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The Eight Best Local Records of 2011 (So Far)

July is almost upon us, which means we're more than halfway through 2011. It's already been a busy year for local music, with dozens of Valley bands releasing new albums, playing local shows, and heading out on tour.

We've picked eight of our favorite local albums released so far in 2011. It was hard to whittle the list down to eight, and we've surely left off somebody's favorite local band. But we do believe that the eight records listed below highlight the best of Phoenix's music scene, encompassing genres from electro pop and hip-hop to heavy metal and punk. We're eager to see what the rest of the year brings.

Super Stereo, This Is Futurepop (Fervor Records)
Released February 1, 2011

Super Stereo's synth-driven songs are catchy, danceable, and brimming with upbeat messages about music as a unifying force. The video for Super Stereo's single "Life Passed Me By" has been viewed more than 100,000 times on mtv.com websites, and the band is the subject of our July 7 music feature. Check 'em out at superstereoband.com.

What Laura Says, Talk (Sundawg Records)
Released May 24, 2011

There are only four tracks on Talk , but each one embodies the multi-instrumentalist mashup of blues, rock, folk, and soul that What Laura Says does so well. Whether it's the organ-driven, '60s pop-sounding track "Porch Indiana," or the groovy, melodic "Sun Is (Out)," the handful of songs on this EP demonstrate the deft sonic diversity of this band. Get more info. at www.whatlaurasays.com .


Cut Throat Logic, With All Due Respect (MPR Entertainment)

Released February 17, 2011

When it comes to Phoenix hip-hop, Cut Throat Logic may be the last national ambassadors standing. While many other local hip-hop acts (like Willy Northpole, Hot Rod, and Juice, to name but a few) teetered on the edge of success after signing to the record label imprints of major artists like Ludacris and 50 Cent, CTL's stayed D.I.Y. and brought national artists in for guest spots. KRS-One appears on this album, spitting a verse on "T.A.F.," one of many furious and infectious tunes in this collection. You can download the whole album for free at www.ctlmusic.com.

The Father Figures, Lesson Number One (AZPX Records)

Released February 2011
The Father Figures are a Phoenix supergroup, boasting former members of well-known Valley punk bands like Jodie Foster's Army and the North Side Kings. The 13 tracks here embody the hard-and-fast formula of punk rock, but also display the band's impressive musicianship through surf-twang guitars, tight bass lines, and spot-on drumming. Hear some tracks at www.myspace.com/thefatherfiguresusa.

The Whisperlights, Surfaces (Have Not Records)
Released June 28, 2011

This eclectic, eight-piece band fuses a variety of world music styles (including afro-beats, French pop, and American folk) into a sonic melting pot of breezy, melodic indie rock. We're not the only ones who've noticed -- The Whisperlights' "Eaten Alive" was "Song of the Day" on National Public Radio this week. Get the 411 at thewhisperlights.blogspot.com

The Plainfield Butchers, Hard to Be Human (self-released)
Released February 2011

If The Father Figures are a punk supergroup, then The Plainfield Butchers are a punk super-super-├╝bergroup. Consisting of members of Digital Leather, The Half Empties, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Big Vinny and the Cattle Thieves, The Plainfield Butchers have their shit down. Tracks like "Truckstop Urinal" and "Nothing To Prove" showcase the band's masterful knack for churning out short, simple, dead-on punk rock ditties. Get some at www.myspace.com/theplainfieldbutchers.

Hellen, Sorry For Screaming (self-released)
Released March 2011

Being a female heavy metal singer isn't so much of an anomaly anymore, as vocalists like Otep, Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, and Zena McKelvy of Estrum have demonstrated that the fairer sex can growl and scream just as loud as the guys. Hellen leader Mindy DuPonte growls and screams, too, but she does so while dexterously drumming behind a big Ludwig kit. Listening to tracks like the brutal "Pony" and the more melodic, operatic stylings of "It's Not Worth It," it's easy to hear why Drumhead magazine hailed Duponte's "performance polyrhythm," and why Metal Hammer magazine called the band's music "eviscerating." Check Hellen out at www.myspace.com/hellen.

The Love Me Nots, The Demon and The Devotee (Atomic A Go Go Records)
Released May 13, 2011

The Love Me Nots' farfisa organ-driven garage rock songs have matured over the years, and The Demon and The Devotee is the band's best record to date. Every track here falls into the band's '60s garage/spy rock/sexy pop sound, but the recordings are more crisp than ever and the lyrics take on a darker tone on tracks like "The End of the Line" (no doubt influenced by front woman Nicole Laurenne's recent cancer scare). The band's music has always been great to dance and drink to, but with this album, it's evolved into music you can think to, as well. www.myspace.com/luvmenots


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