According to the American Dialect Society, "Occupy" is the 2011 Word of the Year. As the Occupy Movement began to take shape last January in Cairo's Tahrir Square, I remember hoping the West would take inspiration and follow in the footsteps of the protesters. It eventually caught on and turned out to be the single most important phenomenon to occur (and recur) throughout the year. Sadly, most of the music emanating from the West this year failed to capture the spirit of resistance and possibility embodied by the movement. It's been this way for quite a while - pop music seems more suited to sell swag than express revolt. Still, there were some gems amid all the detritus and pepper spray...
1. Destroyer - Kaputt. My favourite album this year came from a fellow Vangroovy-ite who combined sunplash saxophones with temaki cones. West coast louche served with a bottle of chilled sake.
2. PJ Harvery - Let England Shake. A long-overdue indictment on the wars Blair and Bush plunged the world into.
3. Wild Flag - Wild Flag. Pegasus as a bucking bronco. These songs leap through the morass and spit you out like a pinball in a roller derby. Patti Smith backed by the Go-Gos channeling the Pipettes.
4. Junior Boys - Junior Boys. A suave take on synthpop and throbbing beats sizzling like hot, neon crystals.
5. The Black Lips - Arabia Mountain. Garage-punk-rama-lama!
6. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues. Music that soars, cathedral-like, towards the sun.
7. Bon Iver - Bon Iver. Androids dreaming of electric sheep. Gorgeous.
8. James Blake - James Blake. Best use of vocoder since Cher's "Believe."
9. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Cinematic eargasms.
10. Wu Lyf - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. Two chords, the truth and...something else.