Although we’ve come to the end of the road, still Adele we can’t let you go. We’ve reached 2011’s closing hour and now it is time: b3sci presents it’s Top 50 Albums of 2011. No one’s even come close to having the year Adele’s had. The most albums sold in a single year since 2004, two of the biggest singles of the year, etc, a truly international breakthrough both commercially and critically on a level we haven’t seen in a long time. Adele, our girl, the crown is yours. 21 is b3sci’s Album of the year.
So where the fuck is Adele on many of these respected-indie-press-dude best of lists? That period between Nov 2010 when “Rolling in the Deep” first broke and the lead up to the album’s release in late January, Adele ruled the blogosphere, the fold was united. Then “RITD” got overplayed to the point of absurdity, your mom bought the record, probably your grandma bought it too; those bros that listen to Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 started bumping “Someone Like You” out their trunk. Soon, the “wrong people” liked 21 and Adele’s brief moment atop the indiesphere was over. Right.
Thanks for reading this year, y’all. We’ve got some big plans for 2012. Stay tuned. Much love.
2011. What wasn’t to love? The rise of weirdo R&B, the fall of chillwave, the end of R.E.M. We started the construction of this list over a month ago. One truly epic and extensive Google spreadsheet later, we arrived at this Top 50. We sorted and sorted and sorted, listened through a TON OF STUFF, “traded jabs” on whether James Blake or Jamie Woon put on the tougher persona, etc. Thanks for reading and we hope y’all enjoy the list!
2011, it’s been real! To kick off our b3sci 2011 year end coverage, we start with Top 10 albums lists from each of b3science’s seven contributors. (We’ll detail our overall site picks in the next few days). 2011.
01. Drake – Take Care
02. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
03. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
04. Metronomy – The English Riviera
05. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP
06. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
07. James Blake – James Blake
08. Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
09. SBTRKT – SBTRKT
10. Active Child – You Are All I See
01. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain
02. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From…
03. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
04. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
05. Low Roar – Low Roar
06. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
07. Wye Oak – Civilian
08. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
09. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
10. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
01. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
02. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
03. Giraffage – Comfort
04. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From..
05. Washed Out – Within and Without
06. James Blake – James Blake
07. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
08. The Postelles – The Postelles
09. Harrison Hudson – American Thunder
10. Caveman – CoCo Beware
01. James Blake – James Blake
02. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP
03. Wale – Ambition
04. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
05. Harrison Hudson – American Thunder
06. Fiore – Fiore
07. Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm
08. M83 – Hurry Up We’re Dreaming
09. Mike Higbee – Secret Life
10. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves – Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves
Let’s be honest. I probably didn’t listen to ten complete LPs this year that I would somehow deem “best” – it just isn’t in me anymore, maybe. I did, however, have enough musical bests paired with actual full records I loved to complete a top ten. Let’s review my 2011 faves: there are ten, they are not ranked.
tUnE – yArDs, W H O K I L L (4AD)
If someone forced me to name my best record of the year, I’d bet this would be it. While I’ll never get over the late 90s stylization of her musical pseudonym, Merrill Garbus made songs that said things I wanted to hear couched in melodies and harmonies that push me from Africa to doo-wop to “America.” There is true joy in the music she makes, even if she’s talking about eating disorders or inner-city violence. High up on the “things I danced to alone in my room” list of this year.
While I’d consider turntable.fm mostly dead in my day to day life, it ruled my world for a few weeks over the summer. I heard more great stuff I know I would’ve never come upon on my own, but I guarantee you it wasn’t in dubstep rooms. I spent time chatting and playing jams with friends I wouldn’t see for months. Turntable gave me all of the plus factors of a 1996 chatroom backed with a way better soundtrack than I would’ve had then. Spotify swooped in a few weeks later, and now I find myself listening to nearly anything I want at any time while creating playlists with friends throughout the day. Not as immediate as turntable, but somehow less of a time suck. I don’t love the ads, but I know I can get rid of them if I want.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake (Island/Vagrant)
Overwrought concept albums can be a drag. (Confessional: I am a long-time PJ Harvey fan, guilty of knowing all of the words to “Rid of Me” by heart at a very young age.) If someone had told me a concept album by Harvey about England, bloodshed and warfare would be one of my favorite releases this year, I might have been a bit perplexed. The melodies, language, and instrumentation around this record, however, do more to transport listeners rather than alienate them. “Inaccessible” is a word often used to describe records, and I could see how some of Harvey’s records may be that way. This, however, works magic.
Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Why I Love You” (Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam)
I know this record is on everyone else’s list, and that’s fine, but only one of its tracks got repeat plays with me. The production on Watch The Throne is amazing, I can’t deny it, but nearly nothing about that record sticks for me. I revisited it months after it leaked and I still couldn’t get into it as a whole. Jay-Z and Kanye West are two of my all-time favorites and I thought this record would be my dream. It wasn’t. “Why I Love You”, though, is a jam. Great sample, great chorus, okay-enough rapping.
Iceage, New Brigade (What’s Your Rupture?)
There will never be a time in life that I don’t like channeling my inner teenage dude. I know he’s there, just waiting for me to listen to the Stooges for another few hours or cackle while watching episodes of Beavis & Butt-head. 24-ish minutes of gothy punk energy (the longest track at 3:08), Iceage are my Ramones for 2011.
Drake, Take Care (Young Money/Cash Money)
I can’t stop playing this record. Merrill Garbus and Drake might have to duke it out. I thought Thank Me Later was lackluster – too much bravado and cameo, not enough actual persona. With Take Care, though, I feel like Drake is getting back to a place where he’s comfortable: an introspective, lonely look in the mirror at fame and alienation from where he thought he was a few years ago to now. On hip-hop records I’m usually disappointed if they’re not full of bangers but this one tempers enough production with the same amount of restraint.
Willie Mae Rock Camp & Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” (RCA)
Over the summer, I volunteered for the first time at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in Brooklyn. I spent an exhausting and fulfilling week making sure a bunch of 8 & 9 year olds made it to their instrument class, ate their lunches, and sort-of listened during workshops about the blues, gender, and other topics regarding women in music. Every counselor had her musical kryptonite and everyone very quickly found out Kelly’s jam was mine. I danced & sang to it all week when it played during various end-of-day dance parties, and one of the campers and I shared it as our best memory of the week from songwriting class. At the showcase wrapping up camp, the volunteer band played it as their song for soundcheck. I belted it just as I had every other day.
Party of Helicopters at Death By Audio, Williamsburg, February 13, 2011
I got my knees slammed into the stage all night long at this show, with terrible bruises to show the next day, but it was well worth it. They are my favorite band from my most formative years, the one whose album art my body will carry to my grave; every opportunity to relive that time while seeing them live is worth it. Even though they’ll never play “A New Kind of Power” for me no matter how many times I request it, I don’t care. I love them. Forever.
Björk, Biophilia (One Little Indian/Polydor)
There was a time growing up that I spent most hours lying on the floor in my room listening to records. Bjork was always a part of this ritual, and listening to this record sends me back to that time in my life (I am full of memories this year). “Crystalline” is a perfect hybrid of Telegram-style remixes and Vespertine vocals. “Cosmogony” hearkens back to the antics of Medulla. Everything is nostalgic, but everything is new. The David Attenborough-narrated companion iPhone app is an excellent companion if you can’t make up your own visuals in your mind.
Sharon Van Etten, “Serpents” (Jagjaguwar)
Seeing her play this live last Tuesday only further got me stoked for her record next year. Her voice is the most haunting to me, and this is that quality at its finest. Percussion and expansion of her sound into what it is on this track alone (I hear you, Aaron Dessner) bode well for the rest of Tramp. Can’t wait.
