Tired of lists yet? Sadly I’m not - never have been, never will. So here’s another - highly subjective – albums-of-the-year list to throw on the December scrapheap.
This year in addition to the ten below, this year I’ve enjoyed albums from Asva, Awesome Wells, Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, Beirut, Benjamin Shaw, Bright Eyes, Richard Buckner, Euros Childs, Comet Gain, Jonnie Common, The Decemberists, Dirty Beaches, Doomed Bird of Providence, Eat Lights Become Lights, Christopher Eatough, Emmy The Great, God’s Little Eskimo, Girls Names, H Hawkline, Half Man Half Biscuit, Hannah Peel, Herman Dune, Invisible Elephant, Rob St John, Jonny, Las Kellies, Lanterns on the Lake, The Leaf Library, Low, The Low Anthem, Mazes, Megafaun, The Middle East, Moon Duo, The Mountain Goats, Moustache of Insanity, Okkervil River, Parts and Labor, Josh T Pearson, Pete and the Pirates, Pulco, Sarandon, The See See, Shady Bard, Shimmering Stars, Singing Adams, Siskiyou, Tasseomancy, Timber Timbre, Trips and Falls, Sarabeth Tucek, The Victorian English Gentleman’s Club, Tom Waits, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, Woods, The War on Drugs, The Wave Pictures, The Wednesday Club and William The Contractor.
Thanks to the four bands who took the time to help wrap up the year over the last two weeks - Y Niwl, Free Swim, Gintis and The Indelicates.
And so my Top Ten Albums of 2011 looks like this....
10. LIZ GREEN O Devotion! [BUY] [Spotify]
A long time coming but well worth the wait. Marvellously atmospheric and surreal tales of murder and bereavement: pre-war blues never sounded so fresh and alive.
9. KING POST KITSCH The Party’s Over [BUY] [Spotify]
Ten tracks of top-drawer basement-pop from Charlie Ward. Versatile vintage guitar riffage and retro-futurist sounds that reference The Sonics, The Beta Band, The Kinks and ‘Odelay’-era Beck, to thrilling – and cohesive - effect.
8. MY SAD CAPTAINS Fight Less, Win More [BUY] [Spotify]
The modest masters of melancholic introspective indie-pop return with a similar/different sophomore album that emulates The American Analog Set, The Microphones and Beck’s ‘Sea Change’. Sublime.
7. VERONICA FALLS Veronica Falls [BUY] [Spotify]
Sometimes records incorporating singles dating back two years plus can lack coherence or freshness. This self-titled debut from the Glasgow/London boy/girl quartet neatly overcomes any such pitfalls to deliver superior death-fixated indie-pop.
6. THE DOUGLAS FIRS Happy As A Windless Flag [BUY] [Spotify]
A subtly shape-shifting and engrossing debut from head Fir Neil Insh and his post-folk collective. Gauzy bliss-pop perfection - what “Lone Pigeon re-recording Sufjan Stevens’ “Seven Swans” might sound like”.
5. THE INDELICATES David Koresh Superstar [BUY]
A fifteen-song rock opera about the life and times of cult leader David Koresh from his early years in Houston to the fateful siege in 1993 in Waco, Texas with the Branch Davidian sect. Humane, witty, sophisticated and deeply moving.
4. BILL CALLAHAN Apocalypse [BUY]
Third album from Bill Callahan having shed his Smog moniker but still making enigmatic music both stern and transcendent, earthy and other-worldly.
3. BILL WELLS & AIDAN MOFFAT Everything’s Getting Older [BUY] [Spotify]
Piano ballads and spoken word chronicles of modern life and ageing – by turns gruff, sordid, nostalgic, romantic, hopeful, bleak. I don’t think there’s another record this year (or any?) that could match the emotional span from the cheap fuck cynicism of ‘Glasgow Jubilee’ to the humane optimism of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’.
2. tUnE-yArDs W H O K I L L [BUY] [Spotify]
A more slick and sophisticated album from Merrill Garbus than 2009’s “Bird-Brains” but not losing an ounce of the inventiveness, rhythmic virtuosity and vocal power of her debut. It may have been recorded in – the horror – a conventional studio and feature saxophones, but she still sounds brilliantly unique.
1. GINTIS Idiot Guides and Plans [BUY] [Spotify]
I love hard-luck stories and siding with the losers. The tale of bringing “Idiot Guides and Plans” to life sounds tortuous. It was put out by their label (run by fellow travellers The Loungs) out of love rather than commercial interest. But despite all this and the pained frustrations of small-town lives and thwarted ambitions on show here, Gintis don’t deserve sympathy. They just deserve your eyes and ears for these ten songs of downcast beauty and flawed humanity. The album poses big questions about deterioration and death, faith and freedom, but is also petty, childish and very funny. A beautiful record.
FoY Top Ten Albums of 2011 by FollyOfYouth
Here’s to celebrating more great music in 2012.