12. Fa Sol La by Those Mockingbirds
In September, Montclair, NJ’s Those Mockingbirds dropped its sophomore EP, Fa Sol La, a six-song collection complete with four genre hopping anthems caressed by a pair of ghostly, minimalist, instrumental bookend pieces, that was truly composed for the attention deficient music enthusiast. The section of scorched, metal-dressed, terrain (“Coast To Coast”) careens downhill like a magma flow before crashing into the more subdued waters, some lovely and pleading (“Don’t Stray”), others harmoniously sinister and violin infused (“The Bloodiest Gums”), and one particular body possessing a made for stadiums chorus (“We’re Animals”), which churn together before solidifying into one of SIMGE’s favorite EPs of 2011.
11. Life Sux by Wavves
On the back of the outfit’s 2010 full-length releases, King Of The Beach, Wavves front-man and primary songwriter, Nathan Williams, has been able to transport this lo-fi Surf-Punk project out his smoke-filled San Diego basement and into a smoke-filled tour bus allowing the band to acquire slots at a series of summertime festivals, most notably the 10th anniversary of Bonnaroo. With a mass of fans calling for more, Wavves dropped Life Sux in September, a six song compilation of original music featuring a couple of Indie credibility cultivating collaborations with Best Coast (“Nodding Off”) and members of the Canadian Punk collective Fucked Up (“Destroy”). However, the cream of this cavernous crop is an ode to the head Foo Fighter titled “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” one of SIMGE’s favorite songs of the year that has Williams, not only desiring to meet the revered song writer, but wanting to be him by mid chorus.
10. Demos by The Cold Fronts
The disc of recordings being sold by this Philadelphia-based Indie-Rock collective for gas money is rough but shows an undeniable promise of something great to come. Managed by James Wells (or better known as one half of The Gay Blades and his stage name Clark Westfield), Cold Fronts can be filed under the same Trash-Pop genre as the aforementioned Blades of glory, however, this collection is more Strokes influenced Garage-Rock than the White Stripes infused tunes of their contemporaries, no number more dirty and danceable than the closing salvo “Clutch.”
9. Hope Folk by Thomas Wesley Stern
On the back of its debut release, Hope Folk, Thomas Wesley Stern stormed the Boardwalk in a big way, developing a large following with this collection of campfire sing-alongs, in turn collecting six nominations at the 19th Annual Asbury Music Awards where the outfit earned the title of Best Male Acoustic band. This amalgamation of minimalist string plucking and multi-part harmony-filled refrains, most notably upon the lead single “Hello Hello” and the simply titled “Fish,” is beautifully constructed Folk-Pop in its purest form, played out over this five-song compilation.
8. The Pits by The Venetia Fair
The Venetia Fair‘s follow up to an impressive 2009 full-length debut, The Circus, is far more sinister than it’s previous work. Like the worst of trips down Willy Wonka’s river, you’ll see it through to the end, enthralled by every side show, knowing its been worth your sanity as you sink your teeth into the prize…five savory tracks. The opening piano licks on “I’m Still Amazed” provides one the with ultimate ruse, commencing with an upbeat, almost jovial introductory beat, before turning sour, educating the listener of their minds’ true resting place: a region of maniacal rage tunes you’ll be happy to roast with. The Venetia Fair seems to sink deeper into madness with each successive number, axe wielder Chark King drawing lush squeals from his six-string after each torturous slash of the pick, his most enjoyable fret-play found on “Killing Time (To Keep The Dream Alive),” while front-man Benny Santoro’s pipe-work, an alluring amalgamation of Benjamin Kowalewicz [Billy Talent] and Lock’s [A Nightmare Before Christmas] vocal stylings, thrills from start to finish, culminating in a prickly and explosive jam session on Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas carol “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.”
7. Long Time Coming by Shy Talkers
Shy Talkers is one of the more enigmatic outfits I’ve come across this year. According to the three-piece’s Bandcamp page, the group resides in New Jersey, however, posts on its official web site have also left evidence of a New England residency. And interestingly enough, the band’s last contact with fans via social media outlets appears to have come six months ago. However, despite such successes as having past singles air on such television shows as MTV’s The Real World and Degrassi, it appears Shy Talkers has gone into hiding, as its final transmission with fans via social media outlets came in June, but not before the release of the outfit’s latest EP Long Time Coming. The five-track record is an impressive exercise in revivalist Garage-Pop (“Don’t Listen To Daddy,” “Those Who Don’t Care”) and one piece of acoustic guitar-led Pop-Rock for the broken hearted, and one of SIMGEs favorite songs of the year, “After All.”