The biggest struggle when putting together this list is how to rank the albums. What exactly is the difference between a #1 and a #2 album? Without doubt, Viva Brother’s “Darling Buds of May” was the song I listened to the most in 2011 and the album it comes from is pretty damn good. But is it my favorite album as a whole? The Damnwells have consistently put out great material and I’m sure I listened to No One Listens to the Band Anymore more, front to back, than any album on the list but did I do that because it’s the best album of the year or because I know the guys personally and listening to them makes me happy?
So, I decided the best way to do it is to list the albums alphabetically, showing no favoritism and not being forced to rank anything. A few comebacks, a few previous favorites, a couple of new UK bands, some metal, some country, some hair metal. Pretty typical for me.
AA Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum)
Not as barebones as early solo material, not as scuzzy as his ‘90s alt-rock band Verbena, AA Bondy split the difference on this moody, late night listen. Listen: “The Heart is Willing”
Anthrax – Worship Music (Megaforce)
The legendary NYC thrashers pick up where they left off the last time Joey Belladonna sang lead vocals (1990’s Persistence of Time) on 2011’s best (and most surprising considering some internal issues Anthrax had with short-timer vocalist Dan Nelson) metal album. Listen: “In the End”
AWOLNATION – Megalithic Symphony (Red Bull Records)
I would never have checked out this band had my old friend Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon) not been playing guitar. A complete 180 from Blind Melon’s sound, AWOLNATION’s slickly-produced techno-soul-pop shows a wide range of diversity from one track to the next. Listen: “Soul Wars” Continue reading →
This year’s list of favorites is fairly sedate (even for me), with just a little ruckus here and there. Lots of morning-coffee music, which I guess says something about my 2011. But music’s strength is its pliability. It can be whatever you need it to be at the moment, especially when we have instant access to virtually any song ever recorded, often for free. Judging by this list, I needed music to be a salve more than a release valve this year.
I also never expected my favorite album to come from someone who held the spot previously, but the iTunes “most played” playlist doesn’t lie. It’s a divisive one, but people who like it really like it.
I picked 15 favorites and several honorable mentions, plus a Favorite Columbus Albums list below — separate but equal in enjoyment and quality. As usual, I limit my lists to albums, so some EPs and 7”s I liked (e.g. Envelope, Sundown, Malefactors of Great Wealth, Dolfish) aren’t listed.
As Chip said about Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver, “One wouldn’t expect the heavily tattooed Cincinnati songwriter to produce his best collection of songs this late in his already highly-prolific career, but that’s exactly what he’s done.”
We’re big fans of AA Bondy. His first album ended up in my year end list of favorite records, and he played the donewaiting.com SXSW day show in 2008. He’s just announced his second album, When The Devil’s Loose, being released September 1 on Fat Possum. And yes, there will be a vinyl version (so happy about this). Download an MP3 from the album above.
Fresh off his headlining show at The Basement, Bondy has announced another Columbus show on July 13 opening for Conor Oberst at the Wexner Center. Details here.
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