Top Thirty 7″ Records of 2011 (part 1)

As you know, we’ve covered a ton of music this year – to be a bit more exact, we’ve covered over 150 unique 7″ singles through 2011.

Now comes the hard part – the part where we sit down and file through them all and decide which of them stood out the most. Not only does this show you what we prefer here at the Styrofoam Drone, but it can also help show trends throughout the year. On top of that, it’s the best way to reacquaint yourself with the material from the beginning of the year, because admittedly, by now, those earlier gems have faded away with each new passing single that comes and goes.

Much like last year, we’re going to start out by strictly covering 7″ records, our most preferred musical format. We’ve started with the Honorable Mentions list below, and then we’ll work our way up to the top spot of the year. We think we made this list about as accurately as we felt about the music through the year, so we are proud to present to you are favorite 7″ releases from the year 2011. Expect part two (records #15 to #1) to come tomorrow. Please enjoy!!!

Honorable Mentions:

It’s tough to admit but there’s always going to be those releases that just barely missed the mark. And when we say “barely” we mean it. Putting together a list like this is never easy, to the point where we were making alterations down to the wire until everything looked just right. These are the singles that just missed the cut.

Still Corners – Cuckoo 7″ (Sub Pop)
Radar Eyes – Miracle 7″ (Hozac Records)
The Eeries – Comes Alive 7″ (Evil Weevil)
Telepathe – Throw Away This 7″ (White Iris)
Les Guillotines – L’Aube 7″ (Croque Macadam)
Mondo Ray – Hypnotized 7″ (Windian Records)
Monster Rally – Deep Sea 7″ (Gold Robot Records)
Charles Albright – Weight 7″ (Permanent Records)
Apache Dropout – Radiation 7″ (Mexican Summer)
Puberty – Invitations 7″ (Telephone Explosion Records)
Bleached – Searching Through the Past 7″(Suicide Squeeze)
Keep Shelly in Athens – Hauntin’ Me 7″ (Transparent Records)
The Limiñanas – (I’ve Got) Trouble in Mind 7″ (Trouble in Mind Records)


Real Estate – It’s Real 7″
Label: Domino Recording Co.
It would just be wrong for us to deny Real Estate a spot on this list. Their lead single, “It’s Real,” is one of the most mindful and catchy songs that comes to mind alongside the year 2011. Gorgeous guitars ring and go with the mesmerizing flow, bringing you along for quite an enjoyable ride as you’re left with no other choice.

Night Manager – Ghost 7″
Label: Big Love Records
Coming together with hazy guitar scuzz and minor post-punk tendencies, Night Manager definitely left us with some promise this year – and really that includes both of their singles, except on this later one they really got down to business. Caitlin Seager and her captivating voice are easily the most stunning element in these songs, creating this wobbly notion as she sways across endless waves of gritty guitar crunch. They’ve confirmed it before, so we should have a full length from these guys in due time, it’s just the wait that makes it so difficult.

Ceiling Stares/ Super Vacations – Split 7″
Label: Velocity of Sound/ Sweaters & Pearls
There really wasn’t any other 7″ we covered this year that caught us more off guard. The Ceiling Stares account on this single in itself is enough to crack this list, so once you add in those two Super Vacation tracks it’s an obvious no-brainer. Between the intricate instrumentals of “A Tunnel Through the Air” and the straight-forward delivery of the Super Vacations, this single rocks out for the entire duration while sparing us of any bullshit whatsoever. This is truly a diamond in the rough.

Spider Fever – She’s No Saint 7″
Label: Cave Punk
Needless to say, Spider Fever tore it up in the 7″ game this year. With one on Cave Punk and another on Hozac, there doesn’t appear to be much that’s going to stop Mario Rubalcaba and the gang. At this point we know what he’s capable of through many prolific past efforts – now we’re just waiting on a full length.

The Prefab Messiahs – Franz Kafka 7″
Label: Almost Ready Records
A batch of resurrected songs from 1982 somehow fits perfectly into what the underground psych-punks of today would call relevant. Ridiculously high energy levels plague a song like “Franz Kafka” into blazing psychedelic coma and that’s exactly the reason this is such a frenetically memorable listen. Guitar spaz-outs are executed with so much pent up energy it hurts, leaving you in a bruised mess once the madness subsides.

