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01.23.12 My Favorite Albums Of All Time01.01.12 Top 10 Songs Of 2011
12.22.11 Best Albums Of 2011

Best Albums Of 2011

These were the albums that I thought were the best of this year. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment, or tell rme what you think I should have included.
25Saves The Day

I was expecting to be disappointed by Saves the Day's new album. Their previous effort, Under the Boards, was simply too good to follow up.
While Daybreak isn't the masterpiece that Under the Boards was, it still is magnificent in a completely different way. Under the Boards was all
about extremes - the poppiness of Can't Stay the Same and Get F***ed Up stood in stark contrast to the pulverizingly heavy Woe. On
Daybreak, these ideas are explored with more moderation, which gives the heavier songs such as Z a little bit of sugar to it, while the poppier
songs in the vein of Living Without Love still have a little bit of bite to them. What surprised me the most about Daybreak was how it was able
to match the catharsis of Stay from Under the Boards with the gentle, soothing O. While the lyrics aren't as heart-wrenchingly sad as Stay,
they still evoke intense feelings, only the feelings are of calm and resolution rather than sadness. Saves the Day wasn't afraid to experiment
with this album, giving us gems such as the 10 minute opener Daybreak, the latin influenced Chameleon, and the epic closer Undress Me.
Saves the Day created something truly special with Daybreak
24Polar Bear Club
Clash Battle Guilt Pride

This band has quite the future ahead of them. Few albums of this genre reach the level of musical creativity, lyrical depth, and energy that
Clash Battle Guilt Pride has given us. This album reminds me a lot of Four Year Strong's Enemy Of The World but with Max Bemis' lyrics. The
fiery opener Pawner provides an accurate look at what the rest of the album is filled with - fiery musicianship, intelligent and thought
provoking lyrics are present in all of the songs on this album. The two best on this album, in my opinion, are back to back - Screams in Caves
and Kneel on Nails both are amazing songs that showcase what these guys are capable of. This is no ordinary hardcore pop punk album - it
combines the best elements of Enemy of the World, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and Is A Real Boy to make a truly enjoyable and original
hardcore punk album much in the same way that Four Year Strong wowed us last year with Enemy of The World

As much as my inner hipster wants to deny this album a spot in my top 25 simply because almost every major music publication is hailing 21
as their album of the year, for me not to include 21 in here would be unfair to her amazing talent. It is rare that music this good receives the
recognition that it has, especially when it is cast adrift in the seas of the likes of T-Pain and Pitbull that wish to make our ears bleed with
autotuned songs about getting drunk and getting laid. 21 almost seems like a conscious reaction against that kind of music - Adele soaks
each of her songs in a marinade of pure emotion, and as crappy as that metaphor is, the facts are hard to deny here. The anger in Rolling in
the Deep, the bitter sarcasm (at least thats how I interepret it) in Someone like You, the tenderness and frailty in Turning Tables all point to
an artist who knows how to combine good songwriting with strength of emotion. Congratulations to the man who broke Adele's heart - you
just made her a millionaire.
22Living With Lions
Holy Shit

When I found out that Misery Signals guitarist Stu Ross was leaving to be the frontman for some pop-punk outfit called Living With Lions that
I had never heard of, my initial reaction was rage and confusion - why would anyone in their right mind leave Misery Signals, one of the most
creative bands in metalcore, for pop freaking punk. However, I gave Living with Lions a chance, and boy am I glad I did. First of all, Stu Ross
is a more than capable pop-punk singer, and the compositions are full to the brim with pop-punk energy and emotional lyrical depth. This is
what Burning at Both Ends would have sounded like if Set Your Goals had done it right. Living With Lions is definitely a band to watch in 2012
21 M83
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

I'm usually skeptical of the double album. Not because I don't love music in mass quantities, but it's generally hard to have a double album
without a certain degree of filler. The last double album that I thought "holy crap I love this" was Say Anything's In Defense of the Genre.
M83 has delivered with another "holy crap I love this" double album with Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, an amazing album filled with wonderful
shoegaze electronica jams. You probably have already heard Midnight City, but the gems in this album are the songs that are the lesser
known ones, such as Splendor, Wait, and Soon My Friend. Do yourself a favor and get Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.
20August Burns Red