01. The Kills – Blood Pressures
02. Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
03. The Airborne Toxic Event – All At Once
04. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect…
05. Foster The People – Torches
06. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
07. The Black Keys – El Camino
08. Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion
09. The Rapture – In The Grace Of Your Love
10. The Wombats – This Modern Glitch
11. Honorable mention to My Morning Jacket and Teddybears
01. Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour
02. Nero – Welcome Reality
03. Thievery Corporation – Culture of Fear
04. SBTRKT – SBTRKT
05. Tyler, the Creator – Goblin
06. Bassnectar – Divergent Spectrum
07. Dave Nada – Blow Your Head Presents: Moombahton
08. James Blake – James Blake
09. M83 – Hurry up, We’re Dreaming
10. Crookers – Dr. Gonzo
One of the best things about SXSW is that you can just walk down a street and your ears can bring you to something you’ve never heard before. In preparing some post-festival coverage I recalled one of those bands that drew me in. If you’re a fan of Noel Gallagher and his guitar playing, then you can’t resist listening to this. Lydia Des Dolles lead vocals add a fresh compliment to the British sound. Into it.
Jeremy Messersmith was a treat. “Tatooine” is a gem that made our top 50 list last year and we couldn’t wait to have the experience live. Pleasantly surprised. Jeremy’s set proved more quirky than expected. Concluding with “Violets”, his band helped carry a sound reminiscent of The Turtles and other late 60’s West Coast bands. Messersmith has talent and just seems to radiate longevity.
Jeremy Messersmith – Tatooine
Sweet Jane @ B.D. Riley’s
One of the best things about SXSW is that you can just walk down a street and your ears can bring you to something you’ve never heard before. In preparing some post-festival coverage, I recalled one of those bands that drew me in. If you’re a fan of Noel Gallagher (like we are) and his guitar playing (guilty again), you won’t be able to resist listening to Sweet Jane. Lydia Des Dolles lead vocals add a fresh compliment to a fantastic British sound. Into it.
The line was around the block on E 6th street during peak freak hour Saturday night. Passing through three layers of security was necessary to enter Billboard Bungalow (patdowns included) I felt like I was going upstairs to see Obama. Black Milk is a pro. His killer on stage presence gets the crowd moving and into it. This man loves to perform. The live band was an….interesting touch. The sound was cool, the band was unique but somehow came off a bit flat, amateurish. The drums were set up in an odd, “less than traditional way”. The keys didn’t seem to be working. The bass was lose. It felt pretty backyard. “Dead Medley” was a highlight. Black Milk, the MC (minus his band), proved worthy of a long performance career, Common-style
Black Milk – Overdose
Curren$y @ Billboard Bungalow
Curren$y enters late and totally high. He’s completely non-chalant as he commands the stage. Basically the opposite of what we just saw from Black Milk. The stage show went something as follows: he first came out, then a second MC joined him, then like four 19 year old looking dudes came up on stage to stand behind him, and they were stoned. As is Spitta’s M.O., the raps were smooth and the track were short. His rambles between tracks were actually pretty tight. As he did a solid job hyping the crowd between songs.
Curren$y – Address (Feat. Stalley)
Eliza Doolittle @ Cedar Street Courtyard
Earlier in the day, deep in the underbelly of Austin, we crossed paths with our girl Eliza Doolittle. One look at the b3sci posse, and at least one member of our crew got prob the hottest demand of the weekend, “Take off Your Skinny Jeans! You!” We were caught. Eliza had us. Of course, what to do when an adorable British girls calls at you to remove yer trousers, well never tell. But we did make it back over to Cedar Street, pants and all, to catch Eliza’s Saturday night set. We’ll drop this in again, just once more, to be, you know, official about it. Eliza Doolittle is adorable. And that sort of defined her set. “Money Box” was sunshine-y, feel good, glad in all the right places. Part of Eliza’s charm is her ability to connect. She could be looking into the audience at a 90 degree angle to you, or at her band, or up into space, and still all the while, you feel like she’s singing to you and only you. “I want to go back to a time when I was young. No not when I was 16 or something like that. No, I’m talking really young. I want to go back to when I was three.” And you stand there, as she smiles at you delivering that line, and you’re like, “Yeah, Eliza, that sounds like a pretty nice idea.”
