Best Indie Albums of 2011.
Metronomy- The English Riviera
The album cover is so fucking cool. Very minimal it’s just a beige square and a palm tree on a beach. I am gonna give this award of most 70’s looking album cover to Metronomy this year. I still haven’t listened to their first album yet, but I am meaning to do so. Another example of Little Dragon here with the organic music, however this is more straightforward rock music with a keyboard thrown in. I love how chill this album is, it’s got a very at the sea or “I’m on a boat bitch” kinda sound too it. Once again I wanna sail on The English Riviera again!
Girls “Father, Son, Holy Ghost”
This San Francisco based band caught my attention earlier this year as I was getting into the 2010 lo-fi craze which this band is well known for. Girls frontman Christopher Owens is a former member of the Children Of God religious group, whom became a vagabond indie singer telling tales of lost loves, honey bunnies, vomie, magic, forgiveness and people in Girls’ sexually ambiguous life Alex and Jamie Marie. The music takes on a classic rock meets twangy rock epic which brings the ethos of Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd on a new scale, but a much, much smaller budget.
James Blake “James Blake”
The wrist cutter musician of the year award, goes to this guy. James Blake. Granted there is always room for a good debbie downer album, this guy does a great job at it. Mr James Blake combines two very unlikely genre’s of music, being singer-songwriter song crafting, with deep and ethereal dubstep but not the ratty mid-range kind that has blown up in the U.S. lately. Mr Blake even went as far as to say that American Dubstep is a pissing contest of who can create the dirtiest, most over indulgent bass lines. Well Mr Blake would rather cover Fiest “A Limit To Your Love” and make it sound amazing, so I cannot complain. Bravo James Blake!
Little Dragon “Ritual Union”
I love Little Dragon. I first heard of them through the Gorillaz and their track “Empire Ants.” Little Dragon delivers electronic music in a very organic form, through synthesizers and a sultry Swedish-Japanese singer who coos and sings beautiful lyrics with some very contagious yet organic electronic music. You can tell that Little Dragon is very much a band that uses real synthesizers unaffected by laptop wizardry or icy production techniques. You can hear everything, from real drumming, alongside programmed beats, and wonky basslines. They also got their props on Jimmy Fallon earlier this year! Ritual Union!
Getting back into electronic music here, I found SBTRKT which I listened to on Spotify through part of this year. This guy is kind of an enigma, he likes to wear african masks and make very deep dub step tunes. Out of the blue, SBTRKT will also do a random disco track, which is my favorite aspect of this man and his music. He does not like to openly reveal much about himself, but there isn’t anything wrong with someone with this personality, especially when we see so many prima donna’s and attention-whores out there polluting the airwaves. This guy’s music is good. Period.
tUnE-yArDs- “w h o k i l l”
Merill Gerbill (I think that’s her name). Is just downright weird but in a very pleasing and refreshing way. The dynamic’s in this girl’s robust voice is very striking, as much as the blindsiding sound collage that is who kill. I actually checked this album out after getting an email from amazon after I looked at Panda Bear’s “Tom Boy” on the amazon page. For Animal Collective fans, this is definitely for you, but the songs are much more accessible, but still densely experimental in nature. This album is a total thrill ride to listen to. “I wanna be a Gangsta” or getting with the “Business” this album is a real gem for 2011 and I love it for that.
Toro Y Moi- “Underneath The Pine”
Chaz Bundwick is Toro Y Moi, or as I like to call him “The Poster Child of the Chillwave Movement” After discovering “Causers of This” earlier this year, I was intrigued to see what Toro Y Moi was going to do with Underneath The Pine, which is another bedroom record which features a lo-fi approach to rock music with instrumentation not found on computer programs, which is a new avenue for Toro Y Moi, whose last album was cut n paste electronic music. This album flows so fucking well, I can listen to it non stop on repeat and never be able to tell the difference. For an album which clocks in under 40 minutes, this shit is perfect. I hope Toro Y Moi keeps this direction for his later records. He also has an EP released this year called “Freaking Out” which goes back to the electronic music “Causers Of This” is known for.
Foster The People- “Torches”
Who couldn’t get down with “Pumped Up Kicks?” The song singlehandedly made Foster The People an indie to mainstream crossover success story. Digging deeper into “Torches” torches are passed from track to track starting from the bewildering “Helena Beat” to “Call It What You Want” or the epic closing track “Warrant” Foster The People took their pumped up kicks and ran hard with their album “Torches” this year.
Tyler The Creator- Goblin
My number two album of the year. I’m digging Odd Future, whom this guy is the ringmaster. To really appreciate this album, you have to have a strong head on your shoulders and be able to make your own judgments of a person. His songs tell stories of all kinds of off the wall stories, and explicit lyrics which will make young debaucherists out there proud. Lyrically there are songs like Radicals which proudly exclaims “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School” or crass lines like “Goddamn I love bitches, especially when they only suck dick and wash dishes.” Let’s not forget the music video for Yonkers which shows Tyler eating a cock roach and hanging himself. In reality, Odd Future are 20 year old kids who are rapping for those in their same position. It’s not meant for your pop’s taste in more politically correct music, or it’s not for those hip hop purists who want East Coast rap to make a come back. This is west coast D-I-Y rap that barges through your speakers, and commands you to listen. Odd Future is taking rap music at gunpoint, and changing the game itself, with their own rude and crude brand of shock rap. It’s definitely an experience to listen to this album.
M83- “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming”
The album of the year award goes to… M83! This is dream music at it’s finest. Anthony Gonzalez is a french electronic musician whom recently moved to Los Angeles, and is making firestorms with this epic double album. The whole record is about dreams, and how they are different as you age, but essentially the same. There is a track called Raconte-Moi Une Histoire which translates to “Tell Me A Story”, which a small child narrates the song and tells us a story about how there is a magical frog and how we can all become the happiest group of frogs all laughing, playing, and jumping up walls happily. This kind of large scale scope is seen throughout the record, where each song serves a purpose, whether it is a shoe gazing rock piece or an ambient instrumental or something inbetween, the album is lush, and reminds of a good 80’s coming of age flick. “Midnight City,” “Reunion” “Claudia Lewis” “Ok Pal” “New Map”… all great songs. Gonzalez has said in interviews about how being a teenager is important to him. I also share this interest, and I love stories about teenagers, making this record my album of the year. I saw their live show in October, and I wanna say it was just as magical as this record is.