The Best 51 Tracks of 2011

34. Yuck
“Shook Down”
Yuck (Fat Possum)
I have a confession to make. I wasn’t alive in the 60’s or 70’s and barely a human in the 80’s. Therefore — while I can appreciate the concept of fondly looking back on those generations — true, honest-to-goodness personal nostalgia begins for me around 1994, which is exactly why this London quartet’s debut hit me so hard. The perfect soundtrack for reminiscing about braces-on-braces action.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/10272650″ iframe=”true” /]

33. Active Child (f/ How To Dress Well)
“Playing House”
You Are All I See (Vagrant)
While we are on the topic of middle school awkwardness, we might as well discuss the biggest junior high slow (read: dry hump) jam of 2011. This deliciously cheesy track highlights the two vocalists’ distinctive, highly divergent falsettos, which compliment each other devastatingly. In truth, You Are All I See doesn’t quite hit the heights of his scintillating debut The Curtis Lane EP, but its lead single remains undeniable.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/20929264″ iframe=”true” /]

32. Wild Flag
“Romance”
Wild Flag (Merge)
In lieu of subjecting you to 1,000 words of breathless Carrie Brownstein verbal cunnilingus, I will just say that I love this fucking band. If you like rock music — you know, loud guitars, drums, jump kicks etc. — this is your shit. Combining the two coolest members of Sleater-Kinney and two other people who serious music fans should have heard of — I, of course, hadn’t — the group’s debut is a potent combo of garage rock grit, strong vocal melodies, and hooks for days. Possibly the live band of the year.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/22144656″ iframe=”true” /]

31. Air France
“It Feels Good To Be Around You
Unreleased
Everything this Swedish duo does just feels good. The aptly-titled track brilliantly picks up where the group’s brilliant 2008 EP, No Way Down, left off, mixing a heavy Balaeric influence with warm vocals, pop sensibilities, and soaring melodies. The group is set to release their long-awaited debut LP later this year, and it looks set to be a stunner.

DL: Link

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/20493223″ iframe=”true” /]

30. Girls
“Honey Bunny”
Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds)
It was another incredible year for San Francisco’s best band. The group followed up their excellent debut, Album, with a solid EP and the critically acclaimed Father, Son, Holy Ghost. “Honey Bunny,” showcases exactly what makes the group so special. Vocalist/songwriter Chris Owens’ deftly combines his disarming sense of humor (“They don’t like my boney body/They don’t like my dirty hair”), unfiltered honesty, and an incredible ear for melody into a fitting opener to one of the best albums of 2011.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/23541729″ iframe=”true” /]


29. Elbow
“Open Arms”
Build A Rocket Boys! (Fiction/Polydor)
What can I say? I’ve always been a sucker for windswept, sad-eyed British groups, bellowing heart songs from deep in their overpacked gullets. The current kings of Northern melancholia faced the biggest challenge of their careers in 2011. Since the group spent so much of their career being loveable, underrated losers, it was always going to be fascinating to see how they would follow up their first real breakthrough album, 2008’s Mercury Prize winning The Seldom Seen Kid. Amazingly, they almost topped it by crafting some of the most affecting, emotive tracks of their storied career. This is one of them.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/13118091″ iframe=”true” /]

 

28. D’eon
“Transparency”
Darkbloom (Arbutus)
I’ve never seen Twilight, but I’m pretty sure this is Robert Pattinson’s jam. The sexiest track ever about the pains of immortality, the Montreal producer/singer/songwriter coos seductivley over an impossibly slick track that would make New Edition blush (double bass breakdown!). While partner in crime Claire “Grimes” Boucher (understandably) lapped up significantly more buzz in 2011, nothing she did this year can touch this groove.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/13335789″ iframe=”true” /]

DL: Link

 

27. AraabMuzik
“I Remember”
Electronic Dream Deluxe Edition (Duke Productions LP)
It’s so tough for me to pick out a favorite from the stunning debut LP from the impossibly talented 21 year-old (né Abraham Orellana), especially considering all the tracks bleed together so seamlessly. But at gunpoint, I have to pick out this moody stunner that was originally omitted from the disc’s tracklist. While it’s not indicative of the disc’s frenetic, driving style, it highlights a mastery or mood, ambiance, and melody that belies the Providence-native’s youth. This gets thrown around a lot, but in this case it’s true, the sky’s the fuckin’ limit for this dude.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/31103293″ iframe=”true” /]

