While 2011 saw the release of great albums from The Antlers, James Blake, Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie, Kendrick Lamar, Real Estate, The Roots, Shabazz Palaces, and The Weeknd, to name a few, two records really stood out to you.
Wu Lyf – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain
These four lads from Manchester, England, are artists. In the span of three weeks in the dead of winter in St. Peter’s Church in Ancoats, they recorded Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, a sonic experience infused with reverb-heavy riffs reminiscent of Austin post-rockers Explosions in the Sky and underscored by solemn pipe organ chords. Over these lush soundscapes, the shouted, throat-rasping, oft-unintelligible vocals of Ellery Roberts are an indelible mark of humanness. Certain phrases jump out, evoking feelings and inciting emotions. The contrast between the rawness of the vocals and the richness of the musicality make for a sound the band calls “Heavy Pop”. There’s a tightness to Wu Lyf’s self-produced and released debut that must be attributed to the ecclesiastical site where it was recorded; St. Peter’s Church is as much a part of the sound of this record as any musician. All of the elements that make up Go Tell Fire To The Mountain are perfectly aligned. Consequently, so is the album’s composition. This is a complete work and must be heard as such.
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
Trevor Powers was a student at Boise State University when he recorded The Year of Hibernation at home and released it under the name Youth Lagoon. With its cozy melodies, electro-synth rhythms, and cooing vocals, the album is the sonic equivalent of a warm woolen blanket: wrap yourself in it and be soothed. Powers explores a spectrum of emotions from heartbreak to loneliness to anxiety to hope. And while the scale of the tracks ranges from whispered intimacy to surging swells, the record’s mood is consistently sensitive and vulnerable.