Unlike The Pop Cop, I think 2011 has been a pretty good year for albums so far. My theme on Monday night's 'Scottish Fiction' show on Pulse 98.4 FM is 'The Best Of 2011, So Far...'
Here's my half year review of my favourite 11 albums of the year so far. 11? Yeah I thought I'd be different. And even though the blog is focused on new Scottish music, I've tried to present a well rounded picture, as you'll see with the inclusion of several big names, several Americans, and even some music from Englandshire. In no particular order...
Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - 'Everything's Getting Older'
Lyrically it's a raw open wound which has festered into middle age and has no qualms about letting it out. Musically it's an album of such atmospheric presence, and beautifully structured songs. If I had to pick a favourite, this would be it. Read a full review here.
Bon Iver - 'Bon Iver, Bon Iver'
The long awaited second album finally dropped in June, despite a mistaken early release on iTunes in May. Each song on the album represents a place, as you'd probably guess by the song titles. Have a listen to lead single 'Calgary'.
Cat's Eyes - 'Cat's Eyes'
Arising from one of the unlikeliest of pairings, Horror's frontman Faris Badwan joins forces with Italian-Canadian soprano Rachel Zeffira. Influenced by '60's girl groups and Phil Spector's sound, 'Cat's Eyes' has been critically well recieved. Hopefully a Mercury Music Prize Nomination will be in the post.
Noah And The Whale - 'Last Night On Earth'
I absolutely loved Noah And The Whale's last two efforts, and when I heard the single L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. back in January. It's an album that celebrates life, and all that's good with it. Which is no bad thing.
Mogwai - 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will'
7th studio album from Glasgow's post-rockers, features a belter of a title as well as rare vocals, and surprisingly less heavy guitars than previous offerings. Certainly a gear shift down, it's more melodic and musically grown up.
Yuck - 'Yuck'
London lo-fi outfit Yuck have been making a name for themselves with this album. One of the best releases of 2011 so far, the band were tipped for big things early on, featuring on the BBC's Sound Of 2011 list.
Anna Calvi - 'Anna Calvi'
Another artist to featuring on the BBC's Sound Of 2011 list was Anna Calvi. Release in January of the year, Anna Calvi has been making a splash on the festival scene already this summer. A wide range of influences have gone into her music, creating a unique and multi layered sound.
Fleet Foxes - 'Helplessness Blues'
There's something special about Fleet Foxes. They seem to effortless weave creative lyrics in with suburbian folk and vocal harmonies, and 'Helplessness Blues' represents a maturing sound which stays true to their roots. Highlight of the album for me is track of the same name, 'Helplessness Blues'.
FOUND - 'factorycraft'
Single 'Anti-Climb Paint' may have been released on a edible chocolate 7", but there's nothing gimmicky about this album. factorycraft is a more stripped back affair, with lead singer Ziggy Campbell's story telling coming to the fore. Read my earlier review here.
King Post Kitsch - 'The Party's Over'
After a what can only be kindly called a cock-up, and the album being distributed freely by Song, By Toad via e-mail, I almost feel obligied to include it. However, I'm glad I did get it, because it's a wonderful album from a fantastic Scottish band who deserve all the recognition they get.
King Post Kitsch - Walking on Eggshells by Song, by Toad
Song Of Return - 'Limits'
Anyone who has visited the T In The Park website over the past few weeks will have heard the thumping 'Trajectory'. They may not have known that it was a song by Glasgow's own Song Of Return who were born out of the ashes of Union Of Knives. And what a return it is, like a phoenix from the flames.