Rockfeedback Records of the Year 2011: #30-21

22 Dec 2011

Nods are given to modern shoegaze, Swedish pop, slacker rock and a remix record(?), but, Radiohead not even making the top 20?  It’s been a funny year, this.


#30 - The Horrors – Skying

There’s no doubt upon first hearing of The Horrors’ new LP that these boys have yet again taken a different route. Skying’s opening track, ‘Changing The Rain’, sets the tone of an easy-going haze that continues throughout this farewell to the psycho-rock sound of their previous offerings. It’s soaked up the resurgence of shoegaze that has dominated much of the indie scene for the last few years like an arid sponge, and sounds all the better for them having paid such close attention. (Hayley Leaver)

#29: Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

In a rich year for boldly theatrical female-fronted albums (see also: EMA's Past Life Martyred Saints), the second solo album from the Swedish chanteuse managed to stand apart. A giddy amalgam of Kate Bush, vintage Pet Shop Boys, eyebrow-raising lyrics, blockbuster percussion, alt-country weepies and roaring, Phil Spector-style production - indeed, the heartbreaking ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ takes its cues from a vintage early 60s teen tragedy pop hit – Wounded Rhymesrepresented one of the most audacious, and most successful slants on the pop idiom of the past 12 months. (Matt Tomiak)

Lykke Li - Sadness Is A Blessing by malddim

#28: Real Estate – Days

Following up such a well-acclaimed debut, as New Jersey’s Real Estate have done, should probably be a fairly daunting task. However it seems that nothing can be too unnerving for Martin Courtney and pals, judging by the effortlessly gentle fuzz that makes up Real Estate’s sophomore album, Days- the epitome of a laid back and dare I say it, chilled out, homage to lo-fi garage pop/rock. It’s a perfect, sparkling yet solemn example of why these boys are that bit better than the rest of the dopy lo-fi bands that are spouting second albums right about now. (Hayley Leaver)

Real Estate - It's Real by DominoRecordCo

#27: Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Thurston began using the ‘Demolished Thoughts’ name at SXSW in 2010 when he fronted a hardcore band made up of himself on vocals, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis on guitar, the dude from Fucked Up on drums and Andrew WK on bass. They played a lot of Minor Threat and Black Flag covers. The album he gifted the same title could not sound less like it. A thoroughly gentle acoustic folk album produced by good pal Beck (thus making it sound a lot like the vastly underrated Sea Change), there’s not on electric guitar on the whole thing. Not even a drum. Just nine slowly unveiling, effortlessly gorgeous meditations on life the like of which we hadn’t a clue he was capable of. (Thomas Hannan)

Benediction by Thurston Moore

#26: Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here

Remixing the whole of Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 triumph I’m New Here was a pretty tough challenge even before GSH had departed this world, but the scrutiny placed on Jamie xx’s work after the untimely passing of the author of the source material (mere weeks after its release) can only have intensified. All the more remarkable then that We’re New Herenot only stands up, but is arguably preferable in places to its parent album. Jamie treats Gil’s words with total reverence, yet provides all the music himself – opening up the thoughts of one of the most fascinating men in the history of hip hop, RnB and soul to an entirely new audience. The task such a great legacy in to the future could not have been placed in better hands. (Thomas Hannan)

Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx - 'NY Is Killing Me' by Crazy_Monkey

#25: Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen

After years spent in the musical wilderness, the former front man of legendary Texans Lift To Experience emerged from the undergrowth with an acoustic guitar and a handful of heartbreaking stories which he had just happened to put to music. Many expected his return to be something special, and the seven songs on the album (spread over an hour) duly delivered, mixing his sad tales with wry sparks of humour (not least on ‘Honeymoon’s Great! Wish You Were Her’). It was 10 years between his last two releases - let’s hope it doesn’t take him that long again. (Stan Morgan)

Josh T Pearson - Thou Art Loosed by Mute UK

#24: A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP

$3 million is what New Yorker A$AP Rocky will reportedly pocket from his new record deal, one which dwarves deals signed by the likes of Drake in recent years. The mammoth offer came as a result of this mixtape, released for free on his website. With songs that are about getting high, shagging and getting high, it sure as hell doesn’t break any new ground, but is crucially delivered in Rocky’s brilliantly fresh and charismatic style that had the biggest names in the industry fighting over his signature. ‘Peso’ and ‘Wassup’ are highlights, but LiveLiveA$APseems to have more standout tunes with every listen. (Stan Morgan)

ASAP Rocky - Peso by NUEAgency

#23: Radiohead – The King Of Limbs

Within seconds of its release, the headlines smeared all across the internet seemed to be “Radiohead in Not-Best-Album-Of-Their-Career Shocker!!” From the off, then, The King Of Limbs was a total disappointment. The fact that it’s also the shortest album Radiohead have ever produced (a disgraceful five minutes shorter than In Rainbows) also caused a lot of anger, AND we can’t even choose what we pay for it. Worst. Album. Ever. Unfortunately I chose to spend the time it took to download the album to gauge what others were saying about it, with most opinions bearing some similarities to the hyperbole above. The first listen was then spent consciously trying not to be disappointed, looking as hard as I could for anything that could have been improved, and then telling myself that surely Thom knows best, and that it’s all for the Greater Good. After a few more listens, and time for me to form my own opinions about the music (a skill seemingly absent in many people with internet connections) it became clear that The King of Limbsis no disappointment. It’s not a great leap forward, nor a stark change in direction, but sometimes treading water can be the best policy. The hype and sensationalist early reviews threatened to kill the album before anyone had really had a chance to digest it, but the quality of the record, and Radiohead’s continuing ability to surpass their peers has ensured that, while the album probably won’t be remembered as a classic, the band are more than strong enough to prove us critics wrong again and again. (Stan Morgan)

Radiohead - Codex by mariocon

#22: Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

A vivid cinematic landscape is planted within your mind as the commanding echoes of Calvi’s crisp guitar are pronounced like a sunrise, silhouetted solitary figure in a deserted wilderness. With all the strength in her musical prowess and blasting vocals there is still vulnerability and uncertainty, and a thematic character driven by desire, need for ‘more’ (love) and confusion as to how to attain it. There is a uniqueness to Calvi’s voice and style that is wholly her own - you get the feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we have much more to expect from this fine talent. (Richard Brant)

Anna Calvi 'Anna Calvi' by Anna Calvi

#21: Drake – Take Care Henry James wrote in The Portrait of a Lady, ‘Live as you like best, and your character will take care of itself.’ With sophomore LP, Take Care, it’s clear that Drake – drink in hand, chips on the table and eye on the girl over there (or, maybe that girl over there) – is doing just that; taking care of himself and, while he’s at it, taking care of the hip-hop industry. Like the spoken words, Take Careis loaded; a heavyweight record, each of its tracks a mini-autobiography into which Drake freights his past and present, working his experiences of love and loss, fame and fortune into nifty rhymes and self-affirmative hooks. In its entirety, the album comprises a composite journey of selfhood, a soundtrack to the rise and rise of the star that is “Drizzy” Drake. It’s both a brilliant reflection of who Drake is, and who he’s becoming. (Chloe Pantazi)

Drake ft Rihanna - Take Care by ccavadas


<<Rockfeedback’s Records of the Year 2011 - #50-41

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

>>Rockfeedback’s Records of the Year 2011 - #20-11

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

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