The Top 40 Albums Of 2011: 40 – 31

From Danger Mouse to Little Dragon

You read the full list of our Top 40 Albums Of 2011, now read why we chose each of the long players beginning today at numbers 40 to 31 with appearances by Danger Mouse’s collaborative ‘Rome’ project, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kasabian, White Denim, When Saints Go Machine, Wooden Shjips, Richard Donoso, Wagon Christ and Little Dragon.

40. Danger Mouse / Daniele Luppi ‘Rome’

This evocative ‘soundtrack without a movie’ was the product of a shared passion and dedication between renowned producer Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi and paid tribute to the music of the spaghetti westerns that each grew up with. Doffing their ten-gallons to Morricone, Nicolai and Bacalov, the duo uncovered then enlisted long-retired Italian musicians to realise their haunting scores, then hired Jack White and Norah Jones for vocal duties. The result? An eerie yet dramatic and atmospheric album that expertly captures the retro genre’s moodiness, while successfully crafting a modern, stand-alone album that is as delicate as it is widescreen.

“I didn’t want this album to be something that was too easy,” Danger Mouse told Clash back in April. “I think the music itself is definitely inviting – it’s dark, it’s melancholy, and there’s some really good melodies and things like that – but I definitely wanted to expose people who wouldn’t normally listen to this album to this kind of music and to the album itself.” Jack White, meanwhile, looks back on the collaboration with pride: “It came out great,” he said. “It didn’t feel like putting together some new band either – it just felt like four people doing their own part of a bigger project.” Validation, then, for the time and money personally invested into the album by Danger Mouse – it was released months after completion, during which time he feared it may never see the light of day. We’re certainly glad it did.

Best Bit: Norah Jones as the sweeping femme fatale in ‘Black’.

Simon Harper

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More delicate than a conch’s clitoris, these Danish dudes have woven an electronic dream that’s more like travelling in a snowflake. ‘Konkylie’ burns slow, which is ideal since we want to listen forever. Now go splash around in their thawed shallows and let their falsetto breaks drag you into a small sea of originality.

Best Bit: ‘Chestnut’ – a baroque ode to Anthony Hegarty, scored maybe five hundred years ago.

Matthew Bennett

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38. Wooden Shjips ‘West’

Like latter-day prospectors, Wooden Shjips headed west to reinvent themselves and struck gold with their most cohesive long player to date. Aligning their indefatigable grooves with California’s blasted plains and towering peaks resulted in an album as epic and elemental as the land itself.

Best Bit: ‘Lazy Bones’’ thunderous, pulsating climax or ‘Crossing’’s lolloping, semi-conscious solo.

Jim Brackpool

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37. WAGON CHRIST ‘Toomorrow’

Vibert is a slippery bastard. Not least due to his various aliases, but ‘Toomorrow’ plays hopscotch with crate digger dreams, glitch-pop and the hilariously unfunny depths of his massive library of sounds. Here we’re stranded between an album that Coldcut could’ve signed in their prime, but fifteen years later we’re strangely starved of.

Best Bit: ‘Respectrum’ – literally like being shoved up De La Soul’s collective arse.

Matthew Bennett

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36. Richard Donoso ‘Progress Chance’

‘Progress Chance’ is a beautiful record of synth-driven beat-less techno, meticulous textures, vibrant builds, warm bubbles and artificial life forms. This ode to synth by Brazil-born Ricardo Donoso reflects 2011’s oneirism in the face of global financial and political chaos.

Best Bit: The heart-stopping subtle drones on ‘The North Quadrant (Ascension)’.

Samuel Breen

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35. Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘I’m With You’

Fears that the Chilis would lose their vitality when guitar virtuouso John Frusciante quit proved futile, as newbie John Klinghoffer joined his new bandmates in creating an impressively textured comeback album that embraced African rhythms, pianos, fatherhood and the inevitablitity of death.

Best Bit: The Flea/Chad tempest at the climax of ‘Goodbye Hooray’.

Simon Harper

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34. White Denim ‘D’

Dynamic explorations into the outer reaches of psychedelic rock, prog, Latin, jazz and country. Jaw-dropping musical virtuosity, emphatic harmonies and complex syncopation coalesce within these disparate genres to create a commanding whole far larger than its parts. Absolutely sensational.

Best Bit: Joshua Block’s incredible propulsive percussion displayed on ‘At The Farm’.

Anna Wilson

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33. Kasabian ‘Velociraptor!’

One can be destroyed by the excessive adulation of their admirers. For the legendary Orpheus, this was the thousands of Thracian Maenads, or mad women, that hung on his every word so fanatically, that they ripped him from limb to limb during the heat of a frenzied orgy. For Kasabian, this is football fans. These are football fans that request ‘Club Foot’, toss their pint in the air and start chanting the pools news. These are football fans that discovered what a trending tweet was when The Stone Roses reformed. These are football fans that put people off becoming Kasabian fans, because Kasabian are for football fans. To the dismay of Sky Sports News, ‘Velociraptor!’ has finally changed this, although they still cling to ‘Switchblade Smiles’ like a child in high winds.

Before the summer, the Leicester swagger-merchants told a certain abbreviated music publication that they’d written their ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’; their magnum opus. That was non-influence piffle, but they clearly knew they were onto something. An entire album, finally swelling with the grandiose and far-fetching invention that Serge Pizzorno has shown intermittently over three albums but rarely so consistently over one. It is the sum of all its neo-psychedelic parts. ‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’ is a trip-hop hat tip, ‘Neon Noon’ is a ruminating krautrock denouement, and for once Kasabian’s non-singles stand as strong as their thunderous counterparts (see title track). It might sound aurally high-budget, but it’s got more hidden gems than Lisa Riley with a vajazzle.

Best Bit: ‘Days Are Forgotten’ is a five-minute epic that depicts tongue-in-cheek visions of Morricone’s spaghetti West, through the delightful medium of pop-rock.

Joe Zadeh

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32. Jay-Z and Kanye West ‘Watch The Throne’

Leveling a relationship which has endured for well over a decade, the Master (Jay-Z) and Apprentice (Kanye West) finally came together for a full-length album which wove rhymes and samples into a perfectly balanced hip-pop fabric.

Best Bit: The Q-Tip produced, La Roux guesting ‘That’s My Bitch’. Epic!

Adam Park

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31. Little Dragon ‘Ritual Union’

‘Ritual Union’ was just wonderfully unassuming. No signature statements; no desperation to blow you away in the opening few tracks, just an album that revelled in clean, crisp production, skittering percussion and an impressive BPM heartbeat.

Best Bit: The minimal simplicity of ‘Crystalfilm’. Sleek, measured and effortlessly sexy.

Reef Younis

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Read Clash’s full Top 40 Albums Of 2011 HERE

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