Top 25 Albums of 2011

Well, here it is. Another painstaking list regarding the top full length albums of 2011. Of all the lists we put together for you this year, this was by far the most difficult. However, if there’s one thing you should gather from this list, it’s that we had another memorable year with plenty of records that will permanently earn a spot in your memory banks.

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Honorable Mentions:

The People’s Temple – Sons of Stone LP (Hozac Records)
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo LP (Matador Records)
Bad Weather California – Demos & Live Takes LP (St. Ives)
Fluorescent Heights – Tourism LP (Subsuburan Recording Co.)
Various Artists – Todo Muere Volume 1 (Sacred Bones Records)
The Hussy – Cement Tomb Mind Control LP (Slow Fizz Records)
Kitchen’s Floor – Look Forward to Nothing LP (Siltbreeze Records)
Cop City/ Chill Pillars – Held Hostage on Planet Chill (Florida’s Dying)

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25.)
The Men – Leave Home LP
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Track 7:
Few other records from the year can leave you feeling as insignificant as “Leave Home.” The Men stopped at nothing in their cataclysmic approach, combining both blood-curdling screaming and blown out instrumentation from front to back. After something as massive as this, who knows what we can expect in the future.

24.)
Chain and the Gang – Music’s Not For Everyone LP
Label: K Records
Track 1:
It’s hard to say, but there probably wasn’t a record that was more overlooked than “Music’s Not For Everyone” all year. This album is a bold statement consisting of an array of musical genres and influences, not to mention just a flat-out, rockin’ good time thanks to tracks like “Detroit Music” and “(I’ve Got) Privilege.” If you bring together a large group of talented musicians, chances are they’re going to have some fun while recording – as well as leave us with some quality material.

23.)
Panda Bear – Tomboy LP
Label: Paw Tracks
Track 7:
After a slew of excellent singles and really making us wait, Panda Bear dropped “Tomboy” and left us with this oddly unique but satisfying collection of music. Considering all the build up for the record, it certainly had an initial positive response. In fact, it still does.

22.)
Mind Spiders – s/t LP
Label: Dirtnap Records
Track 7:
With one solid LP under his belt as Mind Spiders, Mark Ryan rolls into 2012 with another full-length in the works. Right now there’s no telling what the new record will hold, but chances are it will deliver where this one feel a bit short – that being said, it’s still an awesome record, but we certainly weren’t challenged enough. Let’s hope for more punches in 2012.

21.)
Cult of Youth – s/t LP
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Track 6:
We still don’t think it’s wrong to call Cult of Youth’s extreme sound “pirate-punk.” This was their first album recording as a whole band and with results like these, you’ve got to think they will give it another go at some point. Perhaps in 2012?

20.)
Far-Out Fangtooth – Pure & Disinterested LP
Label: Siltbreeze Records
Track 2:
Far-Out Fangtooth and their scuzzy post-punk grumbles and drags its feet across the floor. However it’s invigorating to the point where you don’t feel the same lazy dirge that plagues these songs. Instead you find yourself listening with curiosity to the vast, sweltering landscapes that many of these tracks supply, swearing by Far-Out Fangtooth with each monumental song that passes.

19.)
Cosmonauts – s/t LP
Label: Permanent Records
Track 3:
Cosmonauts tore it up on our charts this year and rightfully so. Their self-titled LP was only the beginning of the madness which set them up for plenty of other gems down the road. Even at this point it sounds like these rowdy Californians are just getting started. We should have a new LP sometime in 2012.

18.)
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Blood Lust LP
Label: Killer Candy Records
Track 3: http://s0.wp.com/i/support/content-unavailable.png
It would be wrong to say that Uncle Acid and his Deadbeats weren’t underdogs this year. Where the hell did these guys come from? Who cares. Their patented form of doom-psych will leave you feeling threatened and vulnerable time after time due to the blistering guitars and pummeling rhythms that keep you coming back for more. With only 350 copies pressed to vinyl, I’m trying to get my hands on one just as bad as you are.

17.)
Creepoid – Horse Heaven LP
Label: Ian Records
Track 6:
Our hometown hero’s certainly had a year to remember. Through endless touring and trips to places like SXSW, they have also established a name for themselves. Looking forward into the new year, things will probably only get bigger. As a quick side note, these guys still have some big news to reveal about their debut album which they’re bound to drop soon enough.

