MD’s Zero Fanfare Top 40 Albums Of 2011

November 17, 2011

Are they in order, from 1 to 40? Perhaps 40 to 1? Yes, no… who cares. Anyway, 40 thoroughly good albums from the year that isn’t quite over (but let’s be fair, there’s nothing but X Factor afterbirth between now and the New Year).

– – –

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
Katy B – On a Mission
Kuedo – Severant
The Horrors – Skying
Polinski – Labyrinths
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Com Truise – Galactic Melt
Björk – Biophilia
9th Wonder – The Wonder Years
True Widow – As High as the Highest Heavens…
Wild Beasts – Smother
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Dark Dark Dark – Wild Go
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
A Winged Victory for the Sullen – A Winged Victory for the Sullen
FaltyDL – You Stand Uncertain
Mastodon – The Hunter
The Men – Leave Home
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Other Lives – Tamer Animals
Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die
Modeselektor – Moneytown
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Braids – Native Speaker
Rustie – Glass Swords
Dels – Gob
Iceage – New Brigade
Childish Gambino – CAMP
Machinedrum – Room(s)
Martyn – Ghost People
Azari & III – Azari & III
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here
Emika – Emika
Blanck Mass – Blanck Mass
Nils Frahm – Felt
Drake – Take Care
Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun

Note: Esben and the Witch’s Violet Cries is disqualified from this list because they’re terrible, terrible people. Nah. But I do co-manage them. And that sort of nepotism just ain’t cool.

– – –

Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place

Katy B – Broken Record

Kuedo – Scissors

The Horrors – Still Life

Polinski – Stitches


The Best Music Videos of 2011 – Part Two

November 11, 2011

Part One, right, is over here. This is another ten. Are they the best videos of 2011? I dunno. I just say what I see.

Youth Lagoon – Montana (from the album The Year of Hibernation)

Battles – My Machines (from the album Gloss Drop)

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Bubble (from the album Diamond Mine)

Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot (from the album Tha Carter IV)

Ghostpoet – Survive It (from the album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam)

Hooray for Earth – True Loves (from the album True Loves)

Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise (from the album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)

Three Trapped Tigers – Reset (from the album Route One or Die)

New Look – Nap on the Bow (from the album New Look)

Wild Beasts – Albatross (from the album Smother)

Yeah, I’ll probably do one more of these before the year is out. Fun, right?

Fifty favourite albums from 2011 so far.

June 17, 2011

Julianna Barwick

Everybody’s at this sort of thing right now, so why should I be any different? These are in no order, and there have been lots of albums I’ve enjoyed very nearly as much as the ones you see listed below. But 50 is a nice, neat number, so 50 is what you – I – get. Inevitably there are some records that I just haven’t had time to listen to properly; I expect some of these will appear in my favourites come the end of the year. Some, I just haven’t clicked with, like the latest PJ Harvey album and Anna Calvi’s debut (on paper I should love them, but…). Several of these here, though, are really special: Julianna Barwick (pictured, above), Wild Beasts, Bon Iver, Tim Hecker, FaltyDL, Dark Dark Dark, Ghostpoet. Says me, anyway. Click the links to travel to BBC-published words on the respective long-players.

This list covers studio albums released in the UK between January 1 and June 30, 2011. Due to professional association with the band, I have not listed Esben and the Witch’s Violet Cries. But it’s very good, too. Obviously.

Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Tao of the Dead
Austra – Feel It Break
Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place
Beans – End It All
Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Boxcutter – The Dissolve
Braids – Native Speaker
Cat’s Eyes – Cat’s Eyes
Colourmusic – My ____ Is Pink
Daedelus – Bespoke
Dananananaykroyd – There Is a Way
Dark Dark Dark – Wild Go
Dels – Gob
Destroyer – Kaputt
Diddy Dirty Money – Last Train to Paris
Dutch Uncles – Cadenza
FaltyDL – You Stand Uncertain
Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Grimes – Halfaxa
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972
How to Dress Well – Love Remains
J.Rocc – Some Cold Rock Stuf
Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise
Katy B – On a Mission
King Creosote and John Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun
Letlive. – Fake History
Lia Ices – Grown Unknown
Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts
Planningtorock – W
Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx – We’re New Here
SebastiAn – Total
Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Sister Crayon – Bellow
Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Three Trapped Tigers – Route One or Die
True Widow – As High as the Highest Heavens and from the Centre to the Circumference of the Earth
tUnE-YaRdS – w h o k i l l
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo
Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat – Everything’s Getting Older
Wild Beasts – Smother

