2011 brought a lot of good albums, but which were the best?
5. Foo Fighters: Wasting Light
Dave Grohl must be the biggest rockstar of modern times. First he hit success with Nirvana back in the 90’s, and the 00’s have brought huge plaudits for second band Foo Fighters. He also has a further band, Them Crooked Vultures, the man is on fire. ‘Wasting Light’, sees the Foo’s return for a 7th outing, which was recorded entirely in Grohl’s garage. It has a more raw sound to it as a result, something which sees the band hark back to their debut record, back in 1995. Songs like ‘White Limo’ and ‘Walk’, show the versatility of the album, as the first is a bit of a screamfest, whilst ‘Walk’, is a sombre, almost ballad, but has an immensely catchy refrain of ‘I never wanna die!’. It’s a very good album, along with the accompanying documentary film, ‘Back and Forth’,and the two shows in Milton Keynes, which saw the Foo’s play to 140,000 people over two nights, shows the the band to be in very good health.
4. Chase & Status: No More Idols
Chase & Status and their long list of accompanying friends, have broken through. ‘No More Idols’, is a 15-track, 60 minute epic of an album. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I like it’s freshness and how different the sound varies, although with artists like Dizzee Rascal, Plan B and Cee-Lo Green, it was always going to be special. The rollcall of artists continues with Tinie Tempah, Sub Focus, White Lies, Tempa T and Maverick Sabre, and that isn’t even everyone! Yet, the responsibility comes down to duo Saul Milton and Will Kennard, who have to compile and arrange all the guest stars and all the beats, into one big beast, and they’ve done it. The album explores dark themes, but manages to do so in an edgy, restrained sense, something perhaps learnt by the duo after the first album. God knows where Chase & Status’ sound will go next, but wherever it does, I’ll be following!
3. Kasabian: Velociraptor!
There have always been doubts over whether Leicester rockers Kasabian could step up to the main stage, and become the biggest ‘lad’ band around, replacing the broken-up Oasis. With ‘Velociraptor!’, they may be halfway there. It’s a chilled out at times, shouty at others kind of album, never quite knowing where it lies. However, this unpredictability is a good thing, and doesn’t allow for complacency, which could’ve easily hit after the critically acclaimed, ‘West Pauper Lunatic Asylum’. Tracks like ‘Re-Wired’, ‘Days are Forgotten’ and ‘Velociraptor!’, are in Sky Sports ads, whilst ballads like ‘La Fee Verte’ and ‘Goodbye Kiss’, would never be seen on a Kasabian album in the past, but it’s a sign of the flexibility the band have gained, thatboth can be incorporated into one album.
2. Arctic Monkeys: Suck it and See
‘Alex Turner is one of the best modern day songwriters of our genre’, is one of the most over-used quotes in UK music, and never having really been a massive fan of the Arctic Monkeys albums, I naturally disagreed. However, ‘Suck it and See’, has changed my view, slightly, with it’s scintillating Sixties vibe, that works throughout, and strings together a nice little album. He’s very good, but not THE greatest. ‘Piledriver Waltz’, ‘Suck it and See’ and ‘Brick by Brick’, are brilliant raw, numbers that all evoke an older sound, definitely not sounding like it’s from 2011! I honestly think that the Monkeys are just one big festival performance away from challenging Kasabian to be the greatest British rock band of the moment. It could be a ‘not as good’ Blur vs Oasis battle of the 90’s, but it’d still do for our generation. There could be a few exciting years ahead for lovers of UK rock.
1. Florence + the Machine: Ceremonials
Florence and her Machine are triumphant yet again, with second album ‘Ceremonials’, managing to top first album ‘Lungs’, in my opinion anyway. It seems like Florence has stepped up to the next level surpassing the competition in the process, with such atmosphere added to what was already such a unique album, with banging tribal drums and swinging harps, that you don’t hear anywhere else. Of course, Florence’s voice is one of the most genuinely great in the business, there are no sneaky alterations here, it’s the same as when it was first recorded. It works well as an overall album, but songs that stick out include ‘Shake It Out’ and ‘What the Water Gave Me’, which, incidentally, were both singles off the album. It’s hard to see Florence trumping this, and where she and her sound will go next.
Honourable mentions: Blink-182: Neigborhoods, Radiohead: King of Limbs, Red Hot Chili Peppers: I’m With You and Justice: Audio, Video, Disco.