2011 Summary: Best Albums

December 22, 2011

So this is it. I give you 30 magnificent records that made 2011. They represent various genres, from electronica to R&B, from folk to New Age. Some of them were delivered by acclaimed artists while other by newcomers who wait for true recognition to come. Nevertheless, they have all taken me to places I just could imagine of. Emotions they evoked were different: sadness, euphoria, longing… What they all have in common is the passion behind them. I may have underrated few of them in my reviews but my ears have opened just in time. I believe you should listen to them (if you haven’t already). Thank you for reading and see you next year!

 

30. Zambri Glossolalia EP

http://www.undertheradarmag.com/news/listen_glossolalia_ep_by_zambri/

 

29. Baths Pop Music / False B-Sides

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOgU8EP0YDQ

 

28. St. Vincent Strange Mercy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iOniCjeCjE

 

27. Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4J6bFDvvwY&ob=av2e

 

26. Ford & Lopatin Channel Pressure

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0i8ScfOnjLs

 

25. Cities Aviv Digital Lows

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwV3mNpy9gM

 

24. Feist Metals

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2uVRMBD5RY&ob=av2n

 

23. EMA Past Life Martyred Saints

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dPIK9Qe7K4

 

22. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKVy0EVu2ZI

 

21. PJ Harvey Let England Shake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1lFM1K8R1s&ob=av2n

 

20. Thao & Mirah Thao & Mirah

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0IEC6Q4QM

 

19. Wild Beasts Smother

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPHQSWPjdk8

 

18. Atlas Sound Parallax

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rY5Uf4E0e4&ob=av2e

 

17. The Weeknd House of Balloons & Thursday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ex38L8xtNI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdH1kXzquQo

 

16. Peaking Lights 936

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omGnzAd28YM

 

15. Zola Jesus Conatus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7VhbL94WN0

 

14. Cat’s Eyes Cat’s Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKPcOQinl50

 

13. John Maus We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMku-GbafEg

 

12. Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TTPGAy5H_E&ob=av2e

 

11. Austra Feel It Break

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LJtMrhb558&ob=av2e

 

10. Panda Bear Tomboy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWq_XMT5i4

 

9. Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiwi7d0f91Y

 

8. Julianna Barwick The Magic Place

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H34gnFIpI-U

 

7. Chelsea Wolfe Ἀποκάλυψις

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA5HbCtlbFM

 

6. James Blake James Blake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOKXHzL6UVs&ob=av2e

 

5. Kate Bush 50 Words for Snow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JoPFIWOONU

 

4. Grimes / d’Eon Darkbloom EP

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

3. Cults Cults

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0pSo58K5aY

 

2. Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_bkNR-zOn8

 

1. Björk Biophilia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQiT9ibMw_c

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2011 Summary: Best Tracks

December 21, 2011

These tracks wouldn’t stop playing in my brain all year long:

 

50. Prefuse 73 feat. Trish Keenan The Only Trial of 9000 Suns

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4U7GZSerUw

 

49. tUnE-yArDs Bizness

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ1LI-NTa2s&ob=av2e

 

48. Zola Jesus Vessel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY9WUZZrTpw

 

47. SBTRKT feat. Little Dragon Wildfire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-LEiOzXHWM

 

46. Björk Moon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br2s0xJyFEM

 

45. Austra Shoot the Water

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgLCcPxNgNE

 

44. James Blake To Care (Like You)

http://vimeo.com/20366505

 

43. Kate Bush Song of Solomon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc-TCxTIHvQ

 

42. Britney Spears Hold It Against Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Edv8Onsrgg&ob=av2e

 

41. Gang Gang Dance MindKilla

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R7k1_kOqvk

 

40. Katy B Broken Record

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oES929aenGc&ob=av2e

 

39. Low Try to Sleep

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgc0I0zsYs&ob=av2e

 

38. Zambri On Call

http://www.undertheradarmag.com/news/listen_glossolalia_ep_by_zambri/

 

37. Purity Ring Lofticries

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tuKkeQDSek

 

36. Thao & Mirah feat. tUnE-yArDs Eleven

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0IEC6Q4QM

 

35. St. Vincent Cruel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itt0rALeHE8&ob=av2e

 

34. Hooray for Earth True Loves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVwSP51KVO8&ob=av2n

 

