Find out what albums from 2011 you should revisit…
We’ve developed a bit of an accidental tradition here at UDS. In February of 2019 and January of 2020, we all came together with a randomly selected year in mind and each chose a couple of underrated or overlooked albums from said year that we thought deserved your attention, either again or maybe even for the first time! We’d then post these articles and spend the rest of the year saying ‘that’s a fun idea, we should do that more often’. Of course, we historically have never gotten around to it until the start of the following year – and this year is no different!
Here are 6 albums from the year 2011 that we think you should listen to again!
Fools and Worthless Liars – Deaf Havana (Dobbie)
I don’t know an awful lot about Deaf Havana in 2021, if I’m being completely honest. Equally, 10 years ago in 2011 I didn’t know an awful lot about them either. It wasn’t until I saw them open the Main Stage at Reading Festival in 2012 that I really started to take notice, but when I did, they very quickly became one of my favourite bands of their generation – and 2011’s Fools and Worthless Liars was the main reason for that.
A bit of a change in direction from their previous album Meet Me Halfway, At Least, the album saw more of a Power-Pop/Pop-Punk sensibility to the songwriting and structure which worked very much to the band’s benefit because, quite frankly, they were much better at it. Here they were with songs destined for radio play and a set of songs guaranteed to speak to new fans both young and old with lyrics tackling the subjects of youth, nostalgia, jealousy and even the inability to write a song!
There’s a delicious irony to the opening track The Past Six Years nowadays. Singing about how his friends’ songs are getting played on the radio and their bands are being given slots on festival stages big and small, frontman James Veck-Gilodi could come across as jealous and bitter, but there’s a refreshing honesty to his tone and what he’s saying that, more than anything, just makes you root for him more. And, of course, off the back of this album, his own band achieved both of the things he was lamenting within the song’s lyrics, a fact that wasn’t lost on him during the aforementioned main stage slot at Reading Festival, which I can confirm was a triumph.
While newer Deaf Havana music leaves me feeling cold and even cringing at times, I can always look back on this period in their career and smile at both the youth I had when it initially came out and the nostalgia I now feel for those times. Quite apt.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – Beastie Boys (Craig)
I could go on for ages about how good the Beastie Boys are. A band so versatile in their approach to music that throughout their career they have approached different genres and for the most part nailed it all (we don’t mention the country album).
While the album is a certified banger, it is sadly their last album, as MCA of the trio passed away in May 2012 from cancer. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is Beastie Boys on top form merging all the techniques they have learnt over their career and refining them into one great package.
On the outside this appears to be your bog standard rap album; as you listen on however you realise the Beasties have disregarded the trends of hip hop and decided to do whatever the hell they want. The album experiments with the electronic genre most of the time but they aren’t afraid to shout, throw down a hardcore rock song or scream over the dopest rap verse when needed, then out of nowhere make a pop/rap banger with Santigold.
Did I mention their rapping on this album is energetic, lyrically catchy and guaranteed to make your head nod? What a swan song to go out on. Rest in peace MCA.
Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing – The Wonder Years (Tom)
One of the most essential pop punk releases of the 2010s, The Wonder Years’ Suburbia… is an album that reveals more with each listen.
On the surface, it’s a collection of melancholic, yet largely defiantly optimistic tracks that wouldn’t appear out of place at any alternative club night. I mean, the track Living Room Song is literally about chilling with some beers and good friends. And if this is all you take from the record, then you’re still in for a really good time.
But dive in a little deeper, and you’ll find a piece of truly poignant art. Suburbia… serves as the second part of a three album trilogy that deals with lead singer Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell’s struggles with mental health issues and growing from a teenager to a mid-20s adult. The style of music definitely reflects this, with the early work more raw, ‘standard’ pop punk, and the later songs having more refined, complex structures.
As the second entry, this album falls somewhere in the middle. It still has all the youthful energy of their past, but with a more mature outlook. The chorus of Woke Up Older ends with the line ‘… You left the room, receding like my hairline’, an honest reflection of social anxiety and fears of self image. This is just one example of how the music of The Wonder Years has spoken to me personally (if it wasn’t for 1mg of Finasteride every morning, i’d probably be as bald as a coot), and as I continue on my own journey of maturity, Soupy’s lyrics have only resonated more and more.
The title of the album and some of its lyrics reference the Allen Ginsberg poem ‘America’, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to class The Wonder Years in the same category as these iconic writers.
