Saturday, 31 December 2011

Schönbys 2011 - Best album


The Schönbys are fictional, made-up awards for me to let you know what I've enjoyed listening to during 2011. Winners and nominations are drawn from music I have seen, heard or bought during the preceding 12 months.

2010, to me, seemed a poor year for music. When it came to choosing my top albums of the year I struggled to come up with a top 5. Was it a general dearth of good music, or just the fact that having a young baby meant I had other things on my mind? Maybe both these things transpired to cause me to buy precious little music. In order to make sure 2011 didn't go the same way I vowed to purchase at least 12 albums in the year, one a month if possible, so that I could get to this point in the year with a considered view on the best album of the year to share with you.
 
In the end I bought 18 albums, and had access to a few more, so here, for your delight, or ridicule, or (hopefully) comments, is my top 10 of the year.

10. Young Knives - Ornaments From a Silver Arcade
Young Knives' third full-length album may have only reached #80 (and lasted only 1 week) in the official album charts, but displays a progression from their early rawness, whilst still keeping the infectious riffs and humorous lyrics.

Stand out track: Human Again
Young Knives - Human Again by rslblog.com

9. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys!
I would get lynched if I didn't include Elbow in my top 10 of the year. Could easily have been a shadow of 2008's Seldom Seen Kid, but stands up well. A poignant, compelling story throughout.

Stand out track: Lippy Kids
Elbow - Lippy Kids by gwehen

8. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From...
Initial disappointment that The Vaccine's debut album was not 11 versions of 'Wreckin' Bar' was slowly but surely replaced by an appreciation of the indie pop melodies. Not punk, but still well worth a listen.

Stand out track: Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra) by The Vaccines

7. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
I came late to the Mercury Music Prize winner, but listened to it almost continuously whilst on business in the South of Italy. Wilfred Owen with a guitar, this album is classic Polly Jean; sad, soulful and uplifting all at the same time.

Stand out track: The Last Living Rose
The Last Living Rose by PJ Harvey by coolhunting

6. White Lies - Ritual
It seems an age since White Lies released their second album. To many this was not a patch on the debut album but to me it was an obvious progression towards a more electronic feel to the music. Think more Depeche Mode than Joy Division.

Stand out track: Is Love


5. The Horrors - Skying
Another band attempting to better a previous Mercury Prize nomination this year were The Horrors. I guess there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this release, and when 'Still Life' was released I knew that the album would be close to another classic. The Horrors are become somewhat of a chameleon band, the style of each of their three albums so far have been distinctly different, and some compared this particular incarnation to Simple Minds. There are some early Simple Minds influences in the album, yes, but why is that a bad thing?

Stand out track: Endless Blue (but I can't find it to stream so here's Still Life)
The Horrors - Still Life by The Recommender

4. White Denim - D
I was amazed to find out that White Denim were formed in 2006 and had six studio albums to date, as previous to the release of 'D' they were not on my radar. That could have something to do with the continuous metamorphosis from punky, garage band to fully fledged 70s americana. The album is a collection of fantastic riffs and cool, lazy vocals.

Stand out track: Bess St.
White Denim - Bess St by ProspectPark

3. The Strokes - Angles
I've already waxed lyrical about the return of the Strokes. The band won this blog site's album of the decade with it's 2001 debut release, but since then there's been a steady decline in the quality of the bands output. Cue an extensive break and band members' solo projects, and then just when everyone was finally forgetting about The Stokes, bang! They release 'Angles' and they're back to their best. The album returns to the basics of 'Is this It' without the layers of overproduction and has some very catchy tunes.

Stand out track: Under Cover of Darkness
Strokes - Under Cover Of Darkness by flogase

2. Metronomy - English Riviera
Looking around the internet, I can't add anything to the plaudits that this album has received. The third release from Devon's finest really brought them from electronic experimental instrumentalists to the doorstep of mainstream. Don't take my word for it, this is what the NME wrote; "With this, his third full-length album, Joe Mount has transformed his Metronomy project from a jaunty, brilliant, yet ultimately niche electro outfit into one of the most expansive and visionary pop bands in the country"

Stand out track: The Bay (downloadable)
Metronomy - The Bay by acrylica

1. Pete and the Pirates - One Thousand Pictures
I wasn't interested in Pete and the Pirates' first album release in 2008, I thought they were forgettable indie pop, however after the release of 'Winter' and 'Come to the Bar' I realised that this indie pop had an edge to it, and the more I listened the more I could hear the post-punk suburban rock of The Buzzcocks or The Undertones in there. The album does not have one bad song on it, why it only reached #75 in the official charts is beyond me. Anyway, I hope the stand out track below will change your view of Pete and the Pirates like it did me.

Stand out track: Half Moon Street (listen to Blood Gets Thin too, but it's not on Soundcloud) Pete and The Pirates - Half Moon Street by Jaumita

Fairly decent top 10 don't you think? No? Well, if you want to tell me where I went wrong then leave a comment with your top 10 - we can compare and contrast.

1 comment:

Jal said...

It just shows how tastes differ. I was in to Pete & The Pirates because they were indie pop. Sadly I think they will have lost some of their original fans with this album and other people aware of them will still be expecting indie pop. You could compare them to how Noah and the Whale have changed / grown up...