Top 5 of 2011

It’s that time of the year again, and so soon! As we say Goodbye to 2011, our staff take a look back at their own personal highlights from the last 365 days.

Bella’s top 5 Albums of 2011:

The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

This was far and away my number one album of 2011, and though these aren’t in any particular order, Elsie demands to be at the top of the list. As far as I’m concerned, Brian Fallon can do no wrong and his latest partnership with Ian Perkins is absolutely, breathtakingly gorgeous. The album is theatrical and haunting both musically and lyrically from start to finish, and the vocals, as usual for Mister Fallon, are nothing short of magnificent. I don’t throw around the word ‘masterpiece’ too often but I would stick it on Elsie without hesitation.

Kanye West / Jay-Z – Watch The Throne

When choosing my top 5 albums of the year, it is literally IMPOSSIBLE to go past Watch The Throne. What could possibly top two of hip-hops biggest stars of our time, combining their genius and bestowing it upon the world? Not much. The album went platinum, spawned a tour that is currently blowing peoples minds and earned quite possibly the biggest buzz of the year (okay, we’re not counting Adele because she’s magic or something) from critics, publications and fans alike. Both controversial and relentlessly unconventional, there’s something about these two guys that I adore, and by joining up, they’ve just made themselves even more powerful- like when the Power Rangers become Megazord.

Alkaline trio – Damnesia

Is this Technically a cheat? I don’t think I care. Damnesia is a release from 2011, yes. But the songs (save for two and a cover) are not quite new. A re-working of fan favourites, everything old is new again with added acousticy goodness. Some criticised the move to re-release old tracks, but I think with a back catalogue as solid as Trio’s and as many loyal fans, that a ‘greatest hits’ of sorts is earned. The tracks not only stand up to the test of time, but benefit from the keys and strings, the slightly tweeked compositions showing off the skills they’ve fine tuned over the years. Listening to Damnesia is like trying out a new restaurant with a long time lover- ultimately, it’s predictable; you know how the night will play out, but you can appreciate an completely enjoy the different flavours on the way.

Friendly Fires – Pala

Name me a funner, more dance inducing, blessed out live act than Friendly Fires and I will call you a liar. Pala is hands down the ideal summer soundtrack, if ever there was one. It is truly pure stylized excess and unashamedly, unapologetic about it. Rightly so. It’s fast become my go-to for happy times and has barely made it out of my 5 stack player since the week it dropped, well back in march.

Saves The Day – Daybreak

After numerous line up changes and a release date that was nudged back more times than anyone cared to count, Saves The Day FINALLY came back with a stunning return to their glistening best with Daybreak. Chris Conley is quite frankly a legend as far as I’m concerned and has long been a pioneer and a trend setter in the alternative music scene. I don’t think this will be an exception, and that honestly can’t be a bad thing. This album is stunning and well worth the four year wait.

Honourable mention:

Lady Gaga – Born This Way.

Oh. Come onnn


Mercury Prize nominated trio Friendly Fires are delighted to announce the release of their second album Pala.

Named after the island in Aldous Huxley’s 1962 novel ‘Island’, Pala has been produced by Friendly Fires themselves and Paul Epworth (award winning producer with credits including Bloc Party, Cee-Lo Green, Florence and the Machine, remixes for Santigold and P. Diddy). The album was recorded over the past twelve months in various locations including London, St. Albans, Rye in Sussex, Yvetot in France, and New York.

Pala is set to build on the success of Friendly Fires’ eponymous debut self-titled album that was released in September 2008, and went on to sell over 200,000 copies in the UK, picking up a Mercury Prize nomination and two Brit Awards nominations along the way.

The artwork for Pala features a beautiful photograph of a parrot from a personal project of famed fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø (Dazed and Confused, Yves Saint Laurent, Coldplay, Alexander McQueen) while the album also sees musical collaborations with America’s premier gospel choir -the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir (on ‘Hurting’) and Holy Ghost’s Alex Frankel (who plays Clavinet on ‘True Love’).

The first single from the album is ‘Live Those Days Tonight’. you can listen to it HERE

Friendly Fires – Pala is out May 13 2011 on XL Recordings / Remote Control