As the first few categories of this list will show, I was less than satisfied with the overall product of new music in 2011. Very little merited purchase and in the aftermath of 2010 it was that much more disappointing. Only three or four 2011 albums would compete for 2010’s Top 10. Most of my music comes from recommendations and free blog mp3s so maybe I missed something.
Stuff Others Liked That I Didn’t Like As Much: The Throne, James Blake, Bon Iver
MGMT-Style Kiddie Electronica That Fights For The Earspace of MGMT Apologists Like Myself
50. Starfucker – “Bury Us Alive” I consume candy synth like Mitt Romney consumes hair gel.
49. Foster the People – “Helena Beat” There are 64 words in “Pumped Up Kicks.” Way to stretch yourselves guys.
48. Cults – “You Know What I Mean” They’re like Sleigh Bells. But soft. So they got rid of the best part of Sleigh Bells.
Stuff I Like (Maybe Just Me)
47. Childish Gambino– “Freaks and Geeks” I like my rap lewd and literary: “The beat is witches brew/but beware this shit is potent/ee cumming on her face/now this poetry in motion.”
46. Amos Lee - “Windows Are Rolled Down” It’s catchy. It’s dorky. It’s adult-contemporary-friendly. But it puts a smile on my face.
45. Robert Plant – “Angel Dance”
44. Walk the Moon – “Lisa Baby” The bass line tastes like sharp gouda.
43. Elephant Revival– “Old Rogue River” Up-and-coming bluegrass band from Nederland, Colorado. They will make early afternoon music festival sets a little bit dancier this summer.
42. High Highs – “Flowers Bloom” Soaring melodies perfect for a slow-motion summer drive through the mountains.
41. April Smith – “Terrible Things” School girl sea ballads.
40. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” You say everyone likes Adele? Really? Nice to see the new pop superstar made it entirely on her talent.
Sitting On The Couch Music
38. Washed Out – “Far Away” The title says it all. Washed Out did an admirable job translating their sound into a live setting when I saw them open for Cut Copy. On record, their songs are best when they slowly drift into soothing nothingness.
37. Toro y Moi – “New Beat”
36. The Hood Internet– “VCR” with Jamie XX and Freddie Gibbs XX has been around for a while, but I really started liking them this year.
35. Painted Palms – “Canopy” Painted Palms won’t be flying under the radar much longer.
34. Radiohead – “Morning Mr. Magpie” This sounds like the title of a late-era Beatles song. Even though it continues to transmogrify with the remix project, King of Limbs was a bit of a disappointment.
Peppy, Fun Stuff
33. Man Man – “Knuckle Down” Perfect for a Mentos commercial.
32. Tennis – “Marathon” Slightly annoying, but wow what a back-story!
31. Alabama Shakes – “You Ain’t Alone” Transparent knockoff, but she hits the high notes and her band knows how to jam.
30. The Go! Team – “Apollo Throwdown” (Star Slinger remix) Heavily involves black panthers.
29. Feist – “How Come You Never Go There” (Clock Opera remix) Feist has pipes.
28. U.S. Royalty – “Equestrian”
27. St Vincent – “Cruel”
26. Lightouts – “All I Want/Heroes” Did you ever wonder what a cover-style mashup of Bowie and James Murphy might sound like? Wonder no longer. The singer pulls off a solid Murphy too.
25. Chain Gang of 1974 – “Undercover”
24. Fleet Foxes – “Grown Ocean” BEARDS!
23. Decemberists – “Down by the Water” I was an English major.
22. Head and the Heart – “Rivers and Roads” I liked it the first times I heard it. Then I stopped liking it. Then my girlfriend and radio station started liking it. Now I like it again.
Dance Party Standbys
21. Ford and Lopatin – “Emergency Room”
20. Nerves Junior – “As Bright As Your Night Light”
19. Chromeo – “When the Night Falls” (Hercules Love Affair remix) This song is like a threesome with two bands I once flirted with at a bar.
18. Yelle – “La Musique” Sultry French singer purrs and coos over cylindrical synth and percussion beats.
Just Missed The Cut
17. The Strokes – “Under the Cover of Darkness”
16. Dodos – “Going Under” They would be happier in a basement rocking out until their hands turn blue.
15. New Villager – “Rich Doors” Super catchy, but no one in the band looks like Adam Scott so I’m not sure how they will market themselves.
14. Rosebuds – “Woods”
13. Architecture in Helinski – “Contact High”
12. Battles – “Ice Cream” If the Red Hot Chili Peppers were never a band and the original members had indie sons that formed a band and that band had the same imagination and energy RHCP had in 1984.
11. Girls – “Vomit” I haven’t skipped this song since it found its way onto my iPod. It starts off all moody, goes quiet/loud, and then melts into one of the finest guitar solos of the year.
Cream Of The Crop
10. m83 – “Midnight City” This song would make driving in circles in a giant Suburbia mall parking lot seem exciting.
9. Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers” (Dave Sitek remix) Moods! Horns! Metaphors!
8. Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” Greasy riff.
7. Wilco – “One Sunday Morning” The prettiest song of the year!
6. Tune Yards – “Gangsta” (Ad Rock remix) A fresh jolt of energy!
5. Cut Copy – “Need You Now” Did LCD Soundsystem officially hand them the title belt for best dance band or was it something they had to go to Brooklyn and retrieve.
4. Beirut – “East Harlem” Beirut proves you don’t need guitars if you have harmonies coming out of your pores.
3. TV on the Radio – “Second Song” Other musicians have caught up to TV on the Radio, but that just makes their songs more triumphant.
2. Holy Ghost! – “Wait and See” I don’t know why people aren’t more ecstatic about Holy Ghost. Their songs spill hooks like a bait shop.
1. My Morning Jacket – “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal” I love that my favorite band still knows how to have fun.
Again, you can find Kellen's Spotify playlist here! Enjoy! - Ed.