So it’s down to the 10 best songs of 2011. Here is what made life better, got me through tough times, made me nostalgic, got me to think optimistically, and at the end of the day helped it all make sense.
Baby Monster’s “The Fear Of Charlie Sunrise” was probably the strongest opening track on a debut album this year (or any album for that matter). There’s a subtle undercurrent of hope filled disparity and sadness of that “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, but we’re okay” vibe which carries this song from being merely a solid effort from an electronic duo to a different place completely that resembles the vacant space within our hearts.
The way the ambient undertones swell in the song until it builds to a point we never realized we had climbed to is haunting. More so is the way it leaves you with an unresolved feeling of empty longing that makes this solid effort from Baby Monster worth loving.
What puts “The Fear Of Charlie Sunrise” into the top 10 though is how there’s such a dual experience when listening between those vacant abysmal-hope feelings and the up front aspect of this being a call out to open your arms and take a chance, both to someone else and to ourselves.
“If you’re so fearless take your hand off your heart” is probably the best delivered line in a song of 2011 and that should not go without mention.
Certain songs just end up tagging along with you, making it on every cruise, each mixtape, into the background at parties, the soundtrack to five AM conversations, you’re cleaning with it on, singing along in the shower, searching for it on jukebox’s, telling everyone who’ll listen about it… In 2009 it was Animal Collective‘s “Girls,” last year it was “Rivers And Roads” by The Head And The Heart and Foals “This Orient,” this year it was “Sandcastle“.
Beverlay is the side-project of Matt Raudsepp (Honheehonhee) and Nico Ormiston (Winter Gloves). Their album Boardwalk was one of the best EP’s to drop in 2011 but outside of giving us the incredible release they have remained almost completely unseen. HonheeHonhee had a fairly successful year so I’m sure a lot of the inactivity stems from focus in that direction.
I really hope to hear more from Beverlay in the future, the duo’s combined effort has a strength to it that thousands of songs I heard this year attempted but few even came close to.
The first time I heard “Shut-Up” it was four-thirty in the morning and I was falling asleep at my computer. I have never heard a song that got me as stoked to hear it as this one did. I must have sent this link out to fifty people before the sun came up that day. This is a song that NEEDS to be heard. If I were making a list of 100 songs that impressed me this year “Shut-Up” would without a doubt be my number one.
Jhameel is spreading around the internet like herpes at Ball State. Only you’re actually thankful to have him in your life. Everything about the guy screams talent and potential that no one else this year has come close to displaying. World meet Jhameel… your new addiction.
I love when people tell me they don’t “Get Into” depressing music. BULLSHIT! I’m calling you out. You may prefer to avoid your feelings but don’t lie to me. I can understand if you were to say you prefer to not listen to sad music. But if I play “252” for you and you tell me something like “I just don’t get into this” you shouldn’t be surprised by my no longer taking anything you say about music for having any amount of substance whatsoever.
You don’t get into “252” it gets into you. It shakes away facades and the self-told lies and leaves you in the healthiest of positions… open and vulnerable. Music with these sad undertones is the most important thing art has to offer. Happy art has no spine, there’s no passion, it’s passive and meant for mass appeal which will have about as much relevance in twenty years as a copy of NOW7.
I guarantee if you hear this song and it connects with a place you’re at inside you will remember it for the rest of your life.
There was a time when I thought depressing music was a waste, there was also a time when I thought baggy jeans and polo shirts looked good, We all grow up, we all see the light, or for your salvation I sure hope so.
The most important songs ever written have come in the midst of social crisis. Folk and Blues were driven by political/social discomfort without a voice. Despite your feelings towards the “Occupy Wallstreet” movement, from an outside standpoint, I hope everyone at least respects the fact that there are thousands of people who feel strongly enough about an issue to make a conscious effort towards change, something they feel so passionate about that they are willing to do more than randomly rant about it through social networks but instead move in visible active ways towards some form of transformation.
