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BEST ALBUMS OF 2011

This is only going to be a short list, twenty of the best releases of 2011 – containing a very strong top five of the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning P J Harvey album; to the pretty much unknown fourth placers Cashier Number 9 with their belfast “baggy” music in the form of debut To The Death Of Fun; on to the infamous WU LYF’s Go Tell Fire To The Mountain; with The Horrors’ epic being very unlucky to have missed out on the top spot and been released in the same year as the flawless second electric record from Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix, an unquestionably clear record of the year.

For the best tracks of 2011: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/best-tracks-of-2011/

The complete top ten follows:

1. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix

File:Bombay bicycyle club a different kind of fix.jpg

The unrivaled stand out release of the year, shocking topping the brilliance of Bombay’s first album I Had The Blues. A pop record full of beats and nods to The Stone Roses brand of psychedelia. The infusions of guitar based indie and melodic folk makes it Bombay Bicycle Club’s offering clearly a record of its time. You cannot go without listening to this record.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/bombay-bicycle-club-a-different-kind-of-fix-review-and-download-links/

Top Tracks: Take The Right One, How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, What You Want and Your Eyes.

2. The Horrors – Skying

How have The Horrors reached this point with an unlistenable first album to their third, Skying – a masterpiece and force of nature which although not entirely ground-breaking stylistically is a beautifully created record. The themes of oceans and expanse resonate through an album without a faulty song on it.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/the-horrors-skying-review/

Top Tracks: Still Life, You Said and Moving Further Away.

3. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Don’t think for a second that WU LYF are all about the mystery of their image because this album is euphoric undecipherable sound-scapes. They brought something very different to the tale with the success of the contrasting elements of screaming savage vocals and clean poppy instrumentals gives WU LYF a memorising signature sound.

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/wu-lyf-%E2%80%93-go-tell-fire-to-the-mountain-review/

Top Tracks: Heavy Pop, Such A Sad Puppy Dog, 14 Crowns For Me And All My Friends and L Y F.

4. Cashier Number 9 – To The Death Of Fun

Cashier Number 9 haven’y caught many people attention this year, with their top youtube video only reaching 40,000 hits – and god knows why not. They have a really accessible sound and make joyful jangling guitar music which sounds so perfect prticularly well done the three tracks mentioned below.

Please Note: Due to the opening of Codamusic being half way through the year, not all of these albums have been reviewd.

Top Tracks: Oh Pity, The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out and Make You Feel Better.

5. P J Harvey – Let England Shake

As mentioned earlier, the universally critically acclaimed mercury prize winning Let England Shake truly deserves such prefixes. It is an beautifully executed politically based  album about the war and ruin which which have caused. The love for a great nation, or what used to be a great nation – not that the album’s beauty can only be realized with this theme. Every song is brilliant so don’t just listen to the tracks below.

Top Tracks: Bitter Branches, The Last Living Rose and Written On The Forehead.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See

A return to form from the Arctic Monkeys, with a mature album that is listenable and also lyrically brilliant. It’s not the Arctic Monkeys of old, but really no one in their right mind would want that after listening to this. And one belter of a closing track:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9U1r38di-8 (Number 1 on the Best Tracks Of 2011 list as it happens)

Review Link: https://codamusicblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/arctic-monkeys-suck-it-and-see-review/

Top Tracks: That’s Where Your Wrong, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and Reckless Serenade.

7. I Break Horses – Hearts

The first overseas album, from Sweden’s I Break Horses whose electronic shoe-gaze pop is one of this years highlights. A trance-inducing cascade of electronic music, which really seems to have a soul. An under the radar album of other worldly majesty.

Top Tracks: Winter Beats, Pulse and Wired.

8. S.C.U.M. – Again Into Eyes

S.C.U.M., a post-punk outfit who say their music is the manifestation of repressed lust. Their debut album takes influence and mood from Joy Division – a must listen for any post-punk devotee. Although its of a particular taste, the darkness of the music really comes through as euphoria rather than depression.

Top Tracks: Whitechapel, Amber Hands, Cast Into Seasons and Faith Unfolds.

9. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Having assumed the worst after the Beady Eye’s flop, Noel pleasantly surprised with this collection of tracks. If you never liked Oasis these aren’t for you as they are nothing new but if you did, its blood good stuff. If only he had spent a few more minutes thinking of a better name, lets be honest it shouldn’t take long.

Top Tracks: Stop The Clocks, If I Had A Gun and (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine.

10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The best of this years influx of brilliant American lo-fi psychedelic rock which includes Smith Westerns and Moon Duo. Trippy, drug distorted vocals and direct punchy guitar. UMO’s debut is also very accessible and relatively easy listening for what it is, making it one of the coolest albums of 2011.

