The Best Tracks of 2011 (51-40)

So here it goes. A little more than a month late, these are my favorite 51 songs of 2011. If you’ve read my previous work, you’ll know how this works. It’s basically a countdown from 51 to 1. I’ll be releasing ten songs per day over the next week. Also, at the end of the week, I’ll be linking to a Spotify playlist that will allow you to get all of the songs in one place. As always, I am incredibly grateful for anybody who reads my tiny corner of the interwebz, and hopefully there will be something new and interesting for everybody.

And without further ado…

51. Drake
“Look What You’ve Done”
Take Care (Young Money)

It feels fitting to start this list off with a track from the biggest commercial album of the year. I went back and forth a lot about what track to choose, but I settled on this one because it highlights Young Angel’s underrated storytelling and the disc’s dreamy, sublime production mostly courtesy of Noah “40” Shebib (the real star of Take Care), though this isn’t one of his tracks. Drake is at his best over these type of airy beats, as he has the rare ability to be easy to relate to, even though he lives a life we could never imagine. Remember, this is a dude who made having sex “four times this week” into a point of vulnerability, even though many of his listeners haven’t had sex four times in the past four years.

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50. Ghostpoet
Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam (Brownswood Recordings)

Though it didn’t really cross over to the states, the Coventry-born MC’s debut album is quietly sensational. Ghost (né Obaro Ejimiwe) deftly toes the line between hip-hop, grime, electro, and spoken word, articulately weaving tales of growing up, breaking up, fucking up, and getting fucked up without ever letting it bog him down. It’s that a decidedly dark album that never feels weighty or melodramatic, which is no mean feat.

49. Das Racist (f/ Danny Brown & Despot)
Relax (Greedhead)

“I don’t know why people think we give a fuck so often,” mutters Heems — one half of the Brooklyn group — on the best track from the group’s first proper LP. I have no idea who these people are, but they are as perceptive as a pack of diabetic lemurs. If Relax leaves you with one overriding sentiment, it’s that these dudes do anything other than give a fuck. In fact, they’ve taken not giving a fuck to levels previously unimagined. Though the record is disappointingly uneven, this track finds the group perfectly in their element, dropping a track worthy of their two stunning 2010 mixtapes. Danny Brown and Despot — two of the best young MCs around — bring a frenetic energy to this track that is largely missing from Relax.

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48. Cam’Ron f/ Vado
“Girls Cry”

Dope soul sample? Check. Random pop culture allusions (paging Dr. Swayze)? Check. Reee-fucking-diculous video? Check. Delightfully absurd storytelling (“When it comes to my girl, I can tell it all/When I come in the house, she wanna smell my balls”)? Check. All the ingredients of a Killa Cam classic. We’re definitely not mad to have him back.
DL: Link

47. St. Vincent
Strange Mercy (4AD)

OK. Here’s one thing I know for sure. If Annie Clark is going to start a track by cooing “I spent the summer on my back,” I’m gonna have a seriously hard time keeping my…um, well, you know, but I digress. Besides being unbelievably beautiful and talented, Clark has always possessed the knack for putting just the right amount of wiggle in her songs, knowing full-well coming on too strong is the least sexy thing in the world. Come cut me open.
DL: Link

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46. Princeton
“To The Alps”
To The Alps 7″ (Hit City USA)

I spent an inordinate amount of 2010 writing about Princeton frontman Jessie Kivel’s other group Kisses, and now that he’s back with his original groups, it looks like he’s just going to keep writing absolutely airtight pop songs. Driven by his warm, easy tenor, “To The Alps” sounds exactly what a band called Princeton should sound like. I don’t own any boat shoes, but I’m thinking about…no, no I’m not. They’ll make my feet stink.
DL: Link

45. Andy Stott
“New Ground”
Passed Me By (Modern Love)

Looking for a track that’s guaranteed to them hands in the sky and dem bitches on the flo’? Try Skrillex or some shit. People love that fuckin’ guy. If you want an engulfing, affecting track that challenges what you think dance music can be, you’ve come to the right place. Just don’t try the Kool-Aid. (Don’t worry: I was sure to be careful with that last reference, I know it’s an antique.)

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44. Azealia Banks

The Nicki Minaj/MIA comparisons would be spot on…if MIA was actually cool or Nicki could actually rap. Get down with the Harlem native now so you can tell your friends you were into her before she blew the fuck up. I also deserve some sort of award for writing more than six words about this song without using the c-word.
DL: Link

43. Beach Fossils
“Fall Right In”
What A Pleasure (Captured Tracks)

There are a lot of reasons to doubt the existence of true love, especially considering that most marriages end in divorce. But nobody told this Brooklyn four-piece. Their unabashed ode to falling headlong into somebody new perfectly captures that very particular feeling. Subtly stunning.

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42. Panda Bear
“You Can Count on Me”
Tomboy (Paw Tracks)

While it remains to be seen whether Panda Bear and his pack can outdo Animal Collective’s all-conquering Merriweather Post Pavillion (2009), the Baltimore-native (né Noah Lennox) deserves some credit for besting his incredible 2007 solo album, Person Pitch, with Tomboy. The pick of the disc — this swirling slab of Beach Boys worship — is the perfect lead-off track to a record that will stick with you long after it’s finished.

41. Real Estate
“It’s Real”
Days (Domino)

Nowadays, it’s really hard to find understated, and nobody nailed it in 2011 quite like this New Jersey quartet. Truth be told, it’s a travesty to have Real Estate this early in the list, but the album is just so consistently solid, it’s hard to pick a standout.
DL: Link

Posted on by TP1.COM in Columns

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