Song - Artist - Album
The New Life Out There - The Neon Philharmonic - The Moth Confesses
I made a top 13 of 2011 not too long ago, but as expected, there are always a few albums worth mention that didn’t make the list. However, I am not so cruel and pigheaded as to deny them their moment in the sun, so here’s my list of sloppy seconds.
Grace Woodroofe – Always Want
It always makes me feel bad when someone approximately my age has out-accomplished me on such a vast scale. Grace Woodroofe is an Australian singer-songwriter fresh out of school, and her debut album, Always Want, was released in America on January 25. Suffice to say, it’s a great listen. The album begins as fairly predictable indie folk, but quickly transforms into bluesy and soulful ballads with an unstoppable groove. There are even a few moments in which Grace indulges in some heavier sounds, reminiscent of early PJ Harvey.
Rwake – Rest
Considering sludge is one of my favorite subgenres of metal, I was a little surprised at myself for not including a single sludge release for my best of 2011 list. Rwake formed in 1997 and has established a solid legacy since, and Rest is another solid addition to their catalogue. It’s an album that seamlessly blends both primal aggression and tasteful atmospheric flourishes. It’s the assault and restraint format executed in the most satisfying way.
Still Corners – Creatures of an Hour
Formed in 2007, Still Corners is a London-based dream pop band that really emblemizes the genre in a modern sense. Creatures of an Hour is the band’s full-length debut, released in October of 2011. They have a dense and surreal sound that you can really get lost in. I think what I appreciate most about them is how they manage to sound modern, while still paying very clear homage to the bands of the 80’s and 90’s that made their sound possible. As a dream pop fan, it’s nice to hear something so historically minded.
Years of Rice & Salt – Nothing of Cities
When Years of Rice & Salt debuted with their 2009 EP The Service Bell, it was clear that they were a band worth looking out for. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed with their 2011 full-length Nothing of Cities by comparison, at least initially, but it was still an undeniably well-executed post-rock album. While The Service Bell sounded more traditional folk-influenced, Nothing of Cities sounds more like modern classical. It has an epic, large-scale feel that makes full use of orchestral sounds. It was definitely my favorite traditional post-rock album of the year.
CANT – Dreams Come True
Dreams Come True is Chris Taylor’s [aka CANT] first solo effort. Taylor is also a member of the band Grizzly Bear, but where Grizzly Bear sticks to chamber pop and psychedelic folk, CANT is a distinctly synth-driven effort. And while glitzy synth-pop is currently what dominates the “indie” scene, I found CANT’s work to be refreshingly unique. As a whole, Dreams Come True features a dense, eclectic sound that demonstrates both terrific pop sensibility and intricate atmospherics.