It’s true, I am not a fan of 10 best lists. In late December, you can’t go on the damn internet without seeing the words ‘Ten Best’ on every page. That said, I do find myself scrolling through my iTunes library at this time of year, looking at all the music I discovered in 2011. Some song titles make me smile and say, “Oh shit, I forgot about that song, it’s so great!”
So, in no particular order, with links, here are a handful of songs from 2011 that got me moving, tapping, laughing, crying, whatever, in the last 12 months:
1. “What Paul Did,” by the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers. Non-ironic country-punk gospel? Yes please. It goes without saying that the band is amazing live and this recording barely captures their glory. But it gives you the idea:
2. “Well OK Honey,” Jenny O.
Great song from Jenny O’s EP, Home. I discovered it via a YouTube video which is also great, so here it is:
3. “D.D.,” The Weeknd
The Weeknd put out three amazing mixtapes in 2011. I don’t even know what a mixtape is, frankly — they just seem like albums to me. But whatever. All three are great, and free. From the most recent, check out his take on Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”:
4. “Wicked Games,” The Weeknd
Sorry, Chris Isaac, but this is no longer your title:
5. “Traitor,” Richard Buckner
Richard Buckner, the complete songwriting and singing genius who still can get no love. I like Bon Iver as much as the next guy, but could we take 10% of the adoration we show to Bon Iver and give it to Buckner instead?
6. “The Way it Goes,” Gillian Welch
I love the entire album, The Harrow and the Havest, but “The Way it Goes” really jumped out at me. Here’s a live version of it, from Jools Holland:
7. “Dark Turn of Mind,” Gillian Welch
And this one, also from the Jools Holland show. Holy crap, people! Shivers.
8. “County Line,” Cass McCombs
Amazing song and a great video to boot, directed by Malcolm Pullinger. I’ve only listened to this guy via his videos, so I should probably buy the CD or whatever.
9. “I Still Believe,” Frank Turner
Not many people could pull of a non-smirking, heartfelt, anthemic ode to the power of rock and roll in this day and age, but Frank Turner can and does. “I still Believe” is by far my favorite song off his new record, and it’s incredibly fun to drive around to, windows down & volume up. Such an earnest dude, and he pulls it off:
10. “Down By the Water,” The Decemberists
I kept expecting to get sick of this album for some reason, but never did. Just a bunch of great songs. I pick “Down by the Water” since they’re channelling so much damn R.E.M. here, the band that finally called it quits this year:
11. “Holocene,” Bon Iver
OK fine, I’ll add Bon Iver as number 11. Great song, album and video. Makes me want to move to Iceland and get a big fuzzy sweater.