When I wrote about the upsetting news of The Word’s closure, I didn’t anticipate it being the last post on this site for five months. But then I hadn’t fully figured out how I wanted to approach my idea for a website promoting local record shops in the UK. Once it was up and running, thanks in part to wonderful people like Paul ‘Lone Wolf’ Marshall, Tom ‘& The Boat’ Williams, Tom ‘Reveal Records’ Rose, Simon ‘Bella Union’ Raymonde and Ian Rankin, it seemed the place to concentrate my limited writing energies. I do this around a ‘proper’ job, as well as scribbling reviews for a magazine each month, and it doesn’t get anywhere close to the attention I’d like it to. And yet, each November I find myself looking forward to the chance to ramble at length about my favourite records of the year gone by. In 2011 I had a little more time to do all of this thanks to enforced sofa time as a result of a serious injury but 2012 will just have to fit in around the real world. Spotify playlists, individual album blurbs and a tense countdown all lie ahead, folks. Well, I’m excited.
While preparing this year’s list, I looked back at the thirty 2011 releases I saluted only twelve months ago. I remain utterly certain that Low’s ‘C’mon’ was the correct call and much of the top twenty has continued to delight and entertain. However, it is always interesting to think about what missed out. How, for example, did King Creosote and Jon Hopkins’ ‘Diamond Mine’ not end up in that top ten, or even top five? Had a slightly noisy vinyl pressing really caused me not to succumb to its now very evident charms? Then there was Nicola Roberts’ tremendously fine solo outing ‘Cinderalla’s Eyes’ which offered some of the finest pop of the year and yet, come December, had slipped out of view. In the eleven months since, I’ve played it more than Tom Waits’ ‘Bad As Me’, I can tell you. In addition, The Antlers’ ‘Burst Apart’ deserved a higher placing than it received and so to Sarabeth Tucek’s ‘Get Well Soon’. But what can you do? It’s all subjective. The list could change from day to day, hour to hour. That, my friends, is the joy of music. This year’s shortlist is the longest I’ve ever had when compiling such a list and has already mutated since I sent one off to the magazine some weeks ago. As always, there will be a dedicated page to keep track of the countdown – although you could just visit the site every day and avoid missing anything in the easiest possible way – and I will offer up a Spotify playlist of the year’s finer tunes. Your opinions are welcomed and the usual chuntering will continue on the Twitter account.
As record shops do battle in tricky times – whether having reached the end of the line like Avalanche in Edinburgh or being pitted against an unhelpful HMV pop-up shop as with Solo Music in Barnstaple – please do seek out some of these albums from independent retailers. They pay their taxes, they pay their VAT and they pay back the loyalty you show them ten times over.