And here’s the whole damn thing in a tidy, easy-to-use and scent-free Spotify playlist.
25. Crystal Antlers – By the Sawkill
In a year where we were dodged by new material from the Mars Volta (again!), we were lucky to have one of our many bands with a deer-themed name help fill the freak-out garage prog void. “By the Sawkill” takes you by the balls by opening with a frantic fuzz solo, and the screamed-out vocals make sure you never have a reprieve.
24. Diego Garcia – You Were Never There
A dash of flamenco guitar, some backgrounds borrowed from “Five O’Clock World,” and an impossible-to-forget chorus make for the most infectious song I heard all year.
23. Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
Bad girls make the best songs. I look forward to hearing this in the next Tarantino movie.
22. Timber Timbre – Woman
Evil. Fucking. Tuba.
Oh, and some seriously great crawling piano, spooky slide, and inventive singing.
But mostly, Evil. Fucking. Tuba.
21. The Black Keys – Mind Eraser
On an album where Akron’s finest seem to be spending a little too much time polishing a Bad Company impression, at least the finale delivers the balance of hard blues and melodicism we’ve all come accustomed to from Monsieurs Auerbach and Carney.
20. SHIM – I Don’t Know Why
If you wonder where all the rock went in 2011, Seattle’s beer-swilling, steak-eating SHIM stole it. All of it. And then they splurged the entire lot on this 1:41-long nugget of speed-freakin’ Foghattery.
19. Legendary Oaks – Grace Underwater
Another well-kept secret from Seattle, Legendary Oaks builds a forlorn guitar-and-fiddle duet up into an electrified shuffle with awesome double-tracked singing and a killer country-stomp guitar solo.