Friday, December 16, 2011

Records of the Year 2011 - Editorial Picks

Alright, the blog is steadily growing and we cant ask every new reader to check every single entry here (even though it is advised of course), but just to round up the last year and to add our own "Record of the Year"-list to everyone elses, here are the respectively 3 highest regarded picks this year by Matthew and me. Click the album picture for the link to the review.

Matthew's Top 3:
My album picks of the year aren't in any real order, as they're all what I would deem excellent through and through and should be listened to by anyone with an interest in good music. So without further ado, here are my three picks of the year 2011.
Shadowboxer - Two Cities: Alternative Rock

This album caught me by total surprise. It was just another url in the bandcamp scrape that week, with a dramatic photo for cover art. Then I listened to it, and I had to clean my brain goop off the floor. It's alternative indie rock, with a hint of Imogen Heap creeping into the vocals. It may not exactly be the most upbeat (that flower on the cover is taking a beating), but not many other records took over my playlist like this one did. Easily one of the best of the year and I'll go toe to toe with anyone arguing differently. Listen to this, do it now!

Ektoise - Kiyomizu: Ambient/ Alternative/ Electronica

This was actually the first album I reviewed for Wasfuersohr. It's also the longest review to date I believe, I gushed on and on about until Toma said I had to stop or I'd have to pay by the letter. Shadow Boxer scratched my emotionally charged rock itch; Ektoise sneaked in subtly and then bludgeoned me with their varied industrial attack. It's brutal and heavy, yet light and comforting by the next song. If you haven't already done so, check this album out and then give it your friends. This album deserves to be heard by more people. It's wordless, it's epic, it's Ektoise!

Emily Henry - Demo: Folk/ Singer-Songwriter

It's not the most polished album I've come across (it is a demo after all), and it is sparse on instrumentation. But I chose Emily Henry's Demo because of those things not in spite of them. These demos show that Ms. Henry is quite a talented musician and singer, as both her voice and guitar playing abilities are front and centre the entire time for eleven tracks. Usually sing-songwriter folk isn't my cup of tea, but Emily Henry managed to create an album of just that, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. With this as a base, I look forward to whatever music she creates in the future.

Marco's Top 3:
Magic Man easily impressed me the most, as you can probably tell from the review, but the whole year was packed with musical surprises and artists, whose albums I wouldn't want to miss anymore. The following are the ones that will be listened to until I lose or break my MP3 player (in which case I can still sing them, agonizing everyone else).
Magic Man - Real Life Color: Indie/ Pop/ Electronica

I was easily enough convinced that Magic Man would be a keeper, due to the Postal Service like style of music, but I wouldn't have thought that this album would grow on me so much that I'd call it my favorite album ever. Its unbelievably catchy, creative and could be the sole reason that I can call this year of searching music a definite success. Music that immediately reaches people and makes people want to root for them and tell everyone around the amazing artist they just found. Cant wait for the new singles next year.

Swimming - EP: Indie/ Surfpop

Easily my favorite summer album. And I have no doubt that the next summer wont be missing Swimming#s EP either. Its pure, free and unhindered fun and one of the most recommendable records I found so far. I wish I had given the review a bit more attention as back then I was still writing review versions in English and German, which was hugely time consuming. Any follow up record will get the review length it deserves. Until then this is the "run through a field with your best friend on a warm summer day" - record of choice.

Synthcake - Musicophilia: Synthpop

This was the most surprising album I heard all year. I still cant quite decide whether the "Haunted" music feeling subgenre is just critically underused or whether they just did a very, very convincing job at a highly difficult task. Making catchy pop songs out of basically music not unfitting at a Halloween party is quite a feat. Can't wait for all the bands we mentioned here to release their next records. Synthcake is original, haunting, catchy and the best cake I got all year.

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