One of the most coveted and celebrated Festive events is finally here. No, not the EastEnders Christmas edition with fire-bombed pubs and Dot doing a strip-tease, not the latest DFS sale (started in 1998) and not even X-Factor's umpteenth number one single - we mean the Allgigs Top 10 Albums 2011 Award. Well, it's not exactly an award, it's more than that. It's kudos [not a bottle of aftershave - Ed] and the critics' choice. Our reviewers have been through the very best (and the very worst) contenders during the year - this is what's floated their collective boats.
After totting up the points, subtracting by 5 and multiplying to the nth degree, we finally present to you, in traditional reverse order, THE Top 10 of the year, with news of any shows they might be playing soon.
10 A False Parade Voted for by YOU the public via our Facebook page last week [that's the wee fella, there: www.facebook.com/allgigs - Ed], Mr Daukes ran away with 10th place by racking-up five times more votes than runners-up contenders the Foo Fighters and John Foxx and the Maths' totals put together. Our critic Adrian was rather enamoured by its quality, exclaiming with a damning indictment of Coldplay's efforts, "This is a MUST HAVE for anybody with the remotest musical taste AND the title makes sense...what the hell DOES Mylo Xyloto mean anyway?" .
9 The English Riviera It appears 2012 will continue in the same vein as 2011 for Metronomy - they're appearing on the NME Awards Tour 2012 in February. Their accomplished album was described by Joel Crowley as "The perfect soundtrack to those two days of summer we had in June" and Andrew Lockwood thus: "Worthy Mercury nominees show how good pop can be" . Well, quite.
8 Never Trust a Happy Song The title is in contrast to their music which brims with Californian sunshine. Andrew Lockwood sums up their much-touted efforts with; "Full of youthful exuberance, enthusiasm and just great sun-soaked fun" . The band are on tour during February, from Brighton to London and several points in between.
7 Past Life Martyred Saints Erika M.Anderson's grungy debut-album caused all sorts of frothing of mouths and bubbling of blood with its savage and direct approach to intimate feelings and self-harm. Joel Crowley exclaimed it as "An ugly, confrontational and absolutely thrilling album" .
6 Paradise "2011 saw this Sheffield's duo transform into the country's finest purveyors of heartbroken pop" - so said our Joel after hearing Slow Club's rather moreish "Paradise" set. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check them out on tour in February - just two dates in Leeds and London (part of the NME Awards Show).
5 What Did You Expect From The Vaccines So, what DID you expect? What you got was a visceral mix of fuzzy guitar and balls-out pop-rock from a band who seemed to grace every festival in 2011, except the Proms perhaps. Adam Hardy sums it up with, "Thirty five minutes of Rock N Roll songs about super models, break-up sex and getting back together made for one of the best new bands of 2011, as well as a sure fire classic debut album" . Their May seaside tour is available now, from £18.50.
4 Skying 2012 promises to be another mega year for these boys - a support slot with Florence and the Machines plus a May headline tour awaits you and them (available now). Meanwhile, Joel Crowley sums up "Skying" and its creators: "The Horrors cannot help but grow and, with album number three, they seem to be growing into the UK's best contemporary band" .
3 A Creature I Don't Know A true indication of an artist's popularity is the speed at which their tickets sell. We only have to cough and Marling can sell out a tour. This third album divided many, but by the end of the year, she ended up in most magazine's 'best ofs'. It's in ours, courtesy of Andrew Lockwood for one, who says: "More musical magic and lyrical genius this time with a bit of darker edge" .
2 Build a Rocket Boys Plaudits have been flying in Guy Garvey's direction for his band's beautiful 5th album. There were so many high points on "Build a Rocket Boys" that I could only summarize with the sentence, "a triumphant epiphany bathed in slow-burning solitude" . Their only UK show for 2012 (so far) is at the Isle of Wight Festival - if and when they announce their next UK tour, you can bet they'll be sold out in hours.
And the winner is...(*cue fireworks*)
1 Let England Shake With an almost predictable inevitability, Polly Jean Harvey followed up her triumphant second Mercury Music Prize with #1 placings in pretty much every magazine album poll. She's thoroughly earned our Allgigs Top 10 Album of the Year 2011 Award (if only we had one to give her) - Lucas Jones surmised that "(Harvey) completely blows anybody who uses reinvention as a buzzword for a "new" sound, out of the water" . Case rested. Well done Polly. Please can we have a UK tour soon.
You can listen to the albums via WE7, here: www.allgigs.co.uk/click/top10albumsof2011