It’s almost the season to be jolly, but just before the holiday season we are in the midst of “the list.” Yes music mags/zines and blogs are full of endless lists, lists about the best albums, best gigs, best songs, lists about lists. It could leave you feeling quite listless and we can’t have that, so , here’s our list, we’ve even checked it twice! Yup it’s that vertigo inducing career high that results in being presented with a special VPME trophy ( known colloquially as a “Pipster” ) we therefore present the music that touched, inspired and kept us sane during a bumpy 2011……
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2011.
You can listen to the Album of the year podcast below whilst you read along ( or on Mixcloud)
1. Sarabeth Tucek – “Get Well Soon”
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When we first heard the title track from Sarabeth’s second album our reaction was thus . . . “There are occasions in life when you come across a song of such exquisite beauty that it literally stops you dead in your tracks. One that has the power to effect you so profoundly that it makes your heart ache whilst simultaneously gives cause for your ears to quiver with joy.” And so the album had quite something to live up to, but happily it surpassed expectations. Of the album we wrote “‘Get Well Soon’ chimes and resonates with sincerity and beauty, it crackles with genuine emotion and ultimately turns the pain of loss into something incredibly poignant and life affirming. What starts out as a lament to her late father becomes a celebration of remembrance in terms of, not only her relationship with her Dad, but also in how she survived grief and emerged from the darkness. Quite why it’s been ignored by much of printed musical press in their albums on the year lists is a mystery. Or is it ? Much of them sadly are more concerned with short term hipsterism rather than long term talent. You can read the full review and interview with Sarabeth HERE
2. Dum Dum Girls – “Only In Dreams”
“Whereas Dum Dum Girls debut album, ‘I Will Be’ was essentially the one woman project of songwriter and front lady Dee Dee Penny (real name Kristen Gundred) ‘Only In Dreams’ sees Dum Dum Girls flourish into a formidable, fully formed, holistic musical entity. At the risk of being accused of indulging in hyperbole it’s my opinion that in any right thinking society this album should be regarded as a genuine slice of pop genius and as such ought to be mentioned in the same breath as canonised classics such as ‘Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes,’ Blondie’s ‘Parallel Lines’ or The Ramones ‘Leave Home.’ With Richard Gottehrer and Raveonette, Sune Rose Wagner on production duties, the album demonstrates just what an amazingly gifted songwriter Dee Dee is. This is not empty vacuous, throw away pop, for the twist is that beneath the often blissful melodies you’ll discover dark lyrics full of poetic candour imbued with genuine emotional depth and intelligence that is both profoundly beautiful and extremely moving.” Read the rest of the review and interview with Dee Dee HERE.
3. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar.
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We wrote “Amongst the fury, the power and the often giddy pace of the album, The Joy Formidable manage to stir something deep inside you, connecting an emotional level, filling you with a sense of euphoria and ultimately leaving you to ponder just what is it about such a magnificent noise that is so incredibly moving and life affirming ? It’s also an album that in time may well be cited as an inspiration for many future bands, because it really is that good. Just weeks into 2011 The Joy Formidable have already thrown down the gauntlet in the album of the year stakes. On the sublime ‘A Heavy Abacus’ Ritzy sings ‘ Happiness, it won’t last long’ well maybe not, but goodness while it does last, the joy is truly formidable.” Original Review here
4. Veronica Falls –Veronica Falls
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We wrote “Their eponymous debut album, called somewhat surprisingly, ‘Veronica Falls’ is raw, edgy, melodious and mysterious. “Found Love In A Grave Yard” is, excuse the pun, a killer tune and has been rattling its ghostly chains about the internet for some time. It’s a perfect album opener, laying the ground work for some dark sparkling indie pop nuggets such as “Right Side Of My Brain”, “Misery” “Stephen” and “Come On Over” whilst “The Fountain” vocally conjures up Lush’s Miki Berenyi [Hurrah!] Given some of slightly macabre subject matter, graveyards, loss,death and everybodys favourite one way destination “Beachy Head” you may think this could be an earnest, po-faced hipster ride through angst and existentialism. You would of course be very much mistaken. Veronica Falls’ sunny pop shimmer belies the dark lyrical thematics, which you sense are sung with a knowing wink and a sense of mischievous fun.”
