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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Casey's End Of The Year Extravaganza

More than likely this is going to be a clusterfuck of information, so I'll keep this intro short. Below, I've put together a list of my favorite EPs, albums, and songs of 2011. My tastes have widened drastically this year, so much that I currently have over 9000 songs in my library just from 2011. While the top of my lists focus more on my customary pop punk and pop rock realms, the deeper cuts of my lists are full of albums that before this year I never would have expected to like. Fireworks, The Wonder Years, Childish Gambino, M83, Farewell Fighter, Yellowcard, SBTRKT, and many more can be seen below. For a Spotify playlist containing the songs of the year list, click right here.

EPs Of The Year
EPs Of The Year


Songs Of The Year
25. Battles - "Ice Cream"
24. Coyote Theory - "Vibe"
23. Decoder - "Holding On"
22. Mutemath - "Odd Soul"
21. Into It. Over It. - "Where Your Nights 
Often End"
Songs Of The Year
20. Those Dancing Days - "Fuckarias"
19. Tyler, The Creator - "Golden"
18. Yuck - "Get Away"
17. Fireworks - "Summer"
16. The Wonder Years - "Came Out Swinging"


Songs Of The Year
15. Manchester Orchestra - "Pensacola"
14. Bon Iver - "Beth/Rest"
13. Katy B - "Katy On A Mission"
12. Yellowcard - "The Sound Of You 
And Me"
11. Saves The Day - "Daybreak"
Songs Of The Year
10. St. Vincent - "Surgeon"
9. Girls - "Vomit"
8. Transit - "Long Lost Friends"
7. The Dangerous Summer - "Work 
In Progress"
6. Kendrick Lamar - "No Make-Up (Her Vice)"
5. Frank Ocean - "Novacane"
Frank Ocean just doesn't seem to fit within the Odd Future collective. His smooth voice and sexy style contrast greatly with the assumed image of Odd Future. But along with being the new "hook man" for the collective, Ocean also released some of the stronger R&B tracks of the year. While "Novacane" began to break through to mainstream radio, it didn't break out as much as it could have done. With one of the stronger hooks this year and Ocean's customary croon, "Novacane" only signals even greater things for Ocean in 2012.


4. Farewell Fighter - "Golden"
I don't think I've ever associated with an album as much as I did with The Way We Learn. Growing up and the difficulties that go along with it is something that anyone can associate with, and as I have just finished high school and entered college, there's not a topic that's more relatable to me as that. The positive message of "we are golden because we're alive" rings absolutely true, as Farewell Fighter is one album away from possibly breaking into my favorite artists ever.

3. SBTRKT - "Wildfire"
Especially in 2011, electronic music has been the face of the year. While dubstep has taken over the mainstream, SBTRKT brings influences from dub as well as more minimalist electronic genres, creating one of the best crossover tracks of the year. While SBTRKT originally appealed to the more "hipster" crowd, the masked DJ is beginning to enter mainstream electronic audiences. Drake has already added a verse to a remix of the song, as SBTRKT could easily become the next huge DJ.

2. Kanye West & 
Jay-Z - "Niggas In Paris"
"Niggas In Paris" is one of the most self indulgent tracks on one of the most self indulgent albums of the year. Two of the biggest MCs of the last decade came together for Watch The Throne, and while it didn't live up to the unrealistic hype that was placed upon it, "Niggas In Paris" is a track that's going to remain in American culture for years to come. The beat fits perfectly into any sports arena, and "that shit cray" has entered our generation's slang. The hooks are more massive than practically any other track this year, and the Blades Of Glory sample only proves that Ye and Jay will do whatever the fuck they feel like.

1. M83 - Midnight City
M83's "Midnight City" has been an extremely popular choice for the song of the year, and for good reason. The atmosphere created by the song is immensely captivating, as the synth lines are immediately infective and the entire song has endless replayability. The sax solo at the end of the track is one of the most glorious sections in music of the entire year, and will go down as one of the defining musical moments of 2011.



Albums Of The Year
Albums Of The Year
18. Bright Eyes - The People's Key
16. SBTRKT - SBTRKT

Albums Of The Year

10. Manchester Orchestra - Simple 
Math
The biggest criticism of Manchester Orchestra's Simple Math was that Andy Hull has expanded his band's sound so large that the emotion felt on I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child has all but dissipated. However, I feel that the expansive arrangements on tracks such as "Simple Math" and "Virgin" push Manchester Orchestra into new heights, as those two tracks are two of the most beautifully orchestrated rock songs of the year. The children's chorus section of "Virgin" is easily one of the highlights and most chilling parts of 2011. While the beginning and end of the album feel a little weak, the middle section from "Pensacola" to "Simple Math" is one of the strongest string of tracks of the year.