16.)
Voyageurs – Freak Cave
Label: Self-released
Track 4:
Plagued by swirling psych guitars, crackling bass lines and plenty of lustful attitude, these southern psych-rockers took us by storm this year. Throughout “Freak Cave” these guys vary their sound from track to track, ranging from pedal-to-the-medal intensity to these slow and oozing psych drags-outs. If you missed this one during the year, now is your chance to catch up. Either way these guys are just getting started, so we can only expect more to come.

15.)
Blasted Canyons – s/t LP
Label: Castle Face Records
Track 5:
Blasted Canyons seem to have this notion of importance that comes along with their batshit complexion. The truth is, these guys are important whether they think it or not. No band but Blasted Canyons could take such obnoxious sounds and spin them into this totally relentless realm of noisy post-punk and actually make it work. Was this album just a one time deal? Let’s hope not.

14.)
TRMRS – Sea Things LP
Label: Resurrection Records
Track 11:
TRMRS have this innocence attached to their crunchy psych sound that ends up giving their album an overall messy complexion. In fact, that’s exactly what makes their songs so aggressive and memorable because they are constantly shoving sharp and shredded guitar shards down your throat. However through all the frantic madness of “Sea Things,” TRMRS never truly settle down, making them a worthy contender rolling into 2012.

13.)
Fungi Girls – Some Easy Magic LP
Label: Hozac Records
Track 4:
As a band, Fungi Girls continue to flesh out their sound while remaining consistent. “Some Easy Magic” shows us just how well they have captured the timeless wet and slippery psychedelic sound, which starts them off on a fresh foot going into 2012.

12.)
Pure X – Pleasure LP
Label: Acéphale
Track 4:
“Pleasure” was definitely one of our more anticipated albums coming into 2011. If you knew what to expect going into it, then this record was exactly what you wanted it to be. After a slew of excellent singles and an EP, Pure X came back strong and did not disappoint. Since the LP dropped they have been fairly busy, so here’s hoping for more in 2012.

11.)
Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise LP
Label: Circus Company
Track 5:
Clearly Nicolas Jaar had a breakout year. That was mainly due to his debut album “Space is Only Noise.” Right now this dude is only 21 years old, is the co-founder of the Clown & Sunset label and has more releases than I have fingers (don’t forget the latest Darkside EP either). Things are just beginning to unfold for Nico, so let’s see where he takes us in 2012. It should be interesting and unpredictable to say the least.

10.)
Graves – Summr Bummr LP
Label: St. Ives
Track 2:
This was our first real encounter with Greg Olin (or Graves) but hopefully it won’t be the last. Olin dropped this diamond in the rough on the just as anonymous St. Ives label, so it’s not a surprise that this stuff didn’t really catch on. The problem with that is that it should have. With all of Olin’s warming jazz-tinged folk and sharp lyrics, this album is truly one-of-a-kind.

09.)
Heavy Times – Jacker LP
Label: Hozac Records
Track 7:
Heavy Times did just what they do best on “Jacker.” Between their raging punk spirit, sharp-as-nails guitars and a no-rules attitude there’s something new to knock you on your ass around every corner of “Jacker.” Whether it’s the pummeling “Erase the Sun” or the positive punk vibes of “Skull Hair,” Heavy Times did not let us down.

08.)
Wax Idols – No Future LP
Label: Hozac Records
Track 4:
Speaking of excellent years, Hether Fortune is another name that now makes us think she can do no wrong. Not only did she play a huge role in the Blasted Canyons LP above, but she’s literally responsible for this entire record you see here. Just about everything you hear on “No Future” was a result of Fortune slaving away in the recording studio, so before you go and say she’s riding someone else’s coattails, check your fucking facts.

07.)
White Denim – D LP
Label: Downtown Music
Track 8:
White Denim have a knack for exceeding expectation – after “Last Day of Summer” it wasn’t clear where they’d go next, but “D” just might be their most accomplished batch of music to date. The musical talent of these four men is through the roof, to which their live show just may be the most entertaining and exhilarating thing you’d see all year. It’s tough to say what we’re going to hear next, but hopefully it will come sooner than later.

06.)
Diarrhea Planet – Loose Jewels LP
Label: Infinity Cat Recordings
Track 7:
Diarrhea Planet offer up power-rock like no other. Melodic guitar shards, crashing percussion and their fist-in-air, in-your-face attitude are all elements in their propulsive sound. The positive vibes are overflowing continuously, not to mention the ridiculous army of four scorching guitars. The end result is heavily stimulated power-rock constantly driven forward by their friendly spirit and passion for the music.

