One of the most epic electronic-instrumental-hip-hop releases of the year for lack of better description. "City Star" slams all of the faces.
Sample: City Star - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKm1m1NJysk
|24||Dance Gavin Dance|
Downtown Battle Mountain II
While not as powerful as some of their previous material, Downtown Battle Mountain II is still some of the catchiest, most fun post-hardcore released this year. Also, Johnny Craig and Jon Mess are both beastly vocalists.
Sample: Spooks - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKqc8-MJhuY
The first Shoegaze album that's ever actually held my attention. Skying is a swirling amalgamation of the 80's, which results in a huge atmosphere backing still-catchy music. Definitely an essential release.
Sample: Changing the Rain - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09dsTaHkkxA
We Do What We Want
While there are a couple of weak tracks on here (namely the two ballads at the end), the highlights on this album are among the best post-hardcore released this year. Seriously, "The Curse of Perfect Days" is the best scenecore song this year.
Sample: The Curse of Perfect Days - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFlPRG2mczA
Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
With their second full length, Touche Amore learns much more about building atmospheres within the span of their minute-long songs. While certainly not the heaviest Hardcore release of the year, the powerful vocals and energetic music more than make up for it.
Sample: ~ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsLUYzKGlZA
|20||Stray From the Path|
With Rising Sun, Stray From the Path craft their own sound filled with odd-time signature riffing and brutal breakdowns that results in the heaviest metalcore album of the year.
Sample: Rising Sun - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUHWv3S4ONY
|19||The Dear Hunter|
The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)
Easily the most diverse album released in 2011. While an incredibly long listen, the nine EPs that make up the collection show off a band that has mastered all facets of alternative rock.
Sample: Never Forgive, Never Forget - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=filTeTUFcmc
Brostep EP of the year - Reso produces four tracks each with their unique identity that stand leagues above his brostep contemporaries. "War Machine" is the best example of this, as it remains heavy as hell while staying rhythmically complex and technically excellent rather than falling into a sea over overproduced wobble bass.
Sample: War Machine - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKwjkzMiAx0
While I had never been much of a Thursday fan, No Devolucion is an excellent release that is hard to pidgeonhole into a specific genre. While Thursday keeps their core post-hardcore sound, they experiment a lot more with elements such as odd time signatures and post-rock influences, which in addition to much-improved vocals from Geoff Rickly produced for a very unique album that outshines the rest of their discography.
Sample: No Answers - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fNho-VSEac
One of the most unique albums I've heard this year. Citycop crafts some beautiful, yet hard-hitting screamo without a hint of distortion. "Winter" in particular shows how well this unusual combination can work, and I'm excited to see where the band progresses from here.
Sample: Winter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rdxFyXVs8g
|15||The War on Drugs|
Extremely solid Americana Indie Rock that rivals the Gaslight Anthem as the best band on the scene at this point. Bruce Springsteen + Indie Rock + Shoegaze = this album.
Sample: Best Night - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpuxG9OZXpE
|14||Tyler, the Creator|
With Goblin, Tyler shows another side of himself. All of the elements that made him popular - The excessive vulgarity, the Humor, and the glimpses into Tyler's troubled psyche - are all still here in full force. Despite the overly long runtime, Goblin greatly excels at all of these and shows why Tyler and Odd Future were worth listening to in the first place.
Sample: Sandwitches - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VWKPZYaGo4
Extremely solid dubstep with a ton of effective vocal sampling and a very mellow atmosphere. An excellent release, especially for a debut.
Sample: The One - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zZsc0b5qQU
Very well-crafted Indie pop with a strong sense of atmosphere and excellent vocals. Prisoner is a rather unique album, and is especially interesting in how well the band functions without a bass player. I know this seems like its not enough elaboration for something this highly ranked, but I haven't heard many other basis for comparison. The music speaks for itself though.
Sample: Prisoner - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4aB39NKWbA
Dedication contains some of the most accessible, yet deepest dubstep I've heard this year. Indeed, its the album that finally turned me onto the genre as being worth more than what Skrillex and friends would imply. Zomby is able to craft a series of tracks with powerful control of mood while barely ever breaking the two-minute mark. While some songs could have benefited from some additional runtime, Dedication is still by all means a superb album that I would recommend to anybody with a even fleeting interest in the genre.
Sample: Black Orchid - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmJJUuCGBEU
With Wasting Light, Dave Grohl and company return from a several-album slump to release the greatest mainstream rock album of the last several years. All of the songs here are accessible, but still have a raw edge and are simply written better than any of the band's contemporaries. From the huge chorus of "Burning Bridges" to the unexpected heaviness of "White Limo" to the epic finale of "Walk", the Foo Fighters prove that they can still rock just as hard as they did on the Colour and the Shape.
