D’s Top 20 Releases of 2011

Posted on 16/12/2011

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Yeah, so this is what the entire year boils down to. Sorry it took us so long to post these lists, I’m pretty sure regular-ish posting will now resume. 2011 was pretty alright and some people put out some radical tunes. I struggled a fair bit to order the top 5, but I think I made the right decisions. I don’t think there’s much more to say really. Who cares, on to 2012.

20. Touché Amoré – Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me

Full disclosure: I originally put Big Business’ Quadruple Single EP here, but after some thought, I made the painful decision to include Touché Amoré’s latest instead, and I think I did the right thing. Parting the Sea… brings energy, intensity and, more importantly, true passion to the table in a year where kindred spirits La Dispute failed to deliver. Opener ‘Tilde’ kicks things off in a suitably heated manner, with vocalist Jeremy Bolm howling all manner of poetic profundities (I assume). This band isn’t short on pretense, but if you’re not convinced by, say, ‘Face Ghost’ or ‘Home Away From Here’ you should seriously reconsider your taste in music.

Essential Track: ‘Home Away From Here’

Download: (Mediafire)

19. Anaal Nathrakh – Passion

Anaal Nathrakh play what I imagine is the musical equivalent of plummeting into hell. It’s dark, it’s twisted and, on tracks like ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Euphoria’ and, in particular, the lunacy that is ‘Tod Huetet Uebel’ (featuring vocals from Bethlehem’s Rainer Landfermann), verges on disturbing. So yeah while this is a pretty great album, this may not appeal to everyone. Sucks for them, guess I’ll be plunged into madness all by myself.

Essential Track: ‘Paragon Pariah’

Download: (Mediafire)

18. Cynic – Carbon-Based Anatomy

Cynic continue to surprise me. Their 1993 ‘classic’, Focus, leaves me cold, but I’m a huge fan of Traced in Air, their magnificent 2008 followup. The ‘extreme’ aspect of their music was debatable on TiA, and they’ve developed this even more on Carbon-Based Anatomy, which almost completely eschews any metallic tendencies. It just goes to show how talented frontman Paul Masvidal & co. really are, testament to how effortlessly beautiful the title track and ‘Box Up My Bones’ are. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Essential Track: ‘Carbon-Based Anatomy’

Download: (Mediafire)

17. Deafheaven – Roads to Judah

Impressively, Deafheaven managed to sneak a word in and turn some heads this year, despite all the fuss surrounding Liturgy and their transcendental pretenses. Following up 2010’s excellent demo, Roads to Judah is even more imposing, comprising of four long, immaculately detailed songs channeling a post-hardcore vibe through black metal (see also Castevet’s Mounds of Ash); textured, but far from impenetrable.

Essential Track: ‘Language Games’

Download: (Mediafire)

16. Elvis Depressedly – Goner EP

So Mat Cothran isn’t the happiest of bros, but as far I’m concerned he can mope as much as he wants as long as he continues to produce music this good. In little over twelve minutes, Goner spews out more anguish than the most gut-wrenching of emo records and, more significantly perhaps, is his cover of ‘Die in the Summertime (RJE)’, which is undoubtedly the closest I’ll ever get to liking the Manic Street Preachers. That’s almost as much of an achievement as the quality of this EP.

Essential Track: ‘Mickey Yr a Fuck Up’

Download: (Mediafire)

15. Total Abuse - Prison Sweat

This record is a disgusting amalgamation of filthy, lo-fi hardcore and a truly vile, loathsome attitude. With seven minutes of pure noise, opener ‘Final Passage’ pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album; a righteous, enraged aural kick in the face with the ability to simultaneously energise and drain. Avoid at all cost when hungover.

Essential Track: ‘Early Morning’

Download: (Mediafire)

14. Gridlink – Orphan

I think we can all go ahead and say Amber Gray is a modern grindcore classic, and, for me personally, it’s looking like Jon Chang and the boyz just went ahead and topped it with Orphan, wherein, surprisingly, they opted for a more lo-fi approach. Twelve suitably hyperactive songs in an unrelenting twelve minutes, the band doesn’t stop once to let you catch your breath. That’s not to say speed forsakes detail, check out the intricacy of ‘Dar-Al-Harb’ and the title track’s lightning-fast riffs and you may as well quit playing guitar.

Essential Track: ‘Orphan’

Download: (Mediafire)

13. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

Without the use of a single drum sound, Tim Hecker has produced one of 2011’s most compellingly dark records, a shape-shifting, exquisitely composed droning masterpiece. Hecker’s music ebbs and flows rather than building and peaking, and it’s all the more gratifying for it. ‘Hatred of Music I’ is the perfect example of this, being the track that hooked me despite being the longest on the album. Put this on and go stare out of a window, you won’t regret it.