Read the interview and review HERE
5. Pete And Pirates “One Thousand Pictures”
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“The hope and romantic idealism that permeated ‘Little Death’ is replaced by the sort of cynicism that comes from experience and the jangle pop is replaced by a much more rounded rockier sound. Ok so they haven’t done the whole Arctic ‘This is what Led Zeppelin would sound like fronted by George Formby’ Monkeys rock thing but there are some fantastically meaty guitar riffs in evidence. However Pete And The Pirates are an eclectic bunch and don’t really conform to one particular template instead they take us on an intriguing musical journey through indie, rock and even shades of Donna Summer (on ‘Winter.’) As ever it’s the quality of the songs that ultimately ensure that the band build on the success of their debut and ‘One Thousand Pictures’ is definite progression forward. Underneath the jaunty veneer of many of the songs you may find something rather darker lurking and it’s this juxtaposition along with fabulous melodies that once again makes Pete And The Pirates stand out from their peers” Read the interview and review HERE
6. Half Man Half Biscuit – “90 Bisodol (Crimond)
Wirral’s own poet laureate Nigel Blackwell and gang return with a mix of Shakespeare meets Edward Lear I mean where else can find songs about Gok Wan, D.I.Y. Geezer Tommy Walsh, Indie bands appearing on the Sky soccer sofa, despite knowing nothing about football ( But then, disastrously/They ask him casually/“You come from Leigh-On-Sea,/Do you ever get to Roots Hall?”/Which to him means fuck all” Or actress Lynette McMorrough ( Glenda Brownlow in “Crossroads” ) trying to recreate her “King’s Oak” glory days via the medium of dolls and dolls houses with her ultimate intention being to replace her own doll’s plastic with tofu ! Surreal genius.
7. Emmy The Great – “Virtue” –
If ‘First Love’ proved that Emmy ‘s rough demo’s and EP’s scrubbed up rather well, then ‘Virtue’ sees her music in full make up wearing killer heels and stepping out onto the red carpet. Review and interview HERE
8. Black Lips – “Arabia Mountain”
The frenetic, sometimes ramshackle sound really hits the mark on this album, as they are reined in by none other than producer Mark Ronson. Having not been what you’d call a fan of Ronson’s rather ostentatious production style in the past this is something of a revelation! Ronson subtly puts a bit a spit and shine on the bands sound whilst still retaining the bands garagey Stones meets the Ramones vibe and in doing so helps Black Lips produce their most consistent album to date.
9. Beirut – “The Rip Tide”
Zach Condon returns with possibly his most uplifting album to date. His talent as a songwriter is in full bloom and the timbre of his melodious voice possesses a huge emotional punch. After some experimentation in the past “The Rip Tide” sounds like an artist really finding his feet having gained the confidence to finally reveal the contents of his heart. A thing of poignant graceful beauty.
10. The Bookhouse Boys – “Tales To Tell”
Darker than Nick Cave’s hair dye and more full-some than this magnificent ‘tache The Bookhouse Boys returned to prove that their superb debut album was no fluke as they continue to produce sinister surf rock combined with goth mariachi which is epic, sexy, sleazy and sinister in equal measure.
11. Ladytron – “Gravity The Seducer”
12. Slow Club – “Paradise”
13. Love Inks – “ESP”
14. Wye Oak – Civilian
15. Lykee Li – “Wounded Rhymes”
16. Zola Jesus – “Conatus”
17. Sarah Nixey – ” Brave Tin Soldiers”
18. Howling Bells – “The Loudest Engine”
19. Help Stamp Out Loneliness – Help Stamp Out Loneliness
20. Prince Edward Island – “This Day Is A Good Enough Day”
21. Kate Bush – “50 Words For Snow”
22. The Indelicates – “David Koresh Superstar”
23. Laura Marling – “A Creature I Don’t Know”
24. Little Comets – “In Search Of The Elusive Little Comets”
25. PJ Harvey – “Let England Shake”
26. The Whip – X Marks The Destination.
27. Wild Flag – Wild Flag
28. Cults – Cults
29. Summer Camp – Welcome To Condale.
30. Austra – Feel It Break.
Song Of The Year.
