I’m a few days late on this but I haven’t had an opportunity to compile this list until now. I’m gonna do this in parts. LP’s first, 7”s second, and then I’m going to spend the next night or two attempting to compile a list of my favorite shows of 2011 and some of my most memorable musical moments.
Without further ado, my favorite full length records of 2011.
1. Capital - Givers Takers
Givers Takers was the first new record I listened to in 2011, and it remained my favorite throughout the entire year. This LP found the band seamlessly boiling down their influences to put out one hell of an album (and their strongest to date). The musicianship and songwriting is superb, the production and the mix are top notch (thanks to Chris Hannah of Propagandhi), and Tommy Corrigan’s vocals are the strongest they have sounded since Silent Majority released “Life of a Spectator”. If you check out anything from this list, let it be “Givers Takers”. Long Island on top 2011-forever.
2. Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
Chuck Ragan did it again. “Covering Ground” is a perfect blend of his first two records, and my favorite of the three (I think). The coolest voice in current music puts out another incredible effort that touches on the roots of folk and country music without sounding dated and proves uplifting without an overbearing sense of overt optimism. I probably listened to this LP more times than any other record that came out this year. Hot Water who? 10/10.
3. Crucial Dudes - 61 Penn
Equal parts Saves the Day, Latterman, and Lifetime, this band is the best band playing pop punk music right now, straight up. I’m also going to go on the record as saying that this is one of the best, if not the best pure pop punk releases of the last 5 years. Instant nostalgia when hearing this record. Lyrics that cut straight through me. I love this band and I love my friends. Be on the lookout, they’re going to be gigantic. Mark my words.
4. Take Offense - Tables Will Turn
My favorite hardcore record of the year. Perfect twist on the classic sound of thrashy West Coast hardcore. Outstanding musicianship. Dynamic vocal delivery. Solos and dive-bombs galore. Expect huge things from this band in the future. Bang your head.
5. Laura Stevenson & The Cans - Sit/Resist
Laura Stevenson may just be the most talented songwriter on this entire list. It’s wonderful to hear her music come to life in the context of good production and a full backing bands worth of instrumentation. Angelic voice, solid guitar player, strong lyricist, and pretty to boot. An awesome combination that has lead to one of the best records of the year. Perfect for a quiet evening in. Check it out.
6. Bon Iver - Self-Titled
Their new record was a bit jarring at first as it stepped from the acoustic band with folky instrumentation realm into a bit more of an electronic world, but after a few spins I came to peace with it. Justin Vernon is incredible at layering rhythms and melodies to paint an aural picture, and the picture he slapped together here is a pretty gorgeous one. Listen to this album with headphones on and drift away into another place.
7. The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
When I first heard of the Horrible Crowes it was in an interview Brian Fallon did. He said his goal was to create a side-project to the Gaslight Anthem that played “nighttime music”, and I think he was outrageously successful in that pursuit (as he always is). Structured well and rich in it’s influences, ‘Elsie’ is a truly moving album. Put another notch in Mr. Fallon’s proverbial bedpost.
8. New Lows - Harvest of the Carcass
CRUSHING hardcore from the Massachusetts outfit. This was always my go to album while driving around the same 10 blocks in Manhattan looking for parking for two hours at a time. This record makes me want to carve my eyeballs out of my head and light them on fire. Fucking unrelenting. I wish I wrote all of the riffs on this album. Outrageous record. Blows me away every time. I can’t say enough good things about it.
9. Foundation - When the Smoke Clears
In a time period where I feel like a lot of the messages and the meanings in hardcore are being lost, Foundation proves that the ideals beneath our community are as intact as ever. Every time I see this band live they have something poignant to say that nearly brings all the kids in the room to tears. Great hardcore band and a full-length debut that is equal parts heavy and thought provoking. More bands need to have the sense of awareness that Foundation has. Excited to see what they do next.
10. Joyce Manor - Self-Titled
I feel like this band came absolutely nowhere to take the internet by storm. One of my bigger musical regrets of the year is that I wasn’t more into them the once chance I had to see them. Super clever songwriting. Great melodies, and catchy as all hell. Solid live band too. I’m excited for their Asian Man Records debut in the spring.
11. Basement - I Wish I Could Stay Here
It took me a while to check this record out because I’m somewhat prone to quickly dismissing things that are hyped to death on the internet, but this one was one of the few that was actually worth it’s hype. With so many bands going for that Seaweedy, Jawbreakerish melodic punk rock thing this year, Basement was the one band that I really thought did it the right way. Solid lyrics, cool tones, and very well put together. One of the more cohesive LP’s of the year.
12. Rotting Out - Street Prowl
This record brings me back to the days where my favorite things to do were listen to fast punk rock and ride my skateboard all over town. I was weary about the line-up change RO went through because I loved their old vocalist, but that’s a moot point as their new vocalist has a strong presence over the same style of ripping hardcore. He’s also one of the most engaging front-men I saw perform this year. Check the band out on tour. You won’t be disappointed.
13. Backtrack - Darker Half
Long Island’s pride and joy proving that no one does NYHC better than New Yorkers themselves. This album was definitely a grower for me, but once it grew it did so fast. Fun album. Go see Backtrack over the next month or two while they tour the entire solar system. “Mosh on the stage”.
14. Mother of Mercy - IV: Symptoms of Existence
Superb metal-infused hardcore. A strong logical progression from their last LP. Great riffs, great songs, great record. It’s a shame to see them go. RIP to MoM.
15. Alkaline Trio - Damnesia
Stripped down acoustic versions of songs I’ve loved majority of my music listening life. It rules having a record by them I can pop on as I’m going to sleep. Fuck the haters, Alkaline Trio is the best.
That’s it for now. I’ll post up my favorite 7”s and demos a little later on tonight, or maybe tomorrow. Time to go watch some more Twilight Zone.