Albums of 2011- part one (50-41)

Okay. I know nobody gives a damn about these lists once January 1st has rolled past, but I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and a lot of re-listens, and this is my own personal Top 50 of 2011 for posterity. Of course, it’s based solely on what I happen to have heard; if your favourite, or many of the albums that have topped similar polls elsewhere, aren’t included, it’s probably not because I’ve dismissed it as crap, but that I just haven’t had a chance to listen to it (that means you, PJ Harvey). I get sent a lot of random stuff; some of it I love, some of it I don’t so much. Maybe half a dozen records on this list I specifically sought out and bought; the rest was just sent to me and maybe I woldn’t have ever come across it otherwise. Some I reviewed at the time; others I didn’t, and hopefully their inclusion here will go a tiny way towards making up for that. One or two I maybe reviewed too harshly at the time, and have gotten more into their particular charms since. The order is as correct as I could make it; sometimes, a cluster of records together are really all equally as good, and their positioning is somewhat random. And finally, as I said before, it’s a personal choice: cultural and sociological significance be damned, this is just what I enjoyed listening to.


50: The Memory Band, Oh My Days

Folk, pop, rock, soul- you can’t quite pin this CD down. And if at times it gets a bit too much like Morcheeba play The Wicker Man, then it’s redeemed by having the good taste to cover Sandy Denny, Graham Bond and that spooky ‘Come Wander with Me’ song from The Twilight Zone.

49: Delicate Steve, Wondervisions

Weird electro-tropicalia, or something. Unclassifiable. Intriguing.

48: Motorhead, The World is Yours

Angry, outlaw, hi-energy rock n’ roll, with gentleman Lemmy as some fiery, scorched earth, existentialist preacher; still vital, still resisting cartoon caricature and being safely filed away as a “national treasure.”

47: Luther Russell, The Invisible Audience

A sprawling, double album odyssey through 20th Century American music, from ragtime to rock n’ roll, blues to grunge and all points in between. Search for my full review at the time.

46: Bong, Beyond Ancient Space

Three mammoth, epic, heavy metal drone tracks: nothing much happens, but there’s the constant ominous suggestion that everything could explode at any moment. Pretty much sounds exactly like you’d expect from the title.

45: Ane Brun, It All Starts With One

A tad polite, yes, and half the tracks will probably end up selling luxury goods on TV adverts, and Jose Gonzales is on there for fuck’s sake, but something about this record got under my skin. Maybe it’s the voice, or the space in the production, the sparseness and reverb; whatever, it’s a keeper.

44: Rutman’s Steel Cello Ensemble: featuring Ginsberg, Hentz and Irmler

So there’s this 80-year old artist, right, and he’s built this massive fucking steel sail which he plays like a cello, and gets these old krautrockers (including Hans Joachim Irmler from Faust) to jam along on drums and wah-wah guitar and samples with the resulting drone. Of course it’s great.

43: Six Organs of Admittance, Asleep on the Floodplain

A step back, certainly, from last year’s stunning Luminous Night, but a new album from Ben Chasny’s Six Organs is always welcome. Business as usual: pastoral acoustic picking, flecks of psychedelic electricity, much loveliness and a spice of violent dischord.

42: Alex Monk, The Safety Machine

Another one I reviewed for the Quietus, if you want to check it out, but basically this is high-quality drone music that fuses electronic, synth-based soundscapes with modal acoustic guitar playing and even songs, with words and singing and everything. Ominous and engrossing.

41: Kreidler, Tank

Instrumental, post-industrial post-rock from Germany, that rocks. Not thrashy or noisy, this is motorik in a non-obvious way; hard-edged, dark, winding, propulsive, addictive.


Next chapter to follow soon!

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