Like last year, I got in touch with many Irish bands and artists to ask them to countdown their top five albums of the year. For the next week or so, I’ll be unveiling five lists a day, coming from the biggest and best names in Irish music.
- Burrows – In Winter // http://burrowsinwinter.bandcamp.com/album/in-winter
Being more familiar with her previous musical endeavors, when I heard Kate (Glavey AKA ‘Burrows’) was working on a new album earlier in the year I hadn’t envisioned her producing music like this at all. I was blown away by the depth of it, its creativity and its ethereality. Kate’s a good friend of mine and, while she managed to keep these songs away from my ears until the very end, I was well aware of how hard she worked to produce this and what it meant to her to complete it; and I feel very proud of her for having the passion to keep going and produce such a wonderful album.
- Deaf Joe – The Softest Touch EP // http://deafjoe.bandcamp.com/album/the-softest-touch
This may not be technically an album, but its a large EP, and a great taster for Joe’s forthcoming album which will be coming out in the new year. Joe’s another fellow Waterford musician who I have a great deal of respect for. The way he can hold an
audience with just his voice and his guitar constantly induces desperate pangs of jealously in me! I’ve never heard a song by Joe that hasn’t made me sit back and think “wow!”, and this EP is filled with more songs of that high standard and quality. And its FREE!
- tieranniesaur – TIERANNIESAUR! // http://tieranniesaur.bandcamp.com/
These guys are probably my favourite new Irish act of 2011. I love their sound and their energy. I had a few listens to the album when it came out, and then when I caught them playing a fantastic set for the Hard Working Class Heroes, that sealed the deal for me. ‘Sketch!’ is one of my favourite tracks of 2011 also.
- Ambience Affair – Burials // http://theambienceaffair.bandcamp.com/album/burials
I knew these guys had been working on an album for some time, and when I heard it was finally ready to see the light of day I was very pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t reckoned on just how great it was going to sound though. We share a record label (Bluestack Records), so it was even more of a buzz for us to see and hear how well this was received on its release.
- Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
I’ve been listening to this album constantly all year, I don’t think I’ve taken a break from it at all once. I used to hang on every single thing Mogwai did, right up until ‘Happy Songs For Happy People”. My interested waned for a while after that, but this is Mogwai back to their best.
- Matthewdavid – Outmind
I was looking forward to this album for ages, I think Matthewdavid’s one of the most interesting and distinctive producers around. You could tell he was trying a lot of new stuff on his debut album, most of it worked, some bits were dud. Still, I love listening to it, yer man doesn’t sound like anybody else around.
- Rick Wilhite – Analog Aquarium
I got recommended this by some guys in a record shop in Bristol and I love it. It’s got a really distinct groove and feel and I like that it’s a bit rough and homemade sounding.
- Ezekiel Honig – Folding In On Itself
This was a chance find that I got in Plugd. I always had the idea that Ezekiel Honig made kinda overly pretty, insubstantial stuff, but this album’s got loads of depth. It’s got elements of dub techno in it but also a lot of lovely textures that remind me of Philip Jeck, another Type artist.
- Clams Casino – Instrumentals
I once tried to make a beat with one of my mum’s Eva Cassidy CDs and it was a disaster. Clams Casino’s stuff sounds like that kind of stupid idea going perfectly right. It’s refreshing to hear a hip hop producer make music as evocative as this.
- Danny Brown – XXX
I didn’t listen to a lot of indie rap this year. Some of it just didn’t interest me, some of it I just didn’t get around to. I liked Danny Brown’s mixtape though, he’s another artist with an uncompromising sound and original flow. I like when you put something on and it properly surprises you with its sound, which XXX did.
- Pugwash “The Olympus Sound”
Lovely vibe to this one – beautiful harmonies and interesting lyrics.
- Alyth McCormack and Triona Marshall “Red & Gold”
Haunting, truly gorgeous singing accompanied by quirky harp arrangements. Great great album.
- Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto”
It’s a really good album, despite what the reviewers say. I love the arrangements.
- Adele “21”
What is there left to say about this album,? Ok, so it’s everywhere and it’soverplayed, but that’s hardly her fault. It’s a brilliant album, she sings like she really feels it and the songs are really really good.
- The Lost Brothers “So Long John Fante”
Only just came across these guys – but they are terrific. Really wonderful live and I’m enjoying their album which I just downloaded on iTunes.
- Marcata – The Minutes: it’s no frills, old-fashioned, balls-to-the-wall rock and it sounds primal! We played on the same bill as them at Sea Sessions and they had the tent heaving. They’re a serious live act but this album captures that rawness excellently….
- We Cut Corners – Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwards: has been on constant rotation in my gaf since it was released last month. The pair of lads – John and Conall – jam in the same rehearsal space as us and a nicer pair of lads you couldn’t hope to meet. They’re teachers by day for how much longer it remains to be seen. I can see them rocking Jools next autumn. Highlight of the album is probably ‘The Leopard’, a complete beast of a song in every sense. They will be HUGE.
- Adele – ’21′: thanks to the monstrous amount of radio play the slew of singles has received, it’s now virtually impossible to listen to. But you cannot dispute the fact that’s it’s a brilliantly crafted album with some fantastic songs including ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and ‘Someone Like You’.
- Mastodon – ‘The Hunter’: their 5th studio album and they’ve gone all concise with songs weighing in at around the 5minute mark, rather than the standard 13minutes or so. Mick and Sean in the band have been waxing lyrical about this record. It’s their album of the year and given the amount of metal they listen to, that’s high praise indeed.
- Fleet Foxes – ‘Helplessness Blues’ : another beautiful record from an insanely good band.
Gav, We Are Losers
- Squarehead – Yeah Nothing
Total pop masterpiece – really simple songs that sound so great and never diminish on repeat listens,super super record.
- Land Lovers – Confidants
Padraig Cooney has a knack for great lyrics and wry turns of phrase all captured here on their second album – the tunes aren’t half bad either! Another accomplished album from the Popical Island stable.
- Tieranniesaur – S/T
2012 should be a massive year for this group of funkateers if the buzz around this album is anything to go by,the most joyous disco music i’ve heard this year. Best rap cameo on an Irish album too (Bobby from No Monster Club on Azure Island)
- Sea Pinks – Dead Seas
It was a tossup between this and Girls Names’ ‘Dead to Me’ for this spot but this just edges it for me.Same as the Squarehead album,simple songs with a lot of heart and fun.
- Jape – Ocean of Frequency
A really accomplished piece of work from Richie Egan,with one of the best tunes of 2011 ‘The Oldest Mind’ at the heart of it – a real leap from the quite rightly lauded Ritual.