Top Albums of 2011!

Now I know this is late, and I’ve been wanting to write some separate reviews of these albums but I’ve been extremely busy (lazy) with some stuff so I figure’d I would just type this up now on a Saturday night because I’m a loser and have nothing going on (What better way to write than with a nice whiskey and ginger by my side!).  OK so without further ado, here are my favorite records of the year 2011!

First I’d like to start off with my biggest disappointments of the year, these are albums that were so hyped up that my expectations were too high and unfortunately they didn’t live up to them.  There are still some songs on these albums that are alright, but unfortunately, I thought I’d have to Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo call a nurse because I’d have something going on for my than 4 hours but alas, it only lasted the brief 3 minutes of a song or two.

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

I'm missing a tear 🙁

Unfortunately I had high expectations for this album.  When the single came out as the title track Circuital, it really grew on me.  It was a bit different from the My Morning Jacket I knew and loved but that is one of the reasons I love them, nothing they put out is the same. With the promise of Circuital, I anxiously awaited this album and when I finally got it and went through my first listen, it was a bit like seeing in the eye of a tornado, you would think it looks cool but it just looks really really windy (if you sat through tornado alley to see the Dark Knight Rises Prologue you know what I mean).  Even the song Holdin’ On to Black Metal which rocks out decently is missing something, the drums are too soft, or the guitar doesn’t have enough gain on it, or something I just can’t quite tell.

Exception songs: Circuital, Holding On to Black Metal, You Wanna Freak Out

Kevin Devine – Between the Concrete and Clouds

There are trees...alive somewhere

This was another one that I waited in the mail for and I had the good chance of catching him live the week before this album came out.  The biggest complaint I have about the album is that it does KevDev’s live show absolutely no justice whatsoever.  Again I feel like the drums are too soft or something and the songs don’t capture the Devine signature sing from a low start snowballing to a wave crashing crescendo.  The songs are a good set of songs maglie calcio poco prezzo but the album can’t just capture the rawness and seems a little too tweaked in post I guess.  For example:  please tell me that you don’t immediately tear up when viewing this video and immediately conjure images of Jack Shepard sacrificing himself for the good of the island  (I can cry every time you show me the last 10 minutes of Lost even if theres a naked girl in front of me.)


This acoustic performance blows all of the songs on the album out of the water, just sayin’.

Exception Tracks: The First Hit, 11.17.10, Between the Concrete and Clouds, Sleepwalking Through My Life

The Strokes – Angles

It's like..abstract name is Fabrizio

Now this just goes without saying.  Remember how awesome the song Under Cover of Darkness was when the video came out?  Remember how pumped you were that The Strokes were freaking back baby?!  Remember how pissed you were when you heard that electronic bull shit that came after?  Seriously, I still rock out to Under Cover of Darkness because its that good, but you guys, wtf.

Exception track:  Under Cover of Darkness, and thats seriously f*cking it.

Now onto the main attraction…

Honorable Mentions:

Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday

I'm flying! and live in a Playstation!

With this release, we see the members of old return to bring on the Taking Back Sunday we all know and love the most!  This album, albeit not a Tell All Your Friend 2 (Electric Boogaloo), still rocks out in its own way and you can absolutely tell that the guys have never been happier making music.

Standouts: Best Places to be a Mom, Since You’re Gone, Who Are You Anyway?

Best for: Pretending you just got you driver’s license and speeding with the windows down screaming the lyrics

The Velvet Teen – No Star EP

Look there's a dolphin!

I got an excellent chance to hear these guys blow this epic EP out of the water live with Minus the Bear.  It is absolutely awesome!  These guys sound like they are exploring their mathy side after a long discography of many diverse and awesome albums.  I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Standouts: No Star, Pavlovian Bell, (and the other 2 songs)

Best For: Fighting koopas, rescuing princesses

Man Man – Life Fantastic

I was in Return of the Jedi Dammit! Now I do freaking album covers!!!

Man Man.  What a great freaking highly original band.  I first had the pleasure of seeing these guys with Cursive in 2009.  They came out in white Lacoste polos and white war paint on their faces.  They started with a weird xylophone song I immediately thought, “oh great, now I have to sit through these guys until Cursive.”  Holy shit was I dead wrong.  These guys cranked out awesome songs with intense energy.  The best way I can describe their whole show is as follows:  Remember in the Lion King when Scar and the hyenas sing that very nazi-esque song, “Be Prepared” in the elephant graveyard.  Now imagine that, with a live band of people.  It was frigging awesome.  This album is a little more structured compared to their other releases, making it a perfect Man Man starter kit!  So check it out!

