Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
It’s that time of year again. After rocking a Top 25 last year I figured that was as high as this countdown would get but at the end of this year I ended up with 34 records that got 5 stars and so we have a Top 30 this year.
As always this Top 30 is completely biased and is really my favorite albums of the year, chosen on enjoyment, number of spins, and whatever other schemes I come up with to decide what album is better then another. So here we go!
30. The Hawk in Paris – His + Hers EP
The electronic side project of Dan Haseltine is full of catchy pop songs that didn’t take long to find a place in my rotation. Put Your Arms Around Me is one of my favorite songs of the entire year.
29. Matthew Mayfield – Now You’re Free
Now You’re Free was one of those records I downloaded on a whim from Noistrade and I’m glad I did. Matthew Mayfield delivers a record of solid, super soulful songs that are easy to fall in love with.
28. Ironwill – Unturned
Blood and Ink put out some amazing records this year! Ironwill’s Unturned was my favorite release of the label’s. Reminds me of the mid-late 90’s Florida hardcore scene.
27. Dynasty – Truer Living With a Youthful Vengeance
Speaking of old school hardcore, Dynasty’s Truer Living With a Youthful Vengeance is everything that is fun and good about hardcore!
26. A Plea For Purging – The Life and Death of A Plea For Purging
I’ve had some public beef with A Plea For Purging in the past and while the guys are amazing people, their music never stuck with me. The Life and Death changed all that. Best record of the guys career. Heavy, brutal, raw.
25. Believer – Transhuman
One of Christian metal’s Big 4 turns their sound on it’s head with Transhuman. Great prog metal record. And someone taught Kurt Bachman how to sing!
24. Sainthood Reps – Monoculture
Sainthood Reps is Tooth and Nail’s best signing in years. If Nirvana had been from DC and then spent a couple years in New Jersey they might have sounded like Sainthood Reps.
23. Mat Kearney – Young Love
I’ve never really dug Mat Kearney. He had some nice songs but I wasn’t a big fan. Young Love breaks free from a traditional singer/songwriter approach and plays with hip-hop beats. In changing up his sound a little but Kearney created a record of super catchy tracks that I love.
22. Sleeping Giant – Kingdom Days In An Evil Age
Sleeping Giant is one of the best current hardcore bands but I somehow always sleep on their albums. Well not this time around. Kingdom Days In An Evil Age is another great record from Sleeping Giant.
21. Deas Vail – Deas Vail
Deas Vail picked up where they left off with Birds and Cages and delivered a more mature record their self-titled album.
20. Hope For the Dying – Dissimulation
Hope For The Dying’s Dissimulation is a crushing metal record that destroys whatever else passes for metal these. It’s guitar solo heaven.
19. Maylene and The Sons of Disaster – IV
Maylene and The Sons of Disaster really threw their fans with a loop with IV. Leaving behind their heavy hitting southern metal with a slower, grungier sound that I absolutely love.
18. Hundredth – Let Go
To be honest the only reason I downloaded Let Go was because the video for the albums first single was inspired by the movie the Sandlot, which is awesome. The album is perfect for fans of hardcore/punk who like to sing-a-long.
17. Falling Up – Your Sparkling Death Cometh
So apparently ignoring Falling Up after their rapcore inspired debut album was a bad idea. The band has matured into a great ambient rock band. Your Sparkling Death Cometh came out of nowhere and was one of the great surprise records of the year.
16. Thrice – Major/Minor
Major/Minor was one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Thrice delivered. While I didn’t enjoy Major/Minor as much as Beggars, it’s still a killer record.
15. The Famine – The Architects of Guilt
Great lyrics, killer music, death metal at it’s finest. It’s sad that the Famine couldn’t make it through 2011.
14. Close Your Eyes – Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts
Great band. Great record. That is all.
13. A Hope For Home – In Abstraction
Taking the epicness that was Realis and adding a post rock element, A Hope For Home continues to release great music.
12. Overcome – The Great Campaign Of Sabotage
Everything about The Great Campaign of Sabotage makes my heart happy. Overcome reunites and sounds exactly like they did in 97. I love it!
11. Times Of Grace – The Hymn Of A Broken Man
Times of Grace is a tiny picture of what Killswitch Engage could’ve been. AT times Hymns of a Broken Man plays like KSE lite but there’s more depth lyrically and the music is far less standard metalcore then KSE.
10. New Found Glory – Radiosurgery
Pop punk is not dead!
9. Blindside – With Shivering Hearts We Wait
Blindside returned in 2011 with a killer record! With Shivering Hearts We Wait is perfect. Couldn’t have asked for a better album.
8. Oh, Sleeper – Children Of Fire
Children of Fire might be the most evil Christian record ever released. Dark lyrics, great music.
7. Lights – Siberia
In 2011 I built a subtle love for more radio friendly pop music. Lights isn’t an artist you’ll hear alongside the likes of Kesha or Katy Perry and musically Lights is more electronic focused but Siberia is a stellar pop record.
6. Eisley – The Valley
The Valley packs a lyrical punch, which is the biggest and most noticeable improvement for Eisley.
5. Moving Mountains – Waves
Thrice meets The Appleseed Cast? Kind of. Waves blew me away the first time I listened to it. Amazing record!
4. Kye Kye – Young Love
Young Love was out for almost all of 2011 and I only heard it a few weeks ago. Beautiful record that I’m upset I missed out on most of the year. Better late than never.
3. The Make – This Box
This Box is 5 songs of some of the best pop rock I’ve heard in years. Catchy melodies, great guitar lines, just all around solid music. If Aaron Rodgers likes the band, shouldn’t you?
2. Emery – We Do What We Want
Emery usually delivers quality tunes but the move to Solid State seemed weird at the time and having lived with the record for months now is still a little perplexing. Either way, We Do What We Want is a stellar record that is both the heaviest album of Emery’s career without losing any of the great melodic qualities that makes them such a great band.
1. Hands – Give Me Rest
Give Me Rest is perfect. Lyrically challenging, musically moving and interesting. Everything about Give Me Rest is awesome. As soon as it hit my stereo it was my favorite album of the year and nothing was unable to change that.