John is a news editor. - ed.
So, my first Punknews year-end list. I guess this is a good intro, though some of you have noticed the by-line. I'm John, I'm a nerd, and now I'm here, writing stories for you masses to enjoy and be informed by. Some of you might've used my app for Fest (the Android one, not the iPhone one), and if so, I hope it helped you out.
Apparently, I got some hundred odd releases this year, and I still feel like I missed a bunch of really key records. Well, that vote of self-confidence notwithstanding, here goes! I'll keep these brief, since you're just going to scan the titles, anyway.
--The 15 Best LPs of 2011 at this particular moment--
The New & Very Welcome: What Will You Do When It Happens to You?
In the years she's been active, Jess--a.k.a. the New & Very Welcome--has really toned down the overt emo/screamo influences that informed her early albums, and here she cranks up the minor-key poppiness. But the lyrics are no less heartwrenching, and her voice has never sounded better. Great for listening to in your bedroom with a broken heart, in the best way.
Chuck Ragan: Covering Ground
Chuck does the country singer/songwriter thing better than most, and his distinct vocals lend themselves well to the style. Here, he and his band create a series of soaring, soulful songs that strike that same emotional chord that the best Hot Water Music songs do. And Brian Fallon showing up for some guest vocals late in the record doesn't hurt, either.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Magic of Youth
The Bosstones' hiatus didn't seem to take anything from the ska-core legends, between 2009's Pin Points and Gin Joints and now this, the more punk-driven follow up that may just be the band's best release since Question the Answers. The album features some great songwriting and the Bosstones' trademark high-energy music, hearkening back to their early days. Boston's Plaid Brigade's still got it in spades, after all these years.
All Pigs Must Die: God is War
This is a deliciously brutal record. From the ominous build of the opener, "Death Dealer," to the epic closer, "Sadistic Vindicator," All Pigs Must Die don't let up for one second. Dark, loud, and still atmospheric, these guys merge metal and hardcore into something that can just be called "awesome."
Ernest Jenning / Really
Paper + Plastick
Nothington - Borrowed Time; Banquets - Top Button, Bottom Shelf; P.S. Eliot - Sadie; Football, Etc. - The Draft; Lemuria - Pebble; The Disappeared - Bridges; Landmines - Commerce & Marx; Fucked Up - David Comes to Life; Laura Stevenson & the Cans - Sit Resist; Mind Spiders - Mind Spiders; Underground Railroad to Candyland - Knows Your Sins; Wild Flag - Wild Flag; Bridge & Tunnel - Rebuilding Year
--Records that probably rule that I didn't listen to enough to make a call on--
Banner Pilot - Heart Beats Pacific; Cobra Skulls - Agitations