The Top Ten Albums of 2011 (Two Months Late)


Deer Tick tops the list. (Credit: Deer Tick FB page)

The Bunkitiers recently finalized a two-month long debate on their favorite albums of 2011. Voting ended in a three-way tie for the the No. 9/10 spots, so 11 albums actually made the cut. Wilco receives an honorable mention for their record “The Whole Love,” which missed the list by 1/2 a point. 

9.      Sleeper Agent – Celabrasion

Released: August 2nd

Single(s):  “Get Burned”; “Get It Daddy”; “That’s My Baby”

I must have listened to this album over 50 times this past month.  It may be slightly on the “pop” side of the rock-and-roll spectrum, but the high octane, upbeat songs never disappoint.  The band acknowledges being influenced by the Pixies, but I hear Pixies meets White Stripes meets Grouplove… with a hint of Shampoo.

9.      Jack’s Mannequin – People and Things

Released: September 22nd

Single(s):  “Release Me”; “My Racing Thoughts”

People and Things is Jack’s Mannequin’s most introspective album yet, focusing on the conflicting emotions of old love.  With feelings that range from wistful to happy to hopeless, the album presents a mature tableau, wrapped in the welcome grasp of Jack’s Mannequin’s signature piano-punk sound.

9.      Wye Oak – Civilian

Released: October 24th

Single(s):  “Holy, Holy”; “Civilian”

The girl can sing, and her guitar work might be even more impressive on this meticulously crafted album.  Euphorically contrasting sounds make for an awesome listen, building from smooth and calming to epic surges of loud, raw distortion.

8.      Decemberists – The King is Dead

Released: January 14th

Single(s):  “Calamity Song”; “This Is Why We Fight”

 Somehow this album manages to pay tribute to R.E.M., the Stones, Emmylou Harris, Wilco, the Band and Neil Young while remaining unmistakably true to the Decemberists sound.  A clear departure from their 2009 record, this album features some of their best, most timeless songwriting in years.

7.      F*cked Up – David Comes to Life

Released: June 3rd

Single(s):  “Queen of Hearts”; “The Other Shoe”

Toronto’s biggest and best “hardcore” band’s David Comes to Life is a rock opera set in 1970s and 1980s England about David, a factory worker who meets a girl (Veronica), loses her, gets accused of killing her, and makes an existential journey of self-discovery along the way.  It may take a few listens to get used to the screaming vocals and follow the story, but the powerfully driving sound of melodically layered guitar riffs coupled with guest vocals from the Cults create an undeniably rocking album.  Musically, think Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America meets the Who’s Tommy.

6.      The Vaccines – What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?           

Released: March 11th                                                                             

Single(s):  “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)”; “If You Wanna”; “Norgaard”

A “generic” British rock band that some people prematurely write-off as overdone.  Don’t make that mistake.  Every track on this album is a hit, with lyrics so relatable it is nearly impossible to listen through without a few mood swings.  The album flawlessly employs a proven formula that has been misapplied too often for far too long, and makes guitar rock exciting and relevant again.

5.      The Sheepdogs – Five Easy Pieces

Released: August 2nd

Single(s):  “Who?”; “Learn My Lesson”

The first time you hear the Sheepdogs, you wonder how both your parents and Q104.3 never told you about this band.  Then you discover that they only recently got their big break as the first unsigned band ever to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone.  This EP is hopefully just a taste of things to come, and it’s nice to know that CCR and the Allman Brothers’ musical influences live on through the generations.

4.      My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Released: May 31st

Single(s):  “Circuital”; “Holdin’ On To Black Metal”

Circuital is a must have from a big festival jam/rock band known for outrageous stage performances. This is an album true to the inherent passion of music: the songs.  They speak for themselves. “Circuital” – a jam that builds like the excitement from a setting sun on a hot summer night then flows like a warm breeze.  “Outta My System” – a lost Who song that should be from Tommy. “Holding on to Black Metal” – sounds like The Heavy was sent to space with an evil children’s choir.  “You Wanna Freak Out” – Pink Floyd meets Americana… it’s all deadly.

3.      Middle Brother – Middle Brother

Released: March 1st                     

Single(s):  “Middle Brother”; “Me, Me, Me”; “Someday”

This supergroup features an elite group of frontmen (John McCauley of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit) that would be hard-pressed to release something less than extraordinary.  Their self-titled debut album sounds as if they have been playing together for years, combining raw, sensitive soulful vocals with an off-kilter rock/folk/country feel that only these guys could pull off.  I would give my right pinky to go back in time and witness the writing and recording process for this album. They must have had a blast.

2.      Funeral Party – The Golden Age of Knowhere       

Released: March 29th                                                                                           

Single(s): “Finale”; “New York City Moves to the Sound of L.A.”; “Just Because”

High energy jams with piercing vocals and powerfully addicting guitar riffs.  Think Free Energy meets Mars Volta.  For some of us, “Finale” was the single of the year, and the rest of the album does not disappoint.

1.      Deer Tick – Divine Providence

Released: October 24th

Single(s):  “Main Street”; “Let’s All Go To the Bar”; “The Bump”

This band puts on one of the best live shows we have ever seen.  With Divine Providence, Deer Tick has finally recorded an album true to their live sound: raw, loud, heartfelt and (most of all) fun as hell.  The album is jam-packed with fun, catchy hits fueled by booze and raw emotion, all with a sincerity that makes it just a bit easier to have faith in the future of music.  The album sailed through to the top spot by a wide margin, making four out of the five voters’ top 10 (including two #1 votes and a #2).  Props to McCauley (and Goldsmith of Dawes for that matter) for releasing two amazing albums in a year.  Look out for Delta Spirit’s new album release on March 13th.

The Bunkitiers are contributing writers to Yi!, covering the latest artists, albums and live shows in the New York City area. 


Author: R. Byrnes

Ryan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Yi! News.

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