It’s hard to believe but it’s been over two years since HCK!’s first offering. We’ve come a long way, the growth is apparent, looking back at those first posts is a rad experience realizing just how tangible of a difference between then and now there is and how many people have helped to make this one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This also marks the 100th post for HCK! making today’s mix all that more important for me to get right. Continue reading →
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Making theBest Albums list was relatively easy compared to nailing down the 100 best songs of 2011. The level of incredible music to surface this year is unbelievable. What’s more difficult is trying to create some sort of order when laying these songs out, what makes one great song better than another great song? Nothing. Keep that in mind as you go through this list, hopefully there will be a few new tracks you haven’t heard before and if a song stands out to you which should have been included, make use of the comments section If I haven’t heard it before or haven’t given my full attention to a song that may have been lost in the midst of the unorganized shuffle that is my “new music folder” know I will take full advantage of the opportunity to check it out.
I’m going to space these out in hopes that the artists get more of a focus per song than if I put them all up at once, with art as good as this they deserve it.
This Rollo And Grady Session was the first I’d ever heard of Lord Huron. These Michigan via L.A. natives are killing it with potential, I can’t imagine anything other than HUGE things from these guys in 2012.
The strength of “Street Joy” lies in the fact that it’s a nice change from what we’ve come to expect from an A-typical White Denim track which is precisely why it stands out as being worthy of this year’s list over the other solid tracks off of “D” .
Real Estate seem poised for scene domination in the wake of the incredible “Days.” Without a doubt they’ve got the sound and talent yet it’s the band’s universal acceptance from every demographic other than mainstream that allows me to write that with full confidence, which would probably seem blasphemous to the hipster crowd but they seem to be staying loyal which is a feat in itself. “It’s Real” was the first single from the new album and is just chill enough to remind us these guys are from Brooklyn but clean enough to make those of us in the mid-west not feel neglected by their coolness.
I’ve always felt the conviction that if a band or artist is going to do a cover it should be an entirely new take on it. Any thirteen-year-old with some free time can learn to play a song identically with the original, if you need proof just look at forty percent of the videos on youtube.
Needless to say this take on “Barely Legal” may go down as my favorite cover of the year. Brazil’s Cicero strips this song completely back and has rebuilt it in a way that feels as if I’ve never heard it before. For some it may seem blasphemous but I truly like this version better than the original, sorry Julian.
Real Estate put out there own version of this track earlier this year and although the two re-envisioned versions are similar Real Estate was able to keep the arrogance that IS The Strokes still slightly attached where Cicero is able to discard it completely and make this song actually sound like a soul baring piece of acoustic indie. As a fan of The Strokes the fact that they never wrote a song that didn’t sound pretentious is basically the underlying theme of the band we once loved, for someone else to take the exact same song and deliver a feel that is anything but impresses me.
The line “these places your therapist fears to tread, well I bet you knock em dead” is an ideal example of the clever and surprisingly original lyrics that set this song up for necessary repeat listening. (Via)
There have been a few times this year when I’ve had to ask myself whether I’m writing music reviews or heading the Jhameel fanclub (Example 1, Example 2) . If you haven’t noticed lately, I’m not the only one getting all band-crush on his music either. “Waves” is the more “pop” style track he’s put out this year and shows why it’s the title track from his most recent project.
