Best of 2011 - Aubin's picks (Cover Artwork)
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Best of 2011

Aubin's picks (2011)

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Aubin is a news editor at - ed.

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2011 was a bit of an unusual year for me; I packed up and left Toronto and moved to New York City; I'm not going to spend too much time talking about it, but some of the most severe and painful changes were definitely not problems of geography. I have no doubt that the presence of some albums on this list could be directly attributed to that.

I'll confess that much of my music money this year was spent re-purchasing albums in every improved quality; the 24-bit reissues of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are gorgeous; sadly, my favorite Floyd album--Animals--didn't receive the same level of treatment. Another gorgeous reissue was bluesman Robert Johnson's Centennial Collection which is some of the cleanest sounding audio w';re ever likely to get from this 75-year-old recording.

I was impressed with Nirvana's Nevermind reissue and heartily recommend the bonus Devonshire Mix which significantly improves on the more radio-friendly mix of the released version. Finally, it's also worth mentioning the solid and enjoyable reissues of Smashing Pumpkins' terrific Gish and Siamese Dream. I also would not hesitate to recommend the great sounding reissue of Lagwagon's Hoss. Archers of Loaf's Icky Mettle or Megadeth's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, Sebadoh's Bakesale, Ride's Nowhere. Now, where is my remastered version of Alice in Chains' Dirt?

My favorite records of 2011


TIm Hecker: Rave Death, 1972


The most accessible release yet from the Montreal-based noise artist, though that isn't saying too much considering how willfully opaque some of these songs get. But nonetheless, a spellbinding listen that hearkens back to an instrumental My Bloody Valentine or some of the earliest and noisiest Jesus & Mary Chain tracks.


Deafheaven: Roads to Judah

Deathwish Inc.

While lacking the baffling hype of a Liturgy or Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven nonetheless put together the most interest black metal-derived release of the year; with shoegaze texture, it reminds me more of an Envy or Isis than any black metal we've heard before. Only Alcest has stretched this genre as far or as well.


Pianos Become The Teeth: The Lack Long After

TopShelf Records

Unapologetically derived from the earliest (and unmistakably) best era of screamo; The Lack Long Long After alludes back to everything from Envy to City of Caterpillar to even At the Drive-In. Incidentally, if you liked this, don't forget to check out Carrion Spring.


Balance and Composure: Separation

No Sleep

Another '90s throwback on this list, but this time taking a sound from that era of punk and American indie rock like Jawbreaker, Dinosaur Jr. and even The Colour and the Shape-era Foo Fighters. Good influences are one thing, but the strength of the songs and production really made this one shine for me.


Touché Amoré: Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me


Just an awe inspiring hardcore album; not one song overstays its welcome and each one offers a little something to distinguish itself. Not only was this a great album, their live performance was even better.


Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones


Having followed Turner since his 2007 solo debut, Sleep Is for the Week, it's been astounding to see him grow as both a songwriter and storyteller. Between the earnestness of the music and lyrics and the ambition of the music, there's little not to enjoy about this cynicism-free bit of Britannia.


The Wonder Years: Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing


I honestly had not been interested in this band before this record, but something about the lyrics and music just elevated them past the regular pop-punk that we're so inundated with these days; while name-dropping Charles Bukowski and Blacklisted in the same sentence doesn't hurt, the strength of the songs was the real clincher.


Defeater: Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

Bridge Nine

A band that continues to surprise me with both the quality of music and songwriting. This is the second release of theirs to end up on one of my "best of" lists, and it's well deserved.


Polar Bear Club: Clash Battle Guilt Pride

Bridge Nine

I know there was definitely some controversy about this one; with a definite Foo Fighters-vibe coming across on some of the songs, but in the end, the quality of the tracks is what matters and it abounds throughout this great bit of post-hardcore.


Fucked Up: David Comes to Life


It really doesn't get more interesting than Fucked Up; their gleeful ability to subvert expectations even as they embrace genre conventions makes for consistently powerful and inspiring tracks. I can think of few bands since the Who with both this level and ambition and the talent to realize it.