I caught a few tracks from Howth over the summer which I thought were full of potential, still I must have underestimated them because I never imagined they would ever create something close to what they’ve given us with “Belly Of The Beast“.
They wrote the song after hearing Professor Gayatri Spivak‘s speech in Washington Square Park on October 15th, they released this song four days later.
The lyrics are on point and delivered in such an incredibly relaxed fashion alongside guitars breathing sullen life the entire way edging in and out of the backdrop of echos and emotion. Even taking the message away from the equation this song has an incredible sound that draws emotion out of the listener from the moment it begins to play.
“Belly Of The Beast” is a song which encapsulates the voice of an entire generation overflowing with discontent… I truly hope someone is listening. - (Via)
” … And if your still breathing you’re the lucky ones cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs setting fire to our insides for fun collecting the names of the lovers that went wrong. We are the reckless we are the wild youth chasing visions of our futures. One day we will reveal the truth that one will die before he gets there, and if you’re still bleeding you’re the lucky one cause most of our feelings they are dead and they are gone. We’re setting fire to our insides for fun collecting pictures from the flood that wrecked our home, it was a flood that wrecked this home… and you caused it.”
“Youth“ gave me a whole new respect for Elena Tonra‘s songwriting abilities which were already impressive. This song just felt like she finally had gotten to the heart of what she’d been signing around for so long.
In what’s felt like one of the more positive years for me this was the only song to actually cause me to shed a tear.
I couldn’t take this song off of repeat the first time I heard it. My brother’s my best friend and I’ve spent the last six months waiting for the first opportunity to move out of this place so there’s something in “Always Gold” that resonates more than most songs do with me.
Radical Face creates music that sounds like a friends voice and he brings his songs from a place that most artists lack the courage to pull from.
Radical Face is personal, and courageous, and aprreciated.
Upon first listen I slid “Make That Call” into my best songs ever written playlist. At the time I was in what felt like a rather solid relationship so the personal connection wasn’t even there and still it floored me.
You can hear Andrew Boze dealing with his own emotions in this track, this is his release and it’s nothing short of monumental.
Fast forward seven months since and “Make That Call” has taken on a whole new place in my life. My relationship of two years ended at the end of summer, this song has helped calm a lot of emotions that might have enveloped me had I not had it as a companion.
2011 has been Trevor Powers‘ year. Going from some practically unknown kid screwing around in his bedroom to having Year Of Hibernation on top of everyone’s best albums of 2011 lists. The dude’s from Idaho! How unreal is life for this guy right now?
When I downloaded the July/Cannons split release I couldn’t upload them fast enough. I must have included one of the two tracks on six posts in two weeks between both sites and the response was overwhelming, I’m still getting emails about the guy.Youth Lagoon is no one’s secret anymore and he without a doubt earned it.
“Wilderness Eyes” is only three listens behindShiv Hurrah’s “All My Teeth” for the most played song in my library, and for good reason; I look for every chance possible to play this song and no matter what the situation it feels fitting.
It was not an easy decision on my part for what song should be number one but as I was shifting songs around and things began taking form I knew that if I were going to post this list with any sort of confidence that “Wilderness Eyes” deserved it the most.
This incredible song embodies everything I hope Heycoolkid! to be about, from how each line feels like a sing-alongable hook to the lyrics encapsulating the feelings of our entire restless generation, all the way down to the confidence displayed in this song yet remaining unpretentious and lacking all forms of arrogance. What’s not to love?
Up in the mountains the light will grow and surround us til we hardly know our friends from the animals
Out on the shoreline we beat our drums and we sing all of our parents songs but the words don’t mean the same no more
Take to the streets with a shriek and a howl bare our teeth with a grin and a growl we wear our faults like crowns
We’re wild When we hit the streets Wild In the packs we lead
Back in our homes they will cage us in try to wash all of our painted skin but their hands cant feed what they don’t own
So we run to the woods where we hid the fear that we’ve wasted all our golden years my friends we’re losing all we know
All Songs are for promotional purposes only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at email@example.com
Radical Face is oneartist who’ve I’ve been following for years just waiting for all that potential I heard to come into fruition.