Eliza’s secret weapon is her band. Her bassist, playing a stand up double bass, was ridiculously good. Her drummer, likely more at home in a different genre of music, was ace. The energy in the rhythm section, pitch perfect harmonies, and wisely placed guitar/uke make for a great stripped down feel good vibe. Eliza’s songs are uptempo, kinetic and they move with her. Where does an artist like Eliza go from here? How will she manage in the states? Can she be as big as Adele.. Lily Allen, Kate Nash? Take note.
Eliza Doolittle – Skinny Genes
Ty Segall @ Mohawk
If you love what made Grunge great, big guitar sound, rock and roll attitude. In the year 2K11, Ty Segall is about as close you can get. The packed house for Ty was brimming with all sorts of arrogant attitude. Like it came with admission. Segall and his youthful angst-driven bandmates delivered their sound heavy and intense, reminiscent of live Nirvana. Ty Seagall is prob a bit of an acquired taste, an acquired taste we just so happen to love. Long live the 90’s.
Ty Segall – Standing at the Station
Funeral Party @ Cedar Street Courtyard
Just when I thought I’d had enough; so many bands, so much music, so much that it started become noise; I still trudged back to the Cedar Street Courtyard, I had one last band to see, east Los Angeles act Funeral Party. The Steve Madden/Grooveshark Party had nearly emptied out. The few sticking around were mainly press congregated near the front of the stage with large cameras. The band brought with them to the stage a lot of energy, maybe the most energy- packed performance I’d seen all SXSW. A guitarist flying there, a bassist there. The guitarist’s acrobatics at one point caused him to trip, causing frontman Chad to wisely state ” Steve Madden shoes look great, but they still need a few days to break in.” This was the sort of band Victory Records should have signed 5 years ago, Funeral Party have a great new alternative sound, with great songs and great arrangements. The band’s live chops were obvious and when lead vocalist Chad Elliott is in key they are borderline unstoppable. During the breakdown of “NYC Sound Goes To LA…” a lyrical cameo from “Champagne Supernova” found it’s place “how many special people change, how many lives were living strange”. Where were you while we were getting high? This guys are that kind of band. Camera flashes were plenty and the venue had nearly filled back up by end of set. Funeral Party definitely helped wrap SXSW on a high. Take notes, rock and rollers, this band plays like they have nothing to prove, it’s real. They don’t give a fuck about what else is happening in indie rock or alternative music or anything like that, and really, why should they?
Funeral Party – Carwars
Death From Above 1979 @ Beauty Bar
Your Miranda Rights are all that you got. Pretty much. As you’ve likely heard by now there was a riot at Death From Above’s reunion gig @ Beauty Bar. Being there in that moment. There’s a feeling, a certain sensation at your insides (not that $7 burrito we grabbed on the street on the way over) that experience when you were among a crowd that’s beginning to lose control. And there, there’s a feeling like anything can happen. The next bit of your life, those events, are not quite in your control anymore. The show, itself, was terribly handled by the venue. The location of the line was not clear, where the line started and ended was not clear, whether anyone was actually getting in was not clear. A definite vacuum of information existed. (Riot criteria 1). What is Beauty Bar? Beauty Bar is a venue that maybe holds 200 people. It’s essentially a piece of a larger asphalt lot with a tent on top of it. “In line” or probably more appropriately mobbed about there venue there were maybe 600-800 people “on the outside”. A large throng of people in a tight space (Riot criteria 2).
The band starts. Immediately, (and obviously any chance of getting in the venue dashed) the crowd turns violent. Beers fly, stones, garbage they fly too. Someone throws a chair. The chainlink fence that divdes the outside from the inside is under siege. The kids are intent in bringing it down. They shake, they climb, they kick. The fence lasts maybe 10 minutes. It’s down. By this time the venue has circled several bouncers to where the fence once stood. They’re holding the crowd back now. They’re the final bit of defense between the current situation and total mayhem (the latter quickly becoming more and more the former). Then suddenly, the fence is boosted back up. The kids are trying to help. They’re trying to keep some bit of order. The overall crowd, though, grows angrier. The fence is almost now in a state of volley. Bouncers to Crowd. Crowd to Bouncers. Mace sprays from the venue. The mob is pushed back. Time for us to check the fuck out with mounted riot police, arrests, and all that reality TV stuff pending. It was certainly one hell of moment.
p.s. The band was awesome. Seeing Jesse and Sebastien on stage together performing DFA 79 songs fucking ruled.
