Wednesday, 28 December 2011

JUICED Top 20 Albums of the Year

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What a year 2011 was for music.

We had a burst of female songwriting talent,comebacks,new artists who wanted to stake their claim on the music scene as well as old bands who came back in another shape or form to intrigue us once again

Of course there was a huge amount of albums released this year which no doubt are on many end of year lists,but you can't have them all so here are the releases that really stood out for me this year.

I'm sure there will be a difference of opinion for some of them so feel free to comment (keep it clean though)

Happy new year from JUICED - Bring on 2012!! :)

20  Katy B - On a Mission


 This was the first lady of dubstep's foray into stardom with a dance.This first taste of this brit school graduate came in the shape of ‘On a Mission’ a bass heavy dance track which set dancefloors everywhere.The album that followed contained more of the same but showcased her love of R&B urban flavours and dance with the excellent ‘Perfect Stranger’ which was a prime cut on the the dubstep supergroup’s debut ‘ Magnetic Man’ previously and ‘ Broken Record’ which showed a sensitive side to the artist.Even Ms Dynamite wanted in on the act with ‘Lights On’. 
On a Mission provided a benchmark for dubstep to go global.   

19  Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Is there no stopping Gaga?Like a one stop shop for pop hits the Gaga train keeps rolling on and on and the great thing about this is her endless inventiveness. There was probably a question of where would she go after ‘The Fame’. The answer, High energy dance pop numbers with hooks a plenty. Check ‘Born this Way’ and ‘Marry the Night’. It borders on the ridiculous at times but you wouldn't have wanted her to come out with a boring acoustic album would you?

18 The Naked & Famous - Passive Me,Aggressive You

This was a band that showed why the Datsun’s weren't the only great band to come from New Zealand. Their punchy electro pop was primed for summer festivals with anthems like ‘Punching in a Dream’ and who can forget ‘Young Blood’. Their d├ębut combined ambient textures and electro pop in measured amounts which made it an engrossing listen by one of the best new bands of 2011.

17  Washed Out - Within and Without

Was it chillwave, or was it Balearic dance pop? Whatever it was,Ernest Greene produced an album which was all at once familiar with its shoegazey textures and lo fi sensibility which provided the perfect soundtrack for those mid-summer afternoons.’Eyes Be Closed’ warm electronic was enough to suggest this was an album of pure beauty.

16 Yuck - S/T


So it seems the perky indie collective that was Cajun Dance Party is no more but fear not because like a phoenix from the ashes a new group formed in their wake. The fuzzy ‘Get Away’ was perfectly placed on an album with acoustic led ‘Shook Down’. Taking the youthful exhuberance of dance and channelling it into a mix of scuzzy guitars, pretty vocals and frenetic drums, this was one for the slackers and a reminder of how good those lost 90s summers were.

15 Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting

Unfortunately coming around at a time when another James was making his name (Blake). Woon’s release was a more captivating affair with the post dub ‘Night Air’ the velvety soul of ‘Lady Luck’ and the beautiful ‘ Shoulda’. Woon bared his soul to dazzling effect and showed he wasn’t such a bad songwriter and producer in the process. The fact that Ed Sheeran covered one of his songs in Dot to Dot was enough to show Woon’s credibility.
Blake who?

14  Little Dragon - Ritual Union

Whoever said appearing on a Gorillaz record doesn’t have its perks?
Plucked from obscurity this Swedish electronic pop band came into their own on Ritual Union this year whose title track has to be one of the tracks of the year for its inventivenss. This was an album that was unafraid to be lo fi. Its genius might not be there on first listen but repeated listens reveal this to be a great pop album.

13  Cults - S/T

One of the bands to see at this years Dot to Dot Music festival in Manchester,this boy/girl band didn't disappoint. With their own take on 60s styles especially evident on the ‘You Know What I Mean’ and their contrasting vocal styles their cutesy pop with sinister backing also on ‘Abducted’ was perfect for the summer and in ‘Go Outside’ they had their anthem. Wth its glockenspiel backing its was 2011’s ‘Young Folks’ possibly even better but their album was filled to the brim with treats.

12 Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind of Fix

Winning the Road to V competition in 2006 must now be a distant memory for this London indie folk band. From the start it was evident that this was a special band. NME even branded them ‘London’s hottest Bands’. They have continually shifted musical styles Straight ahead Indie of their first album to their sophomore folky album ‘Flaws’ which showcased their excellent songwriting skills. A Different Kind of Fix saw them team up with Animal Collective’s producer Ben Allen and the album contained more of the bands trademark textures as well as new found ambition. Shuffle was the first fruits and it presented a charming reintroduction. The band continue to develop.
Who knows what they will do next?