33. James Blake I Never Learnt to Share

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSvb_jGwQ7s

 

32. Planningtorock The Breaks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWO9LweKzV8

 

31. St. Vincent Surgeon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGIbR5jdA58

 

30. Chelsea Wolfe Mer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjSkktZL7zk

 

29. Cults Never Heal Myself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG4FhNaikD8

 

28. Lykke Li I Follow Rivers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYbEL06lEU&ob=av2e

 

27. Björk Cosmogony

http://stereogum.com/761851/bjork-cosmogony/mp3s/

 

26. Cat’s Eyes Over You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWG-rW1cgps

 

25. The Weeknd The Knowing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJxOBXTFi6g

 

24. Grimes Vanessa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxC2XLePDWQ

 

23. Austra Beat and the Pulse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjKtbCx3piM&ob=av2e

 

22. Twin Sister Kimmi in a Rice Field

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emCw-rRU3Q4&ob=av2e

 

21. Cults Bad Things

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1WSC99ANnQ

 

20. James Blake The Wilhelm Scream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isIABK-0ohQ&ob=av2e

 

19. Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris We Found Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg00YEETFzg&ob=av2e

 

18. Björk Crystalline

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvaEmPQnbWk

 

17. Cults You Know What I Mean

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E2tS_7j8y4&ob=av2n

 

16. Cults Most Wanted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMvdhVxSmg4

 

15. Oneohtrix Point Never Child Soldier

http://soundcloud.com/mexicansummer/09-child-soldier

 

14. Grimes Crystal Ball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

13. Purity Ring Belispeak

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mtjs2VibXA

 

12. Anna Calvi Blackout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo267BTLnZk&ob=av2e

 

11. Lykke Li Sadness Is a Blessing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu-b3u5jDiU

 

10. Björk Thunderbolt

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vre4S5076wA

 

9. Grimes Oblivion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5H-YlcMSbc

 

8. Ford & Lopatin I Surrender

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcAkjVKf2Ck

 

7. Chelsea Wolfe Movie Screen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-CgpRo2E5o

 

6. The Weeknd High for This

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX9DgavXiN4

 

5. Cults Abducted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i1MXHGB8g0&ob=av2e

 

4. Gang Gang Dance Thru and Thru

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjJ8IPDQk6Q

 

3. Björk Virus

http://vimeo.com/27401723

 

2. Julianna Barwick Prizewinning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GSoPHO2M54

 

1. Purity Ring Ungirthed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UpgisMDAoU

2011 Summary: Best Videos

December 20, 2011

Get a snack and something to drink, and prepare yourself for 25 mind-blowing videos. Featuring killer crocs, a possessed Japanese and one Pop Princess going really crazy…

 

Avey Tare Oliver Twist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMk2vONzTNk&ob=av2e

 

Erykah Badu Gone Baby, Don’t Be Long

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQbNZ3pOXI

 

Björk Crystalline

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvaEmPQnbWk

 

Anna Calvi Blackout

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo267BTLnZk&ob=av2e

 

Die Antwoord Rich Bitch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bdeizHM9OU

 

Fleet Foxes The Shrine / An Argument

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yAxIdkF2Qo

 

Gang Gang Dance MindKilla

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R7k1_kOqvk

 

Grimes Crystal Ball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bWmLFaJA-Q

 

Grimes Vanessa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxC2XLePDWQ

 

Hercules and Love Affair Painted Eyes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRFCcITmcoI

 

Hooray for Earth True Loves

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVwSP51KVO8&ob=av2n

 

Is Tropical The Greeks

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xixbvp_is-tropical-the-greeks_music

 

Lykke Li I Follow Rivers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZYbEL06lEU&ob=av2e

 

Lykke Li Sadness Is a Blessing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xu-b3u5jDiU

 

Low Try to Sleep

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXgc0I0zsYs&ob=av2e

 

M83 Midnight City

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX3k_QDnzHE

 

Frank Ocean Novacane

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMfPJT4XjAI&ob=av2e

 

Panda Bear Alsatian Darn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yvOYoNrzWM&ob=av2e

 

Purity Ring Lofticries

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tuKkeQDSek

 

SBTRKT feat. Little Dragon Wildfire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-LEiOzXHWM

