December 31, 2011
It’s been a long time between drinks as the Aussies say, so what better time to post than New Year’s Eve. We may be looking forward to 2012 with some trepidation (damn those Mayans) but musically there will be much to celebrate if it’s half as good as 2011 has been. These are great times for new music. Maybe it’s because this YouTube generation has been exposed to so many musical influences that 2011 felt more like the halcyon days of 1981 to me.
So here are my favourites, in no particular order.
Ghost Poet : Survive It
Haunting, sparse, this is the soundtrack to urban Britain falling apart at the seams. Like The Special’s Ghost Town 30-odd years before it captures urban fear and decay while rising above it. Nothing changes.
Foster The People : Pumped Up Kicks
Never has a song with such a grim subject matter sounded so damn upbeat. I was whistling it all summer not knowing it was based on a real high school massacre in the US. If the Monkees had sang about Spahn Ranch it would have sounded like this.
Of Monsters and Men: Little Talks
OK – it’s sounds more than a little like Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but I love the jolly sea shanty-ness of this. And they’re Icelandic – what’s not to like (although I can see myself kicking the tele in this next next year as the B&Q advert play it for the millionth time).
I Break Horses : Hearts
More Scandies – this time Swedes. Those long nights sure do much talent make. I love the C86, My Bloody Valentineish, shoegazerness of this. Lovely.
Miracle Fortress: Miscalculations
Everything reminds me of something in this crazy post modern pop world we live in, and this reminds me of early Talking Heads.
S.C.U.M : Faith Unfolds
And if we are going back to the future, this is like all the best early 80’s tracks, mashed up and spat out by a DeLorean into the here and now. I know people compare them to Simple Minds, but this sounds more like Ghosts by Positive Noise to these refined ears. But better. After 40 million listens I still love this.
Thurston Moore: Benediction
It wasn’t just the youngsters making great music this year. Thurston made a beautifully chilled solo album, proving he was always the melodic foil to Lee Renaldo’s wall of sound in Sonic Youth. This is the stand-out track.
Jez Kerr: Play Something Fast
Another ageing gentleman makes a surprisingly good solo album. I don’t know why I should have been surprised as post Simon Topping ACR were as good, if not better, than when he was still blowing his own trumpet. Jez has made a very good album that sounds nothing at all like ACR. This is a great track and the video is shot at the best art exhibition of the year at YSP. Winner all round
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs: Garden
Trance lives! Pity those advertising bastards have gotten hold of it.
And that’s about it. I’m sure there are others I’ve forgotten, but in all a great year. Biggest musical regret – not getting to see Belle and Sebastian at the Roundhouse. And biggest musical loss – Poly Styrene.
Have a great 2012 and lets hope we’re all doing this again same time next year (bloody Mayans)