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Top 20 of 2011 – Bill’s Picks

Well it’s that time of year again. Time to name my favorite albums of 2011. 2011 brought us a lot of good stuff by a lot of great bands. 2011 also brought on a lot of surprises from bands that were really unknown until their material was released or well afterwards. Bandcamp played a huge role in music discovery for me. It turned out hundreds of great albums not only released in 2011 but in years past as well. This list, my favorites as well as honorable mentions, is no way a complete list of what was released this year. There is just to much out there that I don’t either have time to get to, never heard of or won’t discover until well after this year is completely over. I know there’s going to be a few surprises. Let it be known that I listened to a LOT of new albums this year and picking my top 20 out of the hundreds was very hard to do.

20. The Sade – Damned Love – (review) I really didn’t know what to expect when this one came across my desk but I needed to check it out. And check it out I did. I was pretty damn impressed that I listened to the album at least 10 times in a row. In my review I stated “The majority of the album is all alchchol fueled hard rock. Throughout my listening of the album I couldn’t help but think that this is what Social Distortion may sound like if they were more rooted in 70′s hard rock as opposed to their punk roots.” Granted it’s been a few months since I’ve listened to it, it still has a strong spot in my top 20.

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19. Devil – Time To Repent – (review) This album still gets a lot of play time from me. I love the classic 70’s sound that the band has retained in the album. The album feels as if it came out of the 70′s so those fans of Sabbath, Pentagram, Trouble can rest easy that the sound matches what the band set out to do, something that few bands can do. The great use and mix of hard rock throughout is a great touch too. We may be seeing a resurgence, or a second coming of Black Sabbath and it looks like Devil may be leading that pack.

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18. Big Wheel Stunt Show – Cheetah Milque – (review) I’m still hooked onthis album. It’s been a few months now and it’s one of my go to albums when I can’t decide what to listen to. “Cheetah Milque starts off getting right down to business. There’s no slow into or long instrumental, the album gets off on the right foot by getting right into the vocals. From there it doesn’t stop.”

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17. Freedom HawkHolding On – (review) Ian beat me to the punch for review of this fine album. Ian wrote “On first listen, it is impossible to avoid connecting the golden era of Black Sabbath’s first four records to Freedom Hawk’s sound. Of course, that is how you know you are probably in for a kick ass rock record. T.R. Morton’s vocals could easily be a dead ringer for Ozzy at his peak.” Sabbath references aside, there is no way that Black Sabbath, with any lineup (Dio included), could record this album and have it sound as good.

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16. The Heavy CompanyThe Heavy (Please Tunes In…) – (review) Yes this is the band that belongs to staff writer Ian Gerber. No, I’m not picking this because of his involvement with The Soda Shop. The fact is, before I knew Ian, he submitted a copy of the EP unmastered. The sound was ok but I knew with a little work, it would sound good. About a month or so later I got a finished copy of the EP. It didn’t sound good at all. It sounded great! if you haven’t heard yet you’re really missing out. The fact that this EP is FREE also gives you no excuse not to listen. Lots of good things await The Heavy Company in 2012. You may have heard some rough demos that were posted some time ago and you’ll agree that more kick ass music is on the way.

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15. Henry’s Funeral ShoeDonkey Jacket – (review) I’m a sucker for blues rock. Henry’s Funeral Shoe was a great discovery for me in 2011. I thoroughly enjoyed this album. The vocals of Donkey Jacket are deep and soulful. The bass and drums are deep and the guitars are raw and powerful. The songs are made up of old style country, rock, and blues and mixes those elements up. This is an easy album to get into and get hooked on. It’s tough for me to find a favorite song on this album as they’re all so good.

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14. Uncle Acid & The DeadbeatsBlood Lust – I’m not really sure why I never reviewed this one. Probably because when it came out, every other blog and music site was talking about them. Really though, there isn’t anything I could say or add that wasn’t already said about Blood Lust. It’s a great album. All the psych and doom elements throughout are just excellent. There isn’t much on this album that I didn’t like. In fact, I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like. The vocals are mesmerizing, the instruments play to a “can get you high if you listen closely enough” tone. If the government wanted to create some type of mind control device, they could use Blood Lust as a catalyst to get you there. Seriously, this is a kick ass album.

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13. Elvis DeluxeFavourite State of Mind – (review) I’ve heard of a few people saying that this album was a grower. Truth be told, it grew on me right away. I loved the mix of hard rock, stoner rock, some sludgy vocals, blues rock. This is an album that has everything going for it. “You’ll hear the dynamics and range in their sound and how poised these guys are to plant themselves for the long run in this little world we call stoner rock.”

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12. GrifterGrifter – (review) What can I say? Grifter has been one of my favorite bands since they first allowed their demos and EPs for free download on the old Sludge Swamp. Their sound gets more refined and better sounding with each release. Their self titled debut LP release on Ripple-Music was music to my ears. As I mentioned in my review, the band sounds like they have fun making music and you can tell, the sound is upbeat and enjoyable. Just listen to “Alabama Hotpocket” and “Strip Club.”