“…Dystopia is their supercharged, post-apocalyptic anthem, virtually a warrior’s cry warning of the impending inferno of mother earth; all the while beating the drums of self-empowerment in the face of doom and leading the listener towards the kinetic potential within. It’s a tall order, but these dance-punk emissaries have an intergalactic belief system to back up their call to the altar of their disco floor…” – My Old Kentucky Blog
“I caught a video a few weeks ago from Oh land and immediately was attracted to what this band is doing. Like a chill Florence and the Machine or Coco Rosie with pop sensibility. Each song breathes exceptionally well ‘Perfection‘ is a solid example of that.” (Via)
“Mike Tucker is Canadian video game design student who goes by the name of Blood Diamonds when he turns to music production in his spare time. Recent track, “Dreams” is an explosive cocktail of R&B-inspired high pitch vocals, dreamy synth melodies and repetitive beats that sounds something like Beach House with a hint of The Weeknd and a little Animal Collective” - Onomatopoeia
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan (a.k.a. The Milk Carton Kids) have made one of the most sing-alongable songs with Girls, Gather Round. This one shows what strengths these two troubadours are working with. A tinge of classic bluegrass that makes you want to swing a mug and belt along with the chorus and what’s even better is that such a full sound is created by two guys playing live. (Via)
Although I think for most people “Girls Gather Round” is the more worthy songs for this list, I’m starting to think I should have included the haunting “Michigan” higher up on the list, here’s a video for it if you haven’t heard it yet.
And while some of the imagery has drawn specifically on Alberta, from where frontman Nils Edenloff hails, Cole loves the universality of the music. “I’m from a small town, too, and I feel an emotional connection to the themes cause I think it’s something everyone goes through,” she says. “Like, you leave your small town and move to the big city, leaving things behind, ending relationships. You don’t have to necessarily come from Alberta to understand it.”
“North Star” finds Edenloff singing about driving in a friend’s car, with the north star guiding them home. He croons over sparse electric piano and a skittish drumbeat, before the song finally swells into a organ-led crescendo that comes on like the first hints of a sunrise after an all-night adventure. – Spin
“Kaputt” has shown us once again how phenomenal Dan Bejar is. It’s not like he had anything left needing to be proved but he took his art to a whole other level this year. He’s so relaxed in his delivery we can’t help but turn the volume up in awe of the ease he portrays.
Pat Grossi first came onto the scene last year with his highly praised “Curtis Lane EP” that bloggers couldn’t get enough of, myself included. When Active Child’s debut album “You Are All I See” came out it basically perpetuated what he started a year ago. This is how good electro-pop can be and indie at it’s finest.
Every day this week when riding my bike to work I have started off with “Cosmonauts”. This may not seem like something worth mentioning but it really is because I never repeat listen. My ride to and from work is the only time I get to relax while listening to the songs that i’ve enjoyed each day, the only chance I get to really experience them. I noticed on day one that this song gives off that eighties movie vibe that is in the action/music scene which is a great way to get you motivated about going into work (think Iron Eagle when Pappy gets told to shove his rules “I’m doing it my way” and slips the cassette in, the opening scene with the feet from footloose, or I’m trying to think of a good dirtbike/bmx scene from a movie but have drawn a blank- you get the idea though). I guess what i’m trying to say is Kites With Lights have created a song which is a perfect track for doing shit.(Via)
With how incredible Mr. Plastic was I’m practically offended by the lack of hype going towards Glowbug. The album was the most addicting of any to come out in 2011. Secrets aren’t always good to keep and Glowbug is the ideal example, so quit keeping them to yourselves and start mixing up some cd’s for your friends, these guys are too good to be floating this low under the radar.
Try “Generation Handclap” — a track from Canadian indie-poppers Library Voices. It features just the right doses of New Order guitar freakouts, surfy drums, power pop harmonies and even those saxophone accents that make you do a twisty dance without caring what others think. – Rcrd Lbl
Slothpop are the best local export we have here in Indy. As with most great bands you really need to see them live to grasp the fire to understand all the smoke surrounding them in this town. “Kokoro” comes close very close to delivering on the hype but given the chance to see them sweat on stage in the coming year make it point number one not to pass it up.
