Clay – I didn’t want to think too hard about my top 10 discoveries of 2011, so I created three rules for myself:

1)      Each album had to still be on my iPod

2)      Anything from April prior was out as those were albums that had been released and we actively sought out as we started the site

3)      I pulled twelve albums in from first glance at the list, and dropped off two.  No exceptions.  I had to completely go by my gut and not overthink it.

With that said: here are my honorary mentions.  These are ten albums I would have put on my list if we did a top 20, in no particular order.  Actually, it is a particular order: an alphabetical one.

Agesandages – Alright You Restless

AM & Shawn Lee – Celestial Electric

Beirut– The Rip Tide

Boots Electric – Honkey Kong

BostonSpaceships – Let It Beard

Candy Hearts – Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

Cassettes Won’t Listen – EVINSPACEY

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – It’s A Corporate World

Hella – Tripper

Little Gold – Weird Freedom

Miracle Parade – Hark!… And Other Lost Transmissions

I feel better now.

Greg – mine was based on a crazy elimination method that doesn’t have a specific rule except to thoroughly rack my brain to determine the most impactful albums we came across this year.

Here are my top ten not listed (unless we do a top 20):

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – It’s A Corporate World

William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs

Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Dark Stares – Tell Your Friends

Medicant Downline – Test Subject (Chiptune)

Licks – Northbound

Astronautalis – This Is Our Science

Eldorado – Golden

Sleeper Agent – Celebrasion

Middle Brother – Middle Brother

Clay – If we do a top 20, the list will come with a complimentary roll of toilet paper, because the only way people will have time to read this is if they take their computer into the bathroom.  Toilet joke out of the way, on to the list.

10.  YACHT – Shangri-La – I was going to put Miracle Parade here until I realized I didn’t have it on my iPod.  I almost broke my first rule on my first entry.  As far as electric duos go, YACHT had the best and dirtiest beats I heard in 2011.  Jona Bechtolt and Claire L Evans have great vocals and great lyrics and I find myself drawn to this album at the strangest times.  But I feel like my love for them is a little misguided: I always wanted to like the Ting Tings more than I do, and I think YACHT filled that void.

Greg – YACHT didn’t make my list because, although there are a few tracks in constant mix, the album as a whole just didn’t last on my iPod. The earth, the earth, the earth only burned so long for me.

10. Static Kill – Static Kill – Just when I thought rock hit a plateau, these guys came a long and revived a sound of when rock was rock while adding infectious originality. It’s addictive (probably too addictive), pulse pounding, and melodic all in one. I will go as far as saying it really was a prize for rock in 2011.

9.  The Rationales – The Distance In Between

Behold the album which defines independent rock. Carried on the shoulders of their fans, the all around original rock album is sure to remain on my playlist for some time to come. You’d be hard pressed to find a more independent rock band.

Clay – I couldn’t agree more, which is why I have them ranked higher.  Spoiler alert, I guess.

9.  Portugal The Man – In The Mountain In The Cloud

I love this album and everything about it; but I almost didn’t put PTM on this list because I constantly forget I have this album.  I went about three months without listening to it before having “oh yeah, I remember this!”  It was like Christmas morning all over again, only my parents wrapped up a bike they already gave me two years ago.

8.  Rival Sons – Pressure & Time

Well written, well produced, well played.  It would be easy to say “something, something, Black Crowes.”  But these guys are more convincing and compelling as a return to gusto-filled 70s rock.  Will they ever be as big as the band they are easily compared against?  That remains to be seen, but they are well on their way after putting out one of my favorite rock albums of 2011.

Greg – Oh man, a great album indeed. Rival Sons brought some quality rock and artwork by a legendary artist. Though I still listen to them off and on, they weren’t one that stuck around with me.

8.  AM & Shawn Lee – Celestial Electric

One part love, one part funk, one part electric combined to make Celestial Electric an album easily worthy of the top ten in 2011. The icing on the cake came in the form of a “Jackie Blue” remake.

7.  Rin Tin Tiger – Rin Tin Tiger

Rin Tin Tiger is 100% folk rock and 100% enthusiastic. Yes, 200% great music, great personalities, and showmanship. It is clear that they love their music and they love their fans. I can’t shake this EP.  I still have “Ghost Door” in my head.

Clay – A compelling enough argument.  I should have added them to my honorable mentions, and am hitting myself in the head for omitting them.  Class acts, great folk music, but didn’t have enough to stay on my iPod.  Rules are rules.

7.  65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

The perfect blend of electronic, Explosions in the Sky, and video game music; if I hadn’t issued a moratorium on the word “epic” last year, I would use it here.  These guys know how to make a soundtrack for grandeur.  I might have had them ranked higher except that I haven’t had enough time with this album to know if it is sticking around, but until then, “Tiger Girl” remains one of my favorite tracks of 2011.  That song is the epitome of the slow burn, I love it.

6.  Zechs Marquise – Getting Paid

I could easily just use my entry for 65daysofstatic and change a few words around.  This instrumental album is almost full of enough great prog rock, funk, and genre defying interludes to make me rethink not being a fan of The Mars Volta.  Almost.

