Ziya’s Top 5 Albums of 2011
1. La Dispute - “Wildlife”
Let me preface this summary by saying most people will not like this album. Most people do not find poetry being passionately recited over chaotic strings and tribal drum patterns attractive. That being said, if you find a band that combines Minor Threat with Built To Spill and Thursday appealing to you, you need to purchase (yes, purchase) “Wildlife”. Singer, Jordan dreyer, has obviously had a hell of a year - his personal life has torn him apart, and the state of American society seems to have broken him down even further. The band pulls eclectic styles, such as jazz and folk, into the music at some points, which works in their respective places; but the most powerful moments on “Wildlife” are when the band hits you with waves of distorted energy. If “King Park” does not drag you to the edge of your seat, I don’t know what can. La Dispute does everything right on this album. I’m not sure how they can top it.
2. Thursday - “No Devolución”
I guess people have started referring to “No Devolución” as Thursday’s swan song, since it was the last release before their indefinite hiatus… and what a way to end such a relentless career. Thursday is best known for their 2001 album, “Full Collapse”, which defined the post-hardcore genre in a big way. In my opinion, however, “No Devolución” tops “Full Collapse” in many respects. Thursday really nailed their sound and energy on this album; Geoff’s vocals are mixed to almost act as an additional instrument, and the atmospheric tones of the band complement this production choice perfectly. The album mixes power with atmosphere in a way I’ve never heard done before, and my mouth was wide open the first time I heard it. Thursday is notorious for their story-based lyricism, which evoke a definitive emotion in any listener, but they have never been combined with this style. Let me just say, this is the style Thursday have been searching for. There is no better way this band could have gone out.
3. The Roots - “Undun”
I’ve always loved The Roots and I feel like they’ve never truly received the respect they deserve. In my opinion, they’ve released their strongest albums in the past two years, the best of which being their most recent, “Undun”. “Undun” is the band’s first attempt at a concept album, and the lyrical content proves why Black Thought is one of the best rappers around. The soul that goes into the music instrumentally, lyrically, and melodically is so raw and honest. It’s a true piece of art and a heart-wrenching product of a broken culture. Each song seamlessly draws me into the scene that is being described, and at certain points, it sends shivers down my spine.
4. Death Cab For Cutie - “Codes and Keys”
Death Cab fans love to disown this album. They find it too poppy, or too happy… but in all honesty, these generalizations do not do “Codes and Keys” justice. I didn’t really fall into love with this album until I saw DCFC perform on Jimmy Kimmel in late 2011. This performance was post-break-up for Ben Gibbard, and I had a realization about the emotion this album evokes: it transcends. This is a phenomena in some sense, because what could be interpreted as an expression of love in “Underneath The Sycamore” could also be interpreted as somber remembrance of an relationship full of self-deprecating escapism. The whole album is full of transcending emotion, and it is one of Death Cab’s best to date.
5. The Wonder Years - “Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing”
The Wonder Years describe themselves as “realist pop-punk” — Now this description had me snickering to myself. I feel like I’ve been outgrowing this genre lately, as the big 1-8 is around the corner, but TWY’s “Suburbia…” reminded me why I’m still so involved in the (somewhat) underground scene. This is an album that chronicles the story of six guys trying to do what they love in a world that seems to tell them they can’t. In this sense, the album’s numerous amount of references to Allen Ginsberg’s “America” is highly applicable. Ginsberg’s poetry helped him, and his readers, come to terms with living in a world he couldn’t quite grasp without shaking his head. He never felt at home, and TWY reflects similar sentiments. These guys manage to combine catchy with angst while maintaining a sense of genuine emotion. It’s rare, and it deserves your attention.
Extremely Honorable Mentions:
Balance & Composure - “Separation”
Patrick Stump - “Soul Punk”
Radiohead - “The King Of Limbs”