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The best albums of June 2011

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 13:56 UK time, Monday, 4 July 2011

BBC Album Reviews Editor Mike Diver selects his top 10 records released in June 2011.

It's been another month of very high standard, so finalising a top 10 has been difficult. Some of these came quickly - Bon Iver's latest is incredible, likewise current sets from The Antlers and Destroyer. Others fought for their spot, seeing off some impressive competition from the likes of Devon Sproule, Silkie, Foster the People, Battles, Atmosphere and Brontide (not to mention chart-conquering collections from Beyoncé and Arctic Monkeys). But, once the dust settled, this is what I was left with...

(Note that I do not include reissues here, but expanded releases from Marvin Gaye and Suede are among the month's best 'new' old albums.)

- - -

My Album of the Month

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Bon Iver (4AD, released 20 June) Recommended by: Lauren Laverne, Victoria Derbyshire, 6 Music Album of the Day

"There can be no doubt that certain critics will have come to this album expecting it to fall short of the precedent set by its predecessor. That it doesn't, and actually far surpasses the still-echoing resonance of that debut set, is indicative of its standing as one of 2011's most absorbing, affecting and downright brilliant LPs. It just goes to show that there's really only one act capable of 'doing a Bon Iver'."

Read the full review
Watch the video to Calgary on YouTube (external link)

- - -

The Best of the Rest

SBTRKT album cover

SBTRKT - SBTRKT (Young Turks, released 27 June) Recommended by: MistaJam, Zane Lowe, 6 Music Album of the Day

"This album is paced like a perfect DJ set - it reads the listener with incredible insight, combining the immediate and familiar with intense passages of warm-up, breaking to allow for moments of blank space and reflection. The mix of shiny vocals with tight, accelerated textures is steeped deep in a glorious combination of two-step, UK funky, dubstep, US RnB and Chicago house."

Read the full review
Watch the video to Wildfire on YouTube (external link, contains scenes which may upset)

Antlers - Burst Apart

The Antlers - Burst Apart (Frenchkiss, released 6 June) Recommended by: Gideon Coe

"The Antlers' 2009 album Hospice was one of those niche successes. The sort that has the blogs purring, the odd clued-up broadsheet too, but doesn't quite stretch beyond the word-of-mouth glass ceiling. For Burst Apart, the New York trio have made their sound a little fuller - in the sense that an aircraft hangar's fuller if you throw in a sofa. No surprises then, just a collection of mesmeric, epic stillness."

Read the full review
(No official video available.)

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up cover

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (Sub Pop, released 27 June) Recommended by: Lauren Laverne, 6 Music Album of the Day

"The effect Shabazz Palaces have on the listener can sometimes be bewildering - Youlogy, for instance, sounds like two Edan tracks playing simultaneously. When it works, though, this is an insidiously funky listen. Two highlights come at the end: the penultimate Yeah You rides a beat soaked in saturation and echo, while Swerve... concludes the record on a sussed, lyrical note. Hip hop on Sub Pop? Frankly, it's hard to know why they didn't think of it before."

Read the full review
Listen to Swerve... on Sub Pop's YouTube channel (external link, contains language which may offend)

Gillian Welch - album cover

Gillian Welch - The Harrow and the Harvest (Acony, released 27 June) Recommended by: Another Country with Ricky Ross

"If there's a case to be made for formulating something serious out of classic pop and old-time hokum, Gillian Welch and her songwriting partner David Rawlings make it as well as anybody. So while just a bit of drums and bass would probably have broadened the record's appeal, we must give thanks for this stubborn duo's independence of mind. After all, it's the quiet ones that get you in the end."

Read the full review
(No official video available)

Wiley - 100% Publishing

Wiley - 100% Publishing (Big Dada, released 20 June) Recommended by: N/A

"100% Publishing is a clever balancing act that allows the casual listeners in and retains them with riffs and tunes you can't ignore, but makes sure it's insubordinate enough to keep the regulars happy. Most importantly, though, once again Wiley has kept grime moving forwards with some truly audacious sounds."

Read the full review
(external link)

Patrick Wolf album cover 2011

Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia (Hideout, released 20 June) Recommended by: Tom Robinson, Victoria Derbyshire

"Over the space of five albums, Wolf has confirmed himself as one of the UK's genuinely interesting pop stars. Lupercalia manages to walk the fine line between upbeat and irritating, between unabashed happiness and over-sentimentality. The fabric of the songs seems imbued with joy, and it's testament to the quality of the songwriting that you don't feel alienated by what are incredibly personal lyrics. It's an all-inclusive love in, basically, and all the better for it."

Read the full review
Watch the video to House on YouTube (external link)

Com Truise album cover 2011

Com Truise - Galactic Melt (Ghostly, released 27 June) Recommended by: Rob da Bank

"The spectre of occult Scottish pranksters Boards of Canada casts a shadow over Com Truise's compositions. It's not the only string on his bow: he's a dab hand at deep, Vangelis-style beatless blowouts, such as opening track Terminal. He's not attempting anything revolutionary on Galactic Melt, but he demonstrates a sight more depth than a lot of stuff that's been tagged as chillwave."

Read the full review
Listen to Brokendate on Ghostly's YouTube channel (external link)

Samiyam Sam Baker's Album

Samiyam - Sam Baker's Album (Brainfeeder, released 27 June) Recommended by: Benji B

"Sam Baker's Album operates within recognisable Brainfeeder territory: instrumental tracks with sound so compressed you feel like you just got off a long-haul flight without performing the Valsalva manoeuvre; unquantized, misshapen beats. But within these familiar parameters Baker successfully applies his creativity, making funk-derived sample-based hip hop sound fresh."

Read the full review
(No official video available)

destroyer kaputt

Destroyer - Kaputt (Dead Oceans, released 6 June) Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day

"This album is as much as about atmosphere as hit singles, as the strident guitar line of the conversational Song for America proves. Few tracks clock in below five minutes, while the closer, Bay of Pigs, a come-down hymn which makes a case that the second summer of love never ended, registers in at many more, yet wastes not a second. Kaputt is a genuine classic, unlike anything any other artist will release in 2011."

Read the full review
Watch the video to Kaputt on YouTube (external link)


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