Tim Browne of Elway1. Nothington - Borrowed Time
Though I was a Nothington fan before the release of Borrowed Time, they never really clicked with me. 2011 saw a much more focused and strong sounding Nothington, willing to dial down the hokey Americana undertones of yesteryear in trade for what is undoubtedly the year's best punk album. Enough said.
2. Bomb The Music Industry! - Vacation
I'm no Rosen-stalker, but I'd be remiss if I didn't say that Jeff really outdid himself on this record. BTMI! Is a band that gets invariably better with each release, and this record is no exception. From the incredible depth of songwriting to the truly unique instrumentation and production, this record slays!
3. Dead To Me - Moscow Penny Ante
It says something about strength of songwriting when a band can undergo a major lineup change between each release and still manage to produce fantastic records. Sam's songs compliment the band's sound perfectly. The record is a return to the rawer style of Cuban Ballerina, and that bodes very well with me.
4. Bridge and Tunnel - Rebuilding Year
Everyone who was pissing pants over how epic David Comes To Life was should clam up and listen to this record. This record is like nothing else released this year. A totally innovative take on various incarnations of punk, from hardcore to breathy, reverb-y indie.
5. Red City Radio - The Dangers of Standing Still
Even though Red City Radio is jerks, I suppose they ought to be praised for writing some of the most infectious and anthemic punk songs of the year. These dicks play the kind of tunes that you will lose your voice to, but it doesn't matter because what band could possibly be more fun to sing along to? None other band, that's who.
6. David Bazan - Strange Negotiations
After writing what is perhaps the greatest indie rock album of all time in 2009's Curse Your Branches, David Bazan had big shoes to fill. Opting to minimize instrumentation and production in favor of a more streamlined and simple, yet very dark sounding record, it's safe to say he killed it.
7. Banner Pilot - Heart Beats Pacific
The reasons why this record is great are as simple as the band's formula: straightforward melodies, painfully honest and beautifully written lyrics, simple leads over four chords, and a solid chugging pop punk rhythm. Banner Pilot stands head and shoulders above their pop-punk contemporaries, and this record proves it.
8. Spraynard - Funtitled
This band often gets pigeonholed into the Latterman worship category, and I just couldn't disagree more. Fucking Latterman wishes they had this kind of dynamic instrumentation. Great songs, great melodies, great musicianship, alright dudes.
9. Joyce Manor - Joyce Manor
Holy shit! Where did this band come from?! Joyce Manor just came out swinging with this really incredible album that sits somewhere between Weezer and Paint it Black. As strange as that sounds, it works out famously!
10. Lemuria - Pebble
There is something irresistible about the way that all of Lemuria's various sounds converge. The way that this band is able to accomplish such a diverse array of styles with such minimal instrumentation is as mind boggling as it is totally charming. The coupling of the simple lyrics and melodies with immense and varying song structures is like a perfect blend of sweet and savory. Like a chocolate-covered pretzel of sorts…
Chris Farren of Fake Problems1. Bomb The Music Industry - Vacation
2. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
I have no idea what this guy is talking about at any point in this record, but the way he delivers it, and the detail of the music is astounding. Moving, I guess!
3. Bright Eyes - The People's Key
Very weird sci-fi lyrics over perfectly executed rock music.
4. Laura Stevenson & The Cans - Sit Resist
Even better sadder songs.
5. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
Really good sad songs.
6. Noah & The Whale - Last Night On Earth
Very simple, predictable indie pop music. I like it!
7. Into It Over It - Proper
I love the way this record sounds and Evan is so good at harmonies
8. Beyonce - 4
"Love On Top" is one of the coolest songs I've ever heard. Have you heard it? There's like 6 key changes in it.
9. Touche Amore - Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me
I don't think I like hardcore (is that bad?) but I really, really deeply love this record.
10. Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years
Listening to this record makes me feel like I'm living inside of a John Hughes movie.
Ray Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket
1. Off! -First Four EP's
2. Banner Pilot - Heart Beats Pacific
3. Frenzal Rhomb- Smoko at the Pet Food Factory
4. Spits - V
5. NOFX - Hardcore 10"
6. Wire Faces - Diamonds and Gold
7. Redbush - Wonder Nugget
8. Cobra Skulls- Agitations
9. Chixdiggit! - Safeways Here We Come
10. Elway - Delusions