In past years, to prepare for our annual “year in local recordings” round-up, I would create one master list of all new albums (or EPs or singles, if they were good enough) and then start the surgery, carefully removing dozens and dozens of recordings until it was compact enough to fit in the paper without requiring CityBeat to use a font size only slightly larger than a speck of dust.
My master list for 2011 local releases, for the first time, easily reached 100. The fact that there were so many releases coming out of Greater Cincinnati in 2011 speaks to the increased accessibility and affordability of recording technology that has developed over the past few years. The fact that none of them were total garbage speaks to the wealth of talent in our music community.
So here, for the first time, are the Top 100 local releases of the year. In previous years, we would include short blurbs excerpted from CityBeat reviews and articles with each pick, but this time, in order to fit in the whole lot, we could only include detail on the Top 20. The entire list follows.
Use your pal Google (and the CityBeat.com archive) to search for these recordings online, and support local music by purchasing a download or CD and going to the artists’ shows. If you can’t find at least a handful that you really enjoy, then you simply don’t like music.
Eclipse – Around the World
Like a Cincy version of The Roots, Around the World showed Hip Hop/Funk/Rock/Jazz ensemble Eclipse to be a stunning collective of musicians with boundless creative energy and an encyclopedic knowledge of music.
Wussy – Strawberry
One of the more critically acclaimed bands from Cincinnati, Indie Rock quartet Wussy has managed to top itself with each new album. The band’s fourth, Strawberry, is not only the most accomplished record in the Wussy catalog — it’s also the band’s most dynamic, diverse and unforgettable.
The Cincy Brass – Ain’t Nuttin Louder
One of the most unique and entertaining bands on the local scene, this funky, horn-driven crew managed to capture its irresistible party vibe perfectly on its debut.
Ma Crow – Smoky Junction
A collection of covers and traditional old time songs, local Bluegrass great Ma Crow made a much welcome return to the record store bins with the full-length Smoky Junction, an ode to Crow’s friends, family and home.
The Guitars – High Action
High Action, the first “official” release by The Guitars, is an absolute stunner, seven songs’ worth of vintage Pop majesty. It’s glaringly obvious that the four Guitars members are hardcore record-heads and serious students of the classic eras of American Rock, Soul and Pop.
Shiny and the Spoon – Ferris Wheel
Folk Pop duo Shiny and the Spoon became a trio in 2011, but that still doesn’t explain the huge creative growth over just the past year or so. Ferris Wheel was like SATS going from black-and-white to full Technicolor, widescreen 3D.
Valley of the Sun – The Sayings of the Seers
VotS’s dynamic, riff-ridin’ sound could technically be put in the so-called “Stoner Rock” category, but there aren’t many hardcore stoners who could compose and arrange with the sophistication and smarts it so obviously took to make Sayings.
The Chocolate Horse – Beasts
With its dark, hypnotic and emotional allure, dynamic Indie crew The Chocolate Horse’s third (and best) album deservedly received the most attention yet for the band.
The Newport Secret Six – Licking River Rock Steady
Putting its own spin on traditional Ska, the former Duppy a Jamba reemerged as the Newport Secret Six and released this amazing, true-to-tradition long-player.
Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups – Fly
After numerous releases from her other projects, Thomas finally released the debut LP from her main band after almost a decade. Fly, a beautifully crafted, emotionally stirring Country/Roots effort, was worth the wait.
You, You’re Awesome – Good Point, Whoever Said That
After several EP releases, progressive Electronica duo You, You’re Awesome issued its first long-player, a solid slice of compelling, pleasurable entertainment regardless of your musical tastes.
Skeetones – Retrospektive
Already a regional live favorite, this “live Electronica band” released its first full-length which was a glorious take-home version of the band’s creative mix of various forms of Electro and Dance music and trancelike improv excursions.
The Seedy Seeds – Verb/Noun
The charming Seedys’ national profile continued to rise in 2011, thanks in large part to the impossibly catchy Verb/Noun, one of the best Indie Pop albums of the year.
Buffalo Killers – 3
On the hard-touring Buffalo Killers’ third album, the retro-tinged Psych Pop trio’s songwriting reached a level of excellence on par with the legends that inspire them.
The Mighty – The Mighty
One of the year’s best surprises, Indie Pop trio The Mighty’s self-titled effort found the Pop Rock trio evolving into a majestic Electronic Indie Pop juggernaut.
Brian Olive – Two of Everything
The former Greenhorne and Soledad Brother’s second solo effort received a lot of attention in the national music press thanks to its kaleidoscopic array of classic Pop and Rock sounds and song stylings.
