YEAR IN REVIEW: Albums of 2011: 20-11

20. ATLAS SOUND – PARALLAX
After listening to Parallax, I think I’ve decided that Bradford Cox is one of those musicians I can always rely on, year in, year out, to deliver amazing musical experiences; be it while playing in Deerhunter or during his solo affairs as Atlas Sound. Parallax is a hazy, familiar affair that doesn’t necessarily evolve the Atlas Sound formula, but when the foundations are set down so well, why change them? The record is another massive achievement from a musician who just seems to ooze song-writing ability.
DOWNLOAD: Mona Lisa
19. DELETED SCENES – YOUNG PEOPLE’S CHURCH OF THE AIR
I feel like I don’t need to put a lot here, seeing as I only did a review recently, which you can read here. Young People’s Church of the Air is a wonderful collection of songs with infectious melodies and pleasant vocals akin to The Shins. If you don’t have a melody contained on this album running constantly through your head after listening, there might be something wrong.
DOWNLOAD: Baltika 9
18. TV ON THE RADIO – NINE TYPES OF LIGHT
The follow-up to 2008’s Dear Science was a massive release for me, and it delivered on all fronts. TV on the Radio are a band that sound on top of their game with this record. 40 seconds into the album, the beat kicks in and you remember what you’d been missing for three years. No one does it quite like TV on the Radio, and their brand of soulful, trumpet-filled, frantic rock music is always welcome. Nine Types of Light is the epitome of what the band are all about.
DOWNLOAD: Caffeinated Consciousness
17. DRAKE – TAKE CARE
Drake’s brand of smooth RnB mixed with some of the best-produced hip hop made Take Care an album that needs to be heard. Collaborations from Jamie xx, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, to name a few, Take Care takes everything that was great about Drake’s debut and adds more variety and polish to create a record that’s a joy to listen to from start to finish.
DOWNLOAD: Crew Love
16. ACTIVE CHILD – YOU ARE ALL I SEE
Active Child’s 2010 EP Curtis Lane showed a lot of promise, so I was anticipating his debut LP very highly. Heavenly harp notes join with synthesisers and thumping drum beats to create a unique sound punctuated by Pat Grossi’s unique falsetto tones, the album leaves you feeling a strange sense of enlightenment. There’s even a collaboration with How To Dress Well which produces one of the best lo-fi RnB tracks I’ve heard as-of-late.
DOWNLOAD: Playing House
15. BEIRUT – THE RIP TIDE
Zach Condon & Co’s new album shows the most refined, complete collection of songs the band have put out to date. With delicate melodies spread across a modest 10-track, this album proves to be the easiest entry point for newcomers to Beirut’s work, with all shades of their unique style on show for all to see. It’s not exactly the most ground breaking album ever produced but that’s okay, everything is produced with love and joy brimming from every corner. It’s impossible to be sad while listening to it.
DOWNLOAD: Vagabond
14. M83 – HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING
When I try to think of any double albums that I listen to regularly or even at all, my mind comes to a blank. With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 were taking a big risk that ultimately paid off in dividends. This album provided a fascinating look at the world of M83 through an epic 22-track. Gonzales is well experienced in his art, and this year’s offering from him feels like the most complete, visualised and compelling work yet. Plus… Saxophones.
DOWNLOAD: Midnight City
13. BRIGHT EYES – THE PEOPLE’S KEY
Personally, this was my most highly-anticipated album of the year, and it did not disappoint. After 2007’s slightly underwhelming Cassadaga, The People’s Key was Oberst’s chance to prove that he still had what it takes to compete with other bands these days, and it proved it superbly. nonsensical ramblings from a priest introduce the album with a familiarly long winded spoken intro, and he closes it as well. Oberst is at the top of his game with this album, it really has all the key ingredients; whimsical lyrics that are perfectly constructed, a decidedly more upbeat instrumentation and hook after hook. One For You, One For Me is a testament to how bands should close out albums for future reference. It might just be Oberst’s most well-realised, polished and complete collections of songs to date.
DOWNLOAD: Triple Spiral
12. FRANK OCEAN – NOSTALGIA,ULTRA.
Frank Ocean is undoubtedly the best thing to come out of Odd Future, in my eyes. Nostalgia, ultra is a mixtape that showcases the limitless talent that Ocean possesses. The smooth pop-tinged R’n’B is so heart-felt and different to what the rest of the Odd Future crew are doing. Audio snippets from Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut permeate throughout the record in an unsettling fashion, along with other little blemishes that give the album a distinguished feel. Ocean uses samples of the likes of Coldplay and MGMT but makes them his own with his imminently listening vocals. The fact that the album is free from the constraints of a label and was released DIY-style on the internet is an added bonus to this already brilliant debut.
DOWNLOAD: Novacane
11. CONNAN MOCKASIN – FOREVER DOLPHIN LOVE
This re-issue of Connan Mockasin’s delightfully weird 2010 debut is one of the most unusual records I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year. His sound is definitely unique, showing hints of The Beatles at their most hallucinatory. Mockasin uses surreal lyricism and a psychedelic sound to build a collection of songs which have such an endearing atmosphere. The album has a decidedly laid-back pace which just lets you sit back in wonderment at the strangeness of the world Connan Mockasin has created.
DOWNLOAD: It’s Choade My Dear
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