DJ Bunga (TAG)
I was gonna go with Bon Iver’s sophomore follow-up but since it’s on a lot of year end Best Of lists already I would like to draw your attention to Wild Flag. A female supergroup-of-sorts with members from Sleater-Kinney, Helium and Elephant Six; Wild Flag’s debut is one hell of a raucous rock album. An amalgam of post-punk, Stonesy garage rock, ’60s girl pop and even psychedelia, first single ‘Romance’ with its twitching, intertwining guitar lines and infectious rhythm is a dancefloor monster while songs such as ‘Boom’ and ‘Racehorse’ (“I’m a racehorse / Put your money on me” – oh yes) are pure rock’n’roll swagger. You’ll be hearing this one A LOT at Twilight Actiongirl.
Fuad (Kyoto Protocol)
A masterpiece that grips attention from the civil war-themed and heavy metal-tinged ‘Perth’ and never releases, culminating in the gorgeous climax that is ‘Calgary”. This album smashes any notion of the sophomore slump. It sounds good the first time and gets even better with more listens. 2011 was the year I sought to expand my musical horizons, but the sheer brilliance of this album made that impossible as it beckoned me to put it on repeat time and time again.
A local told me about them when I was in Cambodia earlier this year. Although only lead singer Chhom Nimol is Cambodian (the rest of the band are accomplished Los Angeles-based Americans), they find the right balance of novelty and originality on this rollicking party-ready bilingual album.
TYLER, THE CREATOR
A lot of uptight hip hop purists are gonna disagree with me on this. But whatever, hip hop is finally having fun and not giving a f*ck again. Look past those homophobic and misogynistic lyrics (Tyler never said he was a role model) and you’ll find ace storytelling, game-changing beats, cool song titles (‘Burger’, ‘Fish’, ‘Steak Sauce’??) and Adventure Time references. What makes Goblin even more special is that it doesn’t believe in catchy choruses. In fact, sometimes it doesn’t believe in choruses AT ALL. Golf Wang!
Alex ‘ASquared’ Anthony (Deer Society)
TORO Y MOI
UNDERNEATH THE PINE
With tracks from pop-inspired ‘New Beat’ to the romantic ‘Before I’m Done’, Mr. Chaz Bundick brings me into a daze, layering the sounds over crackling vinyl, backward sampled guitar and hazy synths. With the use of all live instruments to create a significantly lighter, breezier and less “chillwave” sound yet it still chills you out. It’s still ripe for getting stoned and moderately nodding your head (if that’s what you are into) but no longer necessarily “chillwave”, or at least what we’ve come to accept it as chillwave.
Mathias ‘VNRP’ Rapp (Deer Society)
This is by far my favourite dance release this year. It’s just an amazing mish-mash of cheesy 90s-style pop, french house and that choppy Surkin sex jam. Surkin has also included all previous hits with a fresh coat of paint (they still hold up so well), and ‘Ultra Light’, the ultimate Surkin dance bomb! What really makes this fun though, is the ‘Fireworks Radio Station’ vibe of radio static and hosting between tracks. It’s like speeding down route Surkin in a beat up convertible, sun shining, wind in the mullet and the radio blasting ‘White Knight Two’. I want to be there.
THE OTHER SIDE
First of all I gotta say it’s mad hard to pick only one album as my favourite in 2011, but on the other side I just gotta admit that Berlin’s Robert Koch aka Robot Koch aka 1/3 of Jahcoozi (BPitch Control) is one of the best producers & composers, a good friend (homie biz…), plus a never-ending musical inspiration to me. The Other Side is a lot deeper and complex than Robot’s previous albums. The vibe is cinematic, pure, fresh, bass-heavy and heartfelt. Robot is not following a genre, but is writing music, which will last. And remember, robots don’t sleep, so don’t sleep on it. Get it!