Best Tracks: Ffunny Ffrends, How Can U Luv Me, Biocycle and Thought Ballune.

11. White Lies – Ritual

12. Metronomy – The English Riviera

13. The Crookes – Chasing After Ghosts

14. Yuck – Yuck

15. Glasvegas – Euphoric /// Heartbeat \\\

16. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

17. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

18. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines

19. Moon Duo – Mazes

20.The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

Disagree? Missed any of yours? Pray Tell.

Please note that these are not the opinions of the whole codamusic team but of one man.

Oscar B. Wilson

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ARCTIC MONKEYS – SUCK IT AND SEE REVIEW

What makes the Arctic Monkeys such a great band is their adaptation. They know that the death of British Indie is coming and a new genre is going to come out of its ashes – Alex Turner is trying to find it. The youthful style has been well and truly shed; it did come as a bit of a shock to most with Humbug, but having got used to the idea of a matured band that can come up with some really refined and beautiful songs.  The wit of Turner’s first-person narrative and intense melodies from their earlier works particularly in Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not have been replaced by subtlety and a real sense of important to me as a listener (probably due to a personal partiality to the metaphysical side of lyricism). The thing is, both are equally good, this is clearly not going to be about whether Suck It And See is better than the Monkey’s first album, let alone the fact that they have moved so far away from the likes of When The Sun Goes Down to become almost incomparable.

The Laziness of the album artwork is unimpressive but gives you an idea of what they are after from listeners; don’t go on the fact that our last one was rubbish and basically saying just have a fucking listen to the music, it’s really good. After sucking it can be said that it is very well crafted and surprisingly immediate, at least in comparison to Humbug which is still heavy listening. Predominantly this immediacy is heard on The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair both strikingly good songs. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala however is the stand out song on the album about the insatiable intrigue into the mysteries of women.  This is a really great song in which Turner can get away with a chorus consisting of Shalalala’s and in fact add to the brilliant and mysticism behind the song’s meaning. Stand-alone this is one of the best songs of the year.

Another exceptional track on the album, Reckless Serenade is a charming endeavour to yet again win the love of a woman, as you can tell a recurring theme. This is a very chilled out song, giving the impression that the serenade is almost fated to be successful despite the recklessness of the pursuit. The confidence of Alex Turner’s delivery only adds to the effect making walking down the street in shades a necessity whilst listening to this track. This could be the sun and L.A. permeating the Arctic Monkey’s sound and generating the confidence and coolness behind the album as a whole. They obviously had quite a lot of cool before now; the music has just become more chilled and refined in its coolness.

It has a new fresher sound that has probably come about because of the majority of the album being recorded with live takes as opposed to the highly produced Humbug. That’s Where Your Wrong best illustrates this element, with a lovely guitar section and chorus. It is beginning to show itself to be the most emotive and soul affecting track on the album. The earlier statement saying The Hellcat is the standout track on Suck It And See had to be due to its immediacy, whereas That’s Where Your Wrong is a bit more of a grower and it has clearly grown into the gem of the album – and frankly, it seems to have more growing to do.

She’s Thunderstorms, similarly to That’s Where Your Wrong takes on the mystique and freshness that defines the whole album. The mystery within many tracks, such as That’s Where Your Wrong, Black Treacle and Library Pictures; both lyrically and musically move the Arctic Monkeys sound on from the Indie rock genre. However the lack of literalism may put fans of Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not off, but it really shouldn’t – just listen, they have tried, if not consciously to make this album more accessible and they have succeeded.

One of the very few unexciting songs, All My Own Stunts is a clear evolutionary hangover from Humbug, along the lines of My Propeller something that Suck It And See could really do without. In other cases the exceptional lyrics on track eleven, Suck It And See and Love Is A Laserquest bring you some of Turner’s class. Piledriver Waltz is pretty unremarkable if even a little irritating due to its mundane delivery and lyrics, which is uncharacteristic of the rest of the songs on a very well written album. Brick by Brick, the song pre-released to put everyone off the trail of how the rest of the album would sound – a very simple guitar track which is actually much more interesting, with a very similar riff to The White Stripes’ Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine and fun than the not so exulted album filers.

Suck It And See is a must listen for 2011, very different from the early works but with a more blatant accessibility. The Arctic Monkeys have surprised, after Humbug it wasn’t looking good but with Suck It And See they have shown that they have still got it in them to produce a great record. Well done Alex and Co.

Best Tracks:

  1. That’s Where Your Wrong
  2. The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
  3. Reckless Serenade
  4. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
  5. She’s Thunderstorms

Oscar B. Wilson

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