35. Atlas Sound - Terra Incognita
34. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart in Your Heartbreak
33. White Denim - No Real Reason
32. Elite Gymnastics - o m a m o r i
31. Azealia Banks - 212 (feat Lazy J)
30. Active Child - Hanging On
29. Young Galaxy - We Have Everything (Also video of the year, by far)
28. The Horrors - Still Life
27. Bombay Bicycle Club - Shuffle
26. Wild Beasts - Albatross
25. Drake - Headlines (2nd best video of the year)
24. Real Estate - Green Aisles
23. St. Vincent - Cruel
22. Gauntlet Hair - Top Bunk
21. Keep Shelly In Athens - Our Own Dream
20. Gang Gang Dance - Glass jar
19. Justice - Civilization
18. Jamie xx - Beat For
17. Black Lips - Family Tree (VERY NSFW video (seriously))
16. Panda Bear - Slow Motion
15. Kindness - Cyan
14. Smith Westerns - Weekend
13. SLEEP ∞ OVER - Romantic Streams
12. Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
11. Purity Ring - Lofticries
10. Twin Sister - Daniel
9. ASAP Rocky - Peso
8. SBTRKT - Pharaohs
7. Bon Iver - Calgary
6. Grimes - Oblivion
5. M83 - Midnight City
4. Vanessa/Transparency (CFCF refix) - Grimes/D’eon
3. Toro y Moi - New Beat
2. Chairlift - Amanaemoesia
1. Neon Indian - Polish Girl
30. GANG GANG DANCE - EYE CONTACT
29. SMITH WESTERNS - DYE IT BLONDE
Smith Westerns ditch the lo-fi and end up creating an amazing 70’s sounding prog pop album
28. THE WEEKND - HOUSE OF BALLOONS
The Weeknds excellent debut House of Balloons just edges out its just as good sucessor Thursday just on the impact it made. Both are available for free here: http://the-weeknd.com/
27. FRANK OCEAN - NOSTALGIA. ULTRA
26. RADIOHEAD - THE KING OF LIMBS
Yeah okay it was slightly underwhelming compared to In Rainbows, but in rainbows was album of the decade, and the King of Limbs was more than enough to cement radioheads position as one of the most consistent and inventive bands of the last 20 years.
25. CUT COPY - ZONOSCOPE
The Australians 3rd album take disco to its more new classic rock frontiers.
24. WHITE DENIM - D
23. BLACK LIPS - ARABIA MOUNTAIN
Black lips leave behind the darkness and return to the wild garage of ‘Good Bad Not Evil’ also gave birth to 3 of the best video’s of the year (see also the Family Tree and Raw Meat videos)
22. ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER - REPLICA
Daniel Lopatin returns to his day job after the midi beat jams of Ford & Lopain/Games, creating an album made entirely of loops from old adverts thats hauntingly beautiful.
21. YOUNG GALAXY - SHAPESHIFTING
Harmonic atmospheric pop at its best.
20. REAL ESTATE - DAYS
Dope follow up to real estates much loved debut. Proof that the guitar bad template still has some life left in it. Also gave us the great video for its real (dog wave)
19. METRONOMY - THE ENGLISH RIVERA
one of the most underrated albums of the year. Manages to stick to Metronomy’s ‘Weird pop’ template, while exchanging the sometimes brashness of ‘Nights Out’ for sultry disco.
18. JOHN MAUS - WE MUST BECOME THE PITILESS CENSORS OF OURSELVES
Where as Ford & Lopatin stay funk side of lo-fi midi jams, John Maus acts like its dark cousin. With shouty lyrics and a very lo fi aesthetic this album is a bit of a hidden gem.
17. TWIN SISTER - IN HEAVEN
Twin sisters debut finally arrived, and definitely delivered on the promises made by their ‘Color your life’ and ‘Vampires with dreaming kids’ EP’s.