Sample: Bridges Burning - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-eg29qAiFs
One of the most charming Indie Pop albums of the year. While the album's themes deal with all sorts of hardships, Eisley is still able to craft an incredibly uplifting and incredibly catchy Indie Pop release. Oh, and anyone who dislikes "Ambulance" has no soul.
Sample: Smarter - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjBFqA1JhUg&ob=av2e
While La Dispute had previously established themselves to be a solid act, their previous full-length rambled on for way longer than it had a right to, leaving its highlights drowned in surrounding filler. With Wildlife, however, they took threw these problems away and improved drastically. All of the tracks on Wildlife are incredibly solid, making for the best Hardcore release of the year. The vocals and lyrics are particularly powerful, with Jordan Dreyer's mix between spoken word sections and powerful screaming being one of the best vocal performances of the year. Oh, and "King Park" is just divine.
Sample: King Park - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa9mi5Pd8aY
|7||The Hotel Year|
It Never Goes Out
I'm always a sucker for good pop-Punk, and The Hotel Year is certainly able to deliver on that regard. While they certainly have a large amount of influence from bands such as the Wonder Years, they are still able to create their own distinct sound through their two-vocalist approach, frequent riff changes, and powerful lyrics - "An Ode to the Nite Ratz Club" Has some of the hardest-hitting lyrics in pop-punk on this side of the Wonder Years. And the best part? It's free here: http://thehotelyear.bandcamp.com/album/it-never-goes-out
Sample: An Ode to the Nite Ratz Club - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DdxBlnV5rw
|6||Fair To Midland|
Arrows and Anchors
With Arrows & Anchors, Fair to Midland released an extremely solid alternative rock release. I haven't heard anything else by this band, but they diversity they display on here is astounding. From the catchiness of "Uh-Oh" to the beautiful atmosphere of "Golden Parachutes" to the roaring insanity of "Rikki Tikki Tavi", Fair to Midland produce an incredibly diverse album that is able to maintain an extremely consistent level of quality.
Sample: Uh-Oh - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xONt9IEirKg
Old Raves End
I've never really paid attention to dubstep until this year, and as such when this album first came out I was less than impressed - It didn't seem to womp hard enough for what I expected dubstep to be. However, as I listened to more of the softer(/better) side of the genre, I decided to revisit this and found some of the most beautiful music I've heard this year. The atmospheres that Swarms is able to create are just astounding, and are really perfect for relaxing or studying. The album was able to cement my respect for dubstep as an art form.
Sample: Flickr of Ur Eyes - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlVIrQb7Vk4
England Keep My Bones
I'm not normally much of a sucker for singer-songwriters - most of them are either musically boring, lyrically generic, or have some other sort of problem with themselves. Frank Turner, however, is the one exception to this I've found. With songs such as "Redemption" and "I Am Disappeared", Frank is able to create some of the most human songs I've heard, with powerful vocals and honest lyrics about every facet of life.
Sample: I Am Disappeared - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFLVlvj9osk
Simple Math is easily the most colossal Indie Rock album released this year. By integrating full orchestras into their songs, Manchester Orchestra is able to create an incredible soundscapes to back some of the most honest lyrics put to pen. It is at its core a relatable lamentation on the toll of aging, but it is so well executed that it transcends this and becomes more of a soundtrack to life itself.
Sample: Simple Math - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaMiVDZu_T4&ob=av2e
|2||The Wonder Years|
Suburbia: I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing
This album is the perfect summer album to me. While it's nothing terribly groundbreaking, it doesn't need to be - Suburbia is simply a 40 minute slab of the catchiest music this year. It also is much deeper than the typical saccharine pop-punk affair, dealing with the issues of how much your world can change while you're away. Oh, and "Don't Let Me Cave In" is probably the best song released this year.
Sample: Don't Let Me Cave In - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2ugv36LtUo
Never Born, Never Dead
This album hit me way more powerfully than anything else I've heard since, well, Trophy Scars' last album. While the band's use of piano and other unusual instrumentation choices allows for a fantastic atmosphere, the real star of the show is the vocal performance. The vocals on this record floored me, as even though they may seem grating at first glance, they grew to be one of the most emotional performances of the year, and the lyrics only add icing to the cake. Even the samples on this album, which are normally something I find incredibly annoying, are used to perfect effect here. With Never Born, Never Dead, Trophy Scars created a unique, flawless tribute to the pains of heartbreak.
Sample: Never Dead - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oANlYwpqrnE