Essential Track: ‘The Piano Drop’

Download: (Mediafire)

12. Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage

It’s been a good year for black metal, this being the third (and best) related album on my list. WITTR really went for it on this, their fourth album, from the dirge-like build up of ‘Woodland Cathedral’ to ‘Astral Blood”s stunning, cathartic and surprisingly fast peak. Even the interludes, ‘Permanent Changes in Consciousness’ and ‘Rainbow Illness’ have something to offer, and I particularly enjoy the latter. No band combines harshness and beauty quite like this.

Essential Track: ‘Astral Blood’

Download: (Mediafire)

11. ASAP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP

Fuck the hate, LiveLoveA$AP is dope as hell regardless of the fact that, all in all, ASAP Rocky isn’t that great of a rapper. The guy’s timing is impeccable, whether crushing ‘Bass” bizarre pseudo-refrain or flowing smoothly on ‘Kissin’ Pink’. But I’d be an idiot to ignore the amazing production on this tape, with the one and only Clams Casino absolutely killing it on ‘Demons’, ‘Palace’ and the aforementioned ‘Bass’. Stoked to hear what comes next now that he has his famous three-milli record deal.

Essential Track: ‘Trilla’

Download: (Mediafire)

10. Coma Cinema – Blue Suicide

Yep, this is the second Mat Cothran project on this list, and deservedly so. Harrowing and sensitive in equal measure, this album embraces darkness and presents it in the form of melancholy indie pop tunes. ‘Hell’ is the perfect example, its bleak lyrics providing the focal point of an otherwise relatively pretty tune. ‘Eva Angelina’ (she’s totally a porn actress) and ‘Greater Vultures’ stand out as well, crushingly desolate and simplistic in their despair. Yay.

Essential Track: ‘Hell’

Download: (Mediafire)

9. Fuck the Facts – Die Miserable

If there was any pressure following up 2008’s ridiculously impressive Disgorge Mexico, it sure doesn’t show on Die Miserable. When it comes to riffs, Fuck the Facts have that shit DOWN, tracks like ‘Drift’ and ‘Lifeless’ are absolutely monstrous. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there’s substance behind their brutality, an extra attention to detail that separates this band from their so-called ‘peers’, see, for example, the subtle and oh so killer breaks in ‘A Coward’s Existence’. Another huge step from an amazing band.

 Essential Track: ‘A Coward’s Existence’

Download: (Mediafire)

8. Punch – Nothing Lasts EP

Nothing Lasts is a pretty darn apt title; one minute Punch are pummeling you with their signature, skin-flayingly ferocious powerviolence, and then it’s all over before you can catch your breath. This EP is truly savage, a cold, calculated ten minutes designed to make you jump around your room and smash stuff; try not flailing around and punching (ha!) the air with ‘Done’ playing. My roommate heard me play this stuff and he hasn’t looked at me quite the same since. His loss I suppose.

Essential Track: ‘Done’

Download: (Mediafire)

7. King Krule – King Krule EP

I would be a very angry person if all the hype surrounding Archy Marshall wasn’t completely justified. The fact is that this, King Krule’s self-titled EP, is as much an incredibly gorgeous, well-composed collection of five songs as it is an indicator of what’s to come. I couldn’t believe the development this kid’s music had gone through when I first heard ‘The Noose of Jah City’, and ‘Bleak Bake’ may be the prettiest song I’ve heard all year. It’s been a little under a year since ‘Out Getting Ribs’ broke everyone’s hearts and it’s already clear that the best is yet to come. I want more.

Essential Track: ‘Bleak Bake’

Download: (Mediafire)

6. Despise You/Agoraphobic Nosebleed – …And On And On Split EP

This split contains the 25 finest, most ridiculous and over the top odes to hate 2k11 has to offer. I can’t believe there was a time when I couldn’t stand ANb, because honestly, they’ve since become one of my favourite heavy bands, and their contributions to this release perpetuate everything I love about them. ‘Miscommunication’ and ‘Los Infernos’ manage to destroy me in under thirty seconds, and ‘Possession’ is a typically absurd, gonzo-ish piece of thrash ‘n grind, complete with bizarre lyrics like only they can pull off. It’s hard to believe the same band that put out Altered States of America is now capable of pulverizing, sludgy tracks like ‘Burlap Sack’ and ‘Half Dead’… yeah, Scott Hull 4 prez y’all. And on their first release in over a decade, Cali OGs Despise You barely skip a beat on ugly, bitter and just killer songs like ‘Roll Call’ and ‘You Can’t Fix Me, Don’t Trip’, bringing that powerviolence like it’s ’93. Best split ever.