Standouts: Spooky Jooky, Life Fantastic, Bangkok Necktie

Best For: Solving scooby doo-esque mysteries, shuffling before you run (making a cloud of smoke behind you), just Scooby Doo stuff in general (I don’t know what that entails though…figure it out, with summer sanders)

Finally the top 10!!

10. Mister Heavenly – Out Of Love alone

This is Mister Heavenly’s first release but they are not n00bs to the music industry.  This is somewhat of a supergroup.  It features Honus Honus, the lead singer of Man Man (previously mentioned), Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins, and probably the most unknown and awesomest indie person in the band Nick Thorburn of The Unicorns and Islands (but mostly more awesome from The Unicorns check ’em out). Anyway with their combined powers you get a future doo wop type sound that will have you rocking out like the fonz of the 23rd century.  Plus their touring bass player was Michael Cera, pretty cool.

Standouts: Bronx Sniper, I am a Hologram, Mister Heavenly

Best For:  Putting on your future chrome space suit and hanging out with the greasers picking fights the those nerdy Larrgs from the Renuro planet.  It is the 23rd century after all.

9. Saves the Day – Daybreak

i got nothin

Saves The Day’s grand epic of epicness!  This album is the return of the jedi of Saves the Day’s previous two albums (and believe me, Sound the alarm was definitely their Empire.)  It seems with this album Saves the Day has also finally solidified their lineup.  This is the Saves the Day that I hope sticks.  It was a pleasant surprise to hear awesome guitar solos in Saves the Day’s usual poppiness.  It’s kind of like finding that extra saucy wing at the bottom of the bucket (don’t judge my fatness.)

Standouts: Daybreak, Living Without Love, Undressed

Best For: Turning your father over from the dark side, Finding out you kissed your sister…with tongue, you nerfherder

8. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

Simple....uh, Math Faberge Egg!

Manchester Orchestra at its finest again!  This album starts off quiet but don’t let that fool you.  It immediately cranks out the volume and keeps you up…uh i mean it..yeah…it up and culminates with the happiest of endings.  This year it seems like autotune is out and has been replaced by adding string sections to already epic rock songs and guess what, it totally works!  So go pick a violin or cello up and rock out!

Standouts: Mighty, April Fool, Simple Math, Leave it Alone (give Leave it Alone a chance!)

Best For: Puttin’ on your Ray-Bans, going on a mission from God, a new one, less bluesy, more rocky (not balboa).

7. Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

Pound it!

Death.Cab.For.Cutie.  Hell yes!  This album is freaking awesome and more on the happy happy joy joy side.  This album continues the trend of adding a string section for the better.  You can definitely tell Ben Gibbard was also in a better mood after his marriage to Hipster America’s sweetheart Zooey Deschanel. With “You Are a Tourist” they also premiered the single with a live music video that turned out to be pretty cool.  Anyway I can’t wait to hear their next one, I heard Zooey and Ben divorced so I expect it to be the bizarro codes and keys, which I would love to hear!

Standouts: Codes and Keys, You Are A Tourist, Stay Young Go Dancing

Best for: Frolicking in the meadows and blowing dandelions, being a romantic pussy and such

6. The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum

Colors n' such

The Dear Hunter set out on a very ambitious project to make an EP for every color in the spectrum (hence the Color Spectrum, huz-za!)  Well in the words of GW, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! (Thumbs up, jet flyover, sparkle in teeth!)  Each color has its own vibe and type of music and completely fits for the color.  I originally liked The Dear Hunter and then for some reason just kind of forgot about them until I recently saw them with Manchester Orchestra (who helped out as the backup band on the Red Ep) and they blew me out of the water with a cover of She’s So Heavy.  Unfortunately I think only me and 5 other people realized they were covering it as it was The Pac Sun Tour.  Anyway, set aside a couple days to give this multiple listens!

Standouts: We’ve Got A Score To Settle, Misplaced Devotion, Look Away

Good For: Camping, Peeling a potato, reading green eggs and ham, the point is, pretty much anything because there is a song for anything on there…including watching Jurassic Park!

The top 5! Can you tell how tired/drunk I’m getting yet!

