2011 has been a killer year for music, and that’s not something I can say every year. I consider myself to be both an old school music snob as well as an open minded journalist that will give anything a whirl. While the majority if new albums seem to only disappoint, there have been so many releases lately that have really pulled through. After much debating, I’ve compiled a list of my Top 10 albums of 2011.
Instead of dissecting everything from production quality to talent, blah blah, I am literally making this list based on actual play time. I don’t give a shit about what anyone has to argue about these albums, they are all great in one way or another and have each brought me back over and over again.
Denise Borders’ of PWV Top 10 Albums of 2011
Of Legends – Stranded (3.21.11)
This album really flew under everyone’s radar. Of Legends is somewhat of a super group containing members of The Secret Handshake, Sky Eats Airplane and Periphery. Don’t let the linked bands fool you though; OL is metal and deserve their signing to Season of Mist, which is an extremely respected metal label.
Stranded is the band’s debut release and I was stoked on it from the moment I hit play. I can’t believe more hype wasn’t around this record, because it was a great debut and I still listen to it frequently. It’s unique and technical while still being sort of all over the place; it really keeps you on your toes and it sure as hell didn’t let me down.
I talked with Luis (vocals) right when this album dropped, so don’t miss that interview!
Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still (2.22.11)
This was such a great debut for these guys. They have a sounds that makes me feel like I know them just from listening to this record. Songs about long nights of hanging out with friends seem to be something that rarely gets old. Plus, the fact it was recorded by Stephen Egerton (All/ Descendents) really doesn’t hurt either. With hook-ridden tracks, you will be singing along before you even realize you’re drunk. I never get sick of this record and I for-see many more plays in the years to come.
Tony Sly – Sad Bear (10.11.11)
If I had to pick a musician I can rely on, it would be Mr. Sly. I’ve always been a huge No Use For a Name Fan, so as soon as he started releasing solo material, I was ALL OVER IT. His solo full length debut, 12 Song Program, still makes an appearance on my iPod constantly, so I was stoked to sink my pearly whites into this release. It has the same general feel as his older stuff, but Sad Bear is a little more Irish, a little more about drinking, and just solidifies a dark corner in my heart. (Yes, you’ll have to listen to the record to understand that reference).
If you ever have the chance to catch him on a solo tour, cancel your movie plans with your lame girlfriend and GO. Seeing him play with just an acoustic guitar was really something else. No distractions, nothing to hide behind; TONY CAN ACTUALLY SING. Thank god this man still makes music, because I listen to this album constantly. It has helped me through so many 405 traffic disasters, I can’t even begin to tell you. It’s not something to hype yourself up to do power squats or anything, but it’s fucking great to just jam to or when you need a break from headbanging. Thank you, Tony Sly. Please don’t die.
Title Fight – Shed (5.3.11)
Before this record was released, Title Fight has so much buzz around them it was SCARING me. I am a “don’t believe the hype” kind of person, so anytime something has such a huge build up, I almost expect it to be bad just in shear fear of agreeing with the masses. However, Title Fight didn’t disappoint me with this full length debut, and I am stoked they got picked up by Side One Dummy to spread this lustrous post-hardcore joy around for all the enjoy.
Karbomb – Nose Before Toes (11.29.11)
This record blew me away. It’s crazy to think that before receiving this album to review, I had never even heard of this band before. While the recording quality isn’t top notch, it doesn’t mask their sheer punk vibe that I know and love. I can hardly go a day without jamming to this record, and I dare you to get me to not scream along to Below the Boot.
“Nose Before Toes is a nice and easy 40 min plus punk record. Joe from The Queers produced it, which was amazing, he’s a super laid back guy with a lot of knowledge on music in general. Joe Queer along with Dan Dixon really helped us find the sound we were looking for, not that over produced, cookie cutter, pro tools sound. [This record] is us, no automated guitar tones or vocals, just mics, guitars, drums, throats and beers! - Jay Kellom – guitar
“We recorded all the music to Nose Before Toes live, which I had never done before. It really made the energy better and at the risk of sounding like a douche bag, made it sound more punk, ya know what I mean? The attitude that you put into a song on stage is never there on the record because you’re isolated in a room alone thinking only about your part. We were all together having as much fun as we do on stage and you can hear the difference for sure. These songs mean a lot to us and we were able to put everything we had into them. Working with Joe King (Joe Queer) and Dan Dixon was great because they didn’t try to take the reigns, they more or less held the tail while we fucked the monkey… Not to discredit their work though, being a fan of The Queers, having Joe Queer produce your first full length is HUGE, and he is a really nice and humble dude… Dan Dixon busted his ass too, he really knows his shit. I’m truly proud of this album and everything that it stands for, fuck authority, stay true to yourself, goof off til you die… Hope everyone digs it and I hope to see you all in the pit. - NickFit – drums/vocals
Trapped Under Ice – Big Kiss Goodnight (10.11.11)
TUI had already put a dent in the hardcore scene before Big Kiss Goodnight was released. I had heard of them here and there, been at shows where they were on the bill, but for some reason my attention was never really snagged. This record caught my ear the millisecond my stubby little finger left the play button. In the recent years, I’ve been more into hardcore than I ever have before, and something about this album just feels solid. I believe that these guys went through the endeavors they’re screaming and strumming along to, and I’m now a firm believer that they’ve earned their spot in this scene. Through the grapevine, I’ve heard a lot of people talking shit on these guys, but I can relate because people talk shit on me. H8ERS GON H8. People get scared when something unfamiliar breaks into their world, and Trapped Under Ice is a unique style of hardcore, and Justice has a voice distinguishable from ANY other hardcore singer. Oh, and they also look like underwear models.
