So you know best?
THE TICKET AWARDS 2011:Tired of hacks’ end-of-year lists? Think you know better? Well, it’s time to turn the tables. So get your thinking cap on and vote now. It’s our turn to fume, warns JIM CARROLL
RIGHT NOW, up and down the land, there is the sound of fuming and gnashing of teeth to be heard. You – the sussed, erudite, charming, smart, sophisticated Ticket reader – is looking at the shortlists on these pages and your blood is boiling. Really boiling. Like a kettle with no off-switch.
Now you’re shouting. Loudly. Why the bloody hell is there no room on any of your lists for X? How did you nincompoops overlook Y? Whose bright idea was it to champion Z? Oh readers.
Come with me to a room on the top floor of The Irish Timesbuilding a few weeks ago, when the aforementioned “nincompoops” gathered to discuss and debate the results of their deliberations. Previously a half-dozen rock and pop writers – Brian Boyd, Tony Clayton-Lea, Sinéad Gleeson, Lauren Murphy, Ailbhe Malone and this one – contributed individual Top 10 lists and the Ticket editor commandeered an abacus to count up the scores.
There was, naturally, some soft murmuring when we saw the final lists. Trying to get a consensus is always difficult, but it’s nigh-on impossible when you have writers who review and critique music for a living trying to agree on the best releases and acts of the year. The fairest thing is to draw up a list and let the wisdom of the crowd decide the rankings and ratings.
One thing that was abundantly clear from the discussion was that 2011 was another bumper year for good music. From the triumphant coronation of Adele (proof that you don’t have to get the nod of approval from X Factornumpties to make a splash) to the emergence of a bona-fide star such as Lana Del Rey (we’ll leave questions about authenticity for another day), there was much to savour and remind us that music still exudes positivity and excitement.
At home, there were also reasons to be cheerful. If we thought 2010 was a memorable year for homegrown releases, 2011 showed that a golden era can last longer than 12 months. The quality of the albums that were released this year from the likes of Tieranniesaur, We Cut Corners, B-Movie Lightning, Little Xs for Eyes and Land Lovers was something to behold. Then, there’s the enticing prospect of what’s to come.
In 2012, newbies such as Moths, Toby Kaar, Come on Live Long, Daithí, Elaine Mai, Girl Band and others will get around to getting albums out that may well feature here a year from now.
As the Hard Working Class Heroes festival showed in October, there’s no shortage of talent on the domestic front. But enough about us. What about you? It’s your turn to put your X on the page. The shortlists are there, and the polling booths are open, so get voting.
We look forward to fuming and sighing in a fortnight about what you, our lovely readers, have to say about the year in music.
“The impossibly catchy first single, Rolling in the Deep, sounds like it was dreamed up in a laboratory by boffins.” BB
LET ENGLAND SHAKE PJ HARVEY
“An insightful history lesson across a dozen sparse and spritely songs, delivered as only PJ Harvey can.” TCL
DIAMOND MINE KING CREOSOTE/JON HOPKINS
“Folk stylings that make The Proclaimers sound as loud and as coarse as Megadeth.” BB
HELPLESSNESS BLUES FLEET FOXES
"As winsomely wistful as they come." BB
BON IVER BON IVER
"Justin Vernon never compromises, and Bon Iver was never going to be For Emma Part 2." SG
TO THE DEATH OF FUN CASHIER NO 9
"A strong contender for Irish album of the year." LM
THE HARROW & THE HARVEST GILLIAN WELCH
"A triumph of imagination, insight and intuition." JBTIERANNIESAUR TIERANNIESAUR
"The songs are idiosyncratic and infectious, but contain big, hefty, bubblegum pop hooks which could land some whoppers." JC
"Tribal, guttural, frantic, vivid and extreme, something you won't hear every day of the week." JC
SMOTHER WILD BEASTS
"The album showcases a new style for Wild Beasts as they tentatively poke at the possibilities a four-piece band can realise." LM
BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM
CPE Bach’s best music has a fondness for the unexpected and harpsichordist Andreas Staier makes the most of it. Unexpected in a totally different way is the music of Boris Yoffe, who writes a daily diary of brief string quartets and has allowed the Rosamunde Quartet to create a work by selecting as they please. Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili’s debut moves easily between Soviet and post-Soviet music. The Kopelman quartet pair Shostakovich’s Tenth Quartet with a piece by its dedicatee, Mieczyslaw Weinberg. And Barcelona’s Cuarteto Casals have brought their magic to Boccherini.- MICHAEL DERVAN
