Best of 2011


It’s pretty straightforward, really: if it was out this year, an album, and totally brilliant, it was eligible. Check out our top LPs of 2011 and the rest of the best, below.


The top

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    Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
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    Release Name
    Father, Son, Holy Ghost
    Release Date
    (2011)
    Artist Name
    by Girls
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    $9.99
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    Girls' debut LP, Album, closed off its year of buzz with an overall yearning for more from the San Fran duo. Their deliverance to such needs is an album of diverse songs with honest and spirited lovelorn lyrics that aren't necessarily immediately catchy or obviously complementary. They drift off into some experimental compositional moments on the lengthy intro to "Just A Song" or the down-tempo "Vomit". The melodically moving delicacy in these songs create a welcomed detour and the album as a whole comes together with a variety of repeated referential points, and an unbeatable style and grace. You can forget that it doesn’t all come at you in a sparkly package because it is a listening experience guaranteed to grow on you.

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    PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
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    Release Name
    Let England Shake
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by PJ Harvey
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    War, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely n… erm, providing inspiration for PJ Harvey’s latest long player, actually. Lyrically rooted on the battlefields of northern France and the beaches at Gallipoli, Let England Shake was ostensibly a tribute to the soldiers lost in the campaigns of WW1, but resonated thematically with the political issues of the present day. Polly Jean’s eighth studio album is a beautiful, bruised love letter to her homeland and, sonically, it’s possibly her finest hour yet.

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    EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
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    Past Life Martyred Saints
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by EMA
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    After catching the attention of Pitchfork editors Ema has become a sensation over night and deservedly so. Her angelic voice and calm temperament are perfect inflections for the ghostly mood throughout this album. The fun doesn't end there as the album gets into emotionally powerful lyricism and excitingly innovative tempos. She makes up an amazing combination of Sinéad O’Connor, Warpaint and riot girl all in the same roller coaster of emotions but channeled into an very noteworthy debut release.

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    Real Estate - Days
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    Release Name
    Days
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by Real Estate
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    With this album, Jersey born, Brooklyn band Real Estate didn't venture far from their gloriously engaging surf-rock, indie-pop sound that previously attracted the public gaze from their debut self titled album and EP. And, with the perfect formula of childhood friends on an exploration of dreamy guitar-pop melodies and themes of coming of age in America, this is a good thing. Days was recorded in a New Paltz, NY barn-turned-studio with the help of Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, The Walkmen). The band refined their sound slightly, with tighter production and smoother transitions resulting in an album that captured the hearts of many.

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    JAY Z / Kanye West - Watch The Throne (Explicit Version)
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    Release Name
    Watch The Throne
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by JAY Z / Kanye West
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    Collaborations surely don’t come bigger than this. A decade on since a relatively unknown Kanye West produced portions of Jay-Z’s seminal sixth album The Blueprint, the two rappers have combined forces once more for their first fully-collaborative long-player. Originally intended as a five-track EP, the 12 cuts on Watch The Throne reinforce just why Jay-Z and West have become rap royalty, whilst showcasing a dazzlingly eclectic array of guest stars that include hip hop’s new trailblazers Kid Cudi and Swizz Beatz, R&B megastars Beyoncé and The-Dream, and the indie kids’ favorites, Justin Vernon and Elly Jackson. No question about it, this is the rap event of the year.

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    Feist - Metals
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    Release Name
    Metals
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by Feist
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    Forget Grammys and platinum discs, the true benchmark of success for any musician is appearing on Sesame Street. Don’t believe us? Just look at Feist: her last album was such a hit, she got the chance to teach the muppets to count, thereby technically rocketing her into the same league of stardom as former guests Michael Jackson and Beyoncé. So, with the eyes of the world now focused upon her, Canada’s premier indie-songstress has finally unveiled her fourth studio effort. And whilst the increasingly melancholic and haunting direction she’s taken on Metals could prove a mite too mature for Elmo’s ears, for the rest of us it’s a treat.

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    The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
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    Release Name
    The King Is Dead
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by The Decemberists
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    Despite having already devoted a decade to ruling the waters of Portland’s diverse indie scene, The Decemberists are showing no signs of tiring. On The King Is Dead they’ve dropped anchor, waving goodbye to the sea shanties of the acclaimed Picaresque and travelling inland to pursue the rolling plains of country-rock, in an album evocative of Neil Young by way of vintage R.E.M. In fact, with those steel guitars and harmonicas perfectly complementing Colin Meloy’s quavering vocals, plus guest guitar-work from Peter Buck himself, being land-locked may just have launched them on their most exciting musical voyage yet.

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    James Blake - James Blake
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    Release Name
    James Blake
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by James Blake
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    Tipped for the majority of 2010 as one of the brightest talents in British electronica, James Blake enjoyed a similarly auspicious start to 2011, winning rabidly positive reviews for his debut and coming a close second to another British sensation, Jessie J in the BBC’s Sound of poll. Ever the perfectionist, this simply wasn’t enough for post-dubstep’s finest, and since his “defeat” he’s been focused on executing a pretty vicious revenge campaign on Miss J. And his powerful swooning voice and impeccable and innovative rhythmic production may have just achieved him success, at least in the eyes of the industry abroad, where he has been embraced with open arms and very solid record sales.

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    Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome
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    Release Name
    Rome
    Release Date
    (2011)
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    by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi
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    Had Danger Mouse followed his original career plan, he’d have been making films and not albums now. Now the man voted “Producer of the Decade” has found a way to combine both passions, collaborating with Italian composer Daniele Luppi on this loving homage to epic spaghetti western soundtracks. A true labour of love, Danger Mouse has constructed Rome with painstaking attention to detail, using vintage instruments, the musicians from Ennio Morricone’s scores and the (specially-reformed) choir from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Vocals from Jack White and Norah Jones complete the picture, resulting in an album of windswept beauty that fans of Broken Bells and Dark Night Of The Soul will love.

The rest of the best...