2011/12/13

Music Quack official Best Albums of 2011

The Music Quack is not even one year old, but of course we needed to put together a best of 2011 list. As we shall see it's been a great year for female vocalists, and for Swedish music. Even though it's our specialty I've tried to make this a global list, but the great albums made in Sweden just seem to take us over.


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#1: JOSEF & ERIKA - Floods


Sweden's Josef & Erika came seemingly from nowhere this year with a new sound and new style
of writing. Floods did not only wash me away, it lifted me up and made me forget about
everything else. Erika Angell's vocal performance is truly world class and so is
Josef's bass work. This duo is in a class for themselves. Songs like Silence,
Floods Cover My Ankles, Fight & Day, The Roar and Blow Life in my Soul... Pure love.


#2: FLEET FOXES - Helplessness Blues


It took me a while to listen to this album properly, due to a certain sense of disgust over
the ridiculous critical praise. But unlike Bon Iver's equally acclaimed album, this one
really is a masterpiece. I've been annoying people for some time now pointing out
that the two first tracks on Helplessness Blues contain more melodic material
than the whole of "Bon Iver, Bon Iver". Enough said, just enjoy this musical ride
and forget all about folk beards. Noone cares.


#3: EDDA MAGNASON - Goods

Edda Magnason's second album is something as rare as a perfect production.
Loaning at times from Kate Bush but mostly just playing joyously
with all kinds of music and flying off into the sky like a magical flying
paper boat Goods is the most endearing album
this year and lays the grounds for a great career.


#4: I BREAK HORSES - Hearts


I Break Horses is another female artist from Sweden, and a male lyricist, who seemingly came
from nowhere to crash right into the music world with this electronic, classically
influenced dreamgaze. Still virtually unheard of in their home country, a fact for many
great musicians of the north, I put them down as the biggest thing in
Stockholm 2013... This album is particularly impressive when you read that Maria Lindén "tried"
recording it in a studio but ended up making it in her flat instead. Wow, just WOW.


#5: LYKKE LI - Wounded Rhymes

Just when Youth Novels was starting to feel stale and dull Lykke Li
returned with an album so soulful and sharp it rather stunned
me and the rest of Sweden. Great songs at the core,
wrapped in the most exquisite reverb drenched production and a voice
which is quickly evolving into something it quite frankly never was.
Who knows what this artistry will turn into in the future?


#6: THE ANTLERS - Burst Apart

The Antlers managed to follow up Hospice with an equally amazing album.
Somewhat of an enigma, this album is all over the place and yet it
holds together without effort. I've listened to this and found myself thinking
that I don't miss Radiohead. Who needs them anyway?


#7: UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

This Kiwi/US band did what so many seemed to fail at this year, they made
a great, funky indie album, void of mainstream production shit
and full of groove. Fuck me, more of this shitz plz.


#8: MIRRORS - Lights and Offerings

While hipster America is busy dwelling in the stinking archives of Phil Collins
and Toto, on the other side of the Atlantic there is still hope
left for good synth pop. England's Mirrors stand out brilliantly this year with
their debut album showing how much there still is to explore in the landscapes left
to us by Kraftwerk.


#9: TAPE - Revelationes

Best instrumental album of the year, Swedish jazz trio Tape reached
new heights with this masterpiece. Blending classic post-rock and avantgarde electro-acoustics
into their soft lounge jazz they create true breathlessness.


#10: THUS:OWLS - Harbours

Thus:Owls's second album turned out to be a bit of a hard nut to crack.
I keep thinking it's a slow and dark album, but in fact it is rather
fast and even poppy. The band did not take the easiest path, a choice which
pretty much defines them. Experimenting with different styles and moods,
I only wish it would have a slightly stronger core. But when one considers
that Erika Angell already has the #1 spot on our list, this is still
pretty damn good.


#11: LIAM FINN - FOMO

New Zealand's Liam Finn moved on from the heavy Beatles influences of his
debut album and did something slightly more Auckland-Party on FOMO
and soaked the fresh sound with the underlying plot line concept,
his Fear Of Missing Out. Being a brilliant songwriter pushes this album up to towards the very top.
Don't miss out on this!


#12: ÓLAFUR ARNALDS - Living Room Songs

Perhaps technically an EP, who knows these days? Iceland's king of
instrumental music deserves a place on here.


#13: SÓLEY - We Sink

Also from Iceland, Sóley debuted with an experimental yet melodious keyboard album.
Somewhat beaten to it by swede/icelander Edda Magnason but not quite as solid a production
this is an icelander we'll be hearing alot more from.


#14: SKRIET - Det Beslutande Organet

Skriet - Predikament
Swedish band Skriet gather dark moods from GYBE, Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes
and blend it with native indie poets like Olle Ljungström. Unique in their narrow niche
this was a great album if you had the patience.


#15: PAPERCUTS - Fading Parade

US indie trio Papercuts released another great album with a dense reverb
sound, its greatness depending to a large amount on the
unusually sweet yet powerful vocals.


#16: CIVIL CIVIC - Rules

UK/Spain intrumental rock duo Civil Civic continue to blast the brains out
of audiences and headphone-kids on the tram with their tasty blend of Pumpkins and post-rock.


#17: JONATHAN WILSON - Gentle Spirit

Retro songwriting still isn't "out" which is proven by a very strong debut by this
American artist. He takes some from here, some from there and does it brilliantly. The only problem is
I seem to lose track of who HE is when he jumps too quickly from Elliott Smith
to Cat Stevens. Perhaps he'll get better at that in the future.


#18: PJ HARVEY - Let England Shake

I think many would argue that this ought to be higher up. The problem I have with this
album is the constant cut-ups and record samples that are all over the place. Feels like they are
there only to make it sound "art" but because they are so butt ugly it just
sounds crap. Also the sound is often over produced and digitally stale.
Conclusion: the producer Flood was way too far up his own asshole.
The song material though is fantastic.


#19: THE RAPTURE - In The Grace Of Your Love

Brooklyn band The Rapture move even further away from their plastic punk past
with this very Arcade Fiery flirtatious album. Great vocals
and soul/disco beats makes it a great record.


#20: NICOLAI DUNGER - Ballad Of This Land

Swedish singer songwriter Nicolai Dunger went to Ireland to find some sort of
deeper understanding for its folk tradition. The result is a set of brilliant songs.
A couple of them are on the cheesy side though, be warned.




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