When I picked up Ghost back in 2007 I was instantly blown away by the opening track “Asleep On A Train” and to this day it stands as one of the most listened to songs in my itunes library as well as one of the best instrumental tracks ever created.
Here we are four years later and Ben Cooper has re-emerged on the scene with an absolute vengeance. “All Is Well (Goodbye, Goodbye)” was one of four songs released on The Bastard EP in August and then in October he finally gave us a full length with The Family Tree: The Roots, which was an album with mind blowing lyrical strength that should one day have him seen as an equal with the likes of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, it’s happening as we speak, one new fan at a time. I’m really going to miss when his music felt like a conversation between the two of us as it does now but I can’t keep songs like these to myself for long.
“Tanktop” is not only one of the best songs to come out this year it also one of the best crafted break-up songs of remembrance ever.
Each one of us has gone through something similar at some point in our lives, where looking back we miss all those little things that defined the comfort and perfection that was once our relationship. Still we’re here with some monumental chasm between what we were then and the strangers we are now, friends ask us how things went wrong and all we can say is “Ain’t that always how it always seems to go”
“Give Us The Wind” is the perfect friend to bring along on a road trip, just let it breath for fifty seconds and it’ll set everything in the perfect emotional direction of optimistic nostalgia that is the ideal undercurrent for any cruise. Once this song kicks in it never lets up, just holds your hand and at the same time motivates you to roll the window down and light up, this song is the soundtrack for our movie moments where the script is our lives and the lines our words being etched in ink as we speak. (Via)
“Dancer” makes me want to cry or get drunk or both. Getting to the bottom, down to the very soul of emotion, and breathing this magnetism into it that is romantically sad yet as the song progresses feels like a blanket in deepest of night with its subtle hint of calm.
I almost left this song off of the list only from having listened to it so often it feels like it’s been out for longer than a year.
Which is kind of how all of their songs come across, it’s as if they’ve been with you for a long time.
Yellow Ostrich are one of the main bands you see pop up on blogs all of the time. I’m not sure why more people aren’t stoked yet but those who listen to hundreds of bands each day, myself included, know real talent and potential when they hear it, So for now Yellow Ostrich is “our” band.
These guys define all there is to love about the unbelievable amount of incredible music coming out of Brooklyn each day. Yellow Ostrich are comfortable and at ease with themselves and play whatever they feel like really well… REALLY well.
Of all the songs on this years Best Of list this was the hardest one for me to place. Part of me believes that it’s nearly offensive not having it in the top five because of how incredible “Lucky Now” is on it’s own. On the other hand it’s Ryan Adams and this is what I count on from him in his songs so the “new” factor is kind of non-existent. I hate having to say it that way but it’s how I feel. 20 is the lowest I could possible lower it to, allowing room for songs that surprised me to rank higher, and still express how great this song is.
“Lucky Now” is Ryan Adams at his absolute best. Some people may prefer his more uptempo songs but I feel the same way about Adams as I do about Margot And The Nuclear So And Sos… when they are venting their true feelings and not trying to prove to us how talented they are things get epic. Thanks Ryan for coming back to us in such a fashion that shows us we would be missing out without you.
I found Nerves Junior over at My Old Kentucky Blog and at once knew this is a band we’ve been waiting for.
In typical Kentuckian fashion, the bands that make it out sound like they’ve spent their entire lives studying the sounds other bands have been working with, honing in on their own strengths and then appear out of nowhere with a sound that is bigger than every influence we could tag them with to describe what we’re hearing.
