The Big 10 Albums of 2011 Features Adele, Anthrax, Foo Fighters and More

I’m calling my top ten of 2011 the Big Ten because there are actually twelve albums in my top ten. I had a tough time cutting it down to 12. I really wanted to include the new Korn album, The Metallica & Lou Reed album (just for the artistic element alone), among many more. Number 13 was The Dear Hunter’s "Color Spectrum," a band I heard about for the first time this year and absolutely love, so I at least wanted to mention them. Below is my twelve top ten albums in no particular order.

Adele – "21" – I’m not going to pretend to be this huge fan of Adele, but I have to give credit where credit is due. In a world dominated by Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Britney Spears, it really is nice to hear something as musical Adele being mentioned in the same breath as the ladies above. Adele keeps pop music respectable for those of us who are into actual music.
Dropkick Murphy’s – "Going Out in Style" – The always reliable Dropkick Murphy released their concept album "Going Out in Style" in 2011. The album is about the fictional character Cornelius Larkin, an Irish immigrant who passed on and is giving a retrospect of his life. If you don’t care to follow the story, each song stands alone as well. The album features several special guests including Bruce Springsteen and Lenny Clarke.

Foo Fighters – "Wasting Light" – When it comes to popular music, rock music is dead…sort of. I mean there’s Nickelback, Bon Jovi and bands like U2, Muse and Kings of Leon, but for the most part rock music doesn’t get the credit it deserves. With the release of "Wasting Light," the Foo Fighters proved to the world that rock music is still alive and well. Check out the rest of my list, all rock bands, most of which you’ve never heard of.

Anthrax – "Worship Music" & Megadeth – "Th1rt3en" – Thrash metal made it resurgence in 2008 and has remained live and well through 2011 and probably will stay that way into the distant future. In 2011 both Megadeth and Anthrax released new albums. Both albums were amazing, but "Worship Music" stands out to me, because it may very well be the best Anthrax album. It marks the return of Joey Belladonna. Thank you Megadeth and Anthrax for contributions this year.

Noel Gallagher’s – "High Flying Birds" – This was the surprise album of the year for me. I’m a casual Oasis fan. When you look at legendary partnership like Jagger & Richards, Tyler & Perry (why does there have to be a guy named Tyler Perry) etc, they need each other to be great. I just kind of assumed Noel would need Liam to be great, but after hearing "High Flying Birds" I was clearly mistaken. If this album had the Oasis name on it, I think it would be one of the best selling albums of the year. Albums sales mean nothing though when it comes to greatness and "High Flying Birds" is one of the best albums of 2011.

Sound of Cancer – "No Vampires in Gilroy" – Sometimes an unknown duo can sneak its way into my top ten. Last year a lady by the name of Alexx Calise contacted me about her solo album "In Avanti" which was a great, original pop rock album. This year she sent me an album by her and Dennis Morehouse under the band name Sound of Cancer saying that it had a Pink Floyd vibe to it. Inside I was thinking, ‘God don’t say that.’ But when I listened to it I realized what she was talking about. You know when you listen to a band like Pink Floyd; you can just sit back, close your eyes and let the music take you on a journey. That’s what Sound of Cancer’s "No Vampires in Gilroy" did for me. I’m not just saying all of this because I’m friends with Alexx, because I’ve never met her. I get several emails a year just like hers, but her music has stood out. Good is good, it doesn’t matter how famous you are.

Kyng – "Trampled Sun" – Kyng is probably my new favorite band. If Pantera, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden had a baby, it would be Kyng. Those are four of the greatest all time bands, especially when it comes to heavy music. Kyng lives up to the comparison. I’ve seen them live at what they described as one of their worst shows and I thought they were amazing. They’re heavy, but they’re not a clone of any other band. They’ve got that groove that Pantera brought to heavy metal, they got amazing Black Sabbath influenced guitar riffs, a singer that channels Chris Cornell and occasionally they bust out these harmonies that are right up there with Jerry Cantrell and Layne Staley from Alice in Chains. I just said they’re not a clone of anybody, then compared them to four bands, but blend those four bands into one and you’ve got one bad ass rock band that sounds like nobody but Kyng.

Leslie West – "Unusual Suspects" – Sometimes these top ten lists throw in a living legend just out of respect. The album could suck, but their back catalogue is so good that they godfathered their way in. That’s not the case with Mountain’s Leslie West. He had quite a year, losing his leg to diabetes. Just before that he had finished what I consider one of the great rock albums of this year. It’s funny, because the album is great all on its own, but then he brought is Slash, Zakk Wylde, Billy Gibbons, and a handful of other guitar legends to play with him. Whenever West is able to go out and tour, I want to see him play songs off of this album as much as I want to hear songs like "Mississippi Queen." That doesn’t happen often with veteran rocks tars.

Eric Sardinas and Big Moter – "Sticks and Stones" & The Steepwater Band – "Clava" – Earlier I combined Anthrax and Megadeth, well now I’m going to combine Eric Sardinas and The Steepwater Band. Both these guys have that bluesy, rootsy, rock sound. Both feature a lot of slide guitar and both are amazing live acts. Eric Sardinas and Big Motor released "Sticks and Stones" and it’s one of those albums you throw on and listen to beginning to end. That said my favorite song in 2011 is probably "County Line." Then you’ve got the boys out of Chicago, The Steepwater Band. I thought their last album and EP was great, but their newest album "Clava" is such an improvement. I truly mean I thought "Grace and Melody" was one of the greatest albums of I think 2009, but "Clava" was just a huge step forward for a band who was great where they. I can’t wait until they come back to town.

Black Stone Cherry – "Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea" – Black Stone Cherry are road warriors. I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen them live. At first I was seeing them on accident, they were opening for bands I love like Buckcherry and Black Label Society, but without owning one of their albums they became a band I love and respect. I eventually got all of their albums. This year saw the release of "Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea." I think this will be the album that gets Black Stone Cherry to the next level is popularity. There are so many kick ass songs on the album, but "Blame it on the Boom Boom" is going to be huge…I can just feel it. We need to get these guys on tour with Aerosmith.

BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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3 Comments:

Marco said...

Noel's album was so great that he received 21 negative reviews... and even his fans fell asleep.

Anonymous said...

I commend you for your picks. Leslie West sounds better than he ever has. This album is in my rotation. I love everysong except number twelve. How many other albums can keep your attemtion from beginning to end.

Also good call on Foo Fighters and Adele. No glitz no glam, just great music. I will have to listen to others now!

Foxsuper said...

I agree with most of your top Ten but I also love Lady gaga and Britney Spears ...not because they are great musicians but what they do they do so well and it is exciting and very entertaining. I wish people would realise that some people like lots of different styles of Music and neither is superior or better....just different. PS I really don't like Adele's voice but i realise that she is a great singer/songwriter.