Foursmallhats
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Last Active 12-22-11 8:53 am
Joined 09-26-10

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 Lists
11.27.11 2011: The Year Of The Cheeseburger07.20.11 Drum Corps?
07.08.11 2011 Pt. 206.03.11 2011
02.26.11 Urban Outlandish

2011: The Year Of The Cheeseburger

So 2011 has been the first year where I've really taken an interest in following new releases rrand working on this list basically all year. This time last year I would have had a hard time rrnaming ten, let alone forty. I just wrote a review to generally positive feedback, so I figured rI'd give myself some practice by writing pretty lengthy descriptions for the top 25 or so. But ryeah, this has been an incredible year.
40Big K.R.I.T.
ReturnOf4Eva
39 Girls' Generation
Girls' Generation (JP Release)


Maybe this doesn't count, but this deserves to be here because of how completely my life was consumed by "Gee" for a good month.
38William Bonney
Good Vibes


This is only as low as it is because I just found it a few days ago. Will probably grow on me a lot in the coming weeks.
37Lumber Lung
Lumber Lung
36Ampere
Like Shadows
35Unexpect
Fables of the Sleepless Empire
34Liturgy [NY]
Aesthethica
33Matana Roberts
Coin Coin Chapter One - Gens de couleur libres
32Fair To Midland
Arrows and Anchors
31Beheading of a King
Quasar: Preserving Legacy
30Last Chance To Reason
Level 2


Anyone know when the full game is coming out? The demo was pretty promising..
29Panic! At The Disco
Vices & Virtues


This was such a relief. Pretty.Odd. was such a huge disappointment. Good to hear that they can still make a solid pop album.
28 Coate
coate (k?t)
27Uneven Structure
Februus
26Fleshgod Apocalypse
Agony


"Agony" grew off me as fast as it grew on me. The silly clean vocals really hold back the overall effect, but it's still a very fresh approach to the genre.
25Between The Buried and Me
The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues


This is the first release from this band that I've been able to appreciate. They're obviously extremely talented, but there's something about the production that's holding be back a little still. It all sounds so thin for some reason.. Still a great listen though. Maybe their next full length will finally make me a believer.
24Aosoth
III


Aosoth's "III" is one of the first things I heard this year, and it's stuck with me ever since. This is very machine-like and absolutely refuses to vary it's sound. It's a daunting and hypnotizing listen, but it's commitment to the style is admirable. The effect is mezmerizing.
23Laura Stevenson and the Cans
Sit Resist


Alright so this grew on me a ton. I still think it's a bit overrated, but I can see why so many people like it as much as they do. "Master of Art" is one of the best songs of this year.
22Colin Stetson
New History Warfare, Vol 2: Judges


Sometimes I still find it hard to believe that nearly every sound on this album is made with a single saxaphone. This album is fascinating in its inventiveness, and the fact that every sound is as alien as it is makes it completely unpredictable and a ball to listen to.
21Touche Amore
Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me


Part of me really wishes I could put this higher. The energy and conviction with which it conveys it's completely melodramatic themes are so endearing that it's easy to forget how melodramatic they really are. Still, at some point, what the music is saying is more important than the words, and this album has a LOT to say.
20tUnE-yArDs
w h o k i l l


There comes a point when silly, whimsical, fun music is so silly, whimsical and fun that it becomes a genuine piece of art. Rather like Regina Spektor, tUnE- yArDs so thoroughly embraces her goofiness that embracing it yourself with just as much furvor is irresistable.
19Aegaeon
Dissension


Who would have thought that what deathcore was missing all along was atmosphere and theatrics? Plus an emphasis on the "death" part and fresh, impressive musicianship. I mean, just listen to "Reshaping the Mulverse."
18The Devin Townsend Project
Ghost


I've become something of a Devin Townsend fanboy this year. The fact that "Ghost" actually ends up as my least favorite album in the four-part Devin Townsend Project project and yet is still in my top 20 albums of the year is telling. Ghost is proof that Devy really can do anything well. I think the only thing we haven't seen him do is hip-hop. Hopefully we'll see it in 2012. It'll probably be my AOTY.
17 Original Broadway Cast
The Book Of Mormon


