Rockfeedback Records of the Year 2011: #20-11

23 Dec 2011

Miserablist folk mumblings, Danish hardcore punk, classy RnB, heart-on-sleeve lo-fi, music to have sex to and music that itself just sounds ‘totally f**ked’ – it’s the penultimate part of our records of the year countdown.


#20 / 19: Cass McCombs – Wit’s End / Humor Risk

Yes, we know these are two entirely separate records, released months and months apart, and we’re kinda cheating by assigning them concurrent places on our end of year countdown. But for one thing, there’s no f**kin’ rules dude, and for another, they really do play like two sides to the same LP. Both pretty dour yet enchanting listens, Wit’s End is probably the more miserable (and somehow better) of the two, though Humor Risk admirably dares to employ things like major chords and ever so slightly jaunty rhythms in an attempt to prove that Cass McCombs, whilst brilliant at it, is not alldoom and gloom. He’s just mostly doom and gloom. (Thomas Hannan)

Cass McCombs - County Line by PitchPerfectPR

#18: Iceage – New Brigade

It’s not like anyone knows what the word ‘album’ really means any more, right? So it’d be wrong to complain that the debut ‘album’ from obnoxious rock and roll outfit Iceage doesn’t even last as long as the final song on Sufjan Stevens’ The Age Of Adz. There are more ideas on display in this paltry 24 minute (24 minute!) collection than most guitar outfits cram in to three records’ worth of output, and given that in the current climate it’s extremely rare that any guitar band gets to release three whole records, this illustrates just how exciting it is to have a band like Copenhagen’s Iceage yelling in your face like they do. Yet there’s a reason that these punk-as-punk-gets tunes are short, and it’s a bodily one rather than anything to do with running out of ideas – it’d be physically impossible (or at the very least inadvisable) to carry on these grotesque little ditties for longer than the few minutes they each stretch, such is their intensity. (Thomas Hannan)

Iceage - Broken Bone by What's Your Rupture?

#17: Hype Williams – One Nation

Hype Williams thrive on mystery. Nobody knows exactly who they are, they barely gig, and their music is extremely difficult to pinpoint. The only accurate description I’ve ever come across of One Nationis that it sounds ‘totally f**ked’. It’s true – every instrument played or opinion expressed on it just sounds broken, like it might only ever make sense if the world spun at a different speed. There was no figuring it out. Such was their dedication to not giving the game away that it appears at the end of 2011 people are none really the wiser about the band compared to their knowledge of them at the year’s start. That’s a shame. But I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that most people just aren’t ready for this yet. I’m not even sure I am. (Thomas Hannan)

Hype Williams - Businessline by

#16: Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

Laura Marling’s third album came at the tender age of twenty-one – eighteen months after sophomore record I Speak Because I Can– and her third LP with a six syllable title, but as far as repetition goes, it all stops there. A Creature I Don’t Knowdiffers starkly in that Marling worked out all of the vocal arrangements and writing alone, before playing to her band and producer. Ethan Johns is once again present for this LP, but there’s a clear reflection of her mounting confidence, simmering constantly throughout an album that is darker and even more evocative than anything we’ve heard from her before. It showed every bit the haunting determination that has powered her previous albums to success with added eloquence; a pitch-perfect testament to the fact that Laura Marling is one of the best artists to emerge from the last few years of British music. (Hayley Leaver)

Laura Marling: Sophia by lanewayfest

#15: The Weeknd – House Of Balloons

2011 has seen an raft of deep, introspective R&B artists breaking into the indie market. Yet no one pulled it off quite as well as Canadian Abel Tesfaye on the first of the three mixtapes he released this year. Championed by Drake early in his ascendance, tracks like ‘High For This’, ‘Loft Music’ and ‘The Morning’ made House Of Balloons' irresistible to middle class white boys (myself more than included), propelled by samples from indie favourites like Siouxsie and the Banshees and Beach House. The two sequels in his trilogy of mixtapes were a slight disappointment, but of course they would be considering how near-perfect their predecessor is. (Stan Morgan)

The Weeknd - The Morning by The_Weeknd

#14: EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

I seemed to miss EMA play in the flesh on about four separate occasions this year, yet there’s something so achingly personal about her debut LP that despite my bad luck/poverty/laziness/combinations thereof I still feel like I got to know some things about her that even close friends would take a while to share. Thematically pretty downtrodden yet delivered with a conviction that suggested of some hope to the bleakness, and melodically rich but in a manner that only delivered itself over multiple listens (that’s lo-fi indie for you), Past Life Martyred Saintsinvited you to place few other records were generous enough to this year – under its author’s skin. (Thomas Hannan)

EMA: California by -gaga

#13: Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Despite the hype, it turned out there were no bad songs on Watch the Throne. In terms of Kanye’s recent hit-rate, that’s about average; for Jay-Z, it represents a massive improvement. Nothing on the album quite hits the highest of highs that both have set for themselves over their dazzling careers, but the level of consistency displayed here is rivalled by few others. This might have been a little bit on the side for the two as they kick back and discuss the Illuminati or something, but what they came up with still ended up being one of the best hip hop albums of 2011. (Fred Mikardo-Greaves)

Kanye West Jay-Z - Lift off Feat Beyonc Watch The Throne 2011 by yourhitlist

#12: Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

Gang Gang dance produced the best album of their career at the fifth time of asking, and it seems unlikely that they’ll ever manage to top this effort. The album’s energy is relentless, kicking off with 12 minute epic ‘Glass Jar’ and continuing through standout tracks ‘MindKilla’ and ‘Romance Layers’ barely taking a minute to breathe. A band who have always been known for their experimentation, which has made their albums slightly hit and miss in the past, with Eye Contact every experiment seems to have hit its target, and resulted in one hell of an album. (Stan Morgan)

#11: Wild Beasts – Smother

Wild Beasts have been winning fans with their melodramatic and atmospheric music for a few years now, and Smother, their third album, is a slightly more hushed affair that sees guitars replaced with synths. The songs take us on a slow and hazy ride that embraces dreamlike imagery as it searches for meaning in love and beauty. Behind it all is the worry that it's all meaningless, which in my mind marks this out to be not just quieter but slightly darker than previous Wild Beasts records. This is mood music, and it's beautifully and eloquently done, showing a band who may be depressed but sure know how to put together a sophisticated piece of art. (Stephen Maughan)

Wild Beasts - Albatross by rockfeedback




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<<Rockfeedback’s Records of the Year 2011 - #40-31

<<Rockfeedback’s Records of the Year 2011 - #30-21

>>Rockfeedback’s Records of the Year 2011 – #10-1

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