It’s been quite a year… Not only in my personal life but also in the world of music. I can’t remember a time in the last decade, possibly longer, where I’ve been compelled to buy quite so many new albums, or listen to so many new artists, well, new to me at least. I couldn’t settle on a top 10 and, if I’m honest, a top 20 would have been influenced by other people’s lists so I’ve gone for 15 with a few ‘close runners’ listed afterwards.
There’s no write up for the artists or albums in this blog, time had caught up with me… I might find the time next week to go into more detail on some of them. In the meantime, if you don’t know the artists then follow the links. Most of these are independent artists and I hope you’ll like what you hear and support the musicians involved.
I’m not going to place these in any particular order, but what follows are my highlights of 2011, as far as I can remember. Also, I’ve not included live albums or reissues in this list, if I had it could have been very, very different.
Matt Stevens – Relic
Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events
Ben Craven – Great & Terrible Potions
Within Temptation – The Unforgiven
Cloudkicker – Let Yourself Be Huge
Wolverine – Communication Lost
John Wesley – The Lilypad Suite
Steve Lawson – 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything
Memories of Machines – Warm Winter
Star Ark – Imperfectious/God Complex Avatar (Teaser EP)
Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow
Tori Amos – Night of the Hunter
Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials
Amplifier – The Octopus*
Anathema – Falling Deeper
There others which I would have considered for my top slots, but I’ve either not listened to them enough or I feel my opinion may be influenced by what I’ve read rather than what I’ve heard…
Paul Cusick – P’dice – I’ve only had this a day and, if I’d had it longer it could well have made the top list.
Steve Hackett – Beyond The Shrouded Horizon – An amazing album, broad in scope, but as predicted by my Twitter buddies it’s not quite ‘up there’ with the others.
Steven Wilson – Grace for Drowning – I love this, in parts. It’s an amazing achievement, but I think the PT PR machine hyped it so much that people just placed it in their top 10s by default. It hasn’t made mine.
Opeth – Heritage – An amazing album, a departure from much of their earlier music, vocally at least. I just feel that the production let this down, a point made even more obvious when you play the Classic Rock presents Prog CD from last month and compare their track to all the others… flat production wise. A shame as it was up for my favourite of the year until recently.
Morpheus Rising – Let The Sleeper Awake – Do I need to say anything? I can’t put this in my top 15, it would be sad as I co-wrote 10 of the 12 tracks (if you include the 2 bonus tracks in the download) but it’s bloody stunning and I highly recommend you go see them live next year!
* iTunes tells me this was released in 2010? I’m sure it was this year!
If I was absolutely forced to pick a top three, at the moment, it would be Matt Stevens, Tori Amos (sorry Kate!) and Amplifier, but that’ll change tomorrow!