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Guardian intern Frances Capell's list of the top 10 self-released albums of 2011:
1. WU LYF, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain Recorded in an abandoned church, the full-length debut from British heavy pop quartet WU LYF was funded by membership fees for the band's deviant fan club, the Lucifer Youth Foundation.
2. Death Grips, Ex Military The sinister debut mixtape from Sacramento's Death Grips is an explosion of dark, twisted shout-rap and noisy, industrial beats.
3. Nick Diamonds, I Am An Attic Former Unicorn and current member of Islands and Mister Heavenly, Nick Diamonds (a.k.a. Nick Thorburn) released his understated, haunting solo album via Bandcamp.
4. Clams Casino, Instrumental Mixtape Clams Casino's collection of swirling, synth-laden instrumentals crafted for the likes of Lil B and Soulja Boy reveals the genius of this visionary New Jersey producer.
5. Big K.R.I.T, Return of 4Eva Of all the exciting rap mixtapes released in 2011, Southern heavy-hitter Big K.R.I.T.'s Return of 4Eva is my favorite.
6. Frank Ocean, nostalgia, Ultra. This R&B pop gem presents Frank Ocean as, perhaps, the only member of the OFWGKTA family who proved worthy of the hype in 2011.
7. Fort Lean, Fort Lean (EP) Though it's only 12 minutes long, Fort Lean's infectious, summery debut EP is a promising glimpse of things to come for this indie five-piece from Brooklyn, NY.
8. Friendzone, Kuchibiru Network II I chose East Bay duo Friendzone's Kuchibiru Network 2 over Main Attrakionz's 808's & Dark Grapes II, as it showcases Main Attrakionz at its best along with tasty selections from Oakland's Shady Blaze and Finally Boys, Japanese producer Uyama Hiroto, and more.
9. Small Black, Moon Killer In addition to some of Small Black's catchiest electronic pop songs to date (like the Nicki Minaj-sampling "Love's Not Enough"), this mixtape features two appearances by Das Racist's Himanshu Suri, and some inspired remixes from Star Slinger and Phone Tag.
10. The Weeknd, House of Balloons This is a no brainer. Canadian-Ethiopian R&B prodigy the Weeknd's debut mixtape House of Balloons is the best album of the year, period.
Big K.R.I.T's Return of 4Eva theme: