Despite what some might think, I found 2011 to be a cracking year for music; in particular for good old fashioned album releases. Since I also started reviewing music again after a long break, I heard more albums this year than I had for a while, and my long-list of those I liked came to 56.
I've already contributed to a few end of year lists and votes, changing my mind every time! So, for my own purposes, I've selected five albums that could easily be my album of the year, and I've listed some more which received heavy rotation and attention from me over the last year.
Albums of the year
Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat 'Everything's Getting Older'
Moffat is one of the finest lyricists of his generation and his voice is sounding better than ever, working well with Wells's jazz-influenced arrangements.
An album that I heard very early in the year and it stayed with me throughout. Great songwriting, plus the clever audio manipulations that Jon Hopkins adds tend to yield something new with each listen.
The album that the Fiery Furnaces should've made after Gallowsbird's Bark. I reviewed it here
Billed as a punk-rock-opera, this epic album tells the fictional tale of David and Veronica. The strong tunes and cracking guitar sounds mean that you can easily give it a couple of listens to let the abrasive vocal style get under your skin. Once you have got it, it's hard to put down.
Essentially a solo bass saxophone performance, this record delivers so much more than that description suggests. A stunning album.
and the runners up in no particular order...
Gang Gang Dance 'Eye Contact'
Tim Hecker 'Ravedeath 1972'
Wild Beasts 'Smother'
John Maus 'We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves'
Oneohtrix Point Never 'Replica'
Thurston Moore 'Demolished Thoughts'
Slow Club 'Paradise'
EMA 'Past Life Martyred Saints'
Wooden Shjips 'West'
Real Estate 'Days'
Summer Camp 'Welcome to Condale'
Lanterns on the Lake 'Gracious Tide Take me Home'
Fight Like Apes 'The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner'
Thee Oh Sees 'Carrion Crawler'
Atlas Sound 'Parallax'
Bonnie Prince Billy 'Wolfroy Comes to Town'
Wilco 'The Whole Love'
Peaking Lights '936'