Top 10 Albums of 2011: Chase Kamp

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Welcome to another installment of Up on the Sun's 2011 Review. Over the next couple days we'll be counting down our favorite songs, shows, national and local releases of 2011. This entry comes from Chase Kamp, a Phoenix musician and writer. Kamp began writing for Up on the Sun with a tour diary while on the road with French Quarter, and we liked him so much we asked him to stick around. Enjoy!

This year I found myself most impacted by extremes, music that was either dark and cathartic or redemptive and positive. I decided to fold my best local picks in with the rest, since they got just as much play as the big-timers on my car stereo and living room receiver.

10. St Ranger - Life Coach (self-released)

This one crossed the finish line at the very last minute. Life Coach isn't available on LP until February, but five new tracks from the most promising young band in Phoenix just went live on Bandcamp. "It's 'Appening" is the standout: Plenty of beautiful Grizzly Bear/Animal Collective group harmonies with the expressive syncopated percussion that lesser indie-pop projects don't realize is key to those bands' impact.

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09. Krallice - Diotoma (Profound Lore)

From writing about Mayhem to learning gravity blasts from Swedes on YouTube, 2011 was the year I began my metal education in earnest. For amateurs like me, Krallice's Diotoma is an accessible but unrelenting torrent of propulsive drumming and black metal riffage. The growl of vocalist Nick McMaster is always menacing and avoids theatricality, but at times sounds introspective or even flushed with doubt on top of the rumbling, somber chord shapes.

08. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (Sub Pop)

A heady, smooth avant-rap comeback by a member of '90s hip-hop collective Digable Planets. Black Up is all unconventional beat meters and spaced-out textures with complex flows that feel effortless.

Shabazz Palaces - Bop Hard (Live @ KEXP) from Format Carré on Vimeo.

07. Arcsin(100) - Distant Lens (Holy Page)

My pick for the best local record from Pima County. Tucson-based Arcsin(100) makes meandering, scrappy indie rock with loads of exuberant distortion and memorable Built to Spill-like hooks.

06. Vegetable - Castration Frustration/Sol 7" (Gilgongo)

My pick for the best Maricopa County release. Razor-sharp staccato post-punk that gets right to the point. For fans of Wire, Devo and doing more with less.

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