I can't get over how much I adore this musical. I have a different Book of Mormon song stuck in my head every day. Never fails. Anyone know where this is on the database? I have it entered as it is in my library right now.
16Opeth
Heritage


Opeth was probably the first real metal band I ever listened to, so to hear them strip away their metal roots almost completely was initially alarming. And it's not like "Damnation," where they deliberately made a "soft" album just to, I don't know, prove that they could - it's clear that this is the direction the band is heading. The more I listened though, the more I embraced the change. "Heritage" is ultimately a step in a very mature direction. Sure, maybe a lot of this is self indulgent experimentation, but can you think of a band you'd rather sit and listen to experiment, even if none of it has a coherent connecting thread? At the end of the day, it's still better than most progressive rock around today.
15La Dispute
Wildlife


I have a love-hate relationship with "Wildlife." La Dispute's debut LP is, in my view, a masterpiece. This is a step down. It took me a while to look at this album objectively, forgetting how much better their first offering was. Once I did, though, I realized that songs like "A Departure" and "King Park" are as good as anything on "Somewhere At The Bottom..." and, like Opeth, this is a turn in a more mature direction (though I would argue that the immaturity of their debut was actually part of the appeal). Both "Wildlife" and "Heritage" are likely stepping stones to much better things. Once again, it's never boring listening to excellent bands experiment and mold their sounds to a new mindset.
14Battles
Gloss Drop


"Mirrored" was just fucking boring. It wasn't so much music as it was a bunch of talented musicians showing off. It was missing flavor. "Gloss Drop" has as much flavor as the album cover would suggest. It's math rock with a whimsy that brings life to a genre that is often very stale. I came back to "Inchworm" and "Wall Street" constantly throughout the year, not because they're technically bewildering (which they are after repeated listens), but because they're simply FUN to listen to. "Gloss Drop" shows a group of talented musicians actually using their talent and technicality to make enjoyable music.
13Deafheaven
Roads to Judah


There's not much to say here. It's just awesome. "Roads to Judah" is a perfect meshing of hard and soft that a lot of black metal acts have attempted. These guys are the first that I've heard pull it off.
12Dream Theater
A Dramatic Turn of Events


This was my first introduction to Dream Theater, and I still have yet to listen to Metropolis Part 2 or any of their other albums. I've listened to parts and hear nothing but the same silly showboating that irritated me from Battles' debut. A Dramatic Turn Of Events is simply fun, accessible progressive metal, loaded with a fair share of cheese ("Some of us choose to live gracefully!!" "Then the darkness turned to pain/and never went away"), just the way I like it. Back-to-back 11 minute tracks can be tedious, but everything on A Dramatic Turn of Events has a light, airy feel to it. These tracks aren't contrived attempts at being "epic." Instead, they are dynamic rides of catchy riffs and choruses, plus insane solos.
11Circle Takes the Square
Rites of Initiation


This is still here as a sort of placeholder for Decompositions, Volume I, but I have a feeling we're not going to be hearing that this year. But this EP is it's own beast, and is a fantastic return for CTTS. My favorite thing about it is the fact that Kathy is featured so much more than before. This is good, because her voice is more mature and impassioned than I've ever heard it. I get chills every time I hear "And the feedback feeds on echos!" in "Spirit Narrative" a song which she completely dominates. In fact, in my eyes, she dominates pretty much this entire release. I find myself waiting in anticipation for her parts to come in and pretty much ignoring the other dude. It's a shame, though, that this feels so incomplete. The mere fact that I know it's simply part of a whole makes it seem like just that.
10Animals as Leaders
Weightless