August Burns Red has definitely been listening to a lot of Between the Buried and Me in the time between Constellations and their newest full
length, Leveler. The dudes from ABR always spoke of BTBAM highly, but their influence hasn't been worn so proudly on their sleeves in any of
their previous efforts. The album that ensues is kind of a paradox in this manner, complete with angel on one shoulder and devil on the other.
Let me explain - while Constellations was the sound of ABR fleshing out "their sound", Leveler is what they tried to do to expand their sound.
While Leveler was an amazing album, at times it sounds like ABR couldn't decide whether they wanted to sound really weird and experimental
or include more songs with chug-a-lug breakdowns and meaty metalcore riffage. When they went with the former, the results are absolutely
amazing, and the results far outshined the best songs on Constellations. When they employed the latter, the songs were still infinitely better
than any Rise-core crap that has been released in the last few years, but still wasnt quite to the caliber that August Burns Red is capable of
producing. Internal Cannon and Divisions are excellent examples of August Burns Red fleshing out their experimental side, being two of the
strongest tracks on the album. Internal Cannon especially shows the musical grandeur that ABR is capable of, everything from the always
excellent drum and guitar work of the first minute of the song to that a salsa bridge I'm hearing? It threw me for a curveball the first
time I heard it but believe me, it's awesome. The more meatheaded tracks, such as Cutting the Ties and Carpe Diem, are still quite good, but
falter in contrast to songs like Internal Cannon, Salt and Light, Poor Millionaire, and Divisions. The coolest thing I think they did on this album
was the inclusion of the post-rock 1/16/2011. It serves much the same purpose as Worlds End In Whispers Not Bangs from A Skylit Drive's
Adelphia - that being to bring a change of pace in the middle of the album. The key difference is that while Worlds End... was the only
enjoyable song in an extremely mediocre album, 1/16/2011 is like the eye of the storm in the middle of an amazing metalcore album. Despite
some minor flaws, August Burns Red proves that they are one of the best in the metalcore genre, and that they dont need clean vocals to do
19The Color Morale
My Devil In Your Eyes

The question I'm sure many of you are asking yourselves right now is "how the heck does a band from freaking Rise Records get onto
ANYONE's top 25 list?!" Throw all of your preconceived notions about how mediocre most of Rise Records' output is and give My Devil In Your
Eyes a chance. I was blown away when I first heard this album - it's original, the vocals are *gasp* not autotuned, the breakdowns further
the song instead of halting the progression entirely, and the lyrics are thought-provoking and insightful...all this from the record label that
keeps Attack Attack alive through a feeding tube of awfulness? Something is rotten in Denmark here. Bands this good do not belong on Rise.
Songs such as Nerve Endings, The Dying Hymn, and Walkers show what this band is capable of in terms of their excellent musicianship. The
craziest song on the album, Demon Teeth, channels August Burns Red at their most ferocious and The Dillinger Escape Plan at their weirdest.
That song alone was so original and wowing I'm surprised Rise allowed it on the finished product. The best song here, Quote on quote, is one
of my contenders for Song of 2011. Seriously, it's that good. This album is best listened start to finish, mostly due to the soft, eerie closer
Fill; Avoid. Again, creativity like this doesnt find its way onto Rise albums. Either Rise has evolved (highly unlikely), or The Color Morale is one
of the few diamonds in the rough in their roster.
18Childish Gambino