16. THE HORRORS - SKYING
in the run up to this album, the horrors described the sound as ‘baggy’, and they certainly weren’t wrong. Gone are the shoe gaze screeches of ‘Primary Colours’, replaced by great washing synths strait out of a happy mondays record. Paired with faris’ harmonic singing lines (really!) this really was a new dawn for the horrors.
15. BATTLES - GLOSS DROP
When Tyondai Braxton left Battles it was hard to see how this album would turn out, Tyondai was the closes thing Battles had to singer/frontman. But by replacing his parts with guest turns from the likes of Gary Numan they rescued it, creating a far more joyous and concise album than their also excellent debut.
14. FORD & LOPATIN - CHANNEL PRESSURE
Daniel Lopatin makes his second apperence on this list, this time teaming up with Tigercity’s Joel Ford. I was a big fan of their previous incarnation GAMES, and as annoyed as i was that they moved away from those midi-centric remix’s this was something next level. A concept album about robots that sounds like the Blade Runner soundtrack, if Blade Runner was a PG13 that stared a boy and his talking robot dog sidekick.
13. BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB - A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIX
Ben Allen produced both my albums of 2010 and 2009 (Deerhunter’s Halcyon Digest, and Animal Collectives Merriweather Post Pavilion) so It should come as no surprise that I rate this pretty highly. This album saw Bombay drop the almost cliched ‘Indie Rock’ Shtick and matured into something that completely transcended their genre, following in the footsteps of Foals and the Horrors in the tradition of the great mature second album.
12. A$AP ROCKY - LIVELOVEASAP
So the ASAP crew made a massive impact this year, and I know this has been said before but what really impresses me is the production on this thing. Yeah Rocky’s verses are good (“couple ABC’s bad bitch double D’s poppin E I dont give an F told ya im a G”) but Clams Casino’s and ASAP in house producer Ty Beats production really makes this album. Especially considering Ty beats is only 18 and relatively unheard of. Download this album for free at http://www.liveloveasap.com/
11. PANDA BEAR - TOMBOY
Its a well know fact that Panda Bear’s last solo album “Person Pitch” was a very important album. Not only did it influence the growing DIY/’Chillwave’ genres, it changed the way Animal Collective worked as a whole, resulting in the excellent ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion.’ So Tomboy has a pretty hard act to follow, but It didnt disappoint. by harking back to the more instrumental sounds of Animal collective albums past Noah Lennox managed to create a trippy album worthy of being ‘Person Pitch’s successor. Its also an album that goes hard live.
10. ST. VINCENT - STRANGE MERCY
I discoverd Annie Clark’s last album ‘Actor’ pretty late, so this album really came at a good time. It improves on the intelligent guitar music template of actor in almost every way, from the Bjork like ‘Chloe in the Afternoon’ to the almost Grizzly Bear vibes of ‘Cheerleader’ (not just because they share song names)
9. WASHED OUT - WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Washed Out’s long awaited debut LP was definitely the unoffical soundtrack to the summer. Ive had Washed Out’s life Of Leisure EP on pretty much permanent loop for the last 2 years and without this album, it would have been another summer sountracked by the album. Its less chillwave that everyone was expecting, but at the same time it pretty much cements the genre along with Toro Y Moi (see no.4)
8. BALAM ACAB - WANDER/WONDER
2011 will go down as the year people started to take the whole ‘Witch-house’ thing seriously. After acts like SALEM and co gained a reputation for smoking crack and genrally being terrible it was nice to see Triangle Records give witch house a good name (Holy Other and Clams Casino fell just outside this top 30.) Balam Acab’s debut is a beautiful soundscape of an album start to finish, with its subtle beats and dreamy keyboards there really isnt anything like it.
7. SHABAZZ PALACES - BLACK UP
Shabazz Palaces really are in a league of their own. The Sub Pop experimental hip hop duo’s second album is a beast, from the frantic opening of ‘Free press and curl’ to the dark beats of “an echo from the hosts that process infinitum”. marred with Ishmael Butlers exitensal lyrics (“here we stand slaves to networks master plans”) this album serves as a stark reminder that hip hop/rap still has a long way to go, and how stagnated this genre truly is.