Before this album, every album released by a "djent" band has been a way to kill time between Meshuggah albums. They usually resemble the aforementioned legends so closely that I find it difficult to see any unique identity in them. Animals as Leaders set themselves apart with their first LP, but I still found that it lacked something. It was a little TOO mechanical, and songs like "Thoroughly at Home" still sounded very similar to something you'd hear on "Chaosphere." "Weightless" finally shows a "djent" band with it's own personality, though. It takes a genre that clings so desperately to this mechanical sound and gives it a little bit of humanity. Filled with catchy grooves that demand your head to bob and much cleaner production than anything you'll hear in the genre, we may be witnessing the rise of an actual competitor for Meshuggah, rather than aspiring apprentices.
9 M83
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming


I feel like I'm not really qualified to talk about M83 or Swarms. Electronic music is very new to me and I still find it difficult to write about. However, what I do know for sure is that I love these albums. What I know is that whenever I hear "Intro", I am instantly swept away from reality and am totally consumed by the sounds. I know that "OK Pal" and "Reunion" sound like perfect background music for a montage of big city night life. I know that "Raconte-Moi Histoire" is one of my favorite songs of the year because of its shameless childlike whimsy (I really really love that kid). Basically, even though I can't even say with confidence what genre you'd put M83 into, I know that I love everything I hear on "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming." I think that's enough.
8Swarms
Old Raves End


Whenever someone says that dubstep is garbage, I link them to "Flickr of ur Eyes." When I discovered Burial last year, my eyes were opened to what the genre could really do, and that it's not always just background club music. Swarms took me a step further, and showed me that it can also be an emotional experience. Like M83, there's not a lot to say beyond just how much I love it. This is gorgeous stuff.
7Grouper
A I A


"Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill" nailed its foreboding, uneasy feel. "A I A" nails something different - the feeling of failure. There's really nothing here to give you a break from the desolate, mournful nature of the hazy drones and croons. "Comes Softly" is clearly its peak. A very simple keyboard melody and Liz Harris's very vulnerable voice are the only sounds here. Its simplicity alone is heartbreaking, as is the repetition and complete lack of progression. When it ends, it just ends. The sounds just stop. It's a haunting moment, a perfect representation of failure and giving up. "A I A" tries to find more varied melodies and more positive sounds in songs like "Mary, On The Wall" and "Alien Observer", but never really succeeds. In a strange way, it's the monotony that makes this special. Harris is completely unrelenting with this dreary atmosphere, and it never fails to completely envelope me whenever I hear it.
6Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues


A year or two ago, I heard a band on a special segment on Current TV. I had never really cared for folk before, and my dad has been a folk fanatic since he was a teenager in the 60s, so I've heard plenty. What I heard blew me away, and I ran downstairs to tell my dad to change the channel immediately, thinking that for once we could find some common ground in our music tastes. He was already there. The song was "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes, and sadly it was the only song on their self-titled debut that I cared for. This album was more of a mix tape of ideas than an actual album, but that song showed so much potential that when Helplessness Blues came out I listened as soon as I could get my hands on it. They've certainly reached the promise they showed in earlier releases - Helplessness Blues is filled with mind blowing harmony and personality. So much of it feels like a celebration of life itself, and the music is DRIPPING with a clear passion for it. I finally see what my dad sees in his old folk records. Fleet Foxes present the tone and attitude of oldschool folk music in a language I can understand. That is an incredible feat.
5Giles Corey
Giles Corey


"Deathconsciousness" is one of my favorite albums of all time. "Giles Corey" is like if "Deathconsciousness" was remade as a folk album and recorded in a haunted house. This varied album does a lot of things well, but most effecting to me how much much it reminds me of my home town. "Giles" is the epitome of there being more than meets the eye, just like this city in the middle of the Southern California desert with little to no noticable landmarks. Just this year, though, I found out that the Antelope Valley, where I've grown up and lived since I was born, is home to dozens of ancient Native American camp sites and burial grounds. I visited one, hidden away in the mountains further than I've ever traveled here before, during my Intro to Archaeology class. Wanting to revisit and explore for myself, I googled for directions. I stumbled upon a website for a group of ghost hunters that specialize in exploring those same Native American sites, including the one I had intended on visiting. I read stories of people taking EVP recordings in nearby caves and claiming to have heard voices. As I drove there, I listened to this album. I'm usually highly skeptical about the paranormal, but driving up the dirt mounts looking at those very caves while listening to "Empty Churches" was pretty unsettling.
4Crash of Rhinos
Distal