 

Britney Spears Hold It Against Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Edv8Onsrgg&ob=av2e

 

The Weeknd The Knowing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJxOBXTFi6g

 

Chelsea Wolfe Mer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjSkktZL7zk

 

Youth Lagoon Montana

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IKPT30jOJw

 

Zola Jesus Vessel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HY9WUZZrTpw

2011 Summary: Best Artwork

December 19, 2011

The time has come. It’s hydra’s turn to recap this wonderful year (and I knew it would be like this!). Let’s start with 15 Best Artwork, tomorrow I will present 25 Best Videos, on Wednesday – 50 Best Tracks, and finally on Thursday I will close 2011 Summary with 30 Best Albums. Now, look without fear…

 

Austra Feel It Break

 

Björk Biophilia

 

James Blake James Blake (Digipack Deluxe Edition)

 

Cities Aviv Digital Lows

 

Cults Cults

 

Gang Gang Dance Eye Contact

 

The Horrors Skying

 

Laurel Halo Hour Logic EP

 

Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes

 

Low C’mon

 

Mastodon The Hunter

 

John Maus We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves

 

Panda Bear Tomboy

 

Peaking Lights 936

 

Radiohead The King of Limbs

December 17, 2011

After releasing three exceptional albums, Broadcast made the fans wait few years for what would be their magnum opus. Trish Keenan and James Cargill turned to Julian House of The Focus Group (responsible for artwork of Broadcast’s records) for help on this one and the result was less a standard LP, more an experiment. Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age is the least straightforward (and naturally the most difficult) offering by the band but it was named by The Wire as the greatest release of 2009 for a reason. Let yourself in and discover an unbelievable sonic collage that is an homage to the ’60s and the fascination with paganism and drugs/mind relationship, and an exercise in limitlessness of music at the same time. The word “radio” does not appear by chance. Listening to this album is like turning the knob and getting various radio waves: sometimes it is a strange mansion party, the other time – a ritual chant. Broadcast and The Focus Group collected a vast collection of haunting samples. For, mostly, Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age feels like a soundtrack to a forgotten horror. Think of The Wicker Man or Rosemary’s Baby yet with its 23 tracks the mood is rather changeable. One is for sure: it will haunt you for a long time. The best moments come with Trish singing. The Be Colony opens with spooky Ra ra ra and turns into a demonic mantra. It is not hard to imagine naked ladies dancing for their black master soundtracked by this tune. I See, So I See So is one of the lightest tracks as it deals with solar matters. On the other hand, Libra, the Mirror’s Minor Self is mysterious and has that kind of evil burnt on it that at first lures you and then enjoys making you suffer. Make My Sleep His Song bewitches with fantastic organ. The song feels like a lost soul lament. Finally, the last song reuses The Be Colony motif to glorious effects. It is time to wake up from the nightmare but to enter Broadcast’s final vision to date simply make the disc spin again. All Broadcast fans should also hear Mother Is the Milky Way EP (In Here the World Begins is highly recommended), a limited CD from the last tour of the Birmingham dreamers.

hydrameter: 5/5

Key Tracks: I See, So I See So, Libra, the Mirror’s Minor Self, Make My Sleep His Song, The Be Colony, The Be Colony / Dashing Home / What on Earth Took You?, What I Saw

Watch The Be Colony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqINetENovg

Although Katy B plays with electronic and pop music, that girl just rocks. Her stunning debut On a Mission deserves all the accolades as it feels infinite on singles: catchy as hell, emotional and intelligent tunes ready to sweep out the club. Dubstep may be dominated by men but it is a 22-year-old girl from South London who has delivered one of the most danceable records of this year. Damn, she is too good. Katy does not waste any time and attacks with Power on Me just as the album kicks off. It is like when you enter a nightclub and that cool song is being played to introduce you to the general mood. Katy on a Mission, a huge hit in the UK, may be the best track here. Katy sings This right here I swear will end too soon and it is sad but true. Witches’ Brew is built around some video game beats and finds the singer at her most adventurous. Movement feels rather like a swagger and has got funny voice mutation. The emotional centre of the LP is undoubtedly Broken Record, a fresh recipient of Pitchfork’s one of The Top 100 Tracks of the Year title. Easy Please Me is the best of three songs produced by Magnetic Man. Finally, Hard to Get closes this gem giving you a feeling of shaking off from a great gig.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: Broken Record, Easy Please Me, Hard to Get, Katy on a Mission, Movement, Power on Me, Witches’ Brew

Watch Broken Record: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oES929aenGc&ob=av2e

This delicious mixtape by Frank Ocean of the alternative hip-hop collective called Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or simply OFWGKTA) should show all those idiots what R&B is capable of. nostalgia, ULTRA. is powerful and clever in an unprecedented way but bear in mind that Tyler, The Creator is one of Ocean’s mates. Over samples (or rather full songs) from the likes of Radiohead or Mr Hudson, Frank takes us on a journey back in time. So, get into that orange 1980s BMW, fasten the seat belt and enjoy. Strawberry Swing begins the album with a sentimental note yet Ocean exceeds Chris Martin’s performance easily. Novacane, the lead single accompanied by a great video, finds superb vocals supported by even better beats. It is one of the finest moments in black music in 2011. Songs 4 Women has a joyous bleep straight out of Kirby video game. The mood changes with LoveCrimes on which the character played by Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut by Kubrick speaks of millions of years of evolution next to security, and commitment, and whatever the fuck else. American Wedding borrows from… Eagles’ Hotel California but the result is a seven minute long tale of love and sadness. Deep shit. The closing Nature Feels is the second highlight from nostalgia. It would be impossible to outdo Electric Feel by MGMT so Ocean croons and adds some female oohs and aahs and, voila, a star is born.

hydrameter: 4/5

Key Tracks: American Wedding, LoveCrimes, Nature Feels, Novacane, Songs 4 Women, Strawberry Swing

Watch Novacane: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMfPJT4XjAI&ob=av2e

The most awaited longplay from Blessthefall showed up this autumn. Awakening, because that was the album’s title, was supposed to be the twin sister of Witness from 2009 A.D.. Well, there is a lot of similarity between those two albums, but I can’t shake off this feeling that Blessthefall chose a shortcut instead of taking a HIGHway. Sure, there are some polished, dynamic guitar riffs, Beau’s vocals mixed with Jared’s screams and everything else what makes Witness a great album. However, like everywhere in life, there are BUTs. First of all, the songs are predictable. Yeah, we’ve heard all of it on Witness. Is it bad or good? You should answer yourself. Certainly there is an evident lack of creativity. Secondly, I really like Jared’s vocals. Really. And it hurts me that he plays (vocally) less important part than before. Beau’s vocals are clean, but (for me) a little chafing. Thirdly, Blessthefall can’t write memorable and powerful choruses. Chorus is (right next to the instrumental base) the core of the song. It decides of song’s popularity and, be honest, often is the reason why it plays in our speakers (and minds) repeatedly. It’s been a while since I listened to Awakening and, frankly, I remember like three choruses (from first three songs excluding the self-titled Awakening). The rest is annoying (again too much Beau’s vocals) or dry as dust. The biggest BUT applies to lyrics. Let’s just say that 40 Days… sounds like one of Bieber’s “works of art”. On some songs I can’t find logical relations between the verses and how they relate to the song as a whole. It feels like some of them were written only to fill the gaps. The only lyrics that really appeal to me are those from Meet Me at the Gates. To sum up, Awakening includes all the virtues of Witness but it also shallows them. If you like their previous release, you most certainly like the new one, but if you are tired of the same schemes and search for something new, you will be very disappointed. It looks like Blessthefall got stuck in one place with no intention of moving on.

YES! : I’m Bad News, in the Best Way, Bottomfeeder 

NO! : 40 Days…, Don’t Say Goodbye

Earned C-

Listen to Bottomfeeder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWbLNOHtYWA

Laurel Halo is an electronic music producer (which should not come as a surprise considering the EP’s cover) from New York. She may be compared to Oneohtrix Point Never but she very rarely reaches for the depth of Lopatin’s sound. The only exception is the second track titled Constant Index. It has an Eastern chant feel and simply asks for another listen. And another, and another… Nevertheless, there is a potential in Halo and, who knows, one day she might flourish.

hydrameter: 2/5

Key Track: Constant Index

Listen to Constant Index: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2UP21Hnys4