Albums Of The Year 2011

2011 unfortunately saw me probably the least involved musically as any year I can remember, as evidenced by the scarcity of my posting over the past twelve months. But that doesn't mean I wasn't listening, and it certainly doesn't mean there weren't any records that I didn't absolutely love. So here it is, from the "better late than never" file, but favorite albums of last year.

1. The Duke Spirit – Bruiser

At this point The Duke Spirit ought to be a household name, at least among the more musically minded. They have an incredible live show, they’re road warriors that are almost constantly touring, they’ve got a great sound that isn’t derivative of anyone else, their songwriting keeps getting better and better, and they have possibly the best front woman out there right now. This is their third album on their third different label, a run of bad luck that would derail the path of less dedicated bands. Bruiser manages to sound a bit more lush and melodic than Neptune, but without going soft. The hooks are bigger, but without sounding overly polished. After being released over the pond last September, and getting a digital release in the states in November, it finally got released domestically on CD last week (with bonus tracks!), so go find out what you've probably been missing out on.

2. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Dave Grohl and company get back to doing what they do best… rocking the fuck out. Sure, there are still plenty of arena sized anthems, but they come without the MOR blandness that was starting to infect their last couple of albums. If I were ranking albums based on how often they got cranked up to a deafening volume in the car this year, this album would be number one with a bullet. Read our
original review from May.

3. Epic Ditch – EP

The first time I heard the debut release from
Epic Ditch I was in a friend’s machine shop, which was a perfect setting for the introduction. With his new band, Superdrag’s John Davis strips away pop flourishes of his previous work and leaves only the hardened punk edginess. Davis and fellow singer/guitarist Stewart Pack have a kind of Bob Mould/Grant Hart thing going on, with Davis doing the more aggressive, politically charged songs, and Pack providing the more melodic tracks. Regardless of who’s doing the singing, it kicks all kinds of ass.

4. Beady Eye – Different Gear Still Speeding

Raise your hand if you thought Liam Gallagher’s first post-Oasis album would be better than his brother Noel’s… yeah, me neither. But I’ve heard four tracks from
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, and so far and none of them have been enough for me to go out and buy it. Beady Eye may not be blazing down any new paths, but unlike his big brother’s, this album is actually fun. Read our original review from April.

5. R.E.M. – Collapse into Now

Conventional wisdom may say otherwise, but thank God R.E.M. didn't break up seven years earlier. While I am sure there are plenty who think the band should have hung it up the moment Bill Berry walked into the sunset, it would have been monumentally depressing if their swan song had been
Around the Sun, the one album that most band completists don't even own. Instead they went out with two albums that may not have equaled their late 80's and early 90's triumphs, but at least harkened back to that era. Read our original review from March.


Great picks, Darrin and thanks for getting me into the Duke Spirit. Good to see a talented rock n' roll writer/blogger out there. I'll be sending a few of my bands for your perusal shortly. Thanks!
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