Best Music of 2011 – our review starts with the “near misses”

We’ll start the Album of the Year countdown this week with the near misses; stuff we enjoyed but just missed out on the top 30 of the year. Totally random order. And we’ll start with the big shock!

 P J Harvey“Let England Shake”

I know, it is everyone else’s album of the year (Uncut,, NME, Guardian...) .  And it is a seriously impressive work . But for me, it is more to be admired than enjoyed, more easily written about than listened to. Earnest, clever, moving – but not I’m afraid a lot of fun. Quite possibly “great” but for me, it’s not even in my top 3 PJ Harvey albums of all time (and I do own several).

Kurt Vile – “Smoke Ring for my Halo”

Hard to categorise, eccentric singer songwriter with attitude – touches of Tom Waits, Dylan, Evan Dando

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings  The Harrow and the Harvest

American folk, deep and beautiful.

Veronica Falls – “Veronica Falls”

Female indie super group, and sound almost exactly as you’d expect from that definition. Good rowdy stuff.

 Cashier no 9 – “To the Death of Fun”

Belfast  tuneful indie with a Stone Roses meets US West-Coast flavour. Very promising first album

Smith Westerns - “Dye it Blonde”
Wye Oak - “Civilian”
St Vincent - Strange Mercy”

Three good examples of US indie. Smith Westerns have a young indie pop energy; St Vincent is kooky indie, a little Kate Bush, little Jenny Lewis, a bit Tori Amos, a bit Feist-y. Wye Oak is a pop-folk, girl / boy indie duo with some very strong songs.

 Lykke Li – “Wounded Rhymes”

Don’t be fooled – she’s no Scandinavian pop-poppet, she’s a serious song writer and performer with the knack for a tune combined with a dark vaguely troubling feel to many of her songs.

Noah and the Whale  “Last Night on Earth”

Tom Petty lives, with a Home Counties veneer...

 The Kooks – “Junk of the Heart”

Back after an almost 3 year break and a bit unfashionable amongst the NME music crowd now but decent pop-indie band with very listenable third album.

 Foster the People – “ Torches

US indie pop- included one of THE tracks of the year, Pumped Up Kicks.

Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks from Foster The People on Vimeo.

 Kate Bush – ”50 Words for Snow”

Bonkers but pretty brilliant. Might have been higher if we’d had time to listen to it more.

Cloud Control – “Bliss Release”

Polished indie rock from New Zealand, with interesting touches and great live.

 Nicola RobertsCinderella’s Eyes

– Did I tell you I met her once and she was really nice? Oh, I see, I’ve told you 27 times already... best solo album by a Girls Aloud member, and the brightest of them too... (OK, so sometimes she forgets to put her trousers on. Easy mistake to make when you're shooting a video).

Now some of my wife’s favourite – she’s a  rocker at heart – and she also recommends Foo Fighters “Wasting Light”, young UK band from Weybridge You Me At Six with “Sinners Never Sleep”, older US indie band reformed with half the original line-up  Panic at the Disco withVirtues and Vices”mad welsh punk rock band The Blackout withHope”, and always reliable Pigeon Detectives “Up Guards and At ‘Em”.

That'll do for today - tomorrow we'll have numbers 30-21.

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