Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011: Indie/Emo/Punk

Alright, finally getting around to this.  First I had this split into Indie and Emo/Punk, but I still found that a ton of the bands could easily fall two or all three categories, so I just combined it to make a monstrosity.  This is gonna take me a little bit, so here goes.  The first 25 aren't gonna have explanations, or else this would take days and I probably wouldn't finish it.  But you can click the pictures to go to where you can read the original posts on them.








Small Brown Bike- "Fell & Found"

This was the first Michigan natives, Small Brown Bike, released since their break up in 2004.  They were also the first band I saw at Fest this year.  They played in the Florida Theater which wasn't very complimentary to many bands, but they got my music juices flowing the music and mayhem that was going to occur that weekend.  Live performance aside, this album impressed me immediately and I still listen to it quite a bit since reviewing it in April.

Mansions- "Dig Up the Dead"

I am having a really hard time putting this in front of Owen's Ghost Town.  They both are fairly similar artists, but I think Owen does exhibit a bit more skills technically and compositionally, but the fact of the matter is, I have listened to this album a lot more than Owen's up until this point, and there are quite a few songs on here that are so catchy and sing-along-able it's really hard to deny it.  I am really looking forward to seeing this band and A Great Big Pile of Leaves in spring next year.  I feel odd not having A Great Big Pile of Leaves on this list, but Boom! did not do it for me like their previous two albums did.  "Drought of Snow" is a great new song, but all the re-done songs weren't close to surpassing the originals for me.  The album seemed kinda unnecessary for me.

Jet Set Sail- "Jet Set Sail"

Ever since Algernon Cadwallader recommended this band to people, I have been listening to it quite a bit.  I have been in the process of discussing putting this out on vinyl with the band because I think these guys have a bright future.  Next month, I am heading out to Philadelphia to catch these guys along with Restorations, Signals Midwest, Everyone Everywhere and Glocca Morra. 

Signals Midwest- "Latitudes and Longitudes"

I wish I could do a release with these guys, but Tiny Engines have already scooped them up.  I am really excited to see them in Philadelphia along with the other bands.  I might even play a trombone part from one of their songs, haha.  I have been e-mailing these guys the past month and not only do we share some ska roots, but they seem like really nice guys as well.

The Middle East- "I Want That You Are Always Happy"

I started listening to this band around the time they released their previous album, Recordings of the Little East.  They had a couple great songs on there but overall it was forgettable.  I love when bands take an album like that and blow it away with their next release.  It was great to see this band mature even more and become a bit more structured and catchy in general.

Glocca Morra- "Ghoul Intentions"

I know I wanted to only focus on albums that were featured on here, but I can't ignore this band.  It was featured on Circling the Drain.  If Songs in the Key of Ayyyyyy was released this year, it would've easily been in the top three albums for this year.  That split with Greek Favourites is still my favourite material by them.  This new EP is a tad grittier, a tad punkier, and is still pretty great, but I haven't fallen for it like I did for songs like "Bedford Avenue" and "New Years Eve".  I couldn't get a chance to see these guys at Fest because the venue filled up before I could get in there, but I am absolutly stoked to see them next month in Philadelphia.

Rubik- "Solar"

I have a feeling that a lot of people really won't dig this Finnish band, but I don't really give a damn.  Like a bunch of the albums that ended up making these lists, I didn't make much of a fuss over them initially, but the more I listen to them the more I like them.  I will listen to one song a bunch for awhile and then I will realize another song on it has some great moments as well.  They are poppy, but it makes them accessible and they still hold the indie aesthetics as well.

Weatherbox- "Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar"

I'll admit it, I used to like Say Anything up through ...Is A Real Boy.  Then by the time In Defense of the Genre came out, it was over for me, and I realized I wasn't a big fan of Max Bemis anywas.  Weatherbox, reminds me a bunch like Say Anything for some reason, but in a very good way.  I don't feel like they are a band that I will get over quickly like Say Anything.  They have that catchiness but they also have the intricateness at the same time, it is a lot more complex than Say Anything.  And if you never even liked that band to begin with, forget I mentioned it and just give this EP a good listen and see how you feel about it before you jump to conclusions.

Restorations- "Restorations"

This is also not an album that was featured on here, but I did feature their previous EP that is also good.  This album came out this year though and was also featured on Circling the Drain.  I really want to include this because not only was the album great, but they literally blew me away at Fest.  They closed a show on Sunday, and they put on a performance that was one of my favorites at Fest.


