The BEST DEBUTS of 2011 (The Year-End Review Awards)

By Chris Moore:

This year, we’ll start with the notable debuts.  Or, more appropriately, the notable debut (singular).  I listen to a great deal of music every year, and even this only scratches the surface of a solitary droplet in the oceans of new material released, so I should preface this with the disclaimer that there may indeed be other, excellent debuts that I’ve missed.  If there are any that you know about, I encourage you to leave that information in the comments section below, and I’ll check it out asap.


That being said, the award for best debut of 2011 goes to Yuck, a band that I picked up because I thought the album cover was kind of cool and quirky.  At first, I was hesitant, as this is low-fi, distortion-heavy garage rock.  However, tracks like “Suicide Policeman” gave me a shock and all but dared me to listen more carefully and not find substance.  By the second listen, I was taken with Yuck’s raw but purposeful style, and it is without reservations that I pass them along to you here.

1) Yuck – Yuck


The Best Debuts of 2010

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to yet another list in this Weekend Review special end-of-year series.  Today, the focus is on the top three debuts of the year.

Regarding the three newly formed bands recognized below, the decision of how best to order them was somewhat difficult.  However, in the end, it is Fistful of Mercy — comprised of Dhani Harrison (yes, George’s son), Ben Harper, and Joseph Arthur — that receives the honor of best debut.  Their album is strikingly well-defined for a first effort, the band quickly finding their collective voice amidst lush harmonies and subdued instrumentation.  One can only hope that there will be a follow-up album in the not-so-distant future.

Broken Bells is perhaps one of the most fascinating collaborations of recent years.  Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and James Mercer (of the Shins) aren’t the most likely couple, but the combination of Burton’s hip hop/electronica background and Mercer’s indie pop/rock mentalities simply work.  The result — the self-titled Broken Bells — is a pensive yet poppy trip.

The third entry on this list is from a band fronted by Kevin Devine and supported by members of the Manchester Orchestra.  Bad Books is a dynamic release that runs the gamut from fully produced indie rock to stripped down solo acoustic performances.  The vocals are likewise well-arranged: simple and raw at times, full and multi-layered at others.

The honorable mention is Mumford & Sons’s Sigh No More, a band with an impressively interesting acoustic sound, and, although I find the album’s sound to be somewhat predictable after the first few tracks, there are strong songs and a strong overall sound that has been developed for this record.

And so, with this brief list, I leave you for the day, and I officially invite you back tomorrow for another!

The BEST DEBUTS of 2010

1)  As I Call You Down – Fistful of Mercy

2)  Broken Bells – Broken Bells

3)  Bad Books – Bad Books

Honorable MentionSigh No More – Mumford & Sons