Christmas Island/ Meth Teeth – Split 2×7″
Label: Sacred Bones Records
This was a unique record just for the way it was released. The material on it is a different story. Christmas Island serve up their clean and tidy pop-rock, while Meth Teeth deliver their patented, dark and dreary style of clangorous psych-folk. Both manage to hit their own mark, to the point where Sacred Bones nailed it – “These two West Coast bands offer opposing sides of the same coin.” Nobody could have said it better.

Hungry Gayze – Roadkill 7″
Label: Florida’s Dying
Hungry Gayze just dropped their debut 7″ on Florida’s Dying, but just as quickly we’re endorsing everything they do. Their strange take on garage rock features plenty of grit and noise, leaving us with no idea what to think is around each new corner. Unpredictably is an element that will just never get old and it’s working perfectly for Hungry Gayze. Chances are we’re going to hear more from these odd-balls come 2012.

The Whines – Shootinhead 7″
Label: Mt. St. Mtn.
It was a good year for The Whines. They put together this one-off project on the tiny Mt. St. Mtn. label (not to mention an excellent split LP), but quality is no surprise from them as they’ve been delivering since the beginning. The morbid “Shootinhead” further proves that, while the alternate recording of “Straybird” is nothing short of awesome.

Real Numbers – Tear it in Two 7″
Label: Florida’s Dying
Simplicity, innocence and straight up power-pop is the key for Real Numbers and it fucking works. Their UK style pop combined with their overall likeness will having you spinning these tracks again and again. Bubbly bass lines, sharp guitars and a slight overall crunch will quickly tug on your heart strings.

Krang – Speed of Tent 7″
Label: Mammoth Cave Recording Co.
How many other bands rocked this hard while also featuring a clarinet in their line up? Absolutely none. Krang stand out for just that reason and their disgustingly heavy 7″ on Mammoth Cave is all the justification you would ever need. Howling clarinets sound literally nothing like they should, creating this haunting coo throughout both tracks which, in unison with the rest of the madness, sounds like complete and utter destruction. Not sure what else might come in the future, but we can always hope for something.

Audacity – Vape Victim 7″
Label: Goodbye Boozy Records
These two songs from an earlier Audacity cassette tape were brought back to life thanks to Goodbye Boozy Records and this blazing 7″. Two songs barely reaching past the two minute mark contain more energy and ambition than thought possible, resulting in these two smoking tracks where the “youthful exuberance” is off the charts. Sloppy song structure, pummeling guitar shards, big surf rock chords and total unpredictability dominate these two tracks, coming off like a heated whirlwind that doesn’t even last past five minutes.

Spider Fever – Whatcha Gonna Do? 7″
Label: Hozac Records
In regards to both Spider Fever singles, their Hozac release is much more sloppy and unkempt – their single on Cave Punk features a bit more structure and tidiness while still retaining those raw and destructive qualities. That being said, the overall sloppiness is what makes “Whatcha Gonna Do” stand out over the latter. High voltage guitar licks and the bro-ish chanting of Mario Rubalcaba would fit excellently at your next house party banger. Let’s just hope they don’t keep us waiting too long for more from Spider Fever.

Banjo or Freakout – 105 7″
Label: Memphis Industries
We didn’t cover much from Alessio Natalizia this year besides this 7″, but it’s excellent and makes for an increasingly curious listen with each successive spin. “Dead in the Snow” is ultimately what puts this single in the spotlight, creating this notion of bliss within the chilling and icy complexions that make up such a gorgeously puzzling track. The worst part is the track was only “good” enough to be considered a B-side, go figure. But if this didn’t encapsulate the idea of a quality 7″ then it wouldn’t be here.

Something Men – Birdy Roof 7″
Label: EZPZ Records
Hailing from the UK, Something Men dropped their debut 7″ this year and luckily we didn’t miss out. Included are two tracks of bluesy guitar shuffles dripping with attitude, not to mention endless twang to boot. Mysteriously reverberating vibes and a troubling psychedelic undertone creep along under the radar, coming out at just the right times to throw us off their trail. Something Men are definitely onto something here, but that’s exactly what their good at hiding – “something.”

Grouper – Water People 7″
Label: Ballroom Marfa
This single from Grouper is a great example of why we put together these lists. Not only because we want to show our favorite release of the year, but to also show the diversity between music that can be considered quality. No other single on this list sounds remotely close to the jaw-dropping beauty of “Water People,” which undeniably makes this one of the most highly regarded (and impossible to obtain) singles of the year.


See Part 2 of the 7″ Countdown for 2011 right here!

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