5. Manray – Tournament

I couldn't find a hi-res album cover, here is the band being hard-assed...the drummer has a ram tattoo on his chest

Honestly, this album would be higher on my list if it weren’t for all the other awesomely epic releases this year.  Manray: art bar in Massachusetts, enemy of Merman and Barnacle Boy, makers of awesome music.  Holy crap this album just starts off with the epic Geronimo trilogy.  The last time I listened to an album and felt this way was Deloused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta.  If you would like to feel the same then please get this album!  I got it through iTunes as it is ridiculously hard to find because of their unknown status but hopefully in the coming year that changes!

Standouts: Gordon Lamborghini, Bars and Stripes, Burning Bridges

Best For: Fighting crime by night, committing crime by night, breaking boards off heads

4. O’Brother – Garden Window

Apples! Snakes! Fun!

O’Brother is on the illustrious Favorite Gentlemen roster.  Basically all of my favorite bands, if not on a major label, are on this label.  This is their debut album and the only way to describe it is heavoft.  It’s heavy where it needs to do the lifting and soft in all the right places.  This album is amazing but once again does not capture the live majesty.  I had tickets to their date at the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh with Thrice but unfortunately had to miss because apparently a friend’s engagement party is more important (who knew?).  How do I know they are awesome live?  Well by listening to their live audio tree sessions and daytrotter sessions on repeat before this album came out to sustain my craving, silly.  Anyway, these guys just had their record release show and incidentally, introduced me to the bone crunching that is Manray as well.  Thank you!  P.S. can you hear the guest singer?  Think Where’s Waldo with a beard (red knit skull cap included).

Standouts: Lo, Lay Down, Easy Talk

Best For: Time Traveling, Going into Space, Not petting kittens (DO NOT DO!)

3. Glassjaw – Coloring Book EP

Simple...yet refined, like grey poupon

Glassjaw, Glassjaw, Glassjaw.  This band is as mysterious as the death of Russian princess Anastasia.  They finally released something new this year and it is the next step in their evolution.  I finally got to see these guys live and as always Daryl Palumbo knows how to work the crowd.  It’s like, you never do those things because that’s not you, it’s unbecoming of a young woman like yourself, but when your with him you will squeal like a dolphin if he asks (bottlenosed or porpoise?).  The other cool thing is that by seeing them live, you got to see them perform this EP in its entirety and leave with the EP for free! Awesome!  I also have to mention they also released Our Colour Green EP, which was some unreleased material from after Worship and Tribute and up until now so it’s not exactly new but the collection was finally assembled in 2011 so that would be number 2.5 on the list.

Standouts: Black Nurse, Gold, Daytona White

Best For: Fighting the aliens, Punching Sharks, Grocery Shopping

2. All Get Out – The Season

Chair Lifts!

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys kill it at Diesel in the south side when Manchester Orchestra came to Pittsburgh in 2006.  Getting to the show a little late and not expecting much from the opening bands, these guys flipped me on my head.  They were just as raw as Manchester and for how much they get compared to them, for what its worth I think they are more raw, raw-er, rawr!  Clever girl!  Unfortunately as us Pittsburghers know, Diesel is a dance club and  not a rock venue, and towards the end of their set double popped collared douchebags rolled in drinking Miller Light and clanking bottles during the ever so gentle parts of amazing songs.  Anyway, with all of their epic names (MIke Rogers, Mel Washington) and a drummer with the looks of Johnny Depp (like, put on a pirate costume and you’re looking at Jack Sparrow smoking a cigarette) I expect big things to come for this band!

Standouts: The Season, Come and Gone, My Friends

Best for:  Online Dating, Watching a Wes Anderson Movie

and in my humble internet opinion the best album of 2011 is:

1. Thrice – Major/Minor

It's a magic eye illusion...I see it! It's a coke bottle!

My number 1 album of the year is hands down Thrice’s latest endeavor.  I listened to this record from the moment it came out until…wait… I still listen to this album at least once a day.  Yellow Belly is my ringtone.  Everything about this record is epicly perfect.  I’m so upset that I was not able to see them perform these songs live in October.  I cannot miss their spring tour because as of right now Thrice’s future is in limbo.  I imagine it’s the kind of limbo thats in Beetlejuice.  They’re probably talking sports with the football team that crashed. (I bet they think Riley is Coach).  For anyone born after 1990 you probably don’t get that reference, and I like it that way.

Standouts: Disarmed, Yellow Belly, Anthology

Best For: Quitting your job, being the joker, Running a 5k…with bears

Wow that took a lot longer than expected.  Hopefully you enjoyed the post if you read all of it. Obviously Skrillex would have been all the top 10 but I had to omit it to make room for an actual list.