TOP 11 OF 2011

By Zofia Ciechowska
(download and streaming links are provided for all free albums)

1. Katy B – On A Mission

On A Mission is not only excellent because of big issues like ‘women reasserting themselves in male-dominated dance genres' but mainly because it makes you feel like kissing boys, grinding sweatily on the dancefloor till 5 AM at some random house party, laughing your head off and not giving an eff. Katy has the most intense of voices that effortlessly swings through a jungle of dubby stuttering basslines, ravey jolts and heartbroken lyrics veering towards euphoria. This album is deliciously danceable and I absolutely love it more than anything else in the world.

Exmilitary is a collection of thirteen maniac tracks that beat you unconscious with their clenched fists of raging noise and rabid, barking vocals, Charles Manson clips included. To be quite honest, Death Grips just plain scare the shit out of me, but in that kind of way that makes me want to put my ear up to the speaker blasting this album and irreparably damage my hearing. Zach Hill, Flatlander and MC Ride have released a beast of a record into the wild which has gone on some sick killing spree, wiping out all musical competition this year.

3. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

I will grudgingly concede that these guys are kind of living up to the hype they made a while back. Werewolf howls, percussion gunshots and trumpeting organs make this record tear off its sleeve with much roaring, manly force. Frontman Ellery Roberts delivers the final punch with his frantic, raspy vocals that string together the lone guitar twangs that litter this album. The pheromones can be smelled from a mile away. Question is - do we buy that whole story about them recording it in some abandoned church?

4. Flamingods – Sun

Sun is pretty much like that big ball of fire shining through your window as you read this column – it seems like no big deal but actually it is an exploding radioactive star that could swallow up our whole solar system. It’s about five London boys drinking too much tropical juice drink, getting a sugar rush and banging on weird tribal instruments and making a lot of unclassifiable, happy racket. And finally, it has a lovely homemade sound to it that makes you feel like you’re watching these dudes rehearse in your living room.

5. Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place

I want to take the time to officially un-baptise Julianna Barwick as ‘the new Enya’ and all the bad associations that may have entailed. The Magic Place is ambient music stripped down to its most naked, unashamed and natural state as Barwick’s voice builds a winding labyrinth of unearthly sighs with the help of a loop station and nothing more (!). An album that is genuinely soothing and startlingly beautiful in a way that doesn’t just annoy you.

6. Pictureplane – Thee Physical

I like to think of Travis Egedy aka Pictureplane as Lady Gaga’s cool little tall brother. Perhaps he doesn’t wear dresses made of charcuterie, but he most certainly wears a post-physical dress with much pride in Thee Physical when he chants ‘you could be my boy and I could be your girl, trancegenderless’ with the guest appearance of Nika Roza Danilova of Zola Jesus. It’s cool, subversive clubby music strewn with 90s synth basslines, diva samples, lasers and piano breaks, all with a dash of DIY queer/simulation/internet theory to top it off.

7. V/A - Music for Saharan Cellphones

Chris Kirkley of Sahel Sounds travelled around Mali and Mauretania to discover that the main mode of listening and sharing music there was through mobile phones and bluetooth. He recorded a collection of these local tunes and released it in the USA, it gained a lot of hype and subsequently got remixed by a number of unknown dudes. Music for Saharan Cellphones is mindblowingly awesome firstly because it is the most tricked out collection of distorted African beats to date but also because it has crossed so many different borders on so many different levels that it makes my head hurt when I think about it. And it’s free!

8. Clams Casino – Rainforest

You will know Mike Volpe aka Clams Casino from his collaborations with the likes of Lil B and Soulja Boy, but those tracks turn pale when confronted with this man’s deconstructed hip hop EP Rainforest. Amidst the tropical fauna and flora hum and buzz comes forth a powerful blast of throbbing echo and muffled vocals that sends shivers down your spine and hypnotizes you into miasmic oblivion. Can you believe this guy doesn’t make this stuff for a living and interns at a hospital instead? Not for long, I say.

9. Barn Owl – Shadowland

Recommended by my bearded drone fan flatmate, I never really thought I’d get into this EP and yet I did which is why you should definitely give it a go too. I don’t have a beard which might make me less credible than my flatmate, so maybe just take his word for it. Made up of just three insomniac tracks that meander down dusty ambient roads, Shadowland’s mantric guitar waves and synthesizers create an aching tension that seems to repeatedly build and release itself. Best listened to when not sober.

Miami-based 20 year old Spaceghostpurrp is a cheeky little bastard who likes rapping about sexual intercourse and conjuring up spooky, horrorcore-inspired beats interspersed with Mortal Kombat samples. This guy gets a massive high five for his good sense of humour (see album title) and general tomfoolery. To be quite honest, I mainly like this album because SGP compares his penis to a flying broomstick from Harry Potter. No but really, it’s damn good and if you haven’t listened to this then you’re waaaay behind. Get on it.

Californian five-piece girl rap group Pink Dollaz released this mixtape in 2010, but I am putting it in here because a) I just can and b) it deserves another shot at being the hottest shit in the world. An unabashed ghetto teen girl manifesto, Mixtape Volume I is the audio counterpart to slashing your ex-boyfriend’s tyres and pissing on his air conditioner. Exploding with window-shattering basslines and rap lines that cover cunnilingus and hand me down Gucci, this record is the best Xmas present you could give your little sister. 

Throughout December the Subbacultcha! Blog will be publishing a series of Top 11 [insert-category-here] of 2011 features! Want to get involved? Please email zofia(at)subbacultcha.nl 
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