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Ryan Gardner It’s that time of year again: the end. As I approach the second half of my senior year in high school, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the releases within these past four years that have meant the most to me – Illuminate, Reach For The Sun, Forget and Not Slow Down, and Lost in the Sound of Separation – as well as the records that have really defined my year this year – War Paint, The Lack Long After, and Wildlife. Looking back, I find that it’s the lyrics that break me apart, the vocals and words that invade my every emotion and truly resonant within my mind day after day and year after year. As I approach the end of high school and gear toward the beginning of college, I find music to be a pathway through life – a way of communicating, a means of understanding, a medium of expression. Music has meant more to me than ever this year. As you read my list, please note how difficult it was ranking and choosing albums this year, but my top ones are definite – those are the albums that meant the most to me, each for its own reason.
Top Albums of 20111. The Dangerous Summer – War Paint
2. Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After
3. La Dispute – Wildlife
4. The Wonder Years – Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing
5. Mansions – Dig Up The Dead
6. Jack’s Mannequin – People and Things
7. Lydia – Paint It Golden
8. Moving Mountains – Waves
9. Touché Amoré – Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
10. Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
11. Transit – Listen & Forgive
12. Blink-182 – Neighborhoods
13. Thrice – Major/Minor
14. Thursday – No Devolución
15. Basement – I Wish I Could Stay Here
16. The Story So Far – Under Soil And Dirt
17. This Love – At War
18. Drake – Take Care
19. The Cinema – My Blood Is Full Of Airplanes
20. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
21. City and Colour – Little Hell
22. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys
23. Yellowcard – When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
24. Go Radio – Lucky Street
25. Into It. Over It. – Proper
26. Sims – Bad Time Zoo
27. A Loss For Words – No Sanctuary
28. Balance & Composure – Separation
29. Man Overboard – Man Overboard
30. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical)
Adele – 21
Angels & Airwaves – LOVE: Part 2
August Burns Red – Leveler
Bayside – Killing Time
The Boxer Rebellion – The Cold Still
Charlie Simpson – Young Pilgrim
Childish Gambino – Camp
Dance Gavin Dance – Downtown Battle Mountain II
Deas Vail – Deas Vail
Decoder – Decoder
Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – D.R.U.G.S.
The Devil Wears Prada – Dead Throne
Doomtree – No Kings
Eisley – The Valley
Emery – We Do What We Want
Every Avenue – Bad Habits
Fireworks – Gospel
Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape, or Form
The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
Hyland – Weights and Measures
I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business – Gold Rush
Into It. Over It. – Twelve Towns
Kanye West & Jay-Z (The Throne) – Watch The Throne
Living With Lions – Holy Shit
Looking For Alaska – There Is Hope
Mayday Parade – Mayday Parade
Never Shout Never – Time Travel
New Found Glory – Radiosurgery
Oh, Sleeper – Children of Fire
Pinsky – Losing Touch
Silverstein – Rescue
Streetlight Fire – Architects
The Swellers – Good For Me
Switchfoot – Vice Verses
This Time Next Year – Drop Out Of Life
Title Fight – Shed
Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
We Are The In Crowd – Best Intentions
Young Statues – Young Statues
All of these records are more than honorable mentions. I highly recommend giving each one a spin, as creating a top 30 was just about impossible due to the countless amount of commendable releases this year.
Most Disappointing Albums All Time Low – Dirty Work
Taking Back Sunday – Taking Back Sunday
Set Your Goals – Burning At Both Ends
Rise Against – Endgame
Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder
Lady Gaga – Born This Way
You Me At Six – Sinners Never Sleep
There for Tomorrow – The Verge
I expected at least something out of each of these, but to say each one was disappointing is quite an understatement.
Top EP The American Scene – By Way of Introduction
As one of the best new bands in the current scene, The American Scene absolutely blew me away with By Way of Introduction. Garnering plays throughout the year, this EP sounds like the child of The Dangerous Summer and Transit – it’s absolutely stunning.
Best Genres/Movements, etc Pop-Punk – Consider it defended. It’s that simple.
Band Of The Year The Wonder Years or Yellowcard take this title for me this year. Nothing can really compare to their hard work and effort exerted day after day throughout the year – and their incredible releases included, especially considering Yellowcard came by from their hiatus like they never even left.
Song Of The YearAlthough I didn’t really have a “favorite” song this year – as it was a tremendous year for music overall – I will say that “No One’s Gonna Need You More” by The Dangerous Summer or maybe “Local Man Ruins Everything” by The Wonder Years would probably be up there.
Best Record Label Hopeless Records: 2011 has been another unbelievable year for Hopeless Records. With outstanding releases from The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years, Yellowcard, We Are The In Crowd, Silverstein, Divided By Friday, Hopeless Records is easily the strongest label around today.
Best MoviesAlthough I watched a crazy amount of movies this year, I sort of fell behind on new releases of 2011. However, I will say that the ones that stick most in my mind – granted I only saw a select few, so this list is from a limited supply – would be The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Tree Of Life, Beginners, Harry Potter, Source Code, Super 8, Winnie the Pooh.
