This was a tale of two moods year. The beginning of the year was all moody introspective albums where you can imagine me standing in the rain and not caring, while the second half was all cheery rebirth stuff primarily because I’d met my girlfriend and we were having a great time listening to music together when we weren’t travelling up and down the country to see each other.
|1. Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song
I can’t remember where I first heard of them, but it seemed like they were everywhere in December 2011/January 2012. Might have had something to do with the fact they were touring and I was lucky enough to see them at the Factory in Marickville. A fun pop/rock band that evokes hints of the Wonder Stuff, The Pixies, Molly Ringwald and California Surf Culture. When you look at the band you’d think they were a band created by John Hughes – you have your Molly Ringwald, the long haired metal guy, the crazy Irish drunk, the 80s electronica drummer and the faux lead singer from the Flaming Lips in his smock. All these random elements combine to make a quirky and fun summer album about sleeping at friends houses, smoking dope on a road trip to the beach and how love will save your soul. This is the album everyone needed after the GFC brought everyone down.
Most Played Song in itunes – Love Will Save Your Soul
|2. Rihanna – Talk That Talk
It’s interesting that for an album this promoted, my first exposure to it was a blog post about all the covers on youtube people had done for “We Found Love”. This was even before Rihanna had promoted it! With the popularity of David Guetta last year, it made sense for Rihanna to hook up with Calvin Harris and bring the dance anthem of this year. Her performance on THe X-Factor UK was incredible too, dancing in the audience and all, while the official video showed us her acting chops (well at least a little). But the album isn’t just one song, Rihanna brings her skill and sexiness to the entire record. She sometimes overdoes it by being a little obvious, but your forgive her when she brings something as strong as “We All Want Love” and “Where Have You Been”. This is the amazing dance pop album Beyonce should have delivered.
Most Played Song in itunes – We Found Love
|3. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Everyone knows Coldplay, so no need to introduce them. This record was everywhere and “Paradise” is now their biggest hit. Concept albums can be hard to pull off but they did well – I am also loving the neon colours they are using in their videos and concerts, such a spectacle. Brian Eno’s influence is all over the album to the point where they gave his influence a name – it’s the “Enoxification”. Rihanna also makes an appearance on “Princess of China”, one of the strongest songs there, along with “Charlie Brown”. Also like Rihanna they had one of their most memorable performance on The X-Factor UK. I’m sure anyone who saw it will be purchasing tickets for their upcoming tour in seconds.
Most Played Song in itunes – Paradise
|4. The Head And The Heart – The Head And The Heart
Got this album because the song “Ghosts” was in the top singles top 50 songs of 2011, but didn’t really think to long and hard about the album. That is until Claire and I happened upon them as the support for Grouplove. They immediately blew the socks off us and I am shocked to admit I think I enjoyed them more than I did Grouplove (perhaps because it was unexpected). I’ve always loved male and female vocalists together and when they play live you can’t help but stare at Charity Rose – especially when she pulls out the violin. They are a folk/rock/country mash with sweet melodies and harmonies. The lyrics pull you in – “one day we’ll all be ghosts” sounds so depressing, yet when they sing it sounds so uplifting.
Most Played Song in itunes – Down In The Valley
|5. Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong
Happy sounding songs with utterly painful lyrics haven’t really had a heyday since The Cure and Joy Division, so it’s great to see a band pick up the mantle. Foster the People led the club with their perfect single, but the Pains had what I felt was a more complete album. Ok, so the vocalist is a little bit airy in his voice, but I just think that adds to the effect. “Anne with an E” is gorgeous and “My Terrible Friend” is just good fun. When you have thrashed your Cure albums to death, pick up this one for something new. I’ll be interested to see what this band brings to their next album.
Most Played Song in itunes – Heart In Your Heartbreak
|6. Robert Francis – Before Nightfall
One of my cheats since this album was released in 2009, but I only heard it this year. This was the perfect soundtrack for my introspective beginning to the first half of the year – when I was still tender and sore from the accident and dealing with the reality of rehab. Robert has an amazing vocal range (think and just a great sound. Reminds me of Ryan Adams. The songs are all runaways and drug addicts and depressing stuff like that. “Junebug”, “Darkness”, “Climb a Mountain” are great highs, but “Mescaline” is the heroin of the record.
Most Played Song in itunes – Mescaline
|7. Architecture in Helsinki – Moment Bends
This was an album I thrashed on the way to being happy and was my soundtrack to my first fall since the accident. Falling over was actually a good thing cause it indicated that I was no longer being super careful about walking. It was the good leg that took all the damage anyway. I have loved this band for a long time and this was by far their most accessible record. They were great fun live when I saw them at the HiFi Bar – almost the best concert I saw all year (Passenger was the winner). This is a real laze by the beach and catch some rays while drinking cocktails, then dance the evening away record. “That Beep” was a huge hit for them – for whatever reason it reminds me of Billy Ocean (WTF?). A quirky art school band that is good fun.
Most Played Song in itunes – Desert Island
|8. Emm Gryner – Gem and I
Apparently this Canadian artist has been round since the 90s but this is my first exposure to her. Album came out in 2010 and I was only made aware of it due to her collaboration with Sara from Tegan and Sara on the album. “Top Speed” is not the best song on the album – that goes to “Troublesome” – a duet with Tom Dunne. The entire record is basically collaborations with different artists (mostly ones I haven’t heard of – although Joe Elliott makes an appearance – Def Leppard!!!). The one that is the most quirky, yet awesome is the duet with Bubbles from the Trailer Park boys “Get Brave”. Emm could probably have been as big as Alanis Morissette, she had that 90s girl rocker thing going on in her back catalogue. It’s worth checking out her other stuff, because a lot of it still sounds current. So many good songs in this album.
Most Played Song in itunes – Troublesome
|9. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Another concept album in the list and in a lot of ways I think this is smarter than coldplay’s (der, PJ Harvey is a lyrical genius). “Let England Shake”, the opening salvo to the record drips of Nick Cave influence (due to Mick Harvey’s production – he is a bad seed). It’s pure comedy and drama in the “Last Living Rose” when she sings:
This will be the one album on my list that is assured to be on the classic albums of the decade lists in 2020.
Most Played Song in itunes – The Words That Maketh Murder
|10. Gotye – Making Mirrors
Can’t go past the biggest and most amazing single of the year in “Somebody that I used to Know”. Gotye has always delivered excellence and it’s great that the world now recognises it commercially. For me the album is odd because all the songs I highly rated are in the middle – normally I love at least something in the first two. “Smoke and Mirrors” is a trapeze ride, “I feel better” is a cheery love song I identified with and “In Your Light” is simple pop. I had to laugh when I was getting the link for the youtube video – one of the comments was “Glee better not find this”.
Most Played Song in itunes – Somebody that I used to Know
Ones that didn’t make the list – only just
- Example – Won’t Go Quietly (Dance/Rap with an English outlook)
- LMFAO – Sorry For Party Rocking (Everybody’s Shufflin’, wiggle wiggle it)
- Seeker Lover Keeper – Seeker Lover Keeper (Even though I’m a woman is gorgeous)
- Paris Wells – Various Small Fires (Aussie female vocalist with sass – “Get It Started” is where you should start)
- Book Of Mormon – Original Cast Recording (The broadway musical done by the guy from South Park, very very funny)
- LA Noire – Official Soundtrack (From the xbox game – great Jazz and moody noire)