Josh Eagle and the Harvest City – A Good One is Hard to Find
Eagle showed promise from the start as a solo singer/songwriter, but with A Good One is Hard to Find, he and his band evolved into a world-class Folk/Pop unit.
Natalie Wells – Mind The Gap
The young Blues/Rock singer/guitarist’s debut was a revelation, showcasing her diverse songwriting and stylistic influences (from The Beatles to Cream to The White Stripes, with many stops in between).
Beneath Oblivion – From Man to Dust
The Metal underground embraced this progressive, inventive local ensemble, which showed some remarkable creative growth on its heavy, dynamic, hypnotic second full-length for The Mylene Sheath label.
The Kentucky Struts – The Year of the Horse
Even without the interesting release hook (one of the album’s 12 songs was released each month in 2011, with amazing artwork commissioned for each track), this Country/Roots outfit’s latest is one of the best Americana albums of the year, local or otherwise.
Freekbass – Concentrate
The Tillers with Uncle Mike Carr – Wild Hog in the Woods
The Harlequins – Midwest Coast
Dallas Moore – Hank to Thank
Frontier Folk Nebraska – Frontier Folk Nebraska
i-EL – The Book of Elijah
Belle Histoire – Spirits
Vaudeville Freud – Tapdance!: The Musical
Black Tractor – Applaud My Friends, The Comedy is Over
Sacred Spirits – Some Stay
Mack West – The Long Goodnight
Winterhymn – Songs for the Slain
Bootsy Collins – Tha Funk Capital of the World
Rose Funeral – Gates of Punishment
Messerly & Ewing – Every Bitter Thing
The Sweep - |||
Sleepin’ Dogs – Love Takes Its Toll
For Algernon – Starling Redux
500 Miles to Memphis – Live at the Southgate House
Pomegranates – In Your Face Thieves/Chestnut Attic
Cybele – Medicated America
The Strongest Proof – Paths Will Collide
The Tammy WhyNots – Meet the Tammy WhyNots
The Kickaways – America! America!
Vacation – Vacation
Puck – Still Wishing
Vibe One – The Balance
Fake Hands – Fake Hands
Big Rock Club – Big Rock Club
Dark Colour – Memories
Pop Empire – The Devil’s Party
D-Maub – Death Before Dishonor
Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band – Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band
Blessid Union of Souls — The Mission Field
Army Coach – Daydream
Shoot Out the Lights – Shoot Out the Lights
The Tempers – Strum and Drag
Vaughn & Company – Still Worth It
Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender
Northside Garage – Waiting for the Breakdown
Ron Esposito – We Are One
Daniel Martin Moore – In the Cool of the Day
The Faux Frencmen – 3AM Waltz
Dusty Bryant – Wasted Midwestern Town Blues
Sweet Ray Laurel – Sweet Ray Laurel
Atlantis Becoming – Atlantis Becoming
Chris Collier – This is Everything
The Dukes Are Dead – The Shot Heard Round the World
Kry Kids – Happy Tomato
SHADOWRAPTR – It’s Always Winter on the Moon
Soapland – The Inflatable Real
A Continuous Now – Transient Soul Umbrella
Mala in Se – Mala in Se
Vincent Vega – Man of Fire
Alone at 3 a.m. – From an Ohio Basement
Ric Hordinksi – Arthur’s Garden
Daniel Joseph Dorff – The Living Room
The Yugos – The Yugos
Switchblade Syndicate – As Long as There’s Whiskey
The Strongest Proof – Paths Will Collide
Serenity Fischer – Rogue Strawberry
Buggs Tha Rocka/DJ Clockwork – Lost Luggage
Ryan Broshear – Ryan Broshear
SS-20 – MetaphorAmerica
Zachary Burns Band – D.I.Y.
Jason Ludwig – Lost in Love
Jason Ludwig – Tanglings
Young Butta – Money Train Mixtape
Skeleton Hands – Ravage
Skeleton Hands – Crystalline Dreams
Maurice Mattei and The Tempers - The Tempers Christmas Show
Vito Emanuel – Good Luck
Green Light Morning – Green Light Morning
Loudmouth – Cabin Fever
The Worthmores – The Worthmores
The Upset Victory – The Awakening
Eddy J. Free – I Am the MaD hatter
eleven:eleven – eleven:eleven
Slack Panther – Love Space Desire Forever Love Heartache Longing Cincinnati
The Prohibitionists – Extended Play ©