20. Polar Bear ClubClash Battle Guilt Pride

“This record is extremely enjoyable, still I think I expected more. My biggest problem is I wish the songs weren’t as long as they are. I was expecting something a bit more to the point like how “Chasing Hamburg” was. CBGP would be perfect if it were twelve minutes shorter. This band still knows how to write great hooks.”

19. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying BirdsNoel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

“I was never a huge Oasis fan when I was growing up yet somehow I really like this record. This is obviously the better half of the Gallagher brothers. The High Flying Birds is over produced but done tastefully. The inital single “If I Had A Gun” was my second favorite radio single this year. The whole record is actually done really well. I have to be in the mood, but it is very enjoyable when I am.”

18. Balance And ComposureSeperation

“A solid record from the guys out of Doylestown. It’s good to see more semi-local bands getting noticed on a larger scale. This record is eerie, haunting, and has many throwbacks to the better parts of the nineties alternative scene. The guitars especially sound sexy on this one.”

17. DefeaterEmpty Days & Sleepless Nights

“I heard this record when it was released and forgot about it. But I recently pulled it out and was blown away. I must have not been listening closely the first time through.  This was a year that was marked with the “Thinking Man’s Hardcore”. “Empty Days & Sleepless Nights” is another fine example. This record is a beautiful yet pissed off at the same time. “Empty Days” is a relentless hardcore record and “Sleepless Nights” is an equally important acoustic ending to the concept record. ”

16. The CoathangersLarceny and Old Lace

“This is another record I first heard at Record Club. As much as these girls don’t want to take this band seriously they are seriously really talented. This is one of the finest all female bands to come out in the past few years. After this record I expect a bright future for them.”

15. ThursdayNo Devolución

“This record didn’t do much for me the first time I heard it. Mainly because it was so different from what I have come to expect of Thursday. I seem to always be wanting to hear another War All Of The Time, which I know now will never happen. However, after seeing them play their finally show ever on December 30th 2011; I realized how important this band was and even more this record really truly is. That farewell show made me take a step back and think about what the scene would have been like without Thursday. Let me tell you, “very dull.” I have gone back and listened to No Devolución since the final show. It would have been an injustice to not include this in my Top 20. This is a really solid record. Thursday was so important to me musically and personally for a very long time. It’s hard to believe they existed fourteen years with an original line up. No Devolución is a perfect rainy day record..”

14. Manchester OrchestraSimple Math

“This is just a really tight rock record which tends to be all over the place. This band is quite talented as they have proved on their prior two releases.  Manchester Orchestra now has a gift for writing something both stripped down yet very epic. The concept story for this record is very interesting. I often hear comparisson to Brand New. Yet I feel this band is special totally in their own right. I honestly need to listen to this one more. I have only heard it a handful of times, but it stuck with me every single time.”

13. The Get Up KidsThere Are Rules

“There Are Rules is not a perfect record. Still there is something about it that I just am drawn to. This is not The Get Up Kids from back in the late nineties. This is a dark and very cold version of The Get Up Kids. Almost a Bizzaro Get Up Kids if you will. It sounds like they recorded this one in the middle of a harsh winter in some old beat up garage. There is just an odd vibe around this record that I really enjoy.”

12. Sublime with RomeYours Truly

“Guilty Pleasure Record of the year right here! I feel slightly embarrased even putting this on here. The bottom line is this is a perfect summer day record.  There is nothing brilliant about this record. Yours Truly is just a fun record which I listened to way too much this past summer. I have to mention that it is enjoyable to listen to a Sublime record that isn’t about drugs. It is extremely creepy how much new vocalist Rome sounds like original vocalist Brad. I think this has go to be the best replacement vocalist I have ever heard. ”

11. Taking Back SundayTaking Back Sunday

“I never really loved Taking Back Sunday until their previous record New Again. TBS stopped writing songs for the masses on that record and continued doing so on this one. TBS is writing songs that reflect the band at a certain point in time. This record consists of their original line up from the highly praised Tell All Your Friends days. On this self titled release you can tell they haven’t missed a beat since getting this core back together.”

10. RetoxUgly Animals

“This is Justin Pearson at his finest. Take the high points of The Locust along with his twenty other bands and drop them into a noise rock blender. This is only ten minutes long but never gets old. I really hope he sticks with this band and forgets everything else he has done. It’s really that good! This was one of the big surprise records for me this year.”

9. La DisputeWildlife

“Totally different vibe than their previous stuff. This record has no hooks and no singles. It is just captivating. Wildlife is haunting and manages to tell a great story anyone in their twenties can relate to. I was happy it came out in the fall. Wildlife was a perfect soundtrack to the leaves falling. I still haven’t been able to let it all soak in. There is a lot going on in this one. This band is going to be around a long time if all goes well for them. If this is truly the new direction of “The Wave” (according to WIKI this is the name of this new genre) then sign me up.”

8. ThriceMajor/Minor

“This has greatly grown on me and still is. Thrice can pretty much do it all when it comes to rock. This is supposed to be their grunge record according to critics, but I still don’t hear it. Either way it is tight as hell. Major/Minor starts strong and finishes even stronger. These guys are calling it a day. It’s great to see them go out on a high note like this.”

7. Hell BeachWelcome To Hell Beach

“This band needs to be in everyones collection. This is a refreshing take on the classic stonery doomy goodness that I have come to love. Think Sabbath or Electric Wizard. I said in record club that “Welcome To Hell Beach” is “…a sludge record without the sludge”. This band is still pretty unknown but I expect great things for them in 2012. I had the honor of having this three piece play a Halloween set on my radio show this year.”

