To be honest, it has been a slow year, especially compared to 2010. Many hyped releases have been disappointing, and it seems that many other bands have taken a year off. However, this has allowed for many fledgling bands to take the limelight and develop their own idiosyncratic sound, whose true ability probably won’t be fully appreciated until the onslaught of summer festivals.
10. Bill Callahan- Apocalypse
Callahan returns with new vitality in this collection of powerful ponderings about self-worth, friendship and aging, supported by chilling instrumentation.
9. The Antlers – Burst Apart
Falsetto is obviously in, The Antlers add to this theme with layers of atmosphere which thickens throughout the album and releases in euphoria in the middle of the album with “Rolled Together”.
8. Kurt Vile- Smoke Ring For My Halo
Vile hits the scene with a reinterpretation of “slackerhood” through the medium of Bruce Springsteen and Big Star.
7. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
By far the most political album of 2011, oozing with sarcastic acidity. Harvey’s girly squeal and autoharp make a real eclectic sound that seem to come from a 50’s army advertisement.
6. Shabazz Palaces – Black Up
Erratic beats, canned female wails and electric feedback are forced to get along with the violent raps of Ishmael Butler. An intimidating debut.
5. Real Estate – Days
This surfer rock band develop their sound even more from their debut album and make their songs even more gold-tinted.
4. Wild Beasts – Smother
For their third album, the Cumbrian band choose a more focused sinister sound,
still burning with sensuality, with as a good interplay of instruments and electronic, as Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming’s polar vocals.
3. James Blake – James Blake
This has been the crux of Blake’s discography who already has four EP’s to his name since he entered the scene in 2010. The album encompasses Blake’s quiet revolution, where all his songs sound like he is singing from an abyss, yet interspersed with absolute bone chilling blunt noise,
2. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
For her third album this mesmeric Texan has shedded any of her vestal personality and injected it with industrial riffs that has made the average male listener inescapably attracted to her, yet also absolutely terrified. Her songs have become much more accessible and free of gratuity, yet all are plagued with dark undertones that keep us aesthetically discomfited throughout.
1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
This has been the shining light of the year. With huge anticipation from his debut heart-breaking album, Bon Iver does not waver but brings in the calvary and moves his music from an individual’s sorrow to a universal feeling. He now plays with a nine-man band and has become the frontispiece for both falsetto and beardy musicians.