Greg – I said it before and I’ll say it again the world is being taken over by Rodriguez–Lopez’s. It certainly pained me to leave them off my list but that just shows how much great music we encountered in 2011.

6. Miracle Parade – Hark!… And Other Lost Transmissions

A true musician to his very fiber, Christopher Pappas showed us all how setting goals can pay off. With this album it paid off in a huge way. He embodied musical depth. His dynamic guitar and vocal combination made for an album worthy of the “repeat” button on my stereo.

5. The Autumn Hollow Band – Love Letters & Ransom Notes

Who would have thought a little band fromBostonwould be the one to staple a refreshing outlook ofAmericanato my mind. I wasn’t one to believe it, but I won’t forget soon forget The Autumn Hollow Band. Their Indie-Folk formula is one of sincere, well written lyrics and beautifully deep instrumentals.

Clay – The birth of my child prevented me from giving them a listen, so I will take your word for it and speak to another band fromBoston.

5.  The Rationales – The Distance In Between

Something, something, Kickstarter.  Focusing on how the album came to be does a disservice to the material.  The rock is tight, David Mirabella’s gravelly vocals tell his story so well, and the songwriting is perfect parts catchy and relistenable.  I’m glad things like Kickstarter exist to help bring about albums like this, and it is the kind of album that makes me proud to do what we do, because more people should know about the Rationales.

4.  William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs

This album is everything I want folk music to be: simple, elegant, and visceral.  His songs transport you to the fields ofIowaand put you right next to the workers.  Plus his voice and playing style belie his youth.  Truly one of the great finds of 2011.

Greg – I continue to sit and stare at Mr. Whitmore’s album in great awe and admiration. It is one that will forever be embedded in my mind for both the simplicity and insight. This pick at #4 creates animosity towards the rules set forth; making me wish I could justify it on my 10.

4. Neur – Untitled EP

Another EP, which says a lot. Neur has a lot of attitude and laid down some serious rock. These guys had the unique ability to truly let their music speak for itself and succeeded. Baumann’s vocals are still lingering in my head.

3. The Grizzled Mighty – The Grizzled Mighty

The debut self titled album bySeattle’s The Grizzled Mighty is an album that makes you want to put speakers on top of your house, crank it as loud as it will go, and yell at the world to pay attention. The heavy handed beast that is this band just landed and if you’re not looking you’re going to be plowed over by quintessential rock.

Clay – Another album I haven’t had a lot of time with, but I can see why you enjoy it so much.

3.  Mister Heavenly – Out of Love

I can’t quite explain this one.  There’s nothing flashy about this album, and it is by no means great, but I turn it on every time I just want to listen to an album.  The doom wop indie rock sensibilities make for a catchy ride.  And once I get “Pineapple Girl” stuck in my head, there is no getting it out.

2.  Dead Sara – Dead Sara

This album could have easily been called “The Return of The Living 90s Rock.”  That genre is right in my wheelhouse so I feel at home every time I put this album on.  I enjoy hard rock as much as the next person and this band has a presence about them.  I couldn’t give them the top spot as their debut LP hasn’t been released yet, snag or no snag.  It takes a special album to make me wonder aloud “how much money would it take to get this album released, and do I have enough in the bank?” Sadly, the answers are “too much” and “no.”  But once it comes out, get it.  You have been put on notice.

Greg – Not a huge surprise here, it is an absolutely definitive rock album. If we pooled our money…

2. Little Gold – Weird Freedom

The album proved that Little Gold was an entity in-and-of themselves. Also, they confirmed that just hearing an album can make it feel like a summer afternoon, any time of year. Every year we get an album that claims to do what Little Gold did, but falls short. Not a drastic difference in writing from their first album, but I have to admit, I like the direction they’re taking.

1. Dead Sara – Dead Sara

Regardless of not being released, I can’t find any other place for this album than #1. The power packedSouthern Californiaquartet delivers an immensely memorable debut rock album. When you hear Dead Sara you know its Dead Sara. Addicting lyrics and all out mind blowing rock makes it hard to shake this immensely impressive first album.

Clay – Indeed.  Yup, that’s it.

1.  Astronautilis – This Is Our Science

As great as Dead Sara is, Astronautilis’ newest album takes my top spot.  I first discovered this off a friend’s Facebook post.  As much as I want to excoriate the social media site for being a time suck and somehow making internet stalking socially acceptable, I applaud it for discoveries such as this.  The genre-bending hip hop is so well constructed.  Normally I need a rest period between reviewing an album and listening to it.  That just did not happen with This Is Our Science.  Hands down my favorite discovery of 2011.

Greg – As far as hip hop is concerned, this takes the cake. I can’t think of a better hip hop album in…well as long as I can think of. Unfortunately if this list has taught us anything it is that rules are rules and 2011 led to some amazing musical discoveries. So I too will enjoy Atronautilis and dwell on what could have been as far as lists go.