Deerhoof Vs. Evil was a surprise from the moment I started listening to it. I've always heard good things about Deerhoof but hadn't got around to checking them out before this one. So when I couldn't stop listening to it for a couple months & then remained in regular rotation through the end of the year it rightly earned its spot atop the years' releases.
Like everything else I heard this year, however, it fell just short of what I'd consider a perfect 10 (regardless of how much I listened to it).
Favorite song: "I Did Crimes for You"
See also:99% Upset Feeling, Deerhoof's excellent FREE live-album recorded during their tour behind this album
Crack the Skye distinguished Mastodon as metal's most important band going forward, and The Hunter is clearly the sound of the band blowing off steam rather than taking themselves too seriously. The album takes a few listens to fully appreciate, but once you've wrapped your head around it it's more rewarding with every listen. In fact, I spent the first weekend that it was on Youtube for early-listening with the enhanced video playing in a loop & must have listened to it over a dozen times in 3 consecutive nights.
As I said in my Most anticipated albums of 2011 list: It's everything a sophomore album should be. JTB build off the foundation laid down on their debut, showing progression and improved songwriting skills. Even better, this time around the songs are more easily distinguished from one another. Good stuff.
The Airborne Toxic Event's sophomore album is basically more of the same, but that's not at all a bad thing. The sincerity & emotion is every bit as strong as it was on their debut, and this album feels more cohesive than the first. My favorite song on the album isn't the best (that'd be either "Welcome to Your Wedding Day" or "The Graveyard Near the House"), but thanks to a reference to one of my top 10 albums of all time I can't help but love it.
I spent most of 2010 & the first half of 2011 listening to Man Man's first 3 albums a LOT. So my expectations for this one (their 4th) were higher than they managed to deliver. Rather than push forward with their sound it seems like they simply refined the sound they'd already established, which isn't entirely bad but I can't help but feel the whole thing could be better.
future of the left seemingly released Polymers Are Forever just to prove they really were working on their upcoming 3rd album all year long. It's a mixed bag EP that primarily offers a taste of what to expect from their changed line-up, and hints at great things to come when the new album drops in 2012. The lack of cohesion here keeps it from reaching greatness, but there's a lot interesting going on & they're definitely branching out & moving away from being merely a continuation of Mclusky.
Favorite song: "My Wife Is Unhappy"
*Song now absent from YouTube. Sorry.*
(especially the bit about Joe Pesci near the end)
The setlist/tracklist here is excellent, featuring most of Soundgarden's best songs plus a couple of covers. Cornell's voice isn't always as good as it is on their albums, which makes for an occasionally grating listen. The more I listen to the album I'm minding it less though. The covers ("Helter Skelter" and "Search and Destroy") are solid, and musically the entire band is tight & firing on all cylinders. So my issues with Cornell's vocals plus the fact that I simply prefer the album versions of most of these songs to the incarnations captured here prevent this from being anything more than an 8/10.
Favorite song: "Rusty Cage" (which normally wouldn't be my favorite, but the way they tear through it & the fact it's dedicated to Johnny Cash...WOW)
**Sorry, couldn't find this one**
As a long-time Primus fan I dig it, but the magic that the band has when Tim "Herb" Alexander is on drums is absent. The new guy does a good job, & some new sonic territories are explored, but I simply don't see this one being a new favorite. I may not even listen to it as much as Antipop, but we'll see.
As I said in my Most anticipated albums of 2011 list: Tao of the Dead is much better than their previous release Century of Self, and as a whole it's better than the album before that So Divided. I hear traces of their earliest works in places, and the album shows more focus than the last two efforts. The 16-minute-plus finale is especially noteworthy, which is actually 5 songs perfectly merged into one long track.