Here’s our round-up of some of our favourite records from the last three months, covering July, August and September. In April, we brought you our editors’ picks of the albums of the year so far, then in July we gave you our choices from the next three months. Below you’ll find a mixed bag of critically lauded albums you may already have heard, and a few hidden gems that you might have missed. Here’s 11 for the third quarter of 2011!
If You Are All I See didn’t quite manage to maintain the quality of its early singles throughout its run time, it’s still a unique and admirable feat and could only have been released in 2011. Pat Grossi’s falsetto is set within these great baroque, synthetic musical structures, but still manages to be strangely meditative.
Azari & III’s debut does for ‘80s house what Hercules And Love Affair did for disco a few years ago. The band sound like they’ve immersed themselves in house’s history and ethos – in the process, they’ve produced an album that sounds like a tribute and a celebration, while also being incredibly difficult to resist.
We’ve got a review on the way for this, and The Field’s newest release has been doing the rounds digitally for a few weeks. It’s a definite return to form, building on the ambient textures of From Here We Go Sublime and Yesterday And Today with hypnotic beats and a more immediate sense of structure.
Machinedrum’s Travis Stewart is one half of Sepalcure, who have an album due in November. His solo outing, Room(s), sounds a little like Mount Kimbie’s ghostly music but rooted much closer to Chicago house. It might be a little reductive to call this a sun-kissed Burial, but Machinedrum toes a similar line across pure dance textures and emotion.
We’ve got a lot to look forward to if we can come to expect Laura Marling to turn out an album of the quality of A Creature I Don’t Know every year or so – the Joni Mitchell comparisons are maybe a bit tired, but it’s not unreasonable to look at Joni’s run from Clouds to Hejira and wonder if Marling’s capable of something similar.
Much has been made of James Blake and Jamie Woon’s approach to songwriting, heavily influenced by the textures of dance and electronica, though Jono McCleery’s recent album on Ninja Tune perhaps achieves what they set out to do with more subtlety. There Is is a quiet, patient album, that might just win you over if you give it time.
Remember Remember’s album could be easily passed by – sitting down to listen to eight instrumental tracks by a seven piece band may sound like a test of patience rather than an enjoyable listening experience to itchy modern ears – but The Quickening is a nuanced, beguiling album, brilliantly realised and frequently touching.
It’s been a Robyn-less year so far, which has obviously been difficult for everyone – luckily Nicola Roberts’ solo record occupies similar forward-thinking-and-intelligent-but-definitely-catchy-and-good-pop ground. The only downside to Girls Aloud reforming next year will be that she won’t be able to follow this up immediately.
Hiphop on Sub Pop? Who’d have thought that the label best known for giving us Nirvana and Mudhoney would be putting out one of the best hiphop records of 2011? Black Up sounds like a cross between Flying Lotus and Clipse – and it’s the immersive, relentlessly inventive and slightly paranoid listen that you’d expect from that comparison.
Fronted by Adam Granduciel, The War On Drugs sit somewhere between Dylan and Sonic Youth. Their new record finds them honing their blend of folk and experimental textures, chucking synths and drum machines into the mix for good measure. Slave Ambient could very well be classic rock songwriting reinvented for 2011.
To describe Trevor Power’s debut as Youth Lagoon as ‘bedroom pop’ is to do the ambitions and ideas on display here a great disservice – The Year Of Hibernation may have started in one room, but it bursts far beyond that across its eight beautifully realised main tracks.