This year we decided to pick the song which we had played most on Last FM, because that would surely be our best loved song right ? Right ! It also proved to the doubters that we hadn’t secretly been listening to the execrable Cher Lloyd! The Good Natured were far and away our most played artist in 2011 and their dark electro pop masterpiece “Wolves” had more plays than Dawn French has chocolate bars. And because they were our tip for greatness in 2011, we’ll conclude the year with an interview with Sarah and the chaps (coming soon) and of course continue to keep our eyes and ears out for them in 2012 when their debut album is set to drop!
Video Of The Year.
We don’t really like Lady Ga-Ga style big budget videos, we prefer ones which are filmed on a budget and use imagination rather than cold hard dollars so Beirut’s “Santa Fe” ticked all the right boxes, a simple video with a few twists, dark humour and a story-line that keeps you watching.
Video Of The Year
1.Santa Fe By Beirut
2. Paper Forest By Emmy The Great.
Simple, yet strangely moving, even if we haven’t got a baldy what its about.
3. Mirage By Ladytron.
Because Helen looks great, there are stone circles, fires, sinister druidy types and it’s all a bit Wicker Man meets Rosemary’s Baby. Which is good
4. Phantoms By Bird
Spooky!! Les Diaboliques meets the Ring meets The Blair Witch Project meets Little Red Riding Hood directed by David Lynch ( well no but it has that vibe)
5. United By Pete And The Pirates
Because we love cats and this fan provided footage left us feline fine.
REISSUE OF THE YEAR.
Need you ask ? The Smiths remasters were excellent but the re-issuse of all The Jesus & Mary Chain’s studio albums, replete with rarities, outtakes and DVD’s was quite wonderful. To add to our joy we were even mentioned on the sleeve notes for “Psychocandy” and “Darklands” , which being massive Mary Chain fans was even more thrilling than waking up to find a stocking clad Charlize Theron in our bed.
“Best Newcomers ( With Attitude)”
They tottered about upsetting the new breed of seemingly critic proof musical deities, having had pops at Jessie J, Everything Everything, Chris Martin, Noah and The Whale, Ellie Goulding, The Vaccines and Spector to name but a few and have put a bit of attitude back into a sometimes very bland conservative conformist pop scene. They also write pretty snappy new wave pop tunes too.( Interview HERE)
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Most overrated Album of this year or indeed any ….
Yup it’s The Horrors (again)
Cunts of the year?
“”The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”
And that’s 2011, coming soon will be the artists we hope will do well in 2012.
See you on the other side and have a fucking EXCELLENT Christmas however you chose to celebrate it ( Jack Daniels , The Pogues and Phil Spector works for me ! ) … All the very best , AVP xx
- The VPME Podcast Episode 6 – October 2011 (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- The Vpme Podcast- Jesus and Mary Chain Special (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Sarabeth Tucek And Bird – Live St Brides Church Liverpool. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- The VPME Podcast – August 2011 – This IS Music (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- The VPME on BBC 6 Music. Take 2 (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Songs To Learn and Sing – Veronica Falls, Howling Bells, Zola Jesus and Dirtblonde (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Dum Dum Girls Interview And Only In Dreams Review. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Songs To Learn And Sing – Bird, The Bandana Splits, Dum Dum Girls, Two Wounded Birds,Emmy The Great, Kyla La Grange, Peter Murphy And Red Kite. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Riots and Music. (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- Songs To Learn And Sing – The Bookhouse Boys, Convaire, This Frontier Needs Heroes, Bjork, Friends ,The Inevitable Pin Hole Burns, (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)
- The Von Pip Musical Express Christmas Special Podcast (vonpipmusicalexpress.wordpress.com)