DIY’s Albums Of 2011: 50 - 41

The first ten records of our Top 50 Albums of 2011 countdown unveiled. Can you take the tension?

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 fifty to forty one. Enjoy.

50. Ben Howard - ‘Every Kingdom’
As the first artist I reviewed for DIY, sure, you could say I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Ben Howard. Following a stretched, sand stroked niche of bare footed strummers; ‘Every Kingdom’ merges delicate guitars with gently soulful vocals securing ‘Every Kingdom’ as a hell of a lot more than a beach sing-a-long of ‘Kumbayah’. The LP is subtle listening bearing tinges of sun kissed angst and relationship rage. As singer-songwriters go, a certain bug-eyed ginger should remove his crown, stand away from his paw print throne and well, Ben Howard will take it from here. (Joanie Eaton)

49. Peggy Sue - ‘Acrobats’
It is always exciting to hear a band really develop and progress and Peggy Sue’s second album ‘Acrobats’ sees the Brighton-based trio expand their sound to thrilling effect. ‘Acrobats’ is the sound of the band really finding their voice and baring their teeth. In comparison to the largely acoustic debut ‘Fossils & Other Phantoms’, ‘Acrobats’ is strong, strident and a real step forward. Producer John Parish expertly helms the brooding melodies of Rosa Slade and Katy Young in a record which is rich in ambition and, most importantly, great song writing. It all makes for a wonderfully coherent and captivating full-length that completely scotches the theory about the “difficult second album.” (Matthew Horton)

48. Other Lives - ‘Tamer Animals’
Oklahoma is a state between categories – not quite South, not quite Midwest, unsure of the heritage it relates to. Other Lives’ Stillwater, Oklahoma provenance makes perfect sense in relation to that uncertainty. Stuck somewhere between country, cinema soundtracks and classical music, ‘Tamer Animals’ is an exercise in using insecurity as an advantage. Horns pulse, strings sweep, guitars plaintively strum whilst Jesse Tabish’s passive yet soaring vocals stand at the centre, the eye of this generic black blizzard. By turns intimate and grandiose, this is consistently stately, wonderful music, engaging the listener as much as it oscillates. (Joe Skrebels)

47. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - ‘Mirror Traffic’
“I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks / A scary thought / In the 2Ks.” As first lines of albums go they could only be from the mind of Stephen Malkmus. ‘Mirror Traffic’ is his fifth post-Pavement album, one which he has described as “relatively accessible.” And, you know what, he’s right. If it proves anything it is that Stephen Malkmus is still in love with music. The range of sounds and creativity on this record show a musician maturing but not running out of ideas on how to create his own sound and move further out of the shadow of the era-defining band he was once part of. (Daniel Wright)

46. Korallreven - ‘An Album By Korallreven’
An album by Korallreven had been a long while coming. The oh-so-appropriately named ‘An Album By Korallreven’ would have been probable to have slotted somewhere in our 2010 poll, had it been released when it was initially promised that is. Instead the Swedish duo decided to work on their first full-length a tad longer to ensure it’d make it onto end of year lists such as this. And that extra slog definitely paid off. While releasing a handful of EPs as well as remixing the likes of Britney Spears of all people, the dreamy electronic outfit crafted a record of euphoric lushness from the very start to the unwanted finish. (Luke Morgan Britton)

45. Iceage - ‘New Brigade’
Arriving pre-tagged as the latest ‘saviours of punk’ and amid tales of notorious live sets, Danish four-piece Iceage were always destined to be divisive. Densely packed into 23-minutes of raw post-punk, their debut album ‘New Brigade’ is relentlessly varied and savagely fractured. Dissonant and down-tuned, primal simplicity reigns: from its ominous instrumental beginnings, through to the visceral ‘Total Drench’, and anthemic ‘White Rune’. Soaked in steely modernity and amongst 80s odes such as ‘Remember’, hollow-voiced singer Elias confronts throughout with his demanding lyrics. Bold, powerful, yet tinged with youthful naivety, ‘New Brigade’ may split opinion, but it’s also an undeniably exhilarating journey. (Heather Steele)

44. Veronica Falls - ‘Veronica Falls’
2011 saw Veronica Falls build on the momentum generated by their early singles with a pulse-quickening debut LP. Never has the instrumentation on an opening track (‘Found Love In A Graveyard’) set the tone for a record so perfectly, with dark riffs, a pounding rhythm section and some tight-as-hell group harmonies all present and correct from there on in. The album manages to capture the band’s DIY punk ethos alongside an impression of polished cohesion, continuously drawing on themes of love, death and loneliness at a breakneck pace. Self-aware melancholia has never sounded more exhilarating. (Charlie Ashcroft)

43. British Sea Power - ‘Valhalla Dancehall’
As far as we can tell, ‘Valhalla Dancehall’ hasn’t stopped British Sea Power from being lumbered with an ‘underrated act’ status but when a record this hard-hitting and powerful is right under your nose, you ought to feel for those who let it pass by. Granted, it doesn’t exactly advance on the group’s previous outings but it’s their most refined attempt at stormy, rousing rock music to date. Yet again, it sees them take one small step towards both critical acclaim and mass recognition. Goodness knows they deserve it. (Jamie Milton)

42. Laura Marling - ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’
Returning with her third studio album, it seems that Laura Marling just keeps getting better. Building upon her two previous efforts, ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ brings a sense of grandiose not previously present in her music. Tracks like ‘Salinas’ and ‘The Beast’ being given greater depth by the inclusion of electric guitar on this album. Whereas ‘Sophia’ and ‘I Was Just A Card’ remind us why we all fell in love with her in the first place. On ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’, Marling brings plenty of new elements to the table, whilst sticking firmly to the melancholy folk that she so wonderfully does. (Edward Clibbens)

41. Washed Out - ‘Within & Without’
Graduating from sample-based tracks on previous EPs to fully original synthesised lushness - whilst unfortunately not managing to shake the chillwave albatross from around his neck - Ernest Greene’s debut album is self-assured without being abrasive, and laid back without being boring. Much of the band and album’s aesthetics are helpful signposts to what’s in store for the listener; Green’s stage name is a fairly accurate description of his sound (much to many a lazy music journalist’s delight), whilst the (post)-coital album cover hints further at the warm, intimate side of the music. Nine tracks of comforting, cosy electronica. (Tom Baker)

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