2011 hasn’t really been anything special in terms of music. The mainstream continues its decline with more boy bands, ghastly rap/r’nb numbers and ongoing story of a transvestite Madonna impersonator. Whinehouse’s death was without a doubt the biggest music story but dint really trouble me either way. Good music never truly goes away, it just getting harder to find, here’s my picks from the past 12 months.
No 1. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
Easily the most anticipated album of the year for me, it came like a bolt from the blue with a fantastic lunch back in August. It croons and snarls, it terrifying at points and reserved at others. There was nae chance of this album being anything other than epic.
No 2. The Black Lips - Arabia Mountain
Back on form after a poor follow up to 2008’s “Good Bad Not Evil”, Arabia Mountain is a real gem for fans of bluesy, countrified garage rock.
No 3. Throwing Muses - Anthology
Ok I know this strictly isn’t a proper album but we do get a bonus B-Sides/Rarities disc with it too which still beats most album releases this year by a mile. It also came in a pretty smart presentation book as well.
No 4. Screaming Trees - Last Words: The Final Recordings
This was probably the surprise of the year. Screaming Trees recorded an album in 1998 that was never released, the major wonder is why considering the quality of it. I don’t know if it ever got an official release outside of the US but the non the less its good.
No 5. 50 Foot Wave - With Love From the Men’s Room
This technically isn’t an album (its an EP) but it still deserves a mention not only because of the class songs but the because it was released free over a number of months via the bands websites.
No 6. Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Not quite the glory days of Sleater-Kinney but its not a bad effort.
No 7. Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps
Greg Dulli returned this year with another solid effort. Whisky, cigarettes, and damnation cannot be beat in my book.
No 8. Lykke Li - Wounded Rythmes
Very original sounding album that mixes electronic, rock and tribal style music with ballads, good stuff.
No 9. J Mascis - Several Shades of Why
The Dinosaur Jr. front man released a solo acoustic effort that was also a pleasant surprise, couldn’t keep it acoustic also the way through, trade mark solos do make an appearance on a couple of numbers.
No 10. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Mirror Traffic
After the money spinning Pavement reunion its back to work for Malkmus with this effort which could have been released by said band. A solid Pavement rip-off by the main man is not bad thing from where I’m sitting though.
Overrated Album of Year
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
This album has won a lot of awards and toped a lot of critics polls this year but I just don’t get it. I like PJ Harvey, she’s definitely a class act but this just leaves me cold and bemused.
Shocker of the Year
Sons and Daughters - Mirror Mirror
A once great Scottish band came out with this horrible totally pointless album. Sounds to me anyway that they’ve been listening to allot of Ultravox and someone told them that was a good sound, complete rubbish.