It’s about that time…we’re counting down the best albums of 2011. The Popblerd staffers have made their lists, checked them twice, and now Jesse’s gonna kick things off with his list of the rockingest records of the year. Now, I should let the man talk.
Lemme just start by saying that this list was a lot harder than I thought it would be and if I’m struggling now, I can’t imagine how 2012 is gonna be (New releases from Killing Joke, Ministry, Therapy?, Mark Lanegan, ETID….do I need to go on?). Anywho, here’s the stuff that stuck with me throughout:
1. White Lies: Ritual
The minute I heard single “Bigger Than Us” I was drooling. The moment the hairs on the back of my neck stood up like they did the first time I heard “E.S.T.” off White Lies’ debut, To Lose My Life, I knew I was in trouble. The minute I heard Ritual in its’ entirety, I knew this was going to be my favorite album of 2011. Oh yeah, and this was back in January. Their melding of Tears For Fears and The Cure with something modern got me through some rough times and the album as a whole just transcended everything for me. Also, my first non-metal Popblerd post!
2. Life On Planet 9: Bittersweet
Those who know me well, know that I think Pete Murray is one of the greatest vocalists ever. I was in love with Ultraspank and I think that Lo-Pro should never stop putting out new music. The acoustic little sister to Lo-Pro, Life On Planet 9 is different from anything Murray has done before. Intense without being scream-y. Heavy without plugging in. All around perfect.
3. Tom Vek: Leisure Seizure
Electro nerd rock has a new savior and his name is Tom Vek. Seriously, this guy should be huge. His debut, We Have Sound, is a bargain basement diamond in the rough and his follow-up Leisure Seizure is an instant classic. I was mesmerized by the video for “A Chore” and then Leisure Seizure was released and I was mesmerized again.
4. Mike Doughty: Yes And Also Yes
I really, really like Soul Coughing and I’ve really, really liked Mike Doughty’s solo output since the dissolution of SC but nothing has struck me as much as Yes And Also Yes. “Na Na Nothing” was catchy, “Into The Un” was hypnotic and “Russell” is just amazing. The man with the plan also released the Dubious Luxury electronic instrumental album in 2011 and has an autobiography due in January.
5. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: S/T
Man, my wife unknowingly had a huge influence on my music preferences this year. I am self-professed Team Liam even after the Oasis split but comparing Beady Eye to Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is like comparing Fruit Loops to Apple Jacks (If you live in my house, you know this is huge). How ’bout ground chuck to a nice T-Bone Steak? Noel Gallagher rules and High Flying Birds is proof. How’s that for ya?
6. Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
I figured this spot would be reserved for Childish Gambino but the Beasties fucking owned in 2011. From the retro “Make Some Noise” video to the groove party that is “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament”, The Beastie Boys proved that you only get better with age in the hip-hop game.
7. ohGr: Undeveloped/Skinny Puppy: hanDover
This is me cheating. I reviewed both and said that the line between SP and ohGr is beginning to blur so why not throw ’em both together? They’re both awesome albums and share Ogre. He’s a wordsmith and no matter the music behind him, his flow brings everything together.
8. Ulterior: Wild In Wildlife
My wife was actually the catalyst for me getting into these British rockers who meld Sisters of Mercy with Bauhaus so perfectly. Visually, they’re stunning. Sonically, they’re beyond everything. From the opening of “Sex War Sex Car Sex” through to “Shallow Brown”, Wild In Wildlife was hands down the best debut of the year, even without the phenomenal club thumping “Weapons” included.
9. VNV Nation: Automatic
This album came late in 2011 and knocked me on my ass. If I could play “Resolution” over and over until I die, I’d be one happy goth. Automatic made me miss dancing and enjoy how amazing electronic music can be. As far as comebacks go, Automatic takes the cake.
WTF?! surprised the shit out of me. I felt that KMFDM had grown so comfortable with their line-up in recent years that they had begun to phone it in. Man, was I wrong and WTF?! proved it. “Krank” is classic KMFDM. “Come On-Go Off” is simply sublime. “Lynchmob” is industrial strength KMFDM. Through and through WTF?! is essential KMFDM listening.
11. Mike Birbiglia-Sleepwalking With Me/Danial Tosh-Happy Thoughts
Cheating once more. Who puts out great comedy albums these days? Daniel Tosh and Mike Birbiglia, that’s who! Birbiglia crafts an album that I liken to Eddie Murphy’s Raw in terms of storytelling. Oh yeah, and as real as it gets, it’s still a million times more funny than anything out there…except Daniel Tosh. Maybe. Offensive. Derogatory. Over the top. And those are Tosh’s good aspects. Happy Thoughts is ridiculously funny and ridiculously all of the above.