Albums of 2011- part three (30-21)



30: The Feelies, Here Before

Comfort listening: chugging, Velvet Underground guitars, tambourine, NY cool, understated, lovelorn melodies and scrungy solos. Curiously, I never really listened to the Feelies in their 70s glory years, and maybe that’s actually why this comeback sounds so fresh to me.

29: We Are Enfant Terrible, Explicit Pictures

Great French electro-pop; trashy, catchy, knowingly throwaway but inventively melodic, and surprisingly innovative and edgy, too. And that’s before you even listen to the (English) lyrics…

28: Flare Acoustic Arts League, Big Top / Encore

High quality, high melody/melancholy indie pop anthems from one of the voices on Magnetic Fields’ acclaimed 69 Love Songs. Sometimes sounds like Morrissey joined The Stranglers. Great version of the Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Merry-Go-Round’ too.

27: WATERS, Out in the Light

I was definitely unduly harsh in my Stool Pigeon review of this album, suggesting that it really fell apart after the excellent first couple of songs. Listening back now, I can’t think what I disliked about this grungey powerpop gem, like Sparklehorse dragging Cheap Trick through several hedges sideways (and not Bryan Adams as I may have previously suggested…)

26: Fairewell, Poor, Poor Grendel

A late contender for the list, this odd, dream-like album perhaps covered too many stylistic bases for its own good, starting off with Boo Radleys-esque melodic shoegaze and expanding outwards from there. Fairewell’s genius may still be sinking in.

25: Ramesses, Possessed by the Rise of Magick

One of two releases from Ramesses this year, and while the half-studio / half-live Chrome Pineal didn’t really do it for me, Possessed by the Rise of Magick quickly transcends its generic doom metal beginnings and moves towards territory both more melodic and adventurous; like Joy Division weighed down on the moons of Jupiter.

24: Eat Lights Become Lights, Autopia

See the Quietus for my full review of this heartfelt homage to all things krautrock and motorik: Neu!, Can, La Dusseldorf, Cluster and, especially, Kraftwerk are all present in this double LP’s every groove, but it never feels plagarised or second-hand; rather, a re-imagining of future days that never quite came into being.

23: White Hills, HP-1

The latest installment in WhiteHills’ epic odyssey of fuzzed-out spacerock doesn’t quite hit the heights of last year’s eponymous breakthrough record, but they’re still way ahead of most of their so-called peers, staking out new territory and leaving naught but scorched earth behind them. Droning synths and angry, anti-consumerist lyrics come even more to the fore amid the usual savage crunch of overdriven guitars.

22. Birdengine, The Crooked Mile

Dark, freakish, cabaret-folk-noir from Lawrie Joseph Tilbury, aka Birdengine, conjuring a unique, surreal universe from wax, callipers, shadows and string. See the Quietus for my full review, or better still, buy it now from our good friends at Bleeding Heart Recordings (no relation!)

21. Radiohead, The King of Limbs

Sourpuss Thom Yorke and his posh prog boy band ahead of White Hills and Birdengine in my end of year poll? I’m as surprised as you are, but this is Radiohead’s finest moment since Kid A. Again, I reviewed it for the Quietus, and was the only critic to suggest that it sounded more like John Martyn than James Blake, more krautfolk than dubstep. Even better with the addition of the two tracks (“Supercollider”, “The Butcher”) that they released after the event.


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