This was the year that Dischord Records, D.C.’s longtime standard-bearer of uncompromising DIYism, returned to semi-relevance. But over the last half-decade, another D.C. indie label has consistently held said status: Sockets Records. The operation, founded in 2004, is the local indie-rock clearing house for the post-post-hardcore era. And 2011 may have been its best year: Deleted Scenes’ Young People’s Church of the Air wrapped weirdo mope rock in a gauzy musical cast, filtering everything from go-go and dubstep to Fugazi and The Walkmen through a hallucinatory echo box. Art-scrambled blues-punk trio Laughing Man’s debut The Lovings (’63-’69) likewise earned serious attention. And Hume—which released a 7-inch—is still exploring the cosmos, only now it seems to have a destination in sight. Fine, so these bands haven’t made masterpieces yet. But they might one day, and Sockets will have them first.