Like Keith I made a list for KUOI. Here I expanded it to 10 and annotated each album. It prolly isn't worth reading, but all of these albums are worth checking out.
10. North Sentinel Island, The Copyrights
The Copyrights are the most consistent band I know of, which is both good and bad. It's good because all of their albums/songs are really good. It's bad because if you are only casually interested in them you will prolly ignore most of their albums because they all sound more or less the same. I really, really like The Copyrights. I first got into them when Make Sound came out in 2007. It is a super hometown record and I'd just moved back to my hometown and was stoked. The album fit right. This new one is a total fuck you to your hometown, and I just moved away from my hometown, so again it fits right in. If someone held this album up right next to any of their past three full lengths it would prolly be the weakest, but that shouldn't take away from how fucking good it is. The songs are catchy, the lyrics are relatable, the album as a whole is consistent and follows a singular theme. I think it's interesting/weird that the drummer writes all the songs and lyrics, not the lead singer. This album is easy to overlook, but definitely worth your attention, definitely solid. As long as you are into pop/punk. If not, nevermind. Don't even read this list.
9. Close To The Bone, Army Girls
Army Girls is a two piece from Toronto. I think this might just be indie rock. I don't know. The girl sings well and her songs are catchy/heartfelt. I have listened to "The Power" over 100 times since July. The rest of the ep isn't as good as that song, but still. This ep rules.
8. Western Problems, Future Virgins
It is almost impossible to find any information online about Future Virgins. They are from Tennessee. This is their first full length. They have released three eps prior. They are powerpop/garage punk. This band is phenomenal/upbeat/fun/writes good lyrics that make you feel good/have fun. Another album I biked around to a lot this year.
7. Kill Shelter, Yes!, Ghost Knife
I saw this band open for The Hex Dispensers in Austin in September and they ruled. The band is comprised of J Church's rhthym section and the singer of The Riverboat Gamblers/High Tension Wires. This album sounds like a couple punks trying to make an indie rock album, but ostensibly making a really good pop/punk album. The lyrics are sassy/clever/about cats. Excerpt: "That is not something you want to say to someone you wanna fuck". The music is rocking/catchy, but not as fast/loose/out of control as The Riverboat Gamblers or High Tension Wires. Mark Ryan of The Marked Men/Mind Spiders/High Tension Wires produced the album and it sounds like he did, which is a good thing. I don't know. This sounds like an intelligent punk rock album, which is something a lot of people into punk rock don't appreciate that much, but I'm way into it.
6. Self-Titled, Mind Spiders
Every song on this album mentions spiders in one way or another. The album kind of goes all over the place, but it all sounds like it is coming from the same guy/band, which is good. Anything this guy (Mark Ryan of The Marked Men) does/touches is solid gold in my book. I read in an interview that he started recording these songs because The Marked Men was a serious band and he had some fun/goofy songs/The Marked Men are inactive. Ryan, wrote/recorded/played all the instruments on this album, and then put together a band to play a few shows in Texas, but now I think it is a permanent thing and they are already recording the follow up. It'll be relased in February and I'm stoked to hear. I imagine it will be more focused/less all over the place since it is more than just a guy recording whatever the fuck he wants in his bedroom. Whatever. Buy/download this album as well as the ep before it as well as every The Marked Men album.
5. I'm Not Alone, Flashlights
I don't know much about this band or this album. I think they are from Florida. This is poppy/garagy/punk rock music for the ages. In places very Weezerish. Songs about girls and friends. This is just a fun/relatable/rocking album that I listened to a lot while walking to this park new my house to toss around a bouncy ball. Here's an okay music video for one of the better songs on the album: http://vimeo.com/30380893. Check it out please.
4. Tell Me, Jessica Lea Mayfield
I got into this album in June and have listened to it pretty regularly since then. It is easily the saddest album I've listened to this year. Her songs are catchy/really fucking depressing and I'm a total sucker for it. She seems pretty fucked up sad/heartbroken/lonely and I feel like I'm overhearing something I'm not supposed to hear. I don't know if she is like telling a story or if the songs are actually about her or what, but they are arresting/intriguing/haunting. Here more than any other album its the lyrics that keep me listening/won me over. Excerpts: "I can feel you watching me and I'd give most anything to know as you're sitting there with your legs crossed and no clothes on what you are thinking of. I'll do anything. I'm surprised that I'm not dead yet. Maybe I'm disappointed, but we won't get into that", "I'm almost too lonely to speak. My eyes dart around when you're talking to me. I can't seem to make myself not think about the past and how you are now. I think I've been alone long enough to do something insane. My friends, they worry I'm wasting away. I wish they'd say nothing at all. My mama said that no one can stop me. I won't let you stand in my way."
3. The Sun Is Down And The Night Is Riding In, Crusades
I listen to so much pop/punk you wouldn't believe. Most of it sounds alike, but that's cool with me because I like the way it sounds. This album totally surprised me, which doesn't happen too much, pop/punk being a pretty generic genre. These guys kind of mix black metal with pop/punk and totally kill it. Ryan says its like AFI. It reminds me of Chinese Telephones, but dark. Another album I have listened to while biking all over Portland.
2. Sulla Linea D'Orizzonte Tra Questa Mia Vita E Quella Di Tutti, Raein
Raein is easily one of my favorite bands. I was stoked when I saw that this was released and more stoked when I saw they put it for free on their website. One thing that catches me is how the vocals are screamed/aggressive, but the music is tame/very pretty. Also the vocals are not at the forefront of the mix, but textured in with the instruments. It all works really well. This album sounds like they put a lot of thought into every detail and the more you listen to it the better it gets/the more you get from it. I listened to it twice straight through last nite while walking home from work and again first thing this morning. Keith posted a link to download it. Do it.
1. Self-Titled, Joyce Manor
This album came out January 17th and since then, according to my ipod/itunes, I have listened to it 234 times. That is the full album. I've listened to the songs "Orange Julius", "Leather Jacket", and "Constant Headache" 321 times. If someone were to ask what Joyce Manor sounded like I would say something like Jawbreaker and Pinkterton era Weezer. The lyrics are smart/clever. The music is catchy. Easy to like/exactly what I like. 18 minutes long. Really, really good.
And the best album of 2011 I didn't listen to until yesterday: This Is Only A Test, The Smoking Popes.
Have fun. Happy Holidays