Let me just preface all of this by saying how much I hate making these lists. There’s no good way to do it. Everything on this list is great and the placements are general at best. Although I’ve numbered the list, there is zero science behind it. Next year I might just make it alphabetical. Now that’s done…
Wow! I think that’s a great way to sum up 2011 in music. During a year in which I was noticeably absent from this blog there sure was a shit-ton of great music released. Still, despite not writing about music much in 2011, I managed to enjoy music more this year than any I can remember since this blog began back in 2005.
You see, that’s the problem with music blogging. There’s this incredible sense of duty/pressure to keep up with the latest trends and hottest indie rock bullshit, but that’s really just what it is (mostly). I have no desire to be a part of that rat race, besides, with the exception of a few artists, I don’t listen to the same music that indie rock crowd does.
Honestly, I’m 100% sure that it is impossible for any one person to keep up with “music” when you take into account the proliferation of genres and micro-genres and the ease with which people can record relatively good quality material these days. My new mantra is something along the lines of, “Why even try?”
I know I missed more than a handful of great (and highly recommended albums) this year and was able to only give a little bit of attention to even more. From the likes of Reverse the Curse, Andrew Jackson Jihad, The Eternals, Wild Flag, Wolves and the Radio, M83, Beirut, Josh T. Pearson, Laura Stevenson, Pickering Pick, Young Mountain, The Horrible Crowes, Wavelets, Mastodon, JC Brooks, Steve Earle, Title Fight, Tellison, etc, the list could stretch on for miles. There aren’t enough hours in the day and isn’t enough money in my wallet to get to everything. This is (after all) a list of my 50 favorite albums of 2011. Consider the above honorable mentions.
So without further ado, here is part one of the list. PLEASE do yourself a favor and purchase any/all of the music here that you’ve been hesitating on. Being in a touring band is hard work and these folks need/deserve your support.
50. Static Radio NJ – We Are All Beasts (Kiss Of Death)
Significantly more pop-punk and less hardcore than their last album (that’s a good thing). Also, this more like Nirvana than I thought it was possible to in 2011.
49. Russian Circles – Empros (Sargent House)
Here’s the token “heavy” album from my list. To be totally honest, I didn’t listen to much that could be considered “heavy” in 2011. Whatever. This album slays.
48. Water Tower Bucket Boys – Sole Kitchen (Cohouse)
Quite possibly the best old-timey bluegrass band that Portland has to offer. These guys sure can play, and it makes me wanna drink and stomp my feet.
47. The Heat Tape – Raccoon Valley Recordings (Red Scare)
This is the lo-fi side project of Brett from The Copyrights. It’s punkish rock and roll that is catchy-as-hell and isn’t dissimilar at all to The Thermals, etc…
46. Mike Park – Smile (Asian Man)
Mike Park made a record for children/families/etc… and my kids love this, so I love this. Seriously, I’d love it even if my kids thought it sucked.
45. Hawks And Doves – Year One (No Idea)
Guess what? Garrett from Planes Mistaken For Stars is back with Hawks And Doves and while listening to this doesn’t make me wanna slit my wrists, it’s not really sunshine and roses.
44. Austin Lucas – A New Home In The Old World (Last Chance)
Austin Lucas has one of the greatest and most distinctive voices in alt-roots music today. This album is probably the most rockingest album he’s released, and also his best.
43. New Found Glory – Radiosurgery (Epitaph)
I was disappointed after my first listen but that changed after a few listens. Radiosurgery is easily one of the better albums NFG has released, but did they seriously spend 40+ days in the studio?
42. William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs (Anti)
These songs are as honest as the black Iowa dirt William Elliott Whitmore calls home. It’s a more stripped down affair than his last album, and I like it more.
41. The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing (No Sleep)
Personally, I liked The Upsides more, but this is still a tremendously strong pop punk album. As an aside, my daughter colored a picture and gave it Soupy a few months ago. Cool kid indeed.
40. Big Kids – Phone Home (Protagonist)
Hmmm… is there emo in this punk or is there punk in this emo? However you call it, these are some seriously fun tunes that remind me a little (lot) of that thing that Joyce Manor does. The singer also sounds a little like Jeff Rosenstock.
39. Banner Pilot – Heart Beats Pacific (Fat Wreck)
Have I fallen out of love with Banner Pilot? I don’t think so, but why isn’t this higher on my list? It’s the exact same infectious and gruff Midwestern pop-punk they’ve been playing since day one. It’s not you, it’s me.
38. Woods – Sun And Shade (Woodsist)
If you like sprawling lo-fi indie folk that’s as catchy as it is drawn out, you should get lost in the woods.
37. Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Files (Big Scary Monsters)
This is real emo for the real emo kids. Do you like Cap’n Jazz or Street Smart Cyclist? Then you already love this, right?
36. The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks (Barsuk)
Who knew that former American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny would recruit Matt Pond into The Wooden Birds for the band’s second album. Kinda sounds like exactly what we’ve come to expect from him, and it’s great.
35. Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here (Run For Cover)
This is post-hardcore/emo/punk from the UK that gives nods to the likes of Crime In Stereo and also your favorite new band in this genre . The album is album gray and chilly in tone and is perfect winter music.
34. How Dare You – The King, The Clown, & The Colonel (Anchorless)
More straightforward (that means less overt hardcore influence) than the band’s previous album but more melodic and probably catchier. What is it about Florida and all the great music?
33. Left Lane Cruiser – Junkyard Speedball (Alive)
This is easily the most diverse album yet from these Fort Wayne, IN punkass blues dudes. Five songs feature Reverend James Leg of the Black Diamond Heavies on keys. It’s pretty bitchin’.
32. Nothington – Borowed Time (Red Scare)
I loved Nothington’s last two albums, and this one is no exception. It’s Bay Area punk painted in shades of Leatherface and Social Distortion. I’m guessing that, in time, this will make it’s way nearer the top of this list.
31. Flashlights – I’m Not Alone (self-released)
I like Superchunk and Built To Spill, but probably not as much as these guys. Let the nostalgia flow like wine and just enjoy this fuzzed out power pop gem.
30. Into It Over It – Proper (No Sleep)
Finally a proper full-length from that guy who ate pizza in that one Mixtapes video. Honestly, I had no idea this record would be this good, and with songs ranging from sparse to full-band post-hardcore, it’s remarkably cohesive.
29. Future Virgins – Western Problems (Starcleaner)
Raw. Garagey. Catchy. Breakneck. Bluesy. Punk. Rock. This album will punch you and take your girlfriend out for a milkshake.
28. Living With Lions – Holy Shit (Adeline)
I’m not sure what it is about LWL, but something about this album is really comforting. It’s nothing more than really well-played an ultra-melodic pop punk, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t something more here. The mysteries of music…
27. Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground (Side One Dummy)
Chuck Ragan can do no wrong and Covering Ground picks up exactly where his last album Gold Country left off. You know, Chuck’s bellowing voice accompanied by acoustic guitar and the usual cast of characters.
26. Direct Hit – Domesplitter (Kind Of Like)
Fuck you! Get pumped!
Ok. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the second part of the list tomorrow or the next day… or not.