I know its 2012 now and the world hasn’t ended yet, but I just gotta finish this list for you guys. We are sooo close now…
20. Shlohmo – Bad Vibes
Ironically named ‘Bad Vibes’ this album is anything but. It is one THE albums to vibe to this year with an organic downtempo sound full of noises that sound like they could have come from your kitchen. For example in ‘Places’ Shlohmo gently wafts his voice over clicks, surface noise and caressed guitar instrumentation. The result is something beautiful, almost effortless, you feel that if you went through your life with just sounds like this playing you’d be a better, more relaxed person.
19. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
Voted best DJ of 2011 by Resident Advisor, Nicolas Jaar is hot property, and he’s only 21. ‘Space Is Only Noise’ is a mesmerising trip filled with haunting vocal samples, lush bass and obscure instrumentation. Jaar has a beautiful ability to mix sound and textures to create something that somehow flows and feels organic. This album always keeps you guessing, one minute the sound drifts one way, builds then crescendos other times it just drifts leaving you thirsty for that gorgeous bass.
18. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX – We’re New Here
RIP Gil Scott-Heron.
Jamie XX takes Gil Scott’s vocals from his 2010 album ‘I’m New Here’ and combines them with his post-dubstep beats to create something both unique and brilliant.
17. Smith Westerns – Dye it Blonde
Just a bunch of cool indie kids playing catchy indie rock & roll. Oh and the guitar playing is exquisite.
16. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Folk is usually pretty shit lets be honest, its just a bunch of people stuck in the medieval period playing weird instruments, wearing weirder clothes and living ‘off grid’. There are a few exceptions however like the brilliant Bon Iver but better than that are Fleet Foxes. Their songs are consistently both beautifully crafted and entertaining. They fill ‘Helplessness Blues’ with yet more excellent harmonies, production, vocals and great song structure.
15. Milo – I wish my brother Rob was here
With quick witted nerd rap lyrics about ‘facebook creeping’, the flaws of society and being a vegetarian over beats by Shlohmo (see #20) or something of a similar ilk, Milo (Rory Ferreira) has created a pretty awesome album for a 19 year old still at University. Its like a good film, the more you watch it, the more little witty bits of dialogue you hear that make you chuckle.
14. Real Estate – Days
Last year I was recommended Real Estate by last fm, so I gave their debut EP ‘Reality’ a few listens on spotify and before I knew it I had parted with my hard earned cash and downloaded it as I wanted it on my ipod. It was a very lo-fi affair with some instrumental songs and lo-fi vocals, but the overall sound was brilliant, another one to vibe to by your beach house.
Anyway fast forward to 2011 they were signed up by Domino records and given money and studio to record in (‘Reality’ was recorded in one of the band member’s apartments). The result is a tighter, more accessible, better produced sound. Although it does not have the same drifting lo-fi instrumentals, the hooks are catchier and the song structure is more consistent. ‘Days’ is just more listenable then ‘Reality’, it is an evolution of sorts to something that has been made more commercially viable.
13. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
It’s been a huge year for Frank Ocean, after releasing the free to download ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ he has risen to stardom. Frank has toured with OFWGKTA, helped create arguably one of the best songs on Goblin, ‘She’ and featured on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s album of bragging ‘Watch the Throne’. Now almost an international star, he is touring on his own next year and releasing an album you actually have to pay for(he will have to clear the samples this time!)
Nostalgia, Ultra is nearly as good as R & B can get. Frank’s smooth voice sing or raps about girls and drugs over samples of eyes wide shut, MGMT and The Eagles. Clearly paying for the samples would be pretty darn hefty so this is why he released it free. Regardless it is an album you will find yourself listening to over and over again. Oh and the cover is great. You can download it free here.
12. A$AP Rocky – LIVELOVEA$AP
ASAP or A$AP Rocky’s free to download mixtape ‘LIVELOVEA$AP’ dropped at the beginning of November, by December he had a $3 million contract. His flow can’t match the likes of Kendrick Lamar or Tyler, the Creator but God damn is the production and beats on this thing are sweeettt. Download for free here.
11. Africa Hitech – 93 Million Miles
Africa Hitech is a superb project by electronic producers Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek. Referred to as “post-everything in the electronic-music landscape”, ’93 Million Miles’ is a mix of D n B, Footwork and Tribal Music. The result is something that at times is hypnotic, relenting and addictive. ‘Out In The Streets’ in classic Footwork style loops an old reggae vocal and interjects it with the snappy 808s you would expect from a Chicago club, combine this with the tribal theme and wham you’ve got something unique.
Then there is the mesmerising 8-minute track ‘Our Luv’ that builds from a simple beat, which hypnotises you in a gentle rhythm, this is then overlaid with more space/tribal sounds, within in no time you find yourself moving the persistent beat as if you were in a trance. If I ever needed to a track to write Essays to, this would be it. The rhythm is enough to seduce you in but the rest of the song does not distract and only sucks you in a little bit more.
The top 10 to come soon!