Top 20 Albums of 2011 (Part Two)

Posted on January 4, 2012

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On Monday I took a look at half of my Top 20 Albums of 2011, featuring the likes of Dan Adriano, blink-182 and SHARKS.

Today, join me as I finish my countdown with my Top 10 albums of the last year, from Frank Turner and The King Blues to Screeching Weasel and Chuck Ragan.

10. Screeching Weasel – First World Manifesto

Despite being a band that will be under a few reader’s radars, Screeching Weasel returned with another album full of instant pop-punk gems.

From opener ‘Follow Yours Leaders’ to the moment ‘Little Big Man’ closes the record, First Word Manifesto is a perfect example of how to create a collection of fantastic pop-punk tunes.

The likes of ‘Creepy Crawl’ and ‘Beginningless Vacation’ recall the influence The Ramones had on Screeching Weasel (the band starting after watching the former in concert), and this proves that, 12 records and countless line-up changes in, there’s still a lot left in the tank.

9. Every Avenue – Bad Habits

Showing the progression of the pop-punk genre, Every Avenue represent the innovative, respectful side of the scene as it stands, choosing big riffs and epic choruses over synths and autotune.

As You Me At Six move towards a heavier sound, Bad Habits sees the band look to fill the mature gap left in the pop-punk scene.

This is a diverse, and completely consistent, record from an exciting band, one who will definitely be on the rise in 2012.

8. Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

The Hot Water Music front-man continued his incredible musical journey in 2011 – as well as introducing his exciting Revival Tour to the UK, Ragan released what may be his best solo record to date.

With vocals treading a line between rough but soulful, with a raw power perfectly executed on the likes of ‘You Get What You Give’.

Proof that “the album” as a piece of art isn’t dying, Covering Ground showcases Ragan as one of the most passionate and hard-working musicians of his generation.

7. Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style

The Boston Celtic-punks proved their worth as one of the greatest contemporary punk bands with another unique, innovative and consistent record, their first in four years.

It says a lot when a cameo from the legendary Bruce Springsteen (on ‘Peg O’ My Heart’) isn’t a particular highlight, such is the strength of Going Out In Style as a whole.

Perfectly combining their Celtic folk and punk roots, Dropkick Murphys seem to get better with age.

6. Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday

Reforming with the line-up from their much-adored debut Tell All Your Friends for the first time in almost a decade, Taking Back Sunday had a lot to prove.

Thanfully, their new self-titled record was a huge album, featuring instand fan-favourites in the form of songs like ‘Faith (When I Let You Down)’, ‘You Got Me’ and ‘El Paso’.

There’s an undeniable energy to TBS’s music, and hearing Adam Lazarra and John Nolan’s duelling vocals makes this a powerful fifth record, and new beginning, for the band.

Frank Turner, like many on this list, had a fantastic 2011

The follow-up to 2008’s brilliant Memory & Humanity, Funeral For A Friend once again struck gold with Welcome Home Armageddon, their heaviest and most consistent record to date.

Having been a band for a decade now, it’s easy to retread what you’ve done before, and it will always be tempting for a band to try something completely new.

Thankfully, Funeral For A Friend managed to return to their original ethos, giving it an extra edge and releasing what may be the best album of their career.

4. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

As far as Frank Turner rose in 2011, it’s hard to believe 2012 looks set to be even bigger, highlighted by a Wembley Arena headlining show in April.

Last year, though, the folk-punk star released his fourth studio full-length, further embracing his folk roots and, well, Englishness to create a fantastic piece of art.

From fist-pumping opener ‘Eulogy’ to athiest anthem ‘Glory Hallelujah’, Turner showed his skill as a song-writer by putting out an album that, whilst subtly different, will still stand up well with his previous work.

3. Social Distortion – Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes

One of the first albums I reviewed this year, it’s always been one I visioned being in my Top 5 Albums of 2011.

With Mike Ness producing for the first time, this album saw Social Distortion find their sound, and does feel like their most natural work to date.

The likes of ‘Still Alive’ keep their original punk ethos alive, whilst ‘Diamonds In The Rough’ and ‘Bakersville’ show a fresh side to one of the crown jewells of rock n’ roll.

2. Scroobius Pip – Distraction Pieces

Maybe a surprise pick and placing given the rest of the list’s emphasis on the various sub-genres of rock, but Scroobius Pip made his solo debut in September with a stunning work of art.

Commenting on everything from himself and war to the printed press and the definition of a lie, Pip’s poetry/lyrics are a work of genius.

The instrumentation is just as wonderful, perfecting complimenting the words Scroobius clearly puts a huge amount of effort into researching and writing.

1. The King Blues – Punk & Poetry

As great as the previous albums are, none seemed to match the third effort from The King Blues.

At a concise half-hour, there’s absolutely no filler on one of the most relevent albums of the last five years.

From scathing political attacks to extremely personal insights, Itch is lyrically at his best on what I’d say was by far the best album of the last year.

Alistair McGeorge

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