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

Best of 2011

Tyler's picks (2011)

staff picks

Tyler is a staff reviewer - ed.

It's weird. Every year, I keep having the best year yet, and I always wonder how I can possibly top the previous. But so far, so good. Maybe not for my Punknews output, asgrad school, work, music, and volunteering ate up the vast majority of my time, but I still enjoyed digging into all the new records that came my way and spewing forth my thoughts on each. Of particular interest was the Heat Tape's debut, an album I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around trying to figure out how something so simple can be so perfect. And as cliche and hyperbolic as it might be to exalt a sound recording on the basis of personal context....well, that's what this list is about. Without further ado, MY top records of the year...


Social Distortion: Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes


Welp. It sounds exactly like a Social Distortion record.


Oathbreaker: Maelstrom


I was lucky to pick up on Oathbreaker just before they came stateside and joined Deathwish, and they sure didn't let down here. Dark, violent hardcore at some of its best.


Horace Pinker: Local State Inertia

Arctic Rodeo

This band has held a special place with me ever since their appearance on the ancient Punk Bites 2 compilation on Fearless. I was stoked to find out they were still around, and even more pleased to hear Local State Inertia.


The Warriors: See How You Are


This record grew on me. "The War Unseen" is one of the year's best hardcore tracks, and despite the changes, it's interesting to see how the Warriors have evolved their brand of metallic Nardcore over the last nine years.


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: The Magic of Youth

Big Rig

It's hard to believe that the band that essentially pioneered ska-core in 1989 would still be kicking out quality records 20 years later, but the Bosstones have done it again with The Magic of Youth


The Turbo A.C.'s: Kill Everyone


I didn't expect much, but the Turbo A.C.'s brought some of the catchiest songs of the year on the second half of this album.


Face to Face: Laugh Now, Laugh Later


I was never a Face to Face megafan, but they proved why they were among the most successful punk bands of the '90s with their 2011 return.


Sharp Objects: Sharp Objects

Modern Action

I operate under the assumption that anything any member of the Briefs is involved in is going to be great. Sharp Objects' self-titled debut LP proves it to be true.


The Horrible Crowes: Elsie


For a year without a Gaslight Anthem studio LP, I'll take the Horrible Crowes as a standalone stopgap, but certainly no replacement.


Backtrack: Darker Half

Triple B

One of the more invigorating NYHC bands of late, Backtrack delivers on Darker Half. Here, they walk a nice line between following the paths of Long Island hardcore before them and forging their own way.


The Reaganomics: Lower the Bar

Red Scare

Catchier! Faster! Punker! This release seemed to fly somewhat below the radar but is totally worth catching up on.


The Dead Milkmen: The King in Yellow


This album is especially impressive in that it sounds just like a Dead Milkmen album...26 years after the release of Big Lizard in my Backyard. While I could have gone for a little more Joe Jack Talcum, the opening instrumental was enough in itself to announce the triumphant return of the Dead Milkmen.


Rival Schools: Pedals

Photo Finish/Atlantic

You can put me in the camp of "people who never thought Rival Schools would put out another record after United by Fate but really like Pedals." Yep. I'm one of those guys. I guess it'd be fair to assume by now that Walter Schreifels can do no wrong.


The Manix: Neighborhood Wildlife

It's Alive

Between "Fingers Crossed" and "A Quiet Wry Anger," Neighborhood Wildlife is the Manix's finest work yet. Between "What's Myage Again?" and "Hamms for Hams," I hope they don't get sued.


Samiam: Trips


Most people seemed to agree that this was their best record since Astray. I, however, might be willing to call it their best record yet.


In Defence: Party Lines and Politics

Profane Existence

You wanted straight edge party thrash? In Defence brings it hard on their first record with Minneapolis crust punk institution Profane Existence. Covering a much richer base of topics than many of their beer-chugging, bong-ripping, pizza-eating peers, Party Lines and Politics packs more fun than just about any hardcore/crossover thrash release out there.


Swingin' Utters: Here, Under Protest

Fat Wreck Chords

It took me a few spins to appreciate the straightforward punk approach the Utters took here in lieu of some of their more eclectic offerings. But hot dang, this is still a great album with buckets of hooks and lyrics only Johnny "Peebucks" Bonnel could churn out.


Fucked Up: David Comes to Life


Swan song? Well let's hope not. Either way, Fucked Up deliver another almost-too-intelligent punk album with enough melody for the hipsters and enough angst for the hardcore kids. But still, if I never get to see Pink Eyes strangle himself with a microphone cord wearing nothing but tighty-whiteys again, there will be serious mourning.


Banner Pilot: Heart Beats Pacific

Fat Wreck Chords

It was really a toss-up for the number one spot with Banner Pilot and the Heat Tape. But since I gave them the blue ribbon for Collapser, I hope there's no hard feelings. For those who still don't know, Banner Pilot are back with a worthy follow-up to their Fat Wreck debut that encapsulates everything there is to love about the band with a sugary pop-punk slant that works better than one might expect. I can't wait until "Forty Degrees" describes my day like it will on the other side of winter.


the heat tape: Raccoon Valley Recordings

Red Scare

This an album that above all, reminds me of what it is to be human. It's simple while thoughtful, honest though cynical, and reveling in sloth, despite the ambitious song-a-day writing schedule and video series. The fact that it's the catchiest album of the year is just the icing on the cake.