“Lotta talent building in Louisville, KY these days. Nerves Junior is the latest to gas up my ear tanks. Sparing us all the verbal eloquence we all often know I lack, I effing love their album’s title cut, “As Bright As Your Night Light. The song has a dark atmosphere, gorgeously blends a load of rock and electronic elements, and features hooks powerful enough to catch Moby Dick.” – My Old Kentucky Blog
There are few bands I expect the scene to embrace more than Cheerleader in 2012. They’ve got the texture, the vibe, and songs strong enough to listen to on repeat. All things Indie and all things Brooklyn, only these guys are out of Connecticut which for some reason makes Cheerleader even sexier. (Via)
17. R.E.M. – We All Go Back To Where We Belong
This song is the reason for the count being off (hence two number 26′s) I still haven’t gotten a physical copy of this track, yes I could get it through less than legal means… my very first cassette I ever asked my parents to get me was Out Of Time and ever since they’ve been the one band I always make it a point of having the album, since Part Lies Part Heart Part Garbage is a greatest hits rather than a collection of new songs I haven’t found the motivation to grab it from Indy CD and Vinyl or Luna yet.
I can’t imagine a better song for R.E.M. to go out with. I’m nearly brought to tears each time I hear it, an experience in regrets and hindsight clarity that is far from surprising from one of my all-time favorite bands.
“Vancouver’s Jonny Dylan Hughes returns with a stunning follow up to 2010′s Arms Legs Feet. We’re Going To Make It is an enigmatic effort that cantilevers hymnful vocals over a precipice of kaleidoscope electro dance pop explosions. At the best of moments, JDH’s crisp cavernous voice inhibits these arrangements like a massive hollow rubik’s cube shuttling through space at a blistering speed that is nonetheless peaceful like any massive black vacuum tends to be.” – Argue Job
“[Moon Killer] starts with a distorted synth line and soon explodes into a full-fledged dance-floor groove, complete with bouncing toms and a catchy, shout-along chorus. Retro in all the right places.” - KEXP
As far as 2011 chillwave tracks go “Moon Killer” should go down as the best song to come out of a genre growing more cluttered by the minute and even harder to define.
In the year that passed between releases this title track from Small Black‘s most recent mixtape shows how focused these guys have been on there craft. They don’t feel as forced as they did on New Chain, what I hear when listening is a band letting the songs develop on their own, each one with it’s own personality. For some bands this approach would feel empty and lacking emotion yet the adverse seems to have happened for the Brooklyn natives.
“It’s no secret that my (Cory G’s) personal taste in music leans towards the brutal, aggressive, fast paced ilk. It’s not that I don’t have a softer, gentler side, it is just that finding something laid back that is not overly (and needlessly) spacey/atmospheric or at the very least overwhelmingly somber or even downright depressing. Anyhoo it’s always nice to find some relaxing snow day jam that is comforting-yet-groovy.
The second full-length by Austin CPU-based duo Agent A & Omae was thrust upon the world earlier this year and offers a few of just this type of gem. Every once in awhile pianos and laptops apparently do make for fine company.” -SubEx
I’m just another voice in the sea of Bon Iver praise, I know this, but when I thought I had finally come to realize how amazing Justin Vernon is and how grateful we should all be to have one of the greatest songwriters of all-time creating music right before us he goes and and puts out this version of “Beth/Rest” and makes it crystal clear that he has barely even begun to show what he can create with his troubled soul. This song is the absolute, the pinnacle of greatness, emotion at its truest rawest form, sadness shaped into a mountain of understanding, this is everything, EVERYTHING, that I love from music and am thankful each and ever time I replay this song to have it in my life.(Via)
“Travis Keymer’s new solo project Teenagers surely captured my attention with his track “Sweet P” off his most recent EP Besides. It holds a beautifully crafted blend of rumbling, suspense building drums, soft doo-wopping background vocals and a bit of infectiously danceable goodness that you’ll be more than welcome to let take you over” - Antlered Pigeon
TV Ghost‘s “Doppleganger” is the ideal mix of fuzz, garage, and punk without going over the top and still sounding incredible original.
