Best of 2011 - John Flynn's picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2011

John Flynn's picks (2011)

staff picks

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--


Samiam: Trips


Another great album from a consistently impressive band. And no strange production this time around! The songs sound great, and the band is on top of their game. Some classic Samiam here, and who could ask for more?


Elway: Delusions

Red Scare

Legal issues aside, Colorado's Elway usher in their new moniker beautifully, with 11 killer, melody-laden punk songs. The new takes on the 10-4 Eleanor material, alongside the new songs, are fantastic, and the hooks will get firmly stuck in your head.


Wugazi: 13 Chambers


Do mash-up albums count? They do if they're this good. Combining Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan (and Clan member solo projects) is an inspired and easy to screw up idea, but these guys manage to hit far more than miss, and the results are pretty thrilling for fans of the groups.


The Copyrights: North Sentinel Island

Red Scare

The Copyrights just get better and better with each record; despite working in that narrow framework of pop-punk, they grow and build on their craft, and the results are always exciting and interesting. North Sentinel Island is no different, delivering some of the band's best material.


The Horrible Crowes: Elsie


Brian Fallon's "night music" side project couldn't have come out better. Sounding like a long-lost Afghan Whigs album, Brian continues down the more soul-influenced path seen on American Slang, and takes it much further. And the results are truly excellent.


Polar Bear Club: Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Bridge Nine

Finally, I see what everyone is talking about with this band! The catchy, moshtastic melodic hardcore, the great contrast between Jimmy Stadt's singing styles, the whole deal. This album delivers it, from the punishing "Killin' It" to the awesome closer "3-4 Tango."


Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones


Frank Turner may never surpass the greatness that was Love, Ire, and Song, but he comes awfully close here. Far more variety in the music--and the indulgently weird "English Curse"--keep this album interesting, and Turner's passion and energy are strong throughout. Not to mention his always great lyrics; try not to feel something during the glorious bridge on "I Still Believe."


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

Side One Dummy

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.


Joyce Manor: Joyce Manor


Where did this band come from? Well, Torrance, Calif., right. But these guys blasted out of the gate with this slightly off-kilter pop-punk gem that drills deep into your head and stays long past its brief 19-minute running time. An exciting debut from a band that will hopefully continue to get better and better.


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Magic of Youth

Big Rig

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

Southern Lord

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."


Bomb the Music Industry!: Vacation

Ernest Jenning / Really

If you'd have told me last year that a BTMI! album would make my top 10, I'd call you a liar. But Jeff & co. knocked it out of the park with this one, losing some of the hyperactive ska-addled frenzy and really kicking up the power-pop influences. Even if you'd written BTMI! off before, you owe it to yourself to give this album your attention.


Red City Radio: The Dangers of Standing Still

Paper + Plastick

Gruff, poppy punk rock seems to be a popular (sub-[sub-])genre these days, and Red City Radio do it better than most. The dual vocals and gorgeous harmonizing help, and of course, the songs are killer. Easily exceeds the already-great material on their To the Sons and Daughters of Woody Guthrie EP. Whoa-oh.


Balance and Composure: Separation

No Sleep

I don't get the Brand New comparisons--partly because I don't like Brand New--but regardless, this record is phenomenal. The band's material leading up to this album had seen impressive growth in musicianship and songwriting, and this goes even further. The record I've found myself continually returning to since its release.

--Runner Ups--

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

--The 10 Best EPs/Demos/short releases of 2011--


Old Flings: Old Flings



Pink Flag: King of Scene



The New and Very Welcome: Bouquet of Traffic Lights



Less Than Jake: Greetings From Less Than Jake

Sleep It Off


The Haverchucks: The Haverchucks



The Two Funerals: Boys' Club

Rorschach Records