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Apart, they’re two of the biggest hip-hop artists ever. Together, they’re the most ridiculous blowhards ever to join forces. This is a good thing. When two egos as outrageous as this come together, incredible things happen. Think Kanye’s “Coke on her black skin made a stripe like a zebra/
I call that jungle fever”. Think Jay-Z beating down young pretenders on ‘Otis’ (“I invented swag”)....

 
 
 

Every time we heard some brilliant bit of midnight bass romance this year, it always turned out to involve SBTRKT. The DJ changed the aim of dubstep’s sonic cannon, from 
the bowels of Bristol drug dealers to the hearts of urban romantics. His debut was bruised basslines 
that beat heavy with anxiety, but his masterstroke was bringing together a group of unknown vocalists – Sampha, Jessie Ware, Roses Gabor...

 
 
 

Back at the beginning of the year, Slow Club were a band wrongly tagged with some of 
the most undesirable adjectives around; a twee duo cut from the Mumford cloth of rambunctious folk, they had devoted fans but were hardly contenders for any boundary-pushing crowns. Cue ‘Paradise’ – an album that showed the band’s true colours in all their sassy yet soulful glory. Refining their trademark harmonies and...

 
 
 

Oh, for more bands like Real Estate. The New Jersey trio were initially lumped in with the chillwave subgenre that reached its hazy apotheosis last year, but there’s nothing ‘borrowed’ about their particular brand of nostalgia. Their second album was every bit as poignant as its self-titled predecessor, deftly pulling at the same thread of ’80s guitar lyricism that runs through the work of Johnny Marr and...

 
 
 


2011 was neo-Americana’s sophomore crunch, with the genre’s two most prominent scions – Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver – releasing follow-ups to breakthrough debuts. While ‘Helplessness Blues’ offered a deeper shade 
of beige, Justin Vernon’s second LP was an expansive, impressionistic effort, every bit the equal of ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. It takes a while for its greatness to register – but as...

 
 
 

One of the crispest electro-pop records of 2011, this Toronto outfit’s debut was as buoyant 
as it was bleak. The celestial lightness in Katie Stelmanis’ operatic vocal shone light upon the darker 5am beats, making for an altogether engrossing listen. With tracks like ‘Spellwork’ and ‘The Choke’ leading the charge with their dancefloor undulations, the piano-led ‘The Beast’ touched on...

 
 
 

Turbo-charged twonk Calvin Harris eulogising the ’80s was one thing; Destroyer’s Dan Bejar doffing his cap to the bygone decade with smooth lashings of saxophone and honeyed vocals was decidedly sweeter. But ‘Kaputt’ – his 10th album under the Destroyer moniker – didn’t 
merely plunder the past, it captured sounds and froze them in time, with Bejar’s voice floating above the swoonsome strains of...

 
 
 

Foo Fighters’ seven-year itch ended up lasting the full seven years. It followed that the make-up sex was always going to be phenomenal. Grohl made up with the spirit of Nirvana by getting Butch to produce and having Krist pop over too, but he also made peace with the white-hot, throbbing testoste-rock that had marked him out ever since his early days as Nirvana’s engine room. Recorded in Grohl’s garage, the...

 
 
 

""This is the greatest peace I’ve ever known”, belted out a blissful Patrick Wolf from under his mop of shiny russet hair on ‘House’, the towering pop pièce de résistance on the Londoner’s epically loved-up fifth album. He made it pretty hard not to believe him, too, as he sandwiched cartwheeling romance with a defiant lyrical honesty that made the slushy moments on ‘Lupercalia’ sweet rather...

 
 
 

They call it “post-Satanic, post-Christian”. We’ve branded it dangerous and narcissistic. Lots 
of people tar it with Odd Future’s brush. One gushing writer exhumed the spirit of avant genius David Foster Wallace to provide a literary analogy.
In reality, though, it’ll take more than a few months and a scrabble for words to assimilate just what it was that Death Grips left on our doorstep earlier...

 
 
 
 
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