music review top 10

HPM’s Top 10 Albums of 2011

It’s that time of year again – a wrap up of the top 10 albums I have had the pleasure of buying. This list is for musical artist album releases only. A separate one will be done for game soundtracks. Here goes:

10) Zola Jesus – Vessel

A fantastic culmination and one of my most recent new discoveries, it just edges into the top 10 by providing me with one of the few dark and damp albums of 2011. Her voice harks back to generations of old and the electronics and dramatic song structures make it a treat to visit the darkness every time.

09) Faun – Eden

Band members have left and been replaced and while you can tell that Faun’s sound has changed forever. It still sits firmly in the Pagan Folk genre they’ve helped create but the vocals are more hymn like, English is introduced and the overall sound is one more of a forest pixie raging war on humanity. Either way, it’s still utterly superb.

08) St Vincent – Strange Mercy

St Vincent makes the most clumsy, sloppy and seemingly out of control music seem to still have order, beauty and integrity. Her third studio album is full of all the quirks, embellishments and random freak outs we’ve come to expect but in a more assured manner and with more layers than ever before!

07) Gregory Douglass – Lucid

Having watched Gregory over various live net shows introduce, change, develop and grow Lucid from a concept into a fully evolved being, it’s a fantastic dream concept album that works from start to finish. Showcasing some great technical wizardry, it features some of the most catchy numbers and some of the most heartbreaking from his career to date.

06) Amiina – Puzzle

From what I thought was a lovely, quaint but slightly one-sided debut, Puzzle lifts Amiina into a new level. The quartet have perfected their craft of weaving the most unlikely of instruments together into lullabies but now also into powerful epic seven minute masterpieces.

05) Bjork – Biophilia

Never one to sit still, Biophilia is a career spanning genre bending full flow freak out. Never compromising, always challenging – it contains highlights of Bjork’s most beautiful, most powerful and most scary moments of her musical career.

04) Tori Amos – Night of Hunters

Tori Amos remains my favourite musical artist of all time. The reason this hasn’t reached the top spot is purely because it’s an album that requires a lot of time and effort to digest and I’m not really there yet. The string arrangements are beautiful and the songs are fantastic. Many have called it a return to form but I never saw her falter. A bold new direction and one that pays off.

03) Lamb – 5

The return of Lamb was unexpected but much appreciated with the perfect blend of Lou’s own solo styles and Andy’s more electronic edges. The album is much more direct and approachable with instant hooks throughout, making it by far my favourite Lamb album to date and hopefully will give them confidence to continue  on.

02) tUne-YaRdS – W H O K I L L

Only discovering the sheer genius of this lady last year, being able to enjoy the growth from début to album number 2 was phenomenal. All the funky vocal collages are still here, as is the home ramshackle production but this time fused with brass and some more tip-top production too. It just seems like such a natural bloom. Magical.

01) Charlotte Martin – Dancing on Needles

The album that keeps giving with all the b-sides being released online, it’s a perfect merger of all Charlotte’s previous works of piano, guitar, keyboard and pounding drums. Her voice is an absolute marvel and every song is as achingly beautiful and painful as the last. Without doubt my album of the year.

Narrowly missing out were PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Sarah Slean, The Go Team and Omodaka.

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