We listen to music with different ears, and hear uniquely with our own brains. When absorbing sounds- we listen for different things. Some of us pay attention to just the lyrics, but there are plenty of other characteristics folks look for; production quality, technicality, rhythms, melodies, riffs, tones, beats, song structures, emotional association…. When I hear something new- I keep many of these aspects in mind.
For the first time in several years, I find myself overwhelmed with all the terrific music that graced my ears in 2011. It felt, for so long, like music had hit a dead end. But at the end of 2011... I filled up a whole notebook sheet merely listing the records that came to mind! Well, below are my top 3 favorite releases of the year, followed by a playlist of albums from 2011 listenable on Spotify, followed (in the next post) by 3 more releases that really struck me hard. Please lend an ear; I hope you too can be moved by these selections. Be sure to share your favorites of the year in the replies!
Weerd Science - Sick Kids
listen • digital • physical
Josh Eppard wore his heart on both sleeves (both literally and figuratively) during this record. Its truly a cinematic aural masterpiece, allowing the audience to look into and experience Mr. Eppard's downfall as he descended into the dark world of drug abuse, comfortably leaving a platinum-selling, genre-defining rock band and blowing all that success money on the habit.
With the help of his friends, Weerd Science throws this heavy shit on us while still entertaining us with his cleverly crude humor, and blowing our minds with his technical skill. Not only does Science have a one-of-a-kind flow, but he also rocks multiple instruments- giving the album a truly organic feel.
Despite having been selected by Modern Drummer magazine as the 5th best Progressive Rock drummer in 2006, Josh Eppard left Coheed and Cambria mid-tour overseas, just a few months later. He became consumed by Heroin, and was only able to climb out through the music. Now at the end of 2011, Eppard is back in Coheed and Cambria, working on their 6th album.
3 - The Ghost You Gave To Me
listen • physical • Amazon MP3 • iTunes
3 is one of those bands that can never disappoint, as long as you listen with open ears. The band began in the early 90's as a Pop Funk Rock outfit consisting of Josh Eppard, Joey Eppard, and Chris Bittner. The latter moved on to Applehead Recording and Production where he has been the house Engineer/Producer for the past decade. Chris Bittner produced the album in my #1 and also engineered The Ghost You Gave To Me. He is currently producing Coheed and Cambria's 6th album (the past 2 Co&Ca albums were done elsewhere - 3 hadn't worked with Chris Bittner since the debut album, Paint By Number). Drummer, Josh Eppard, left 3 to pursue a career in studio drumming (mostly at Applehead) and eventually joined Coheed and Cambria. Most are not aware that 3 is Coheed and Cambria's progenitor.
Now, 3 has taken a heavier direction- laden with poly-rhythms. When I listen to The Ghost You Gave To Me I'm unsure if I should bang my head or shake my hips! I have yet to come across another band that confuses my musical response so greatly. Every single song on this album is incredible. Joey Eppard's vocals are unmatched, as is his hybrid slap/flamenco style of playing guitar. This record is truly unique, and should be listened to from start to finish.
Moving Mountains - Waves
listen • iTunes • cd • vinyl
So. Much. Emotion.
Moving Mountains designs such beautiful soundscapes. Each and every song on this album, pardon the cheesiness, but each and every song on this album contains enough dynamics and intensity to- move mountains.
These are the releases (aside from my top 6) that caught my attention in 2011:
>lend an ear to these releases on Spotify
- The Flatline Symphony - This is What They Call Surgery
- Saves The Day - Daybreak
- The Bunny The Bear - If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say…
- The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum
- Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster - IV
- New Found Glory - Radiosurgery
- Opeth - Heritage
- Steven Wilson - Grace for Drowning
- Portugal. The Man - The Mountain in the Cloud
- Thursday - No Devolución
- Zechs Marquise - Getting Paid
- Animals As Leaders - Weightless
- Emily Long - Dirty Face
- ††† (Crosses) - EP †
- Velta - Dead Ringer
- La Dispute - Wildlife
- Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride
- Time Travels - Time Travels
- All Get Out - The Season
- O'Brother - Garden Window
- Man Overboard - Man Overboard
- Handguns - Don't Bite Your Tongue
- The Get Up Kids - There Are Rules
- Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
- Snowing - I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted
- Grieves - Together/Apart
- Pianos Become The Teeth - The Lack Long After
- Balance and Composure - Separation
- Circle Takes The Square - Decompositions, Vol. I: Chapter 1. Rites of Initiation
- Joshua - Choices
- The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing
- Childish Gambino - Camp
- Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
- Ill Bill & Vinnie Paz - Heavy Metal Kings
- Banner Pilot - Hearts Beat Pacific
- I Am The Avalanche - Avalanche United
- Glassjaw - Our Color Green
- Transit - Listen & Forgive
- The City Never Sleeps - Madison
- Hot Rod Circuit - Hot Rod Circuit
- The Venetia Fair - The Pits
- MC Lars - Lars Attacks
- Cloudkicker - Let Yourself Be Huge
- The Agonist - The Escape
- Lower Definition - the infinite et cetera
- Joshua/Nightmares For A Week - split 7"
- Artifex Pereo - Ailments & Antidotes
- Adele - 21
- Lights - Siberia
- Britney Spears - Femme Fatale
- The Swellers - Good for Me
- Bayside - Killing Time
- Seahaven - Winter Forever