Thursday, December 15, 2011

top 10 albums and singles of 2011

Time again for my annual countdown of half decent music. A grand internet tradition since 2006!

This time last year, I suggested that I'd probably be bored of Kanye West's album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by February. How wrong could I be? Very. That and Janelle Monae have been my two most listened to albums of 2011, despite both being released in 2010, and neither featuring in the upper ranks of last year's countdown.

So it's in that spirit of success, and the fact that I've been traveling for the last nine months - and so more detached from music than usual - that I present this year's 10 best albums and individual tracks. Now more valid than ever!

As usual, an artist will only feature in one list or the other, not both.


1. The Antlers - Burst Apart
2. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
3. The Horrors - Skying
4. Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne
5. Kasabian - Velociraptor!
6. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
8. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
9. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
10. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine

Listen to one track of each of these albums as a Youtube playlist. It's mostly a calm, enjoyable listen.


1. Elbow - Lippy Kids
2. Coldplay - Paradise
3. Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said
4. Alex Metric & Steve Angello - Open Your Eyes
5. Noah & The Whale - L.I.F.E.GO.E.S.O.N
6. The Vaccines - Post Break-Up Sex
7. Arthur Russell - Walk On The Moon (Labyrinth Ear edit)
8. Nicola Roberts - Beat of My Drum
9. Kount Masloff - You Came to Win
10. The Go! Team - Secretary Song

Listen to the top 10 as a Youtube playlist. It's quite a brash, upbeat listen.

You may also look back over the album countdowns from 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007, and the single countdowns from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the struggle for aloofness

It's 6:13pm. The sun has been considering whether to set or not for a couple of hours, and it seems now to have settled on an answer.

We're in a beach restaurant in Karnataka, India, but it could be any backpacker orientated hangout worldwide. All the hallmarks are present and correct: patio furniture, hammocks and facial hair. There's banana pancakes on the menu, and the same five Bob Marley tracks repeating on the stereo. Everything is familiar here. Comforting. Today will not be remembered for its life altering developments.

There's six of us enjoying an early dinner. People have been competing to try and out-liberal each other. Sid took an early head start when he pointed out he's a vegan and that he doesn't own a TV. Samantha however, announces she has her own vegetable patch. Her opponents are sent reeling.

It's in the midst of this that KC asks me what the time is. 6:13 I reply. "Oh, that's precise of you", he retorts. Everybody giggles. KC has dreadlocks. An unkempt beard. KC has no interest in the exact time. KC has no interest in the exact anything.

I feel bruised by this encounter. I have tried to help out my friend KC. Why should I be mocked for merely trying to provide people with a helpful level of accuracy? You've asked me something, I'm now trying to assist you to the greatest possible extent. Yet, I get laughed at if I don't give you a worse answer.

For me to round the time to 6:15 actually requires extra effort on my part. I'd have to think about that. Do a quick calculation in my head. It is you that has asked the favour of me. If you're going to ask me the time, but want a pleasingly inaccurate answer, round things off yourself. You go through the effort. Seen as I'm doing you the favour.

Failing that, just don't ask at all. Seemingly you don't really care what the actual time is anyway. You see the sun is about to set. You've been hanging out in this place for five fucking weeks. I would've thought you'd have a supernatural gift for time estimation by now. Roping me into proceedings seems unnecessary. You do the rounding. You do the aloofness. It's best off I leave it to the professionals.