Kite Party- "Baseball Season"

Not a huge fan of baseball, but I became a huge fan of Kite Party after catching their set on accident at Fest.  They were opening up the show for A Great Big Pile of Leaves, and I am so glad we ended up getting their early or else I probably would have never been exposed to this band.  At least it would've taken longer anyways.    Their mixture of folk, punk, and post-rock is actually a lot like Restorations.  Maybe throw in a bit of Prawn in there as well, especially in their live sets.  

Peace be still- "64"

Yeah, yeah, this is the band that got me my label going, but there is a reason for that.  This album kills it.  As a Michigander, I miss Bear vs. Shark, and when I heard this I immediately got reminded of them by the yelling/screaming vocals.  Then throw in the music that has similar guitar work/music to bands like CSTVT, Snowing (RIP) and Algernon, and you end up with an album that impressed me faster than many other albums I reviewed to this year.  Remember if you wanna preorder the physical 12" record you can do so here!

Dikembe- Chicago Bowls

This EP blasted Dikembe on the scene and got Tiny Engines attention along with mine immediately.  Shortly after this was put out for free, Tiny Engines began to get in talks with them for another release.  Sure enough, a few months later they officially signed on board to release their upcoming LP with them.  When I first hit play on their bandcamp for this EP, I immediately recognized the Freaks and Geeks audio clip and right when it ended it burst into something great.  I listened to this over and over again for a few months, especially that first song.  I am hoping that their LP that comes out next year will be nothing short of amazing.  When we saw them at Fest, they put on the best show, it was great.  Look out for them in 2012.


How the hell does a two song 7" make a best of the year list?  Probably because the two songs on this album are their two best songs released to date, in my opinion.  I actually saw these boys last night at a show, and they put on a good show.  They really seem like they are having a great time and they talk a bit to the audience and joke around with each other.  Dikembe's LP and CSTVT's LP are the two albums I am most excited for next year.  This 7" shows some great guitar work, great transitions, and they are drifting from the twinkle daddy thing to less yelling and better singing.  They still have that edginess about them in the vocals at time though.  Here is a SIGD exclusive, a brand new song that should be on their LP next year.  Sounds killer except for the little tuning issue 40 seconds into it.

Prawn- "You Can Just Leave It All"

This album sure got Topshelf Record's attention, and I loved enough to want to follow these guys around for a couple days and see them perform twice and interview them.  It turns out, these guys are really nice and fun to drink and shoot the shit with.  They also put on a great fuckin' show.  The mixture of post-rock with 90's emo is something that is somewhat unique to these guys and I hope the best for them next year.  Hopefully they will be back in Michigan again soon!

Algernon Cadwallader- "Parrot Flies"

This was kind of a no brainer for me, I listen to this album regularly since it came out this summer.  I have talked to people and a lot of thems till feel albums like "Fun" and "Some Kind of Cadwallader" are better.  I may be in the minority, but I think this album is better.  I can see that their previous albums could definitely have a sentimental/nostalgic value to them.  But as far as writing/production go, the material on this album far outdoes anything they have put out in the past.  I saw them one and a half times at Fest, and their shows are something to be reckoned with; they make the bodies fly.

On a side note, at some point yesterday, we hit 100,000 views.  Woo!


  1. Thanks for that best-of list, seems like I'm in the minority for Parrot Flies too, it's definitely their best.
    Nice list, My list (in French I'm afraid)

  2. Some nice ones. These albums are missing badly indeed:

    wavelets - Athaletics
    Big Kids - Phone Home
    Sundials - Never Settle
    Wormburner - LP

    and some EPs like:
    Braid - Closer to Closed
    Sundials - Little Lights
    Summit - Small Talk
    Crow Bait - Three Tickle Guys

    and maybe some more I can't remember at the moment... :)

  3. Anthony, I tried going to that link but it didn't work for me.

    Anon, I was very tempted to put Athaletics with Dikembe because they feature members from both bands and sound quite similar. However, as far as the mixing went, I enjoyed the overall production of Dikembe's EP more. In Athaletics, I felt like the vocals were mixed too loud compared to the instruments. It's still a great album, but it just wasn't as powerful to me as Dikembe's was.

    I actually haven't spent too much time with those other albums but if I redid this Braid would be something I probably would include. Even in the other lists I forgot some albums I wished I had remembered. Like it the Caravels EP.

  4. anon, what about that wormburner lp? the same wormburner as "if life is a highway then I'm totally fucked"? I didn't think that ever came out

  5. the lp was released some weeks ago: