Monday, 12 December 2011

My 50 best albums of 2011 part 1: 41 - 50

41. Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!

Not as commercial as the massively successful Seldom Seen Kid, but the quality of songwriting shines through. There may be one or two moments when they are guilty of playing to the crowd ('Open Arms', for example), but for every one of those there are still moments when Guy Garvey's lyrics can move you with their perfect pictures - 'Lippy Kids' is up there with his best.

42. Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne

OK, so maybe it wasn't quite as good as you might expect from the sum of its parts, but it was still a pretty historic moment in rap history. You can't go wrong when you rope in your wife (well, you can't if your wife's Beyonce), and the best songs on here could easily sit on Yeezy's brilliant album from last year, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And Frank Ocean, featured here on 2 tracks, is gonna be a major star in 2012.

43. Chapel Club - Palace

A really promising debut from this London band. Yes, it covers most of the indie bases from the 80s to now, but it does so with style and depth. The vocals from Lewis Bowman are strong, and put across his strong lyrics really well, while the music soars in places and quietly swoons in others. Definitely designed for bigger and better things in 2012.

44. Dels - Gob

A great slice of British hip-hop (from Ipswich of all places), the boy Kieren Dickins mixes deep, dark subjects with more upbeat moments, over a musical hybrid of indie and electronica. The lyrics are shot through with a sense of realism and perspective, with no need for cocksure bravado, and you get a sense that this is the birth of a genuine talent who could take on the might of US hip-hop.

45. Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip

Inevitably I was enticed by the band's love-it-or-hate-it name, but the music is well worth hearing. A fascinating mix of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and Beach House, this is perfect power pop. Catch them live - but beware, they're bloody loud!

46. Rival Consoles - Kid Velo

Like Daft Punk soundtracking an Atari game from the 80s, this slice of electronica is fun, frisky and full of beans. There are hints of Kraftwerk, and more French influences from Justice, Mr. Oizo and even Jean-Michel Jarre - not bad for young Ryan West from Leicester! There are some huge tunes on here, real arms-in-the-air classics - it's an eccentric electronic energiser.

47. DRC Music - Kinshasa One Two

The latest African project from Damon Albarn, mixing 11 western producers with current Congolese musicians. The result is an intriguing mix of more traditional music with up to date electronic sounds. Apart from on the first track 'Hallo' Albarn stays in the background and lets everyone else take turns being centre stage, and you can feel good in the knowledge that while you're enjoying the music, the proceeds are helping Oxfam's work in the Congo.

48. Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

A step forwards for Justice, which in some places was a step back to the seventies. Featuring a much broader palette of music than their debut, the album manages to mix futuristic electro sounds with 70s guitars and in the process creates the most 'rock' dance album of the year.

49. Wu Lyf - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

A unique band with a unique sound. They started off behind a wall of hype, but emerged with a great album. Live they go from strength to strength, and if they keep developing at the rate they have in 2011 they could be massive by the end of next year.

50. This Frontier Needs Heroes - The Future

Warm and touching, with just the right amount of pathos, this brother/sister duo create an intimacy and empathy in their music and lyrics that draws the listener in. Plus the physical album comes with a free pair of 3D glasses - that really is the future!

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