YEAR IN REVIEW: Albums of 2011: 30-21

30. TORO Y MOI – UNDERNEATH THE PINE
The king of “chillwave” returned early this year with Underneath the Pine. It displays his skill at creating instantly danceable beats, with defined melodies, but also shines in other areas, such as the decidedly more downbeat Before I’m Done. Underneath the Pine has the atmosphere of the best synth albums of yore, while somehow maintaining the ability to feel current. Dance away.
DOWNLOAD: Divina
29. PATRICK WOLF – LUPERCALIA
Patrick Wolf has long since been my favourite musician, since I first heard Wind in the Wires. With Lupercalia, Wolf showed a side of his music that we’d only seen glimpses of previously. Whereas most of his other records are shrouded in apathy and gloom, it’s clear on Lupercalia that Patrick Wolf is at a very happy time in his life right now. The City officially made the saxaphone cool again, with the help of M83 and the album is just full of consistently great hooks and lyricism.
DOWNLOAD: Bermondsey Street
28. CASS MCCOMBS – WIT’S END
Cass McCombs’ first album of the year was a perfect showcase of the skills in song crafting that he possesses. The album opens with serene ballad County Line, which is one of the most smooth pieces of music to be released this year. What follows is a dark, twisted journey finished up with 9-minute Knock Upon Upon the Door, which has an almost medieval vibe to it. McCombs’ unique brand of folk music is really at its pinnacle here. It’s a shame that his second album, Humor Risk, couldn’t follow suit and appear even higher up this list.
DOWNLOAD: County Line
27. UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA
Unknown Mortal Orchestra were a complete surprise to me. I had no knowledge of the band prior to the release, but straight away the funk vibes, distinctive vocals and hazy summertime feeling caught my attention instantly, and kept me listening regularly to this day.
DOWNLOAD: Jello and Juggernauts
26. CUT COPY – ZONOSCOPE
Cut Copy seem to have a perfect balance between dance and alternative music, and Zonoscope is a shining example of what they do so well. The album is laden in hooks and pulsing beats; it has one of the biggest feel-good atmospheres of any we’ve seen this year. Frontman Dan Whitford has the attitude of so many great frontmen of indie music gone by, and the synths and electronic drums give the music a unique, captivating twist. Zonoscope closes in a deservingly grandiose fashion, with the sprawling 15-minute Sun God, which really sends the whole album off in style.
DOWNLOAD: Take Me Over
25. PANDA BEAR – TOMBOY
Before Tomboy was released, the hyperbole surrounding it was overwhelming. The singles leading up to it promised that it was going to be something special and it certainly is. Noah Lennox displays his expertise in creating rhythmically complex and deeply compelling music with a mix of sampled drum beats and synths. Even though it’s been two years since Animal Collective’s last full-length, Panda Bear more than makes up for this fact.
DOWNLOAD: Slow Motion
24. JOHN MAUS – WE MUST BECOME THE PITILESS CENSORS OF OURSELVES
Maus’s Ariel Pink-like nu wave sensibilities are in full flow on his offering this year. It’s quite a surreal experience, with many of the tracks being synth heavy, while Maus’s low vocals meander throughout in a dream-like fashion. Big bass lines emphasise the 80’s feel of the music, and the constant change in tempos give the album a great sense of pace.
DOWNLOAD: Hey Moon
23. THE BLACK KEYS – EL CAMINO
This album was the latest new entry on to the list for me. The Black Keys can always be relied upon to bring around records that are consistently great and El Camino might just be their best one to date. They show their blues roots underneath roaring riffs reminiscent of The White Stripes and keep the hooks coming, song in, song out.
DOWNLOAD: Sister
22. FUCKED UP – DAVID COMES TO LIFE
Some people will look at the run-time of this record and be instantly put off. Sprawling over 72 minutes, David Comes to Life is an epic concept album that combines sound instrumentation and Damian Abraham’s distinct roaring tones to create example after example of how hardcore music should be sounding. If the rumours of Fucked Up ending their career (at least the way we know them as at the moment) they’ll have this a a stellar testament to what a great band they are.
DOWNLOAD: The Other Shoe
21. DANANANANAYKROYD – THERE IS A WAY
When I heard the news that Dananananaykroyd were splitting up, my heart sunk. It’s such a shame that so shortly after releasing the brilliant There Is a Way, they had to part ways. There Is a Way takes Hey Everyone! and shows how much the band has evolved musically, and translates the frantic live show experience perfectly onto record.
DOWNLOAD: Think and Feel
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