Top 20 Albums of 2011 (Part One)

Posted on January 2, 2012

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So, we’re into 2012, and it’s time for me to reveal my Top 20 Albums of the Year. This first part (20-11) features the likes of Alice Cooper, Alkaline Trio, Jack’s Mannequin and You Me At Six. Let’s kick it off with one of the most anticipated records of the year.

20. blink-182 – Neighborhoods

Although not entirely consistent, Neighborhoods marked blink-182’s return in an interesting, solid way, progressing whilst retaining flashes of what they once were.

Anyone expecting Enema of the State 2.0 clearly had unrealistic expectations for this album, but those with an open mind were rewarded.

The likes of ‘Wishing Well’ are reminiscent of blink-182’s early years, whilst ‘MH 4.18.2011’ showed what we can expect from their return.

19. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare

Despite a questionable opener in the heavily-autotuned ‘I Am Made of You’, Alice Cooper returned with a fantastic, tongue-in-cheek sequel to his 1975 album of the same name.

Whilst ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off’ and ‘Ghouls Gone Wild’ saw Cooper successfully combine the hard rock and theatrical sides of his sound, it’s the more ambitious moments that make this album so great.

Case in point (and highlight of the record) is the hilarious, cabaret-influenced ‘Last Man On Earth’, which sees Alice fully embrace the character to its camp fullest.

18. Rise Against – Endgame

After pushing themselves into the mainstream with 2008’s Appeal To Reason, Rise Against had a lot to live up to, whilst still trying to appease their hardcore fanbase.

They seemed to strike a balance on Endgame, a record that featured some trademark riff-heavy moments (‘Broken Mirrors’ and ‘A Gentlemen’s Coup’) whilst showcasing the band’s progress into the mainstream.

Songs like ‘Disparity By Design’ and ‘This Is Letting Go’ are good examples of where Rise Against’s sound is in 2011, and it resulted in another great record from the band.

17. SHARKS – The Joys of Living 2008-2010

A bit more of a collection (in a loosely similar vein to Frank Turner’s The First Three Years), it’d be a crime to have a list remembering 2011 that didn’t mention SHARKS.

When this album was reviewed back in April, we compared the band to the likes of The Gaslight Anthem and Social Distortion – that alone should suggest just how great they are.

The likes of ‘More Blue’ and ‘Fallen On Deaf Ears’ showcase the band’s rock and punk influences to perfection. If there’s any justice, 2012 is the year of SHARKS.

16. The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon joined guitar technician Ian Perkins to form The Horrible Crowes, a beautiful and soulful extension of Fallon’s song-writing.

Whereas his “main band” gained fans with its high-energy, Springsteen-inspired punk/rock leanings, Elsie goes in the opposite direction.

Although Fallon’s vocals still immediately conjure comparisons to The Boss, this is a more understated, but nonetheless fantastic, effort from one of this generation’s best song-writers.

Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room was a welcome surprise.

15. Dan Andriano In The Emergency Room – Hurricane Season

After a lacklustre solo effort from Alkaline Trio band-mate Matt Skiba, some circles were cautious in their optimism surrounding Dan Andriano’s solo release.

Thankfully, all fears were proven unfounded when Hurricane Season saw its release, a collection of soulful, introspective songs marked by Andriano’s honesty.

The likes of ‘This Light’ and ‘Hurricane Season’ are beautiful songs that carry a consistent, brilliant debut solo effort.

14. Dave Hause – Resolutions

Best known for his role as front-man of The Loved Ones, Dave Hause joined the likes of Andriano and Chuck Ragan with Resolutions, his solo debut.

More of a rock-effort than his contemporaries in the folk-punk genre, Hause showed his talent as a vocalist and song-writer on album packed with incredible tunes.

Whilst C’mon Kid (written to help his friend overcome a drug addiction) is an easy highlight, it’s supported by the likes of ‘Prague (Revive Me)’ and the title track to make up a diverse and exciting record.

13. You Me At Six – Sinners Never Sleep

It may have been surprising for some to see You Me At Six breaking into the UK Album Chart at Number 3 with new album Sinners Never Sleep.

The band managed to push themselves into the mainstream with a heavy, gritty and more mature effort that solidifies them as one of the premier contemporary UK rock acts.

‘Bite My Tongue’ even made Bring Me The Horizon’s Oly Sykes just about bearable (to a point), and ‘Time Is Money’ had rhythm and energy to rival Funeral For A Friend at their best.

12. Alkaline Trio – Damnesia

Ok, this was a collection of re-recordings to celebrate Alkaline Trio’s 15th Anniversary as a band, and including it in a Top Albums list could be questionable.

Usually, it wouldn’t make the list – however, the simple fact that I had this on rotation, near enough solidly, for at least 2 weeks after its release, is a testament to the quality of these records.

The re-imaginings of the likes of ‘The American Scream’ were utterly beautiful and unexpected, whilst new track ‘Olde English 800’ shows that Trio can still write a great tune. Total success.

11. Jack’s Mannequin

New album People And Things further added to the mystery as to how Jack’s Mannequin aren’t a worldwide phenomenon.

Andrew McMahon’s depth as a songwriter is fantastic, and makes his brand of pop rock so much more than it perhaps deserves to be.

From ‘People, Running’ to ‘Casting Lines’, Jack’s Mannequin have once again struck gold with their third effort, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Alistair McGeorge

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