2011′s Top Ten LPs (My Two Cents)

I read an amusing tweet earlier – Any Decent Music, the Scottish music review aggregator site, announced that “those laggards at TLOBF have finally completed their best albums list, so the Best Of The Best Ofs is now wrapped up”. That’s ADM’s epic undertaking which aggregates “best of 2011″ lists and has produced a top 50 from them. Of all the contributing publications TLOBF took the longest to get their list up, which I think says something about how seriously the editorial team took the exercise. Of course, the whole affair shows just how many publications want a look-in at the best albums game: to the music criticism world, they’re what this time of year is about.

At the same time, having an opinion is what us music writers do, and here’s my hat thrown into the ring. I make no claim that I’ve heard hundreds of records in 2011, and certainly I’ve heard a fraction of even the big ones – but this is my list of personal favourites, the records which have made the biggest impact on me and the ones which I’ll forever connect with the developments the year has brought into my own life. As usual, there’s not a lot of crossover with the lists ADM aggregated, but hopefully a few underheard gems which could do for you what they did for me. More

Eureka! Mother Mother Reviewed At Last

“On their third album, Vancouver-based indie rockers Mother Mother display a willingness to strike out ambitiously in new and less-than-obvious directions.

It’s been a fair while coming, but my review of perhaps my favourite record of the year so far, Mother Mother’s third LP Eureka, is now live on PopMatters. It’s my first full-length review for the site, and little longer than most of my TLOBF reviews. Scoring was abolished a fair while ago at TLOBF but at PopMatters I was able to award this record a hearty 8 out of 10, or “excellent” in the site’s rating system. More reviews coming soon from me, including Jookabox and Kellarissa.

Listen With Mother (Mother)

I can’t go on any longer without writing something about Vancouver band Mother Mother. I’ve written about their wonderful second album O My Heart before (and rather underrated it at the time), but recently it’s their new effort Eureka which has once again put them foremost in my heart as far as bands are concerned right now. The lead single “The Stand” really didn’t grab me at first, but after a few listens of the full LP I’m quickly falling under its spell.

This record isn’t quite as quirky as the last one, nor as obviously hook-laden, but it’s still a thrilling brew. I’m particularly loving “Simply Simple” and the Molly Guldemond-sung “Getaway” which is a lovely, sweet ballad including the lines “I could shoot into the sun / I could be the bullet of a gatling gun”. Typical Mother Mother…

Although it takes a few airings before it really works its magic Eureka is absolutely worth a listen. If you’ve not become a Mother Mother acolyte yet, I definitely urge you to seek them out; if there was any justice in the world, this band would be huge.

Three Things I Like Right Now

#1: Black Sabbath: Never Say Die (album, 1978)
Since my new article on the subject of Black Sabbath and their lyrics has gone up on PopMatters, I’ve gone back to listening once more to the last couple of albums the band put out before they sacked Ozzy Osborne in 1979. While it’s usually despised, I’m warming once again to the last of those records, 1978′s often very un-Sabbathlike Never Say Die. Getting some feedback to my article has been wonderful (it doesn’t happen often with my work) and it’s been especially nice to find that I’m not the only one that likes this sometimes rather daring and excellent record. My personal favourite track this time around is “Air Dance”, notable for its fantastic piano playing by session man Don Airey, but also for a section towards the end which sounds a lot like Steely Dan. Honestly.

#2: Oni (game, 2000)
Hopefully I’m going to finally get round to an article for Resolution about this and the also-wonderful Urban Chaos for Resolution sometime soon. Oni is among my top ten favourite games of all time, and so it’s hardly surprising that I’ve written about it for Reso before. I’m replaying for about the tenth time at the moment and I can’t see it ever getting old. A combination of beat-’em-up and third-person shooting with Japanese anime stylings and a clever dystopian plot, it’s hard to beat this game. The waves of fan-fiction and fan art that have endured all this time are a testament to the game’s great quality. I have one Alex Borisov to thank for my being able to play the game on Windows 7. Seriously, get hold of this and play it if you haven’t already.

#3: Mother Mother: O My Heart (album, 2010)
While it’s patchy, O My Heart is still one of my top five albums of the year so far. Technically speaking, it’s from 2008, but is only getting a very late UK release just now. That, and the fact that Mother Mother hail from Canada, makes the album very similar to Treasury Library Canada by Woodpigeon, my best album-of-the-year-not-released-originally-in-that-year for 2009. The lyrics are dark, clever and often very funny, and the vocals are even better. The music, happily, is good too. Definitely worth a look, and something I’ve covered in more detail in the course of my TLOBF review, which went up a few days ago.

// Thought

"There's a flaming red horizon that screams our names..."

Jeff Buckley - "Eternal Life"

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