Monday 28 November 2011

The Best Albums Of 2011

Chosen by KevW

Well here it is: The Sound Of Confusion's top 15 albums of the year! It should be noted that these are entirely my personal choices, but as I'm our only writer doing an albums list this makes it official! Check back for writers tracks of the year in the next couple of weeks. The rules are a bit complicated so please read carefully, I shall type this only once: The only albums that qualify are new studio albums released in the UK in 2011. Got that? Good. Be sure to check the little black arrows on the soundcloud links as some of the tracks posted are available to download free. So... let us begin...

15) Mirrors - Lights And Offerings

I had high hopes for the Brighton' classy synthpop kings this year. A string of excellent singles could only point to a great album. As it happens there were a couple of tracks included that were nothing more than filler and prevent 'Lights And Offerings' from appearing higher up on the list. Still, there's enough of the good stuff to warrant their inclusion and it's better than the entire careers of many 80s botherers. Read our full album review.

Fear Of Drowning by theworldofmirrors

Into The Heart by theworldofmirrors

Mirrors' website

Buy the album.

14) Wooden Shjips - West

Pychedelic drone-rock specialists Wooden Ships gave us a new album this year, the immense sounding 'West'. If you're familiar with their previous work you'll find no surprises here, they stick to their blueprint and piss from a very great height onto their imitators. You're not supposed to be able to dance to drones but somehow Wooden Shjips make it possible. Read our full album review.

Wooden Shjips - Lazy Bones by thisisfakediy

Wooden Shjips "Black Smoke Rise" by 7x7SF

Wooden Shjips' website

Buy the album.

13) Dirty Beaches - Badlands

Taiwanese-Canadian Alex Zhang Hungtai, better known as Dirty Beaches, has already featured in a few end of year polls thanks to his lo-fi take on rock 'n' roll heroes. 'Badlands' was a gloriously messed up blend of Elvis, Roy Orbison, The Ronettes, Eddie Cochran and more, made to sound dark, sludgy and just plain old druggy. Read our full album review.

True Blue - Dirty Beaches by Ennui Industries

Dirty Beaches - Sweet 17 by ObscureSound

Dirty Beaches website

Buy the album.

12) The Duke Spirit - Bruiser

It was always going to be an impossible task for The Duke Spirit to match 2008's 'Neptune' but they very nearly did it with superb third effort 'Bruiser'. Liela Moss' sultry tones backed by such a rich, soulful rock band could never really fail, and with another incredibly strong batch of tunes they cemented their status as one of the best bands the UK has to offer. Read our full album review.

The Duke Spirit - Cherry Tree by CuartoDeKilo

The Duke Spirit - De Lux by CuartoDeKilo

The Duke Spirit's website

Buy the album.

11) The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

They may have inspired as much hatred as they have love this year, but personally I'm of the opinion that they're a great little rock 'n' roll band. Nothing more, nothing less. Their sprightly debut album is full of excellent guitar-pop tunes; good simple pleasures and a keen ear for a melody. Ignore the hype but don't ingnore the band. You may find you end up liking them after all. Read our review of 'Wetsuit'.

Norgaard by The Vaccines

The Vaccines - Wetsuit

The Vaccines' website

Buy the album.

10) Harp And A Monkey - Harp And A Monkey

Following the inundation of post-Mumfords banjo-toting groups, peddling inauthentic Top Shop folk, it was truly refreshing to hear a modern take on traditional storytelling done with authenticity and substance. The debut album from the Harp And A Monkey trio was made with a true understanding of the genre, and yet not being afraid to incorporate modern sounds. A very pleasant surprise. Read our full album review.

Harp and a Monkey - The Soldier's Song by Folk Police Recordings

Harp and a Monkey - Katy's Twinkly Band
Harp And A Monkey - Katy's Twinkly Band

Harp And A Monkey's website

Buy the album.

