2011 musical mouse heaven

It is that time of year again… time to recap my favorite records of 2011. Therefor, no Monday Mixtape in the usual sense. You’ll just have to explore the artists and albums and find your favorites like I did and create something perhaps more like the mid-year review’s Monday Ones.

Last year, the 2010 list continued the recent tradition of not conforming to a Top Ten or Top Twenty Five, but rather dividing up the listening into categories and listing off what I most enjoyed in each. I break things down in my listening based on my own personal grouping for music, not the usual genrefication that exists, because that usually just causes arguements among music snobs to begin with. Also, what I listen to a lot and what I respect for shear musical value might not align, so sometimes some ear candy might slip in or something I didn’t burn out might make it on because it was different in its approach to the sound. All in all though, these are my opinions and not up for open debate, you’re welcome to your own and you can express them for yourself without correcting mine, which, you should know, are always right anyhow. Actually, if I missed something you think I should have heard, I’d really appreciate you pointing it out so I can check it out and I hope you listening to my list find something new for yourself as well. Chances are also there are things I wanted to listen to that i didn’t get around to or forgot that came out this year or couldn’t find enough of often enough to make it a staple in listening so there’s no way that this, as usual, is complete as of today despite a year to work on it.

The “top five” represent records I listened to incessantly, shared with the most people my opinions and define most of the below categories stylistically, which makes for a fair mix of a little bit of everything. Most are pretty predictable if you’ve followed my musical maturity over the years but there’s a curve-ball or two that I find infinitely interesting, even now that they’re on this list:

Rise Against Endgame
Primus Green Naugahyde
Julia Kent Green & Grey
Between the Buried and Me the Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogs
the Devin Townsend Project Deconstruction

The more extreme end of things continues to dominate much of my daily listening. As I’ve mentioned in recent years, as I get older I find myself stretching listening muscles more and more. Some of it is the increasing level of musicianship I am finding in some of the bands, some of it is the raw aggression they are able to harness in really creative ways and some of it is just that it fits the 24/7 lifestyle I have as a soundtrack. Regardless of what it is, the stuff resonates with me and the walls of the apartment quite often:

Anomalous Ohmnivalent
Origin Entity
Obscura Omnivium
Neuraxis Asylon
Illdisposed There is Light (But it’s not for Me)
Xerath II
Revocation Chaos of Forms
a Plea for Purging the Life & Death of…
Pestilence Doctrine
Oh, Sleeper Children of Fire
Born of Osiris the Discovery
All Shall Perish This is Where it Ends
Arsonists Get All the Girls

But less extreme, more progressive versions of metal also took a place closer to font and center in my listening and here’s some of the examples that dominated the landscape this year. Some of this is a re-classification from previous years, some of it is the natural changes in my listening habits and the production of music on the whole. Although I am starting to see some redundancy in band’s approaches, there’s still enough in the composition and execution that makes them stand out for me as individuals and keeps me attracted to them on the whole.

Opeth Heritage
Animals as Leaders Weightless
Textures Dualism
Volumes Via
Uneven Structure Februus
TesserecT One
Protest the Hero Scurrilous
Mastodon the Hunter
Voivod Warriors of Ice
the Human Abstract Digital Veil
East of the Wall the Apologist
Dream Theater a Dramatic Turn of Events
Cynic Carbon-based Anatomy
Appearance of Nothing All Gods are Gone
Scale the Summit the Collective

And, of course, the straight up metal, however you define that these days. Well, for me, most of it’s thrash influenced in some way. It felt like there were a lot of mediocre releases in the “new wave of metal” genre again. Maybe it’s because the sound itself after a decade is burned out from being so over exposed there didn’t seem as many good ones, at least to me, or maybe it was an off-year after several strong years and just a lack of releases on the whole. Whatever it was, I also ended up putting a band or two with no other home here because, well, it’s my list and I can.

Crowbar Sever the Wicked Hand
Becoming the Archetype Celestial Completion
the Black Dalhia Murder Ritual
Machine Head Unto the Locust
Unearth Darkness in the Light
Legion of the Damned Descent into Chaos
Immortal Souls IV: the Requiem for the Art of Death
Before the Dawn Deathstar Rising
Arch Enemy Khaos Legions
August Burns Red Leveler
Insominum One for Sorrow

Punk and hardcore always brighten my day. There were a number of comps (NoFX, H2O, SOIA, Bouncing Souls, A-f etc) of covers and such that despite listening to and enjoying I’ve decided not to include here because they don’t represent really new material for 2011. The lead to this list could have easily made the top of the list, had it not already been for RA, and the return of LiYW was both unanticipated and exciting. Sadly, it seems like a shorter list this year than it should be, but on the whole, I think the quality for me speaks for itself.

Most Precious Blood Do Not Resuscitate
Life in Your Way Kingdom of … Darkness, Man and God
Will Haven Voir Dire
the Mighty Mighty Bosstones the Magic of Youth
Emery We do What We Want
Alesana a Place Where the Sun is Silent
Against Me! Total Clarity
Snowing I Could do whatever I want if I wanted to

I hesitate to call this section honorable mentions as much as I dislike calling them disappointments I still listened to… but there were a few bands I traditionally held in high(er) listening esteem for any number of reasons that failed to retain that mark this year. It’s not that they were necessarily bad, they just weren’t blow-my-ears-off good this time around and were religated to “second fiddle” this time around. There are some that I intentionally even left off here because I ultimately was just unimpressed beyond a third listen to include… betcha can’t guess what some of them were!

Anthrax Worship Music
Chimaira the Age of Hell
Thursday No Devolution
Thrice Major/Minor
Sepultura Kairos
Megadeth th1rt3en
Amorphis the Beginning of Times
Darkest hour Human Romance

Other stuff that just fits into my general listening and spans the range of hip hop to alternative to stuff that somewhat defies genre at times. I could take the time to split all of it out into categories but a tonne of tiny little lists would just be plain annoying. So without further adue here’s the miscellaneous list of listening love for twenty-eleven:

Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Pt II
the Roots Undun
Lamb 5
Radiohead the King of Limbs (and all the related crap they put out with it)
the Decemberists the King is Dead (and all the related crap they put out with it too!)
Mutemath Odd Souls
Battle Circus Battle Circus
Anathema Falling Deeper
Tori Amos Night of Hunters
PJ Harvey Let England Shake
Rasputina Great American Gingerbread
Junius Reports from the Threshhold of Death
Jesu Assention
My Dying Bride Envita

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About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny: https://thedmouse.wordpress.com/about-thedmouse/
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