And the best albums of May 2011 are…

June 6, 2011

Beastie Boys Make Some Noise

…on the BBC Music Blog RIGHT HERE.

If the above image doesn’t give away one of my ten picks from the month that was, clearly you’re not someone who could be said to “enjoy music”. Fair enough. I don’t enjoy aubergines. But I don’t read blogs about them – so why are you here?

On a related BBC Music Blog note, I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on the various contenders for this year’s Mercury Prize last month – the shortlist of 12 is issued next month. Read about the latest releases from the likes of Katy B, Wild Beasts (they might just be in that there best of May round-up, too), Ghostpoet, PJ Harvey, Mount Kimbie and Zomby BY CLICKING THESE WORDS.

I’m not sure this new Arctic Monkeys album is making either my best of June or the Mercury shortlist. It’s a bit… tired.

Wild Beasts – new album review and interview

May 11, 2011

Wild Beasts

I am a lucky, lucky man to be doing the job I do. Getting paid to write about an amazing record, and talk to one of its makers. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Read my review of Wild Beasts‘ new album, Smother, on the BBC.

Read my interview with frontman Hayden Thorpe on the BBC Music Blog.

So good. Probably my favourite album of the year so far. If it’s not in the Mercury shortlist when it’s announced in July, somebody’s made a mistake.

I love lists, me. (The Mercury Prize 2011, and some albums that might feature on its longlist.)

February 2, 2011

After last year’s Mercury Prize went, rightly, to The xx (although I had a drink in the honour of Wild Beasts, too, whose Two Dancers LP should/would have won in any other year), I wrote a little predictions-centric piece on what albums might feature on 2011’s list – which will be announced in July.

You can read said BBC Music Blog entry HERE.

Some big names, there. Some very familiar ones, and some rather less well known. Below, though, is a slightly revised set of acts and albums who could feature – all being British, and all with albums already out (and of a style certain to tick voting panel boxes). No Radiohead on the release schedule yet.

The Burns Unit – Side Show
Skream – Outside the Box
Luke Abbott – Holkham Drones
The Count & Sinden – Mega Mega Mega
Andreya Triana – Lost Where I Belong
Richard Thompson – Dream Attic
Norma Winstone – Stories Yet To Tell
Smoke Fairies – Through Low Light and Trees
Robert Plant – Band of Joy
Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep
Manic Street Preachers – Postcards from a Young Man
Tricky – Mixed Race
Bellowhead – Hedonism
Bring Me the Horizon – There is a Hell…
Heidi Talbot – The Last Star
Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy
Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
Wyatt, Atzmon, Stephen – For the Ghosts Within
Darkstar – North
Darren Hayman and the Secondary Modern – Essex Arms
The Phantom Band – The Wants
Rumer – Seasons of my Soul
Brian Eno with Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams – Small Craft on a Milk Sea
British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
Wire – Red Barked Tree
Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
Adele – 21
Esben and the Witch – Violet Cries
James Blake – James Blake
Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
Led Bib – Bring Your Own
The Streets – Computers and Blues
Teddy Thompson – Bella
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth
Katy B – On a Mission
Micachu & The Shapes and the London Sinfonietta – Chopped & Screwed

Roughly in release order there, from the summer of 2010 to March of this year. (I don’t have much on the release schedule beyond that, not from domestic acts of note/clout anyway. The View? Fuck right off.) I say give it to Skinner. Why not. It’s not like the supposed ‘curse of the Mercury’ can strike him, given he’s quit The Streets now.

Mike Skinner

Aw, c’mon chap. Cheer up.