Michael Dauphin’s top 10 tracks of 2011 (video playlist edition)
While 2011 certainly provided plenty of top-shelf records, I want to do KDHX readers a solid, and as opposed to you running out and buying every album I mention, like I know you certainly would, I put together a cheat sheet of some of my favorite songs. That way, you can save your hard-earned cash, and bypass seeking out the complete albums, in favor of just buying the individual tracks.
In the end, you get a serviceable mix of killer tunes from 2011, you save a couple bucks — and maybe donate those extra bucks to KDHX — and everybody wins. And heck, who knows, maybe one of these songs will motivate you to go and buy the whole album. So the artist wins, too. Everybody wins!
Happy holidays, friends.
“Ache With Me” – Against Me!: Perhaps one of the most subdued tunes so far outta Gainesville’s rock ‘n’roll punkers. Tom Gabel trades in his topical, guttural growl for a breezy stroll as a wallflower. A welcomed departure with excellent results.
“Black Hills” – Gardens & Villa: This track comes from one of the most underrated albums from 2011. Anchored by layered synths, bells and vibraphone chimes ring along as Chris Lynch hits Prince-like high notes. Commingling textures of plush, orchestral indie and pure pop melody, “Black Hills” showcases all of G&V’s strengths packed into three romantic minutes.
“Black Betty and the Moon” – Horrible Crowes: Gaslight Anthem singer, Brian Fallon, is an undeniable talent. If you don’t dig his music, you have to at least hand it to the guy for his passion. He also wears his influences boldly on his sleeve. With Horrible Crowes, Fallon channels the spirits of Tom Waits, Greg Dulli and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.
“Blue Tip” – The Cars: Like all great songs by the Cars, you can tell this is one of its songs within the first few seconds. The muted chug and beepy-boopy melody instantly has you grabbing for your shades bobbing your head. Ric Ocasek is back, and new wave music has finally been put back in its place. It’s no wonder why the Strokes were thinking about hanging it up.
“The Bump” – Deer Tick: With enough jangle and slop to make the ‘Mats jealous, 2011 saw Deer Tick come through with its finest album yet. “The Bump” harnesses everything the band does best: fucking off with reckless disregard for anything except providing a rock ‘n’ roll party.
“Calgary” – Bon Iver: Justin Vernon has come a long way since his days as the folk-strumming nomad from the hills of Wisconsin. His time spent with ’80s soft-rock-aping Gayngs certainly shows on his newest self-titled full length. “Calgary” is the perfect representation of what Bon Iver is in 2011.
“Chinatown” – Destroyer: It must take some kind of confidence in your songwriting to shed the freak folk laureate cap only to transform yourself into some sort of disco poet, which is what Dan Bejar did with his near-perfect “Kaputt” album. “Chinatown” finds Bejar bobbing along to a synth-laden backdrop, while a smoky sax moves along the gripping rhythm.
“The Other Shoe” – Fucked Up: Most powerful guitar song of 2011? Maybe. This is one of the more melodic, dare-I-say “accessible” tracks F’d Up has ever written — one of many highlights of the band’s spazzcore opus, “David Comes to Life.”
“Used to Be a Cop” – Drive-By Truckers: Leave it to DBT to go and write one of its most single-worthy songs, only to have it run over seven minutes long. Shonna Tucker’s locked-in bass riff motors along as Patterson Hood spins yarn of southern noir. I’d imagine it’s hard for any listener to get through this song without conjuring images of crooked bullies from high school that went on to wear the badge, deserving or not.
“Yellow Missing Signs” – Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin: At first glance, SSLYBY’s 2011 “Tape Club” release seemed like a throwaways collection for diehard fans only. Not the case, as the comp actually serves as a perfectly serviceable batch of hush-pop nuggets that stands up against any of the band’s full lengths. While the album version of this track works perfectly under synth-pop treatment, the live, guitar-driven adaptation works almost even better.
Thanks for reading, watching and listening. Here are my most anticipated albums of the coming new year:
Cheap Girls – “Giant Orange”
Craig Finn – “Clear Heart Full Eyes”
Jens Lekman – Untitled
Lucero – “Women and Work”
John K. Samson – “Provincial”
Son Volt – Untitled
Water Liars – “Phantom Limb”