, Pajama Club (I was about 2m away from Neil Finn all gig) and Liam Finn. Only seemed to go to Kiwi music this year. And oh yeah – Kiri te Kanawa was pretty good too. Saw her in Belfast’s Queens Hall.

Want to get hold of

Here’s the albums from 2011 I’m going to get hold of sometime soon. Heard good things about them.

  • Pajama Club
  • Cults
  • Florence and the Machine
  • Feist
  • PJ Harvey
  • Kurt Vile
  • Dawes
  • Bright Eyes
  • Jonny
  • The Pierces
  • Black Keys

Stu’s Top 10 Albums of 2011

Unlike Keef I think this year has been a great year and have struggled to limit my Top 10 to only ten. Obviously the two post-Oasis albums were always going to be shoe-ins for me, but there have been some real crackers released this year.

So without further ado here is my Top 10:

10. KURT VILE – Smoke Ring for My Halo (U.S.A)
I’ve been meaning to upload this album for a while. A great album albeit a particularly melancholy listen. Clearly a very talented song-writer with a bright future ahead of him. If anyone wants me to upload more than happy to do so.

9. LIAM FINN – FOMO (New Zealand)
For me not as good as I’ll Be Lightening but still a good album. Some great tracks on there (The Struggle, Cold Feet to name two) but possibly a couple on there that aren’t as strong as they could be.

8. RYAN ADAMS – Ashes & Fire (U.S.A)
I agree with Keith here. A return to form when we were all wondering where he was going to go next.

7. THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH – The Wild Hunt (Sweden)
I uploaded this earlier in the year and it continues to be on rotation. This was released in 2010, so strictly speaking, shouldn’t be in this list. However having purchased it this year, and being as good as it is, I had to add it in.

6. KASABIAN – Velociraptor (England)
A good album by Kasabian but not as good as either Kasabian or West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum in my opinion. I’m still enjoying it though and Days Are Forgotten and Re-Wired are classic Kasabian.

5. GOMEZ – Whatever’s On Your Mind (England)
A more mellow album by the lads from Southport. This is making for great summer listening.

4. BEADY EYE – Different Gear, Still Speeding (England)
Yeah, predictable I know. I love the rock and roll pace of this album. It has been in heavy rotation this year, and although my interest may drop a gear and slow down in coming years, I’m still digging it.

3. RODDY WOOMBLE – The Impossible Song & Other Songs (Scotland)
I’m a huge Idlewild\Roddy Woomble fan. Again this album has been played heavily this year. Although perhaps not quite as good as his solo debut (Secret is My Silence) this is still a great listen.

As mentioned in my review this album is definitely not Noel experimenting, but the catchy tracks are enough to keep me hooked. I guess….if it aint broke, don’t fix it!

1. BEIRUT – Rip Tide (U.S.A)
For me this record just gets better and better with every listen. It is definitely the most accessible Beirut album, but that’s fine by me. It doesn’t really have any stand-out tracks, more a consistently solid album. My favourite album of the year!

The albums below were all on my shortlist but for one reason or another didn’t quite make the cut:

ELBOW – Build a Rocket Boys
JOHN GRANT – Queen of Denmark
GOTYE – Making Mirrors
WILCO – The Whole Love

Keith’s top 5 albums of 2011

Lykke Li - Wounded RhymesWhy top 5? To be honest, I could only find 8 to choose from and thought I’d try to be a bit picky about those ones. Not a great musical year for me, but still some crackers in there.

So here’s my list. For me the criteria was, ‘Did I get hold of it in 2011?’. It didn’t have to be released in 2011. There’s one obvious exception in this list.

It’d be great to hear all your top lists too. I know the year hasn’t finished yet so I may be a bit premature in writing this, but hey!

1. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Easily the album I’ve played the most this year. Great voice, strong songs. It all works well together as an album. Very different from her debut where her voice was much weaker. Cool drumming / rhythm section too.

2. Wilco – The Whole Love

You all know I love Wilco, but this is a great album. Perhaps could have had a few more weird songs on it in the middle, but overall another set of fantastic songs from Mr Tweedy.

3. The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street

Yep, definitely getting into the Stones a bit late. Never did like all their greatest hits etc. They’re good songs obviously, but Mick Jagger kinda annoys.

Somehow though Exile seems to work. Maybe it’s because there are no big hit singles on it, it just works better as an album.

4. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

Finally he returns with a (mostly) consistent set of songs. He sings with so much passion. It’s just wonderful.

5. Liam Finn – FOMO

Even though I loved his debut I wasn’t expecting much from this. Thought he’d lose the plot a bit. But he changed tack, reinvented himself a bit and came up with the goods. Live show wasn’t as good as before – preferred him as a one (or two) man band.

Bubbling under

The Avett Brothers – I and love and you
John Grant – Queen of Denmark
The Vaccines – What did you expect from the Vaccines?