2011 was an amazing year. Not only for The Find, but also definitely music-wise. The continued rise of Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Mixcloud opened a lot of doors for upcoming artists, resulting in endless ‘Finds’. Right before we kick off 2012, here are recommendations by some of our crew members, complemented with Some Wicked’s Free Dope 2011 end of the year mix.
We’ve decided not to publish one overall ‘Best Of’ list. Simply because the variety in our team is too eclectic to come up with a shared selection. Instead, some of The Find’s contributors (not everyone) provide you with their favourite releases and recommendations. Ranging from favourite albums to songs, releases that surprised them to disappointments, and from admitting guilty pleasures that may raise some eyebrows to recommending upcoming talents.
Please note that we don’t claim that this is “The Best” of this year; it’s more a subjective selection. It’s music we’ve enjoyed the most and we wanna make sure you don’t miss out. So dig in the selections, discover (new) artists/music, check posts by each author for more and above all: have a great 2012!
Favourite Albums of 2011:
Action Bronson – Dr. Lecter
Apollo Brown – Clouds
Vanilla – High Life
@Peace – @Peace
Nearly any of the Knxwledge releases
Ackryte – Some LP
Biggest Surprise: Shlohmo – Bad Vibes
Biggest Disappointment: None of the highly anticipated DOOM projects came out
Most promising newcomer(s): Beat Culture, Handbook, Brock Berrigan, Shag, Mr. Troy, L’Orange
Song Of The Year: Young Montana? – Sacre Cool / Moa Pillar – Haema
Guilty Pleasure: Earl Sweatshirt
Favourite Album of 2011: Probably the first new album I heard this year, Rime’s Our Kingdom is the one which stayed with me the most. Finnish producer Antti Hynnine’s layered arrangements and staccato bass-lines form a perfect bed for the husky vocals of Finnish-Egyptian singer Sara Sayed. Soulful, organic, vibrant, musically satisfying and just so damn listenable.
Biggest Surprise: Since Toro y Moi’s first release was a solid though predictable chillwave record, due to future-beat exhaustion I was ready to ignore this year’s follow-up. However, 2011’s Underneath the Pine focuses instead on melodic arrangements and unexpected vocal harmonies, matched by a confident rhythm and tone to create some of the catchiest tunes of the year.
Biggest Disappointment: Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX’s We’re New Here, though promising on paper as a mash/remix album of disparate styles, is so wilfully atonal that I nearly can’t comprehend the breadth of its baffling incompetence. It hurts me that underground radio stations are currently enamoured with the record’s truly awful version of I’ll Take Care Of You.
Most Promising Newcomer: At first I dismissed the young New Zealand singer Kimbra. Who is this giant-mouthed, goofy-haired, indie-pop hipster? Whoops. After witnessing her exquisite live loop-pedal performance of Nina Simone’s Plain Gold Ring, her debut album Vows suddenly opened up to me. Kimbra strikingly soulful vocal range allows her a variety of experimental arrangements.
Song Of The Year: Australian Gotye’s record-digging State of the Art explores the fascination with consumer technology through the subject of an idiosyncratic retro synthesiser (the Lowrey Cotillion D575). Densely sampled and deftly layered with so many perfect sequences throughout, I notice something new on each listen, and every single time those explosive final bars make my heart climb up out of my chest.
Guilty Pleasure: Although its uncool to admit it, I’ve always known that The Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream was something truly special. An overlooked gem which was more quietly sophisticated and relatable than anything the band would ever record. This year’s remastered release came with a fantastic second disc packed with original demos, rehearsals, studio sessions and a bevy of unreleased tracks.
Favourite Albums Of 2011:
Submotion Orchestra – Finest Hour
The Roots – Undun
TOKiMONSTA – Creature Dreams EP
Long Arm – The Branches
Biggest Surprise: Hugo Kant – Searching For London & I Don’t Want To Be An Emperor / Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour / Allen Stone
Biggest Disappointment: Blu – NoYork!
Most Promising Newcomer: Jamie Woon
Song of the Year: Woodkid – Iron / Kase.O – Boogaloo aka Tarántula / Evidence – You / Jamie Woon – Street
Guilty Pleasure: Chef’Special – One for the Mrs.
Favourite Album of 2011: Median – The Sender
Biggest Surprise: Sammy Deluxe – Schwarzweiss (German release)
Biggest Disappointment: I cannot think of any – good year?:)
Most Promising Newcomer: theUNDERACHIEVERS
Song Of The Year: Common – Blue Sky
Favourite Album of 2011: Without a doubt, Black Up by Shabazz Palaces. Lyrically Ishmael Butler (Digable Planets) is only matched by Has-Lo, but the beats are simply unreal.
Biggest Suprise: If I’m being honest it was my suprise at how poor ‘Goblin’ was compared to ‘Bastard’. Maybe Tyler raised everyone’s expectations too high. Aside from that, I was really impressed with the new direction Apollo Brown took on Clouds.
Biggest Disappointment: Definitely Watch the Throne. I’m no Jay-Z fan, but I thought Kanye would be able to carry the whole album after My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The lyrics are lazy and clichéd and the beats are more miss than hit. There’s only one good joint on there, The Joy, and it was a bonus track!
Most Promising Newcomer: Without a doubt Kendrick Lamar. Far in front of anyone else that started this year. Beat-wise, it has to be L’Orange. That guy’s unreal!
Song Of The Year: Baby Come Home by Rkappa. Classic sounding track, but the way the sample is flipped is dope.
Guilty Pleasure: I hate X-Factor, but you can’t argue with this.
Favourite Album of 2011: Danny Brown & Black Milk – Black & Brown
Biggest Surprise: Dimlite – Grimm Reality
Biggest Disappointment: Knxwledge
Most Promising Newcomer: Raadsel
Song Of The Year: Rustie – Glass Swords
Guilty Pleasure: Drake – Marvins Room (Shlohmo Remix)
Favourite Albums of 2011:
Blue Scholars – Cinemetropolis
James Blake – James Blake
Atmosphere – The Family Sign
Biggest Surprise: Blu & Exile – Give Me My Flowers While I Can Smell Them / The Funk League – Funky As Usual
Biggest Disappointment: No new Lightheaded album
Most Promising Newcomer(s): Balam Acab, Ifan Dyfadd, Handbook, The Hop
Song Of The Year: Evidence – You
Guilty Pleasure: Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne