A year in culture: Pop music

Critics' Choice: The Best of 2011

The past 12 months have been strangely pretty - I had no idea that everyone was as soppy as me. Classical music has been creeping beautifully into indie music and the sensitive album for teenage lovers has returned. The Moldy Peaches can rest: we now have Big Deal, Slow Club and Peter and Kerry. I have a crush on all of them. There's lots of joy still to be had in Americans manipulating old sounds: Badlands by Dirty Beaches has been one of my favourites of the year and Halloween Record w/Sound Effects by Thee Cormans generated nothing but smiles. Tiny Ruins' Some Were Meant for Sea was wildly underappreciated, as was Dark Dark Dark's Wild Go. If one thing has grabbed me by the throat this year, it's Colin Stetson's New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges. That a man can intentionally produce such a beautiful, intense and wild sound is beyond belief.

Fresh sounds from the BBC 6 Music DJ

This article first appeared in the 12 December 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Unholy war