Donald Glover may be the most multitalented man in show business today. I use that term loosely, seeing as he encompasses pretty much all
of the facets of showbiz - he's an actor (Troy from Community if you don't recognize the name), musician, and a comedian. Even more
astounding is that he's good at all three. While Camp is an amazing album, it isn't always consistent with itself. Glover writes songs from both
his deeper acting persona and his more swaggering comedian persona. The result is an album that is full of songs that are either almost too
soul bearing or extremely funny tracks that are full of hip-hop swag. Some find this enjoyably diverse (I fall in this category) while others
consider it to be just a slightly enhanced version of the hashtag rap that Chiddy Bang has been gravitating towards lately. However, whether
you like the disparity in the moods or not, Glover knows how to write extremely well regardless of whether the tone is introspective or tough.
Opener Outside is a brilliant example of the former, as Glover bares his soul over a beat backed by a gospel choir about his childhood and his
family. Two tracks later, on Bonfire, he spits some absolutely hilarious lines that may over-exaggerate his bravado a little bit, but it makes it
all the more enjoyable to listen to. The contrast continues - tracks like All the Shine and Heartbeat continue in the trend of the deep Outside,
while tracks like Fire Fly and You See Me flesh out his cockier side. However, if he was going to pick one over the other on his next album, I
think he would pick the deep, introspective Glover, if only based on the final track. That Power, clocking in at almost 8 minutes, is an amazing
closer to a fresh and original hip-hop album. While it's not the gamechanger that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was last year (if only due
to the fact that Glover may have a little bit of work to do before he reaches Kanye popularity levels) it still fares better than Lasers, Take
Care, and even freakin' Goblin to be my best hip-hop album of the year.
17La Dispute

I wonder what Jordan Dreyer was like in high school and college. The singer(?) and lyricist for La Dispute knows how to write some truly
deep, agonizingly profound lyrics. However, they are soooo depressing. Seriously, I havent heard an album that was able to combine lyrics
this depressing and music this good since Saves The Day's Under The Boards. It almost seems unfair to compare the two, because the more I
listen to Wildlife, the less convinced I am that La Dispute is a band. Let me explain - bands write songs, La Dispute tells convoluted thought
provoking stories that happen to have very skilled backing musicians playing along. La Dispute as a band has created a record that plays out
less of a traditional music album than it does a Shakespearian play. All the songs are tied together by common themes of loss, God, disease,
unhappiness, and the meaning of life in such a way that it builds to a climax and then falls to a resolution. The lyrics and the music get
steadily more intense as the album goes on, and the climax is definitely King Park. Seriously, try not getting chills down your spine as Dreyer
yells "Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself?" over the last minute and a half of King Park. all our bruised bodies and the whole heart
shrinks serves as the resolution, into You and I in Unison, which tapers out into singular guitar notes at the end. Wildlife is no easy listen - it
will challenge you, strike chords with you, and maybe even appall you at some spots. It's supposed to.
16Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

I don't really know why, but I absolutely hated Mean Everything to Nothing. It wasn't the kind of "omg everything about this album sucks"
hated it but a "I know this is good but I just don't like it for some reason" hated it. Part of this may have been when I discovered it - this was
around the time that I really got into screamo, and indie became taboo to me. Maybe it was just the wrong place at the wrong time.
Regardless, when I found out that Manchester Orchestra was coming out with a new album, my reaction was "who cares." Now that I have
listened to it, I really want to give Mean Everything.. a second chance, because I was blown away by Simple Math. Part of it may be the
concept - Andy Hull (MO's frontman) created an album about a man who questions everything that has significance in his life. The concept
echoes Parkway Drive's Deep Blue, but instead of being one of the best heavy metal releases of 2010, its one of the best indie releases of this
year. I dont know how many people made a Needtobreathe connection in these songs, but the first two songs, Deer and Mighty, really remind
me of them (this is a good thing). Both have sort of a gritty, earthy, bluesy vibe to them. The standout track to me was April Fool, but really
all of them were amazing. Simple Math is an album of lyrical depth and musical creativity, and I really don't care if I listen to Mean
Everything... and still think it sucked. I dont know how I could, after listening to an album as good as Simple Math.
15Foster The People