Essential Tracks: Despise You – ‘Roll Call’, Agoraphobic Nosebleed – ‘Possession’

Download: (Mediafire)

5. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Fucked Up are one of my favourite bands, period. And with David’s Town they’ve once again shown everyone why, following up The Chemistry of Common Life with yet another extraordinary release. Few bands could pull off something as ambitious as a “punk rock opera”, and Fucked Up have done so in magnificent fashion. ‘The Other Shoe’ finally demonstrates the band’s apparent love of British twee pop (!), albeit in an epic and painstakingly well-written manner. This band has come a long way from their much more straight forward, scuzzy hardcore roots, the soaring choruses in ‘Truth I Know’ and ‘A Little Death’ are a world away from those times. Everything Fucked Up touches turns to gold, and hopefully that will never change.

Essential Track: ‘Truth I Know’

Download: (Mediafire)

4. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

When I first heard their demos, I’d never have thought WU LYF would grow on me like they did, yet here we are. Truly unique in its sound, each song on Go Tell Fire is glorious, from the euphoric anthem that is ‘We Bros’ to the tenderness of the ballad-y ‘Such a Sad Puppy Dog’. Then there’s ‘Spitting Blood’, a song which, honestly, is almost life-affirming; this album is a jubilant, almost rapturous proclamation of something I really don’t understand. And man, those vocals… truly special.

Essential Track: ‘Concrete Gold’

Download: (Mediafire)

3. Four Eyes – Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness EP

Heart-wrenching, beautifully written yet raw, Four Eyes’ Towards the End of Cosmic Loneliness is the perfect soundtrack to a drunken walk home, a flawless combination of pop-punk spirit and a lo-fi, Dinosaur Jr.-style approach. I don’t know what it is exactly, but all four songs on this EP have a certain warmth about them that make them just that much more relatable and, well, perfect. They’re all so darned sincere and catchy to the point that if they maintained the quality of these songs on a full length, this release would be two spots higher. The fact that so few people know this band is nothing short of a tragedy.

Essential Track: ‘SOS’

Download: (Mediafire)

2. Weekend Nachos – Worthless

With Worthless, Weekend Nachos come one step closer to becoming my favourite hardcore band, and for good reason. Every track on this album slays me, from the thrashy declaration of war that is ‘Hometown Hero’ to the grinding cynicism of ‘Old Friends Don’t Mean Shit’. Teeming with (principled) aggression and hostility, this is my jam when I feel like kicking the shit out of someone but, well, I’m too much of a pussy to actually do it. You can hardly blame me with moshpit anthems like ‘Jock Powerviolence’ and the crushing ferocity of ‘Worthless’. Yes, I will almost certainly jizz my pants over whatever comes next, because honestly, it seems to me like Weekend Nachos can do no wrong. Oh, and fuck anyone bitching about how John changed his vocal style. “BLOOD FOR BLOOD”!

Essential Track: ‘Jock Powerviolence’

Download: (Mediafire)

1. Real Estate – Days

Yep, after due consideration, I came to the conclusion that Real Estate’s Days is my favourite album of 2011. Underwhelming? I think so too, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that this is one of the few of this year’s albums I can put on at almost any time, whether I’m on the train, walking to class or writing an essay at 3 in the morning. The band sounds far removed from their sunny, beachtastic earlier work, yet, on songs like ‘It’s Real’ and ‘Younger Than Yesterday’ sound just as carefree, albeit in a more melancholy, reflective manner. I suppose consistency is the key, because all ten of the songs that make up Days are worthy of repeated spins. Real Estate have, in their own subtle way, made a great album.

Essential Track: ‘It’s Real’

Download: (Mediafire)

Also Considered:

Acid Baby Jesus – Acid Baby Jesus

Battles – Gloss Drop

Burial – Street Halo EP

Big Business – Quadruple Single EP

Capsule – No Ghost

Code Orange Kids – EMBRACE ME // ERASE ME EP

Craft – Void

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Thuggin’ EP

Ghostlimb – Infrastructure

Graf Orlock – Doombox EP

Harm’s Way – Isolation

Iceage – New Brigade

Jamie xx – Far Nearer/Beat For Single

Jesu – Ascension

Lotus Fucker/Penis Geyser – Split EP

Owen Hart – Earth Control

Pantha du Prince – XI Versions of Black Noise

Pianos Become the Teeth – The Lack Long After

Psychic Limb – Queens

Pulling Teeth – Funerary

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

The Soft Moon – Total Decay EP

Teen Suicide – Bad Vibes Forever

Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler/The Dream

Trap Them – Darker Handcraft

True Widow – As High As the Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth

Weekend Nachos – Black Earth EP

Wormrot – Dirge/NOISE EP

Women/Cold Pumas/Fair Ohs/Friendo –  Split 7″

- D -
Posted in: Album Download, List