Albums of 2011: 25-11

Here begins the start of’s annual roundup of the greatest albums which have been stuck on our stereos in 2011.

Let the countdown commence!

25) Chickenfoot – III

If you have Joe Satriani as your Guitarist, Marc Anthony on bass and Sammy Hagar as your vocalist, you are bound to produce something special. Vast improvement on their debut, this is about as classic rock as classic rock gets. Big bluesy melodies, Satch wonder solos and this time around, tunes to back them up.

24) Johnny Foreigner – Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything

These brummy indie punks have varied up their tempo’s more willingly on their latest. Rawkus punk rockers mingle with sweet lullaby balladry all with the honest everyman JoFo songwriting that’s so alluring. Everything that’s great about the band on one disc!

23) Amaranthe – Amaranthe

Really…European Power Metal?? That’s was my initial reaction upon compiling this list, but it did not feel right placing it in the Honourable mentions section. This is probably the most addictive metal record of 2011, twin male growls and powerful female vocals line the mammoth avenues of electro-metal. Surprisingly brilliant!

22) Times of Grace – The Hymn Of A Broken Man

Guitarist of metal-core legends Killswitch Engage steps out into the spotlight and into moody melodic territory. This is a superb work of dark sweeping soundscapes, masterful metal riffing and equally beautiful emotive vocals.

21) Rise Against – Endgame

US Political punk torch bearers have yet again created a solid album packed with pop slanted rockers. Soaring chorus lines backed by flaring guitars light up the track list, which never loses its momentum.

20) The Computers – This Is The Computers

The Computers debut album comes hurtling at you like a Punked up Blues-mobile, making one hell of a racket in the process. Snarling, teeth baring punk rock vocals lash against the age old cliffs of blues rock, bringing life and aggression to an age old sound. Each song kicks and screams as it hurtles along with reckless abandon, providing catchy licks at every turn. These riffs and melodies have all been played before mind you, but never quite like this.

19) Twin Atlantic – Free

After their cracking mini album Vivarium, Twin Atlantic unleashed Free, and it’s even better than its predecessors. They write the kind of songs destined to be sung at stadiums across the globe. Their vocalist’s broad Scottish accent only enhances their signature sound, packed with impassioned rock, streaming with melody and kick ass guitars. Song after song of huge hooks and epic chorus lines proved impossible to overlook this year. Free is one of the best Greatest British albums of 2011.

18) Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

Taking a vast sidestep from their heritage as leaders of the late 80’s early 90’s punk revolution, Social Distortion creates a cracking straight up American rock album that’s both full of drive and ambition, whilst being true to its roots. Their knack for addictive riffs hasn’t deserted them as this album delivers corking sing-a-longs and rock and roll rippers at every turn!

17) The Answer – Revival

What a fantastic return to form Revival proved for the hard rocking Irishmen. Crammed full of bluesy heritage riffing, stunning vocals and memorable melodies. This rollicking romp of a record became and instant  hit and has remained that way ever since. The Answer are still on the course walked by the rock greats!

16) Black Stone Cherry – Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea

Yes, its ballad heavy, yes they haven’t progressed much…but boy they know how to write a monstrous rock anthem. BTDATDBS shows this in force with wah-wah led White Trash Millionaire, deeply detuned chugger Killing Floor and the debauched party times of Blame It On The Boom Boom. Their softer side has fallen closer to the surface on this record. But through all the mid-tempo’ness there are heartfelt lyrics and brilliant banging choruses prevalent throughout. BSC are back and hitting harder than ever!

15) Bomb The Music Industry – Vacation

These ramshackle punks have finally put all what’s great about their DIY ethos, eclecticism, energy, passion and attitude together into one seamless collection of corking tunes. Flitting from noise rock, to reckless punk outrages, to surf-pop and sweet acoustic tales proves this album has so much to love. Although never ones to truly conform, their slightly poppier vocals this time out have eased their accessibility, thus hiking them up this list with double quick speed.

14) British India – Avalanche

With the UK’s current rock crop going off in all manner of directions (Arctic Monkeys-Snoozeland, Kasabian-Ambience, Kaiser Chiefs-Just Odd!) it was left to these Aussie boys to produce the best pop rocker of 11. This album fizzes and sparks with fuzzed up riffs, soaring chorus lines, thumping drums and ass kicking melodic anthems. A triumph of back to basics skuzzy rock with a true pop heart.

13) The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

After impressing us early in the year, it was no surprise to see it firmly planted within this years round-up. Their swirling walls of guitar noise offset by the sugary sweet vocals of firecracker front woman Ritzy Bryan provide many beautifully riotous crescendos. With track after track of these huge melodies it’s easy to overlook to fact that there are so many hit singles effortlessly sprawled throughout the track list. Epic Indie Rock!

