The TBs are back in full effect, courtesy of Time Machine, so without further ado, let's start the recappery for 2011.
Top 11 Records Of 2011
1. Banner Pilot – Heart Beats Pacific
Longtime readers know that Banner Pilot gets much love at JS-NYC HQ, but even I was a little surprised that they took the top honors for 2011. I think the CMJ live shows sealed the deal for me, The Fat Wreck deal getting the gents to the East Coast more than in years previously. The gents tore up the Reload store and followed up with a pretty aces set in Brooklyn later that night. Heart Beats Pacific has the same relentless amount of hooks, changing things up on the vocals but still with the bass mixed up front. Eleven songs, and not a bad track on the record. I'm pretty sure the gents are already in pre-production for the next one, plus they are letting the punters pick the set list for the spring tour, so get on over to the Banner Pilot web presence and ruin the spring for me. Get Heart Beats Pacific here.
2. Centro-Matic – Candidate Waltz
Said it the first time and am now saying it again: Why Centro-matic aren't gargantuanally huge boggles what little faculties I still maintain. Centro-matic are everything that I don't see why people like about My Morning Jacket and The National (who, truth be told, seem like fine people, exclusive of their profoundly unremarkable records). I dare not contemplate what a four hour MMJ set would be like, but every time I see Centro-matic live I wish it would never end. The last show at Mercury was no exception, unsurprising as Candidate Waltz is the finest record to date from a band that continually releases amazing records. Bookmark their web presence here.
3. Tenement – Napalm Dream
The fact that 2011 brought a new Tenement record was a personal high point. They were top fucking notch a couple years ago in Greenpoint and I've been salivating at the prospect at seeing them again ever since. There are only two solid members in the line-up, which hampers the whole touring thing. It's a shame, as Napalm Dream has some of the best indie rock tracks you'll hear this year. Shades of 90s Boston and America's Finest Rock BandTM The Figgs abound, with the breakdown of Stupid World ranking as perhaps my favorite recorded moment of this year. Keep track of Wisconsin's finest and all things Napalm Dream here.
4. Restorations – s/t
Restorations are definitely my favorite new discovery of 2011, although sadly my favorite track is from their first EP. Lack of Linear Notes aside, and despite a curious tendency toward black metal in their artwork choices, this fearsome Philly fivesome get high marks from JS-NYC. Now lets see a lot more NYC shows please.
5. Glossary – Long Live All Of Us
My review is coming up at PopMatters soon, but much like Centro-matic, you cannot go wrong with any release with the Glossary name on it. I generally loathe bands with singers who both live and rock together (see the utterly execrable Mates Of State), but Joey and Kelly make it more than worth your while with Long Live All Of Us.
6. Bridge & Tunnel – Rebuilding Year
The time Bridge & Tunnel lay fallow has fostered a bumper crop of great music. Rebuilding Year features great J. Robbins-y vocals from Jeff and top-fucking-notch guitar work from Rachel. Along with Iron Chic, there is rarely a safer bet in a local show.
7. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
A close second behind Restorations in the new discovery queue, Frank Turner grabbed my attention on Kimmel and England Keep My Bones quickly racked up neighbor maddening levels of rotation at JS-NYC HQ. I Am Disappeared ranks just as high in singles of the year. FT is going to be a very big deal, very soon.
8. Samiam - Trips
I think Samiam may have actually deposed the mighty Jawbreaker as my all-time favorite East Bay band. They have made pretty regular appearances out East Coast way this year and been pretty damn great every time. Trips has a gang of great songs and hopefully will usher in a new era of Samiam dominance.
9. Gateway District – Perfect’s Gonna Fail
Without disparaging Maren and Carrie's significant contributions to Gateway, the idea that Nate could write two amazing records worth of music (see #1) deserves notice. I really need to get to Minneapolis.
10. Direct Hit! – Domesplitter
Got this one cold in the mail, maybe through the good folk of Southern Lovin' and the terrible cover art kept me off listening for a bit, but once I did I was more that stoked at what I heard. Obvious D4 and Screeching Weasel earmarks, but with enough personality to not get lost in the shuffle.
2011 has been a terrible year for hip-hop, but this Philly all-star team fucking kills it on their debut mix tape. P.O.R.N, Truck North, Dice Raw and STS rhyme hard but MC juggernaut Black Thought is the hero here, asserting himself as one of the pre-eminent mic stylists of our generation and saving this year from being over-saturarted with Odd Future fomented Asbergers Rap.