13 December 2011

Peenko's Albums of 2011

It's the moment you've really not been waiting for, yes folks, it's time for me to share with you all my favourite albums of the past twelve months. I fully appreciate that what I say doesn't really matter all that much and nor should it, but hey indulge me a little. This is now the fourth year that I have found myself compiling these lists. Back in 2008 and 2009 I came up with a Top 50 for each year which just seems insane to me these days. This year I have stuck with a top ten, mainly because I didn't want to bore you all to death. This of course means that I have missed out a lot of stuff, including King Creosote & John Hopkins, Come on Gang!, Metronomy, Indian Red Lopez and The Black Keys (which came in that bit too late). Also, I didn't really think it would be fair to include any Olive Grove releases in my choices, I wouldn't want any of them to think that they're not my favourite baby. Anyway without further a do, here's my top ten albums of 2011...

10. The Shivers - More

When it comes to releases from the Fence stable, it's usually a straight bet that you're going to be getting something fairly folky. However, with this release from New York duo, The Shivers, we got something quite different from the norm. What with the majority of Fence's back catalogue being made up of folk based music, The Shivers sixth album, but first for Fence, is a no holds barred rock n roll record. One minute you feel that you're listening to The Strokes, then The Velvet Underground and then Tom Waits. Every time I listen to this album it grows on me more and more. Full of vitality and raw emotion, I can see why Fence were so keen to add them to their ranks.

The Shivers - Love Is In The Air

9. John Knox Sex Club - Raise Ravens

Being a man who loves his catchy tunes, The John Knox Sex Club wouldn't usually be the kind of band that I would find myself listening to much, but listen I did. Raise Ravens is a dark unsettling album full of raw Scottish emotion, at no point does it ever let you settle into any kind of comfort zone. It's a record that will continue to challenge your emotions and I fucking love it.

John Knox Sex Club - Above Us The Waves

8. King Post Kitsch - The Party's Over

So how do you critique the work of someone you now consider to be a friend, well in King Post Kitsch's case I don't feel I have to as I loved his music well before we ever met. Much of his debut album, 'The Party's Over', is made up of older songs that featured in his earlier EPs, which I guess makes me love them even more as they're songs that I have treasured as my own (I am still taking unjustified credit rights for being the one to 'discover' his music). With the possibility of live shows in the new year, plus some other potential projects on the go, keep your eye on King Post Kitsch as he's got plenty more tricks up his sleeve.

King Post Kitsch - Fante's Last Stand

7. Martin John Henry - The Other Half Of Everything

Out of all of the albums that came out this year, this was the one that I had been most looking forward to, and it didn't disappoint. The demise of Martin's old band De Rosa was a real kick in the teeth, their two albums Mend and Prevention rank in my eyes as being some of the finest records to have ever come out of Scotland. So with the release of The Other Half Of Everything, Martin had some pretty massive expectations to live up. Thankfully though he delivers the goods and then some. Scotland may well have lost one their greatest bands, but in turn we have gained one hell of a songwriter.

Martin John Henry - Span

6. Sparrow & The Workshop - Spitting Daggers

I remember reading a review in Uncut of Spitting Daggers shortly after it came out, in which the reviewer pretty much slated the whole album. Having just bought the album that day I knew what a load of old pish they were talking, as this is one hell of an amazing album. Their debut album Crystal Falls was impressive, but this really feels like a massive step up in them progressing as a band. Snakes In The Grass, the lead single from the album is by far and away the greatest song I have heard in 2011. If you don't believe me then check out this video then come back and apologise. Also, for the record I cancelled my Uncut subscription very shortly after that review.

Sparrow & The Workshop - Our Lady Of The Potatoes

5. The Antlers - Burst Apart

I bet you were starting to think that this list would completely taken over by Scottish bands, which kind of makes sense as I so rarely find the time to listen to anything that doesn't have a touch of 'Scot' about it. For The Antlers though I am always willing to make an exception to this rule. Having first gotten into the band through their last album, Hospice, which I liked a lot, I was genuinely surprised by just how good Burst Apart really is. Having heard them being played countless times on Marc Riley's 6Music show, I now have the album etched into my brain and I feel a lot better for it.

The Antlers - Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out

4. Emily Scott - I Write Letters I Never Send

One of the things that really stood out for me as I looked back over my previous albums of the years lists, was the lack of female singers. With Sparrow & The Workshop and Emily Scott featuring highly this year, hopefully this years choices will go some way to rectifying this oversight on my part. I think I have been pretty vocal about the albums that I felt disappointed by this year, Bon Iver being the main one, the other being St. Vincent's album. Thankfully though I had Emily Scott's 'I Write Letters I Never Send' which more than made up for it. It's an album that I happily find myself getting lost in, it's surprising just how enjoyable one woman and a ukulele can really be.

Emily Scott - I'd Hardly Know

3. Beerjacket - The White Feather Trail

I must admit that in comparison to my fellow Scottish bloggers I was a bit behind the game in getting into Beerjacket. In fact until we got him to record a Peenko session back in March, I'd never actually seen him live. Having witnessed the live experience in such intimate surroundings just added to the experience, which I guess in turn made me love The White Feather Trail all the more. Out of everything he's recorded to date,I think this stands way above it all.

Beerjacket - Eggshells

2. Monoganon - Songs To Swim To

The best things in life are free - try telling that to a ten year old kid who's asked for a new XBox for his Christmas. However, in the case of Monoganon's Songs To Swim To, the best things really are free. The album which is out on super sexy vinyl, is also free to download from Winning Sperm Party's website. I fucking love this record, so much so that I went and bought the bloody thing on vinyl and I still don't own a record player (I'm working on that though).

Monoganon- Eternal See You Soon

1. Adam Stafford - Build a Harbour Immediately

There can be only one, or so the bloke in Highlander said. In 2011 there really is no real debate as to what my favourite of this year would be, Adam Stafford's Build A Harbour Immediately won this race back in January. Since then nobody else has really had any sort of a look in. Putting on Adam's album launch alongside my partner in crime Jim 'Ayetunes' at our last AvP gig, was one of the highlights for me of this year, as I was honoured to be in anyway connected with something so good. It's an album that lures you in with promises of indie pop magic, before descending into full on fucking loop pedal craziness and somehow it all fits together perfectly. If you do one thing with your Christmas money this year, invest yer pennies in a copy. I promise you, it won't disappoint.

Adam Stafford - A Temple of The Holy Ghost

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