I remember listening to American Football on the recommendation of a friend a while back and thinking "this is so great. If only it had more energy though!" Crash of Rhinos was exactly what I had hoped American Football sounded like. It's impossible to listen to this album without hearing the fun that the band had recording it. Besides being fun and energetic though, it's also beautiful. I don?t often know what the vocals here are saying, but I don?t think it matters. What matters is the emotion and passion in them, and in the music. There?s a vibe on this thing that?s really exciting. Though the delivery is messy, you get the feeling that there isn?t a single sound on here that?s out of place. In the end, I?m left wanting more, which is probably why I listened to this so often this year.
3Beau Navire
Hours


2011 has been a pretty slow year for screamo. It's hard to find a band that's really pushing the limits of the genre and straying from the trendy formula of post-rock build after post-rock build, or in the case of bands like Ampere, relentless and incomprehensible chaos. Beau Navire is the one band that broke the mold for me, though. "Hours" is an intense package, filled with controlled chaos broken up by melodic and dreamy interludes. The contradiction presented by "The Looking Glass" during one such interlude, in which the vocalist shrieks over reverb-drenched guitar drones, defines the strength of the album. This collision of abrasiveness and contemplative melody is present throughout the album, and creates an unpredictable and incredibly tense atmosphere. This is by far the emo album of the year, and doesn't have a single cheap, drawn out accelerando or crescendo.
2Fucked Up
David Comes to Life


"David and Decon" I call them, because these are the two albums that, as soon as I understood them, were my best two albums of the year and never moved once. "David Comes To Life" is a rebellion from rebellion. It's a giant "fuck you" to the attitude presented in the lyrical themes of hardcore music. Pink Eyes screams and bellows with the best of them, but the music is hopeful and celebratory. I remember listening to the album for the second time, returning after a first listen that didn't connect with me at ALL. When I got to "Turn The Season" the second time, I was absolutely blown away. That song is such a beautiful look at life and death, and features the best lyrics from any song this year ("See the old in the new/see the life stretch before you/See a mother in the child/there was youth behind gray eyes"). In fact, every song on here is a minor masterpiece. The only negative you can possibly say here is that "A Slanted Tone" isn't as flawless as "Turn The Season" and that "Ship of Fools" isn't quite as blood pumping as "Serve Me Right." This is a complete triumph of modern heavy music, with as much heart as it has grit. Most importantly, it's fun as hell.
1The Devin Townsend Project
Deconstruction


I think the misconception here is that "Deconstruction" is nothing but a big fart joke. I think people are missing the point of Decon altogether. In fact, songs like "Sumeria" and "Poltergeist" don't contain a single fart joke and are simply beautifully crafted progressive metal songs. More importantly, though, in a year so full of exuberance in music, Deconstruction takes the cake. It is a celebration of the wonder, the joy and indeed the humor of life. It's Devin reaching the top of Maslow's Hierarchy and singing about it triumphantly from the top of the pyramid. I think it's very likely that "Deconstruction" is the last true metal album Devy will ever make, and it certainly is a beautiful sendoff. "Oh, we're not done yet are we?" He asks at the end of the title track, followed by a heart pounding, exhilarating, stampeding finish that is probably the climax and finale of his career in metal. Decon is a rewriting of what metal can and should do. And yes, this album probably is the most self-indulgent thing you'll hear this year. I wouldn't have it any other way. This is Devin doing exactly what he wants, unleashing everything he has in a glorious assault of technicality and insanity. This is not only the most perfectly crafted metal album of the year, it's the undisputed album of the year in my eyes.
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