| Sputnikmusic
 

When the powers-that-be at SSC (that’s “Sputnik Staff Central” for those out of the loop) almost ruled that all staff were to place their year-end lists on the blog this year, I quivered at the thought. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to center one picture, so could you imagine 25 or 40 of them!?

As it thankfully turned out, the consensus suggested such posting would be non-mandatory, allowing staff to be flexible with what they put up on the blog. All of a sudden, I thought that I would manage to scrape something half-decent together. And then, my learned colleagues had to get all artistic on me, didn’t they? Sowing led out before I even knew what my Top 25 albums consisted of… Chan & Tyler posted cool photos which would probably see me in jail for licensing infingements… Newbie Adam Knott went with the simple – but cool – idea of just listing songs instead of albums… Jom posted more links than I could click at… While Matt appeared from nowhere with a Hemingway-inspired half-a-dozen that totalled all of 18 words!

It was all too much for my feeble mind to take in… Resulting in this hodgepodge of albums, EPs, songs, videos, gigs & one final defining moment of 2011. Hopefully, it doesn’t come off as too informal and/or half-assed in places, and in the next week or so I will be formally posting my Top 40 albums & songs of 2011… As a LIST! Fuck change, it’s a tradition.

  • TOP 3 ALBUMS OF 2011

I actually went into the year with the hope that none of my top 25 albums submitted for the year-end staff list would come with a 3.5 rating. As it turned out, there was no issue at all, with a strong year in music resulting in me finding a grand total of 34 albums that I rated a 4 or higher. Unfortunately, nothing earned a 5, but there were four albums which I eventually granted the prestigious 4.5 rating to. Apologies to The Jezabels for leaving ‘Prisoner’ off this blog post, but a top 11 is a top 11.

1. GIVERS – In Light

Is it centred?


Not renowned for indie-pop, Louisiana has produced an extremely promising talent for the genre in Lafayette’s Givers. Their debut LP ‘In Light’ takes you on a trip around the musical world, with subtle Cajun & funk influences differentiating the band from the pack. With all 5 members being multi-instrumentalists & a brilliant boy/girl vocal dynamic, an expansive array of sounds & influences are apparent. Creative & experimental without sacrificing accessibility, ‘In Light’ is without filler & begs for repeated listens to explore its numerous layers, rhythms & melodies. Recommended Tracks: Meantime, Up Up Up, Atlantic, Noche Nada & Ceiling of Plankton.

2. MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – Simple Math

After putting the “rock” back in indie-rock, Manchester Orchestra return in majestic fashion on ‘Simple Math’. An even fuller sound is evident here, with intricately layered arrangements being complemented by a strings ensemble & occasional horns. Both within songs & between them, the balance of vulnerable intimacy & tense power is expertly crafted, with Andy Hull’s intensely captivating vocals begging to be crooned, & then screamed, along to. With only the closer approaching filler, this is another superb & consistent release from this prolific & evolving Atlantan quintet. Recommended Tracks: Mighty, Simple Math, Virgin, Pale Black Eye & Pensacola.

3. FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – Ceremonials

Bringing along her soaring, ethereal voice, flame-haired Florence Welch leads her Machine back for their 2nd LP ‘Ceremonials’. Unapologetically more sumptuous & grandiose than its captivating predecessor, the usual cavalcade of instruments & fantastic rhythms are once more evident. More cohesive than ‘Lungs’, Paul Epworth’s huge-sounding production initially muffles diversity & lacks restraint, but ‘Ceremonials’ turns out to be a real grower. It is ultimately a winner too, due to its bewitching nature, stirring highlights, rousing climaxes & alluring vocals. Recommended Tracks: What The Water Gave Me, Shake It Out, Spectrum, No Light No Light & Heartlines.

