My favourite music of 2011

Now I hope I am not too early to write this but to be honest I doubt anything will be released now that I will want to add to the list.

In fact I found it quite hard to compile this list as there hasn’t been a great deal of excellent memorable music. What follows is both and excellent and memorable but sadly there are only 9 works listed here!

1 Torches – Foster the People

I have to admit I am not sure if this came out in 2010 or 2011 but it is the most played album of the year. For a group of practically nobodies to take up so much play time on my iPhone etc is unimaginable.

Torches is a brilliant mix of musical styles and every time I hear it I hear something different and something new.

It got a little crazy for a while as I was unable to shake the sound effects, the rifts and the choruses from my head but I keep heading back to play it.

The album starts with Helena Beat which is a blinding track – a manic way to start and album and a song that deserves to be a massive hit.

Sadly apart from an appearance at Glastonbury and “Pumped Up Kicks” appearing on an 02 ad I have not heard anything else about them in the UK. This is such as shame as this album is wonderful.

The lyrics are clever, each track is constructed wonderfully well and it’s full of surprises.

Oh and it helps that the band are a bunch of cuties 😉

2 Hurry up, we’re dreaming – M83

A sublime masterpiece. This album truly is haunting and takes a lot of influence from magic, mystery, electronic trips and fairy tales.

If you want to find a fan of this album simply ask them if they have heard about a frog…

The tracks mould from one to another effortlessly and event if it’s being played at full volume or in the background there is always something to enjoy. This album is so well performed and produced that it deserves to be a hit.

That said most of the albums on my list may not be huge commercial successes but they do appear to be popular online. If only record companies would have more faith in such acts…

Anyway it’s a pleasure to hear this album being used in films and TV and it’s great to read all the well deserved chatter about it.

This album digs into the ‘80s and ’70s, channeling Simple Minds here (“Reunion”) and Kraftwerk there (“Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”).

The whole experience of this album is a kin to Alice in Wonderland takes a sip of Tangerine Dream…

3 Voyage – The Sound of Arrows

Another truly sublime album and a new act from Sweden. This came out of nowhere and the single “M A G I C” has not left my subconscious since I first heard it months ago.

This also deals with dreams and questioning reality and humanity (but not in such a trippy was as “Hurry Up, We’re dreaming”). What you end up with is a mix of electro pop, euro pop, electronica and just down right catchy songs.

There are far too many good songs to list on this album and I cannot recommend it more.

4 Illumination – Miami Horror

Another new act and another bouncy electronic album – maybe in a year of deep depression and global problems all we want is something to lift our spirits and take us away from all the drab ness of every day life?

There’s a lot going on in the album but there are some real gems within – as a whole body of work or as a collection of great songs, it works!

This was the soundtrack of my summer and it helped us get motivated to tile the kitchen 🙂

5 Bounce – Kelis and Calvin Harris

Not an album but a song and what a floor filler. Kelis is must underestimated in the UK and this track really brought her to the attention of the radio stations and clubs. Apparently “Bounce” is a big hit in places such as XXL and I can understand why. Calvin Harris did a great job to record such an infectious hook and Kelis’ voice resonates through the song like a rocket. It’s amazing that such an infectious track could be written with so few lyrics and reliance on such a big hook. Great stuff.

6 Disco Moment – Bright Light Bright Light

I love Bright Light Bright Light and I cannot wait for his debut album to drop in 2012.

This is a wonderfully crafted pop song and shows of BLx2’s electro and pop majesty.

Of course tongue in cheek it has the wonderful line “You make it so hard”… I am yet to wear the tee shirt


7 Zonoscope – Cut Copy

Sadly I didn’t get to see Cut Copy as planned at the beginning of the year but wasn’t disappointed when I first heard Zonoscope.

As with “Torches” I find myself gravitating back to this album whenever I feel I have nothing to listen to.

It’s an epic album full of high choruses, large string sections and a great mix of electronics and percussion instruments.

8 Funny Looking Angels – Smith and Burrows

My mate Paddy stated that I shouldn’t like this and he’s right but it’s a late comer and thanks to Enda I have become hooked to the album since getting it a fortnight ago. As a modern anti dote to the normal chintzy Christmas album this is truly different.

The covers are brilliantly picked, highlighting the vocal and musical talents of Smith and Burrows.

The original tracks although sometimes political, provide the perfect statement to the UK/London and the world we live in today. This is a beautiful album and very moving… if you only purchase one new album in December it should be this one.

9 The Most Incredible Thing – Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys first ever ballet – wonderful to watch and great to listen to.

It does contain lots of the Pets themes of late but in a very new way.

Of course scratch the surface and this is definitely a Pet Shop Boys soundtrack but it’s worth a mention as it’s a phenomenal body of work which Neil and Chris should be very proud of. (So much so the ballet is being performed again next year).

Special note – Adulthood – Cocknbullkid

Cocknbullkid was superb supporting Janelle Monae during 2010 and I was really pleased with the release of the album.

“Yellow” quickly became one of the most played songs this year. Sadly however Cocknbullkids perception of how big a star she was and her decision to take a personal gibe at me on Twitter meant I ended up removing the album and stopped listening to it. For someone who is trying to break into a packed music business it does not make sense to start having a go at innocent fans when they make an ordinary comment about them…

I simply said I wasn’t impressed with the mixes for “Yellow” – meaning that they didn’t do the song justice but she decided to take it personally, got all pre madonna and had a go… Therefore the album gets a mention but I won’t be buying any more of her work. Maybe she should rename herself upherownasskid.

So maybe not a mixed bag this year but a bunch of artists and albums I couldn’t have anticipated at the end of 2010. I bright bunch of new talent, old stalwarts and truly imaginative work.

I wonder what 2012 will have in store (of course I am looking forward to Bright Light Bright Light’s offering)

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