30: PEARSON SOUND
(NIGHT SLUGS WHITE LABEL)
Expert re-tooling of the Hardrive classic in a bumping, Swamp81-friendly ghetto-house style, with an attention to detail – deadly echo effects, eerie hanging chords – that betrays the touch of David Kennedy.
29: WASHED OUT
(WEIRD WORLD / SUB POP)
Having earned a cult following and record deal on the back of his none-more-chill Life Of Leisure EP, Ernest Greene bravely headed for more melancholy waters on his debut full-length. ‘Amor Fati’ bridged the breeziness of his earlier work with his newfound world-weariness; a near-perfect pop song, at once mourning an irrecoverable past and looking hopefully to the future.
(from A I A, YELLOW ELECTRIC)
Liz Harris over-stretched herself a tad with A I A, the two-part album of otherworldly drone-folk she released this year, but one of its songs, ‘Alien Observer’, was for us the most precious and heart-rending of her career.
27: LOOPS HAUNT
The biggest, baddest record you’ll hear anywhere this year with a guitar solo.
26: SBTRKT feat. ROSES GABOR
(from SBTRKT, YOUNG TURKS)
Inspired by disco and pop but retaining the same garage skip that makes Sbtrkt’s work so catchy, this highlight of the masked man’s debut album could be an Annie record if you squint – that’s no bad thing.
Until ‘Shower Scene’, we knew Tring producer Huxley best for his deep(ish) house releases on labels like Tsuba and Cecille, but this shamelessly fun, piano-driven garage stomper could’ve been teleported straight from ’99 and sounds all the better for it.
‘LIKE WE USED TO’
Kahn’s beautifully crafted debut single bowled us over, with its vocals chopped into the syllables of pure energy and longing – “feminine pressure” writ large – and strapped to the most lithe and undeniable dubstep rhythm we heard all year.
23: NEW YORK TRANSIT AUTHORITY
‘OFF THE TRAXX’
On the surface, a Bristol dubstep producer (Mensah) donning a new, NYC-referencing alias to make Swamp81-referencing 808 house is the sort of thing that 2011 couldn’t have needed less, but this expertly gliding journey through the underground sounded so good that it was impossible to knock.
There is no apology: barely anybody took more shit than Kreayshawn in 2011 (she’s a white, female rapper – it comes with the territory unfortunately), but the fact that she can go from recording music that sounds like CocoRosie (the weirder side of Kitties & Choppas) and Hype Williams (Kreayshawn x The Bay) to releasing one of the year’s most brilliant crossover pop hits without so much as batting one of her fake eyelashes means she’s probably more talented than people give her credit for.
21: DYLAN ETTINGER
‘LION OF JUDAH’
(NOT NOT FUN)
In what was a brave and admirable departure from the cyber-punk ambient of his fabulous 2009/10 album New Age Outlaws, ‘Lion Of Judah’ found Dylan Ettinger fusing synth-pop and dub-reggae tropes with great success. With its haunting melodica lines, stargazing keyboard sequences, molasses-thick bass and part-dissolved vocals, it sounded like the work of a skunked-out, sleep-deprived John Foxx might.