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cyanide breathmint’s best of 2011

This seems to be getting more difficult every year! 2011 was filled with so much great music and I feel like I had such little time to appreciate that. This year’s rankings were truly the hardest ever to compile. Looking past the sheer volume of great new (and “newish”) acts which have emerged, old favorites returned with new offerings, there’s also the fact that my tastes have been diverging in two distinct directions.

My love for shoegaze has has come into the forefront this year, somewhat shattering the usual suspects for top 25 positions. Nevertheless, all those beautiful walls of noise simultaneously crashing down upon my ears couldn’t ever make up for good song writing and talented vocalists. I think that’s reflected in the mix of albums in this year’s Top 25.

I had originally planned doing “reviews” for the top 10. However, I only had enough patience and focus to get the top spot for you. I have included a sample mp3 for each of the top 25 albums. If you would like to grab all of these at once (plus a few bonus tracks), click here.

[UPDATE DEC 26 2011] The honorable mentions have been updated after reading my colleague betweenthesound’s amazing 2011 write up. If you haven’t seen that, you should go read it now (or perhaps right after you finish this post). She managed to (once again) slam me with a gang load of records that were way beneath my radar, but that would definitely have put huge dents in my Top 25 list as it stands.

Without further ado, here they are…

Top 25 Albums:

25) Asobi Seksu – Fluorescence

Asobi Seksu – Counterglow


24) The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck

The Mountain Goats – High Hawk Season


23) The Dodos – No Color

The Dodos – Companions


22) Radiohead The King Of Limbs

Radiohead – Morning Mr Magpie


21) Brute Heart – Lonely Hunter

Brute Heart – Hunter


20) Future Islands – On The Water

Future Islands – Give Us The Wind


19) Dearling Physique – Deadeye Dealer

Dearling Physique – Oh This Currency


18) Neon Indian – Era Extraña

Neon Indian – Polish Girl


17) ∆AIMON – AMEN

∆AIMON – AMEN


16) Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts

Thurston Moore – Orchard Street


15) Screen Vinyl Image – Strange Behavior

Screen Vinyl Image – My Confession


14) The Vera Violets – In Between Fires

The Vera Violets – Down Tonight


13) The Horrors – Skying

The Horrors – Endless Blue


12) Ladytron – Gravity The Seducer

Ladytron – Moon Palace


11) The Antlers – Burst Apart

The Antlers – Every Night My Teeth Are Failing Out


10) Active Child – You Are All I See

Active Child – Shield & Sword


09) I Break Horses – Hearts

I Break Horses – Winter Beats


08) Atlas Sound – Parallax

Atlas Sound – My Angel is Broken


07) Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

Laura Marling – All My Rage


06) Zola Jesus – Conatus

Zola Jesus – Hikikomori


05) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

PJ Harvey – In The Dark Places


04) M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

M83 – Raconte-Moi Une Histoire


03) Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi – Love Won’t Be Leaving


02) Brief Candles – Fractured Days

 

Brief Candles – The Sentiment


01) Ringo DeathStarr – Colour Trip

In nearly every review, interview, blurb, or blog post post you’ll read about Ringo Deathstarr, you’ll find three common elements.

1. Trio from Austin

They’ve actually gone through a couple lineup changes over the past 5 years, but have mostly stuck to this formula. The creative element is lead vocalist/guitarist Elliott Frazier. After bassist Alex found her way into the band (2007) by apparently just showing up for practice, things have mostly settled down, just finding the right drummer (as of this writing / hopefully “final” – that’s Daniel Coborn).

2. These guys sound like My Bloody Valentine

Drownedinsound put it this way “ If in the meantime you’ve lost your copy of Loveless, you could do far worse than listen to Colour Trip.” Yeah, it’s true. Too bad Loveless

3. The bassist (Alex Gehring) (now going by “galexy”) is so hot

So there, that’s out of the way. If it’s a more recent post you might read about how these kids just toured the UK/Europe with The Smashing Pumpkins. I have to admit kind of hate those dudes, but ultimately it means more exposure for Ringo Deathstarr and so I guess it’s not a bad thing. Moving beyond those tidbits, you get into a the music.

In case you haven’t noticed I don’t do traditional reviews. I leave it to others to finely dissect the record. Instead of telling you how it sounds (just listen for yourself), I offer you how the record felt. Colour Trip hit hard for me. This was probably my favorite record Fever Ray’s 2009 debut, and going back further it would have to be Snowden’s Anti-Anti (2006). Before I totaled my car, this record could very often be heard at extremely high decibels pulsing through the streets of Baltimore weekday evenings. Dark  reverberation and the haunting fuzz draped chanting of Alex form the basis of my song of the year – Two Girls (stream/download below). For the life of me I can’t tell you what the fuck she is saying, but she is saying it just right. Besides being the single most addicting track of 2011, there’s an equally worthy video directed by Alex, which you can also find below. Be forewarned: One might say it’s NSFW.

Ringo Deathstarr- Two Girls


Honorable Mentions [Highly Recommended]

Austra – Feel It Break
Girls – Father Son Holy Ghost
Hunx & His Punx – Too Young To Be In Love
Metronomy – The English Riviera
Radical Face – The Family Tree – The Roots
Shad[]wb[]x – Lady Doome [EP]
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
SBTRKT – SBTRKT
Washed Out – Within & Without


Honorable Mentions [Enjoyed]

Arc In Round – II [EP]
Apparat – The Devil’s Walk
Battles – Gloss Drop
Björk – Biophilia
Big Black Delta – BBDLP1
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Brazzaville – Jetlag Poetry
Chad VanGaalen – Diaper Island
Class Actress – Rapprocher
Com Truise – Galactic Melt
Computers Want Me Dead – Computers Want Me Dead
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
Destroyer – Kaputt
Dolorean – The Unfazed
Ducktails III – Arcade Dynamics
East River Pipe – We Live in Rented Rooms
Echo Orbiter – More Batteries
Feist – Metals
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Grimes & d’Eon – Darkbloom [split ep]
Haley Bonar – Golder
Haujobb – New World March
Hercules & Love Affair – Blue Songs
High Places – Original Colors
IAMX – Volatile Times
Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
LAKE R▲DIO – Delta
Little Insects – Brighter Than Darkness
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – On Welfare
Lumerians – Transmalinnia
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Malajube – La Caverne
Morpheme – Infection
Niva – Feverish Dreams [EP]
Mogwai – Earth Division [EP]
Music for Headphones – Life.in.Mono
Niva – Feverish Dreams [EP]
ohGr – Undeveloped
Passwords – Passwords
Phantogram – Nightlife [EP]
Pipes You See, Pipes You Don’t – Lost in the Pancakes
Prefuse 73 – The Only She Chapters
Rachel Goodrich – Rachel Goodrich
Seapony – Go With Me
Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Starfucker – Reptilians
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
Stevie Nicks – In Your Dreams
Stumbleine – All for your smile
Taken By Cars – Dualist
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low
The Sea and Cake – The Moonlight Butterfly
Tropic of Cancer – The End of All Things
TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light
Tycho – Dive
Ume – Phantoms
Vondelpark – nyc stuff and nyc bags [EP]
Wagon Christ – Toomorrow
Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP
Wooden Shjips – West
Woodsman – Mystic Places
Wire – Red Barked Tree
Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting
Yuck – Yuck
††† – † EP

- breathmint