I barely listened to any new music this year. My most listened to top 10 would only have the first two. These are almost the only 10 albums from 2011 I listened to. I don't know if any toward the end of the list are essential. What is though? Nothing I guess.
I noticed while putting this together that half of these were posted online with the bands permission, weird. I've included download links when that's the case. I also put what country the artist was from to show how cultured I am. Sorry for getting so wordy.
1/2. Various - Luk Thung: Classic & Obscure 78s from the Thai Countryside AND Thai Dai: The Heavier Side of the Luk Thung Underground (Thailand)
These are two compilations of old Thai pop/folk music (from what I understand of what I've read) from the 60's and 70's that I got into from the KUOI library. I don't know, there's lot's of traditional instrumentation (I assume) mixed with goofy 60's and 70's western instrumentation but the best part is the vocals. Very interesting, catchy and beautiful but not in a fussed over way. I don't know how to talk about these other than that I enjoyed them so much. These were my go to albums when putting on something to listen to while doing stuff around the house. You should really check them out.
3. Заводь (Zavod) - Ритуал (Ritual) (Ukraine)
This is a band I was super into at the beginning of the year but kind of forgot about later on. From the videos I've seen online it looks like they're pretty young. The songs are like really driving, punk-ish black metal with an occasional, to my ear, European screamo melody. Pretty catchy actually. The sounds is kind of overwhelming. Probably the most pleasant surprise of 2011 which is why it's so high on the list. http://r-a-b-m.blogspot.com/2011/01/ritual-2011.html
4. Looking For An Answer - Eterno Treblinka (Spain)
This is just a really solid and easy to listen to album all around. Really bad band name but whatever. This is a well done modern "throwback" grindcore album with lots of chugging parts and catchy death metal riffs. There's something to be said for doing something very well.
5. Raein - Sulla Linea D'Orizzonte Tra Questa Mia Vita E Quella Di Tutti (Italy)
I didn't listen to this a whole lot, which is weird cause they're one of my favorite bands and this is a really beautiful album. It probably would have been higher on the list otherwise. I think I felt like I didn't want to put the time into totally appreciating it. I don't quite know how to describe it. I always like their vocals which are somewhat aggressive though mixed in very well with the instruments. It's the guitar that is the best thing about this though. I guess it's fairly post punk-y but mostly very pretty. This album breathes more than anything else by them. I hate when people just compare a release to another release by the same band cause that doesn't do most people any good but it's hard for me not to think about this album any other way cause I'm such a fan. Just download it. http://www.raein.eu/
6. Mindspiders - Mindspiders LP (USA)
I just listened to this for a couple months in the summer and then forgot about it. When I was into it I was listening to it everyday. I guess you could call it garage-y or something. In some ways the album feels, to me, like it's moving around a lot but it's all simple rocking pop songs so that keeps it together. Or something.
7. Robocop - Robocop II (USA)
This is another one that was an early fav. Really headbanging slow doomy parts and then really fast power violence-y parts where you can still pick out the riffs. Also the way the riffs are put together is kind of atypical in a really good way. The recording is great; really thick guitar. Towards the end there's a lot of alternating cut up noise tracks with the faster tracks but they work well with the whole flow of the album. http://www.grindcorekaraoke.com/album/robocop-ii
8. Wormrot - Dirge (Singapore)
Kind of spazzy and unpredictable grindcore. I don't think this will get stuck in your head but it's really listenable, fun and intense. It's almost like lots of really good transition parts. This band has had lots of internet hype which is cool for them.http://www.earache.com/misc/downloads/wormrot/
9. Chulo/Tumor Ganas - Third World Nightmare (Columbia/Indonesia)
This is a fun split. Chulo is like super scummy "noisegrind" I guess. I don't know how to explain the appeal is to this stuff but I think it can be fun in the right context. The recording is totally blown out in a hard to understand way. Everything but the drums and vocals gets lost when the songs get fast. I love when the vocalist yells "CHULOOOOO!" (I think it means pimp?) at the start of the first song. Tumor Ganas is a really punk-ish grindcore band with really funny quotes. My favorite is the one from Constantine on "Victims of Conspiracy". This is far from essential, I've just been listening to it a lot the last couple of weeks. http://www.grindcorekaraoke.com/album/third-world-nightmare
10. Unholy Grave - Blast Mayhem (Japan)
This band has had like 10 releases a year since the early 90's and they're one of my favorites. They haven't really changed much since they began. It's still just fast, super simple catchy grindcore recorded really raw. This release is actually a bunch of practice demos ranging from 1994 to 2011. The only real difference is some of the recordings are not as blown out as their normal releases. I only listened to this once but I listened to this band a lot and couldn't think of anything else for number 10. If your not a fan and want to get into them I suggest "Terroraging Crisis", "Against Terrorism" or "Grind Victim".
Pig Noose - Ctrl Force Sessions 7-22-11 (USA)
This is kind of self serving cause I recorded it and they're my friends so it's not in the regular top ten. These songs have however been stuck in my head for months. This is like hardcore punk. Good simple riffs. Really good vocals. "Tough" feel. http://controlforce.bandcamp.com/album/ctrlforce-sessions-7-22-11
Art Fad - Vatos (USA)
Also friends. They played in Moscow at the last Tim Blood show. Drowned out poppy rock. Every song sounds the same in a good way. Total summertime album. http://soundcloud.com/artfad/sets/vatos
Stuff I should have listened to more:
Gridlink, I listened to and really enjoyed Orphan but not more than a couple times.
Every band Tim B. tells me I should check out.
Rotten Sound's new album.
All the links are free totally legal downloads!!!!