Top ten Aye Tunes albums of the year time. I can stop listing things and try to reintroduce myself to society after this.
Same disclaimers as yesterday:
- best just means my favourite, you are allowed to disagree without either of us being wrong.
- I've not heard every blooming album released this year.
10. United Fruit - Fault Lines
Noisy? Check. Frantic? Check. Awesome? Double check. Fault Lines is an adrenaline rush in music form. Full review from earlier in the year here.
Buy: Bandcamp - Bigcartel
9. FOUND - Factorycraft
One of the year's more fun albums, Factorycraft saw a slimmed down FOUND take a less experimental approach to their music, thought there was that edible 7", and deliver a pile of cracking pop songs in the process. Jam packed with hooks and sing along lyrics, Factorycraft does the simple things very well, and makes the difficult things seem easy. It still goes a bit wonky and off kilter at points, and never gets dull. The end result is about as addictive as whatever drug is particularly addictive these days, but much better for you.
Buy: Chemikal - Amazon - iTunes
8. John Knox Sex Club - Raise Ravens
I can't tell you if I agree or not with the regular description of the John Knox Sex Club as "the best live band in Scotland" since I haven't seen them since some time last year - I know, poor show Jim - but I can tell you their second album, Raise Ravens, was one of the best released this year. Although folk is the simplest tag to apply, the music is regularly much more muscular and powerful than the folk label usually implies. Gentle laments trade places with growled vocals and distorted guitars, before the growls turn melodic, all with a sinister, menacing undercurrent. This is an intense and at times downright creepy album, blending the tradition with the modern, steeped in atmosphere. It is almost impossible not to get lost in, absorbed by Raise Ravens.
7. You Already Know - Petrol Money
The first You Already Know album made my Best of 2009 list, and anyone that has been unfortunate enough to have put up with me talking about the band any time since won't be all that surprised that second album Stop Whispering is one of my favourites this year. More glorious noise. Also in The Gush/Meatshield.Into And Over You/It Comes In Waves this is the album with the filthiest sounding track progression of the year. Full review here. You Already Know have split now, but Petrol Money was a fine parting gift.
6. Nicola Roberts - Cindarella's Eyes
Come ahead, I'm ready for you. A damn fine leftfield pop album, good lyrics, more effing, blinding and anger than you'd expect and much more interesting musically than some weedy indie nonsense. A regular listen, and a thoroughly enjoyable one too.
Buy: Amazon - iTunes
5. Monoganon - Songs To Swim To
My, that's a handsome cock. I've been a fan of John B. McKenna for a while, admittedly in part because he used to sell me beer while working in the pubs of Glasgow, but also for his music. Songs To Swim To is, by a distance, the best thing John and his band have released I think. Also, despite all my protests, proof that I've not entirely shunned folky poppy stuff this year.
Buy Vinyl/Free Download: Winning Sperm Party
4. Kochka - The Entropic Biopic of a Quixotic Psychotic
Still not sure about the title, but everything else about this album I love. Coming on like a demented funfair, complete with Markk Donnelly's attempt - a worrying successful attempt at that - at channeling a mad carnival barker, this is pretty much unlike anything else I've heard coming from Scotland this year. Addictive, fun, and nigh on impossible not to dance to, it took ages to get a debut album from Kochka but the result made the wait instantly forgivable.
3. Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
When Kammerspiel was released at the start of the year I'd been looking forward to it a lot on the basis of what I'd heard from Conquering Animal Sound on record and on stage before, and the album didn't disappoint. Roughly a full year on from my first listen to the album I'm nowhere near tired of it yet. More blethering in the form of a review here.
Buy: Gizeh - iTunes
2. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older
I wasn't overwhelmed when Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat collaborated at Chemikal Underground's 15th anniversary gig back at the start of 2010, things verging a little too close to The Fast Show's jazz club at times for me, so I wasn't too sure what I'd think of the album that eventually followed. Teaser tracks A Short Song To The Moon and The Copper Top immediately dismissed any fears I had, and made me wonder if my ears had been working properly that night at the ABC.
The collaboration seemed to bring out the best in each other. Arguably Aidan's best work as a lyricist, finding new ways to break your heart and make you laugh, allied with Wells's subtle, measured compositions add up to something a wee bit special. Although as filthy as you'd expect from Moffat in parts, a lot of the album provokes genuine emotion and is mature and measured, the end result is pretty damn great.
Buy: Chemikal - Amazon - iTunes
1. Adam Stafford - Build a Harbour Immediately
I got a copy of Build A Harbour Immediately quite early last year from Adam Stafford, after I'd half joking complained to him that Lloyd from Peenko wouldn't shut up about how good it was having received a copy before me. I then spent several months trying not to annoy everyone I know by telling them how brilliant this album was, but no they couldn't buy it yet and no they can't have a copy off me. I think eventually Matthew Healy from Loch Awe was about ready to kill me.
Having alienated all of our friends that just left Peenko and myself repeating to each other how bloody marvelous an album this was. Then, one night in April, we were drunk together, and hatched a plan. One more Aye Tunes Vs Peenko gig, and we'd beg Adam to make it his album launch. He agreed, and then we had the fun of having to not annoy people by telling everyone about the launch gig for this amazing album that was still two-three months away. Anyway, the gig came round eventually, we spent a night with massive smiles on our faces, and we finally had people to agree with us that yes, Build A Harbour Immediately is indeed a pretty ace album, and we smiled some more.
It was at the album launch that I heard a description of the album far better than any I could come up with when Julian Corrie - Miaoux Miaoux - described it as "starts off fairly normal, then it just melts". Can't put it any better than that really.
At the halfway point of the album with Shot Down You Summer Wannabes - which was one of my favourite songs of 2010, and sold me on Adam solo in the first place - things take a turn for the unconventional. The guitars drop out, replaced with vocal loops, layers of noise, beatboxing, and all manner of lunacy. And it's brilliant.
That was all a terribly long way of saying "best album of the year" but yes, Build a Harbour Immediately is the best album of the year.
That concludes our best albums of 2011, you may now begin pointing, laughing, disagreeing, or swearing never to return.
You can buy some, if not all, of these records from Monorail and Love Music in Glasgow too. Shops are nice, you get to talk to people in them. Some shops and some people are rubbish though, so you can also buy a lot of these from Insularis Records from the comfort of your own home, without even putting on clean clothes.