New York magazine names Austra’s Feel It Break the No. 1 album of the year

New York magazine names Austra’s Feel It Break the No. 1 album of the year

Katie Stelmanis (Image: Norman Wong)

It’s December, which means that in addition to multiple holidays, inane Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey collaborations and eggnog specialty drinks at coffee shops, it’s time for the release of many “best of” lists. New York magazine’s Nitsuh Abebe recently released “The Year in Pop,” an annual top 10 roundup of the best albums released in the past 365 days, and Toronto’s own Austra took first place with their debut album Feel It Break. New York magazine says the list reflects a shift in popularity from big-label artists towards indie musicians, where “away from the reinvigorated mainstream charts, icy chanteuses, avant-garde rappers and old-school punks made exotic sounds.” Canadians—and honourary Canadians—dominated the list, taking four of the 10 spots. Find out who made the cut and how they placed after the jump.

1. Austra’s Feel It Break
Lead singer Katie Stelmanis has had quite the year: her band’s album Feel It Break debuted in May to great reviews and was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize. New York says Austra’s success comes in no small part from Stelmanis’s vocal prowess—“the shuddery force in her operatic voice, and the way she builds it into layers and harmonies that feel like little sculptures,” says writer Nitsuh Abebe.

2. Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Bass saxophonist Stetson hails from Michigan but calls Montreal home. He’s toured with Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre and Bon Iver and performed with the likes of Tom Waits, Feist, David Byrne, LCD Soundsystem and The National. He was also shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year, and New York named his album the second best of 2011. Abebe writes, “This bass saxophonist summons up hypnotic flurries of notes in single takes.”

4. Destroyer’s Kaputt
This year’s Polaris Prize shortlist seems to dominate New York’s music review: Dan Bejar’s album Kaputt takes the fourth spot in “The Year in Pop.” Abebe writes, “Indie eccentric Dan Bejar made the most immersive “soft rock” album of the year, turning smooth sounds to clever, cryptic ends.”

7. Tune-Yards’s W h o k i l l

Like Stetson, Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus isn’t technically Canadian (or even living in Canada at the moment), but we’ll always associate her with Montreal, where she lived for many years. Abebe calls Garbus a “one-woman whirlwind,” and we couldn’t agree more. Check out her video for “Gangsta.”

“The Year in Pop.” [New York magazine]