05.)
Mike Adams at His Honest Weight – Oscillate Wisely
Label: St. Ives/ Flannelgraph Records
Track 6:
Who is Mike Adams? Apparently just some dude from northern Indiana. That description isn’t as fitting – it’s almost offensive – after listening to his debut record “Oscillate Wisely.” Instead of making him out to be your average Joe (which he probably wants), Adams sounds like some otherworldly musical mastermind whose bedroom pop will put all the others to shame. Every single one of these tracks are alive and breathing with rapturous energy, solidifying Mike Adams as a force to be reckoned with going into the new year. Let’s hope this isn’t all we get to hear from the guy.

04.)
Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread LP
Label: Drag City
Track 6:
At this point there’s nothing we can say about Ty Segall that hasn’t been said. The man does everything and he does it right. How can you argue with that? If Segall has any haters out there (is that possible?), that’s exactly why they hate him – because he doesn’t let the rest of us down. The best part now is that we’re left to see just where the hell he’s going to go next. Chances are it won’t be the obvious decision either – either way, you won’t have to look for Segall in 2012 because he will be prominent.

03.)
Dead Luke – Meanwhile… In the Midwest LP
Label: Moon Glyph
Track 2:
Dead Luke brings us on quite an unforgettable journey with “Meanwhile… In the Midwest.” Nobody could have predicted this above and beyond record which goes a long way to meld together psychedelic sounds and bluesy guitar rock. That being said, there’s probably a few out there that have taken a stab at this unique sound and failed miserably, but luckily for them now they have “Meanwhile… In the Midwest” to show them the ropes. It’s not clear what Dead Luke might bring for us in 2012, but if it’s anything like this we won’t know til it’s right in our face.

02.)
Natural Child – 1971 LP
Label: Infinity Cat Recordings
Track 9:
To put it simply, “1971” is one of those grower albums, which when other records wear out their welcome, this one is still shining in the corner begging you to come back to it. The record didn’t catch on nearly as well as it should have and it’s not clear why. If you didn’t get the memo while listening, these guys could probably care less too. Their care-free attitude is overshadowed by the passion they offer up in their songs, which you can hear it in both the vocals and instrumentation time and time again. In these parts it’s all about the beer, the music, the women and the weed, so fuck it. At least they have their priorities straight.

01.)
OBN IIIs – The Only and Only LP
Label: Tic Tac Totally
Track 4:
If every record could blow our face off like this one then making these lists would suck. Orville Bateman Neeley III stopped at nothing to deliver us the most rollicking, destructive and challenging record we’ve heard through 2011. Each of the twelve tracks have a mind of their own, leaving us to whimper in the dust around every new and unpredictable electrified guitar lick that rattles the very ground you walk on. Neeley has the drive and the talent to pull of such a record and with results like these he clearly wasn’t cutting us short.

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That’s going to do it for us for the year. Chances are we will resume our daily posting the second week in January, but that could always change. As always, we’re looking for contributors as well to help us in the new year. If you think you’re interested please get in touch. Thanks for another awesome year to the bands, record labels, individuals and other blogs alike that help out! You all rule!!!

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Top 10 EP’s of 2011

After another memorable holiday weekend, we are pleased to bring you the next edition of our year end wrap up. We are now focusing on the Top 10 EP’s of 2011, which will be followed by the Top 25 LP’s later this week. Thanks for viewing and be sure to stay tuned for more!

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Honorable Mentions:

Heavy Times – Too Many Dreamers EP (Dinosaur Club)
Burning Yellows/ The Whines – Palmist Split 12″ (Palmist Records)
White Denim – Takes Place in Your Work Space EP (Downtown Music)
Purling Hiss/ Puffy Areolas – Record Store Day 12″ (Permanent Records)

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10.)
The Holydrug Couple – Ancient Land EP
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Track 1:
This Chilean duo keeps a mysterious vibe hidden within their spiritual psych rock. There’s no telling what we might hear next, however if it sticks to the trend that these underground Chilean bands have been following we should have another awesome record to listen to.

09.)
Purling Hiss – Lounge Lizards EP
Label: Mexican Summer
Track 2:
Philadelphia-native Mike Polizze has been experimenting with this snarling type of acid-rock for longer than we think. His first self-titled record came out in 2009, so by now it probably makes sense that he gets better with each release he churns out. “Lounge Lizards” has no trouble sticking to that pattern.