In fine b3sci tradition… Noel Gallagher covers Slade’s ’73 classic “Merry Xmas Everybody”. This track was recorded exclusively for the 2002 War Child NME charity compilation, 1 Love, which echoed a 1995 War Child benefit album Help. Both albums feature covers from the likes of Oasis, Blur, Suede, Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Stereophonics, Sinead O’Connor, Portishead and more. They are great collections and you should treat yourself to them Here. If this track doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, then you must not be fond of holidays… and that’s just a pity.
“Bring The Light” is the new and first offering from Liam Gallagher‘s post-Oasis group, Beady Eye. With a full-length Steve Lillywhite produced debut expected to drop in early 2011, this band of former Oasis members Gem Archer, Andy Bell, and touring drummer Chris Sharrock [plus unofficials: Jay Darlington (keys man) and Jeff Wootton (bass man)] is no doubt looking to hit the ground running in the New Year.
I once read a quote along the lines of “Oasis is like religion, you either believe in it or you don’t”. Over time and after many conversations with music fans I’ve learned this happens to be a very true statement. (Whats the Story) Morning Glory was a first album of mine, a collection of songs with such a sound… and Alan White’s drumming was such an ideal complement… it’s needless to say not many albums since have measured up. While Oasis and non-Oasis fans alike may claim that Liam isn’t much of a singer anymore, let alone a songwriter, this album should put such concerns to rest one way or another. In our books, Liam Gallagher ranks one of the best frontmen of all time and we can only hope that he’s got a spark of that brilliant rock-naivety that brother Noel Gallagher seemed to have lost sight of, or interest in, post Be Here Now.
Oasis LPs, Definitely Maybe, Don’t Believe The Truth, Be Here Now all were in heavy rotation here at B3SCI throughout the night until 2:00 am (LA time) as we anticipated the official (UK 10:00 am) release, reminding me of past days waiting at Tower Records for midnight album releases. The track doesn’t disappoint. It’s classic oldskool Rock and Roll with the type of attitude any Oasis fan of the band’s last four albums will appreciate. If you’re one of those expecting “Supersonic” or “Columbia”, then don’t even press play. And one thing is for sure, it’s definitely not the song from the 22 second clip that the band leaked earlier in the week! The release is now available for free download on the band’s website and as a limited 7-inch press that also features a b-side of the groups take on World Of Twist’s “Sons Of The Stage”. Also worth mentioning for all the Shoegaze fans in the house, the former Ride guitarist Andy Bell has turned in his Oasis bass for a guitar in Beady Eye, and along with Gem Archer will be contributing some new songs to the forthcoming album.
In other news, Noel Gallagher, former “Chief” guitarist and Oasis songwriter is expected to drop his solo project sometime next year. Alan McGee (founder of Creation Records) recently mentioned during an interview with BBC Six music that he’s heard some of Noel’s new material, “Noel’s demos are absolutely amazing. Totally amazing. The reason that guy is quiet is he knows what he’s got up his sleeve.” We can’t wait.
gotta love a song that’s replay worthy… like 2 days straight now replay worthy. “Set Me Free” is previewed from The Sand Band’s forthcoming All Through The Night release. needless to say, we’re into it, and their take on Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” is rather nice too.
word on the street is that Noel Gallagher has been on the prowl for a new backing band… enter Liverpool’s The Sand Band. one listen to “Set Me Free” and we get it. that plus degrees of connection to The Coral, and the fact Chris Sharrock’s son (Jay) is in the group, and it all comes together.
