Rockfeedback Records of the Year 2011: #10-1

23 Dec 2011

Our final ten records in our countdown of the best of the annum are all five star masterpieces if you ask us, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading our run down as much as we’ve enjoyed arguing about it.  PLEASE NOTE: ROCKFEEDBACK TV IS UNDERGOING MAINTAINANCE AND WILL RETURN AS PART OF A REDESIGN EARLY IN 2012. Thanks for an ace 2011!

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#10: SBTRKT –SBTRKT

Here we have one of the most important records of this new decade on our hands, one which not only manages to sum up the journey electronic music has been on over the past could of years, but one that is also a record able to make an emotional connection thanks to our man SBTRKT’s ability to unearth some of the strongest new young vocalists in music. SBTRKT simply has a gift for pushing boundaries which in turn allows him to unearth new and exciting worlds of music which without him wouldn't have happened . In doing so, he’ll always remain important, relevant, and extremely exciting. This was an excellent first step. (Mike Harounoff)

SBTRKT - Wildfire by NME Radar

#9: Tom Waits – Bad As Me

The note accompanying a five star rating of Tom Waits’ last album on Amazon saying, simply, “If Tom Waits was going to make a bad album he would’ve done it by now” is one of my favourite pieces of music journalism. He’s been all treat and no trick for the best part of thirty years now, and for a career with as many stylistic shifts as his, that’s quite the achievement. It’s a remarkable purple patch that continues in to this, his nineteenth studio album. This isn’t the result of Bad As Me representing another of those stylistic shifts - from drunken balladeer to circus ringleader to guy experimenting with ripping out his own throat - that have characterised his career, either. Bad As Me does the lot, and whilst it’s not the best Tom Waits album (it comes close enough), it probably is the most representative of him as an artist on the whole. And it’s the fact that it showcases every aspect of this man’s simultaneous reverence and disregard for the role of the singer songwriter that makes it such a delight. (Thomas Hannan)

Tom Waits - Bad As Me by antirecords

#8: Frank Ocean – nostalgia,ULTRA

‘That’s right – wolves can sing, too’ was the pithy accompanying note that came as the only accompanying text for hitherto unknown RnB singer Frank Ocean’s debut mixtape being posted on the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All blog. And how - within a few months the free download was removed, Def Jam had signed him up to give the record a proper physical release and Kanye & Jay Z were flying him over to croon on their Watch The Throne LP. They must have been pretty stoked to meet their new protégé. After all, ‘Lovecrime’, ‘Novacane’, ‘Song For Women’ and ‘Swim Good’ are better than any track on Throne. Yep, even ‘N*ggas In Paris’. The guy’s already damn good – 2012 could see him become amazing. (Thomas Hannan)

Frank Ocean - Novacane by ArtistiqMynd

#7: Connan Mockassin – Forever Dolphin Love

A vague concept record from a curious little New Zealander record in the order in which it was written and sounding a bit like if Scritti Politti had attempted to soundtrack The Lord Of The Rings, Forever Dolphin Lovewas a thrilling introduction to the world of Connan Mockassin – a world that certainly sounds like no other. For all its tripped out and psychedelic leanings, it’s a concise and engaging piece of work that never simply indulges in exploratory passages for the sake of it, rather at the end of the tunnel is always something like a gorgeous melody, or a half snake/half rat creature, or a man making love to a dolphin. It’s all here, and it’s all good. (Thomas Hannan)

Connan Mockasin- Forever Dolphin Love by julienbritnic

#6: tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L

Merrill Garbus’ second full length effort realised the potential shown on her debut album BiRd-BrAiNs, polishing everything up to create a record that took rough outlines of pop songs and twisted them into something unique and often beguiling. Garbus’ joyously brash vocals and myriad of guitar styles are great, but the real star of the show is the newly added brass section, arranged into rhythmic, hypnotic clusters that lift the album from an interesting experimental record to an incredibleexperimental record. In a year where music was dominated by the electronic side of the spectrum, tUnE-yArDs’ album stands out as an example of what can be achieved with things as mundane as good musicianship and an active imagination. (Stan Morgan)

tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta by ListenBeforeYouBuy

#5: Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Smoke Ring For My Halo is really rather ace; a series of rewardingly weighty, magic-hour soundtracks at times reminiscent of early Spiritualized with an Americana twist. The entire album boasts an air of supreme confidence while appearing to be crafted by a man who’s making it up as he goes along, which combined provides a real propulsive charm. There’s an intimacy to the production that gives the illusion of actually being in the room as the tracks are being laid down and a lazy, incessant groove that gets the head nodding for the duration. At first listen, Vile could be dismissed as just another singer songwriter with a knack for strumming and plucking. Give Smoke Ring… some time and you’ll find a genuine inventiveness reveals itself. (Matt Cole)

