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Ryan Kappy’s Top 10 Albums of 2011

Posted by Ryan Kappy on 12/26 at 09:28 PM

Music for the year 2011 was one for the ages. I followed releases from about 50 bands in both the major and independent labels, and genres from alternative rock to metalcore. But there were a select few albums that I truly became in awe of based on the flow and overall sound of the album. Here is my top ten list of my favorite albums of 2011.

10) Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – D.R.U.G.S.

This record had the ultimate super group that Craig Owens (ex-Chiodos) had to offer as he picked up Matt Good (ex-From First To Last), Nick Martin (ex-Underminded), Adam Russell (Story of the Year), and Aaron Stern (ex-Matchbook Romance). It was the debut album for this line-up that gave you the right amount of rock from each member.  It is a promising record filled with breakdowns and sappy choruses that will have you singing with every listen.

Listen: ‘Graveyard Dancing

9) Thrice – Major/Minor

Thrice has been a staple in the alternative/post-hardcore scene, putting out records that have had a major influence on the genre.  After producing different types of records with an emphasis on keyboards, the band put out Major/Minor focusing mainly on guitar-based progressions that still has their signature sound.  The band may have recently announced their hiatus but this record proves that they still have the talent and wit to put out a memorable release.

Listen: ‘Promises

8) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Where do I start on this album? Well first off, this is the band that has revolutionized alternative rock with hits that have spawned millions of record sales.  But this record is much different.  It was recorded on just analog tape without any use of computers.  What you hear, then, is pure recordings of Dave Grohl & Co. showing off their musicianship in the rawest sound possible in our digital age.  This record also has Grammy nominations and has gone Platinum overseas. It still has a place in the mainstream airwaves as one of the only real rock n’ roll albums of note.

Listen: ‘Rope

7) Asking Alexandria – Reckless & Relentless

At first, I did not like this band and I thought they were just another one of those metalcore bands just trying to fit into the independent music scene.  But it was at this past Warped Tour where I saw them play live and saw an attitude of not caring who gets in their way. All they want to do is rock every person’s socks off.  I gave this album a listen and I instantly felt one with the band and its attitude.  Filled with heavy breakdowns, demonic symphonies, and a sprinkle of 80s metal, Asking Alexandria put out Reckless & Relentless in order to show the world they want to be the biggest band in the world. It was a huge success in the U.S. and landed a supporting role for a recent Guns N’ Roses’ tour.

Listen: ‘To The Stage

6) New Found Glory – Radiosurgery

New Found Glory has been deemed a pioneer of pop punk.  They put out records that have influenced many bands of a variety of genres.  These records have all reflected what the band had been going through at the time of their release.  This record, in particular, is special. It’s a concept record of a typical breakup of a relationship.  Each song shows a progression of the story and how to handle certain situations. It has the “copywritten” sound of New Found Glory filled with poppy choruses and chugging breakdowns that tend to show that the band is still fresh after all these years.

Listen: ‘Anthem For the Unwanted

5) I Am The Avalanche – Avalanche United

Avalanche United is a straight up punk rock record. Frontman Vinnie Caruana (ex-The Movielife) has something to say after six years with record label troubles and other hardships to get this record out.  The album is full of punk riffs and pounding drums with lyrics about everyday life in that certain place you live in (in the band’s case, Brooklyn).  The record has had high praise from numerous musical critics and it definitely receives high praise from me.

Listen: ‘Brooklyn Dodgers

4) Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keyes

Ben Gibbard & Co. know how to create music that can either ease you to sleep at night or make for a pleasant drive through your town.  No matter what the occasion may be, the band can always make an indie playlist that much better with their unique style of sound.  This time around, they created a record with heavy use of keyboards and not much guitar.  This concept worked for the album as it created a whole different sound that the band has never explored. The record is definitely the best indie release of this year and Ben Gibbard still has one of the most distinctive voices of all time.

Listen: ‘You Are A Tourist

3) Blink 182 – Neighborhoods

After five years on indefinite hiatus, a plane crash, reunion tour, and endless hours of writing and recording new tracks, a Blink-182 record has surfaced.  The three men - Tom DeLonge (guitar), Mark Hoppus (bass), and Travis Barker (drums) - had changed the stage of mainstream music with their raunchy lyrics and fun sound.  But now the band has put out a record that shows a much deeper Blink that no one was expecting on this release.  The record has mature subjects about love and death filled with effect-driven guitars and pounding drums.  Even with this newer sound, it still brought me back to the good old days of the band playing their signature pop punk music. It shows that a band whose members despised each other at one point can come back together and create a record fresher than ever.

Listen: ‘Up All Night

2) Bayside – Killing Time

The guys from Long Island, NY were somewhat in the dark for three years in not telling anyone what they have been doing.  It all paid off in the end when they released this record.  Produced by the renowned Gil Norton, the album is filled with heavier riffs than the band normally plays, and lyrics that I feel are the best the band has written.  Another aspect to consider is the amount of face melting solos that will have you playing air guitar.  Overall, the record has the traditional Bayside sound that created a cult following, but with a new punk style.  This album has helped the band break into an international audience that keeps growing every day.

Listen: ‘Already Gone

1) The Story So Far – Under Soil & Dirt

The reason why this is my number one album of the year for 2011 is because of the attitude of the band and how they have come so far since their debut in the independent scene.  The record itself can be put on repeat over and over where every listen would just get better.  Musically, the record shows me that I still have an undying love for pop punk.  Every element I ever wanted in an album is in this: sweet guitar riffs, complex drumming patterns, and vocals that are in your face but that have you yelling them right back.  The record shows that this band has a passion for what they do and they do not care what genre they are put into.  This is a band that just wants to record music and play shows so that someone can notice them and spread the word. 2012 should be a promising year for the band.

Listen: ‘Quicksand

And there you have it, my top 10 list of 2011. Even though I may have missed a couple of albums (and you may disagree with my selection), I feel this list shows the styles of music that I listen to everyday. I hope you will pick these albums up, or at least listen to some of the songs because you never know if you will find your next favorite band off these records.

Honorable Mentions:

La Dispute - Widlife

Thursday – No Devolucion

Polar Bear Club – Clash Battle Guilt Pride

The Swellers – Good For Me

Yellowcard – When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes

{name} Author: Ryan Kappy
Bio: Ryan Kappy is currently a senior majoring in Telecommunications and Economics. He enjoys listening to all types of music, playing guitar, watching and playing different sports, playing video games, and eating different types of food. His ideal type of music is alternative rock, pop punk, metalcore, and both hardcore and post-hardcore genres. His favorite bands include Blink-182, New Found Glory, Rise Against, Brand New, Thrice, and Bayside.


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