20. Wild Beasts – Albatross
The lead single from their third album Smother, Albatross highlights the unique sound that Wild Beasts have created. I imagine Wild Beasts are a band easy to dislike, with lead singer Hayden Thorpe often adopting a falsetto singing voice and music that is hard to define. But Albatross is a beautiful song and the album is one of the best of the year.
19. Elbow – Neat Little Rows
After the incredible success of fourth album The Seldom Seen Kid, Elbow returned in 2011 as the people’s band. While Build A Rocket, Boys! may not have reached the heights of their previous album, Neat Little Rows is another anthemic track, with a soaring chorus destined to soundtrack a thousand TV shows.
18. Friendly Fires – Hawaiian Air
Friendly Fires sound like summer, the kind of music you can imagine listening to as you watch the sun set on holiday. Hawaiian Air is a highlight of their second album Pala, and the video features more of Ed McFarlane’s ‘drunk uncle at a wedding’ dancing, first seen in the Kiss Of Life video. With a growing reputation for brilliant live shows, Friendly Fires are going from strength to strength.
17. Jane’s Addiction – End To The Lies
Jane’s Addiction are a band with a reputation. Having formed in 1985, they’ve split up twice, gone through numerous line-up changes, been addicted to, well, everything, yet somehow managed to release four great albums. End To The Lies was their first single in eight years, and is driven by mighty riffs from Dave Navarro and has the kind of vitality missing from so many bands half their age.
16. Death In Vegas – Savage Love
Another band returning after a long absence, although Death In Vegas seems to now just be Richard Fearless. After a seven year gap following 2004’s Satan’s Circus, fifth album Trans-Love Energies was released in September. Savage Love is the closing track, an epic 7 minute song forever building into a tumultuous climax at the end of a great album.
15. Foo Fighters – White Limo
Early in the year, Foo Fighters released a brief clip of Dave Grohl screaming over a heavy wall of sound. It seemed that the Foo Fighters had gone metal. While the album, Wasting Light, didn’t live up to those expectations, White Limo definitely rocks hard. The video is a trademark Foos video, with Lemmy driving the titular vehicle, and the band enjoying a wild ride.
14. The Kills – Future Starts Slow
The two members of The Kills, Jamie Hince (Hotel) and Alison Mosshart (VV) are somewhat overshadowed by their other halves. Hince is the husband of Kate Moss, and Mosshart is a member of Jack White’s The Dead Weather. But they’ve been making music together for a decade, and Future Starts Slow is the best track on their fourth album, Blood Pressures, featuring trademark duelling vocals.
13. The Duke Spirit – Surrender
Liela Moss might be better known for her vocals on various U.N.K.L.E. tracks, but as lead singer of The Duke Spirit she fronts a band that really should be much bigger than they are. Surrender is the first single from their third album, Bruiser, and is driven by a chunky riff and a soaring chorus.
12. Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean
Grown Ocean is the final track on Fleet Foxes excellent second album, Helplessness Blues. Like many Fleet Foxes tracks, it sounds timeless, as if it could have been recorded in America at any time in the last 50 years. Robin Pecknold’s vocal dominates the track, but it’s a group effort with layer upon layer of sound building a beautiful track.
11. Justice – Civilization
Used to soundtrack a series of Adidas adverts early in the year, Civilization was the first track to be released from the French duo’s second album. One of the year’s weirder videos features bison escaping a crumbling wasteland, and the vocals are provided by Ali Love. The track has a blend of 70s disco and modern electro and was a quality taster for the album.