Here's a little teaser. List starts in earnest tomorrow. I don't have a rule against including EPs and similar releases in my top albums list, but none would have cracked my 25 this year. I still want to give a shout-out to these five:
1. My Dying Bride - "The Barghest o' Whitby"
This one nearly cracked my top 25 proper, and it is a doozy: a 27-minute funeral doom song about a supernatural dog that takes the listener through every imaginable kind of despair the My Dying Bride blokes have conjured up in their long career in one track. It's not quite "The Return to the Beautiful," but for its ambition alone, it deserves reward.
"The Barghest o' Whitby"
2. Wavves - "Life Sux"
If "King of the Beach" was Wavves' Nathan Williams trying to impress the music press, this is his fuck-everything punk rock reaction to its success. Guest appearances from Fucked Up's Damian Abraham and Best Coast's Beth Cosentino fuel the ripping "Destroy" and "Nodding Off," but the five-minute mini-epic "I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl" gives "Life Sux" its undisputed highlight.
"I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl"
3. Between the Buried and Me - "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues"
Apparently a prequel to a thematically linked full-length that has yet to surface, "The Parallax" sees Between the Buried and Me polishing the proggy excesses of "Colors" and "The Great Misdirect" even more. This may end up looking like a turning point in the band's career when all is said and done, and even though pushing piano and clean vocals much harder than they do here is worrisome, this is a respectable moment in their canon.
4. Cynic - "Carbon-Based Anatomy"
Pitchfork called Cynic "metal expatriates" in their review of this EP, and that's mostly fair. From the vocodered death metal of "Focus" through the surgically precise prog of "Traced in Air" and onward to the acoustic/electronic remix set "Re-Traced," this has never been a band known for playing it safe. "Carbon-Based Anatomy'"'s title track and "Box Up My Bones" could fit on past Cynic records, but the rest is gloriously off-the-wall, perhaps finally making the forward-thinking Floridians truly unclassifiable.
5. Factory Floor - "Two Different Ways"
I'll admit there's a little bit of bias here since I spent my summer working out of this London electronic trio's studio and heard these songs being created and rehearsed, but there's hardly a more danceable 2011 recording than these two cuts. "Original" and side B remix "Second Way" are dark but unshakably catchy old-school house music at its finest.