Rarely does a song catch me off guard as much as this one; In less than two and a half minutes “Doppleganger” showcases these guys out of Lafayette, Indiana’s ability to combine angsty lyrics with a seventies psychedelia that is an emotional roller coaster between tense intensity and spaced out atmospheric bliss.
Someone get Quentin Tarantino on the phone and let him know we’ve found an ideal song to feature in his next Grindhouse movie. (Via)
All songs are for promotional purposes. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before saying anything about this song, I fully realize that “Bandages” was not released in 2011. It was though new to me this year and the video they put out over the summer for it really impressed me. Sure there is another track that probably should have been on this list instead of this one but I could not bring myself to not have it on this list. Sorry for those of you who are offended. I feel the same way when seeing The Head And The Heart on the best album list from so many websites this year… everyone makes exceptions.
Hey Rosetta! are soulful-folk at its best.
“Bandages” remains subtle while simultaneously bringing a somewhat hurtful truth to the surface. The last minute and a half of this song is acoustic perfection which embodies the collective magic that Hey Rosetta! have the ability to create.
I stumbled over Glowbugwhile sifting through new albums on bandcamp and it was the best random find I’ve made all year. EVERY song on Mr. Plastic is worthy of the Best Songs Of 2011 list.
I’m not much of an Idiot Pilot fan so Daniel Anderson really surprised me with this side-project.
Like a more artist Born Gold or a pop-sensibleAnimal Collective, if you are a fan of electronic music this should be your new favorite band.
36.Bon Iver – “Calgary”
For Emma, Forever Ago was one of the most haunting albums ever created but where could Bon Iver go from there? Wouldn’t the art he created in the future be a lesser form of brilliance?
This year I finally found the answer to all of the questions I’d had to what Justin Vernon‘s long-term place in indie would be… it was not even close to what I had been expecting.
With his self-titled album Bon Iver unearthed a level of instrumentation that even those who aren’t into the whole chill-acousticness couldn’t help but listen in awe of the conceptualized angelic crafting he has given us.
“Calgary” is one of those rare songs to be so passive and heartfelt that whenever it comes on the entire room settles and we’re flooded with the impression that for the space of a song time has stopped.
Bon Iver has proven he belongs in our future as much as the soundtrack to our past, we should be thankful to have such genius and honesty in our presence.
“Suicide Policeman” is hands-down my favorite Yuck song. It’s like finding a middle ground between the low-key phenomenal “Automatic” and their 90′s garage intensity of “The Wall.” For obvious reasons the lyrics are the staple to this songs infallibility but the way it’s laid out with such structure makes it a very stand alone track calling to be included on any mixtape, especially ones given to a friend whose going through difficult times when no words will suffice for what you need to tell them.
“[Letting Up Despite Great Faults] latest single “Teenage Tide” is electro-pop at its best, with hazy vocals and optimistic lyrics, with an underlying sense of nostalgia. It’s the type of music that acts as the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon lying in the sun and helps to make long hot summer days that much more enjoyable & relaxing.” – Eclectically Challenged
“Teenage Tide” is the epitome of those songs that captured my heart in adolescence where the band eloquently expresses all of those mixed up and unsure feelings we have with our crushes and friends, lines that were so often intwined with each other.
If I were seventeen Letting Up Despite Great Faults would probably be my Dashboard Confessional.
“You know how you search something up on Wikipedia and then you click a link that leads you to another page and so on? Thanks to that concept and Youtube, I stumbled upon this wonderful track after starting with Said the Whale’s “Camilo” and going through several other bands’ videos. Can you imagine listening to music like this all year round? Even though I’m wrapped in blankets because of my cold room, this songs makes me feel like I’m sitting outside on a warm evening. I love how this song grabs you for a little over 3 minutes and takes you to the band’s hometown of Los Angeles. It’s a nice little break from the dark, cold and stormy weather we have been having.
