Best of 2011


It’s pretty straightforward, really: if it was out this year, an album, and totally brilliant, it was eligible. Check out our top LPs of 2011 and the rest of the best, below.


The top

  • Cover Art
    Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
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    Release Name
    Father, Son, Holy Ghost
    Release Date
    (2011)
    Artist Name
    by Girls
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    Girls' debut LP, Album, closed off its year of buzz with an overall yearning for more from the San Fran duo. Their deliverance to such needs is an album of diverse songs with honest and spirited lovelorn lyrics that aren't necessarily immediately catchy or obviously complementary. They drift off into some experimental compositional moments on the lengthy intro to 'Just A Song' or the down-tempo 'Vomit'. The melodically moving delicacy in these songs create a welcomed detour and the album as a whole comes together with a variety of repeated referential points, and an unbeatable style and grace. You can forget that it doesn’t all come at you in a sparkly package because it is a listening experience guaranteed to grow on you.

  • Cover Art
    The Black Keys - El Camino
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    Release Name
    El Camino
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by The Black Keys
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    Review

    The Black Keys may boast a Grammy and two million-plus record sales, but ask the man on the street to name the world’s number one blues-rock duo and you’ll still probably hear “The White Stripes”. Well, Jack and Meg officially packed away their red threads back in January which, if we’re not mistaken, leaves a vacancy... And judging by El Camino, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are more than equipped to fill the position. On their seventh studio effort, Ohio’s finest are offering up a road trip through fifties rock n roll and seventies glam and blues-rock, that features the, er, tenties (tenners? teenies?!) production sheen of über-producer Danger Mouse. A late contender for those “Albums of the Year” lists perchance?

  • Cover Art
    Real Estate - Days
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    Release Name
    Days
    Release Date
    (2011)
    Artist Name
    by Real Estate
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    Review

    With this album, Jersey born, Brooklyn band Real Estate didn't venture far from their gloriously engaging surf-rock, indie-pop sound that previously attracted the public gaze from their debut self titled album and EP. And, with the perfect formula of childhood friends on an exploration of dreamy guitar-pop melodies and themes of coming of age in America, this is a good thing. Days was recorded in a New Paltz, NY barn-turned-studio with the help of Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, The Walkmen). The band refined their sound slightly, with tighter production and smoother transitions resulting in an album that captured the hearts of many.

  • Cover Art
    Braids - Native Speaker
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    Release Name
    Native Speaker
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by Braids
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    This is no ordinary debut: oh no, this is the self-recorded, self-produced debut from Calgary’s most exciting, experimental indie four-piece. Featuring the sublime vocals of Raphaelle Standel-Preston, which can leap from a fragile, Cocteau Twins-like sweetness to an ear-piercing, ragged Panda Bear screech in a heartbeat, these sumptuous harmonies showcase a superlative post-rock grasp of dynamics. Add to that swirling keys, pulsating beats and intricate shards of guitarwork, and you have the ingredients for the deliciously ethereal and addictively hypnotic audio-banquet that is ‘Native Speaker’. This isn’t just another indie band: this is Braids, and they’re sinfully more-ish… Indulge here now.

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    James Blake - James Blake
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    James Blake
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by James Blake
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    Tipped for the majority of 2010 as one of the brightest talents in British electronica, James Blake enjoyed a similarly auspicious start to 2011, winning rabidly positive reviews for his debut and coming a close second to another British sensation, Jessie J in the BBC’s Sound of poll. Ever the perfectionist, this simply wasn’t enough for post-dubstep’s finest, and since his “defeat” he’s been focused on executing a pretty vicious revenge campaign on Miss J. And his powerful swooning voice and impeccable and innovative rhythmic production may have just achieved him success, at least in the eyes of the industry abroad, where he has been embraced with open arms and very solid record sales.

  • Cover Art
    The Antlers - Burst Apart
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    Release Name
    Burst Apart
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by The Antlers
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    Review

    A concept album tackling emotional abuse using the conceit of terminal illness, The Antlers’ last album Hospice might not have been quite the feel good hit of 2009 but it still bagged a deservedly lofty spot in most critics’ best of the year lists. For its follow-up, the New Yorkers have been experimenting with electronic influences to come up with an album filled with sublime dream-pop soundscapes. And sublime is the operative word: Burst Apart shimmers ethereally with coruscating synths, looping drums and reverb-heavy guitar chimes, whilst Pete Silberman’s glorious falsetto floats above it all, a soothing and bewitching presence. Simply magnificent from beginning to end, it’s a shoo-in for album of the year.

  • Cover Art
    Feist - Metals
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    Release Name
    Metals
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by Feist
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    Forget Grammys and platinum discs, the true benchmark of success for any musician is appearing on Sesame Street. Don’t believe us? Just look at Feist: her last album was such a hit, she got the chance to teach the muppets to count, thereby technically rocketing her into the same league of stardom as former guests Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. So, with the eyes of the world now focused upon her, Canada’s premier indie-songstress has finally unveiled her fourth studio effort. And whilst the increasingly melancholic and haunting direction she’s taken on Metals could prove a mite too mature for Elmo’s ears, for the rest of us it’s a treat.

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    Tom Waits - Bad As Me
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    Release Name
    Bad As Me
    Release Date
    (2013)
    Artist Name
    by Tom Waits
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    Like whisky and wine, Tom Waits’ voice only improves with age, and odds-on the former two have played a significant part in developing that rasping timbre. On his 17th studio album – the follow-up proper to 2004’s Real Gone – the guv’nor of alt-rock’s offering up a satisfyingly swampy musical mix of blues, jazz and vaudeville, whilst sating his thespian leanings by using his ravaged larynx to adopt a variety of disparate personas. That includes a broken man on the world-weary balladry of ‘Last Leaf’, a nightmare-inducing ogre on the demented stomp of ‘Hell Broke Luce’ and, on the croon-tastic ‘Kiss Me’, what can only be described as a sozzled Satchmo. Truly, the man is a one-off.

The rest of the best...