9. Those Dancing Days - Daydreams
& Nightmares
This is the second year in a row where an all female band has captivated me and dominated my playlists. Last year it was Warpaint, and Those Dancing Days takes over the throne in 2011. These girls are better musicians than 99% of the male musicians out there, and the drum part in "Fuckarias" is one of the best I've ever heard. Combining this musicianship with the ability to craft a fantastic song and fantastic vocals, it's shocking and disheartening that Those Dancing Days could not gain popularity and ended as a band so soon.

8. Bayside - Killing Time
Bayside was one of those bands with an immense following in the pop punk scene that I just could never get into. But with Killing Time, Anthony Raneri's voice finally got on my good side, and it helped that the songs were fantastic. The melodies flowed like few rock albums did this year, and the excellent guitar throughout the entire album only exaggerated the other musical aspects. Killing Time may have been somewhat forgotten due to the very early release date this year, but it's definitely an album worth keeping in mind.

7. The Jezabels - Prisoner
The scary thing about this album is that it still hasn't fully hit me. It's still hard for me to pick out an individual song on the album from just hearing it, but once the entire album has been swallowed by me, it could very well go down as one of the best albums I have ever heard. Combining the instrumentals of The National with female vocals, there is not one weak moment on this beautifully flowing album.


6. Saves The Day - Daybreak
Saves The Day is yet another band that has been often suggested to me, but never seemed to interest me. Daybreak has easily the best material I've heard by the band. The majority of pop punk aspects from the band's early days have dissipated, but the alternative rock influences fit Chris Conley's vocals perfectly. His high pitched voice is held in control, and the band's weakness in the past has now turned into a strength. Saves The Day went all out on Daybreak, proven by the title track, which is one of the most inventive songs in the scene in recent times. A five movement track, each individual movement flows perfectly from one to another, a technique that has obviously taken all of Saves The Day's seventeen years as a band to master. The acoustic version of the album is pretty good too.


5. Mansions - Dig Up The Dead
Dig Up The Dead gushes pure emotion. Chris Browder never holds his feelings back, as the heavily distorted guitars, depressing lyrics, and a vocal delivery that could make a serial killer feel remorse are constants throughout the album. While Dig Up The Dead isn't an easy listen, it's the perfect album to show that there is someone else out there who can feel the immense sadness that a listener may be feeling. The acoustic version of the album was completely recorded from scratch rather than using parts of the original album, and the stripped down nature fits the songs extremely well.

4. Transit - Listen & Forgive
2011 could easily be remembered as the year where a bunch of pop punk bands decided to diversify their sound and release some of the strongest records of the year. Transit continued adding the twinkly emo influences from the Promise Nothing 7", turning into a band almost indistinguishable from their early material. Many tracks, including "Listen & Forgive", "Long Lost Friends", "Skipping Stone", and "The Answer Comes In Time" are among the best tracks of the year, as Transit has established themselves as one of the most innovative bands in the genre.

3. Fireworks - Gospel
Fireworks always felt a notch below the rest of the new wave pop punk bands in the Run For Cover/No Sleep scene. However, Gospel knocked them up to the peak. Vocalist David McKinder has strengthened his vocals from a nasally mess to uniquely powerful, and the entire band has brought their instrument playing skills up another three notches. From The Graduate-esque riffs in "Arrows" to the dancy "Oh, Why Can't We Start Old And Get Younger", to the chilled out "Teeth" to the pop punk anthem "Summer", Fireworks covers all the bases and succeeds dramatically.

2. The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing
As The Upsides was one of my favorite records of 2010, I came into my first listening of Suburbia with extremely high expectations. Unlike The Upsides, Suburbia was a grower, taking dozens of listens to fully appreciate the improvements. The second half of the album took much more time to sink in than the first, but once the songs began sticking, it was obvious that Suburbia blows The Upsides out of the water, both instrumentally and in the quality and diversity of the tracks. Suburbia is a must have for any fan of catchy, upbeat music with substance.

1. Yellowcard - When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
From the moment I finished with my first listen of When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes, the album was immediately the front runner for album of the year. Even while Fireworks, Transit, and The Wonder Years put out absolutely fantastic albums, Yellowcard was never challenged to lose the number one spot. The band brings the listener back to the glory days of Ocean Avenue, as the passion felt in that album is finally heard again in tracks such as "The Sound Of You And Me" and "With You Around". But the band has obviously matured and progressed, especially vocally, as Ryan Key's vocals are absolutely fantastic throughout the entire album. Coming back from a hiatus, releasing the album of the year, and recording and releasing an acoustic version of that album makes Yellowcard an easy choice for the band of the year.

5 comments:

  1. No love for "Young the Giant"?

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  2. Why no pop punk?

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  3. I'm glad Moonlit made it on your list <3

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  4. I mean, I kinda had to put them somewhere. Absolutely beautiful record. Plus they follow us on twitter. and they only follow 25 or so people. gotta get some cool points for that, eh?
    But seriously. Beautiful.

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  5. Coyote Theory. so much yes!!

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