I also had a killer interview with TUI this year so be sure to check it out as well.
This is Hell – Black Mass (10.11.11)
These New Yorkers have been in the scene longer than most bands they’re opening up for, but This is Hell seems to have been laying low in the lime light until Rise Records released Black Mass last October. I can barely get through a workout without the opening beat to Salt the Earth. It didn’t leave my iPod screen for over a week after I received it, and I don’t expect to ever put it on the back burner.
I feel like TIH has been an underrated band for quite some time, and they truly are one of those bands that I wish people would give a solid chance because they are such good dudes and really put some jams on this record. You can headbang, mosh, do some unbalanced cartwheels, bicep curls, or do the fucking dishes to this record. It’s a keeper.
Guitarist, Rick Jimenez, stated, “Months after the release of our album and I’m still really siked on it. It was awesome crossing all these invisible lines and barriers and recording a thrash metal record. I can put this record on and it gets me as pumped as it does playing the songs live.”
Sick of it All – Non Stop
I was iffy on putting this album in my list simply because the songs are all re-recordings… but ya know what? FUCK IT. I have listened to this album non stop (see what I did there?) at the gym, in the car, and while I headbang and get ready for work in the morning. Sick of it All just can’t be stopped and I hope these dudes don’t quit making music anytime soon. They really bring me a lot of joy.
When bands do this sort of thing (release a re-recording instead of new material), I often see it as a cop out of having to put in the work of making new stuff, but for some reason I was stoked that SOIA was doing this record. It makes sense for an anniversary to do something like this (Alkaline Trio did it for their 10 year with Goddamnit, another one I wasn’t mad about). The songs, while they are old, sound fresh and have a new kick with the clean new recordings. Damn you guys, I FREAKING LOVE YOU. Sick of it All for life.
Dwarves – The Dwarves Are Born Again (5.10.11)
Are you kidding me? This band won’t fucking die. For over 25 years, Blag and his slew of half naked men have been beating on our undeserving ear drums about sluts, drugs and underaged girls. The first track warns you that this band hasn’t changed one bit from their amazing immature and grotesque humor that has infected every previous album.
It’s classic Dwarves style with everything from the titties on the album cover to the lyrics about underaged girls and drugs. Bless them. This album is another excellent release that proves they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Thrice – Major/Minor (9.20.110)
DUM DUM DUMMMMM. My punk rock and hardcore friends are rolling their eyes at me so hard right now for choosing this album as my number one, but I would back this album to the fucking grave, yo. Major/Minor displays everything I love about Thrice from their genius songwriting to Dustin’s voice that makes me wish I could have sex with voices. Yes, I said that.
Considering the band announced they were going on hiatus a short few months after the album was released, it was a great record to end a career on. I say that because I have a feeling this “hiatus” is going to be more long term than the band leads on… but we’ll have to wait and see! I hope it’s not the end of Thrice, but either way, this record fucking nailed it for me. I’m a punk rocker at heart, but I can’t deny the sheer magnitude of talent seeping through my speakers when I listen to Major/Minor. You all can SUCK IT!
I got killer Thrice footage from their show at the Mayan a few months back. Don’t miss it!
These albums might have not made it into my top ten, but they are worth mentioning because they, too, have been getting a lot of ass from my iPod.
Samiam – Trips (9.6.11)
letlive. – Fake History (4.12.11)
Direct Hit – Domesplitter (11.2.11)
Diamond – Don’t Lose Your Cool (11.29.11)
Are you unfamiliar with some of those bands and/or albums? Check out this video I made featuring clips from each one!