The beat poets of our generation.
Hell: The Sequel – Bad Meets Evil (Craig)
In 2011, I was fully on board the Kanye West train (choo choo mofo). His 2010 record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is still one of my favourites of all time, he could do no wrong (how naive we all were). 2011 wouldn’t just see another album by Mr. West, but he would also join his pal Jay-Z on what would be a collaborative effort from both of them – surely this would mean a great record, right? Well, not really. Whilst 2011’s Watch The Throne had big production value, I mostly came away from it feeling somewhat negative. The album did not match the hype. I had to go somewhere else to find what I was looking for.
I was surprised that no one in my social circle was talking about a new Eminem album at the time. Shady and Royce da 5’9 teamed up to create a rap album that succeeds in everything it sets out to be – and what it sets out to be is a great rap album. You wouldn’t believe that the two rappers hadn’t collaborated in over 10 years as their chemistry on this album is something Kanye West and Jay-Z could have learned from. The technical abilities on all 11 songs show their range and how they aren’t just “angry rappers” assaulting the listeners ears but are adaptable, making a great overall rap package. Still a solid hip hop album all these years later.
Unto The Locust – Machine Head (Tom)
Machine Head have to be considered one of the most consistent metal bands of all time. They’ve flirted with different subgenres, such as thrash, death and nu metal, but have excelled at everything they’ve tried. For anyone that guffaws at their nu metal phase, relisten to Supercharger, it’s aged like a fine, angsty wine.
But I digress, we’re here to talk about 2011’s Unto The Locust, in my humble opinion their best album.
At just under 49 minutes, it’s their shortest album, meaning it’s definitely a case of all killer, no filler. Within the 7 tracks, the band flex the full extent of their creative muscles, from the titanic opener I Am Hell (Sonata in C#), which could soundtrack the end of the world, to the more reserved, life affirming Darkness Within.
It’s accessible without sacrificing any of the band’s edge, and it’s no surprise that it was this album tour that saw Machine Head elevated to arena and stadium shows throughout the world.
And that guitar tone, dude. The way they manage to max out the gain while keeping the sound crystal clear is nothing short of witchcraft. Unto The Locust is the most pleasant sonic assault I’ve ever been subjected to.
Awesome as F**k – Green Day (Dobbie)
There are a multitude of answers you can get if you ask someone what the last great Green Day album was. American Idiot would probably be the most common answer, although there are those who would go even further back to Insomniac or maybe Nimrod. Then there are those including myself who would stick up for 21st Century Breakdown knowing very well that nostalgia plays a massive part in it. There may be one or two people who would say 2016’s Revolution Radio, but they would be wrong – as a Green Day fan, of course there’s been stuff over the last decade I’ve liked and even loved, but a great studio album? No. Not even close. But there’s an overlooked album that came out nearly exactly a decade ago that I think should be the obvious answer to the question – 2011’s live album Awesome as Fuck (or Awesome as F**k for the scaredy cats).
Recorded across their globetrotting 21st Century Breakdown World Tour, the 17 tracks (or 20 on the deluxe edition which is definitely preferable) are all taken from different stops on the tour. And I know what you may be thinking: ‘Dobbie, Green Day did an excellent live album in 2005 called Bullet in a Bible, why on Earth would I listen to this instead of that?’. Well, you’re quite right, disembodied voice of the internet! But here’s the true brilliance of AAF – its tracklist isn’t just made up of the hits again, in fact there are only 4 repeated songs across the 2 albums. Here you’re effectively getting live versions of 5 of the best songs from 21stCB as well as 11 tracks from across Green Day’s back catalogue that you wouldn’t necessarily expect – a few of which are even from the 2 albums that came before Dookie! What’s more, they sound fucking killer! Oh, and also the title track from 2003’s infamous ‘lost’ album Cigarettes and Valentines is even included here, and GOD DAMN HELL YES THAT’S THE STUFF INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS!!!
The production quality on live albums can be a bit lacklustre at times, but every second of this 80-minute package sounds superb and is an absolute joy. In fact, listening to a single song at random is enough to get me feeling pumped – when I listen to the whole thing, I basically have to write off the afternoon because I’m too excited to do any work! Given that we’ve just had a year with little in the way of live music and are likely facing this being the truth for most of 2021 too, an album like this is an antidote that can never quite match the real thing, but does get pretty damn close!
Still not sold? More fool you, frankly.