[sic] Magazine

2011: The Half Term Report

The time has come to reflect on 2011’s releases to date. A little slow out of the traps – there was no Merriweather Post Pavilion -type January offering this year, for example – what then to make of what has been cut?

In brief: it’s been good. Though more of a tortoise than the fabled hare, there’s nevertheless now sufficient ground swell to allow the aligning of 2011 with the rich pickings of those years in the recent past.

So, below, in no particular order, and according to these ears alone, are this year’s top ten star performers. Together they take the interim crown for those sounds that have most beguiled and entertained so far. And, just for the hell of it, as sometimes these cocooned performers need knocking down a peg or two, are the three worst listens these same ears have had the misfortune of enduring in the same period.

In the positive camp, Yuck ‘s impeccable thievery from the echo-y end of 90s alt-rock and indie has seen them see through their early promise. 2011 has also found the never-been-better Bill Callahan in both a playful and contemplative mood, whereas Kurt Vile has also hit a career best with his recent condensing of forty years of American FM rock. Doing it for the stoners, the re-issued heroics of sleep-metal peddlers Ga’an blew minds afresh – equally the dark psych-rock disco provided by Lumerians . Forming a trinity of more linear, but no less exciting guitar bands, Crystal Stilts , Girls Names and Mazes have all been blazing a trail this year for infectious, scuzzy licks. Porcelain Raft has massively grown in stature too in recent months and this year’s fragile, unique singer-songwriting cements him as a real talent. And the same can be said for Dirty Beaches , whose diverse song-craft takes him through enviably noir and lo-fi soundscapes.

At the foot of the table, the empty emoting of the new Glasvegas record is downright embarrassing, so too the much-lauded “post-dub” of James Blake , whose general idea is to write generic landfill and to optimistically cut it with radio-friendly, bottom-end bass. Yawn. Finally, the blustery pub-rock polemics of Young Rebel Set have roundly failed to emulate their denim-clad heroes.

Despite its misses, and thanks to impending big releases from the likes of Bon Iver and The Horrors , along with lesser, but no less anticipated outings from the likes of WU LYF , Ty Segall , Fucked Up and Seapony all yet to cross scrutiny, 2011 is starting to look for all the world like another vintage harvest.

That list in full:

Ga’an Ga’an (Captcha)
Mazes A Thousand Heys (Fat Cat)
Dirty Beaches Badlands (Zoo Music)
Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)
Yuck Yuck (Fat Possum)
Crystal Stilts In Love With Oblivion (Fortuna Pop)
Girls Names Dead To Me (Tough Love)
Bill Callahan Apocalypse (Drag City)
Porcelain Raft Gone Blind EP (Acéphale)
Lumerians Transmalinnia (Knitting Factory Works)

Be more than free to offer your own selections by way of comment below …

[sic] Review – Smoke Ring For My Halo

[sic] Review – A Thousand Heys

[sic] Review – Transmalinnia

[sic] Review – Dead To Me

[sic] Review – In Love With Oblivion