Hello? Anybody out there? Is this thing on?
6) Other Lives – Tamer Animals
Favorite Track: “For 12”
It didn't take long for this record to knock me on my ass. I got five songs into it and rushed to proclaim my love for it (and that it'd definitely end up on this list) on my blog. I'm not one to use the word “gorgeous” all that often (or ever, really), but I can't really think of a better way to describe this record. It's just gorgeous (and haunting).
I mentioned last week that Radiohead's The King of Limbs didn't make the cut for this year's list, and I feel like a large part of that (aside from TKOL not having much staying power) was that Tamer Animals filled the sonic void that Radiohead records have usually filled over the years for me. It's melancholy, brooding, textured, nuanced, and diverse. Given that Radiohead is my favorite band of all time, I'm not really sure I can give a record a greater compliment than that.
Buy Tamer Animals here.
5) Helms Alee – Weatherhead
Favorite Track: “Mad Mouth”
Helms Alee's Weatherhead was a bit of a sleeper for me this year. I was a huge fan of the band's first full length, Night Terror, but wasn't sure if its follow up would live up to the high expectations I had for it. Not only did it live up to those lofty expectations, but it exceeded them, landing it in my top five records of the year. If you like nasty, gritty guitar and bass tones, odd time signatures, one of the best yells/screams in heavy music, and three-part male/female harmonies in dark, heavy, riff-driven rock & roll, you'll love this. With Weatherhead, it seems they've found the perfect balance between discord and melody layered beautifully over pummeling drums. It's truly chill-inducing rock. It dominated my playlist when it came out this June, and has been a record I've found myself going back to over and over when I'm in the mood for something heavy, dark, and melodic.
Buy Weatherhead here.
4) Cave In – White Silence
Favorite Track: “Sing My Loves”
I've been an unabashed super-fan of Cave In since Thrice had the life/band-trajectory-changing experience of touring with them on the Take Action/Plea For Peace Tour in 2001, I was crushed when I heard they were going on hiatus in 2006, and I almost exploded when I heard they were writing and recording new music for a release in 2011.
That release, White Silence, is absolutely everything I hoped it would be and more. It's got the crushing dynamic shifts of Jupiter era Cave In, the brutality of Until Your Heart Stops era Cave In, the melody and semi-psychedelic Pink Floyd/Beatles vibe of singer/guitarist Steve Brodsky's solo work, the headbanging sludge of bassist Caleb Scofield's Old Man Gloom and Zozobra projects, the thrashiness of guitarist Adam McGrath's Clouds project, all propelled by the outstanding drumming of JR Conners (the closest thing we have to a modern day John Bonham, as far as this drummer is concerned) and it's all neatly packaged onto a concise thirty-six minute LP. It's that conciseness (and that I love this band to death) that put this record in heavy rotation for all of 2011.
Buy White Silence (FOR $5!) here.
They might be done touring, but I hope this band never stops making music together. There's just nothing like it. There are very few heavy bands that move me like this band can.