Sunday, 18 December 2011

11 Albums Jo Listened To More Than 11 Times in 2011

For quite some time, I've wanted to get some friends and my sister posting on here, because they're big fans of that little 'ole thing called music too. These are peeps that can offer many things to you that I can't, like love for genres/bands/singers I'm unlikely to be interested enough to write about. They can also offer a much more interesting insight and analysis of genres I do love, because they got to really experience what it was like to grow up when that genre was the music of the moment. Take grunge for example. I love to listen to my sister's stories about what it was like when Pearl Jam or Nirvana first came out. The lovely lady I'm about to (re)introduce also has many a fascinating story about all the amazing bands she's seen over the years and all of the different music she's heard. She can also provide a very different take to mine on the music of today! You may remember Jo as the hilarious commentator from the text reviews she sent in from Splendour In The Grass this year. I asked if she would pretty please write something up about her favourite albums of 2011 and what Jo gave us is an interesting, witty and, most importantly, fun read. Enjoy!

11 Albums Jo Listened To More Than 11 Times in 2011

My favourite albums of 2011? What a terrible question. This year has been such a good year for music. How could I pick just a couple as my favourites? I couldn’t, so I let the Gods of music decide. I listed the albums I’d listened to more than 11 times, then put those names in a hat (yes, literally, it was a cute little 60’s style red hat, just in case you wanted to picture it). These are the 11 names that came out. Here are some albums I listened to more than 11 times in 2011 (in no particular order).

Making Mirrors
by Gotye

I should make it clear from the beginning. I didn’t really want to put this album in my list. I don’t think it was one of the best albums of 2011. I don’t even think it was the best album released in August. (Off the top of my head, I don’t know what else was released in August, but there could have been something incredible I missed, right?) Like Gotye’s previous albums, the bits that were great on this one were fantastic (think ‘I Feel Better’), but the rest, schmeh. Take it or leave it. So why include ‘Making Mirrors’ in my list for 2011? It’s when I hear it again. THAT song. I thought I would tire of it, I thought it would become one of those songs I loved to death, literally, like it would get to a point where I would hurt the person nearest if I heard that damn song one more time. That didn’t happen and it’s lasted this long, so probably won’t happen. “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness”; get outta my head Wally! ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ has been played, like, a bazillion times and will be played a bazillion more and I’m predicting it will be number one in the JJJ hottest 100 and rightly so. It’s an amazing song. Gotye managed to duet with such a strong voice in Kimbra, at exactly the right time in both their careers. Savvy marketing? Luck? I don’t care. Solely the fact that ‘Somebody I Used To Know’ appears on this album is the reason I put it in my list. I could listen to that song 10 times in a row and that alone would make a great album. That song came from this album and for that reason it couldn’t be ignored.

by Kimbra

From the minute I heard ‘Settle Down’ I knew I liked this girl. Once I saw the clip, there was no turning back. Beautiful weird girl, beautiful strong voice. Then I saw Cameo Lover. Such great imagery, so much dancing! Oh that pink dress with the yellow pompoms; so, so cute. Her big mouth and her messy hair and beautiful vintage dresses and giant lungs, she’s a girl after my own heart. Then the Gotye track. She only got a couple of lines, but the song is nothing without those lines and Gotye knows it. The first few times I listened to ‘Vows’, I put ‘Two Way Street’ on repeat. Then it changed to ‘Old Flame’. Then ‘Plain Gold Ring’. I couldn’t stop listening to it. Such smooth vocals and heartbreaking lyrics, delicious. Then it changed to ‘Call Me’, I just wanted to hear that song all the time. I’ve gone back to ‘Old Flame’ at the moment. I just can’t get enough. It’ll change again, of course, but that’s the sign of a good album isn’t it? I was lucky enough to see Kimbra twice this year and her live vocal is so spine-tingling strong it made listening to 'Vows' even more enjoyable. I bought this album the day it was released and I LOVED it from first listen. I even purchased this one from the shop, just for the cover and artwork, so I could hold it in my hands. I wanted to put the CD on and play it until I knew all of the words. I did that and I do know them and I’m still not sick of it. Kimbra, I’m so glad you exist! More please!