08.)
Brain Idea – Cosmos Factory EP
Label: Mexican Summer
Track 2:
Even after the release of this EP it seems like Brain Idea are still overlooked by many. Not sure what the problem might be, but we’re certainly not on that same boat. After their debut LP and now this EP, Brain Idea seem like they’re just getting started. With their vast and twangy landscapes, there’s bound to be more up their sleeve for 2012.

07.)
White Laces – s/t EP
Label: Shdwply Records
Track 5:
White Laces and their coarse, threatening psych-rock really hit the spot earlier this year, but calling it psych-rock is just a bit too easy. It’s their invigorating wave of atmospheric guitar ambiance that makes these five songs so memorable and destructive. The end result: songs swallow you whole while keeping you aching for more of their refreshing psychedelic outbursts.

06.)
Cosmonauts – New Psychic Denim EP
Label: Burger Records
Track 1:
Cosmonauts definitely had a busy 2011. The cassette release of “New Psychic Denim” was just business as usual for both the band and the renowned Burger Records. This cassette fleshes out their discography with plenty more head-splitting garage rock plagued by their endlessly relentless psychedelic strobe textures.

05.)
Crystal Stilts – Radiant Door EP
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Track 2:
Crystal Stilts dropped this one at the tail end of 2011. The EP almost seems like the missing link between “Alight of Night” and “In Love With Oblivion” but forget about chronology. Their lush and kaleidoscopic indie-pop continues to hit a soft spot so hopefully that translates over to 2012.

04.)
Estrogen Highs – Cycles EP
Label: Safety Meeting Records
Track 7:
Of all the records we put in every one of these lists, it seems like this EP was officially the one that slipped our memory the most. Simplicity and attitude is the name of the game for these garage rockers – songs like “Kings Run Errands (For Me)” and “This Mild Delusion” will only help show the intensity that they possess.

03.)
Trust – Bulbform 12″ EP
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Track 1:
As we’ve said before, Trust took electronic music by storm this year. Their latest release on Sacred Bones is no exception. “Bulbform” continues their stunning array of dark and twisted electronic music, to the point where curiosity and impatience got the absolute best of us. Word on the street is that we should have a full-length album come February, so we’ll see what happens.

02.)
Pure X – You’re In It Now EP
Label: Acéphale Records/ Light Lodge
Track 4:
At this point it seems unlikely that this Austin trio doesn’t win over their listeners with each longing and luscious track that passes. A repress of the earliest Pure X (or Pure Ecstasy back then) single gives us just another reason to add them to our year end lists. Throw in the previously unreleased “Back Where I Began” and it’s a done deal.

01.)
Keep Shelly in Athens – Our Own Dream EP
Label: Forest Family Records
Track 1:
The thing that separates Keep Shelly in Athens from other chillwave bands is their ambition. They dropped two excellent EP’s – one right after the other – and a 7″ through 2011. That being said you can gather that they’re a busy bunch. On top of that they landed their first string of shows in the US, not to mention the fact that every one of their records sells out in the blink of an eye. If that’s not a red flag that these guys are doing something right then there’s no hope in changing your mind.

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Top Thirty 7″ Records of 2011 (part 2)

As promised, this is Part 2 of our 7″ Countdown for 2011. Just in case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 of the Countdown right here. That’s it for the week, so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! More Countdown lists to come next week!

(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. Please enjoy the second half of our 7″ Countdown for 2011.)

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15.)
Ketamines – Line By Line 7″
Label: Hozac Records
A-side:
It proves difficult to not fall in love with the perky spirit of “Line by Line.” There’s something about this bubble-gum psych-pop that’s right on the money with it’s optimistic vibes. Then flip the 7″ and suddenly you’re caught off guard – how did they go from sun-shine pop to these cavernous and dreary jammers? The dichotomy in their sound is excellent, showing off plenty of influences ranging in an eight-minute, three-track span. If you missed this during the year, you’re still wasting precious time.

14.)
Grass Widow – Milo Minute 7″
Label: HLR Records
B-side:
Granted only one of these songs are original tracks from Grass Widow, but that’s the beauty of this 7″. This one-of-a-kind band took it upon themselves to cover virtually unknown songs from a band like Neo Boys, to which the results are positively stunning. We’ve said it before and now we’re going to say it again, but no other band seems to be experimenting in the same fashion as Grass Widow. Add them to your radar now and you’re sure to never be let down in the future. Let’s hope for more from these girls in 2012.