9) Parts & Labor - Constant Future

Brooklyn based experimentalists Parts & Labor may have lost a member prior to making this album but it hasn't hampered their sound, they still sound thunderingly robust and wilfully innovative. 'Constant Future' is probably their most complete album to date, despite containing nothing quite so powerful as 'Nowhere's Nigh' but the two tracks below come close . Read our full album review.

14 Rest - Parts and Labor by spanky808

Parts & Labor - A Thousand Roads

Parts & Labor's website

Buy the album.

8) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong

The follow up to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's superb debut album was another great divider, seeing some fans desert them after failing to get to grips with their slightly slicker sound. In reality 'Belong' isn't vastly different in sound to their first, but at times the pace is slower. But those who've written this album off are missing out on some truly great guitar-pop. Read our full album review. 

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart In Your Heartbreak by forcefieldpr

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Strange

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's website

Buy The Album

7) Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes

Faris from The Horrors teamed up with Canadian soprano and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira to indulge in their shared love of 60s continental pop and girl groups as Cat's Eyes. The result was a lush debut album of striking beauty and attention to detail. This should be considered more than a mere side project and hopefully they won't limit themselves to a single record.

Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes by Cat's Eyes Music

Cat's Eyes - I'm Not Stupid

Cat's Eyes' website

Buy the album.

6) The Horrors - Skying

The Horrors have effortlessly made the transition from garage band to Krautrock and now baggy experimentalists. 'Skying' is a superb realisation of the genre's best bits with, as always, their own identity stamped all over it. Somehow they've managed to take non-mainstream music into the big league and inspired many to check out records they didn't even know existed.

The Horrors - Changing The Rain

The Horrors - I Can See Through You

The Horror's website

Buy the album.

5) The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave

Over the past decade The Raveonettes sound has changed little (apart from a brief dalliance with major label production) yet they never fail to come up with the good. 'Raven In The Grave' is less immediate than some of their albums, but over the course of the year it's absolutely blossomed into a work to rival their very best. They remain the best band Denmark has ever produced.Read our full album review.

The Raveonettes - Ignite

The Raveonettes - "Forget That You're Young" by orchardmktg

The Raveonettes' website

Buy the album.

4) The Death Set - Michel Poiccard 

It can't have been easy for The Death Set to continue after the death of founding member Beau Velasco but it's a blessing that they did. 'Michel Poiccard' comes out kicking and screaming with a flurry of beats, samples, distortion and fuzz. It's a high-octane blitz of inventiveness and more than a fitting tribute. We think Beau Velasco would be very proud indeed. Read our full album review.

The Death Set - Can You Seen Straight by Happy End_ings

Is It The End Again?
The Death Set - Is It The End Again?

The Death Set's website

Buy the album.

3) Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams

Sadly, death is a spectre that also hangs over Dum Dum Girls second album, written in part about the death of singer Dee Dee's mother. 'Only In Dreams' adds superior production and songwriting to their girl-group-fuzz format and results in an album with depth and first rate songcraft. They've really stepped up a gear here and made a classic. Read our full album review.

Heartbeat by subpop

Caught in One by subpop

Dum Dum Girls' website

Buy the album.

2) The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts

The Go! Team's debut was crowned The Sound Of Confusion's album of the decade, follow up 'Proof Of Youth' was good but maybe lacking a bit of magic. That magic has well and truly returned here, making 'Rolling Blackouts' their most complete album to date. It's a massive rollercoaster of fun right the way through. There's still no other band quite like them. Read our full album review.

The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts by thegoteam

The Go! Team - Secretary Song by thegoteam

The Go! Team's website

Buy the album.

1) Tennis - Cape Dory

I'm actually a little surprised that the debut album from Tennis ended up grabbing the top spot. From first listen it sounded utterly fantastic, but fast forward eleven months and the fuzzy pop gems it contains are continuing to grow in stature and brilliance. It's near impossible to fault a work of such sweet lo-fi perfection. I've played no other album so much this year, it's rarely been off the stereo since January and in the end there was no contest. A worthy champion! Read our full album review.

Tennis - 'Take Me Somewhere' by stripeyjumper

Tennis - South Carolina

Tennis' website

Buy the album.

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