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ADM 2011: The 1st quarter report

It is wholly appropriate that the artist who sits at the top of our list of the most highly-rated contemporary music of the first quarter of 2011 is PJ Harvey, a singer-songwriter who for years has confounded expectations by switching  styles from one album to the next.

Her First World War-inspired avant-garde rock album, Let England Shake, is by some distance the most critically-acclaimed LP to be released since January 1 (ranked by our aggregated reviews system from 50 sources in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland).

And it's fitting that an artist who epitomises eclecticism should be at the head of a top 10 that is notable primarily for its eclectic, leftfield nature.

Of the 10 artists only one, Lykke Li, could be described as mainstream (although such has been the wide appeal of James Blake's post-dubstep / soul that he could be argued to have achieved crossover success).

Elsewhere we have a disparate collection of unconventional styles: harrowing alt.folk (Josh T Pearson), doom drone (Earth), electronica and acid-jazz (Destroyer), experimental ambient dub (Demdike Stare), indie-folk and electronica collaboration (King Creosote and Jon Hopkins), pipe organ drone (Tim Hecker) and experimental dance (Nicolas Jaar).

Notable for their absence anywhere near the upper reaches of our barometer of critical taste are bands such as The Strokes, The Vaccines or Beady Eye, who released the most anticipated and/or hyped albums of the first quarter.

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8.7

PJ Harvey

Let England Shake

A richly inventive album that's unlike anything else in Harvey's back catalogue.

The Guardian

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8.3

Josh T Pearson

Last Of The Country Gentlemen

One of the greatest and most compelling albums to emerge from this decade so far.

The Line Of Best Fit

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8.3

Earth

Angels Of Darkness Demons Of Light 1

A beautiful, slow-burning jewel of an album, proof that Earth's continued march is unmissable.

AU Magazine

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8.1

Destroyer

Kaputt

A rare work of historical interpretation and pop artistry, full of beauty and wonder.

Tiny Mix Tapes

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8.0

James Blake

James Blake

Gorgeous, indelible tunes that are as generous in content as they are restrained in delivery.

Pitchfork

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8.0

Demdike Stare

Tryptych

Expansive and unsettling sound collages of swarming drones, rattling techno, and threatening tribal percussion.

All Music

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7.9

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins

Diamond Mine

The final results are of such subtle beauty they take the breath clean away.

music OMH

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7.9

Tim Hecker

Ravedeath 1972

Draws upon the grandeur of the past but refuses to crumble its bones into sonic dust.

Drowned In Sound

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7.9

Lykke Li

Wounded Rhymes

You can't help but allow Wounded Rhymes to provoke and manipulate your emotions, with an inviting melodic gloom and an outstretched hand.

No Ripcord

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7.9

Nicolas Jaar

Space Is Only Noise

Quietly pushes and challenges the listener while simultaneously making it an utterly captivating and nearly uncategorisable experience that surprises and excites with every listen.

The Quietus

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And the next 40

11. Elbow Build A Rocket Boys!
12. Wire Red Barked Tree
13. Iron & Wine Kiss Each Other Clean
14. Vessels Helioscope
15. Julianna Barwick The Magic Place
16. Smith Westerns Dye It Blonde
17. Anna Calvi Anna Calvi
18. Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX We're New...
19. The Joy Formidable The Big Roar
20. Saigon The Greatest Story Never Told
21. Akron/Family Akron/Family II: The Cosmic...
22. The Unthanks Last
23. Wye Oak Civilian
24. Radiohead The King of Limbs
25. Kurt Vile Smoke Ring for My Halo
26. Ghostface Killah Apollo Kids
27. Sic Alps Napa Asylum
28. Braids Native Speaker
29. Metronomy The English Riviera
30. Dodos No Color
31. Lucinda Williams Blessed
32. Hannah Peel The Broken Wave
33. The Luyas Too Beautiful to Work
34. Parts & Labor Constant Future
35. June Tabor Ashore
36. Deerhoof Vs. Evil
37. Connan Mockasin Forever Dolphin Love
38. Six Organs of Admittance Asleep on the...
39. Yuck Yuck
40. The Decemberists The King Is Dead
41. Found Factorycraft
42. Abigail Washburn City Of Refuge
43. Joan As Police Woman The Deep Field
44. Rival Schools Pedals
45. Dustin O'Halloran Lumiere
46. Cornershop Cornershop & The Double O...
47. Doug Paisley Constant Companion
48. Cold Cave Cherish The Light Years
49. Diddy-Dirty Money Last Train to Paris
50. Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine

 

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