Ah 2011, what a fond time in my life. Music was a huge deal for me and I myself were playing live music for the first time. It’s certainly a year I look back on with rose tinted glasses and memories of a lot of albums I don’t listen to anymore. The year for me was a balance of metal and indie rock, but there were still plenty of surprises that caught my attention. My album of the year for 2011 was Mastodon’s “The Hunter” and let’s find out why I recommend that and more for you to listen or revisit!
Mastodon – The Hunter (27/09)
This album had a huge impact on me when I first heard it upon its release. I was familiar with the band and had heard a couple of singles from past albums, but it wasn’t until I was on holiday reading Kerrang and online reviews of the The Hunter, that I thought I would give Mastodon a chance. I was blown away by the roaring and versatile guitar riffs from an album that displayed a new direction and more melodic vocal and rhythm styles. It’s a metal album that’s bursting with flavour from the sludge rock Curl Of The Burl, to the spacey Stargasm and the jangly Octopus Has No Friends. It has a bit of everything and Dry Bone Valley, which is a beastly, aggressive and fast-paced track became one of my all-time favourite metal songs. It’s an album engorged in sound and energy and is very high on my all-time metal albums list.
The Black Keys – El Camino (06/12)
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of The Black Keys and their large discography before this record dropped. Gold On The Ceiling was stuck in my head for weeks with its pop and blues-driven rhythms. The whole album grooves with rock, Americana and when I heard the fast-paced Lonely Boy I knew this would be a band that could easily spark my interest. The fuzzy guitars, rhythmic keys and versatile drum fills are well orchestrated from an educated band such as them. It bleeds American rock history.
Cage The Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday (11/01)
From gritty Americana to indie rock, this was a penultimate moment in the band’s career. Once I heard Shake Me Down and like many others, Cage The Elephant became an instant act to keep your eye on. They were exciting and packed more of a punch than previous American indie rock outfits and tracks like 2024 were filled with passionate shouting vocal work, melodic choruses and ferocious guitar work. It’s been better and better ever since.
Chase & Status – No More Idols (28/01)
The dance group’s second album was a huge release and put them to the top of the electronica acts. Big bass beats and an endless guest list of artists who give each song a new edge made the album stand out greatly. You feel each beat and piano chord and when played loud, it’s an album that erupts from upbeat rave anthems to intense dancefloor moshing. It was nice to revisit this one and reminded me of how nothing feels wasted on a superb dance album.
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (14/02)
The Mercury Award winning record from singer-songwriter PJ Harvey encompasses alt rock, avant-garde and folk rock to create an explosion of expressionism, history and art. The album, in reflection of its title talks about the country’s bleak history in the form of Harvey’s haunting voice and instrumental improvisation. The album feels complex and raw and mixes together a variety of instruments with a heavy guitar focus accompanied from gritty percussions and additional vocals from John Parish that fill out the sound. The album received huge acclaim and once you listen to it, you can see every reason why.
The Strokes – Angles (28/03)
It’s hard to say whether The Strokes have ever sounded as good and crisp as they do on Angles. The rawness of previous records is put aside for clean production, 80’s poppy rhythms and heavy synth usage. I feel the latter really helped envelope a new and expansive sound for the band and added to their already catchy guitar patterns. Under Cover Of Darkness was one of my favourite tracks of 2011 with its intoxicating lead riffs. The album is bursting with life from the outset and has everything you love about the band with plenty of flare. There’s still a variety of styles with the odd slower moment, but largely it’s a sugary sweet indie rock album that’s as colourful as its artwork.
Death Cab For Cutie – Codes & Keys (31/05)
If you’re a fan of Death Cab, then this is another eccentric mix of emo, alt rock and pop for your ears. It grooves and mellows and has a gospel rock feel to it. The synths add an angelic vibe to an album that sees the bands shift into straight-forward rock song writing. You Are A Tourist has some intoxicating riffs and really drew me into this album back in the day. It’s by no means the band’s best work, but the warm guitars, delicate vocals and fresh sounding production make for a chilled out record.
Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Flies (21/05)
One of emo’s finest acts continued their the traditional 90’s math rock guitars and chorus of outcry vocals in their second and final album. It helped pave the way for a whole new breed of emo artists and could be placed anywhere within a 15 year window. The guitar patterns are intricate, the lyrics are of that youthful middle-America life and the album breathes with both energy and sadness.
Gorillaz – The Fall (19/04)
Right hear me out, this album dropped on Christmas Day in 2010 but it didn’t see a physical release until 2011 so I’m counting it. It’s An album that isn’t talked about much when looking at Gorillaz and their ever-growing catalogue and by no means is it their best work. The album was largely written on Damon Albarn’s iPad during an American tour of the Plastic Beach record and features samples from hotel TV’s. This is why the tracks are named after states or places in America, but the album itself is full of the group’s charm with chill beats, smooth acoustic guitars and experimental electronica. It’s a great album to have on in the background and relax with. It’s some of my favourite artwork from the group as well, depicting virtual front-man 2D, writing the tracks in a hotel room which the album visualises.
The Lonely Island – Turtleneck & Chain (10/05)
Turtleneck & Chain for me is one of the finest comedy albums of this century. It’s a stand out moment in the group’s career and stems from crass, but smart comedy. It’s self-aware, tasteful and full of toilet humour. The guest features that include Justin Timberlake, Michael Bolton and Nicki Minaj are used to their vocal strengths in songs about cinephiles, mother loving and creeping around. It focuses on pop, rap, hi-hop and electronica and provides enough laughs that there’s something for everyone.