11 TV On the Radio - Nine Types of Light

Although less expansive than their other albums the Brooklyn art rock band still managed to show why are one of the best bands around. The 10 tracks showcased their prodigious talent at creating forward thinking music and a new found optimism. With the beautiful ‘Will Do’ and the heartbreaking ‘Keep Your Heart’ amongst other treasures. Although there was a more downbeat tone all round the results were no less captivating.

10 Austra - Feel It Break

What was it about female artists this year.We had Adele, Florence and Anna Calvi and here we had an album by a Canadian rock band fronted by a female that combined operatic vocals with a dark gothic electro synth backing. The first fruit of this release was the brilliant ‘Lose It’ and then we had the shuddering bassline of ‘Beat and the Pulse’. This album showcased a great female vocalist in Katie Stelmanis as well as a reminder of music’s dark electronic past.


The Masked South London producer’s squelchy beats and electronic textures were all over the blogosphere this year. Appearing on stage with his tribal mask he preferred to let his music talk. With help from Yukimi from Swedish pop band Little Dragon (them again) on ‘Wildfire’ and guest vocalist Sampha in tow this was the sound of the future of garage and was hands down one of the most boldly inventive releases of the year.

8 Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

The first time the general public probably heard of Ghostpoet was when he was nominated for the Mercury Prize this year. Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam was a masterclass in understated rap music with his spoken word and trip hop production this gave an idea to where rap was heading and the results were no less engrossing with the brilliant ‘Survive it’ and the epic ‘Liines’. Top that with one of the most genuinely captivating live performances on Later and this was the rap album of the year without a doubt.

7 Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

Amazing to think that Ms Marling is on her third album and from the start her mature songwriting was evident but she just seems to get better with every release. This could easily be her defining statement. That Joni Mitchell type vocal and dark imagery in her lyrics is all present but there was a more accomplished structure to her songs with ‘Sophia’ starting folky evolving into widescreen county and ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ with its swooning strings.

6 Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

Another female artist in the countdown.Leaving behind the more upbeat sounding Youth Novels Swedish Indie pop starlet plunged deeper to reveal the darkness of her soul where the results were no less than stunning with the delicate ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ and the cinematic ‘Rich Kids Blues’ and of course that sweet sultry vocal which all made Wounded Rhymes an intoxicatingly beautiful album.

5 Adele - 21 

Naturally at the top of every end of year list, the lady from North landan done well, very well in fact winning award after award even outselling Back to Black by the late (bless her soul) Amy Winehouse to become the highest selling record of the century. If 19 was her spreading her wings then 21 if it is only two years after her first album is where she really shows off her talent. These songs are bolder, better and more personal. The quality of songs like the bluesy soul of ‘Rolling in the Deep’ cannot be underestimated and of course who can forget ‘Someone Like You’ the countries no.1 break up song however this album has been inescapable this year,which is its main issue.
Despite this,21 is an incredible statement from one of Britains finest female artists.

4 Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Despite its morose title Seattle’s finest indie folk band offered more of their brand of pastoral loveliness that was found on their debut release but this album had better songwriting and a more widescreen nature to it. The title track was a stunning exercise in how to incorporate different song structures but still captivate the listener and Lorelei was a magical to addition to an album that showcased why they are still one of the best bands going.

3 The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?

OK.. lets get one thing out of the way, this album won’t change your life but its 33 mins might just give you that fix that you need to forget your troubles and revel in its short. sharp bursts of indie-pop. Too many good songs on this release to mention, ‘If You Wanna’ ‘All in White’ ‘Blow It Up’.All provide quality responses to the album’s title.
Its not big its not clever but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

2 Bon Iver - S/T

Leaving the stark acoustics behind of ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ Justin Vernon opted for songs on a grander scale. With the aid of his falsetto vocals and an orchestra backing, he managed to keep his signature vocal whilst creating a more ambitious palette for his music’ Calgary’ was just one of the sumptuous delights on this album.

1 Anna Calvi - S/T

Murder ballads backed with a filmic score made this one of the most hauntingly beautiful releases of the year. ‘Blackout’ and ‘First We Kiss’ were just a couple of treasures on an album that was full of them. The album provided the perfect platform for her operatic vocals and meticulous guitar playing. The fact that offstage Calvi had a gentle disposition made this album a revelation.Its the mixture of romance and darkness that makes this album so intoxicating on every listen

Surely a shue in for Mercury Prize had it not gone to PJ Harvey and that's why its my number 1 album of 2011.

Congrats Anna!

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