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11. Wo FatNache del Chupacabra – (review) I knew that Nache del Chupacabra was going to be good but not as good as it turned out. I was and still am at a loss for words only to describe the album as “WOW!” It’s heavy, psychedelic and sometimes sludgy. It has a distinct southern hard rock sound to it. It’s mostly instrumental and completely kick ass!

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10. Glitter WizardSolar Hits – (review) Glitter Wizard was a band I discovered while looking for albums for the weekly Bandcamp Recommendations. I loved the way they managed to sound a little bit like Black Sabbath and Metallica while sounding nothing like either band at the same time. The 70’s psychedelic doom and glam overtones are captivating, the music is catchy and really, just sounds great. I’ve listened to this album at least 30 times since writing the review and that’s not counting the tracks that came up when I had my music collection come up on shuffle.

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9. Rival SonsPressure And Time – (review) I’ve become a huge fan of these guys since hearing Before The Fire. Speaking of fire, Rival Sons is on fire! They’ve been playing almost non stop since signing with Earache Records. They’ve played a short headlining tour in the US, opened for some has beens and irrelevant bands and took on a huge headling tour in Europe. Momentum is on their side. Pressure & Time is a strong album. It’s powerful, it’s loud, it’s got the heart and the soul of what a great album is all about. If you don’t own this album, I don’t know you.

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8. Radio Moscow The Great Escape Of Leslie Magnafuzz – (review) Another WOW album. This came out sounding better than I had anticipated. I loved the band’s self titled debut. I thought Brain Cycles took a step back a little but The Great Escape Of Leslie Magnafuzz came out way far ahead of the band’s best work. To date is is my favorite Radio Moscow album. Again, I love blues rock and Radio Moscow NEVER fail to deliver. The psychedelic overtones add somethign to this album that needs to be heard.

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7. BorrachoSplitting Sky – (review) I love it when you’re expecting something and you have high hopes for it. You finally receive what it is you’re looking for and it totally blows away your expectations. Yeah, Borracho’s debut Splitting Sky is like that. This album is so good that I own it on both CD and vinyl. It’s an awesome debut album that has been talked about highly since it’s release earlier in the year. It’s long at 57 minutes long but it sucks you in and makes you forget about time.

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6. Lo-PanSalvador – (review) I’ll admit, I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would at first. Sasquanaut was such a great album that I didn’t think the band could really top it. So, what I did was pull out the GOOD (expensive) headphones and plug in. It took a few listens but afterwards I walked away with a better respect for Salvador than I had before. I still hold Sasquanaut in high regard but Salvador has squeaked by it to hold the title of favorite Lo-Pan album. Now the question for Lo-Pan I have is this: How do you top Salvador? I think we’ll all find out sooner than later.

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5. The Mud SunsThe Hundredth Monkey – (review) Maybe I’m still on a high from discovering this band. Maybe it’s the blues rock overtones. I don’t know but I was hooked on The Hundreth Monkey from the moment the first note played. “I have found an outstanding album. The album sounds great, it’s well written, recorded and mastered. I love the sound and I can’t put an emphasis on just how much. Overall it’s a rock solid album. It is an album that everyone and their mother should own.”

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4. The Dirty StreetsMovements – (review) Another album that is on Bandcamp that you should listen to. The blues based retro rock and roll sound and feel along with the awesome vocals make this one a top choice for me. “Movements has a nice warm 70′s and southern and classic rock feel to it. There are plenty of great guitar riffs, the vocals are excellent and it’s easy to get quite a few of the beats stuck in your head. It has a familiar but yet unique sound. It’s modern but yet feels so 1970-ish.”

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3. Gideon Smith & The Dixie Damned30 Weight – (review) Yet another album that hasn’t left out of constant rotation since it first album. If my iPhone were a Billboard Top list, 30 Weight would be one of those record setters for consecutive weeks on the charts. This album was not a disappointment in any way shape or form. The range and tone of the album is amazing. You get rock, country, doom and so much more. The Saint Vitus cover of “Bleed Black” is, well is excellent and should be in movies, TV shows and on radio. Do NOT be without this album!

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2. GraveyardHisingen Blues – (review) Surprised at the position of this album? Last year when the band announced that they were done recording the album, I had projected this being my number 1 pick. It was a pretty bold prediction considering that this is a sophomore release from Graveyard. Sophomore albums are either hit or miss. In the case of Graveyard, there is no sophomore slump. This was the most played album of 2011 for me. It came out when I was going through some rough shit so it has some memories of that time but it also helped lift and carry me through it. The band has stated that they are working on a followup album with no time frame for release but can it get better than Hisingen Blues? Time will tell but in the mean time, I’ll stick with this album.