6. WILD BEASTS - SMOTHER
The follow up to 2009’s excellent ‘Two Dancers’ pushes that eccentric, almost tribal sound into a new tighter and sleeker dimension. Its a more consistent album than its predecessor as well. From the ghostly synth bass of ‘Lions Share’ right up until ‘End Come to Soon” s two minute pause, where the whole album seems to reflect upon its self before its huge finale. Also has been made of Wild Beasts eccentric nature, but this finally feels like an album where that eccentric nature is truly justified.
5. M83 - HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING
The only good double album ever? well you might be right…. back in January M83 teased an ‘Epic’ new album with a video teaser, and he was right this album was epic, not just in quality but in sound. Right from the moment the crashing drums enter ‘Intro’ it is clear that Anthony Gonzalez knows exactly what he’s doing right from the start. Though album does have its quieter moments, such as ‘Wait’, these tracks still pack a punch. This is an album that feels like a soundtrack to something greater, something we are left to dream. A tour de force, and one that puts M83 rightfully back into the legues of the heydays when Nicolas Fromageau was in the band.
4. TORO Y MOI - UNDERNEATH THE PINE
Toro’s delayed live instrument album finally arrived in February, and while the fact he had seemingly left behind the sample based haze of ‘Causers of This’ behind was disappointing, it became clear that this was always part of the plan. Its a more lively album the first, and the live instrumentation makes it sound like 70’s funk in some places, and thats no bad thing. Its also clear that Chaz Bundwicks songwriting has also improved to the point where some songs like album stand out ‘New Beat’ really are great modern pop songs.
3. SBTRKT - SBTRKT
If there was one debut that mattered this year it was definitely SBTRKT (pronounced ‘Subtract’ for those who dont know, which is a lot.) in some ways its the perfect distillation of 2011, Merging the dubstep beats of Burial and Jamie xx and the heart broken vocals of James blake, with the playful electronics of artists like Caribou and the strong vocals of little dragon. It really is a great example of a modern dance record, that manages to be fun and not overtly serious, without ever coming across as cheesy or overblown.
2. DRAKE - TAKE CARE
Little over 18 months ago Drake was a little known name. Now he has one of the finest and most original mainstream rap albums in years under his belt. Now I wasn’t a massive drake fan before this record, I tried to get into ‘Thank me Later’ but i felt it fell flat. it wasn’t different enough, it sounded like everything else at the time. This album feels like Drake has finally found his feet, finding the middle ground between the cold modern R&B of the weeknd, and the hard rhymes of other Cash Money artists like Wayne and Rick Ross. This album feels like a confession, a personal glimpse into Drake’s successes and heartbreaks, and while there is some of the cliched ‘look at my wealth’ Lyrics hidden away here, its Drakes honesty that comes to the forefront, that maybe he isn’t living a perfect life living like a king, like so many others have claimed before, making this a tour de force of an album.
1. BON IVER - BON IVER
Surprised? You shouldn’t be if you’ve heard it. Obvious choice? maybe, but I can’t think of anything more deserving, or anything I’ve listened to this year more than this album. Its start to finish amazing, and its an album that deserves to be listened to start to finish as well. Its personally one of my favourite albums. Ever. There truly is nothing else that sounds like this album, and dont think anything ever will. A lot of people wondered how Justin Vernon would follow up ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’, and after his stints with Volcano Choir, GAYNGS and Kayne West im sure many were worried in which direction he would go. All those fears faded into irrelevance when the album was heard, From the freak classic rock guitars of explosive opener ‘Perth’ right up to the emotional 80’s soft rock closer ‘Beth/Rest’ this album doesn’t let up. The lyrics are an achievement as well super emotional without ever being over the top or self loathing. Live this album is other worldly, Bon Iver are still on tour and make every other live band look like school children. I must have listened to this album at least 100 times start to finish in full, sometimes multiple times in a row. Ive never known another album that I’ve been able to do that with. An absolute victory of an album, and one I believe we will still be writing and talking about when it comes to best of the decade lists.