My Top Ten Albums Of 2011

10/ Coldplay ‘Mylo Xyloto’

Back in 2008 Coldplay surprised everyone with ‘Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends’ – an album that finally showcased a fresh energy and enthusiam rarely associated with themselves. Thankfully the somewhat oddly titled ‘Mylo Xyloto’ continued in very much in the same vein, with lead single ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’, ‘Paradise’ and ‘Charlie Brown’ all vibrant and distinctive. With a superb headline outing at Glastonbury, and stadiums shows booked for 2012, whilst ‘Mylo Xyloto’ may not be their best effort to date, expect a lot more from the band in 2012.

Key tracks: Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, Charlie Brown, Paradise

09/ Frank Turner ‘England Keep My Bones’

Let’s be honest ‘Poetry Of The Deed’ was not a great Frank Turner album. Despite the ambition to marry together Frank’s always charming lyrics with a full band, something went wrong, meaning the album never quite followed through on the huge success of breakthrough ‘Love, Ire and Song’. ‘England Keep My Bones’ sees Frank revert back to the simplier stripped back sound that has worked so well for him in the past. With tracks such as ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’, ‘I Still Believe’ and the breathtaking ‘I Am Disappeared’, there really seems to be no limits to Turner’s continued success.

Key Tracks: I Am Disappeared, I Still Believe, Peggy Sang The Blues

08/ TV On The Radio ‘Nine Types Of Light’

It’s a great shame that 2011 will always be remembered as a year of sadness and loss for TV On The Radio following the death of their bassist Gerard Smith in April. ‘Nine Types Of Light’ shows a band constantly trying to innovate, from the glorious audio assault of ‘Cafeinatted Conciousness’ to the more subdued ‘Will Do’. Whilst the album may not reach the same dizzy heights of the highly acclaimed ‘Dear Science’, ‘Nine Types Of Light’ is an equally stylish and diverse effort.

Key Tracks: Cafeinatted Conciousness, Will Do, Repetition

07/ City And Colour ‘Little Hell’

If there’s only one positive to take from Alexisonfire’s decision to split this year, it’s that Dallas Green will have more time to concentrate on City And Colour. While this, his third effort, slightly underwhelmed – not of quite as consistant quality as previous efforts ‘Bring Me Your Love’ and ‘Sometimes’, there’s no denying Green is growing in confidence. ‘Little Hell’ saw Green evolve his sound with upbeat and layered offerings including’Fragile Bird’ and ‘Natural Disaster’, as well as the more tender ‘Northern Wind’ and ‘We Found Each Other In The Dark’

Key Tracks: Fragile Bird, Natural Disaster, Northern Wind

06/Yuck ‘Yuck’

20 years since grunge took over the world, who would of thought 2011 would be the year it made a shock revival in the form of Yuck. There’s nothing radically new on offer here, the likes of ‘Get Away’ ‘Holing Out’ and ‘The Wall’ could easily be mistaken for Sonic Youth offcuts . But for those of us too young to remember the alt rock / grunge takeover, Yuck have delivered a perfect slice on early 90’s nostalgia.

Key Tracks: Holing Out, The Wall, Shook Down

05/The Swellers ‘Good For Me’

In 2009 The Swellers broke into the punk rock scene with their superb sophomore effort ‘Ups And Downsizing’. Two years later and on a first listen of ‘Good For Me’ it’s an easy mistake to think the band have regressed. But whilst the the slick production and hardcore breakdowns may have gone, left is a stripped back burst of pure punk rock enegry, combined with catchy hooks and sincere lyrical nods – best showcased in ‘The Best I Ever Had’. Whilst 2011 may be the year Blink 182 have finally outgrown their pop punk roots, it’s reassuring to know The Swellers are around to pick up the torch.

Key Tracks: The Best I Ever Had, Parkview, Runaways

04/ Manchester Orchestra ‘Simple Math’

Despite being initially disappointed by this, Manchester Orchestra’s third effort, I’ve found myself returning to ‘Simple Math’ again and again. The title track is a pretty standard Manchester Orchestra affair; with soft verses shattered by a thunderous chorus. Elsewhere ‘April Fool’ and ‘Pale Black Eye’ also prove memorable, although without a doubt ‘Pensacola’ steals the show, showing the band at their rowdy best.

Key Tracks: PensacolaSimple Math, April Fool,

03/The Horrible Crowes ‘Elsie’

I’ll be the first to admit I wanted ‘Elsie’ to be a great record. And to my surpise it was a GREAT record. It’s so rare that side projects turn out this well, and yet ‘Elise’, a collaboration between The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon and his guitar technician Ian Perkins, did more than just deliver. Offering enough familiarity to Fallon’s day job, but enough of a new dimesion to feel worthwhile, The Horrible Crowes took a blues heavy direction, with ‘Go Tell Everybody’, ‘Mary Ann’ and ‘Blood Loss’ all instant classics. If it wasn’t for the mid album slump of ‘Crush’ and ‘Ladykillers’ – both of which feel too sloppy and adolescent, ‘Elsie’ would have taken album of the year hands down.

Key Tracks: Behold The Hurricane, Mary Ann, Bloodloss

02/ Arctic Monkeys ‘Suck It And See’

It seems a long time since Arctic Monkeys first emerged as everyone’s favourite cheeky indie outfit from Sheffield. Now onto their fourth effort, ‘Suck It And See’ finally sees the band perfectly balance their tongue in cheeek humour in ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, with Turner’s flawless pop crooning in ‘Love Is Laserquest’ and ‘Reckless Serenade’. By far their best, and most complete effort to date.

Key Tracks: Suck It And See, Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair, Reckless Serenade

01/ Bright Eyes ‘The Peoples Key’

Heavily rumoured as their last album, it was hard to know what to expect from Bright Eyes’ seventh studio album. Would it be another contemporary folk masterpiece or perhaps a return to the band’s previous digital wizardry. Well ‘The Peoples Hey’ was neither, instead seeing the band try their hand at electro pop. Packed with songs of simple structure, yet glorious melodies and production Oberst and co have rarely been so much fun. Of course, for those already dedicated, it may have proven to be too bold a leap to live up to former glories. Likewise for a newcomers, Oberst’s spiritual subject matter may be a little off putting. Regardless with tracks such as ‘Shell Games’, ‘Jejune Stars’ and ‘Ladder Song’ Bright Eyes have left us with an album that reveals more with each listen. Equally provocative as it is playful.

Key Tracks: Shell Games, Jejune Stars, Approximate SunlightHalie Salassie, Ladder Song

Honourable Mentions

M83 ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’, Alkaline Trio ‘Damnesia’, Thursday ‘No Devolution’, Bon Iver ‘Bon Iver’, Four Year Strong ‘In Some Way, Shape, Or Form’, New Found Glory ‘Radiosurgery’. Chuck Ragan ‘Covering Ground’, Polar Bear Club ‘ Clash Batttle Guilt Pride’, Thrice ‘Major / Minor’, Taking Back Sunday ‘Taking Back Sunday’, Vincent James McMorrow ‘Early In The Morning’, Blink 182 ‘Neighbourhoods’, The Wonder Years ‘Surburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing, Radiohead ‘King Of Limbs’, Fleet Foxes ‘ Helplessnees Blues’, Death Cab For Cutie ‘Codes And Keys’, The Vaccines ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’, The Strokes ‘Angles’

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