That wonderful time of year has come once again where I painstakingly compile my top fifty tracks of the year and do a little write up about each of the top ten. I haven’t done a post of more than five words for about six months so I’ve put in extra effort for you, the fans. The same rules apply as last year with no covers allowed and only one song per artist.
50. Toro Y Moi – Still Sound
49. James Blake – I Never Learnt to Share
48. TEETH – Flowers (Gross Magic Remix)
47. Real Estate – It’s Real
46. Lykke Li – Sadness is a Blessing (Gold Panda Remix)
45. Chrome Sparks – All There Is (Feat. Steffaloo)
44. Austra – Lose It
43. Black Lips – Time
42. SBTRKT – Wildfire
41. Tyler, the Creator – Yonkers
40. Wu Lyf – Dirt
39. Clams Casino – I’m God
38. Mirrors – Look At Me
37. Holy Ghost! – Jam For Jerri
36. Arcade Fire – Speaking In Tongues (Feat. David Byrne)
35. Pillowtalk – Soft
34. Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself
33. The War on Drugs – Baby Missiles
32. The Kills – Future Starts Slow
31. The Magician – I Don’t Know What To Do (Feat. Jeppe)
30. Phantogram – Don’t Move
29. Jai Paul – BTSTU
28. Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever
27. Beach Fossils – Out In the Way (Feat. Jack Tatum)
26. Cant – Answer
25. Balam Acab – Apart
24. Jay-Z & Kanye West – No Church In the Wild
23. Blood Orange – Forget It
22. Oh Land – White Nights
21. Drake – Marvin’s Room
20. Little Dragon – Ritual Union
19. Chad Valley – Now That I’m Real
18. Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours ( Passion Pit Remix)
17. Work Drugs – Rad Racer
16. Story of Isaac – Holes
15. Wolf Gang – Back To Back
14. Adele – Rolling In the Deep (Jamie xx Shuffle)
13. Summer Heart – Please Stay
12. Au Palais – Tender Mercy
11. Metronomy – Corinne
10. I Break Horses – Winter Beats
With an intro almost infringing on copyright laws in relation to The Who’s ‘Baba O’Reilley’, instead of launching into a powerful ballad about teenage love, ‘Winter Beats’ manages to remain constrained throughout and can only be compared to the feeling of the most beautiful girl in the world tickling your inner thigh but never quite touching it.
09. Purity Ring – Ungirthed
Seeing them live was one of the best experiences of the year. It looks like a performance art piece at first, with a magic eye, a gong, and a xylophone made of test tubes juxtaposed with a Macbook Pro. To the trained eye it seems like some strange comment on global westernization, but when they play it’s simply phenomenal. It’s so hard to translate predominantly electronic music into an authentic live performance, but through sampling vocals on the spot and various other techniques I can’t quite get my head around, they pull it off spectacularly.
08. Bon Iver – Holocene
Despite every single one of those girls at school who thought the Libertines were some kind of Liberty X tribute band posting Bon Iver lyrics as their status over 2011, you cannot deny that his sophomore album was one of the best of the year.
07. Elite Gymnastics – o m a m o r i
I read on Pitchfork some shite about this being about Japanese death rituals and stuff. You know, the usual thing they do where they show you how deeply intellectual they are. They would probably try and use Freudian analysis on Cher Lloyd’s lyrics if ‘Swagger Jagger’ was named Best New Music. Regardless, I did hear this on Pitchfork first and I think they might be onto something because the word death is mentioned twice in the song.
06. Rihanna – We Found Love (Feat. Calvin Harris)
The fact that Rihanna plays darts in the video has lifted this track at least ten places. It also holds a fond place in my heart because I told a friend that the guy in the video was a British boxer. She must have misheard me because a week later another friend who I was talking to about this video tried to impress me with a bit of trivia and brazenly stated to me that he was a British doctor.
05. Lord Huron – The Stranger
Despite their name lending itself to a review describing their music as “a noble effort”, those words are not quite powerful enough to describe this track. There is a wonderful hollow quality to the vocals and instruments that lead to a song so light that the deeply depressing lyrics surrounding paranoia and death just seem to float over your head until it hits you around the three minute mark when a wailing voice sings “I’m haunted by the letters of your name”.
04. The Antlers – I Don’t Want Love
This is the standout song on an album that I found quite hard to like. Fortunately though, this song is so good that you can just play it on repeat twelve times and not have to bother with the drivel that makes up the rest of the record. They also get bonus points for being the only band I saw at The Great Escape, and the opening chords of this song were my last memory before drunkenly falling over a fence and using my face to soften the landing.
03. Beirut – Sante Fe
I know all you geography geeks out there will be thinking “why is the capital of Lebonon singing about the biggest city in New Mexico?” Well I don’t know either and before I tried to write that line I thought Beirut was in India and Santa Fe was a festive dish. So not only is Zachery showing us how to write the perfect folk-pop song but he’s also a deft hand at indirect geography teaching.
02. Cut Copy – Need You Now
Repeating the success of being crowned runner up last year, Cut Copy’s second single off their latest album ‘Zonoscope’ was a less obvious treat than the immediate nature of ‘Take Me Over’. At six minutes long, the last few minutes are reminiscent of when Jimmy Page finally makes his guitar wale in ‘Stairway to Heaven’. I am of course joking. There is no place for classic rock references on a blog as relevant as this.
01. Youth Lagoon – July
If I had the time and patience, I would also award Trevor Powers (why did he bother to come up with a moniker?) artist of the year, album of the year and various other accolades. The album itself is only eight songs long, and if my own goddam rules didn’t state that it could only be one song per artist, there are another three that would have been on this list. At 22 it is always stated how young he is, but at 21, I feel very old and increasingly self aware. Youth Lagoon manages to maintain his sense of youthful sincerity where many other artists have tried and failed. The innocence has been lost through his heartbreak and you’re left with a record that finds a beautiful middle-ground between nostalgia for his childhood and the therapeutic process of moving on.