Let England Shake
by PJ Harvey

PJ won the Mercury Prize for the second time this year. She’s the only person to win it twice. If you don’t know what that prize is, you should Google it. Some amazingly talented artists have won it, some not so. Only one person has won it twice. That’s PJ Harvey. She’s in the amazingly talented category. This album takes you on a journey, the lyrics conjuring dark images, but her vocal floating along, sucking you in so you forget where you are and then at the end of the album you feel a little used and abused and tired and maybe a little thirsty and you love it. This album is not meant to be background music. It grabs you and shakes you. If you treat it like background music, turn it off. You don’t deserve to hear it. Harsh but true. The music is beautiful, the lyrics vicious and raw. PJ always sounds like PJ, but she doesn’t repeat herself in her work and she never fails to impress. Oh Polly Jean, thank you.

Smoking In Heaven
by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis

The members of this band’s names are Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. They’re siblings, two girls and one boy. Lewis is the boy, in case you were wondering. I’ve been wondering if they fought over whose name would appear first in the title of their band. Daisy, Lewis and Kitty doesn’t have the same ring. Neither does Lewis, Daisy and Kitty. I suppose they did the right thing. Regardless, I love this album. LOVE it. They record in a studio with equipment from the 40’s and 50’s. They dress super cute with style from the same era. They play music like it’s the mid 50’s, but with an attitude from the now and I love it. ‘Messing With My Head’ will mess with your head, it’s so darn catchy it will get stuck for days and the clip for ‘I’m So Sorry’ is so simple, it’s adorable. When I listen to it, I wish it was the mid 50’s except with colour TV and diet coke and YouTube and some influence from the music of the future and I’ll keep my mobile phone with me as well, thanks. Until I can travel time, I have to settle for Kitty Daisy and Lewis. I can handle that.

California Fades
by Anna Waronker

Ok, so here’s the one everyone gets to go; “What? Who does this person think they are? Anna who? Best of 2011? Is she kidding?” You’ve either already stopped reading because you’re dull and have no interest in new music(?!) or you’re confused but willing to give it a go. Stick with me. Anna Waronker was a member of a little known (outside of the U.S.) independent band called ‘That Dog’ who wrote one of my favourite songs of all time. Yep. All time and relatively no one knows it exists. (It’s called ‘Til The Day I Die’, from the album ‘Retreat From The Sun’. It was released in 1997, not 2011, so I digress, but you should find it regardless.) Anyway, Anna released her second solo album in early 2011. It’s not a life changing album, but it’s cute. It’s indie American sweet pop folksy cuteness, with a little influence from the mid 90’s and kind of high school like, slightly embarrassing lyrics. I like it. I listened to it lots earlier this year. I might go and listen to it again now. You should find it too. Or maybe you shouldn’t. There’s something great about liking something no one else seems to know about. Yeah, that’s true. Pretend you never read this.

Wasting Light
by Foo Fighters

You know what? There’s nothing new about this album, nothing a-may-zing. Nothing that grabs you and shakes you and makes you forget to breathe for a couple of minutes. None of that. Why a favourite then? Why? It’s the Foo Fighters. It was recorded in a garage, literally. Not something everyone in this list could claim to do. It’s rock. It’s guitars and drums and screaming and singing and drums and guitars and greasy hair and fried food and your booze of choice and naked men in showers and truckers caps (YouTube that, you won’t regret whatever you find) and it’s rock. Don’t question it. Just enjoy it. That’s its purpose. Put on ‘These Days’ and try not to enjoy. (Apparently that’s Dave Grohl’s favourite song of all he’s ever written. I quite like it too.) If someone’s got to rock, it may as well be Grohl and Co. They do it well, with a giant sense of self-depreciation and humour. I’d rather them than Nickel-boredom or the Kings Of Average. Foo Fighters, all of you, including Grohl. I heart you. (Again and again).

The Future Is Medieval
by Kaiser Chiefs

So, the Kaiser Chiefs. They’re like the English Foo Fighters. That’s how I’m going to describe them. Just rock, nothing more, nothing less, but they do it so well. ‘The Future Is Medieval’ was exactly what it should be, guitars and drums and strong vocals and some ridiculous lyrics and a great album to throw on in the car. It’s just rock music. As strong as their previous albums, you can tell which are the tracks you look forward to seeing live (Man On Mars’?!) from the front row, screaming your lungs out and bouncing up and down while elbowing the annoying people next to you. Oh, did I do that? Maybe yes. Maybe I loved it. I did, as much as I love this album. Rock, UK style. Thank you Kaiser Chiefs. You rule. Next album soon, please?