CPE BACH: HARPSICHORD CONCERTOS
Andreas Staier, Freiburger Barockorchester/Petra Müllejans Harmonia Mundi HMC 902083.84
ECHOES OF TIME
Lisa Batiashvili (violin), Bavarian Radio SO/Esa-Pekka Salonen, Hélène Grimaud (piano) Deutsche Grammophon 477 9299
SHOSTAKOVICH: QUARTET NO 10; WEINBERG: PIANO QUINTET
Elizaveta Kopelman (piano), Kopelman Quartet Nimbus NI 5865
BOCCHERINI: LA MUSICAL NOTTURNA DELLE STRADE DI MADRID
Eckart Runge (cello), Carle Trepat (guitar), Cuarteto Casals Harmonia Mundi HMC 902092
BORIS YOFFE: SONG OF SONGS
Rosamunde Quartett, Hilliard Ensemble, ECM New Series 476 4426
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ACT
BEST ROOTS ALBUM
It was definitely a case of the old dog for the hard road. Bob Dylan, shuffling into his 70s, produced a memorable autumn show at the O2. Tom Waits (61) caught the mood of these grim times with his riveting Bad As Me, while Paul Simon was no less in tune with the zeitgeist with So Beautiful So What, his fascinating chronicle of how love can conquer inner doubt. Ry Cooder’s (64) Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Downwas more overtly political, while Rod Picott’s Welding Burnsseethed with blue-collar bitterness. Southern rural poor was the backdrop for Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s The Harrow and the Harvest.Daniel Martin Moore’s spiritual quest In the Cool of the Dayoffered a glimmer of hope as did the Unthanks’ tribute, Diversions Vol 1 – The Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons. - JOE BREEN
IN THE COOL OF THE DAY Daniel Martin Moore
THE HARROW AND THE HARVESTGillian Welch
LOW COUNTRY BLUESGregg Allman
PULL UP SOME DUST AND SIT DOWNRy Cooder
BAD AS METom Waits
BEST JAZZ ALBUM
Creative musicians around the world continued to stretch the word jazz to – and beyond – its limits in 2011. In the year that widely-respected Irish Timesjazz critic Ray Comiskey hung up his reviewing spurs after decades championing new music, brilliant young Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola showed maturity beyond his years, placing his haunting sound in a variety of imaginative settings while, at the other end of the career arc, legendary US saxophonist Lee Konitz and his companions blew the dust off the great American songbook. But overall, the year belonged to the piano players: Fred Hersch announced his recovery from illness with a quiet masterpiece recorded live in New York’s most famous basement; rising Welsh star Gwilym Simcock proved his worth in a high-quality, international quartet; and Keith Jarrett’s ebullient solo concert recorded in Brazil showed that the great improviser has at last reconnected with his mojo. - CORMAC LARKIN
ALONE AT THE VANGUARDFred Hersch
LIVE AT BIRDLANDLee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian
THE IMPOSSIBLE GENTLEMENGwilym Simcock/Mike Walker/Steve Swallow/Adam Nussbaum
BEST TRAD ALBUM
Reflection and contemplation seem to be the order of the traditional music world these days. Stand-out albums have had one thing in common: a consistency of tone and mood that hints at a desire to do so much more than merely air a new (or an old) tune set or song. Galwegian box player Johnny Óg Connolly burst out of the traps late in the year with a quiet delight in Aisling Yoshua/Joshua’s Dream, Tom McElvogue and Barry Kerr debuted with a long player in the best sense of the word, The Long Hard Road: flute playing at its best. The Unthanks dug deep with their almost symphonic Last.Less is so much more in Breanndán Begley’s new album, Fé Scáth, a collection light years removed from his more usual garrulous self, and Iarla Ó Lionáird raised the bar yet again with his soul-filled, light world, Foxlight. - SIOBHAN LONG
FOXLIGHTIarla Ó Lionaird
FÉ SCATHBreanndán Begley
THE LONG HARD ROADTom McElvogue and Paddy Kerr
AISLING YOSHUA (JOSHUA’S DREAM) Johnny Óg Connolly
BEST IRISH ACT
LET’S FACE IT: when any industry has had the sort of bountiful year that Irish music enjoyed in 2010, there’s bound to be a drop-off. So when it came to compiling a top-five Irish acts list it should have been quick, easy and straightforward, right? If only. This was one of the most difficult categories to narrow down. While 2010 might have seen Irish bands with major-label backing flourish, 2011 has seen the independent scene thrive like never before in response.