Best Book Stephen King – 11/22/63
The man can do no wrong – it’s that simple. A brilliant concept and wonderfully written.
50 Favorite Songs (Alphabetical by Artist)
Adele – “Set Fire to the Rain”
The American Scene – “Home”
Balance & Composure – “I Tore You Apart In My Head”
Basement – “Canda Square”
Bayside – “Already Gone”
Blink-182 – “Wishing Well”
Bon Iver – “Holocene”
Cartel – “American Dreams”
Charlie Simpson – “Riverbanks”
The Cinema – “The Wolf”
City and Colour – “We Found Each Other In The Dark”
Coldplay – “U.F.O.”
Dance Gavin Dance – “The Robot With Human Hair Pt. 2 ½”
The Dangerous Summer – “No One’s Gonna Need You More”
Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”
Defeater – “Warm Blood Rush”
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – “Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm”
Drake – “Over My Dead Body”
Eisley – “Ambulance”
Emery – “The Cheval Glass”
Every Avenue – “Only Place I Call Home”
Go Radio – “The Truth Is”
He Is We – “Our July In The Rain (Stripped)”
I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business – “Gold Rush”
Into It. Over It. – “Connecticut”
Jack’s Mannequin – “Hostage”
Kanye West & Jay-Z (The Throne) – “No Church in the Wild”
La Dispute – “You and I in Unison”
A Loss For Words – “Pray For Rain”
Lydia – “Hailey”
Man Overboard – “Spunn”
Manchester Orchestra – “Simple Math”
Mansions – “Seven Years”
Mayday Parade – “Stay”
Moving Mountains – “Parts in Different Places”
Never Shout Never – “Time Travel”
Oh, Sleeper – “Shed Your Skin”
Pianos Become The Teeth – “I’ll Get By”
Relient K – “Motorcycle Drive By (Cover)”
The Story So Far – “Closure”
Streetlight Fire – “Prospect Park”
The Swellers – “Best I Ever Had”
Taking Back Sunday – “Call Me In The Morning”
This Love – “Free”
Thrice – “Call It In The Air”
Thursday – “Stay True”
Touché Amoré – “Home Away From Here”
Transit – “Forgive Forget”
The Wonder Years – “Don’t Let Me Cave In”
Yellowcard – “For You, And Your Denial”
There are 50 songs I couldn’t get enough of this year. Highly recommend giving them each a spin.
2011: What a year – I learned a lot, listened to an insane amount of music, wrote over 60 reviews, watched over 300 movies, and read over 50 books. I look forward to writing an excess of reviews next year, as 2012 promises to be yet another monumental year musically. As always, feel free to message me to discuss music, literature, film, etc.
08:11 AM on 12/21/11
I didn't really get into Bon Iver's record until the end of the year, so that is why it is not incredibly high. I'd probably put it in top 5 now.
Likewise, same goes for Young Statues - it'd probably be top 15
10:53 AM on 12/27/11
I go with yours. The only Mansions love I've seen.
11:05 AM on 12/27/11
Your list is my favorite. Probably would be closest to my own personal picks as well. And it's awesome that Lydia's album is one of your top 10.
I also sorta feel like Yellowcard's new album got overlooked by a lot of people. It seemed like such a solid record. But maybe since it came out so early in the year everyone just forgot.
And I agree with all your disapponments too.
11:21 AM on 12/27/11
i really like a lot of what's on your list, especially selections of favorite songs. the ones you picked from the wonder years, the dangerous summer, man overboard and balance & composure specifically are some of my favorites of the year.
01:41 PM on 12/27/11
Definitely my favorite list for the fact that Waves is so high and you actually mentioned Rescue. Underrated album with the strongest batch of Silverstein songs since DTW. Balance and Composure and City and Colour are all in my top 10 as well.
03:31 PM on 12/27/11
Thank you for having Jack's and This Love. 2 Phenomenal albums that no ones recognizing!
03:58 PM on 12/27/11
Nice to see someone else include MovMou in their top 10.
07:52 PM on 12/27/11
Butter On A Summer Day...
Woah, we should be friends. Same age, same name, similar lists all around.
04:06 AM on 12/28/11
Brilliant list. The D.R.U.G.S. album surprised me a lot.
Is 11/23/63 really that good?
07:06 AM on 12/28/11
Registered Pokémon Trainer
My AOTY was not mention in the first few lists I read and I was going nuts. Glad to see somebody else liked Touché Amoré.
07:31 AM on 12/28/11
I'm a huge Stephen King fan. But I haven't read
yet - so it may have been my favorite
04:04 PM on 12/28/11
Not read any Stephen King for a year or so, may check this out.
09:16 PM on 12/28/11
SO glad to see some love for
Mansions. Top 5 for me for sure, despite not liking it for the first few listens.
Definitely checking out The American Scene, and curious to only see Fireworks as an honorable.
Also, had no idea you were still in high school, even reading plenty of your stuff. Awesome to you