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1. The Heavy EyesThe Heavy Eyes – (review) So let me ask, who seen this coming? I certainly didn’t. The band didn’t make much mention of the album until right before it came out when they released a sampler for free download. A month later the full album was out. Why is this my number 1? Well besides the fact it kicks ass, it sounds great, the blues rock with the psychedelic overtones are hypnotizing and it’s catchy as all hell. If you asked me in the summer if The Heavy Eyes would be on this list I would have told you probably not, at least not a top 20. Well here they are, my number 1.

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Honorable Mentions (in no order): 9 Chambers, 45 Rats, 3 Mexicans from G.O.R.M.A., 1000mods, Wooden Shjips, Wizard Smoke, The Hannah Barbarians, Gypsy Chief Goliath, The Grand Trick, Grand Selmer, The Grand Astoria, Gordon Fights, Ginger Trees, Giantrider, Ghost, Gentlemans Pistols, Fuzz Manta, The Flying Eyes, Flat Tires, Father Phoenix, Elder, Ehécatl, Eggnog, Echos, The Dust Bowl, Dogs of Fortune, Dixie Witch, Freedom Hawk, Backwoods Payback, Dinosaur Eyelids, Desert Storm, The Dead Exs, Dead Empire, Dangerbird, Cultura Tres, The Cosmic Dead, Confused Little Girl, Concrete Sun, The Company Corvette, Colossa, Clepsydra, Chron Goblin, Chicken Diamond, Chicago Stone Lightning Band, Cherry Choke, Catapult The Smoke, Bulletwolf, The Buffalos, Southern Train Gypsy, Born To Hula, Borgo Pass, Blue Snaggletooth, The Bloody Hollies, Blood Ceremony, The Blind Pets, Black Wyrm Seed, Black River Bluesman & Bad Mood Hudson, Black Pistol Fire, Black Cowgirl, Birth of Joy, Birch Damn Hill, Big Wheel Stunt Show, Bevar Sea, Barbarian Overlords, Bacchus Baracus, Axxicorn, Aver, The Atomic Bitchwax, Ape Machine, Orchid, Black Spiders, Iron Claw, Three Seasons, Heavy Pink, Sedated Angel, Monotonox, Red Fang, Mars Red Sky, Wight, Underdogs, The Mound Builders, Pater Nembrat, The Muddy Reds, The Hedons. I know there’s more, I’ve been adding them as i remember. Thank you to all the bands that have submitted albums for review as well as the bands that didn’t. Together, all of you made for a great 2011.

2012 looks to be a huge year with albums coming from Orange Goblin, Big Wheel Stunt Show, The Grand Astoria, Stone Axe, The Dwellers, Mos Generator, Blood of the Sun, Saint Vitus, Propane Propane, Five Horse Johnson, Gozu and many many more. I’ve already have had a chance to hear a few albums set for release early next year and we’re going to be in for a real treat. Stay tuned!

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16 responses

  1. Really hope there’s a new Om record next year.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    • Bill Goodman

      Tough to tell but you never know

      December 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm

  2. Pingback: Grifter make the Top 20!!! | Grifter

  3. where is Orchid’s “Capricorn” album?!

    December 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

    • Bill Goodman

      It was good but not enough to make the top 20. The band is mentioned in my honorable mention list.

      December 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

      • man, I can’t stop spinning it… Orchid has the whole Sabbath thing going, but they don’t sound like just straight up imitators, at least to me. It’s taken me abit longer to get into the new The Devil’s Blood “The Thousandfold Epicentre”, but it’s growing on me. Their first album grabbed me from the first spin and I played it almost non-stop(along with Blood Ceremony’s first) for like 6 months, but this one’s taking a little while…

        December 10, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  4. blackseed

    I’m disappointed, Graveyard is the best of year.

    December 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

  5. Excellent pick!

    December 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

  6. Micky

    No mention of Black Spiders? Surely some mistake……

    December 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    • Bill Goodman

      Actually yes, it was a mistake. I (unintentionally) left out a bunch. Black Spiders will be added.

      December 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  7. DirtyBastardLips

    I absolutely love Graveyard’s record and it’s tops on my list. This is a solid top 20. Thanks for sharing.

    December 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

  8. Johnny Z.

    Horisont (trsl. Horizon). That album kicks out the jams for sure.

    With a singer who actually can break a wine glas with his voice (i´ve seen him do it, no fake)…

    December 24, 2011 at 4:41 am

  9. Pingback: Review – Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats – Blood Lust « The Soda Shop

  10. Pingback: Uncle Acid & the Dead Beats, Blood Lust « Šawtooth Ŵave

  11. Pingback: The Soda Shop picks Splitting Sky # 7 album of 2011 – Borracho

  12. Pingback: Celebrating a Stellar 2011 – Borracho

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