The Best Albums of the Rest 2011.

Posted on December 21, 2011


St Vincent – ‘Strange Mercy’.
If this was a numerical list, this would be number 6. Annie Clark’s third album is a joy from start to finish, just more confirmation that the girl write wonderful songs and nothing else. The highlights from ‘Strange Mercy’ are many, whether its the playful opener ‘Chloe in the Afternoon’, the jaw dropping guitar work in ‘Surgeon’ or the power of the chorus from ‘Cheerleader’, you can find something wonderful in every song here.
Download – ‘Surgeon’

Will Haven – ‘Voir Dire’
From the sublime to the utterly violent, Will Haven returned this year as a five piece with Grady back in the fold, and the return was possibly their heaviest record yet. ‘Held to Answer’ opens it up with a slower, even sludgier sound than usual before ‘When the Walls Close In’ smashes through like the Will Haven of old. The record is just chuggy bugger after chuggy bugger, each as good as the last.
Download – ‘Mida’s Secret’

Thrice – ‘Major/Minor’
Do Thrice really make bad records? Whilst ‘Beggars’ wasn’t really anything to shout home about, it was still a good record, and true to form ‘Major/Minor’ ticks all the Thrice boxes. Dustin Kensrue’s voice is one of the best in rock music, and this album shows their ability to write solid rock songs continues to this day. They are now on hiatus, but people shouldn’t complain if they end on this note.
Download: ‘Call it in the Air’

Josh T. Pearson – ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’
The bearded acoustic singer songwriter thing is big business now it seems, with every open mic night throughout the country showcasing boys with beards and blues. In this regard, Josh T. Pearson is a walking talking cliche, but the man does this in such a way that renders all others irrelevant. A genuine fragility and a melancholy that can’t be forced, this is a beautiful record.
Download: ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell…’

Grouper – ‘Alien Observer/Dream Loss’
Already positioned as my undiscovered gem of the year, ‘Alien Observer/Dream Loss’ was the 2011 output from Liz Harris, and its a lovely collection of fuzzy poppy ambience. It is haunting, sounding for the world like a deserted desolate bus station in Warsaw at 4am. The way that Harris layers her voice on the record is particularly stunning.
Download: ‘Alien Observer’

Cave In – ‘White Silence’
It’s almost as if they have gone full circle. Before ‘Jupiter’, Cave In were a hardcore metal band. ‘Jupiter’ happened, the world wanted a piece of them, and ‘Antenna’ was the result. Then ‘Perfect Pitch Black’ was stuck in a middle world, and that brings us to ‘White Silence’. Cave In are heavy again, very very heavy. Paul Stott doesn’t like it, but its a grower Paul, give it time! It’s a brutal record.
Download: ‘Sing My Loves’

tUnE – yArDs – ‘W H O K I L L’
What a delightful little pop record this is. It covers a remarkable breadth of styles, but it never strays from a hook. It’s infectious, and you do find yourself humming the chorus to ‘Bizness’ or the refrain from ‘My Country’ whilst doing your weekly shop or whatever. A clever record that you will struggle to forget. Good work!
Download: ‘My Country’

Brontide – ‘Sans Souci’
Richard James’ favourite album of the year (read about it at, its a powerful ride from start to finish. Fabulous live as well, using those silly loop pedals in exactly the right way. ‘Matador’ starts it off, and although I’ve already said it, ‘powerful’ is the best possible way to describe this band and this record. Top stuff.
Download: ‘Jura’

La Dispute – ‘Wildlife’
Coming across at first like a slightly angrier early mewithoutYou, La Dispite are a bit of a buzz band at the moment. As Mr James ( also said, the thing that makes this band stand out are the vocals, and they are definitely the high point of this album. It’s almost poetry throughout, best seen on ‘Safer in the Forest/Love Song for Poor Michigan’ and the albums standout ‘King Park’, which is lyrically astounding.
Download: ‘King Park’

Manchester Orchestra – ‘Simple Math’
Much like St Vincent at the beginning of this, Manchester Orchestra’s third record confirms their consistency. ‘Simple Math’ is another step on a road that will surely end in super stardom for Manchester Orchestra. Songs like ‘Mighty’ and ‘Simple Math’ were made to be sung by thousands upon thousands. I would suspect something truly special from them in the future.
Download: ‘Mighty’

And that’s that! Runners up coming tomorrow, then album of the year posted on christmas day. Phew.