Friday, December 23, 2011

15 Underappreciated Albums That Rocked 2011

While there wasn't a bombardment of killer activity in 2011, there were some modest, hard-fought advancements and a few artist fearlessly raised there head above the parapets of mediocrity and fired with all they had.

Of course,  I'm still down here in the trenches slogging it out. Here amidst the rats, the vermin and the stench of corpses, I will seek music that which lives and fights, rather then that which seems to just meekly blend into its surroundings. Let the dullness be prepared for hand-to-hand combat!

So, in that warrior spirit, here is my list of fifteen albums by artists that didn't get to live in peace and luxury but rather marched into battle as possible canon fodder:

(All band name links go directly to MySpace - or some such place - for your listening pleasure.)

1) TV Smith: Coming in to Land
 TV Smith's body of work, as good or better then any of his fellow London punks of '76, is drastically under-appreciated (outside of Germany), which is cruel as every one of his albums, and Coming in to Land is a great example, is loaded with incisive, incendiary songs that you'll want to sing along to. (Video HERE)

2) The Carmines: Wider, Fatter, Louder
 Surf's-up, punks!

3) Dirty Wings: 30th Avenue Heartache
Great debut albums by a Brooklyn band who "...Sound like they love the Stones, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Social Distortion and a whole buncha other, less obvious kinds of stuff that they'll only tell you about once you buy them beer. (more HERE)

4) Van Buren Boys: Up All Night
 Attitude-fulled power-pop-punk straight outta Chicago! (Video HERE)

5) Peter, Bjorn and John: Gimme Some
Of course, this list always features our "token indie-rock' album on the list, not any misguided sense of fair play, but just because under the amorphous heading of 'indie-rock' there's always something that brings the songs and brings the noise like this 3rd albums by a Swedish band I was never sold on previously. (More HERE)

5) Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones
One of our tradition's here at MRML is to have a "Dylan Was a Punk" album of the year, and this is the second time Englishman Turner has snagged it for his latest (and near-best) set of sturdy folk-punk tunes. (More HERE)

6) John Wesley HardingThe Sound Of His Own Voice
Y'know the pleasure of a good singer/song-writer album is underrated and quintessentially-English JWH and his American backing band, The Decemberists,  have pulled together a diverse but always witty and hummable brace of tunes here that more people need to hear. (more HERE)

7) Breakdowns: The Kids Don't Want To Bop Anymore
This lack of bopping by the youth of today must be stopped and The Breakdowns know just what to do - rock!    (More HERE)

8) Zebrassieres: Gooey Zoo
 So my country's capital, Ottawa, is in the grips of a sweater-vested, dictator-in-training and yet that modest-sized city is producing a shipload of great loud, rocking, tuneful  bands like Steve Adamyk Band, The White Wires, and Mother's Children and the slightly artier, fuzzier, new-wave-ier Zebrassieres! (

9) Will Varley: Advert Soundtracks
Frank Turner, Last Man on Earth and the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan might make good points of comparison but English folkie Varley is determined to make his own caustic soundtrack to the age. (Video HERE)

10) Steve Adamyk Band: Forever Won't Wait
Eff-er-fuckin-vescent pop songs played with punk bottle. Ottawa strikes again!

11) Junior Battles Idle Ages
 A pop-punk pot-luck from this Toronto [!] group who snitch for the more underground and more over-ground styles of that oft-misunderstood genre. (Video HERE)

12) Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style
Boston's Celtic-punks don't get a lot of respect due to their consistency of sound (and accusations of meatheadedness) but the fact is that the band have grown as writers and performers enough to make Going Out in Style "a flinty, hard-nosed affair with eleven new songs (plus two from back in the mists of time) that have a vintage freshness about them, steeped in history but fully in the moment."  (More HERE)

13)  Wrong Words: Self-Titled
San Francisco garagified-punk that'll have you singing along in seconds flat! (Video HERE)

14) The Slow Death: Born Ugly, Got Worse
Growly, catchy, angry, painfully self-aware, Rick-Springfield-quotin', high-lonesome heartland-punk which somehow manages to contain a former Erg. (Video HERE)

15) Geoff Useless: Don't Stop
The last MRML tradition that must be served is our token "Anachronism of the Year" by which a late-released album that whipped past us at hi-speed is formally acknowledged, such as this December 2010 record by Geoff Useless which imagines an accord between Buck Owens and The Queers.

So, despite my ready-aye-ready talk, I'm not proposing declaring war on all those big name lists. I'm willing to admit that I haven't even heard the majority of albums within my allied genres, never mind my supposed enemy styles. It's time to admit that those in the other trench are just people with different taste and perhaps it's time for a Christmas truce.

Good grief people, the last list (see HERE) went without the support of (almost) any missives from those of you on the home front. What do you think of these albums Did you hear anything you dug? Did we miss something that might've fit? Let us know in the COMMENTS section!

Best Songs of the year list will be coming after Christmas!


  1. All TV Smith's albums are great! I've seen Tim 5 times this year, 3 times doing his acoustic solo stuff and twice with The Valentines doing The Adverts stuff, the last time being last Saturday. He such a nice guy to chat with and criminally underated!

  2. I know you love your pop-punk, and the best record I heard this year was Big Eyes' 'Hard Life'. Haven't seen it on any of the powerpop best-ofs yet, but I think this was the catchiest stuff around in '11. Check it out.


  3. My favorite pick for 2011 would be The Sandwitches album, Mrs. Jones' Cookies. Too unreal to be not highly entertaining. Other than that - happiest holidays...!


  4. The Breakdowns record is fab- raw, romantic, ready and willing. Classic songwriting and dirty shoes.

  5. I really liked that Dot Dash album you reviewed earlier in '11. Aside from that I think the most Jeffen Positive full-length I picked up this year would have to be the Cannon Bros disc. Otherwise, for me, 2011 once again belonged to metal...which isn't sayin' much 'cause, Electro Quarterstaff aside, it wasn't a spectacular year for the bangers at all!



Thanks for clicking the COMMENTS link.
Now that you're here,I should mentions that
without reader feedback blogs slowly wither and die