There are 20 tracks on this list, listed in alphabetical order by song title, not order of preference.
“Calgary” – Bon Iver
The first single from Bon Iver’s self-titled second album was flawless. Every time I hear it, my spirit is lifted and I’m put in a good mood.
“Caught a Long Wind” – Fiest
What a strong album Metals is. And “Caught a Long Wind” caught my ear immediately, especially this particular lyric, which almost reminds me of Kate Bush.
I caught a long wind
A long life wind
Like a swallow
A night owl
A little chickadee
Good morning bird
I took a deep breath
And caught a long wind
“Eyes be Closed” – Washed Out
Long Live Chill Wave, especially when it’s as good as Washed Out. See my previous post on this artist.
“East Harlem” – Beirut
Recorded at Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York by New Mexico indie band Beirut was one of my most listened to tracks of the year.
“Hawaiian Air” – Friendly Fires
Friendly Fires Pala is a great ride of an album from start to finish but my favorite song is “Hawaiian Air”, probably because of our trip to Hawaii. Here are our photos from that trip.
“Hearts” – I Break Horses
Swedish newcomers I Break Horses cut their shoegazing chops with “Hearts”.
“Helplessness Blues” – Fleet Foxes
The first single from the band’s elegant sophomore album. Not an official video by the band but a great one that captures the spirit of the song.
“Judas” – Lady Gaga
Upon first hearing “Judas”, I didn’t care for it that much but after a few times listening to it, that caterwaul became too infectious to resist. This and “The Edge of Glory” are my favorites from Born this Way.
“Lotus Flower” – Radiohead
Radiohead continued their amazingly strong output this year and the first single from King of Limbs was classic. Also love the video and seeing Thom Yorke move.
“Ritual Union” – Little Dragon
Swedish group Little Dragon have been around since 1996 but have recently become better known largely because of their lead singer Yukimi Nagano’s collaboration with Gorillaz and other bands. The title track from their last album is performed live on KCRW.
“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
When I asked my friend Chris why he didn’t like Adele, he said (pun intended) “She’s too big”. It does seem that Adele has indeed become the Alison Moyet of Adult Contemporary British Soul. She is a bit overexposed but I would not say overrated at all. “Rolling in the Deep” is a classic that will sound just as good ten years from now as it would have sounded ten or twenty years ago.
“Snowed in at Wheeler Street” – Kate Bush
Kate Bush is back, a full 7 years after her last proper album with Ariel. The album is magnificent but one of the most arresting tracks is this duet with Elton John. Note that this is not the official video:
“Still Life” – The Horrors
Anything that sounds like most any new wave band from the 80’s is almost guaranteed work it’s way into my head and heart AND top songs. See previous blog post on their album Skying.
“The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga
One of Gaga’s more tame videos but especially bittersweet with East Street Band Clarence Clemons coming in ad the end with his amazing sax. The shooting of this music video with Gaga was completed just days before his passing of a stroke.
“The Look”- Metronomy
Metronomy’s The English Riviera was an album that really grew on me. Every song has a different personality but a clear favorite of ours is “The Look”.
“Under the Cover of Darkness” – The Strokes
The Strokes came back full trottle with a signature single that could sound like no other band today.
“Til the World Ends” – Britney Spears
I kept hearing this at the gym and various random places and somehow it seeped into my consciousness. The only way to get it out was to continue listening to it multiple times until I had enough. Isn’t that kind of the way pop songs are supposed to work?
“Video Games” – Lana Del Rey
Perhaps one of the most loved and hated artists (on blogs at least) of 2011 was Lana Del Rey. How genuine is this upstate New Yorker who stage name is a combination of Lana Turner and a Ford car called “Del Rey”, fitting for someone obsessed with retro Hollywood scenes as shown in the video for her hit single “Video Games”? Her first “proper” and much anticipated album Born to Die will be released next month. We’ll soon determine how many other songs live up to the brilliance of “Video Games”.
“Wait and See” – Holy Ghost
New Order influenced DJs had my ear with a very new-order sounding “Wait and See”.
“We Found Love” – Rihanna
My partner got it right when he said that Rihanna has seemed to eek her way to the top. That’s largely due to the help of her mega hit “Umbrella” and putting out a lot of material—one album every year with the exception of 2008. Despite her potty mouth, she does manage to create some catchy singles. “We found Love” is simple and effective. Great old-school dance beats.