The Best Tracks of 2011 (40-31)

40. Nico Jaar
“Darkside”
Darkside (Clown & Sunset)

Nico Jaar had the license put his fuckin’ feet up over his Christmas break. You think your year was mega busy because you got promoted to project manager? Please. Dude dropped one critically acclaimed LP and two fantastic EPs, all while attending an Ivy League school and running his own label. The three tracks on Darkside are basically just one long track broken into three parks and show a different side of the masterful, meticulous post-dubstep alchemist.

Album Stream: Link

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39. Wild Beasts
“Albatross”
Smother (Domino)

It’s incredible how much this Lake District quartet has grown up in the three short years since their buzzing, gauche debut LP, Limbo, Panto. Driven by the newly-gentle falsetto of Hayden Thorpe, the group combines to form an icy, beautiful track, which is just one of many on their mellifluous, criminally underrated third LP.

DL: Link

 

38. Cass McCombs
“County Line”
WIT’S END (Domino)

It’s a little ironic that a guy who’s spent so much of his life moving from place to place would write such a brilliant song about his hometown. But, then again, if you’re as good as Cass McCombs, you can write about just about whatever the fuck you want, and it’s probably going to be pretty great. A spare slab of alt-country goodness.
DL: Link

 

37. The-Dream
“Body Work/Fuck My Brains Out”
Unreleased

As much of Terius “The-Dream” Nash’s 2011 narrative will — and should — center around his somber, totally-out-of-character break-up opus 1977, it’s easy to forget about these two sumptuous, totally-in-character slabs of Prince worship. Released as one nine-minute track, these cuts recall the slick, multifaceted, sex-obsessed work of his previous three albums. Originally packaged as the lead singles from his long-delayed fourth LP, The Love, IV: Diary of a Madman, they are a potent reminder of what makes the man best pop musician on the planet. There, I said it.
DL: Link

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36. Future Islands
“Give Us The Wind”
On The Water (Thrill Jockey)
Here’s another example of a track that is further down the list than it should be due to the embarrassment of riches from where it came from. Future Islands is not a singles band, and the Baltimore trio’s third full-length is a muted, ruthlessly honest investigation on the end of a relationship seen through the bleary eyes of manic, unforgettable vocalist/songwriter Samuel Herring. Though much of the vocal histrionics of his earlier work are gone, Herring remains as intense and driven as ever, resulting in another affecting, engaging effort from a band with a truly distinctive voice.

35. Keep Shelly In Athens
“Hauntin’ Me”
Hautin’ Me 7″ (Transparent)
Very little is known about this relentlessly blog-friendly Grecian duo, except that they craft gentle, airy Balearic tracks. They burst into the zeitgeist with 2010’s stunning In Love With Dusk and followed it up with this soothing, nostalgic 7″ (check the b-side too). Just the kind of track that will help you through those grey winter months…

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.

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.

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.

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

Posted on by TP1.COM in Columns

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