13.)
OBN III’s – Mark On You 7″
Label: Tic Tac Totally
B-side:
OBN III’s had a marvelous year and this single was only the beginning of the head-banging madness. Tracks like “Mark On You” and “Heavy Heart” would eventually sound like the framework for songs on “The One and Only” LP, which simply means there’s no way to forget these tracks. Blood-boiling, angry and disgusted are just a few words you can use to describe the youthful and catastrophic punk spirit that so consistently dominates these OBN III’s records.

12.)
Nick Waterhouse – Is That Clear 7″
Label: Innovative Leisure
A-side:
Nick Waterhouse is involved in a revival of sorts that involves the timeless rhythm and blues sound. Lucky for us, he nailed every thing about it. “Is That Clear” is about as invigorating and challenging as a song could get, to the point where we’re already chomping at the bit for more. Keep an eye on Waterhouse for 2012, because if it’s anything like this it will be big.

11.)
Purity Ring/ Braids – Split 7″
Label: Fat Possum Records
B-side:
Purity Ring have been turning heads ever since their first song appeared on the blogosphere – “Belispeak” is no exception. Braids on the other hand have slowly but surely been clawing their way to the top of the pedestal. “Peach Wedding” will prove that with it’s glistening complexion and after listening you will have no trouble endorsing what they do. Either way, uniting these two on a 7″ single was a dynamite idea. This brings us to say, what could possibly be next in store for these two Canadian acts? Only time will tell.

10.)
Plateaus – Beach Coma 7″
Label: Art Fag Recordings
A-side:
Plateaus dropped their first 7″ on Art Fag Recordings this year and it appears their second is already in sight. They’re on the “coming soon” list for 7″ singles at Hozac Records, which warms our little hearts. With picture-perfect pop gems like “Beach Coma,” it’s no surprise these guys aren’t done – they have certainly earned whatever comes next. It’s almost a guarantee that we’ll have more of their snotty beach-punk come 2012.

09.)
The Dirty Nil – Fuckin’ Up Young 7″
Label: Wolfshirt Records
B-side:
This past summer there had to be at least a few stereos out there blaring these righteous jams. This Canadian trio set their sights on the gold and achieved it immensely with their debut 7″. Excellent quality sets it apart from the rest of the crumbly lo-fi filth out there, which really help this monstrous single stand out. At this point it’s hard to say what will come next, but we can only hope it’s already in the works.

08.)
Wax Idols – All Too Human 7″
Label: Hozac Records
A-side:
Hether Fortune can thank nobody but Hether Fortune for the level of quality that all of her releases on the year sustained. “All Too Human” was only the beginning, but it set her up perfectly for an even brighter future. “All Too Human” didn’t entirely reveal what Fortune could be experimenting with on upcoming projects, so once “No Future” dropped it was like taking excellence to a whole new level while smacking us all upside the head. Much like her full-length, she covered most (if not all) of the instruments herself on this single.

07.)
Cosmonauts – He Never Hit Me 7″
Label: Goodbye Boozy Records
B-side:
Much like the description floating around promises, this single is literally a psychedelic garage-rock explosion. This is mainly due to the inclusion of their flawless cover of “Little Honda” which blows this record apart at the seams. Combine that with the stomping “He Never Hit Me” and this single will leave you in tiny, bite-size pieces.

06.)
Cold Showers – Highlands 7″
Label: Mexican Summer
B-side:
Sparing a few, there’s not many other debuts from this year that were as stunning as the 7″ from Cold Showers. Songs like “Near Burn” show off their frantic energy between the hazy blasts of guitar heat, filled out by exploratory landscapes of glowing ambiance as they press on. Considering we’ve been limited to just these two songs, hopefully we’ll have something more sooner than later.

05.)
The Limiñanas – AF3458 7″
Label: SDZ Records
A-side:
Beginning with a folksy guitar twang, shortly afterward this single takes flight. The Limiñanas offered up two brand new songs here and it’s without a doubt their best two-song-tandem to date. Between the static crunch of relentless guitars, perpetually jangly rhythms and primal conga drumming, these charming French rockers gave us something to adore time and time again. Hozac Records appears to be releasing their next full length as well, so sit tight!

