Best albums of the year (so far)

Gosh, how did we get to June already?

The burd is blogging lite this week (or at least on all things European, mainly over at Better Nation) because I am abroad on my travels.  So I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share some of my favourite albums of the year so far.  Or at least the ones I have discovered – so far! – and can recall easily enough – which largely amounts to the same thing.

And hopefully, you’ll find something new to tempt you in amongst this little lot.  Cos it’s a messed up flutter again this Friday, but for a very good reason.

So, in no particular order, what bands’ offerings have been thrilling the burd in 2011?

1. Akron/Family

I found this band quite by accident, stumbling across them while looking for something else, and that’s the beauty of having an emusic subscription.  The album has a quite ridiculous name – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.  Which makes them all the more adorable in my book.  At times playful, always inventive, with wonderful vocal harmonies and interesting layers of sound, it’s well worth a listen.   Try Cast a Net and Silly Bears but really, this is an album made to be listened to in one sitting.

Want a taster of their back catalogue?  Try this – River

2.  Found – factorycraft

Or is it FOUND?  Whatever, I love, love, love this album.  After their adventures with the wardrobe thingy they invented – which now appears to have a career all of its own – the boys got down to some serious sound shaping.  And shifting and soothing.  The result is quite magnificent:  there is not  single track you feel inclined to skip.  My favourites – for the titles alone, though the lyrics are also marvellous – are Anti Climb Paint and Machine Age Dancing.

And yep I’m pretty sure these are different “favourites” from when I waxed lyrical about the album in an earlier flutter.  The burd is nuffink if not fickle.

3.  PS I Love You – Meet me at the Muster Station

My love affair with Canadian bands continues.  Another year, another batch to swoon over.  And this lot have burst onto the scene with a fab reviews for a down and dirty, pretty basic but nonetheless excellent sample of the genre commonly known as indie rock.  Lots of reverb, jingly jangly guitars, nonsense lyrics and a distinctive voice.  Can’t ask for much more really.  2012 tells you all you need to know.

4. The Raveonettes – Raven in the Grave

I’m not quite sure what I’d do without the Raveonettes in my life.  They have become the musical equivalent of a comfy, cosy cardigan: when everything else is letting me down, I slip them on and relax, allowing the music to chase it all away.  Their sound is quite distinct, not yet derivative, deserving of a much bigger slice of fame.   Recharge and Revolt?  You bet.

5. Wye Oak – Civilian

Wye Oak will always have a claim on me, for daring to cover Black is the Colour, my favourite all time choon.  But they had been hyped and being a contrary Mary, I had persuaded myself I really wouldn’t like this album.  No matter how many folk raved about it.  What can I say?  I was wrong.  The title track is a very good place to start.

6. The Rural Alberta Advantage (RAA) – Departing

The burd is a total sucker for a reedy, stompy, bluegrass influenced, country thang.  And this band turned up, unsigned on emusic one night, with a wee gem of an album which soon went viral.  The rest, as they say, is history.  This is their second album and represents more of a poppy sound.  I like it.  A lot.  Try Barnes Yard 

7. Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat – Everything’s getting older

A definite contender for album of the year, and not just in the Scottish category either.  Like aged malt whisky, Aidan Moffat is an acquired taste.  Once you’ve got the hang of him though, well, you won’t want to stop until the bottle is empty.  This collaboration is genius.  The lyrics are the usual Moffat mix of wry, playful, despairing, cruel and quite, quite brilliant and every song plays to the album theme, spinning a yarn, striking a chord.  Choose any track, choose them all, but if I really, really had to choose?  Let’s stop here.  That would be the one I’d share with you if I could find it…

8. Okkervil River – I am very far

An astonishing album in so many ways.  Each listen rewards with something as yet undiscovered.  Not necessarily of import or consequence, but pleasing nonetheless.  Musically, lyrically, vocally this is an artist/band at the very height of his/their powers.  We need a myth is a very good introduction.  Or White Shadow Waltz.

9. The Kills – Blood Pressures

He’s Jamie Hince, soon to be Mr Kate Moss.  She’s Alison Mosshart, lately of Mr Jack White’s latest supergroup.  And in my wildest dreams, I like to think I could be her.  Ho.  Together, they make some of the raunchiest, unkempt music around.  There’s not a lot to it but it works.  The chemistry makes it work.  Watch Future Starts Slow from a Live In session for Zane Lowe to see how.

10.

I could post a tenth – goodness knows, I’ve got a tenth and an umpteenth but… this one’s for you.  Post a comment and share a favourite album from this year.  Better still, share a link and don’t forget to say why you like it!