MUSIC COLUMN: My top picks of 2011

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Yes, the festive season has officially arrived and, yes, the Christmas countdowns have begun.

So I though I would share with you all the album and tracks, in my opinion, that have shone in 2011.

The artist, I believe deservedly grabs the top spot for the best album of the year, is PJ Harvey with ‘Let England Shake’.

PJ Harvey has gained musical and critical acclaim this year, after winning the 2011 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for the second time with her record ‘Let England Shake’. This recognition has truly reinforced how much PJ Harvey has put a stamp on British music in the past 20 years.

PJ Harvey- Let England Shake

Ninety seven years ago, an event happened that changed the course of history and many perspectives of what the human race was capable of. This of course was the First World War, a war that affected the all of human race in such way, that it would never be forgotten. In the eyes of Polly Harvey this is very true as ‘Let England Shake’ is arguably an anti-war record, which ventures deep into the dark heart of war itself.

The lyrics “The West’s asleep, let England shake/ weighted down with silent dead” is from the opener of the album, ‘Let England Shake’ that holds brave criticism which, sets the tone for the rest of the 11 tracks.’ Let England Shake’ is argued to be the best record to date after ‘Dry’ was released 19 years ago, PJ Harvey has proved to be an superb lyricist and performer. Other tracks like ‘To Bring You My Love’ brings an candid emptiness, in contrast to the subtle romance of ‘ Stories from the City...’ on all of these journeys there is an natural emotional connection, which PJ Harvey creates with the listener and allows them to experience what Harvey holds dear.

‘On The Last Living Rose’ she decrees “God damn Europeans! Take me back to England”, these are no rose tinted lenses that PJ Harvey has acquired. The song-writing captures the grey and dismal atmosphere of home. The poetic lyrics resonate with English landscapes and traditions. ‘Let England Shake’ plays with death, where soldiers are falling“like lumps of meat”. This analogy has a distinct likeness to Morrissey’s lyrical frankness.

Can this world ago of WW1 be related to the deserts of Iraq? This album is not the norm, but it is for anyone who is slightly ambiguous then they will find it a treat.

For my pick of the best track of the year was a difficult choice, so in the end I decided upon two songs, which I found fitting to the title of the best single of 2011:

The Horrors - Still Life

Over this past year, my affections for this my band have flourished in what I call now as a tender love (with no creepiness involved).

One of the reasons why this track has stood out for me is that it was nothing I have ever heard before from Southend’s finest.

‘Still Life’ has produced an emotional uplift from the previously mysterious band. The Horrors used warm synths and a new-wave vibe to create this emotional release but what really gave this song another dimension is the collaboration with the music and Faris’ voice, which is dark and alluring.’Still Life’ came from the band’s third album ‘Skying’, which was released in July of this year, which also gained critical acclaim.

If you haven’t heard of The Horrors by now, YOU NEED TO! That’s all I have to say on the subject.

Metronomy – The Bay

Metronomy, is an English group from Devon, which was formed backed in 1999. Since then the band have grown in popularity and have made a name for themselves on the indie scene. ‘The Bay’ is from the album ‘The English Riviera’ which also like The Horrors have been noted for their musical talents. This song has catchy hooks, playful tones and memorising funky beats (what more do you want). This is one tune to be enjoyed with an iced cold lemonade and with the ocean at an arm length’s away. Metronomy have remixed many artists including Lady Gaga, Lykke Li, Klaxons and many more. With all of the remixes being an great success. I do believe that Metronomy should continue with their own musical creations as they are doing the world a whole lot of good.