Ryan G’s Tops of 2011

Albums of the Year

Disclaimer: The below list corresponds to much I enjoyed each record.  That is, I may have given a record a higher score in a review based on musicianship or whatever, but I may have enjoyed another more, got it? ha.

Honorable Mentions: Deas VailDeas Vail, ThriceMajor/Minor, Owl CityAll Things Bright and Beautiful, Abandon KansasAd Astra Per Aspera, Twenty One PilotsRegional at Best, The Devil Wears PradaDead Throne, Death Cab for CutieCodes and Keys

10. EmeryWe Do What We Want

This flagship Tooth and Nail Records band released their fifth, and heaviest LP to date this year.  I love the song “Walls” off their debut, so naturally I loved this record.  “The Cheval Glass” borders on over the top at times with its extended screams and breakdowns (the latter which I haven’t heard much from Emery) but it stays on the correct side of over the top.  Standout tracks: “The Cheval Glass”, “Scissors”, “The Curse of Perfect Days”

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9. ColdplayMylo Xyloto

Coldplay builds up the arena-rock and U2-esque songs here, in a way that mostly works, but isn’t always super memorable.  Fortunately, what is memorable is so good that it would seem like a travesty to leave Coldplay off my end of the year top 10.  Standout tracks: “Paradise”, “Us Against the World”, “Princess of China”

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8. Falling UpYour Sparkling Death Cometh

I was ecstatic when I heard one of my favorite bands dating back from high school would be coming out of hiatus to release a record independently.  Sonically, this record sounded similar to what they did on Captiva, albeit with longer intros and outros.  Lots of epic, ambient, midtempo rock here.  Standout tracks: “Circadian”, “Vates”, “Slow Waves”

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7. August Burns RedLeveler

August Burns Red continues to cement their reputation as one of the kings of metalcore with this release, which takes their signature sound and adds in a touch of experimentation. Chaos gives way to quiet interludes and other surprises at times.  Standout tracks: “Internal Cannon”, “Cutting the Ties”, “40 Nights”

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6. Oh, SleeperChildren of Fire

ABR may be one of the kings of metalcore, but Oh Sleeper is giving them a run for their money on this concept record.  Lyrically its very dark, and it keeps just the right amount of brutal vibes present to reflect the lyrics but not send the listener into a depression.  Standout tracks: “Endseekers”, “Claws of God”, “Hush Yael”

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5. Youth LagoonThe Year of Hibernation

Most years, a record seemingly comes out of nowhere and blows me away with how good it is.  Youth Lagoon is this year’s example of this, with his serene melodies and lo-fi vocals juxtaposed with electronic beats.  If you want to zone out on a journey, this is a record for you.  Standout tracks: “Posters”, “Cannons”, “Daydream”

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4. O’BrotherGarden Window

Garden Window

Another record full of intricate sonic journeys is this one, although its very different from Youth Lagoon.  O’Brother could be considered the love-child of Explosions in the Sky and most post-hardcore bands, but they are better than most.  Moments of this record will send chills up your spine.  Standout tracks: “Lo”, “Malum”, “Cleanse Me”

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3. Bon IverBon Iver, Bon Iver

I probably did not give this record a fair chance when I should have but wow, am I glad I finally did!  In November I was ecstatic to learn of this artist’s Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year (the latter two both for “Holocene”).  Zone out listening to this record and you’ll hear something new each time.  Standout tracks: “Wash.”, “Holocene”, “Hinnom, TX”

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2. MuteMathOdd Soul

What can I say? It’s Mutemath.  These guys bring the guitar to the forefront in this slightly bluesy record.   I find that this record is perfect for night driving, because it has everything.  It’s introspective, rocking, and relaxing at times.  Standout tracks: “Blood Pressure”, “All or Nothing”, “In No Time”

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1. SwitchfootVice Verses

A classic band that gets better with age – that’s Switchfoot.  Vice Verses brings to the table a different feel than Hello Hurricane but it still has that classic Switchfoot mix of quirkiness, fun rock numbers, and introspective questioning.  Jon Foreman’s passion for what he (and the rest of the band) does is so prevalent, and I’m glad we won’t be seeing this band go away soon. Standout tracks: “Afterlife”, “The War Inside”, “Vice Verses”

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Concerts of the Year:

Anberlin/Switchfoot with Atomic Tom

MuteMath (Odd Soul Intro Tour)

Emery w/ Oh Sleeper, Hawkboy

Owl City w/ Mat Kearney, Unwed Sailor

Thrice w/ La Dispute, O’Brother

Favorite Songs:

Falling Up – “Slow Waves”, “Circadian”

Owl City – “The Real World”

Kye Kye – “Broke”

The Devil Wears Prada – “Born to Lose”

Switchfoot – “The War Inside”, “Dark Horses”, “Vice Verses”

August Burns Red – “Internal Cannon”

Sleeping at Last – “The Ash in Our Clothes”, “Pacific”

Wolves at the Gate – “Heralds”

Death Cab – “You Are a Tourist”

Bon Iver – “Hinnom, Tx”, “Holocene”

Youth Lagoon – “Posters”, “Cannons”

Emery – “The Cheval Glass”

Mutemath – “Blood Pressure”, “Allies”, “In No Time”

Twenty One Pilots – “Car Radio”, “House of Gold”

Coldplay – “Paradise”, “Us Against the World”

O’Brother – “Machines” Parts 1 and 2, “Cleanse Me”

Thoughts?