For the full list of my Top 40 Albums of 2011, click here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=268913listid=92365

—————————————-

  • TOP EP OF 2011

For whatever reason, I actually listened to a lot of EPs that were released in 2011… & surprisingly few really stuck with me. January had an excellent contender with the debut 12 minute release from Foster The People, which happened to include one of the catchiest songs of the year. Otherwise, this category was dominated by The Dear Hunter, the only band who somehow managed to release more EPs than James Blake! In truth though, I probably have 3 of their ‘Color Spectrum’ EPs at the top of this list! Which color was at the very top? Well, I’m certain it will be an unpopular choice, but while ‘White’ & ‘Violet’ were close behind, you all know I’m a rocker & love me some Andy Hull vocals.

1. THE DEAR HUNTER – Red EP

The most focused & consistent of all 9 EPs in ‘The Color Spectrum’ collection, the ‘Red EP’ highlights what The Dear Hunter can do when pulling back their progressive tendencies & playing straight-ahead alt-rock. The sound is reminiscent of a band like The Foo Fighters, where passionate anger & driving melodies combine seamlessly to result in a near faultless 14 minutes worth. The bass-driven ‘Deny It All’ is best, perfectly showcasing the guest vocals of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull, who provides just the antidote to anyone claiming this effort lacks variety. Recommended Tracks: Deny It All, I Couldn’t Do It Alone & A Curse of Cynicism.

—————————————-

  • TOP 2 SONGS of 2011

I’ve mentioned a few times around the site that I try not to fall into 3 common traps which many people seem to find unable to resist. The first is what I have titled “Lead Single Syndrome”, the 2nd is the hate for all things “mainstream” & the final one is the much feared “overplaying” of a song. Of course, it helps that I never listen to radio & very rarely watch music videos on television, but anyway… Ignoring the existence of ‘Party Rock Anthem’, I think the mainstream populous actually got a lot right in 2011 (I await my firing from SputnikMusic after that comment), with 2 of the most played & purchased songs (in Australia) being right up there as ’song of the year’ contenders.

1. ADELE – Someone Like You

For months, I couldn’t split album opener ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and closer ‘Someone Like You’. As a spoiler, whenever an album has 2 song of the year contenders, it’s pretty much a certainty that release will end up in my Top 10 albums of the year. ‘Someone Like You’ eventually won me over marginally more because of the way it blended genuine emotion with a sense of (for want of a better word) catchiness. Ballads which strike a chord with the mainstream populous will usually have one or the other, but not both. Also, they are usually very general so as to be easily relatable… ‘Someone Like You’ is, yet it is also undeniably personal. Beautifully sung by Adele & written by Adele and Semisonic vocalist Dan Wilson, this is the type of song that is timeless. And if ever an exclamation point had to be put on a song, then it was emotionally delivered at the BRIT Awards…

2. GOTYE (FEATURING KIMBRA) – Somebody That I Used to Know

“I don’t even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough”. With that lyric alone, Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) sums up this song perfectly. His eloquent – yet to-the point – words are exactly how our own thoughts will always lack objectivity to some degree. In a sense, it’s such a simple story to this track, yet the way in which it is told is as beguiling as it is satisfying. And just when you think you have it pegged, Kimbra arrives with the other side of the story, almost chiding the male for how convincing his one-sided story is. ‘Hearts A Mess’ was really really good, but ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ has deservedly earned mainstream crossover success for Gotye. His albums may be a little scattershot, but when he gets it right, he shows you exactly where the bullseye is.

—————————————-

  • TOP 2 VIDEOS OF 2011

In these days of technological advancements, I may be alone in my “Fuck change, it’s a tradition” motto… But when I go to the movies, I prefer to watch films in 2D… & with as little CGI as possible. Of course, some studio trickery can assist in making for a better experience, but don’t let it take over the movie itself. This thinking seems to have found its way into my mind when it comes to music videos as well, with many of my best videos of 2011 being (for want of a better word) simple. Sure, the makers of my #1 video are probably cursing me for the time they spent on it, but the idea, photography, etc… is ultimately exactly that: simple… And all the more captivating for it too.

