I am a vinyl nerd. 2011 has been a crazy year for me. I started Hosehead Records with my best friend since the third grade (and managed to put out 10 releases, 9 cassettes, 1 7″), made the next big step in my academic career, and managed to watch a whole bunch of hockey and buy a few too many records. In many ways it was the year of self realization. As such, I’ve been pretty busy both on and off of The 1st Five.
I’ve began to fall into line with my official title on the site, stepping back as an editor more so than a content writer. While it doesn’t completely remove me from responsibilities, it does give me a lot more time to check out new and exciting music. The following list isn’t exactly my favourite records of 2011; I don’t have the balls to list any Hosehead releases in my top 10, but they’re easily the best records of the year that don’t have my name on them. Enjoy, and I hope you find something new here.
1. Junior Battles – Idle Ages (Paper + Plastick Records)
Junior Battles’ debut full-length record. After a few years of playing anywhere they can throughout Southern Ontario and the east coast of the US and a handfull of EPs (and a notably excellent split with O Pioneers!!! on Kiss Of Death Records), they finally have an output that effectively captures their energetic live performance. Each and every time I see these guys play they get tighter and more entertaining. P+P quickly scooped these guys up at their earlier period, and they were real smart to do so. Twelve happy (sounding) songs about life’s worst feelings and anxieties.
2. Night Birds – Other Side Of Darkness (Grave Mistake Records)
On last year’s best of life I told you all to, “watch these guys”. The Other Side Of Darkness is everything I wanted from the band and more. Track after track of solid surf meets hardcore punk heaven. With songs about weirdos, freaks and the apocalypse, The Other Side Of Darkness blends the band’s obvious 80’s hardcore influences (think Dead Kennedys, The Zero Boys, etc) with just a hint of modern day garage. Of course the members connections with The Ergs!, Psyched To Die, Hunchback and about half a dozen other New Jersey/New York punk bands doesn’t hurt, but Night Birds provide a perfectly adequate replacement for them.
3. Lemuria – Pebble (Bridge 9 Records)
I thought Lemuria’s sophomore record Pebble may have been so great only by comparison – releasing it on January 11th means it didn’t really have much competition in the first quarter of the year, but man does this thing hold its own, even compared to the many gems released later on in the year. After passing up on this band a number of times in their earlier years, Lemuria finally won me over with their debut full length Get Better. Fans of the direction they took from their early 7″s to Get Better will be in familiar yet newly covered grounds.
4. Post Teens – Post Teens 7” (Sound Study Recordings)
Gainesville, Florida-based fuzzed out punk rock. No solos, no frills, no bullshit. Don’t even bother sitting down after putting this record on, it’ll be over before you get back to your chair. Six songs in six minutes, and not a moment to waste. These six songs may be about hating your friends, your local scene, and everything in life except for weed, but you don’t really need to be in the same place these songs are from to see their merit. Post Teens should be lauded for their back to basics approach to punk rock, masquerading as weed-worship.
5. House Boat – Thorns Of Life (Traffic Street Records)
Supergroup status aside, House Boat’s follow up record to 2009’s The Delaware Octopus caught everyone by surprise. Mainly because it was released with absolutely no forewarning or buzz. The album’s tempo sits at a more modest pace than their debut, which gives the songs a real chance to take a life of their own. Grath, Ace, Mikey and Zack all stepped up their collective game with this one and seriously improved the quality of their individual parts and song writing (not to say they weren’t all at the top of the pop punk genre before).
Steve Adamyk has been is more good bands than I can count on both hands, but the Steve Adamyk Band is finally his chance to shine on his own. Power pop by way of The Dickies and The Pointed Sticks, with a little hometown charm and tongue in cheek moments added on top for extra measure. While Forever Won’t Wait isn’t the only great album to come out of the Ottawa, Ontario scene in 2011, it’s probably the best. And that’s really saying something considering how prolific that scene has been in recent years.
Country meets garage in the most fantastic way possible. Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs pack more drunken swagger into one live show than I’ve seen most bands put into a full length, let alone a discography. For some reason these guys haven’t really broken through in the Toronto scene, but I don’t think that’ll be the case for very long. These guys are my call for band that you’ll hear about next year, at least if I have any say in it.
8. O Pioneers/Andrew Jackson Jihad – Split 9” & Cassette (No Idea Records & Underground Communique Records)
I’m a big fan of both bands on this split and have been for a long time now, and I can honestly say that this is the strongest material released to date by either (or in OP!!!’s case, ever). This split has everything: self depreciating lyrics, hooks for miles, and it’s on an obscure sized record for the super nerd within. 10″s and smaller records get tacked onto the end of my shelf, so I don’t get the chance to spin this far as much as I should, but the tape gets action in my car on a near-daily basis.
9. Banner Pilot – Heart Beats Pacific (Fat Wreck Chords)
I didn’t think Banner Pilot could top their last record Collapser, but goddamn did they ever do their best to prove me wrong. Heart Beats Pacific is the band’s most expansive release to date, describing it themselves as “Collapser on steroids”. That’s a pretty accurate description. The band bring forward and really embrace their affinity for 90’s punk rock like Screeching Weasel and Blink 182 on this one, and while the more overt moments of poppy vocals have scared some fans away, I fully welcome the adaptation.
The fabled second greatest band in the world. Mockingbird Wish Me Luck don’t record much, but when they do, you’d be smart to get in the know and pick it up. Living Weakness/Ignescent is the band’s third EP and second 7″, marking their contribution to the ongoing Run For Cover Records single series. if the company their among in the series is any indication of their future (and I argue that it is), the band is destined for great things. Hell, they’ve already achieved great things.