Friday, 2 December 2011

Lone Wolf's top 10 Albums of 2011

Hi everyone. Long time no speak. I have been very busy writing, and recording the new album over the past few months which as i said in a tweet recently is 'frustratingly' close to being completed. I don't really want to reveal too much about that right now as i'd rather save that for 2012.

But as well as doing that i have been listening to a LOT of music, and i think this year has been a grand year for albums. It has been very tough to whittle down to 10 records just how much good stuff i have heard this year, but here is my top 10 albums of 2011.

If you haven't heard anything in the list, please take the time to go and buy it/at least give it a whirl on spotify. I intend to write a bit more detail on each record when i get the time.


10. tUnE-yArDs - Whokill

My lord, what a woman.  I heard 'Gangsta' on 6Music at the start of the year and it blew my mind.  I'm consistently fascinated by her use of crazy contemporary rhythms and crazy tribal sounding vocals.  She is an amazing talent and this is a fantastic album.  Not a duff track to be found.

Favourite track:  Gangsta

9. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes

This is a record that caught me off guard.  I wasn't convinced at first, but the songs slowly burrowed their way into my head.  It's like a strange mix of songs that never quite made it into 1960s Bond movies.  A wonderful Scott Walker feel mixed with a theatrical melancholy.  I love the way a simple lyric like "I can see that she's better than me" can evoke such an emotional response from an old dawg like me.

Favourite track:  I'm Not Stupid

8.  Metronomy - The English Riviera

If there is a record that sums up the summer of 2011 for me then this is it.  The bass lines get my blood pumping, and are an awesome backdrop to this sun kissed intelligent pop album. Superb singles 'The Look' and 'She Wants' are effortlessly backed up by album tracks that pretty much all sound like singles.

Favourite track:  Corinne

7.  Wild Beasts - Smother
It's no secret that I class these guys as my brothers.  We have toured the UK and USA together, and Tom and I have had many a drunken argument after a bottle of wine or two.  But personal brotherly love aside, Wild Beasts are the only band I have ever toured with where i have watched the whole set every single night.  They just seem to deliver again and again.  This album is no exception.
It's silky smooth and confident in it's delivery.  Beautifully produced.  The vocals are up front and dry.  It's just lovely.
The climax of the record is simply epic too.  Glorious in fact.

Favourite track: End Come Too Soon

6.  The Horrors - Skying
Another album that came as a surprise, and possibly the first i have heard to kiss the early 90s indie scene (the good bit) as well as sounding like a Simple Minds album that was never released.
I love the energy on this record, and the way the bass and drums smack hard behind the synths to create driving track after driving track.  'Still Life' is possibly the greatest song of the year in my opinion.
Favourite track:  Still Life

5.  Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
I grew up in London, well Essex (which seems to be a dirty word) and theres something about this album that conjures up an image of where i used to live.  I can't put my finger on it.  It makes me think of a tube ride into central London from Newbury Park in the rain, seeing the graffiti tags along the way.  Rather specific i know, but I get like this sometimes when i listen to music.  I hear images and those images become the music.
Ghostpoet isn't trying to show you how great he is.  He just tells you how he feels, and i like listening to him telling me.

Favourite track:  Liiines

4.  PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
I don't really know if i can say much about this album that hasn't already been said elsewhere.  It certainly appears to be a 'Marmite' album, but i have little idea why that could be.  I think it is mind-numbingly excellent.  The production is perfect, and i love the crazy things that other people seem to hate such as the bugle on 'Our Glorious Land' and the crazy tribal vocals in the background on 'England'.
This is a spectacular example of opinionated melancholy.  It never goes 'too far' in it's message.  The musicianship and backing vocals of her band are out of this world.  the production is second to none.
This album sat at the top spot on this list for quite some time until i realised just how much more i had been listening to the next three albums on this list.  An absolute masterpiece.

Favourite track:  Our Glorious Land

3.  The Soft Moon - Total Decay EP

It's MY list and i'll put an EP on it if i wish!  Do i make myself clear?
I'm afraid i am going to have to use a profanity here and say that this is simply fucking excellent!!!  I am a big Krautrock fan and the repetition on this EP is so masterfully done that i think that if the tracks were 10 times their length i would never get bored.  I myself am shocked and awed by the way that they basically manage to pull of a 4 minute track that is practically entirely percussion.  I am literally gagging for a new album.
If you are a fan of Can, Suicide or even Throbbing Gristle etc.  Just don't waste any more of your life and go and listen to this immediately!

Favourite track:  Alive

2.  John Maus - We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
Jesus, i love this album so, so much.  Basically if you play me some serious 80s synths, i'm anybodies.  It's almost like Rohypnol to me.  Now you know how to get your way with me if you see me outside a gig.  Just bring your Juno.
This album is like a reverb/delay drenched, chaos filled ride along a BASF C90 cassette.  It's sometimes manic in the way it pushes pop melodies into your face.  You would never guess that this sort of music would come out of Hawaii!  It sounds like an odd Little London in Los Angeles kind of vibe.  Some of the tracks ('Cop Killer' for example) wouldn't sound out of place if they were retrospectively added to the soundtrack of Robocop for example!
I feel an amazing sense of euphoria when i listen to this record, and hopefully you will too.

Favourite track:  Believer

And the winner is....................................................


1. Peaking Lights - 936
Some of you may remember that towards the beginning of this year I was asking people if they could recommend me something to buy.  This was one of the suggestions and i was hooked immediately.
Repetition, repetition, repetition yet somehow never getting boring.  This record isn't Krautrock, it isn't Dub, it isn't Synth pop, it isn't indie,  but somehow it is all of these things, and then some. 
I remember listening to this in the van on my way to Belgium this summer and everything about this record making sense.  It just rolls, and rolls and rolls.
It's lo-fi, and somehow when you listen to this on vinyl (i was one of the lucky ones to get one of the 300 copies when it was first released) it only enhances the experience.  I'd say it leans towards something that you would be better off immersing yourself in on a warm summers day rather than the cold dark depths of winter.
I think i am actually in love with this record.  I genuinely do not know how to describe it properly, so do yourself a favour and give this album a proper listen.  A glass of wine and some headphones in front of a roaring fire at this time of year would probably be the best way.  So what exactly is stopping you?  Don't let me keep you.

Favourite track:  Marshmellow Yellow

So there you have it!  Do you agree with my choices?

I hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings.  Tell me about your favourites too.  Either here or on Twitter/Facebook.

If you don't hear from me again this year, have a very, very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

xxPaul Mxx


  1. John Maus ! So good ! My personal no. 1 for 2011. Not sure about Peaking Lights, never did reveal itself to me as all that... Metronomy, yep, pretty in parts, worthy. Not heard much of the rest. Really excited to see what's next from Maus - the guys gonna blow UP if he can manage to top Pitiless.

  2. Great post!

    tUnE-yArDs blew me away when I saw her this year. I discovered her thanks to La Blogothèque who gave me a free ticket to see her show. She did 2 encores. Probably one of the best shows I've seen this year. I like how she's always smiling and enjoying what she does. More artists should be like that.

    Metronomy = lots of amazing Summer memories thanks to them.

    Wild Beasts : probably the record I've listened the most this year. B-sides included.

    PJ Harvey : she never ceases to amaze me.

    John Maus : A friend of mine from Venezuela recommended me this record. It's amazing.

    I haven't paid attention to the other records yet. It's on my "listening list" now.

    - It's funny how nobody mentions Radiohead on their Top Albums.

    - I really thought Josh T. Pearson would feature on this post. It's such a brilliant record. This man fascinates me.

  3. I was one of the people who rec'd Peaking Lights - still loving it now, too.

  4. Nice reading and interesting how your favorites are mostly electronic weird stuff, you could not tell it from the music you make… Never heard of the top 3 in your list so thanks for the advice.

    My personal fav this year is hands down The Dear Hunter’s "Color Spectrum". 36 songs divided in 9 EPs, each one inspired and named after the seven colors of the rainbow + black and white. A long musical journey with the most versatile rock band around, recorded with multiple guests all over the States.
    The sum of it may be better than its parts but to only think that it’s the same guy who wrote and sings all these songs is beyond amazing.
    Listen to "We’ve got a score to settle", "What time taught us", "The inheritance" then "Look away" to have an idea of the “beyond amazing” I’m talking about…

    As for the best song of the year, The Middle East "Months" is imho a very serious contender.

    Can’t wait to listen your new record. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too !