1. GOTYE (FEATURING KIMBRA) – Somebody That I Used to Know

No, it’s not because I like staring at naked Belgian born Aussie men for 4 minutes… Nor is it because I like body paint, angular art or Kimbra’s haircut. Yet, there is something just mesmerizing about the way in which this video has been put together. The choice of shots, as well as Wally De Backer’s face & movements perfectly capture the story of the song, as pieces of the puzzle come together in much the same way as the art in the video. And then, the significance of Kimbra’s entry into the track & her movement towards De Backer, as if her response is very much one that is controlled offense (ie: she’s a woman & she ain’t taking this shit). Of course, the man has the final say & she is (literally) put back in her place & takes her clothes off! ;-)

2. THE BLACK KEYS – Lonely Boy

To be honest, I’m unsure I can explain why I enjoy this video so much. I mean, everyone likes it when they first see it… But surely, it gets boring seeing it over & over again. NOPE! It works every time. Maybe, it’s because its simplicity & the cool dude’s actions perfectly highlight the components of the actual song, which is a ripper that will hopefully open up The Black Keys’ discography to a greater audience. Maybe it’s because this is simply how most people enjoy their favorite sing-along anthems when they are all by their lonesome or as drunk as a skunk performing karaoke. Or maybe it’s because he pulls out the chainsaw move rather than the cliched air-guitar solo. Who knows, who cares… It works.

—————————————-

  • TOP 2 GIGS OF 2011

Every year I say that I’m going to attend more live gigs & every year I do… If only just. 2011 was once more productive, but there is always a sense that I could get out and see even more acts in a city which is especially well-known for its live music. Of course, much of it has to do with the hip pocket, and – in a sense – it’s ironic that was the reason why I almost did not go see the show which ended up taking out my #1 spot for 2011… & probably #2 for all-time!

1. ANBERLIN (August-29. Palace Theater)

I had already seen Anberlin twice earlier in 2011, so was initially leaning towards giving their “An Evening With…” show a miss when they journeyed back down under in August. Thank God that I did not, since the show may well have been the best concert I have experienced to date! Thinking outside of the square and, more importantly, big, the Floridian quintet carried this performance off with a confidence and charisma that may well be the final piece of the puzzle which has been required to send Anberlin to even more dizzying heights. A few lesser-known songs were played, a sensational version of Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ made an appearance, as did We The Kings’ Travis Clark, Tonight Alive’s Jenna MacDougall & Horsell Common’s Mark Stewart. There was an acoustically played section, a little Q&A with the band and the 26 song setlist was aptly capped off by the phenomenal & awe-inspiring ‘*Fin’. On previous occasions, I had been a little critical of the band for attempting to rock themselves up too much, ultimately drowning out their major strengths: intricate musical hooks and Stephen Christian’s superb vocals. On this night, however, everything sounded so crisp… So (dare I say it) perfect!

2. FOO FIGHTERS (December-2. AAMI Park)

In a strange contradiction, the last decade or so has seen every man & their dog laud the Foo Fighters live show, while maintaining their recorded output has been on a steady decline. However, I am pleased to report that the arrival of their excellent seventh LP ‘Wasting Light’ did not see a reversal in fortune, with the Fooeys doing what they always do best: Rocking the f**k out. Headlining the first ever show at Melbourne’s AAMI Park (a 35,000 odd capacity soccer & rugby venue), Dave Grohl & Co. highlighted just how deep their back-catalog is, with hit after hit after hit leaving the audience in raptures. Whenever a break was needed (excluding the multiple stage invasions), extended instrumental jams were added on to the likes of ‘Breakout’ & ‘Stacked Actors’. The melodically catchy ‘Arlandria’ was the pleasant surprise of the new tunes, while the raucous ‘White Limo’ pleased those more metally inclined. The band were on point throughout, while Grohl was his usual captivating & charismatic self that makes him the kind of guy you just want to sink a pint with down at the local pub.

