5th Dimension: Nearly Albums Of The Year (2011)

It’s around this time of year that music magazines, websites and blogs start thinking about the all important “End Of Year List”. It’s seems disappointingly standard that every December, list after list quantifies the music industry into a handy list of 10, 50, or 100. Disappointing in terms of being standardized, perhaps, however it still allows for some interesting choices, controversial omissions and is still a great way to catch up on the best music which you may have missed that year (to think, I would never had listened to The Trials of Van Occupanther if it wasn’t for Uncut Magazines end of 2006 list). So, in the lead up to the inevitable (Bon Iver is album of the year, hands down), here are five albums that probably won’t be everyone’s final list this year, but are well worth checking out. Think of it as a Goal Of Season style competition of audacious shots that nearly went in.

1. The Mountain GoatsAll Eternals Deck
It’s amazing that John Darnielle isn’t as well known as he definitely should be. The Mountain Goats have been around for ages now and, despite gathering a passionately hardcore fanbase along the way, they have never really pushed themsleves out into the mainstream. That’s no bad thing, of course, but with songs this good and lyricism up there with the best, you would think that international recognition would have found its way to them. It is often cited that Darnielle’s voice has remained the band’s one weak point, but, although Sinatra he ain’t, it’s his poetic way with words which make him such an incredible artist. More popular choice 2011: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

2. Fair OhsEverything Is Dancing
With the xx boring us rigid last year, London music needed a happy place in 2011. When did music stop being about youthful abandon and get all super-serious and deeply sincere? Thankfully, Fair Ohs were at hand this year to bring on the sunshine. Everything Is Dancing does exactly what it says on the tin: an album full of youthful, energetic and playful indie-pop with a tantalising tropical edge. Guaranteed to make you smile, guaranteed to make you dance, guaranteed to make you wanna join a London tropical-punk three-piece. More popular choice 2011: Friendly Fires – Pala

3. WATERSOut In The Light
The last few years have all been about the lo-fi. Indie bands are now saying “nay” to big, polished, over-egged production instead opted for a recorded sound which exudes a “plug-and-play” ethos. WATERS is the work of former Port O’Brien front-man Van Pierszalowski and Out In The Light is the album Band Of Horses should have released after Cease To Begin. Lo-fi, dirty edged, Neil Young inspired guitar indie-rock. More popular choice 2011: Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

4. Richmond FontaineThe High Country
Country-rock isn’t as popular as it should be in my opinion. But I guess when you 5/5 Star Rated Cunts like Toby Keith flying the flag for American country-rock, it seems a little trickier to defend. However, there are still a few bands who give the genre credibility. Richmond Fontaine have been respectable bastions for Southern Rock since the mid-nineties, producing dark and blustery rock with a very literate edge (front-man Willy Vlautin is also a novelist) and The High Country is their most conceptually intriguing album to date. Foregoing a straight album of traditional songs, the album is more like a crime-noir audio-novel for hillbillys. More popular choice 2011: Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

5. All Tiny CreaturesHarbors
Made up of members of Volcano Choir and Bon Iver, I first checked out All Tiny Creatures through association alone, but I am happy to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised when I first listened to Harbors. Combining the glitchy electronica of bands like Caribou, the dance infused guitar work of The Rapture and reverb laden ethereal vocals reminiscent of shoegaze and dream-pop, the album ticks many pleasing boxes. Plus, Justin Vernon himself makes an appearance on the track ‘An Isis’. Straight from the beginning, Harbors grabs your attention and refuses to let you go. More popular choice 2011: Bon Iver – Bon Iver