Audio, Video, Disco
by Justice

So, you know what I like about Justice? They require no intelligence whatsoever. You put your music player of choice on, you hear sound, you stop thinking and every now and then you may dance, depending on the day or night. No commitment required. That’s the greatest relationship right there. Have some fun and then go back to your real life. Justice clearly wish they were Daft Punk, which I kind of do too, because if they were, that would mean there was a new Daft Punk album this year. Oh well, Justice will have to do, for now. There were actually numerous albums in 2011 that could have made this list, but I had to figure out a way to cut it down to one non-committal dance album. Justice won because their name starts with ‘J’ and so does mine. That’s all. See how there’s no sense of real meaning or intelligence in that decision? That’s what Justice does to you. That’s dance music and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s really great. Enjoy it when it is. I do.

Wounded Rhymes
by Lykke Li

I was going to say only good things come from Sweden, you know like vikings and lingonberries and Ikea, but then I remembered The Hives and decided I couldn’t make that statement. (Oh, I mock, The Hives aren’t THAT bad. They do make themselves an easy target though.) So, Lykke Li. This is such a great album. You can put it on and completely lose yourself in it, or you can put in on and clean the bathroom. Equal amounts of enjoyment had in either scenario. Ok, maybe a little more with the first, but you get my point, don’t you? This album is versatile. I like it as much in the car as I do in my earphones. I like the 60’s style riff in ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ and I like the percussion in ‘I Follow Rivers’ and the flow on straight into ‘Love Out Of Lust’ and I especially like the sweet pop sounds and lyrics in ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’. “Sadness is a blessing, sadness is a pearl, sadness is my boyfriend, oh, sadness I'm your girl.” I’m just hoping it doesn’t take another three years for the next album. Oh, and next time Lykke Li, make the album title a little better. ‘Wounded Rhymes’ sounds like a high school hip hop troupe. Just saying.

by Wild Beasts

Wild. Beasts. This is an album I was scared to listen to. I loved their first two albums so much I didn’t want to hear this one, in case I didn’t like it and the beautiful love was over. I looked forward to the release date so much and then when I got my eardrums on the album I couldn’t bear to hear it. Fear of the unknown! What if I hated it? I couldn’t survive if Hayden and friends were to betray me with some second rate rubbish. I need not have worried. From the first listen, the first note of the first song ‘Lions Share’ I was sucked in to the wonder that is the Wild Beasts. Even the last song was so aptly named ‘End Too Soon’. It was true. I never wanted this album to end. I can’t even do it justice by trying to describe it. Just delicious, absolutely delicious. The beautiful, beautiful music, the sexy, sexy, sexy vocals. Ooh, I love you Wild Beasts. More! So sexy. Hmmmm. More!

Seeker Lover Keeper
by Seeker Lover Keeper

I’ve never been a big fan of Blasko, regardless what the regular writer of this blog thinks about her (Matt - I f**king love Blasko!). I’ve always seen her as a bit supermarket for me. Something to listen to while doing other mundane tasks. She’s alright, you know, but fan? That’s a strong word. Holly Throsby I kind of liked. She’s got a cute little voice. Sally Seltmann? Let me be honest, I knew the name but so little of her back catalogue it wouldn’t really be fair to offer an opinion. But then; I heard this. Seeker Lover Keeper. No, it couldn’t be bland Blasko singing there, could it? It was. With two other flawless, beautiful voices, it all sounded so serene, almost ethereal. Every time I put this album on (which is quite often, actually) I seem to find another track I love. Every song its own story, the lyrics are so strong and the vocals are incredible. I adore ‘Light All My Lights’ and it’s sweet story and I love the sing along verses of ‘Rest Your Head On My Shoulder’ and I relate a little too much to ‘If The Night Is Dark’. I could mention every song on this album and a reason I love it. For a while there I had to force myself to listen to other things so the listening didn’t become an obsession. It didn’t work and I kept coming back to this album and I still am. I may even have begun to reconsider my thoughts on Blasko. That is, I have begun to rethink. I’m not quite convinced...…yet. “I love the danger in distance; I’d rather be missing you”. Stop it Sally. You’re way too close to home like a stab in my heart and it hurts and I love it. I. LOVE. IT.

11 awesome albums! Thanks Jo!

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