For the full list of my Top 10 Live Gigs of 2011, click here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=268913&listid=91592

—————————————-

  • TOP MUSICAL MOMENT OF 2011

1. TIFFANY LAMSON’S VOCAL ENTRANCE ON ‘MEANTIME’ BY GIVERS

While it wouldn’t be my personal choice, a valid argument could easily be made that the ‘musician of 2011′ was Londoner James Blake. The fact that the producer/singer-songwriter released a bevy of EPs as well as his debut LP, almost automatically made him a contender this year. One of his much-quoted strengths was the way in which he used silence as a weapon. Personally, I thought Blake too often did not provide a successful payoff for the silence, and – as can be seen with my high ranking of albums by both Manchester Orchestra & Florence and the Machine – I often prefer the exact opposite anyway. Meticulously layer a million noisy instruments in a way which pleases my ears and I’m happy. However, when the noise collides with beauty (silence or otherwise), pure bliss results. Such an example can be heard between the 2.28 & 2.38 minute marks of the following video:





DaveyBoy
01.03.12
As per usual, I write way too much & this takes me way too long to post.

One day I will learn how to underline & change the size of text on this damn blog.

Tyrael
01.03.12
Somebody That I Used To Know is AWFUL

dammit Davey

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Hey Thomas, you are now somebody that I used to know.

Deviant.
01.03.12
You have no idea how much I hate that Gotye song

AliW1993
01.03.12
Nice writey uppy thing Davey, glad you liked Florence so much.

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Hey Dev, you are now somebody that I used to know.

Fuck, as if I wasn't already enough of a loner on Sputnik.


Tyrael
01.03.12
'Hey Thomas, you are now somebody that I used to know.'

I'd rather listen to Brokencyde

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Ali is still a friend... Until he listens to the Gotye song & hates it.

AliW1993
01.03.12
I've never heard it... not entirely sure whether I want to :p

00mee
01.03.12
the gotye song is GOOD it's just that it's fucking everywhere here in Australia.

Surprised he only just cracked the mainstream, his older stuff is just as good

clercqie
01.03.12
If it's any consolidation, your blog brings the most lulz :)
Love the writeups, great to see Manchester Orchestra so high, and a bit dissapointed that Florence tops The Jezabels.

Tyrael
01.03.12
'I've never heard it... not entirely sure whether I want to :p'

What, every goddamn radio station here spams it a ZILLION TIMES PER DAY

AliW1993
01.03.12
Pretty sure it's made no impact at all here in the UK, though I never listen to the radio so that could be completely false.

Fugue
01.03.12
What the hell's a Gotye? I'd click the video link but it sounds a bit too much like an unpleasant internet image.

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Go on Ali, give it a listen (on the video link above)... I am ready for the consequences.

Thanks clercqie. If it's any consolation, it was close between Flo & The Jezabels.

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
A Gotye is a man who has been painted in triangular pieces.

Actually Rosco, I reckon you'd like his album to some extent. It's a bit too all over the place for me, but you're an all over the place kinda guy.

clercqie
01.03.12
Woops, I meant consolation of course :p

I don't why, but personally, I like The Jezabels infinitely more than Florence... But at least they sit at the fourth spot with you, I put them at 5 ;)

Also, Ali: if that's the case that they didn't pick up Gotye in the UK, be very thankful for that.

AliW1993
01.03.12
'Twas alright. Preferred the video to the actual song.

Metalstyles
01.03.12
Just listened to that infamous GOTYE song and really, I didn't think it was bad. Sounds pretty harmless tbh.

Anyway, nice write-up Davey, it's (sadly) been a while since I last read something from you.

clercqie
01.03.12
It's a cool song, but not - to quote Ty - if "every goddamn radio station here spams it a ZILLION TIMES PER DAY!"

Fugue
01.03.12
Alright, I'll give it a listen in a bit.

Irving
01.03.12
For a moment there I thought you were going to list eleven of EVERYTHING lol. Anyway, solid list; also - when is the Staff Best of 2011 coming out?

Tyrael
01.03.12
I think irving means: 'the indie records the staff has been fapping over the most this year' list

iFghtffyrdmns
01.03.12
wait

i'm so confused

KILL
01.03.12
this god damn list

SlowlyFallingAwake
01.03.12
Heh, it surprised me how people seem to detest Gotye. I do agree that his album is very inconsistent and 80% of the stuff doesn't appeal to me. However, somebody that I used to know is brilliant and a breath of fresh air in music. Especially the vid, as you already mentioned Daveyboy. What I don't like, is how it's become very very mainstream and everyone loves it for its catchiness, not for its message... I guess that's the curse of mainstream music. For once, I'm pretty proud to be a Belgian.

