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Monday, January 2, 2012

Toby's Top 10 of 2011

Let me start by wishing everyone out there a very rock and roll New Year! Based on the sheer variety of albums being mentioned by Seth, Zac and myself, it's evident that 2011 was a fucking monster year for this music that we all know and love. Of course, if you haven't already done so, I recommend that you make a point to check out every album on all of our lists...as well as those on Reg's...which will be unleashed tomorrow.

Why take our word for it? Because between the four of us, we've listened to hundreds of albums by bands from around the globe and we've done our best to cherry pick our personal favorites. It wasn't an easy task and if I tried to put this list together again next week...hell, tomorrow even...it may very well look different. But this is today and this is my list, so here goes nothin'...I give you Toby's Top 10 of 2011.

10.Rwake - Rest

Seth reviewed this one as part of his Sunday Sludge feature and I don't know about you, but if Seth says something is good enough to be his album of the year, then I check that shit out. Rest is an atmospheric head fuck from start to finish that will make you want to crawl into a hole and curl up in the fetal position. In Seth's words, "this is an album you'll feel, one you'll discuss, and one you'll remember." Do not miss it.

09. The Gates of Slumber - The Wretch

With their 2011 release The Wretch, The Gates of Slumber ditched their Conan the Barbarian worship and went straight for the jugular. This one is eight tracks of sorrow, longing and regret set to music. You want to know what a doom record sounds like, then give this one a spin. As I said when I reviewed this one last summer..."pure sonic drudgery." And I mean that in the best possible way.

08. Lo-Pan - Salvador

Dude! As soon as you hit play on Lo-Pan's latest effort and hear the opening feedback spill from your speakers, you will be hooked. From the driving bass line and soaring vocals of "El Dorado" to the unmistakable groove of "Solo", this is an album of pure rock fury...pardon the Clutch reference. In Zac's review for this one, he compared the vocals to part Maynard Keenan and part Chris Cornell...how can you not get down with that?

07. Borracho - Splitting Sky

You had to know that this one was gonna be on my list, seeing as I pimp this band every chance I get. Borracho stormed onto the scene this year and made an immediate impact with their debut LP. Combining stoner rock grooves, doom metal riffs and classic guitar licks, oftentimes all in the span of the same song, this album was definitely one of a kind. Throw in the barking, drill sergeant-esque vocals and you have yourself a fine slab of rock.

06. Elvis Deluxe - Favourite State of Mind

A lot of stoner/doom type stuff is abstract and somewhat conceptual. Not so with Elvis Deluxe. This band wallops you over the head with some of the catchiest rhythms and sing-along choruses you're likely to hear this side of FM radio. Think the zanier, Oliveri sung bits of QOTSA and you're on the right track. I got my hands on this one thanks to Zac's glowing review and months later, it's still in heavy rotation for this guy.

05. U.S. Christmas - The Valley Path

Speaking of abstract and conceptual...what a perfect segue into the latest from USX. When I first heard this gargantuan 38 minute song (yes...the entire album is one song) I didn't quite know what to make of it. But after multiple listens, it grew on me like a mold. The combination of over the top orchestration with the sounds of nature is...as I said in my review...arresting. This one requires patience, but in the end, it is a trip worth taking.

04. Ponamero Sundown - Rodeo Electrica

As soon as I heard the opening drum roll of the first track, "Evil Wand", I knew this album would be one of my favorites. Ponamero Sundown do not let up...ever! Take the laid back fuzz of Kyuss, the catchiness of the Foo Fighters and the heaviness of every grunge band Seattle ever spawned and throw it into a blender. This is desert rock at warp speed.

03. Across Tundras - Sage

Back in January 2011, if you had told me that one of the best albums of the year would mix the heaviness of doom with the twang of country, I would have laughed. But that's exactly what Across Tundras manages to do on Sage. As I said in my original review, this is "an incredibly original slice of Americana set to music." This is the sound of desolation...and it is beautiful.

02. Freedom Hawk - Holding On

Freedom Hawk released this album in October, I didn't hear it until December...and it shot straight to number two on this list. That should tell you all you need to know. But if that isn't enough, then just know that Freedom Hawk have written thirteen songs that are unforgettable and they sound kind of like Ozzy fronting Fu Manchu. This is "fist in the air, wind in your hair rock and roll."

01. Skraeckoedlan - Äppelträdet

I had a feeling this one was gonna top my list when I reviewed it back in September and damn if I wasn't right. Äppelträdet is chock full of ultra heavy riffs, more poly-rhythmic shifts than even Mastodon and soaring vocals sung in both English and the band's native Swedish. Skraeckoedlan manage to combine dissonance, power and volume with harmony, melody and rhythm and that my friends is why this is my favorite album of 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Great picks Toby! I'm going to have to go listen to Rwake a few more times. Lo Pan and Elvis Deluxe's albums were excellent!


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