04.)
Sharp Ends – Broadview Pressure Test 7″
Label: Mammoth Cave Recording Co.
B-side:
Unfortunately Sharp Ends are no longer with us, but their debut 7″ lives on a bit longer thanks to this repress on Mammoth Cave. In all of our time covering singles, there might not be as 7″ record that fits the mold of consistency more than this. Four songs of absolute face-beating post-punk terrorize you and your defenseless ears for nearly fourteen minutes, breaking open a hole in the Earth’s crust before attempting to put it back together again with the broken pieces – to which the end result is a big angry “fuck it.” These guys lure you in with the raw energy of a track like “Vacant City,” only to have it explode back in your face as they spiral out into metallic oblivion.

03.)
Purity Ring – Ungirthed 7″
Label: Transparent Records
B-side:
Purity Ring is another shining example of a band who couldn’t have benefited better from their debut 7″. With that in mind, they’ve certainly earned every little bit of the praise they’ve gotten from it. Since then the electronic duo has only grown in the spotlight, but there’s still literally only three tracks out there to show for it. Each one is a glowing example, displaying flawless production quality, sweeping, malfunctioning electronics and Megan James gorgeously spectral voice. Looking forward into 2012, it’s hard to not think Purity Ring will be at the top of the ladder.

02.)
Lower Dens – Batman 7″
Label: Gnomonsong Recordings
A-side:
Considering it came out last January, it would be a shame if we forgot to include this record. But how on Earth is that possible with such a picture-perfect single? Jana Hunter and the gang laid down solid gold in these two songs, to the point where that crystal-clear guitar shrill of “Batman” will never lose it’s edge. On the flip side the steady rocking “Dear Betty Baby” evokes a totally different feeling with it’s longing vibes, culminating into a single of epic proportions that is to be taken with complete sincerity. Perfection is a word you don’t want to throw around too often, but that’s the only option “Batman” gives us.

01.)
Trust – Candy Walls 7″
Label: Sacred Bones Records
A-side:
In 2011, Canadian duo Trust took electronic music to a different level. Through their use of dark and twisted landscapes, Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski seem to be advancing down a haunting path that not many have attempted to tread in the past – and if so have failed miserably. In their creations, a descriptor like “grave-wave” has come to the forefront, showing off these sexy yet troubling undertones that keep you aching for more. “Speed, space and tears” appears to be their own depiction of their sound, which is right on the money as well. Specifically their 12″ single “Bulbform” might speak to that a little better, but still the deliciously demonic and syrupy “Candy Walls” puts Trust in a murky spot that no other band finds themselves in. There is going to be a full length sometime down the road, we just have to wait patiently for it!

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Boom! Done. Thanks to all of the bands, people and record labels involved in another year of memorable 7″ releases! Starting next week, you can expect other Countdown lists including full length albums and EPs. Just in case you missed the first half of our 7″ Countdown for 2011, you can view that right here! Enjoy the weekend and Happy Holidays to all!

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)

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30.)
Real Estate – It’s Real 7″
Label: Domino Recording Co.
A-side:
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.

29.)
Night Manager – Ghost 7″
Label: Big Love Records
B-side:
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.

28.)
Ceiling Stares/ Super Vacations – Split 7″
Label: Velocity of Sound/ Sweaters & Pearls
A-side:
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.

27.)
Spider Fever – She’s No Saint 7″
Label: Cave Punk
A-side:
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.

26.)
The Prefab Messiahs – Franz Kafka 7″
Label: Almost Ready Records
A-side:
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.

25.)
Christmas Island/ Meth Teeth – Split 2×7″
Label: Sacred Bones Records
B-side:
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.

24.)
Hungry Gayze – Roadkill 7″
Label: Florida’s Dying
A-side:
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.

23.)
The Whines – Shootinhead 7″
Label: Mt. St. Mtn.
B-side:
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.

22.)
Real Numbers – Tear it in Two 7″
Label: Florida’s Dying
A-side:
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.

21.)
Krang – Speed of Tent 7″
Label: Mammoth Cave Recording Co.
B-side:
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.

20.)
Audacity – Vape Victim 7″
Label: Goodbye Boozy Records
A-side:
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.

19.)
Spider Fever – Whatcha Gonna Do? 7″
Label: Hozac Records
A-side:
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.

18.)
Banjo or Freakout – 105 7″
Label: Memphis Industries
B-side:
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.

17.)
Something Men – Birdy Roof 7″
Label: EZPZ Records
A-side:
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.”

16.)
Grouper – Water People 7″
Label: Ballroom Marfa
A-side:
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.

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