And so we reach the end of another year; twelve months of great music and even better albums. After countless arguments, tantrums and break downs, DIY’s writers have created a definitive list of unmissable releases from the last 365 days (well, give or take - it’s only the start of December - Ed) - the very best albums of 2011. Here you’ll find numbers twenty to eleven. Enjoy.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 50 - 41 here.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 40 - 31 here.
Read DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 30 - 21 here.
20. Yuck - ‘Yuck’
Two ex-Cajun Dance Party people, a drummer recruited from a Kibbutz in Israel, and a bassist born in Hiroshima – it’s an extraordinary line-up. Equally striking is their proclivity for fuzzy distortion and hazy vocals. Exuding a nonchalant coolness, they’re equally prepared to indulge in a seven minute shoegaze expedition (‘Rubber’), as they are to impact with immediacy – the daedal feedback squeals of ‘Holing Out’ a brilliant example. A captivating record. (Simon Butcher)
19. Slow Club - ‘Paradise’
Well, we don’t think anyone predicted this. Slow Club’s debut ‘Yeah So’ was superseded this year by ‘Paradise’, an LP which saw a vast increase of post-break-up sassiness, sexiness and sadness. A new full-band set-up allowed glam to stomp all over ‘Where I’m Waking’, more mature balladeering with ‘Gold Mountain’, along with a lovely bit of sax in ‘Hackney Marsh’. All that, plus a potential-single-of-the- year with ‘Two Cousins’. (Tom Baker)
18. Los Campesinos! - ‘Hello Sadness’
What everyone will tell you about this album is that it’s more mature and darker than the band’s last. Sure. It’s those things. It’s braver too - ‘Hello Sadness’ leaves all worries about Los Campesinos! holding back in the dust. You get the impression that they’ve swapped the members they have lost since their last record for a second wind. Darker plus maturity plus fewer members equals amazing. (Marc Thomas)
17. Wild Flag - ‘Wild Flag’
The debut album from Wild Flag was always going to be amazing. Featuring Sleater-Kinney luminaries Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss alongside Helium’s Mary Timony and The Minders’ Rebecca Cole, any early excitement was easily justified. ‘Romance’ sells the self-titled LP best - four minutes of unadulterated guitar pop, its angular, awkward shuffle marks out the kind of brilliance few others could dream of matching. (Stephen Ackroyd)
16. Lykke Li - ‘Wounded Rhymes’
Swedish export Lykke Li builds upon her debut with ‘Wounded Rhymes’, an LP that amalgamates the sentiments of youth via a civil war between the celestial virgin and malignant temptress. With lyrics like “I’m your prostitute, and you gon’ get some,’ you get the feeling Li wants a little more than Pizza Express on the first date. Domineering percussion, catchy beats, plus delicate, yet raw vocals equals bloody good pop. (Joanie Eaton)
15. Jamie XX & Gil Scott-Heron - ‘We’re New Here’
On its own merits Jamie xx’s reworking of Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 comeback album ‘I’m New Here’ justifies inclusion in our list, but the death of Scott-Heron this year gives the album extra poignancy; his ghostly presence floating throughout, providing a captivating spectral quality. Really, however, ‘We’re New Here’ is a showcase for Jamie XX’s tremendously inventive production skills that mark him out as one of UK music’s most special talents. ‘We’re New Here’ is an excellent post-script to the career of the legendary Scott-Heron. (Martyn Young)
14. Kurt Vile - ‘Smoke Rings For My Halo’
Kurt Vile has always had a sense of how to articulate classical music. You know the classics, right? Zeppelin, Tom Petty, The Grateful Dead - that lot. Vile’s greatest trick has always been in drawing what he loves from these behemoths and making it sound personal. There’s a U2 twang to ‘Society Is My Friend’ and ‘In My Time’ sounds like an echo of The Byrds, yet each centres itself around Vile’s introspective drawl. If classic rock always resonated with the spirit of the blue collar, ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ resonates with the spirit of the man beneath it. (Joe Skrebels)
13. Arctic Monkeys - ‘Suck It And See’
They may see it as their duty to keep guitar music alive; but, on the basis of their fantastic fourth album, ‘Suck It And See’, the Arctic Monkeys are also saving pop music. ‘Suck It And See’ is the perfect progression from 2009’s (horrifically underrated) ‘Humbug’. Bringing together all the best elements of their previous three efforts, Alex Turner and co. have created a wonderful album of sparkling pop and lyrical surrealism, littered with a few 21st century rock gems. One of 2011’s best albums, by Britain’s most constantly developing band. (Edward Clibbens)
12. The Horrors - ‘Skying’
Despite ‘Primary Colours’’ Mercury nomination, ‘Skying’ has emerged as The Horrors’ most powerful, inventive release yet. From the echoing ‘Changing The Rain’ and hypnotic ‘Still Life’, through to the final pulses of ‘Oceans Burning’, the album is as ethereal as it is euphoric, as immediate as it is wandering. 80s-soaked synths, guttural guitars and Faris Badwan’s unmistakable vocals: ‘Skying’ removes you from time and place in a way that only the finest records can, firmly establishing The Horrors as one of Britain’s best bands. (Heather Steele)
11. Bon Iver - ‘Bon Iver’
There’s always been something intensely beautiful about the music of Bon Iver, and this self-titled release is no exception. From the opening piano notes of ‘Wash’, to the honeyed tones of Justin Vernon’s vocals, there’s something awe-insiring within this album. Portraying a perfect combination of simplicity and embellishment, we see Bon Iver tackle new arrangements, allowing them to grow away from their quiet, acoustic-driven roots. There’s still an overwhelming sense of melancholy, but this time it’s coupled with a feeling of hope. One of 2011’s most powerful records. (Sarah Jamieson)