I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland being hurried along by the white rabbit who keeps telling me I’m late, late, late! While all The Blogs have published their best ofs in early December, I am still scrubbing paint from my finger nails in the last stages of renovating my house.

Scouting for good new music hasn’t been high on my agenda the last few months. Thanks to my contractor and his tone-deaf but talented workmen I have had an endless stream of David Guetta, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, LMFAO and Sean-da-bloody-Paul poured down my ear canal.  All the more reason to sit down and recap what were the real musical gems I did come across these last few days of the year.

10. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

Lykke is no longer a little bit in love, she is in charge and whoever is the object of her affection had better be ware for the girl means business. She’s your prostitute & she’s gon’ get some.

9. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

This one took some time to win me over, in no small part due to the extremely wishy washy lyrics. But the songs get me all the same, with gems like Michicant that wrap you up in a warm blanket and put you in front of the log fire with a hot toddy.

8. Other Lives – Tamer Animals

I got hooked on this album after hearing the spaced out dreamscape that is For 12, with its perfectly matched astronautical video. Luckily the almost fragile beauty of this song wasn’t a one-off, Tamer Animals is a gorgeous album.

7. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

On a bad day, the quickest way to perk up my spirits would be to stick on Wetsuit by The Vaccines. And then If You Wanna. And then Norgaard. And then, well, you get the idea.

6. Metronomy – The English Riviera

Another album that quietly snuck in to my top 10, but is now undeniably in a firm sixth position. I didn’t really get Metronomy before, but The English Riviera has a mellow but thoughtful summery feel to it I find irresistible.

5. James Blake – James Blake

James Blake would have to be the first artist whose name I had read about 500 times through every single social interweb exit before I even heard a single note of his work. It was the day Limit To Your Love was released, and as we all know, indie pandemonium ensued. Quite rightly so. This album shakes you to your core, both emotionally and physically if you have the right sound system.

4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

How rare is it these days to find an album that just makes you happy from start to finish? Beautiful opening track Montezuma sets the tone and the album doesn’t disappoint from there on in. I played it to my mom when we went on a trip together and she instantly hummed along as if it was an old favourite album of hers from back in the days, brought a big smile to my face.

3. Wye Oak – Civilian

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this album make the cut of the big 2011 lists, it’s such a thrilling, honest and moving little beaut! Title track Civilian gives me goose bumps every single time, and the suppressed tension of Holy, Holy makes me want to ride super high roller coasters just like in the video. It’s Beach House with more bite, and it’s delicious.

2. Radiohead – The King of Limbs

What? Brokenbranches, named after Radiohead, positioned a Radiohead album in mere second position?! Yes. After a long hard talk with myself in the name of honest journalism I have come to the conclusion that it is only fair. Although I gobbled up every minute of TKOL many many times over and rejoice in its ever quirkier rhythms on tracks like Feral, in Thoms genius Lotus Flower spasm-dance, in the glorious glow of Codex and the old school Radioheadness of Little By Little, they all got outplayed by the undeniable number one:

1. Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Sure I listened to SBTRKT, Skrillex and Wu Lyf this year, all amazing albums in their own right. But when it comes to what really moves me I find it’s becoming more and more simple the older I get. A good honest popsong with lyrics from the heart, that’s all I really want. This description is probably what had me avoid Elbow for years and years previously. I condemned them for being ‘rather mushy’. That’s a load of bollocks looking back. Elbow have mastered the art of real, heartfelt songs delivered without any pretension to a tee and Build a Rocket Boys is crammed with them. The only really mushy thing is me at their concerts, welling up at every other song.

Listen to my favourite albums of 2011 in this Spotify playlist (sadly without the Wye Oak album).

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