Well, this started out as Top Ten of 2011, but then everyone informed us there was no way all that happened in 2011 could be bottled up in a top ten list. We allowed a few more and boy did it open the flood gates. Better luck next year? Or is it great to just list a bunch of great albums? Regardless, here you go.
Other great albums this year: Samiam – Trips | Abolitionist – It Used To Rain |
This year was filled with so many great records that I had an extremely hard time compiling this list. It was so difficult, in fact, that I’ve decided to compile a Top 12 Albums of 2011 list instead of the standard ten. Why? Because I’m punx and I do what I want, that’s why!
12. Capital – Givers Takers
The raw yet thoughtful energy laid down on Givers Takers may not earn the top slot on my list but it earns the title of my favorite record to thrash out to this year. Often brutal within the context of melody and technical musicianship, it’s become one of my top listening choices for bombing through Denver on my bicycle. Plus, it’s got some of my favorite homemade samples in between tracks that always make me chuckle when I put it on.
Favorite Song: “I Am Anonymous”
11. Dan P & The Bricks – Watch Where You Walk
A late addition, having only been released this November, Watch Where You Walk is also the only ska album on my list. Dan Potthast (of MU330) has always been one of my biggest influences as a vocalist and lyricist and, having harnessed a powerful backing band, comprised of most of Slow Gherkin, to create an instantly danceable catalog of tunes filled with bouncy 2-tone ska and soul has created an incredible album. I’m sure I’ll often find myself dropping the needle on this record for the remainder of 2011 and beyond.
Favorite Song: “Mess it Up”
10. The Dwarves – The Dwarves Are Born Again
The Dwarves have never been a band to shy away from experimentation, which is what made their last couple of records a little weird and disjointed. On …Are Born Again, they’ve managed to combine their myriad of influences to create one of the most fun and hedonistic records of the year. Even while boasting a whopping 21 tracks it blazes along and never gets stale. I always put this one on when I’m looking to have a blast and bop around.
Favorite Song: “We Only Came to Get High”
9. The Holy Mess – S/T
I reviewed this album earlier in the year and it’s really stuck with me as I find myself returning to it over and over. This being a compilation of previous releases, along with two new songs, it’s an awesome introduction to this Philidelphia foursome. The tracks are re-ordered and re-mastered, giving a great full album feel to a collection of aggressive yet melodic songs.
Favorite Song: “Goodbye 3713 (Must Have Been a Good One)
8. Red City Radio – The Dangers of Standing Still
Red City Radio climbs to the top of purveyors of melodic beard-punk with this one. Bombastic vocal parts, sung by all four members, and rousing anthems make this record an instant sing-along fave. The songs are often longer than one might expect from the genre but that gives the guys an opportunity to add layer after layer of guitar hooks and driving rhythms.
Favorite Song: “Two for Flinching”
7. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
Frank Turner has always been a songwriter who captures my ear on first listen and England Keep My Bones may be his finest work to date. While still retaining the feel of a punk rock troubadour, he’s surrounded himself with a full band that elevates and envelopes his songs. Also, the final track of the record is probably my favorite atheism song of all time. I mean, a gospel tune espousing the nonexistence of god? So good…
Favorite Song: “Glory Hallelujah
6. Swingin’ Utters – Here Under Protest
Here Under Protest is beef burgers! Taking a slight step back from the aggressiveness that was 2003’s Dead Flowers, Bottles, Bluegrass and Bones, the Utters return with a record steeped in Jonny Bonnel’s lyrical wisdom and Darius Koski’s supple songwriting, along with driving rhythm from drummer and 3rd original member Greg McKentee. Although seemingly the last album for guitarist Jack Dalrymple and bassist Spike Slawson, Here Under Protest, to me, shows a band completely at ease; often breaking new ground for itself while maintaining the gritty, street punk swagger for which they’re known.
Favorite Song: “Brand New Lungs”
5. Sharks – The Joys of Living (2008-2010)
Ok, so I know you’re saying that this can’t be on the list because I’ve now included two albums that mainly compile music from previous releases, but this one just rocked my brain this year. Sharks are a perfect amalgam of The Clash and The Jam and, wearing those influences firmly on the sleeves of their leather jackets, instantly captured my interest. This album also happens to offer up two brand new songs, “Sweet Harness” and “The Joys of Living”, which are a great indication as to what we can expect from Sharks as they move forward.
Favorite Song: “It All Relates”
4. Andrew Jackson Jihad – Knife Man
Sean Bonnette, of AJJ, writes some of the most darkly poignant lyrics of anyone around and it’s mainly, for that reason, that I really dig their latest output. Expanding upon the varied instrumentation of previous records, Knife Man creates a lavish yet stark musical landscape for the tales of society, cigarettes, and woe that traverse a country that the band creates and exposes at the same time.
Favorite Song: “American Tune”
3. Elway – Delusions
As, possibly, the first Colorado band to have ever made it onto my “year end” list, I hold a certain hometown pride for all of Elway’s successes. Fewer albums resonated with me this year, lyrically, than Delusions. From songs describing heartache and loss to songs pleading for hope and redemption, the raw emotion contained within runs the gamut of the human experience. It also helps that these four guys have created a tight, well-executed record that sounds like they had as much fun making it as I have singing along to it.
Favorite Song: “Song for Eric Solomon to Sing”
2. DC Fallout – Serf’s Up
DC Fallout, with the release of this 6 song EP, solidify them as a mainstay in the melodic, technical punk scene. Heavy riffs, soaring choruses and biting socio-economic lyrics make this EP a contender with the rest of the full lengths on my list because, in true punk form, the 6 songs fly by but have hefty impact; leaving me both thoroughly satisfied and clamoring for more. DC Fallout is the best “underground” American punk band out traversing the country right now so make sure to give them a listen.
Favorite Song: “Disconnect”
1. Atlas Losing Grip – State of Unrest
Very few bands have floored me at first impression like when I first put on State of Unrest. From start to finish, every song is well-crafted, dynamically performed and the lyrical content is just outstanding; rivaling Propagandhi in both attitude and musicianship. At the same time, an abundance of epic vocal performances (matched by perfectly glorious back-up harmonies) and anthemic sing-alongs make them a perfect contender to dethrone Rise Against as the kings of political punk rock.
Favorite Song: “Logic”
Honorable Mentions: Banner Pilot – Heart Beats Pacific | Lil’ Wayne – Tha Carter IV