“1000 Years” is the new single off The Coral‘s forthcoming Butterfly House release. love it. dudes are back, c’mon who else could bring together astronauts, the desert, and trippy-ass 60’s psyche-pop like this!!
Noel Gallagher covers Slade’s 1973 #1 hit “Merry Xmas Everybody” for the 2002 War Child charity NME compilation, 1 Love. the project echoed the 1995 War Child benefit album, Help, which featured a variety of cover songs recorded by major british acts in a single day, which were then released a week later. acts heard on the two compilations include Oasis, Blur, Suede, Radiohead, Elbow, Muse, Stereophonics, Sinead O’Connor, and Portishead to name a few. if this track doesn’t get you in the spirit, then we’re not sure what will!
John Harris once asked Liam Gallagher during an interview for the NME “do you have any recurring dreams?” Liam’s response, “Yeah, just the one… where I take over the band.” a powerful statement from Liam off Fierce Panda’s Oas*s Wibbling Rivalry release recorded in 1994. the bootleg of the Gallagher brothers bickering about Liam getting thrown off a ferry (transcript here) charted in the UK at #52 in November 1995, making it the highest ever charting recorded interview. most importantly though, the interview ends eerily with that exact quote from Liam.
in fact, Liam has put it on the table several times that Oasis would continue without his brother Noel. reason being that he was instrumental in the original line up of the band in 1991 formerly known as The Rain, of which Noel would later join to form Oasis. it became official this week that Oasis would not continue without Noel, since his for real departure from the band in late August. in an interview with The Times UK Liam stated:
“Well, Oasis is no longer. I think we all know that. So that’s done,” he explained. “It’s a shame, but that’s life. We had a good run at it. The thing about Oasis is no-one… we ended Oasis. No-one ended it for us. Which was pretty, kind of… cool. I’m thinking of what the next step is musically, which is all my mind’s on.”
And a shame it is, but of course Liam did leave room for a possible reunion, “People will be able to buy his (Noel’s) records. People will be able to buy our records. So everyone’s happy,” he explained, adding that he hoped in future to recover his relationship with Noel. “Well, that’s a long way off yet, man, but who knows?”
as a solo artist Noel Gallagher so frequently produces incredible moments, which you can hear in this arrangement of the classic Oasis b-side “Listen Up” that he and guitarist Gem Archer performed during a small unplugged tour in 2006. Noel has also stated he has loads of song that he didn’t think were “Oasis tunes”. it’s been rumored that Noel is working on a solo project, of which we’ll definitely keep you posted. as for Liam, while so many claim he’s the lesser talented of the two, his tracks on Oasis’ last few releases speak for themselves. it will be interesting to see what kind of projects he gets involved with… as long as he doesn’t take Jay-Z up on his offer, we’re cool with it. Andy Bell, Ride reunion.. eh? sing us out Noel..
Cos I’ve been sailing down this river alone,
Just trying to find my way back home.
But I don’t believe in magic cos life is automatic,
and I don’t mind being on my own
“Talk Tonight” was written after Noel Gallagher first left oasis during their ’94 US tour. they weren’t done then, or in 96′ when they started a tour in the states with liam house shopping back home with the misses, they weren’t done in 2000 when noel left the band during their world tour. and there’s more in between, but the point is.. are they actually done now?
hope not. as much slack as this band gets for not being what they were in the 90’s, they are simply one of few, a small handful of bands that can actually still hold it down as a relevant rock and roll band after almost 18 years. should they actually be over this time, it would be a shame. ok – to see noel do a non-accompanied solo tour, neil young style, would be mind blowing. a solo record would be incredible as well. but what wouldn’t be incredible is seeing oasis fall into the “reunion” band category. they’ll do it for the money, fuck the pistols did it, but it’s a sad and uninspiring moment for a band when shit like that happens.
so will another “talk tonight” come out of this break? hope so. it’s clearly one of noel’s best songs ever, and a b-side of course. does any band even have better b-sides than oasis?? either way, to see what happens with the big O in the near future will be an interesting course of events, at least to us. so we’ll keep you posted.