This Weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… the 25 tracks I’ve enjoyed listening to most in 2011 December 31, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
Feel free to post your own selections in comments…
Bar M83, Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk, Steve Kilbey Martin Kennedy, the Horrors, The Go! Team, Photek, Roll the Dice, Luca Bachetti and Toro Y Moi [I think] most of the music here is from times past. So don’t look to me for a round up of best/worst of 2011, though it’s not like I didn’t hear enough albums from 2011. Wire’s “Red Barked Tree” was pretty good, VNV Nation’s “Automatic” was grimly awful, R.E.M. would have been better off to have disbanded a decade earlier, Kasabian could follow suit, but this is stuff I listened to a lot this year whether it was from this year or not. In some cases for the first time, in some not, and just enjoyed listening to more than once, twice or three times.
1 McAlmont and Butler – Yes
As recommended by EamonnCork, a classic [which I hadn’t listened to in the best part of fifteen years], little more to be said, other than if you ever get the chance to hear their early 2000s reunion album give it a go. Very joyous.
2 Lemon Drops – I Live in the Springtime
Since relistening to Nuggets I haven’t got this out of my head. If it gets inside yours just consider that it’s getting on for an half century old. Hey, just like me and perhaps quite a few of you…
3 Euroboys – One Way Street
This one too has been running through my mind for a while now. AORtastic pop from Norway from the early to mid-2000s, there’s a story behind this outfit which I’ll get to in the New Year.
4 Space Ritual – Walking Backwards
Nik Turner, he of Hawkwind and the Inner City Unit and other formations too numerous to mention does his thing from a few years back. It’s good.
5 RxRY – Prestina Mewloh
Electronica/ambient with an edge, subtle disruptions cut across genuinely lovely melodies and washes of sound. An interestingly reclusive individual is behind this and it’s tricky to get hold of some of the music. The eponymous album this is taken from from last year is available as a [legitimate] free download but I wish s/he/they would make the material more easily available and easy to pay for, they deserve it. An album vying for best thing I’ve heard all year.
6 Morel – Shoegazer Disco
Given that it’s not actually shoegaze, that would be Mr. Morel’s little joke. Long time sidekick of Bob Mould, but a man who works in a very different area, that of electronica/dance. Worth catching up on].
7 Steve Kilbey Martin Kennedy – Unfocussed
Here two stalwarts of Austrialian alternative link up to produce something interesting. Kennedy’s outfit All India Radio [referenced here] mixes and merges with Kilbey’s vocals to good effect. Their second album together released earlier this year is perhaps a little too narcoleptic in parts but then again…
8 M83 – Claudia Lewis
French, a double album in the shape of “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, and somehow finding the missing link between 2010 style electronica and… erm… Toto. It’s sort of the Yes, Peter Gabriel, Asia, insert as applicable that you can like because it’s contextualised in the rest of the 1980s that you’re allowed to like (Echo and the Bunnymen, etc). Whatever else about main man Athony Gonzalez, if The Horrors, see below, are channelling – ahem – somewhat commercial parts of the 1980s he goes all the way [if you’ll excuse the Toto reference], somehow just about rehabilitating slap bass on this track. That it works – for the most part – is remarkable. Close enough to the album of the year for me.
9 Bowery Electric – Deep Sky Objects
Here’s a band I only discovered this year, whose work from the early to mid 1990s is not dissimilar to that of SeeFeel and other electronica/dance experimenters. It’s great stuff, stripped down to bass drums and treated guitars with male and female vocals.
10 Astralasia – Unveria Zekt
For sheer enjoyment this track from the early 1990s has stayed with me all year. I catch myself listening to the piano and chorus with a big smile on my face. Astralasia are an intriguing outfit, formed from 1980s Hawkwind style formation The Magic Mushroom Band, they veered sharply into trance in the early 1990s. And in a sequence of albums throughout that decade and into the 2000s moved progressively towards more and more commercial forms of that style. More on them in the New Year.
11 Marco Passarani – Nova 
A little bit Aphex Twin, a little bit Autechre, a little bit Black Dog, quite a lot of B12. All good.
12 The Horrors – Still Life
I used to dislike them, almost on principle. Then I listened to them and realised they were doing something… interesting with mid-1980s sounds. If M83 are going headlong towards the most commercial parts of the 1980s theres is a more oblique approach but no less rewarding. Here’s the single from their superb Skying album out earlier this year, and album that along with M83 vies for album of the year.
13 Optic Eye – Far Out Race
I’ve a post ready on Jake Stephenson and Brian Trower who were the main men behind Optic Eye and a raft of other techno/trance groups in the 1990s [this is from 1994] and early 2000s. This will suffice for the moment.
14 The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day
Brilliant brilliant song and good advice from a band who managed to pull off the difficult third album this year with genuine ease. Another great album released this year.
15 Roll the Dice – Iron Bridge
Swedish electronica duo whose second album from which this was taken was released this year.
16 The Golden Horde – Communist for the FBI
Since writing on the Golden Horde earlier this year some kind soul added Communist for the FBI to YouTube. Kudos. And it sneaks at least a hint of politics into this list. Still think this was their best incarnation and another track that hasn’t gone away.
17 Photek – Closer
Released and mentioned earlier this year and along with Luca Bachetti, one of the individual tracks of the year.
18 Wolf People – Silbury Sands
Hard rock/Prog/Canterbury scene revivalists, which amounts to much the same thing I guess.
19 Luca Bachetti – Tango
One of an increasing number of individual tracks I’ve started listening to. It used to be all albums. But no longer. This is great, genuinely great.
20 Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk – Weightless Memories
Not a bad album but one which doesn’t really build on the strengths of either Schnauss or Munk, but this track is great. Particularly the keyboard which comes in in the first minute or so.
21 Toro Y Moi – Still Sound
The usual complaint is that he or they are hipsters, but this is a good song, albeit the melody slightly puts me in mind of a track off the first Zoot Woman album.
22 Pink Fairies – Do It/Say You Love Me
What’s to say? Early 1970s, and still amazingly ahead of their time.
23 Harold Grosskopf – So Weit So Gut
Ah, the very early 1980s, a simpler more innocent time when adult men who played keyboards and messed around with keyboards would cover themselves in silver paint for album covers – and keep their glasses on.
24 Malory – Floating
Shoegaze/electronica, it starts with a bit of spoken French, what’s not to like?
25 Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down
Nostalgia is cheap, but effective. And the moment in the film Super8 where the intro of Don’t Bring Me Down kicked in was genuine nostalgia, though in Kilbarrack we didn’t have aliens, or Super 8 – it was all Single 8 where we were… [shakes fist]… all Single 8.
And with that roll on next year…