Each of our five chosen acts are signed to or involved with indie labels – both, in the case of Squarehead, who are members of the brilliant Popical Island collective but released the excellent Yeah Nothingon Richter Collective. An album that came good on the early promise of the trio’s live performances, it shook Dublin’s garage-rock scene till it was dizzy and then hugged it back to health.
Also signed to Popical Island are the marvellous Tieranniesaur, who have been charming audiences with their quirky lo-fi indie-pop. Annie Tierney and her bandmates are a compelling live act, but it helps when you’ve got an album of such irresistibly idiosyncratic tunes to flog.
The same could be said of We Cut Corners, the compact drum-and-guitar duo with a big, big sound. Their long-winded album title Today I Realised I Could Go Home Backwardsis, thankfully, not representative of its contents, a clutch of brilliantly succinct tunes that clatter and lull in equal measure and sound even more persuasive when performed live.
Having lurked in the shadows for several years, Cashier No 9 finally had their chance to shine this year after being nabbed by Bella Union and releasing their superb debut. To the Death of Funmay not sound like a barrel of laughs, but the Belfast quartet – with the help of one David Holmes on production – crafted a gloriously lush collection of swoonsome songs with an impish underbelly that seduced us from the first listen.
It’s odd that Lisa Hannigan seems like the stalwart on the list, given that she’s only just released her second album. But Passengeris a worthy successor to the globe-schlepping Sea Sew.The Meath woman changed gear but remained firmly in control with these songs; she’s still capable of the lullabies, but a new, bold sense of urgency also informs her songwriting these days. After all, like all of our chosen acts, she’s a musician with little to lose – so why not give it her all? - LAUREN MURPHY
CASHIER NO 9
WE CUT CORNERS
EEJIT OF THE YEAR
AMANDA BRUNKEROh Mandy!
BONOThis is a perpetual award
CHIPMUNKChris Brown defender
METALLICACollectively, for sullying Lou Reeds good name with the abysmal collaboration album, Lulu.
JUSTIN BIEBERWho’s the daddy?
LOUIS WALSHCliché machine
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
NEED YOU NOWCut Copy
MAKE SOME NOISEBeastie Boys
WHY DON'T YOU LOVE MEBeyonce
BORN THIS WAYLady Gaga
VIDEO GAMESLana del Rey
GIG OF THE YEAR
GILLIAN WELCHGrand Canal Theatre, Dublin
HONEST JON'S CHOP-UPVicar Street, Dublin
PAUL SIMONVicar Street, Dublin
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUBOlympia Theatre, Dublin
212 Azealia Banks
GABRIEL Joe Goddard
BUBBLE King Creosote/Jon Hopkins
GUCCI GUCCI Kreayshawn
VIDEO GAMES Lana Del Rey
MY COUNTRY Tune-Yards
SOMEONE LIKE YOU Adele
Stephen Malkmus &The Jicks
BAND OF THE YEAR
BEST SOLO ACT