Thursday, 29 December 2011

Blouse's Best of 2011

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Well well.. Our 2011 calendars seem to only have a couple of days left until they run out of paper.

I guess that means that it is time for Blouse to reflect and cherry pick the things that we felt made 2011 the year that it was.

Blouse's Best of 2011
(ZIP file download from Mediafire)



Gang Gang Dance still bears the experimental elements of its previous album Saint Dymphna. But on Eye Contact they are more accessible – without being predictable. 'Glass Jar' is more than 11 minutes long but is so varied in texture that it doesn't become tiring. With a tambourine and funky bassline, 'Chinese High' soars into the stratosphere. 'Thru and Thru' is a drum-driven exploration of mood. As a whole, one of the year's beacons of craft.

Gang Gang Dance – Chinese High


Nicolas Jaar

What more needs to be said about this guy?

This year has seen him really establish himself as true pioneer. After a string of solid singles and an album that surprised and astonished its way to the top of innumerable 'best of' lists, many would argue that 2011 was the year of Nicolas Jaar.

It is a pretty well trumpeted fact that at 21, the maturity that he shows in his music far outweighs his years.
The restraint, vision and organic craftsmanship present in his music - from remixes for Azari & III and Maceo Plex to singles like Don't Break My Love has been nothing short of stunning.

But it was his debut album Space Is Only Noise that has really captivated his audience - and indeed granted him a shiny new crossover audience.
Floating somewhere between clubland techno and rich, experimental beats, this album was the embodiment of thinking man's electronica in 2011. Beautifully crafted with warm instrumentation and sparse, slow composition, this album broke new ground and thoroughly deserves to one of the albums that will come to represent 2011.

Nicolas Jaar - Keep Me There


Stroboscopic Artefacts

Minimal techno has taken firm footing at Blouse this year; partly due to some ‘dark’ nights in London and partly due to quality releases. Lucy’s debut album Wordplay for Working Bees is a heavily textured composition filled with industrial burrs, drawls and twangs. Crisp minimal cut ‘Bein’ has as much funk as BPMs, ‘Eon’ expresses the primal, paranoid elements of minimal and closing track ‘Ter’ proves surprisingly fragile.

Lucy - Ter



Real Estate has made some transcendent indie rock right here. Oscillating guitar chords, picket fence lyrical subject matter and consistent light-and-shade song progression throughout the album. The song 'It's Real' has such an infectious hook that as you sit at the dinner table your family might ask “Who's that band you're playing, Kitty?” If you meet someone, play this album. If you're on the market, play this album.



Lee Curtiss, Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson and Shaun Reeves started a mini revolution when they opened the doors at Visionquest.

The quirky, downtempo, alternative minimal/tech house sound that they have come to represent has a certain mystery and richness that is nigh on impossible to ignore.

Strong releases by Dinky, Benoit & Sergio and Tale Of Us - plus an excellent Fabric mix at the tail end of year- have seen them garner plenty of well deserved attention in 2011. And with several anticipated projects in the pipeline, I'm sure that will continue through '12 and beyond.

Tale Of Us - Dark Song

Visionquest (Shaun Reeves & Lee Curtiss) - Fabric Promo Mix


Atlantic / Big Beat / Because

Metronomy is ageing like aromatic sake. The English Riviera is quirk-pop like the rest of the band’s catalogue, yet more radio ready than previous release Nights Out. 'Everything Goes My Way' is genuinely romantic with its keut British vocals and acoustic guitar, 'The Look' has synthlines that would be familiar to anyone who’s been on the Paris Metro, while 'The Bay' has Metronomy’s signature dorky keys/bass/drums combo.

On a personal note, The English Riviera was the soundtrack to a couple of balmy weeks spent in Croatia. Its laid back, hazy vibe was the perfect companion during that trip, and listening to it always brings back memories of orange roofs, rockily beautiful beaches and sharing figs with nonna's. Fantastic. 


Hotflush Recordings

Travis Stewart and Praveen Sharma banged together this debut release in only a couple of weeks. It fuses house, bass and dubstep with achingly sweet sentiment. Opening track ‘Me’ is wound-up grade A dubstep, ‘See Me Feel Me’ is a touching ode to love and ‘Carrot Man’ pumps out bass, pianos and reverb’d vocals in wave-like surges. Only released last month, Sepalcure has topped off a stellar year in music.

Sepalcure – See Me Feel Me


Self Released

Perhaps the defining musical happening of 2011 was the 'reinvigoration' of R'n'B.
Artists like James Blake, SBTRKT, Jamie Woon and How To Dress Well all contributed to this movement, but to me, Abel Tesfaye's 'The Weeknd' was the game changer.

Somehow the naivety present in his unsavoury stories about sex, insecurity and way too many drugs really resonated with people. And with beats that perfectly matched the dark, scuzzy subject matter, Tesfaye was definitely on to something good.

Something that really struck and impressed me about this release though, was the way that it challenged people's perceptions on their own music taste.
I still remember the confusion on people's faces as they were listening to this (were they really listening to R'n'B?), and I think it speaks volumes that the music was good enough for pre-judgements to be irrelevant.  

The Weeknd - What You Need


Wolf + Lamb & Soul Clap

Along with other notable labels/posses Visionquest and Crosstown Rebels, these guys sure have made a huge mark this year.

A busy touring schedule, numerous releases (including  collaborations with Laid Back, Art Department & Theophilus London)
and a well received DJ Kicks mixtape has seen these guys deservedly lift their visibility.

Whilst other buzz labels have maintained a sense minimist restraint, these guys seem to  have turned the focus squarely onto fun - both in  production and live shows - whilst still retaining a somewhat smooth and chilled vibe.

Their combination of hip hop, soul and g-funk elements with house and tech house feels really fresh and I have no doubt that 2012 will see their popularity grow even further.

Tanner Ross & Soul Clap - Miami Shores

Wolf + Lamb vs Soul Clap Live @ The Modern Love Affair Vol.3


Well, that was our take on the year that was. What do you think? Did we miss anything? Did we choose something that didn't merit a spot? Comment and let us know.

Again, we invite you to download the full Blouse's Best of 2011 list in this handy ZIP file. Enjoy!

Blouse's Best of 2011
(ZIP file download from Mediafire)


We would like to thank everyone for helping to make 2011 a bumper year for Blouse. It has been a year of change for us, and we are very much looking forward to another exciting year in 2012.

Hopefully everyone stays safe and enjoys a fantastic New Years! See you next year!

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