 

26. Jens Lekman
“Waiting For Kirsten”
An Argument With Myself (Secretly Canadian)
In a world as currently tumultuous as ours, there’s one thing that certainly nobody can disagree with: we all need more Jens Lekman in our lives. I honestly think all the world’s ills could be remedied by simply locking the world’s leaders in a giant room together, stocking up on Red Vines, and pumping the Jens Jams. Pretty soon, Netanyahu and Salam Fayyad would be playing Magic the Gathering, Chavez would be braiding David Cameron’s hair, and Obama and Ahmadinejad would have become such BFF’s that they would be forcing all others to refer to them as Barackmadinejad.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/21713765″ iframe=”true” /]

25. Big K.R.I.T.(f/ Ludacris & Bun B)
“Country Shit” (Remix)
Return of 4Eva (Self-Released)

Even the smartest folks have to go dumb sometimes, and the prodigiously talented Meridian native is no exception. K.R.I.T. (né Justin Scott) enlists a couple of Southern rap’s heaviest hitters for a joyful, dizzying ode to drrty south living. Though it stands in stark contrast to much of his breakthrough mixtape’s more conscious, reflective flows, it shows that the young MC can hold his own with some of the greatest rappers in Southern hip-hop history….and, er, Ludacris.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29816695″ iframe=”true” /]

24. Clams Casino
“I’m God”
Unreleased
It was definitely a good year for producers, and nobody shined brighter in 2011 than New Jersey-native Mike Volpe. He loaned his signature elegiac, druggy soundscapes to the voices of many of 2011’s breakout stars — A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, and Lil’ B to name a few — but none of them worked as well with Clams’ sound than this Imogen Heap hook. “I’m God” is a swirling, undulating absolute banger of a track that doubles as an audacious warning shot to MC’s everywhere: you need Clams way more than Clams needs you.

DL: Link

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/31775211″ iframe=”true” /]

23. Beyoncé
“1+1”
4 (Columbia)
If you would have told me six months ago that a Beyoncé song would have been one of my favorite 25 tracks of the year, I would have assumed that I had been the victim of a serious head injury or a potential wolverine attack. I have never been a fan of hers — mostly because I don’t enjoy being shouted at — but, incredibly, I have fallen in love with 4, mostly because it shows a diversity that I hadn’t seen in her previous work. This track — along with many others on the album — works so well because the producers (…ahem..The-Dream…ahem…) crafted flawless tracks that allowed her to showcase her best asset: her voice (no, really). Easily the power ballad of the year.

22. Holy Ghost!
“Jam For Jerry”
Holy Ghost! (DFA)
If you’ve followed Holy Ghost’s career, you’ll know that they never do anything in a hurry. It took them nearly four years to prepare their debut LP, but it was well worth the wait. This, the album’s emotional centerpiece, is a stirring, fitting tribute to the late Jerry Fuchs, one of the finest drummers of his generation who perished tragically and suddenly in 2009. Instead of writing an out-of-character ballad, the Brooklyn duo drip tears for their fallen cohort on the dancefloor. A stunning eulogy to a man who “set the tempo, set the pace/From the top, from the start, never slightly late.” RIP.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/10062815″ iframe=”true” /]

21. Lana Del Rey
“Video Games”
Born To Die (Interscope)
The song you couldn’t get away from. The song you couldn’t totally admit to liking. The song that you couldn’t get out of your head. Lana Del Rey’s debut single was a lot of things, but above all else, it was ubiquitous. Nostalgic, emotive, and effortlessly sexy, the divisive vocalist’s unabashed devotional — and it’s unforgettable video — captured my imagination, turned me on, and really, really made me fucking miss living in Los Angeles. I’m still a little undecided about how I feel about her as an artist, but not at all undecided about the music she’s released thus far.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/19576443″ iframe=”true” /]

Posted on by TP1.COM in Columns, Featured

One Response to The Best 51 Tracks of 2011

  1. Pingback: Hot Jams of the Day (05.28.12): D’Eon, “Transparency (pt. II)” & “Now You Do” | Thunder Penguin

Add a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.