Top Albums of 2011

As much as I love my horses, I have another passion – music. As I’m sure I’ve stated before, I’ve been going to concerts for years photographing for my website Avoid The This past year I haven’t made it to as many concerts due to work, horse shows and the fact that a lot of my favorite bands aren’t touring or are “going on hiatus”. The shows that I have been to this year have all been amazing. When the lights go down and the band hits the stage, I get that same butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I do when the starter counts me down on cross-country. 2012 looks to be a good year for the bands I love. I’ve got three shows lined up already in February. Since many of the bands on this list released albums on Oct. 4 of this year (it was a great day!), I’m guessing they’ll tour in the coming year.

I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite albums of the year. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of pop and pop/rock!

1. Mariana’s Trench – “Ever After” – I’ve only had this album since Thanksgiving, but it’s like candy. I literally have to stop myself from listening to it too much or I’ll spoil myself. I’m not sure how I missed these guys, but they just make very catchy, very sincere pop tunes. Their last record and this one have been concept albums. This one just flows from one song to another perfectly and I can’t pick on favorite, plus vocalist Josh Ramsay has some major pipes.

2. The Cab – “Symphony Soldier” – Another very pop band, but I love Alex DeLeon’s vocals and they’re pretty good live. It’s been a few years since their last release, but this was worth the wait.
3. Relient K – Is For Karaoke – I’ve been a fan of Relient K since high school. They consistently put out great records and they’re a great example of a pop punk band progressing their sound without huge leaps and bounds. This is a covers album clearly influenced by the 80’s, but they do covers like no band can. They pick some pop hits (Justin Bieber’s “Baby”) and some more quirky ones (They Might Be Giants’ “Doctor Worm”). They can do country, rock, hip hop and pop equally well.
4. We Are The In Crowd – “Best Intentions” – It’s hard not to compare a female-fronted band with Paramore, but I think WATIC stand apart. They’re going where I’d hoped Paramore would go. Catchy pop-rock tunes and great live.
5. Jack’s Mannequin – “People and Things”- Jack’s Mannequin are one of my favorites. After what frontman Andrew Macmahon has gone through, it’s hard not to be inspired. His third full-length is more mid-tempo than his past two releases, but I’m loving it so far. It’s a natural progression and I’m excited to see them live (again!) in February.
6. Yellowcard – “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” – One of my favorite bands from high school who unfortunately went on a hiatus. But they’re one of few who actually made good on that statement and came back. I think this is their strongest record to date and the fact that they released an acoustic version of it makes me love them even more.
7. Mayday Parade – “Mayday Parade” – After a second full-length that many critics and fans thought was a flop, Mayday Parade released an album that fulfilled their potential after the loss of vocalist/song writer Jason Lancaster to Go Radio. I missed their fall tour, but saw them over the summer and I’m excited to see them again this spring.
8. Go Radio – “Lucky Street” – Although I haven’t worn this out as much as I did their last EP, Go Radio put out a great first full-length. It was just lacking the poppiness of the EP, but I have high hopes for the future. Now if only they’d tour more!
9. Simple Plan – “Get Your Heart On!”
– Another one of my high school favorites. Sure the lyrics are cheesy, but after being off my radar for a few years, I’m glad they’re back. This has more of a pop/rock feel than pop/punk, but it feels like they’ve grown with me over the years as my tastes have changed.
10. Cartel – “In Stereo” EP– Cartel are on the way back to their previous form with this catchy EP. Another band with a very strong vocalist. I’m crossing my fingers for a full-length in 2012.
11. This Century – “Sound of Fire” – A new band I discovered this year. Very catchy and I’m hoping for a tour in the near future.
12. New Found Glory – “Radiosurgery” – NFG were one of the first alternative bands I got into in high school and I’m so happy they’re still around. I need to spend some more time with this, but I like what I hear.
13. Westlife – “Greatest Hits” – I know this is really cheesy of me to have a boyband on my list, but I remember Westlife from back in middle school when I was listening to the Backstreet Boys. I had their first three albums, but they didn’t quite hit it off in the US. Once I got to high school, my interest in boybands faded, but last year I saw they had another album coming out. I did some research and realized they’ve done 10 albums since I last heard from them! I love their mid-tempo’s and this 2-disc greatest hits album is fun to spin for nostalgia’s sake. Plus they’re Irish and so dreamy!
14. Family Force 5 – “III” – I haven’t spent a lot of time with this, but FF5 first impressed me at Warped Tour with their live show a few years ago. It’s fun, dancey and has a cool Southern twang.
15. Brighten – “I’ll Always Around” EP – Great mellow, acoustic music for lazy afternoons.

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