If the feel-great lyrics and handclaps don’t bitchslap a smile across your face, perhaps the punchy piano and crip-walking bassline will. This is like that random Cults song meets Panda Bear’s collab with Atlas Sound, except not something you’re ridiculously sick of hearing at Urban Outfitters. Savor it, folks, before it winds up in a Nissan commercial. - I guess I’m Floating
Like an upbeat Quick Said The Bird, Mother Falcon are incredibly talented musicians who understand the importance of being part of a whole. Nothing escapes from the ether yet at the same time every note in this song is astonishingly fitting. The vocal round-about does me in more than any other aspect of “Fireflies” reminding me of a mature Lydia who at one point in time I was obsessed with. (Via)
The best news I’ve heard in the last few weeks is that Mat Cothran will be continuing on with his recently acquired Elvis Depressedly moniker.I’m a huge fan of artists who place art before self. By putting out music under a band name it throws all pretensions aside and allows us to take in the music without the unnecessary distraction that comes with solo artists.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from following Cothran’s musical endeavors is that this guy has absolutely no clue what he’s going to do next. One day Coma Cinema is done the next day he’s saying it’ll be around until his death and pretty much copying the same format at the same time with Elvis Depressedly.
His work as Elvis Depressedly feels more truthful than what he’s given us before reminding me immensely of early Bright Eyes with its raw honesty and unrelenting emotional heart-on-sleeve sound.Wherever Cothran chooses to take his music I’m sure we’ll be thankful for it and thoroughly enjoy whatever sounds he gives us, I’m hoping for much more Depressedly it’s too real to just throw to the way side. (Via)
“While We’re Young” is the new single from Californian musician Max Greenhalgh, who has recently finished the recording of a solo album dubbed ‘Teenager’. Yeah, there’s a bit of a trend here. Naturally, the song is a melodic lofi pop number, but instead of being cliched it’s actually a fantastic example of summer music done right. With the warmer weather obviously on its way, we could all do with a bit more music like this. -And Pluck Your Strings
The Speed Of Sound In Seawater is one of the bands that, after taking some time to grasp, have worked their way into just about every personal playlist I’ve made this year. Something about their Maps And Atlases meets early 2000′s emo mixture elevates them from being merely another overly talented band to one of the key lines of defense I use to defend the state of music when combating friends who believe there hasn’t been instrumental talent since the seventies, those friends are also idiots.
For how much I enjoy promoting new songs and great bands I feel a confession is called for; I have a secret stash . With the ease that artist get tossed around and discarded (I’m part of the problem), with terms like “buzzband” often times doing more damage six months down the road than it helped, and the way that “great music” can become “generic music” just through album sales and the amount of people we are crammed between when going to a show I feel justified in having a few secrets.
I love the feeling of having a band to myself as much as anyone else, to know that a song I love is “my” song instead of everyone’s song. That amazing feeling that lingers all night after standing in some small sweaty basement with thirty-five people when there is only room for about ten with that constant fear of knowing if there is one spark, one faulty wire in an amp, we will all burn to our death before we have a chance to react. These are the things that I love about music and sure it’s not fair to the bands I choose to keep to myself but I need that personal connection and sometimes I make a conscious effort to keep certain bands that way.
I got nervous when the whole surf rock thing started trending that Teenagers would get chewed up and spit out by the hype machine (the actual machine and not the blog) so I kept my mouth closed. Unfortunately/fortunately the music which Travis Keymer creates using the Teenagers moniker is far too great to keep hidden beneath a bushel…. (Excerpt from my Listen Before You Buy post)
The opening guitar lick to this track just radiates sunshine, immediately transporting me to the top of a sand dune watching a hazy sunset fade away into the horizon. Featuring Mississippi’s premiere ukulele-maestro Dent May and Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere as guests, this song is a case of beer and a few mermaids away from a summertime blast. If you’re suffering from seasonal depression or need a good soundtrack to watch sea turtle babies crawl back to the ocean, spin “Killin The Vibe”! – I Guess I’m Floating
All songs are for promotional use only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com
If you haven’t been downright impressed with the overflow of incredible genre crossing music this year you are either a huge Nickleback fan or you are Amish, there’s no other logical excuse to complain about the status of music.
Last year when I put the “Best Albums” list together it was one of the first Heycoolkid! posts ever and with all honesty I was ill-prepared. This year I’m putting these albums up with complete confidence. Sure there’s an album or two that should have the made the cut and somehow was overlooked but all excuses aside here are the albums which I thought were the best of 2011: