A brief run though of some of the 2011 albums I’ve been enjoying while struggling to find time to write full reviews.
Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
One of the most hyped artists online so far this year. Bloggers can’t seem to get enough of her. Her debut self-titled album offers something refreshingly different to what dominates the hipster universe these days. Soulful songs which hinge as much on the retro instrumentation as Calvi’s powerful, passionate, unwavering voice. Not one to suit all moods but a thoroughly impressive debut.
Gil Scott-Heron And Jaime Xx – We’re New Here
Having missed out on 2010’s I’m New Here, this marks my first venture into the wrold of Gil-Scott Heron. Jaime Xx has taken his masterful capacity to remake tunes into something altogether different to another level with this outstanding LP. Perhpas a few too many interludes but an undeniably compelling listen sure to make a lot of end of year lists.
Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
If you played The Magic Place to a 7-year-old kid on his birthday after two litres of Tanora he’d still be powerless to resist the soothing, calming sound of Julianna Barwick. A glorious blend of hushed mystical vocals
and minimal effects. With the greatest respect to the album it’s virtually impossible to stay awake throughout, but the dreams induced are sure to be sweet.
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Probably my favourite album of 2011. This suave Swede knows how to work a crowd live but her talent clearly comes alive in studio too. From danceable party-starters “Youth Knows No Pain” and “I Follow River” to delicate stories “Unrequited Love” and “Silent My Song” this album offers plenty and never disappoints.
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
R&B, where to begin? I mean I don’t hate the genre, but I rarely like it. It’s essentially pop music which piggy backs on Rap to seem cool. Don’t get me wrong I think, there have been butloads of great pop tunes from R&B artists over the years but in general I’m bored by it. The Weeknd (aka Abdel Tesfaye) tick the annoying boxes of overkill on the high-pitched moaning and forced voice-quiver but make up for it in other aspects. Divergence into glithy/electronic beats and samples provides more than the generic R&B sound. It mightn’t be the years most played album but gets points for a fresh approach and some moments of genuine quality.
Adele – 21
It is what it is. A triumph for Grey’s Anatomy fans everywhere but before I get disgustingly pretentious it must be conceded that this young Lady knows how to write a serious pop song. 14 tracks without too much filler and a surprising degree of variety with the LP split between slow, mournful heartbreak tales and funky upbeat numbers like “Rumour Has It”.
Tv on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
It jumps, twirls, soars and washes over the listener at every opportunity, Nine Types of Light is a cracking album from a band that are so fucking cool. Bring whatever obscure tastes you may have to the table and there will be something for you to chew on. A compelling, funkadelic way to spend 43 minutes. Rest in peace Gerard Smith.
Katy B – On a Mission
I’m sure there are plenty people who are sick to their stomach by the mention of the word dubstep let alone hearing the music itself. This is one bandwagon that has gathered amazing momentum but still struggles to offer enough. The internet is plagued by the generic “Woob” in a remix. Under the guidance on Benga and Skream, Katy B has made an LP better than anything the Magnetic Men have thrown up lately. Singles ‘Katy on a Mission’ and ‘Perfect Stranger’ capture the 21-year old’s knack for mixing a dirty baseline with catchy pop hooks. Half pop half dub this album strikes the perfect balance.