Yup, it’s that time of year. There was an incredible amount of fantastic records this year. Here are 11 of my favorites.

Owlfood – Destroyers of the Moon LP (Self-released)

Fantastic acoustic droney jams. An incredible debut well worth a listen. I rarely carry records in the distro area of my store that people just email me about out of the blue. But I was so captivated by their album after a single listen that I immediately picked up a stack of them and booked them for Gilead Fest. So there’s that. This is my album of the year.

Locrian – Return To Annihilation CD/2LP (Relapse)

They put on the best show I saw on 2011, at Utech Music fest, and this full length (their first for Relapse after numerous releases on smaller labels) is astonishing. Much more “rock” composition than their prior, noisier work, almost as if the entire post-rock would’ve evolved in a completely different, far better direction. Very atmospheric and avant-garde. Love it.

Seidr – Ginnungagap CD (Bindrune)

I’ve been waiting for a doom band to blow me away like this for a long time. Not since Loss and Hell have I heard something that is so powerful. The noise and drone elements are fantastic here, and accent the slugging, gritty doom fantastically.

The Body – Christs, Redeemers 2LP (Thrill Jockey)

The only band out there doing what they do this well. Sludge, noise, heavy weirdness. No words can describe how intense this band is, especially live. It should be impossible for two guys to make this much noise. Unique stuff.

Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork 2LP (Matador)

Nearly a perfect rock record. There IS one song on this album that reminds me of RHCP, and drives me a little nuts. Otherwise the rest of the album makes up for it. Great songwriting. I never cared for this band before, but this album is undeniable.

Uzala – Tales of Blood & Fire CD/LP (King of the Monsters)

Second full-length from this Boise, ID doom/stoner metal unit, and first with all vocals performed by guitarist Darcy Nutt. Her voice is simply entrancing. All clean vocals, all the time. I’m usually not super into a lot of the modern stoner stuff, but there is enough slugging doom here to really draw me in. These folks ruled live when I saw them in Madison, too.

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation 2LP (Tri Angle Records)

This band wasn’t even on my radar before this year, admittedly. I just picked up the album based solely on their name and was totally blown away. Synth, noise, incredible sonic range. Dark music, indeed. I think we broke one of the speakers at work playing this album too loud.

Implodes – Recurring Dream LP (Kranky)

Their second full-length of droney, dreamy, noisy indie rock. Lots of cool guitar and synth in this. Chill, but totally lush. The record never loses me during a listen. Not sure why these guys aren’t getting more press

Inter Arma – Sky Burial 2LP (Relapse)

God damn. This record. Inter Arma blend numerous heavy styles and do it perfectly without the songs ever feeling contrived or unnatural. I think this record is super hard to classify, but amazingly well composed and every song is memorable. Psychedelic, black metal, classic rock riffage, sludgy, Floydian spacey tones. If you like heavy, then you’ve probably heard this. If not, then get to it.

Barn Owl – V LP (Thrill Jockey)

Man, super stoked these guys changed their approach instead of doing more of the same. I’ve definitely enjoyed all of their albums, but nixing the drums and going way deeper into electronic drone on this album was a great move. Love the moods created here.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor CD/LP (Merge)

Yes, this is on here. It’s super good. I did not enjoy their performance on SNL a few weeks back, but really love the album. Despite unnecessarily splitting it into two discs.

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