10. Pianos Become the Teeth
The only reason Pianos are this high on the list is because they're probably at least on your radar already. Once considered (by me, anyways) to be the red-haired stepchild of "the wave," these dudes came out of nowhere to release one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2011 in The Lack Long After. If you haven't heard the album already, do yourself a favour and pick it up. If the lyrics don't choke you up, you may have no soul. This band is right at the forefront of the whole "skramz revival" that's sprung up recently-- and for good reason. Nobody's doing it better.
9. Rain Over Battle
With the release of 2011's These Rocks in Our Bodies, the youngsters in Rain Over Battle have shown they're more than capable of nestling comfortably into a long lineage of notable Virginia punx. The album flew under the radar for the most part, but if ROB continue to perfect their blend of clever, catchy beard-core, expect to see their next album on a few top 10 lists. Their sound is one part Philly punk and one part mid-era Against Me!, blended together in the No Idea break-room and garnished with a healthy dose of Wonder Years-esque pop-punk. But instead of being a four-chord cliche, these guys are striving to write some of the most complex, textured tunes the genre's ever seen. Sometimes the band's ambitions get a bit lofty and they find themselves in over their heads, but I expect those bumps will smooth out with age and experience. I also expect these guys to blow up on Punknews any day now. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
8. Drug Church
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a Self Defense Family fanboy. Call a cop. Anywho, it always seemed a little odd to me that Patrick Kindlon, a dude who constantly professes his love for aggressive, moshy, sometimes ignorant hardcore, wasn't in an aggressive, moshy hardcore band. Enter Drug Church. The band's bio says it all: "No heavy trips about how you should live. No white guy slam-poetry about love. Just music you can push pit and stagedive to so you can forget for a moment that you have eczema and work at Pizza-Hut." These dudes dropped a very impressive demo last year, ("Visualize Latham" might have been the mosh-riff of 2011) and just recently signed to No Sleep. Expect their debut seven inch to make waves sometime later in 2012.
7. Loma Prieta
Holy fuck. January isn't even finished, and I've already got a few early contenders for 2012's album of the year. Loma Prieta have made their way into the conversation with I.V., a fierce, moody, monster of an album. The band perfectly blends noisy hardcore and noisy screamo for a very refreshing take on the whole "skramz revival" thing we've been seeing recently. If Kurt Ballou and Will Killingsworth somehow had a baby, it's band would sound like this (to be honest, I was surprised to find out I.V. wasn't recorded at God City). The band switches from catharsis to violence at the drop of a hat, oftentimes giving the listener mere seconds to breathe before pummeling them with a quick blast of pure vitriol. The album is relentless in it's approach, but more importantly, it's well written and unique. Expect to hear a lot more about I.V. -- and Loma Prieta-- in the future.
6. Joie De Vivre
Rockford, IL's Joie De Vivre would have been on the last list I made if it weren't for the fact that they'd broken up earlier that year. With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce that y'all should check out Rockford IL's Joie De Vivre. That's right, they recently got back together, are about to embark on a Euro tour, and will hopefully be releasing a followup to their spectacular 2010 full-length, The North End sometime in the not-so-distant future. Joie is the epitome of the Midwest's current fascination with Mineral/American Football, complete with trumpets and all. But aside from being one of the most heavily indebted bands in their circle, they're also easily one of the best. For those of us who can't remember a time when "emo" wasn't a dirty word, Joie De Vivre is just as refreshing and effective as any of their predecessors.
So that's it for now. I'm gonna do some homework. Part 2 will follow within the next few days.