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Published on December 21st, 2011 | by Culch.ie


Culch.ie’s Albums Of 2011

Face facts, folks. You’re probably going to end up with a lot of vouchers for Christmas this year, because modern technology means your friends are all too busy playing Minecraft to put any effort into something as occasionally outdoorsy as present shopping. But not to worry. Culch.ie’s here to tell you exactly what to exchange your damp and dogeared vouchers for. Here follows our albums of 2011, all of which we’re pleased to bet our bunions you’ll love. Of course we are! Who wants bunions?!

Foster The People – Torches

 “You’ve got to hear this one” said my mate Noel. I hadn’t a clue who they were but vaguely seemed to recognise ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ from the radio. In the intervening months, Foster the People have gone big. Their performance at Electric Picnic was jammed and their proposed gig in The Academy was upgraded to the Olympia after selling out in ten minutes. Torches is a beautifully crafted slice of electric pop that will have you bopping right from the start. It’s one of the only albums I don’t skip tracks through and that’s saying a lot. Highly recommended. (Anto)

The Vaccines – What Would You Expect From the Vaccines

First discovered via the regular spin on the decks that ‘Post Break-up Sex’ got on Phantom, one listen to The Vaccines’ full album planted them firmly in the ‘favourites’ category this year. Sounding like The Ramones with lots of pep in their step, each song on the 11-track offering lasts only about two minutes. They duck and dive from the upbeat ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ and ‘Norgaard’ to the slow and thoughtful ‘Wetsuit’, all the time sounding like the band you wish you’d found when you were sixteen and choc-full of heightened emotions. Small and perfectly formed, it will appeal to your inner teen and your outer indie kid. They haven’t yet learned their showmanship for live appearances if leccy piccy is anything to go by (though being in the middle of a throng of teens will make you feel young) but they’ll get there, and they’ve mastered the art of radio-friendly tracks. (Sinéad)

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Bon Iver’s debut album was praised by critics and fans alike so Justin Vernon had everything to lose with the so-called “difficult second album”. Thankfully, rather than try to rehash his debut effort, Vernon put together a full band to create an album that shows both growth and invention and leaves fans salivating over what comes next. (John)

E-603 – Smokeshow

I like my remix albums. Girl Talk’s ‘All Day’ (available free from Illegal Art) is probably in my top five albums and the skill it takes to craft a good one is extraordinary. I’d been looking for artists similar to Girl Talk and came across E-603 via last.fm’s recommendation. His latest release, Smokeshow, is available free for streaming and download and it’s brilliant. It layers hip hop and rap lyric tracks over everything from Oasis to A-ha. Give it a spin. (Anto)

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

This year’s token folk nomination for the Mercury Prize actually turned out to be something a little bit special. Only seven songs long and with not a note out of place, this is an album that wraps you up and draws you in, the aural equivalent of a loving hug on a cold morning. (John)
The Dying Seconds – Glimmerers

The Dying Seconds used to be just Jack and David. They made pretty alt-tronica you could listen to on your headphones on sunny-day riverbanks. Then they recruited four new musicians, expanded to a veritable orchestra of instruments, and took off like they’d caught the bit between their teeth. The result was Glimmerers, a blossoming of sound and texture that’s as moving, shaking and stirring as any journey on the crest of a wave. If Glimmerers doesn’t leave you wanting seconds of Seconds, then I fear for the health of your appetite. (Lisa)

Youth Lagoon – Year Of Hibernation

Music has been democratized. Anyone with a laptop, some software and an internet connection can now record, mix and release their own album. Some will claim this new freedom will inevitably mean a drop in quality but I’ll gladly wade through the hours and hours of crap if it means finding a gem like The Year Of Hibernation. Beautiful and original in equal measure. (John)

James Vincent McMorrow – Early In The Morning

This album was strictly released in 2010 but I’m including it due to the success it’s garnered this year. James Vincent McMorrow is one of music’s good guys and he’s a Dub to boot. Early In The Morning is a superb album of alt/folk that deservedly launched McMorrow onto the global stage this year. I saw him three times this year: EP, the sold out Pepper Cannister Church where the hairs stood on the back of my neck at times and the Olympia shows where he was so grateful for the success he’s got. Brilliant. (Anto)

The Brilliant Things – The Brilliant Things

This one was a long time coming. First having heard songs such as ‘Rise’ and ‘Pointless’ on Friday’s main stage at Oxegen ’09, I can only imagine they’ll be familiar to many, but the self-titled full album has new offerings like ‘Resolution #9’, which showcases Marie Junior’s bell-clear voice to spine-tingling effect, and familiar tracks from their live appearances like ‘Alone’, which has been perfected in studio. If there’s a criticism it’s that the edit ironed this a little too smooth, but there’s still plenty to love, including ‘Girls Can Be Mean’ and ‘Something to Say’. Also worth catching live for their tulle and guyliner style of dress on stage and the pleasure of catching a poppy act who can really play their instruments, this has to be an album of the year if only for the feelgoods of seeing an act you’ve championed for years finally getting their major-label release.  (Sinéad)

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes faced much the same issue as Bon Iver but instead they took the route of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. More lush harmonies and epic folk mean that if you were a fan of their debut, there’s no reason you won’t love this one too. (John)

Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves

Great title, if by “Coastal” Dev Hynes meant a viscous murk slicking an urban seafront of blinking neon; this ain’t the saccharine surf of the Beach Boys. Coastal Grooves is an album that plasters retro licks and creepy smuttiness to Dev’s trademark melodies, creating an album of the catchiest contradictions: occasionally unsettling late-night music for singing your sweet little throat out. It’s not always nutritious, but by gob is it delicious. (Lisa)

Lisa Hannigan – Passenger

Did she jump or was she pushed? Who cares, because since leaving Damien Rice’s band, Hannigan has released two of the best Irish albums of the last ten years. More accomplished than her debut, Passenger shows her to be a songwriter who has come into her own without losing the flourishes and quirks that made her stand out in the first place. And of course lets not forget that voice. (John)

Aaron’s Honourable Mentions…

Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix  Cashier No9 – To The Death Of Fun The Black Keys – El Camino SaintVincent – Strange Mercy The Antlers – Burst Apart Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
We asked Aaron why he’d chosen these albums as his best of 2011, but he couldn’t elaborate because he was at a Lisa Hannigan/James Vincent McMorrow gig at the time. Spooky.

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2 Responses to Culch.ie’s Albums Of 2011

  1. dinglesurf says:

    Nice choices Culch. Would also nominate Ben Howard for that list myself.

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