Yeah I know, way to be original Omar, make lists of other people’s awesome stuff, but whatever, felt like fun and it was a good way to look back at the things I really enjoyed this year, and remind myself of others that didn’t quite make the cut. Today we’ll start with music, tomorrow games, and finally movies on Saturday (the only list which is still in formation). Make sure to click the titles to links to my preferred song of choice from each album.
Without further ado…
MY TOP TEN ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:
10. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
While their first album started out incredibly strong and then lost me midway through, this Floyd-infused follow up finally follows through with all the hope I have for this band. Evolving from their humble San Francisco indie beginnings into an extremely 70’s influenced style that ends up being much better than it sounds. Christopher Owens is quickly developing into one of the most talented and heartfelt singer//songwriters in the current West Coast scene, easily pushing children like Wavves or Best Coast aside. Vomit is probably my favorite on the album and is every bit as epic as Hellhole Ratrace from the debut.
9. Com Truise - Galactic Melt
Ignore the rampant silliness of the name and behold what is easily my current favorite Ghostly Records band. While their detractors could easily just write them off as another Ghostly chillwave band or a second rate Tycho, I easily prefer this album to Tycho’s Dive. The beats, the synth lines, their sense of rhythm and scale, everything about this album spoke to the electro junkie inside of me. I’ve listened to Brokendate and watched it’s video countless times since discovering it and it still remains my favorite on the album.
8. Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Despite the revival of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and several other promising new post rock bands, Explosions still remain my favorite in the genre. Breaking away from the melodramatic swells of their previous albums, they finally seem to be moving forward to something grander and more mature, albeit still retaining that classic romantic sound perfected in The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place which moving towards a future first hinted at (but not followed through on) by The Birth and Death of The Day. Put it on and relax for an afternoon//evening, it’s simply magical.
7. The Horrors - Skying
While I still have to say I miss the 80’s gaze influences of Primary Colours, there’s no denying the fact that they seem to have finally developed a style of their own. Taming their post punk//shoegaze roots into something resembling a modern psychedelic style, they’ve managed to make something infinitely listenable and entirely contemporary, which is something I wasn’t at all expecting. While they’ve definitely slowed down significantly, the craft present in their work and Faris’s singing remain as strong as ever.
6. Big Black Delta - BBDLP1
While I always enjoyed Jonathan Bates as a singer, Mellowdrone never really clicked for me, so when I heard he was creating a new electro based project, I was more than just a little bit excited. Here’s he’s managed to create an electro-space rock epic with each song completely living up to the promises he made on the EP released earlier, with the remainder of the album being even greater than IFUCKINGLOVEYOU. If you’re an electro fan, this is one you can’t pass up on. The fact that he was even giving this one away is just more ridiculous, because it’s more than easily worth a purchase.
5. Washed Out - Within and Without
Oh Washed Out, the gem of the chillwave movement, and one of my favorite new bands. Ernest Green has rapidly built up a rabid following here on the west coast, and it’s not hard to see why. His synth lines ooze joy and sensuality without coming off as childish or ridiculous. Building from the joyful simplicity of Feel It All Around, songs like Amor Fati or Before echo with synths that make it impossible to generate a snide or cynical response. I’m curious to see if he’ll be able to weather the inevitable backlash to the movement, but as it is now I have absolutely nothing bad to say about what is easily the greatest summer album of the year.
4. HTRK - Work, Work, Work
The second Ghostly band to make my list, they’ve had quite the year. This one actually took me a while to get into. Despite the extremely strong opening, the album suddenly slows down immensely and almost loses me for a while. However, when it finally does pick back up again and eases up on the drone, it easily becomes one of my new favorite trip-hop records up there with Portishead’s Third and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Their sense of atmosphere and landscape is nearly unparalleled this year, and they’re definitely a band I’m going to be following great interest in the future.
3. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
I first fell in love with Little Dragon through their incredible collaboration with Gorillaz on last year’s Plastic Beach (see Empire Ants), and they’ve only continued to impress me since then. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano singles herself out as one of the most talented singers I’ve heard in recent memory, with a vocal style that switches from soul to R&B to new wave flawlessly and blend them all into what is easily the most unique and original record I heard this year.
2. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
There are a great many things about this album that make me want to hate it. The ridiculous ambitions of grandeur equating their efforts to classics like Loveless, ridiculous additions to the style such as proggy bass licks and tracks dedicated to their children talking about frogs, and the simple audacity to throw it all together with reckless abandon and make it a double album. However, it all just magically manages to work, and it easily succeeds as over an hour of pure rapturous joy. This is an album that requires your attention and your time, and is almost so joyful it’s alienating, and which may account for it losing the #1 spot. However those synths are nearly impossible to critique, and one of my greatest regrets this year is not going to see them live, because I’m sure it would have been heavenly.
1. Blouse - Blouse
My favorite new band this year also managed to put out my favorite record this year, go figure. This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s heard me praise this band endlessly. Nostalgic without being redundant, they’ve crafted a shoegazey//new wave hybrid that brings to mind all of my favorite things about the 80’s while still managing to sound entirely relevant. Their bassist Patrick Adams (also of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) is easily ranking among the finest in his field, and definitely stands out alongside Charlie Hilton’s bewitching and beautifully breathy vocals. The fact that their first album managed to come out sounding this flawless is something I haven’t seen since The XX, and that’s saying something given my feelings for that band. I shall be seeing them in a couple weeks and I am nothing but giddy with anticipation.
And that’s it, my favorite albums this year. Of course there were a lot of other great records that didn’t quite make the cut. Tyler the Creator’s Goblin, Childish Gambino’s Camp, and Saul Williams’s Volcanic Sunlight were incredible hip hop records. Tom Waits also put out another record this year and Bad Like Me is of course more than worthy of acknowledgment. Puscifer also finally managed to get it’s claws into me this year with Conditions of My Parole. As far as soundtracks go, Attack the Block and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were incredible efforts, especially Dragon Tatoo. Trent and Atticus put an incredible amount of work into crafting three hours of pure misery, as well as a Bryan Ferry cover that can’t be missed. However, I probably listened to the Drive soundtrack more than anything this year, and it’s easily my favorite soundtrack by far. Next year has new records from The XX, Garbage and a variety of other promising musical adventures, so there is more than a lot to look forward to.
Anways, thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow to indulge my inner nerd and list my favorite video games of 2011.