‘It’s hard to measure time in a city without seasons.’ That one simple line really got me thinking. It never crossed my mind what it would be like to be in a city without the contrasting seasons. I just thought I would share this song as we head into our supposedly record breaking winter.” – Fistful Of Sound
Broken Social Scene are another band (like wilco) that I never have been able to fully get into, and believe my I have tried(hard) but I just can’t. There’s something that immediately turns me off about the majority of their songs (although Lovers Spit makes my top 100 of all time). It may be brilliant and leagues above everyone else, it might even be ground breaking and have opened doors for so many other (better) bands, but they just don’t connect with me the way I feel they are hyped up to.
This is why Young Buffalo impress me, not only do they have a sound that’s SO DAMN ADDICTING they somehow have found a way to take a song I didn’t already like and make me LOVE IT. How often do we get to hear a cover that’s better than the original?
This version will be getting played on my headphones for a long time to come. It even makes me appreciate BSS for once… who knows it may someday, by some miracle, make me end up being a fan of them. (Via)
I first heard of Alex Drumm through an Other Music sampler the label emailed to me last spring with this song on it, I’m now a full on Alex Drumm fan.
This expression of remembrance soaked in accepted longing has been a part of so many long nights I’ve had this year when my head was full of questions and a bitterness I desperately wanted to shed. Alex Drumm speaks to my heart, a blessing I’ll never forget.
He put out the fantastic Empty Roomsback in June, I truly hope all of you pick it up.
Being There‘s “Tomorrow” is everything I hope for from music.
Unpretentious nostalgic hope, “Tomorrow” is the ideal sound for a drive through the fall night air with a car full of friends and a pack of American Spirits (unless you’re pro anti-smoking then maybe you would prefer beef jerky or something lame like that).
Being there are out of London and have somehow managed to combine the sound of Yuck and Pavement and bring new life to an early nineties sound. They recently signed with Young And Lost Club and are about to head out on a fall tour with label mates Noah And The Whale. “Tomorrow” is one of three songs on their limited edition (100) album “Being There” which they gave us yesterday to begin promoting the single “The Radio,” which is the title track from there debut album due out on November 14th.
One listen through “The Radio” and it’s easy to see why they are wanting to promote the song. God it’s incredible! INCREDIBLE!
Being There seem aligned for big things. Remember how Best Coast surfaced just at the precise moment that lo-fi was beginning to catch fire which in turn blew our minds, Being There very well could be that for the nineties-shoegaze sound that is gaining momentum and wholeheartedly I believe they will be. – Listen Before You Buy
These Indiana natives are the most likely shining star to bring notice to an incredibly mind-blowing scene that has remained under the radar for far too long.
I first caught Dreamers Of The Ghetto when they opened for Maps And Atlases last January. At the time the only thing I could find from them were a couple of rough demos and a live show with lack-luster quality. In the year that has passed since I’ve followed their launch from obscurity cheering them on the entire way.
If there’s one band I guarantee will be doing big things in the next year it will be Dreamers Of The Ghetto. Each time I play one of their songs for a friend or throw a post up on either of the websites the response is a unified immediate love. “Tether” speaks for itself as to why.
Sure I have gotten into James Vincent McMorrow before but somehow missed this song completely. “Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low” is a perfect example of the importance of blogs in music today; Where labels only push one or two songs, those with a much better ear are promoting the ones that NEED to be heard.
My heart breaks when I hear those words “nothing breaks your stride like what’s become.”
“Boring Horror” is party music for the anti-mainstream masses… they can have LMFAO, I’ll take Born Gold any day.
These guys are one of the main bands I’m looking forward to catching when I’m calling Austin home, since they seem to skip Indy each time they come state-side, pull up a couple of live tracks if you have any questions as to why they make that list.
All songs are for promotional use only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com