6. Rise AgainstEndgame

“A passionate political record. I guess thats what I’ve come to expect from Rise Against. Every time I hear this I get so emotionally fired up at what the world has become. That is after all Rise Against’s ultimate goal. So it obviously works in my case. No matter what my mood is before the record it changes after a listen to “Endgame”. These lyrics really make you stop and think and question reality. It seems with each record Tim and company just get better writing lyrically and musically. I really don’t see these guys making a bad record in the future. Just stick with this blueprint. ”

5. Cage The ElephantThank You, Happy Birthday!

“I grew up listening to nineties alternative rock. Then that scene went away and I forgot about most of it. I finished High School and later College. I listened to a million other things.  Then came Thank You, Happy Birthday! This Cage The Elephant record is just so badass. I still can’t tell “Thank You, Happy Birthday” is nineties alternative rock with a smart twist or really something completely new. Either way this LP is so refreshing. I didn’t give a shit about this band’s debut record. This record is raw, aggressive and weird. Not to mention having really catchy hooks. I feel Cage The Elephant wrote their first record for the masses and to get major label recognition. This record is a totally different story. This record sounds like the record they wanted to write all along. You can hear how much fun Cage The Elephant are having playing this just but listening to the recording. This came out in early January of 2011 and I’m still listening to it. Highly recommended if you grew up in the nineties. ”

4. Foo FightersWasting Light

“I think playing drums in Them Crooked Vultures taught Dave Grohl to start writing from the heart again. “Colour and The Shape” is my second favorite album of the nineties. This record has everything Colour has and a whole lot more. They recorded this album in Dave’s garage on 2 inch tape. This record is a real rock and roll record like we havn’t heard in a long time. Every time I listen to this I enjoy it more and more. “Wasting Light” is full of hits. According to Dave Grohl the song “One Of These Days” is in his opinion the greatest song he has ever written. ”

3. Fucked UpDavid Comes To Life

“How does this band manage to always top itself. I never thought they could put out something as epic as “The Chemistry of Common Life”. However they did it again. “David Comes To Life” is a rock opera. The soundtrack is fantastic, the story is fantastic, and the delivery is fantastic. Not only did they write their most epic record to date, they even made a separate soundtrack for this record called “David’s Town Comp”. Ambitious? I think so. I can understand why this band is calling it a day. What else could they do? However, I’m sure they will be back one day writting something even greater. I never thought a hardcore record could be considered beautiful. “David Comes To Life” is just that.”

2. David BazanStrange Negotiations

“Maybe I’m a little biased but I just love everything this guy does. After seeing him play most of this record at Johnny Brenda’s in Philly in June, I was sold on it. This is some of Bazan’s finest writing. This record defines David Bazan and the new Bazan Band. “Strange Negotiations” makes you realize why he is no longer known as Pedro The Lion. I had the honor of hosting David live on my radio show in September. He played two of the songs off “Strange Negotiations” for a handful of people in the studio. This record has already created so many memories for me personally. This record just makes you think.  I spent many late nights this past year listening to this one with the headphones on. “Won’t Let Go” might be the most beautiful song David ever wrote.”

1. Touché AmoréParting the Sea Between Brightness And Me

“Hands down the record I listened to the most in 2011. Yes it may only be twenty minutes but it packs a huge punch. “Parting the Sea..” gets me so amped up every time I put it on. This is the most refreshing record I have heard in this style in years. The track “Home Away From Here” sends chills through my bones every time I hear it. This is a thinking mans hardcore record. This band is already gaining a cult following and I can only imagine in the next few years what they will do as long as they stay together. This record is one of those records that no matter how shitty you may feel, it will still get you off your ass and thinking optimistic again. I love this LP!”

Top 5 Splits & EP’s

6. Circa SurviveAppendages EP
5. Deer Leap / The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To DieSplit
4. Childish GambinoEP
3. ††† (Crosses)EP
2. Torche / Part ChimpSplit
1. Make Do & MendPart And Parcel EP

Honorable Mentions

These are the records I really liked but haven’t listened to enough to include on the list. I would have felt guilty including them on the list without more listens.

T.W. WalshSongs Of Pain And Lesiure
Zechs MarquiseGetting Paid
Bon IverBon Iver
The Marshmallow GhostsThe Marshmallow Ghosts
Piano’s Become The TeethThe Lack Long After
RadioheadKing Of Limbs
Foster The PeopleTorches

Best Vinyl Packaging and / or Vinyl Reissues

1. Fall Of TroyManipulator
2. Against Me!White Crosses/ Black Crosses
3. Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream (Vinyl Reissue)
4. Explosions In The SkyTake Care, Take Care, Take Care
5. Deftones – Discography (Vinyl Reissues)

My Favorite Song Of The Year:

“Home Away From Here” by Touché Amoré from Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me

My Favorite Radio Song Of The Year:

“Helena Beat” Foster the People from Torches

My Top 5 Shows of 2011

1. David Bazan w/S. Carey @ Johnny Brenda’s
2. Thursday (final US show ever) w/Screaming Females, MewithoutYou, Make Do And Mend, Aficianado @The TLA
3. Against Me! w/Screaming Females and Lemuria @ Croc Rock
4. The Decade Of Dumb Decisions aka Square Of Op Fest w/Pissed Jeans, Robot Attack, Tile, etc..@ Fountain Hill American Legion
5. Slingshot Dakota @ WXLV on Pirate Radio

My Favoriate Musical Moment of 2011

Having David Bazan play live and do an interview on my radio show in September.

This post was written by:

Josh Hoch – When Josh Hoch isn’t helping people in need as a case manager or setting up exclusive in-studio performances/ interviews, he can be heard on the air every Friday night on “Pirate Radio” from 9:00pm to 10:30pm (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!