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As we storm headfirst into 2012 it’s time for that annual period of reflection over the hectic year that was 2011. There were lots of reunions (Pulp, Stone Roses and er, Steps) lots of new faces (including The Vaccines, Dry The River and Wu Lyf) and sadly, lots of deaths (Amy Winehouse, Nate Dog and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons to name but a few). There were also a whole bunch of shit hot albums released and here are some of our contributors’ top 10…


1) The Unthanks – Last
A masterful display of northern folk music, combining traditional with the modern to spine-chilling effect. The Unthanks sisters should be the next thing you listen to today, if you haven’t already.

2) Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
Despite a phenomenal self-titled debut, Fleet Foxes still managed to raised the bar with this one. American folk traditions remoulded and updated by Robin Pecknold and his sky-high talent.

3) Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Bon Iver also outdid himself on his mighty sophomore release. From the opening strains of ‘Perth’, it’s clear that this album was designed to leave the listener in emotional tatters. Worked for me.

4) Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
A late arrival and a truly special one. On ‘Oh Fortune’, Canada’s Dan Mangan takes country and indie stylings and turns them into gold-dust. ‘Rows Of Houses’, in particular, is untouchably ace.

5) Black Tusk – Set The Dial
Growlsome Southern sludgecore doesn’t get any gnarlier than this. With guitars that could double up as sandblasters, Black Tusk are the hicksville overdrive overlords. We salute you.

6) Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
A punk rock opera extraordinaire, FU’s third platter is a love story set in unforgiving times that managed to cement their position at the top of the modern hardcore coterie. Magnificent.

7) O’ Death – Outside
Their drummer survived osteosarcoma and then the New Yorkers made this, an album of gorgeously wretched folk/Americana. Banjos, fiddles and fragility combine to sublime effect.

8 ) Emily Barker & The Red CLay Halo – Almanac
Casting her net back to the late ’60s, Aussie native, Emily Barker, deploys traditional instrumentation with a honey-soaked, Judy Collins-esque voice. Neo-folk fame surely beckons.

9) Bangers – Small Pleasures
I’m so proud of Roo, Hamish and Andrew, aka Bangers. Great friends who just so happen to make the most celebratory and cerebral, gruff-voiced melodic punk rock this side of Gainesville, USA.

10) Great Cynics – Don’t Need Much
Likewise with Great Cynics, another scene-fave trio led by the inimitable Giles Bidder. This debut is full of singalong rootsy songs that never try too hard to impress but impress greatly, nonetheless.


1) Hollie Cook – Hollie Cook
She’s got the most soulful voice around, and this is because she doesn’t fake it. Her melodies are pure and full of emotion. And her style of reggae/rocksteady fits her songs perfectly. More please.

2) Meg Baird – Seasons on Earth
Bewitching and soothing folk, from the lady who sings in Espers.

3) The Loose Salute – Getting Over Being Under
Twice receivers of the prestigious 247 Magazine 5-star album review.

4) The Wild Swans – The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years
Legendary Liverpool band’s glorious return, helping to put Exeter’s Occultation label on the map.

5) I Break Horses – Hearts
Fine blend of electronica and dark psychedelic pop, like the lovechild of Suicide and Saint Etienne

6) Factory Star – Enter Castle Perilous
Another genius release from Occultation, this time from former Fall guitarist, Martin Bramah.

7) The Unthanks – Last
Painfully beautiful folk with a very sad tinge. Read the Unthanks interview in this month’s 247.

8 ) Mungo’s Hi-Fi – Forward Ever
Proper reggae. I mean PROPER. Very very nice indeed. You see, modern reggae CAN be good.

9) Spindrift – Classic Soundtracks
Triptastic soundscapes and psychedelic soundtracks from Brian Jonestown Massacre affiliates.

10) The Leisure Society – Into the Murky Waters
This album flows wonderfully. A fine way to remember the year.