Lucid
01.03.12
so much james blake talk and you don't even like him

Phideaux
01.03.12
Good read Davey. Odd format, but whatev's. I really dig the new Manchester Orchestra as well.

Acanthus
01.03.12
Loving this format for years end list!

NeutralThunder12
01.03.12
cool format.

the red ep is the lamest ep on the spectrum though

mvood
01.03.12
really awesome and a great read, looking forward to your album list

plane
01.03.12
Top musical moment doesn't match top musical moment's description

plane
01.03.12
Oh nevermind, now I understand. There was so much Blake talk that I got confused to the focus

Jom
01.03.12
Sexy format. I will read anything you write as long as you have that photograph at the top of your entry.

zillah
01.03.12
Somebody that I Used to Know is great, but I didn't like it at first and there are at least two, and probably more like four, songs on the album that are better. Album gets serious love for me. At first I thought it was too scattershot but now I just think that makes it more interesting.

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Ta Magnus. Our "styles" were always gonna mean we drifted apart someday.

Unlikely Irving as I struggled with 11 in total. As for the staff list, we're just collating our final blurbs by this weekend & it should be up around 15-20 January. Of course, that's dependent on the great man Trey, who puts it together with all the snazzy pics & whatnot.

SFA, it's good to hear someone bring some sense to this discussion. I agree in part, but as I said in the blog, I try to ignore over-playing & the mainstream factor... & it really doesn't seem that difficult for me to do it tbh.

Ok, I do apologize for all the James Blake talk. It actually wasn't meant to be a put-down to any great degree. As Lewis stated, I got a little off track on the 'Top Musical Moment' ... But it was 1am & I just wanted to post this damn thing!

Looks like the format has received a mixed response. I guess that was the point of allowing staff to be flexible on what they posted.

I'll remember that Jom. Not only are you a wannabe Aussie, but you've now told the world you are a pro wrestling fan!

'Making Mirrors' is definitely an interesting album zillah. But personally, I feel that 'STIUtK' is clearly ahead of the next best track ('Eyes Wide Open').

Eko
01.03.12
How can you have Simple Math in your top albums and not include the title track in the best videos

DaveyBoy
01.03.12
Hehe. Thanks potato. The fact that's on the page (with a caption, no less) is a minor miracle in itself.

David, I guess the video just didn't strike a chord with me as much as a few others this year. Plus, I'm one of the minority who does not think it's the best song on the LP. Although, it is a very close call.

theacademy
01.03.12
lol no... to this WHOLE thing except simple math and red

Metalstyles
01.03.12
"Ta Magnus. Our "styles" were always gonna mean we drifted apart someday."

Ah the puns. It's nice to know that some things never change haha.

Eko
01.03.12
fair enough

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
Thanks potato.

I'm sure you'd still give this a 5 academy.

The day I cease to be puntastic, is the day I quit Sputnik.

Winsomniac
01.04.12
Thanks for making Anberlin defensible on this site, Davey.


That being said, Cities is still far and away their best to date.

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
You're welcome Winsomniac... But I've got a few helpers in that regard , me thinks.

Winsomniac
01.04.12
Well yeah, myself included, but I think it's fair to say you spearhead the effort.

SowingSeason
01.04.12
yeah i was a little premature with my list/blog

the way you set yours up rules btw

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
Thanks Sowing. It was a good way to announce yourself as such. As long as your rankings haven't changed, no harm done whatsoever.

AtavanHalen
01.04.12
gotye is now a major tall poppy

cunts are cunts

wally is king of the world

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
Yep, that's part of his trade unfortunately. Thankfully, I don't think he'll go all Backstreet Boys on us anytime soon.

AtavanHalen
01.04.12
backstreet's back

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
I know something is supposed to come after that line, but how would I know what it actually is.

Jim
01.04.12
cool davey

fuck the gotye haters. the album is great and the song is insanely popular for a reason

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
You tell 'em Jim-Bob. Hope all is well mate.

Douglas
01.04.12
No Kimbra (solo) and Jezabels makes a sad Dougie, but yeah, Gotye is cool.

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
The Jezabels were very close Douglas. Like I said in the blog, if this was the top 12 of '12, they would have made it.

Tyrael
01.04.12
List still needs Coeur de Pirate - Blonde, if you actually read my reviews you'd know Davey

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
I do remember reading that review Thomas. But I kept getting stuck on the pronunciation of "Coeur". Actually, I meant to ask, are the vocals on that album in English or French?

Tyrael
01.04.12
French and they sound gorgeous, Sowing already loves it, just like Armistice which you apparently also missed because I see a surprising lack of indie pop on your list

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
My #1 is indie-pop.

And my French is rusty.

Tyrael
01.04.12
Armistice was an EP ;]

And I don't think Steve's french is all that good :] Just check out some of the samples I posted in the thread of my review and see if you like it ^^

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
Will do... Once I've finished the long process that are my other 2 lists.

Tyrael
01.04.12
Gotcha, looking forward to those :]

DaveyBoy
01.04.12
... & not just to rubbish my choices I hope. ;-)

Actually, I can reveal that Gotye's album just scraped into my Top 40.

Tyrael
01.04.12
I can only hope you included the new Kimbra record too... But seriously, I like most of the things you like except for the new Manchester Orchestra which was boring as hell.

amanwithahammer
01.04.12
how has no one complained about someone like you yet

Tyrael
01.04.12
We've been complaining about it the whole time bro

taxidermist
01.04.12
"how has no one complained about someone like you yet"

Because it's awesome.

omnipanzer
01.04.12
You're right... that Lonely Boy video is the tits and it probably is because of the chainsaw.

DaveyBoy
01.05.12
You're losing me more & more with each comment you make Thomas.

Good question amanwithahammer. It's because deep down, everyone knows its the song of the year. It's just uncool to admit it.

The strange thing is omni, is that I had to look twice to see if he meant to do the chainsaw.

cfbassist
01.05.12
excellent choices


though i wonder, did all of sputnik forget about glassjaw's EPs? i figured i'd see them mentioned on somebodys lists, but haven't seen any mention


or i have poor reading comprehension

tkxxx7
01.05.12
I've never heard of Gotye but that song was so great

DaveyBoy
01.05.12
Thanks cfbassist. Unsure about Glassjaw. Never been as big a fan as most around here, although I probably should have given them more of a chance than I have.

tkxxx7 knows what's up.

cfbassist
01.06.12
not really singling you out davey, i just figured that since a lot of lists have been posted (and its officially 2012) i'd finally comment about the lack of GJ mentions in all of the lists...

i think it might have something to do with the fact that EP came out first thing in 2011 pretty much

DaveyBoy
01.06.12
We - the staff - are still a little unsure what we are doing re: EPs on the year-end list. But most of our lists/blogs so far, haven't even listed EPs from what I can recall.

Tyrael
01.06.12
The staff EP list is even worse than the normal list cause you can really accurately predict what's gonna be on it:
1: Trophy Scars - Never Born, Never Dead
2: Cynic - Carbon-Based Anatomy
3: Glassjaw - Coloring Book
4: James Blake - Enough Thunder
5-10: The Dear Hunter - whatever the fuck kind of color EP

Might be in another order though

DaveyBoy
01.06.12
Dunno man. The Black Veil Brides EP may sneak in. ;-)

Tyrael
01.06.12
Would be better than stuffing it with indie

DaveyBoy
01.06.12
I'll quote you on that! Haha.

Ok, my Top 40 Albums of 2011 LIST is now up. Laugh & criticize away!

omnipanzer
01.06.12
"The strange thing is omni, is that I had to look twice to see if he meant to do the chainsaw."
Seemed pretty intended to me but that may just be because you planted it in my head.

DaveyBoy
01.07.12
I think it was... But I'm unsure why he didn't do it for a few seconds longer.

Man, are we over-analyzing this, or what?

You need to be logged in to post a comment
Login | Register

FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy