Monthly Archives: December 2011

Top 100 songs of 2011 – 90-71

Day 3 will be a bit more bloated as I neglected to post my playlist from yesterday. Here are tracks 90-71. As always, you can listen to these tracks online via the following spotify playlists.

LISTEN
90-81
80-71
90. Portable Television – Death Cab For Cutie

from the album “Codes And Keys”

I like Death Cab For Cutue, which is why I find it strange that I’m always scrambling to find a standout track from his CDs. I haven’t set down and listened to “Codes And Keys” all the way through yet, so there are probably more discoveries. However, I suspect this is still one of the standout tracks. Ben Gibberd is always best when he can flesh out one poigniant image or object as the listener’s lyrical entry point into the world of the song. Portable Television services that pursuit with above average execution. The piano work is also worth noting, as it roots the song a lot more than more recent projects where Gibbert has favored more electronic bells and whistles.

89. Human – Oh Land

from the album “Oh Land”

Realistically any of the tracks off of the debut from professional dancer EDM artist Oh Land could have made this list. You’ll see what is in essence my favorite album of the year appear 2 more times at least. This track is very much in the old school of melodramatic upbeat elecronica with the classic double disco beat. Very reminiscent of Robyn and even Ladytron.

88. Bread And Butter – Hugo

“Old Tyme Religion”

This falls into the category that a co-worker onced described to me as “White People Babymaking music.” This song deserves props alone for the lyric “gonna spread you like butter/give you all my bread/don’t want no other/laying in my bed.” but its got the grooves and the vocals on this are hot.

87. Private Caller – Sondre Lerche

from the album “Sondre Lerche”

Another track that seems in the whistle heavy sweet spot of indie music’s zeitgeist. Then again, Sondre Lerche has been making this kind of music for a while now. I think the vocals sell it here better than most though.

86. Year Of The Tiger – St. Vincent

from the album “Strange Mercy”

St. Vincent was among the most sonically adventurous artists in 2011. An album that reminded me much of Amanda Palmer’s 2008 solo record, St. Vincent continues t challenge our expectations from a female singer/songwriter. That being said, the songs themselves are meticulously put together, and Year Of The Tiger is a great example of this.

85.  Checkout Time – Nick Lowe

from the album “Old Time Magic”

A nice contemplative song about mortality from a veteran singer/songwriter who has reached a point in his career where its natural to write such things. The whole taking stock of one’s lives rarely works as well as it does here. It’s not elegiac as much as it is wistful.

84. Places To Go – Leftover Cuties

from the album “Places To Go”

There has been no shortage of girl garage band revivalism lately. This titular track from the new Leftover Cuties album backs it up with solid songwriting and soulful vocal performances.  It would not surprise me at all to see them shift away from the beach music vibe towards the British Soul wave that is sweeping the world

83. Like A Stranger – Bodies Of Water

from the album “Twist Again”

There’s sort of a old school Paul Anka thing going on on this track that I’m really digging. That’s a pretty impressive thing for a band compared with Arcade Fire and Polyphonic Spree to pull off.

82. Son – Milow

from the album “North And South”

A deep moody song about the conflicting emotions of dealing with the grief of losing a father that puts it all out on the table. I think what sells it is the restrained vocals.

81. Jealous Hands – Tallahassee

from the album “Jealous Hands”

Tallahassee is an interesting story. It was started a few years ago by former New England Patriots lineman Brian Barthelmes. Novelties aside, this is a pretty extrordinary band. Barthelemes vocals show the soul of a deeply wounded bird trying to fly.

80. Young Blood – The Naked And Famous

from the album “Passive Me, Agressive You”

Its somewhat unfair to compare The Naked And Famous to Passion Pit, but that’s the only way I can come to describe this synth pop matched with falsetto.

79.Wood And Stone – Tara Nevins

from the album “Wood And Stone”

I like my folk country nice and funky. That’s what Tara Nevins does on the title track from her solo album . Little bit of a ho-down, but not too much.

78. Face In The Crowd – Cat’s Eyes

from the album “Cat’s Eyes”

To describe what Cat’s Eyes sounds like, Imagine that Roy Orbison did an album with Ladytron, then add kick drums. Nowhere is this super hip supercool sound more evident than on Face In The Crowd. I will make a prediction: you will hear this song in marketing sometime in 2012.

77. Up Up Up – Givers

from the album “In Light”

Infectious circular hook meshed with Latin beats and horns. Etherial party music if something can exist. Maybe its just the flute, but this song sounds like a party in the clouds. Also, there’s a great Vampire Weekend-esque breakdown in it as well.

76. Towards The Sun – Alexi Murdoch

from the album “Towards The Sun”

Any year where we get a new Alexi Murdoch CD should be celebrated. In only his 3rd CD, we get this track that encapsulates everything you could want from murdoch, the soulful Irish brouge airy minimalist production and meditative lyrics. A great sleepy track.

75. No Silver – Chris Bathgate

from the album “Salt Year”

I talked about Chris Bathgate earlier. His voice expresses more than his lyrics, but that doesn’t mean the two aren’t deeply integrated into each other. No Silver is the song that illustrates the soothing conflict lurking beneath the comfort of this singer songwriter.

74. Truth – Alexander

from the album “Alexander”

Fans of Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros will love Alexander’s Truth. Its got the same Anthemic quality. There’s a great whistle line at the beginning. Once the vocals come in. Alexander nails the late 60s Motown/Psychedelic sound.

73. Somewhere In Your Heart – Jessica Lee Mayfield

from the album “Tell Me”

I’m struggling for something to say about this track. Its very haunting from its open minor guitar riff to “Jammin” Jessica Lee Mayfield’s pained yet dynamically muted vocals. The track gets under my skin.

72. Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammar

from the album “Andy Grammar”

A classic upbeat poppy “cheer up” pick-me -up song. Coming out of a less persuasive voice it would be infuriating. Then again, I’m usually a sucker for these kinds of songs.

71. Friday – Rebecca Black

from the depths of the internet

Okay, enough with the hate for this song. We need to appriciate it for what it is, a fun intentionally shallow song about something that is a truism = everybody IS looking forward to the weekend. Its catchy and admit it, you know more of the lyrics to this than you let on.

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Patrick’s 100 Best songs of 2011 Part 1

Over the next 10 days, I’ll be counting down my 100 favorite songs of 2011, and posting them here along with a link to a corresponding Spotify Playlist where you should be able to listen to MOST of the tracks. I don’t claim to be a musicologist, and I know my descriptions aren’t the most thoughtful. Still, for those of you who are interested in my tastes, I thought you’d appreciate this:

100. Poor Eliza – Chris Bathgate

From the album “Salt Year”

Chris Bathgate first came to my attention in 2008 with the song Serpentine. What always draws me into a song is the voice I think. Chris Bathgate has a deeply soulful yet muted voice. However, in this particular track, its this hand plucked riff paired with deeply powerful simple, mournful lyrics. “It Is What It Is What It Is” That description doesn’t really do it credit. The instrumentation is alive with fiddle and you can feel Bathgate’s deepest thoughts with each strum of his guitar.

99. Wait For Me – Motopony

from the album “Motopony”

Opening with what may be the most unique percussion line of the year, this gradually building ballad is an outlier on Motopony’s self titled debut. Its much quieter and less showy than tracks like “Seer” but it has a potent sweetness of the love song to the girl who hasn’t yet come. “I Learn The Depths of Love and Have, but never given how to wait.”

98. Second Chance – Peter Bjorn And John

from the album “Gimme Some”

Whisleable non lyrical hooks, addictive hand claps, cow bells, sure there’s a certain level of pandering to their hipster base that happens on the new Peter Bjorn and John album, but it doesn’t matter, because this song just makes you want to move your hips. This song reminds me of the best of bands like “Fountains Of Wayne” and reminds me why we dug this band in the first place. They’re becoming less of “That band that had that cute song with the whistling” and more of a band that threatens to be around for a while.

97. Swallowing The Decibels  – Yeasayer

from the EP “End Blood”

Dark, layered with beeps and bloops and random sounds. It sounds like the musical equivelant of worms eat a dead animal,but in the best possible way. Textured would be an understatement for a band who continue to surprise me for the sounds they make come out of their synthesizers. Then at about the 2:20 mark, some Kraftwerk-lite synths come in with a sudden clarity of sound. An adventure.

96. Joseph’s Head – The Paradise Motel

from the album “I Still Hear Your Voice At Night”

The fact that the first 30 seconds of this sounds like a cross between Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros and the mid 2000’s band Caribou is not likely to mean much to many other people. We continue with the trend of sing along lyric-free choruses. I think what sells this song for me again is the slow build and the vocals from Merida Sussex and that gorgeous Hammond organ that is playing in the background juxtiposed against a steady building drum line and horns. I cannot believe this band has been around for 17 years and I’m only coming around to them now.

95. Gravity Loves You – Kelly Hunt

from the album “Gravity Loves You”

Sometimes a song just need a good bluesy soulful singer to sell it. That’s kind of how I feel about this one. Kelly Hunt is not a singer I was previously aware of before I heard this song, but if I weren’t married, I would love to be the subject of this song.

 94. Sidecar – Kathleen Edwardsfrom upcoming album, title tba

I adore Kathleen Edwards. Her voice, her songwriting, her lyrics. Its been a while since we’ve had a new CD from her, and if this is any indicaiton her January 2012 release will be worth waiting for. Grungy distorted guitars matched with her inheirantly sunny yet experienced voice.  Hers is a sound that inspires optimism tempered by practicality.

 93. I’ve Got This Friend – The Civil Warsfrom the album “Barton Hollow”

For many people, The Civil Wars were THE folk discovery of 2011. I haven’t yet drunk the Kool-Aid on it yet, but I have to conceed, they sell their sound with incredibly powerful vocals and committed instrumentation. This slow backtempo track is perfect for a country drive.

92. Cannons – Youth Lagoon

from the album “A Year Of Hibernation”

There’s nothing inheirantly unique about this song or this band. I instantly sense a sort of My Morning Jacket vibe with the highly distorted ‘singing-from-the-bottom-of-a-well’ sound we here on this track. But the distorted keyboard work and the voccals are both pleasant enough to keep my attention for most of its 3:48 running time.

91. Baby Can I Crawl Back To You – Gurf Morlix

from the album “Blaze Foley’s 113 Wet Dream”

Unapologetic Americana folk music here. There’s no way to desribe it other than that. It is also from the album which gets my vote for most unique Album title of 2011: Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream