Tracks of 2011
…and, with this, I promise that’s the end of the lists. There won’t even be a rundown of the bands that have been permanently ruined for me by shambolic live performances in 2011. No sir. Not Pulp, Santigold, M.I.A., Asobi Seksu and Tom Vek. Nope.
In no particular order…
Apparatjik - Do It Myself (Draft 1)
So then, the new Apparatjik album is being de facto mixed and edited with everyone hearing the work in progress at every stage and being invited to contribute. To what? In part, to a fucking batshit nuts piece of chart hip hop sheen with an autotuned Jonas Bjerre drowned out by some phat rhymes. Total insanity. It’s amazing.
Violens - No Look On Your Face
The standout song from Violens’ series of nine monthly downloads, which was as bold as it was patchy. When it got good, however, it was more than a rival for 2010’s sensational Amoral. No Look On Your Face is a nugget of chart-bothering magic that neatly proves Ian Svenonius’s theory that pop music is based on a sadistic concept - offering the hook, all tantalising, then withholding it. This tune is different; the extraordinarily catchy hook doesn’t even appear until a minute and twenty seconds in, floats for two bars, and is then abruptly snatched away again, surfacing again later, non-committally. Jorge Elbrecht, take a bow. The b-side is a sultry, slow remix, every bit as good in its own strutting, mood-ridden way.
Ringo Deathstarr - Two Girls
Let it never, ever be said that the kids these days will let shoegaze die. Hardly anyone understands the aura of the tones better than this mob, gleefully ripping off Cigarette In Your Bed to the point that the result is something better than affirming; salvation in thievery. For every few instances of the dire piss take - Joy Formidable, say - there’s youth that just knows.
Lana Del Rey - Video Games
More or less the best manufactured music I’ve ever heard. This has been written by an absolute pro, with a delivery more like a weary Dietrich than a detatched talking head. It’s eerily good.
Esben And The Witch - Hexagons V (The Cast)
A band so much more inventive and intuitive than their peers it’s almost untrue, my highlight from their ridiculously prolific 2011 is not from their breathtaking Violet Cries, but from the subsequent Hexagons EP. “Blind. Blind.” Rachel shudders; it’s difficult to imagine such a tortured cry sounding so dispassionate, but then, like all the best bands, that’s part of the point. Duality, contrast and the posing of further questions, not the answers.
Epic45 - The Village Is Asleep
Just as Ringo joyously celebrate the scene that celebrated itself, Epic45 live Graham Sutton’s dream, won’t forget Bark Psychosis and won’t let them go, no matter what. I really didn’t think anyone made music like this. I’ve seldom been happier to be embarrassingly wrong.