Favorite Albums 2011

Well, it’s that time again. All the leaves have fallen, it’s cold as fuck, and all of the Christmas shoppers have officially driven me insane. So, I figured now is as good a time as any to run through my favorite records of 2011. In no particular order, of course.

City & Colour – “Little Hell”

This year we saw the fall of Alexisonfire.  Mainly, due to the fact that guitarist Dallas Green had focused more of his time on his side project, City & Colour.  It’s full of fantastic guitar sounds and as always, his voice likely caused more than one unplanned pregnancy this year. It will make you happy, sad, and on more than one occasion – make you dance.

All Teeth – “Young Love EP”

Northern California’s All Teeth have been quietly trucking along for the last few years. Not a band to ride the internet hype or wait for handouts, they hit the road early and often all on their own. 2009’s I Am Losing was critically acclaimed, yet still found the band under the radar.  The time between I Am Losing  and Young Love, has allowed the band to become tighter and more comfortable. That being said, they have probably written the most heartfelt and honest 15 minutes of music I have heard all year.  This record and their blistering set at Killing the Dream’s last show in July solidified their arrival amongst the Northern California elite. Cheers.

Rival Schools – “Pedals”

The last few years have seen more than a handful of reunions. One I was especially excited about was Rival Schools. A decade after the highly acclaimed United By Fate, the band has returned to give us Pedals. While it may not have the lasting power of the former, I am always a sucker for late ninties/early 2000s nostalgia. It’s always good to remember what it was like when I first fell in love with music. You know, before I had one too many shots of jaded cynicism.

Ryan Adams – “Ashes & Fire”

A few years ago the Cardinals broke up. Ryan announced he would be getting married and due to an inner ear condition, would be retiring from music. As a fan who had yet to experience the man live, was devastated. So, the news that we would be receiving a new record this year excited me. Although, as it is the question with so many prolific artists – could he keep up? Did he have anything left? Apparently, hard drugs and rocky relationships aren’t the only things to inspire a wonderful record. Ryan is back in top form. Sober and happily married.  “Do I Wait” could perhaps, be one of the best things in his intimidating and extensive catalog.

Death Grips – “Ex-Military”

The thing I love most about music, is that you never really know when that next gem is going to hit you. The best records come out of nowhere and hit you like a haymaker to Danzig’s jaw. That is why one of my best decisions this year was to let a friend talk me into showing up to a club with no idea who I was to see. After showing up and grabbing a beer I was told Zach Hill had a new project. I was intrigued to say the least. Within moments of their set my jaw was on the floor and I was hooked. Still a record I really cannot put into words. It is one of the more difficult listens I have had in a long time. It sounds like RZA in a PCP fueled, schizophrenic episode. Clever samples, ferocious drum loops and some of the most genuinely angry vocals to come out of Sacramento in years.

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