12) Karma To Burn – V

Although taking Karma To Burn away from their trademark Stoner rock instrumentals large enough to sedate a woolly mammoth, the arrival of Daniel Davies (Son of The Kinks, Dave Davies) has sparked new life into the formula. The addition of vocals, no matter how hazy and spectral have added that extra oomph the band needed to grab attention and never relent its torrid grip. Enormous melodies and some of the most powerful rock this side of ‘Disaster Area’. Prepared to be blown away!

11) Danananaykroyd – There Is A Way

A sad year for these fight poppers as they said farewell to music and parted each their seperate ways. But that doesn’t mean their final album doesn’t live up to the our expectations. Packed with pinging melodies, na na na na’s, intricate guitars and their exhilerating duelling vocal delivery resulted in a fine legacy to one of Britain’s finest live bands.

Stay tuned for the top 10!

Album Review Shorts: Bear Cavalry – Maple Trails

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

Bear Cavalry – Maple Trails

Just in case you were feeling down as the days shorten, the nights grow longer and the depths of Winter start to take hold, Bear Cavalry’s latest sampler EP is here to raise the spirits. A surefire summer album which is bursting with multi instrumental vitality, beautifully versatile vocals and melodies to get your calypso on to. These tunes spring with energy and life wildly springing from spiky post punk guitars and African carnival vibes on Custom Hands while the lead track Roman Summer spins intricate melodies sprinkled with electro fizzes and a euphoric chorus. Despite the eclecticism on show, all the elements fuse together well including some unexpected surprises on Will Smith Solves The Rubik’s Cube..sombre verse, trumpet blowing chorus and indie toe tapping disco? Who knew?

There is a lot for the pop fan to love here. A splash of Little Comets shaken with some Kooks on a sandy wash of impulsive guitars will bring a dose of summer rushing right back up the aural canal! A highly promising EP.

Rise Against, The Nightwatchman @ Brixton Academy

9th November 2011

Set against the foreboding backdrop of social inequality, student protests. grave economic uncertainty & growing Occupy movements. Tonight’s Brixton Academy line-up was about as fitting as they come! Headliners Rise Against, themselves bastions of a free and just society, were mere pretenders when faced with the politically prosed legends due to support their good cause on stage tonight.

Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club despite not falling into this category, did remarkably well at packing the venue by a little after doors. They had the soaring melodies to pack a big punk punch, but the vocals were slightly too distorted from where I was standing. This assured performance was met with equal amounts of love and indifference (split down the age divide).

The Nightwatchman

No sooner than reports of his earlier exploits of playing impromptu songs on the steps of St. Pauls for the gathered Occupiers, were streaming off the Evening Standard printers. All round political warrior and guitar hero Tom Morello stepped out to a bulging Brixton crowd as his acoustic wielding alter-ego The Nightwatchman. Singing self proclaimed ‘World Wide Rebel Songs‘ Tom was an enigmatic presence towering over his pointed folk rock. The tunes themselves were as simple and catchy as campfire ditty’s with the crowd being given sing-a-long moments at a rapid fire pace.

Special Guest Billy Bragg

Tom even invited a few special guests to sing alongside him onstage. Both Tim & Zach of Rise Against and a man he was clearly overwhelmed by, British political punk poet legend Billy Bragg. With only a handful of morello signature guitar solos and a single taking from RATM’s Renegade’s (Ghost of Tom Joad) this was the Nightwatchman’s night.

Rise Against

Rise Against returned as a full compliment to almighty roars from the stoked up fans. Their punk rock left no room for seatbelts tonight. This was a full tilt exhilarating parade of powerful guitars, infectious chorus chants and sublime melodies. The sound inside the academy tonight was truly gigantic, often drowning out the husky throaty rasps of vocalist Tim McIlrath .

Picking the setlist from albums new to old in equal measure, they pleased every gathered face in abundance. Proving their hardcore roots, they threw in plenty of relentlessly paced circle pit igniters such as Heaven Knows and Survive alongside more recent pop glossed offerings Architects and Satellite.

To their credit Rise Against were not preachy, yet they spoke with gusto and a collective enigmatic spirit that filled the heart with pride and honour. This was none more evident than on the acoustic double header of Swing Life Away and the poignant anti-war anthem Hero of War. The latter sparked an almighty emotional crowd outpouring of voices, minds and love.

If only every crowd were as joyous, if every line-up as committed to the good fight, the world would be a much better place for all. Not to mention one that truly rocks!