Top 40 Albums of 2011

40) Austra – Feel it Break
39) Tom Waits – Bad as Me
38) Toro Y Moi – Underneath the Pine
37) Yuck – Yuck
36) Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
35) Childish Gambino – CAMP
34) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
33) Bing K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva
32) Drake – Take Care
31) Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
30) TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
29) Neon Indian – Era Extraña
28) Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will
27) Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
26) Girls – Father, Son and Holy Ghost
25) Friendly Fires – Pala
24) Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting
23) Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
22) Frank Ocean – Nostalgia/ultra
21) A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP Mixtape
20) tUnE-yArDs – WHOKILL
19) Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
18) Beirut – The Rip Tide
17) Metronomy – The English Riviera
16) St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
15) Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder
14) Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtape
13) Cults – Cults
12) Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
11) Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed

10) M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming

Covers a range of moods from the childlike excitement of ‘Raconte-Moi Une Histoire‘ to the agony of ‘Wait‘ with plenty of dancefloor gems in between. Most impressively of all, this album brings 80’s dance back to our headphones but actually manages to make it sound good. Another triumph from M83 which sits comfortably in between dance and rock.

9) Gil Scott-Heron And Jamie XX – We’re New Here

A brave endeavour which could easily have backfired. Instead these two diverse artists combined to produce a stunning LP with Jamie bringing his customary loops and bass-heavy beats to the table but managing to let them interact with Heron’s vocals and not overpower them. 2010’s I’m New Here brought Heron back into the spotlight. In May 2011 he passed away but not before he had left the world with one last piece of magic. For Jamie XX to recognise the potential for this audacious remix album and to pull it off confirms his status as one of the most exciting talents in modern electronic music.

8] Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke Li was always capable of producing a great tune, a powerful indie pop anthem, ‘Until we Bleed‘ and ‘Little Bit‘ provided ample proof of that. What Wounded Rhymes clarifies is that Li can make a proper album which draws you in right from the start and holds your interest until the last note. Li finds a perfect balance of bangers – ‘Youth Knows No Pain‘, ‘I Follow Rivers‘, ‘Rich Kids Blues‘  and slow burners ‘Unrequited Love‘, ‘Silent my Song‘.

7) EMA – Past Life Martyed Saints

Drawing influences from a variety of genres and touching on diverse themes in its lyrical content, Past Life Martyed Saints is an incredibly polished debut from Erika M Anderson. The sudden change of mood in curtain raiser ‘The Grey Ship‘ signal’s Anderson’s intent to produce the unexpected. It may only have 9 tracks but these songs are refreshingly diverse, from the haunting chant of ‘Anteroom‘ to the magnificently lazy sound of ‘Breakfast‘.

6) Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Full review here. A 16 track LP bursting with hits. Virtually any track off WTT would have punters flocking to the dancefloor, throwing shapes to some of Kanye’s finest beats as the duo bounce off each other perfectly to create tracks oozing with style. ‘Otis, ‘Ni**as in Paris‘, ‘Murder to Excellence‘ just three of the many highlights on this impressive collaboration.

5) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

This album is so good that even though it celebrates the old enemy you can’t help but love it. Let England Shake landed Harvey the Mercury Prize and it’s not hard to see why when you listen to these 12 tracks. Each provides something new, the theme of the album remains the only constant as Harvey digs into her musical arsenal to produce new tricks at every opportunity. Her voice dictates the mood with everything else following suit, from the ominous ‘Let England Shake‘ to the mournful cry of ‘England‘.

4) WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

One of the most striking and original sounds to emerge in 2011. GTFTTM is a collection of hugely atmospheric tracks which lean on various genres. There’s more than a hint of post-rock structure to the songs but WU LYF also dabble in more catchy uptempo numbers. The shredding howl of the vocals combines perfectly with the echoing drums and beautifully layered guitar to produce an album that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

3) Bon Iver – Bon Iver

How do you follow an album like 2008’s For Emma Forever Ago? Justin Vernon’s debut LP as Bon Iver transported him for the isolation of that famous  log cabin in Wisconsin to superstardom. He couldn’t try to do the same again, it simply wouldn’t have worked, the rawness of Vernon’s pain is what made For Emma… so engaging, 3 years on we’re expecting some progress and Bon Iver delivers it. It continues the transition signalled by the Blood Bank EP to a bigger production and a bigger sound. Vernon’s vocals are now backed by an army of instruments, the songs may have changed but the impact is the same.

2) James Blake – James Blake

Full review here. His 2010 EP’s guaranteed his status as one of the most hyped/blogged artists of 2011 but rather than stick to the formula which made those releases so popular, Blake opted to put a more introspective, personal touch to his brand of post-dubstep which he somehow manages to combine with a folk sound to brilliant effect to create an LP that is as moving as it is original.

1) SBTRKT – SBTRKT

Full review here.Top spot on this list was pretty much sealed after my first listen to SBTRKT’s (Aaron Jerome’s) stunning debut album. Like Blake, Jerome doesn’t shy away from the inclusion of heartfelt lyrics but SBTRKT offers that extra bit of variety. ‘Wildfire‘ and ‘Trials of the Past‘ are two of the year’s massive dancefloor anthems while ‘Hold On‘ and ‘Something Goes Right‘ provide a more subdued but equally brilliant listen. Pop/House number ‘Pharoahs‘ and tribal call to arms ‘Go Bang‘ further prove Jerome’s capacity to diversify his electronic sound. A treat from start to finish.

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