"All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, better run, better run, outrun my..." ZOMG THIS SONG IS ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL KILLINGS I
HATE FOSTER THE PEOPLE NOW. I get some kind of cruel enjoyment whenever I hear this reaction from people who just then get their
eureka moment of what the lyrics to Pumped Up Kicks are, partially because the song is much deeper than that, but mostly because Pumped
Up Kicks sounds nothing like the rest of the songs on Torches, and by disowning the band based on misinterpreting one song lyric they miss
out on an amazing CD. This album reminds me of Oracular Spectacular more than anything else because while KIDS and Time to Pretend
were the two songs that made MGMT as popular as they are today, nothing else on OS sounded nearly as poppy as those two. The same
thing occurs in Torches. While Pumped Up Kicks would lead you to believe they sound like a really poppy Volcano Choir or a really streamlined
Animal Collective, in reality they draw more influence from bands like Passion Pit and Ratatat. This is a good thing - songs like Helena Beat
and Houdini are just as anthemic as Pumped Up Kicks is, but with more of an electro tinged beat to them. Then again, the album does have
its weird experimental moments, such as the wonderfully weird Color on the Walls, or the glitchy Hustling. If you wrote off Foster the People,
give them a second chance. If you love Pumped up Kicks and want more of their stuff, this is definitetly the place to start. Torches is
14My Morning Jacket

I had mixed feelings about Evil Urges. I don't really know if I'm entitled to any opinion about this band, seeing as the only reason I discovered
them is because they were featured in an episode of American Dad. I liked it, but it just wasn't amazing. Then I discovered Evil Urges
predecessor, Z. I fell in love at first listen. It was much to my delight, then, that Circuital sounds much more like Z than it does like Evil
Urges. Maybe I enjoy reverb-soaked guitars and synths. Maybe I just find Jim James falsetto croon immensely enjoyable. All I know is
Circuital has plenty of these things, which might be why I like it so much. The backing "ba-da-das" in The Day is Coming give the song an
extra layer of awesome, making it my favorite track on the album. The seven minute title track is also quite enjoyable - more of Jim James'
vocals and jangling guitar lines add dimension to the album. Circuital also closes much better than Evil Urges did - instead of the stupid 4
second Good Intentions which brought the album to a grinding awkward halt after the grandeur in the 8 minute Touch Me I'm Going to
Scream pt 2, the album is brought to a close by two enjoyable slower jams, the first one being the aptly named Slow Slow Tune, which leads
into Movin Away. Circuital proves that My Morning Jacket completely deserve the popularity they have acheived over the years - it's an
amazing indie album that, despite drawing some influence from previous albums, is undoubtedly an original My Morning Jacket masterpiece.
13TV On The Radio
Nine Types Of Light

I remember when I first discovered TV on the Radio. I was having one of my teenage angsty days where all I wanted to do was punch a hole
in a wall and listen to Emmure. Footnote - I do not enjoy Emmure in any way, shape or form (#FourYearStrongLOL). I was on my computer
checking the bands for Warped Tour when I saw an ad for TV on the radio. I decided to check them out, and I found their song Will Do. I fell
in love, man. The washed out, lovesick vibes from the song just spoke to my stressed out angry teenage self. I've found that their recent
album, 9 types of light, generally has that effect no matter what the song. Like the aforementioned Wildlife, it climaxes toward the middle,
but instead of an emotional climax of pure catharsis, it is more of an anti climax a la Phantogram into a messy, wide eyed mix of chill songs
that beg to be listened to in dark rooms with the lights out with no one else around. Killer crane, will do, and new cannonball blues do this
quite well. What really shines on this album are the keyboards, which is sad because their keyboardist Gerard Smith passed away nine days
after the album was released from lung cancer. It served well as his swan song, however, as nine types of light is an amazing collection of
dreary eyes indie tunes. Honor Smith's memory and do yourself a favor by listening to this album
12 The Wonder Years
Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing
11Moving Mountains
10Death Cab For Cutie
Codes and Keys
9 O'Brother
Garden Window
The King of Limbs
6The Civil Wars
Barton Hollow
Odd Soul
No Devolucion
3Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues
2The Devil Wears Prada
Dead Throne
1 Bon Iver
Bon Iver
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