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2011 In Omaha

2011 has been a whirlwind of a year musically, and reflecting back upon what music I exposed myself to this year reminds me of how much versatile I let myself be, checking out much more indie and dubstep than in the past. Here's a compilation of the albums I enjoyed the most this year, and why they made it this far.
In Light

This album is so flippantly joyous that it can be off-putting, but when you're in the mood for it, does it treat you right. And might I add that Tiffany Lamson is adorable?
14Followed by Ghosts
Still, Here

A refreshing newcomer to the game of post-rock, Followed by Ghosts establish much credibility with their debut album, and create some true gems that ask to be expanded upon within the band's future.
13Frank Turner
England Keep My Bones

This album has rather grown off me lately; it has its peaks, as well its more frustrating troughs. However, the more pleasant moments are much more than that; they're revolutionary, and I Am Disappeared may just be my song of the year.
12Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver

This isn't as revolutionary as everyone and their mother claims it is, although it's still quite a pleasant listen. This album single-handedly pulled me out of a depression, and it was able to accomplish this because of how universally relatable Vernon's mumblings about life are. Who cares what he's saying? The uplifting nature of the album itself should be reason enough to keep listening to it.
11The Devin Townsend Project

Devin Townsed, thank you for finally pulling your head out of your ass and creating something thoughtful. Ghost is a thought-provoking album, meant for contemplative evenings spent alone in the car, or perhaps even as a lullaby before sleep, but regardless of what it's used for in the end, the scorching sincerity of Townsend's last release with his project finally reaches the mark the former Steve Vai guitarist has been striving for this whole time.
10The Dear Hunter
The Color Spectrum

Forgive my bluntness, but I'm so tired of hearing about the Color Spectrum. It's everywhere, and I don't even need to bother with explaining how versatile the group have proven themselves to be, or how consistent the entire release is as a whole... So I guess I'll just be subtle about it.
9Last Chance to Reason
Level 2

What a whirlwind of progressive, of dare I say, wanky-prog this album is. Okay, you're allowed to roll your eyes; however, while it's true that this album is just insane in terms of instrumental presnetation, and that it understandably takes away a bit from the other essential elements of the formula, the fact remains that the amount of progress that Last Chance to Reason have achieved is jaw-dropping. Level 2 has some truly stellar moments, and these gentlemen have a bright future in store for them.
Empty Days and Sleepless Nights

The most enjoyable release by Defeater yet, Empty Days and Sleepless Nights successfully completes the idea that Travels attempted, albeit unsuccessfully - to tell a far-reaching story that is accompanied by captivating music. The vocals are haunting, the acoustic guitar at the very end simultaneously warm and distant, the instrumentation ethereal. Another night at the Copper Coin...
7Submotion Orchestra
Finest Hour

This album is sweetly seductive, deftly endearing in every way, and the subtle yet noticeable juxtaposition of jazz elements with more garage / dubstep sensibilities is pulled off seamlessly. Finest Hour, indeed 60 minutes long, is a journey that you will find yourself wanting to take over and over again, even when the sun once again begins to rise.
6Bomb the Music Industry!

Bomb the Music Industry! is known for their tendency to take a catchy chord structure, form it into a pretty song and just wreak havoc on it, transforming it into a rather lovely mess. Vacation is certainly more polished and mature for the group, as we can see on the opening track, and the album is a welcome addition to the already immense discography of Jeff and crew.

The best way to sum up Kaputt in the context of Destroyer's discography is Dan Bejar with a tuxedo on, ensuring himself to be presentable for the grand show. A grandiose affair Kaputt is, indeed; the change from Destroyer's Rubies to this release is monumental, and the 80's throwback style that Bejar finds himself getting reacquainted with seems to be the most expressive voice yet for his winding anecdotes and witticisms. Plus, this stuff is just dancy as all hell.
4Alexandra Streliski

The piano is a most delicate instrument, expressing only the most internal emotions we fail to communicate throughout our day, and so it's only fitting that a compassionate guy like me would find a stirring connection with PIANOSCOPE. Its length rolls by astonishingly quickly, as each song leaves the listener immersed in its atmosphere. If Alexandra Streliski doesn't find herself continuing this art of hers, then it will indeed be one talent wasted.
3Scale the Summit
The Collective

Scale the Summit are yet another progressive tyrant finding themselves becoming more and more superb as they hone their skill at writing riffs that stay with the listener, and thinking through emotions that make their music much more varietal than that of their peers. The Collective is a startlingly consistent release that shows much more of a polish in the songwriting department from the group's last full-length, and tracks such as Whales display the band at the brim of their potential. For all of the bands that floundered in 2011, here's to at least one group that promises to continue to pump out rather remarkable material.
2Protest the Hero

Protest the Hero strip themselves down to the basics, and decide to drop the over-the-top concepts, leading to a much more cogent and all-around superb album. The awkward moments often found on Fortress have been replaced with a band simply loving what they do, having a blast and taking their musical profession with a grain of salt.
1Trophy Scars
Never Born, Never Dead

When I call this EP a declaration of the meaning of life, all wrapped into a cozy little package (that consists of artwork that will likely end up as a tattoo somewhere on my body in the near future), you may call me melodramatic. And I say fair enough, for it's true that Trophy Scars make me all gushy inside. At least I'm honest about my fanboyism, and plus, these guys have just gotten better and better with every single release. Have you even heard the sample from the new album that Jerry released? Damn.
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