Once again it’s time to revisit my favorite albums of this year. Remember, the picks here didn’t necessarily come out this year. It’s just stuff I discovered in 2011. The Choir and Star One are holdovers from last year because I got them so late.
The Choir, deplumed – Containing one song from each of The Choir’s albums, deplumed is a fantastic retrospective. The album is “unplugged” with just Steve and Derri. It really showcases just how good the band really is. Every song shines. I actually like this better than Burning Like the Midnight Sun.
Star One, Victims of the Modern Age – Victims stands head and shoulders above Star One’s debut in just about every way. Better songs, heavier guitars, awesome vocals (from all performers). It’s just an amazing album no matter how you slice it, especially for us lucky ducks with the deluxe media book.
The Mustard Seeds (all) – A friend introduced me to the Mustard Seeds this year and they’ve fast become one of my favorite bands. They’re sort of a heavier progressive version of PFR or a commercial, poppier version of King’s X. I’ve got all three of their albums and each one is filled with great four-part harmonies, downtuned riffs, and undeniable pop hooks. Do yourself a favor. Go to Amazon.com and type in “the mustard seeds,” then buy whichever album comes up. You will thank me later.
Gama Bomb, Citizen Brain – I suppose you could call this a guilty pleasure. It’s late 80’s/early 90’s thrash all about cool pop culture stuff from that time. It’s an album that puts me in a good mood instantly. How can I not cheer up hearing a thrash song about Final Fight or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Throw in blazing fast riffs and furious face-melting leads and you have one of my top picks!
Petra, Jekyll and Hyde – I’ve never been much of a Petra person. Sure I liked Beyond Belief – who didn’t? After that though…yeah… no so much. I heard through the grapevine that Jekyll and Hyde was supposed to be really heavy. It is. It’s heavy and catchy. If they had been doing this kind of stuff the whole time I probably would have been a lot more interested in them.
Weird Al Yankovic, Alpocalypse (and others) – I rediscovered my love for “Weird Al” this year. I bought his “Essentials” disc, then some of my past favorites, then his new release. Alpocalypse is awesome. It hits that sweet spot with great parodies, funny originals, and the general vibe of the times. Oh, and let it be said (yet again) that “Weird Al” and his band are some of the most underrated musicians ever.
Devin Townsend, Deconstruction/Ghost – Okay, confession time. These albums, being my most anticipated albums of the year, did not dethrone Addicted or Ziltoid as my favorite Devin discs. Of course, they’re still awesome and wonderful. They’re just a little bit more work to listen to. I’m finally getting to the point where I can really appreciate Deconstruction but it can be a hard road to hoe. A friend and I joked about needing naps halfway through.
Harmony, Chapter II: Aftermath – Harmony is a random band I found while looking for something interesting to get me through until fall. They’re a great progressive/power metal outfit that’s complicated enough to be interesting but remember to include plenty of hooks. Their singer reminds me a little of Michael Sweet (Stryper) which also helps. Great album!
Alice Cooper, Welcome 2 My Nightmare – I don’t have much experience with Alice Cooper and I picked this up on a whim, desperate for something a little different. Alice totally delivered with an eclectic album that’s memorable and creepy. Oddly enough it contains one of the best worship songs I’ve heard in awhile in the form of the lead-off track, “I Am Made of You.”
Grave Robber, You’re All Gonna Die! – As of this writing I have yet to receive my copy of Grave Robber’s newest album (and the instant download they sent didn’t work for me). I’m putting it here anyway because it’s friggin’ Grave Robber and they are awesome. I anticipate listening to this album many, many times during the holidays!
Evanescence, Evanescence – Amy Lee is back! This album is a bit more straight-forward than The Open Door. That’s okay though, I think this one’s got some cool radio hits on here once you can get past the LOUD production. It’s not perfect, but infectious nonetheless.
Was a Pick But I Hate it Now
Panic! At the Disco, Vices and Virtues – I really dug this when we first got it. So what happened? Well, it became my 18 month old daughter’s favorite album. She would fuss in the car, we play this (specifically the song “Ready to Go”) and she’d quiet right down. As a result I’ve heard this album at least a million times by now and I just can’t take anymore!
Disappointments of 2011
Believer, Transhuman – I was really looking forward to this one. I don’t even care that the band isn’t really thrash anymore. However, I DO care that they’re not writing memorable songs. There’s a point at which you can be too experimental and that’s the problem here. Nothing sticks. Nothing. It’s boring on top of that. C’mon guys, I know you hate to “sell out” but how ‘bout giving us another good old fashioned thrash disc. Just for old time’s sake.
Lady Gaga, Born this Way – Ugh! What happened here? I liked Lady Gaga a lot better when she was just some club kid writing dirty pop songs. What happened to the quirky electronica? The big production of Born This Way gets in the way of the songs. It’s not nearly as memorable as The Fame as a result. Oh, and “Born This Way” is just Madonna’s “Express Yourself” slightly rewritten. I like one single song off of this (“Government Hooker” if you’re curious) and that’s about it.
Breakup of D, no Annuls – I was a little sad that Deliverance broke up once again, for what is probably the final time. On the one hand I understand, as Jimmy has reportedly said, “Deliverance had its day.” However, this also means their upcoming album, The Annuls of Subterfuge will not be released! Aww, c’mon guys! *pouty sad face*
Still no new Sixpence – As of this writing there is still no news as to when Sixpence’s new album, Strange Conversation will see the light of day. What’s really sad is that this album has been done for awhile. Here’s hoping 2012 will see its release.
Metallica and Lou Reed – Oh my word. Just… wow… this stuff is terrible. They were showing so much promise with Death Magnetic, then they go and do something like this. There aren’t even words to describe how much I don’t care about this.