So here we are, No.1 and I have added the rest of the list to remind you of my full top 10.
1. Laura Marling- I Speak Because I Can
It had to be didn’t it? This album is stunning, and I have said it too many times. Her voice is honey and her songwriting is beautiful. I loved her debut, Alas I Cannot Swim, but for me this is leaps and bounds ahead. When Alas was released in 2008, reviews forever reminded us that she was only 18. The talent she showed at that age was incredible, but I think what was even more incredible was the transition from Alas to I Speak. This years album showed an incredibly maturity for someone of only 20 and I cannot wait for album No. 3. Absolute perfection. A beautiful album to top a wonderful year of music.
Essential Tracks: I Speak Because I Can, Hope in the Air, Blackberry Stone
2. Beach House- Teen Dream
Their is something about this album which totally grabs you, draws you in and makes you have to listen. Maybe its that voice, or the dreamy guitar, its hard to pinpoint why this album is so perfect as a complete work, but it is absolutely flawless. From the opening guitar melody on Zebra, to Victoria’s beautiful voice singing ‘I’ll Take Care of you’ on Take Care, you have to listen. It’s an album which rarely leaves my CD player and one which I recommend everyone to give a listen to.
Essential Tracks: Zebra, Norway, Take Care
3. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
Arcade Fire are undoubtedly my band of the year. This album is a triumph and their performance at Leeds Festival was flawless. The Suburbs is perfect, a masterpiece from start to finish. It’s yet another concept album, but that’s what Arcade Fire do best. I don’t know if anything, for me, can beat Funeral, their debut, but the fact that after such a brilliant beginning, they keep on making stunning albums shows that they are something very special indeed. The grandness and beauty of there sound is totally unique and I think they are a band who will be remembered throughout history, the best band of our generation.
Essential Tracks: The Suburbs, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), We Used to Wait
4. Caribou- Swim
This album was chosen as Rough Trade’s album of the year, and rightly so. It seems quite forgotten by the major music magazines but Swim, for me, is a triumph of electronic music and something which has changed my personal thoughts about the genre. The creativity and production on Swim is leaps and bounds above the ordinary album and Caribou have gradually become one of my bands of the year. For those who read this blog because they like folk music, I urge you to put an open mind on and listen to this album, you too might take to it like I have. This album is summer on CD.
Essential Tracks: Sun, Odessa, Kaili
5. Warpaint- The Fool
This for me, is the finest debut of the year. It shows so much prospect for this band, I only hope it doesn’t have the XX effect and unexpectedly explode in the next year. The hypnotic vocals, the murmuring guitars and the dreamy songwriting have created a beautiful album. They have just been long-listed for the BBC Sound of 2011, I hope they don’t win. This album deserves to be treasured not mainstreamed.
Essential Tracks: Undertow, Bees, Baby
6. Bombay Bicycle Club- Flaws
This is an album I instantly fell in love with. His voice is perfect and the songwriting too is flawless. It’s such a change from there first album yet it’s gone down so well with critics, long time fans and through it they have also gained many new fans. It’s gonna be interesting to see where they go with the next album, I predict a mixture of the acoustic and electric sounds, but no matter what they do next, ‘Flaws’ will always be a masterpiece.
Essential Tracks: Ivy & Gold, Swansea, Flaws
7. Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me
Joanna Newsom is perfect, as is this album. For me, nothing can beat her debut ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’ but this album comes pretty close. On 3 CD’s, with around 2 hours of songs, some at 12 minutes long, this album is something very different to the rest on this list. But then Newsom herself is very different. Her voice, the simplicity of the instrumentation along side the complexity of the melodies and lyrics make her an absolute treasure of out time. She’s a one-off and its time more people realized that.
Essential Tracks: ’81, Does not Suffice, On a Good Day
8. Caitlin Rose- Own Side Now
For me, this album took a very long time to grow on me. When I reviewed it back at the start of the year, I thought it was a little dull, but now I take back ever saying that. I love this album. Her voice is flawless, the songwriting is simple, yet beautiful. Caitlin has made slide guitars, cowboy fashion and a Nashville country voice cool again.
Essential Tracks: For the Rabbits, Shanghai Cigarettes, Own Side
9. Vampire Weekend- Contra
Vampire Weekend’s first and self titled album stole many of the top spots on 2008 Album of the Year lists. Its a brilliant debut, but I think the second album is even more of an accomplishment, showing a development in writing, sound and production. The first album is upbeat, catchy, overly likeable, but this album has much more depth, more darkness, yet the crowd pleasers are still in there aplenty. I think this is a band around to stay for quite a while, and if they keep on producing albums like this then rightly so.
Essential Tracks: I think Ur a Contra, Cousins, White Sky
10. Glasser- Ring
From the first hearing, you can’t help being captivated by the music of Glasser. The strange melodies, complex rhythms and over experimental instrumentation somehow still manages to be very, very listenable. Her voice will grab you and the beautiful psychedelia of the songs will keep your hold from the start to the very end of this album. A stunning debut.
Essential Tracks: Tremel, Home, Apply
Some albums which just missed the list:
Johnny Flynn- Been Listening
Best Coast- Crazy For You
Lissie- Catching a Tiger
Villagers- Becoming a Jackal
Mountain Man- Made the Harbour