Albums of the Year 2011 – The International Edition (15-1)

15. Andreas Mattsson – Kick Death’s Ass

It’s certainly wise to listen to old Popsicle records from time to time, because those are some of the best power pop albums ever released, but don’t forget that Andreas Mattsson is still on top form. Nowadays his music is much more peaceful than during the golden Popsicle days, but the quality is still there. Ok, I’m not sure have I ever listened to the first song Jazzmaster in its entirety, but the rest of Andreas Mattsson’s latest solo album Kick Death’s Ass is amazingly beautiful pop music. This is the wonderful first single AA.

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14. Daniel Romano – Sleep Beneath The Willow

Canadian Daniel Romano released one of the best traditional country albums. Sleep Beneath The Willow is a beauty. Some of it sounds a bit like Gram Parsons, almost all of it sounds excellent. Full of great songs like Hard On You, Lost (For As Long As I Live), Louise, There Are Lines in My Face. Daniel Romano is totally mastering this country ballad thing.
13. Hezekiah Jones – Have You Seen Our New Fort?

Philly-based folk collective Hezekiah Jones (led by Raphael Cutrufello) has become more and more important during the year. Couple weeks back I bought their back catalogue and my feelings towards this most recent release are also getting stronger and stronger every day. Have You Seen Our New Fort? contains some of the most magical music released during the year. There’s also a couple of songs I’m not too keen on and that’s why I had to be honest and leave it outside top 10 even though it breaks my heart. However, the gentle ones like Lift The Shadow From This Heart, Last Parade on Ann St, Traffic To The Sea.. oh my. Speechless.



12. Dolorean – The Unfazed

Al James’ Dolorean is climbing towards the top all the time. I enjoyed the previous album, but The Unfazed was the first Dolorean release that completely won my heart over (I haven’t even heard the first two though). I’m especially addicted to the first trio Thinskinned, Country Clutter and The Unfazed. Amazing songs each and every one. The track that first caught my attention was this ultimate break-up song Country Clutter.

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11. Sloan – The Double Cross

As the title of the website shows, Sloan is an important group for me. The new album The Double Cross is once again marvellous. This legendary Canadian band has been around for 20 years and are still going strong. The Double Cross is one of my favourite pop albums of the year. An absolute joy to listen to. This is the first single The Unkind.

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10. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

As a long time Ryan Adams fan, I’m excited about each and every one of his releases, but I couldn’t be happier that he decided to take this slower & beautiful route this time around. I admit that Ashes & Fire felt a little boring for the few first times when I listened to it, but the reasons were that a) I was being an idiot b) I wasn’t paying enough attention, it was just playing on the background. Then one day I just went for a walk, put Ryan on my iPod and he injected all this beauty into my head and I saw the light. Ashes & Fire is a wonderful album and easily in the better half of the fantastic Ryan Adams back catalogue.

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9. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest

During the first six songs, this is an album of the year contender. The quality drops just a hint after that, but don’t worry. The rest of this is really good as well. Just not as friggin’ great and magical as the first half of the album. Anyway, Jason Isbell has once again proved that he is one of the best songwriters in the genre (or in general for that matter). Here We Rest always had a cemented place in the top 10.

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8. Patrick Sweany – That Old Southern Drag

Soulful blues rock doesn’t usually rule my year-end lists, but Patrick Sweany’s That Old Southern Drag is a magnificent record. Blues, soul and 50’s rock’n’roll. A perfect combination. I can fully agree with Jorma Kaukonen who said that “If there was any justice in this old world, Patrick Sweany would already be a big star!”.


7. Chris Bathgate – Salt Year

Chris Bathgate from Ann Arbor, Michigan is another great folk troubadour I found during the year (thanks to Slowcoustic) and I’m also currently working through his back catalogue. A Cork Tale Wake just arrived on my doorstep today. A good reason to get this album of the year list finished, so I can slip that one to the cd player. Anyway, Salt Year is a beautiful work of art. Just listen to this magnificent title track and you will understand it too.


6. Small Houses – North

More Michigan-based folk artists. Let’s put these albums one after another, because it’s impossible to say which one I love the most. In the end, Small Houses gets the sixth spot, because it contains my favourite song of the year. Ok, I haven’t really finished that list yet, but during the last weeks I’ve had the feeling that it has to be Late July by Small Houses. I just love every second of it. Well done Small Houses and Jeremy Quentin. And no, Late July is not the only great song on the album. I’m just always focusing on it, because I love it almost too much.

Small Houses – “Late July” from Spencer Wells on Vimeo.

5. Austin Lucas – A New Home in The Old World

Austin Lucas is an older favourite, but he showed some new tricks this time around. More electric Austin sounded equally great as the one I knew before and A New Home in the Old World might be his best record to date (even though it’s pretty hard to top Somebody Loves You). Excellent record with a lot of versatility. I’ve listened to it an awful lot during the year and can’t get tired of it.

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4. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

An early favourite that kept me hooked through the whole year and I’m still addicted to Jessica Lea Mayfield’s second album Tell Me. I love that mellow voice and Dan Auerbach has done an excellent job with the production. I never though that me and drum loops could see eye to eye, but apparently we do in this case. The key attraction is of course Jessica and her beautifully written folk songs. Often dark, but always beautiful. This one below is called Somewhere in Your Heart.

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3. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

The guy looks a bit like young Bruce Willis and writes songs like Jackson Browne and Eagles did in the 70s. How could a person not love Taylor Goldsmith. The second Dawes album instantly won my heart over. The whole album is gorgeous and the first two songs Time Spent in Los Angeles and If I Wanted Someone are out of this world. The finest 70’s influenced folk rock. This one below is also one of my top 3 songs for the year 2011. If I Wanted Someone by Dawes.

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2. Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

Glossary’s soulful rock found the core of my heart late in the year and their delightful album Long Live All Of Us brought plenty of light and warmness to these dark november/december nights. The whole thing is fantastic and every single track is a winner. Therefore it’s almost pointless to start naming favourite tracks. Everything works.

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1. The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind

Well this comes as no surprise to anyone who has been regularly reading this blog. The Place I Left Behind by The Deep Dark Woods is the album of the year 2011 here at These Canadians just released something truly wonderful. “Beautiful lead vocals, rich harmonies and warm sounds gently collide with sad & lonesome thoughts, gloomy & dark stories.. and even old-fashioned murder ballads” I wrote on my short my review back then and that still sums up my thoughts rather nicely. Ryan Boldt and co are my new heroes and The Place I Left Behind is a perfect folk rock album.. And the Album of the Year 2011.

Sugar Mama:

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West Side Street:

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The Deep Dark Woods discuss their new album The Place I Left Behind.


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