Kurt Vile - In My Time by ginobc

#4: Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Black Up sure as hell doesn’t sound like an indie record – hell, it doesn’t even sound like most hip-hop records – but it’s certainly structured in a way that is employed far more often by boys with guitars round their necks rather than decks at their fingertips. Shabazz Palaces need no guest appearances or annoying skits, they make sure every song’s a killer and the whole thing’s over in about half an hour. Imagine removing the bad tracks and crude jokes from your favourite hip hop albums. Imagine how good what you’d be left with would be. Imagine now that your starting material was some of the most forward thinking, difficult to pinpoint and yet invigorating hip hop you’ve yet to hear. You’re left with Black Up- a frankly stunning achievement from which the rest of us can learn many a valuable lesson. (Thomas Hannan)

Shabazz Palaces - Swerve... by subpop

#3: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

”The west’s asleep…” PJ Harvey’s deeply unsettling anti-war treatise begins as it means to go on, with dreams and death very much at the forefront of one of 2011’s most powerful polemics. ‘The Glorious Land’ and the devastating ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ echoed Dylan’s venomous, accusatory ‘Masters of War’ from almost half a century ago. There can have been fewer more poetic moments in popular music this year than the mournful evocation of Old Albion ‘The Last Living Rose’ (“let me walk through the stinking alleys to the music of drunken beatings, past the Thames River, glistening like gold”), whilst ‘All & Everyone’ rages at the futility of conflict and the enduring after-effects for those on the front line. An album of rare anger, intensity and poignancy. (Matt Tomiak)

PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder by Vagrant Records

#2Metronomy - The English Riviera

To misquote Devon’s most infamous fictional resident, “May I ask what you expected to hear in a Torquay concept album?” As squawking seagulls segue into the title track, Metronomy’s third album of soulful, Hot Chip-esque electro-melancholia wore its local roots rather more proudly than the short-tempered proprietor of Fawlty Towers ever did. From the cute duet ‘Everything Goes My Way’ via the Joy Division rumble of ‘She Wants’ and onto the lethargic, vocoder-assisted ‘Trouble’, this is a record of peculiarly British charms. Appropriately enough, stand-out ‘The Bay’ revolves around an irresistible bassline reminiscent of the one in Blur’s ode to quintessentially British summer hedonism, ‘Girls & Boys’. The English Rivierawas the soundtrack of perhaps the biggest career leap made by a UK act in 2011. (Matt Tomiak)

Metronomy - She Wants by The Recommender

#1: Destroyer – Kaputt

In an interview with Rockfeedback, Destroyer’s Dan Bejar spoke of how whilst previous records like Destroyer’s Rubies were “supposed to at least sound like 5 people playing instruments and singing in a room”, the masterpiece that is Kaputt was quite a different affair – “Whatever the opposite of that space and sound is, Kaputt strove to inhabit it.” The idea behind it has been seen by many as celebrating records where the songwriting is incredible but the production is unfashionably smooth (Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man¸ Roxy Music’s Avalon), but to paint it out as merely an overly wordy homage to 80s synth pop is to miss the point entirely. By revisiting some of the sounds of his youth, Bejar – a personality often hidden behind his words - seemed comfortable opening up to his listeners in a manner we’ve not heard from him prior. The fact that he was doing it over both the catchiest and most inventive songs anyone wrote all year just made it even easier to connect. As funny as it was sad and smooth as it was unnerving, the remarkable Kaputt was the sound of a cult concern becoming something we should all be getting lost in together. (Thomas Hannan)

Destroyer - Kaputt by krojac

 

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