First of all, I want to apologize for the rather inconsistent year around here. It wasn’t my intention to be like that, but unforeseen consequences forced me to put this project on hold, as I was unable to keep mentally stable enough to produce something worth reading. I’m also not promising a stream of articles following this post, as I’m still in the process of returning to what once I considered normal, but I have all the intention to return to write once again.
And another disclaimer, this post is titled My favorite albums of 2011, but you should know up-front that this is not a comprehensive list of albums I enjoyed that were released in 2011. This goes more in the line of “Music that kept me busy this year even though it wasn’t necessarily released this year”.
So, let’s get started…
10. Halou – “Wholeness & Separation”
Commonly mistaken for just another trip hop band, Halou was among the most exciting discoveries I did this year. Not only I learned the huge difference between trip hop and dream pop, but also found some truly emotional stuff right here, and not just the cheap emotional song that you forget about three months later, but some serious damn good material that I can always come back and enjoy just like the first time.
9. Samantha James – “Subconscious”
A lot more electronic driven than her previous material, the sound and feeling this album has is what my mind always come up with when I think about sensuous female vocalists. It is not just the sound though, this is a wonderful mix of feelings, wrapped around a nice, sophisticated and elegant package. If only more mainstream music would be anything like this, I would be the happiest bunny of them all.
8. Frou Frou – “Details”
I know, I’m already too late for this party, but a good album should be enjoyed just as much even if it is ten years old, right? RIGHT? Anyway, the point is, it is always hard to find some specific album where you can actually enjoy more than two or three songs, and Details happens to be one of those rare cases where a good amount of enjoyable songs are all together in the same place. And just as I did when I reviewed it a few months back, my only regret is that there was never a second album released under the Frou Frou moniker. Yes, I know we have Imogen Heap, but still…
7. Alter Bridge – “AB III”
No, this is not a mistake, there is a proper rock album listed as one of my favorites of this year. Many of you might not know that I grew up listening to stuff like this back in my teen years, and the truth is that nowadays the amount of rock music I listen is not even 10% of my listening habits, but still I consider rock to be one of my main influences. Now, strictly speaking about this album, Alter Bridge is constantly raising the bar with every new release, and not only they managed to deliver something even better than previous “Blackbird”, they managed to make it look like a minor effort compared to this new album. Absolutely loved it from start to finish.
6. Röyksopp – “Senior”
I always expect every new Röyksopp album with lots of curiosity, and most of all, hunger to discover which paths they are exploring now. So far this has proved to be the best way to embark on any new release by the mythic Norwegian band. Senior, just as expected isn’t like anything they have done before, and it might come as a shock just after people were devouring the more lively Junior. The truth is, you can’t compare apples to oranges, and Senior is in a completely different league than Junior. Both are great, but you really shouldn’t put them together.
5. Goldfrapp – “Seventh Tree”
This isn’t the greatest, not even the latest album released by Goldfrapp to date, but it came to me at a time when I was starting to realize I was in need of some inner peace, and this just fitted in perfectly in that state of mind. It was like a breath of fresh air just when I was running out of it. Mixing downtempo, trip hop and the theatrical voice of Alison Goldfrapp in the same album is an almost guaranteed success formula. Seventh Tree is a must for times when you need to ease your mind.
4. The Postmarks – “Memoirs At The End Of The World”
I just love bands like The Postmarks. If the 60s / 70s sound is not your cup of tea, you will probably think of this just as a gimmick to get some attention, but truth is that The Postmarks is a little more than that. These are some awesome tunes that happen to be wrapped in another era feeling, which doesn’t take away the fact that this is music to be enjoyed no matter which era you come from. It can be a little dangerous though, you can get too attached to this and you run the risk of getting burned at the genre, and that would be a shame.
3. Foo Fighters – “Wasting Light”
Whoa! Another rock album in this list? Yup, I listen to a lot more rock than you might think. The thing is, I just love the Foo, and even though the releases after In Your Honor weren’t exactly my favorites (most of them were just OK in my opinion), it wasn’t until Wasting Light that I rediscovered how awesome this band can be. I almost missed the entire album after my liking for Walk started to fade, but somehow I returned for the whole enchilada and it certainly paid off. This is the old Foo back again, they are not afraid to take your ears by surprise and inject a strident dose of their characteristic sound.
2. Halou – “Halou”
The last album before Halou ceased to exist is without a doubt one of the happiest moments in music for me this year. I discovered it nearly by accident, and that’s probably the reason why it ended having an even sweeter taste. Even more surprising for me was the fact that this sounds very little like Wholeness & Separation, this actually feels a lot more like alternative rock at times, it certainly flirts with some elements that weren’t present in any other album before, and to be honest, I spent weeks lost at this album. The genius move here is that while this feels a lot more alternative than ever, it still retains those mystique moments, that vague and intriguing spark that makes your mind fly to places you know only a few are able to reach.
1. Röyksopp – “Junior”
One year later and this is still at the top of my list. For someone who listens lots and lots of new music every single month, this is proof that something this good can last for ages. Released last year, it amazes that a year after I’m still learning new things from this, it’s ridiculous. And even more amazing is the fact that at first sight this album has all the ingredients for a great dancing album (and apparently it is, I don’t like dancing so I wouldn’t know), so is always nice to be taken by surprise by more subtle and stealthier elements spread here and there when you try to make sense of the whole experience. This is without a doubt the best album Röyksopp album released to date, hands down. Doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t explore the rest of them, they are all awesome, this is just the peak of their talent (so far).
Well, as you can see, I tend to listen to very different stuff through all the year. Sometimes I get stuck at something for weeks and maybe that is something that holds me up and I end up not listening to many other things, and that’s something I would like to improve next year. Feel free to comment on my musical taste this year!