This year has been a fantastic year for all sorts of reasons where music is concerned. I've discovered albums I normally wouldn't have heard due to both members of this site and becoming a "Member of Staff" (to both of which, I'm very thankful for), I've heard releases by artists that I have loved for a long time and they have blown me away and also heard new artists that have easily made their way straight into my Top 20. That being said, the list making process (at least this particular list) is always hard for me because I'm forced to slot albums into an order which causes me to have a mental fight with myself, but I can guess it might be similar for most people.
The other categories on this list are "optimistic collections", which is honestly very unusual and rare for me. God knows I'd love to sit here and list a bunch of things I hated and was disappointed by this year...but nobody is going to bother putting time and effort into checking something out that I loathe, plus I can assure you, it would take some time. So, I hope people read these and get something new from them. There's not a lot of outlandish artists on here that are really unknown by any means, but there are a whole bunch that don't get as much recognition as many other bands around here. So... enjoy and anybody that knows me, will know I cannot wait for the releases in 2011...
Produced by Markus Dravs, known for producing the past two Arcade Fire albums, this album sees The Maccabees elevate themselves from catchy and quirky, right into the heavyweights of British alternative music. The combination of Orlando Weeks' almost old-school, irresistable crooning vocals over the top of intricate layers of swelling guitars, endless bass hooks and energetic drums is a perfect marriage. This is an album which manages to balance pop sensibility with substance, atmosphere and heartfelt lyrics. It's hard to not be touched by the album or the songs, the openness and the dexterity on show or the subtleties and unexpected angles. An absolute favourite of mine and will always be. Key Tracks: "Love You Better", "No Kind Words", "William Powers", "Seventeen Hands"
Laura Marling-I Speak Because I Can (2010)
This second effort from Laura Marling not only matches the high bar she set with her debut, but it clears it by miles. A collection of beautifully delicate and enchanting folk songs that feel like they were recorded straight to vinyl in front of a log fire in a cottage. Laura Marling's voice feels even more intimate on this record, deeper and more assured. She manages to reel you in so close with her vocals, verging on whispers at times, as she tells tales of Greek mythologies, England's Winter and wartime love letters. Maintaining a true folk sound throughout, this album also adds lush strings, piano and banjo parts into the mix which make it feel fuller and more complete than her debut. An album you won't want to stop listening to over Winter. Key Tracks:"Made By Maid", "Blackberry Stone", "Alpha Shallows", "No Hope In The Air"
Blur- Best Of (2000)
Yeah, a compilation. This is easily my favourite Blur album, and that's coming from somebody who has been a fan before I'd even reached 10 years old. All of their albums are great of course, but their progression through their various different stages and sounds deserves to be taken in all at once on this brilliant mix. Showcasing material from their releases between 1990-2000, it's hard to not either fall in love all over again or for the first time with this band. Consistently brilliant and accessible pop music, there's everything here from anthemic and heartfelt sing-a-longs to fast and loose rock or American influenced drones. Showcasing influences from the likes of The Smiths, The Stones Roses and Stephen Malkmus, it's a must have in anybody's record collection. Key Tracks: "Beetlebum", "The Universal", "Tender", "Girls & Boys", "Coffee and TV"
Jamie T - Panic Prevention (2007)
"Like no other record since The Streets - Original Pirate Material, itís the sound of a pirate radio station you wish existed: a rag-bag of ska-punk, junk-shop hip-hop, DIY drum'n'bass and vocal interludes sequenced to flow like a mix-tape. On first listen, scrappy-sounding and instinctive, but 20 spins later, still pulling new tricks." - NME, I couldn't have said it better. It's so British in it's sound, particularly because of Jamie's distinctive voice but also the stories of the youth of Britain - binge drinking, fights, clubs, nostalgia, friends and love, at the same time there's something for everyone on this record. Key Tracks: "Brand New Bass Guitar", "Calm Down Dearest", "Operation", "Sheila", "Pacemaker", "If You Got The Money"