Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Best Songs Of 2011 So Far (according to me)

1st of January to 1st of July

Not to sound dramatic or anything, but there are two tragedies involved with the writing of this blog. They are:

Tragedy number 1: This list is far from perfect (as anything based around an opinion that could change tomorrow would be). I refused to get caught up in this one, and didn’t research popular opinions or hide behind the stuff critics have already said. The majority of these songs were off the top of my head with no help from anyone, for better or for worse. It was also really hard to narrow it down to 20, I can’t tell you how close I was to doing 30, and how my heart ached as I dropped some of them off. Songs are people too you know, and I hope the neglected ones forgive me.

Tragedy number 2: Even though this is from the 1st of January to the 1st of July, there won’t be a second part. If anything, this is the prequel to the Top 50 Albums of 2011 blog, which will be out in December. I am so sorry about this, but I am simply one man with almost 10 fingers who isn’t getting paid for any of this. But if you wish to pay me (and I urge you to do so), I will write anything you want. Anything. Try me.

Anyways, 18 out of these 20 songs can be found on my Spotify playlist Best Songs Of 2011 (01 Jan - 01 July), and even more on my extended version here (UK only) which I have crafted just for you. Educate yourself sweetie, starting right neow:

20. tUnE-yArDs - My Country

Album: W H O K I L L (19 April)
Art Pop

Once upon a tUnE-yArDs forum, I read someone ask “What do you mean she’s not black?” I was quite offended and taken aback by that comment. Because like... what do you mean she’s not black?? Turns out they were right too - she's not. But one thing is for certain: she is black on the inside. No white person could possibly have such thumping rhythms coupled with this kind of original quirkiness, which (race aside) is quite unlike anything I have ever heard before. Each second drops something cooler than the last second, layered with varied instrumentation, and proving once again that the worst thing about living a lie is just wondering when they'll find out. Except when they actually do find out.

19. Yelle - Safari Disco Club

Album: Safari Disco Club (14 March)
French Electropop

Yo, what do you get if Electropop impregnates Africa, and then the baby is born in France? Give up? I'm talking about this song, duh, what the fuck else would I be talking about? I mean, sure, I don't understand a word she is saying, but man, when I’m alone this song makes me bounce around like I’m all trippin' and shit. It’s a weird sort of fun, like that instant stick when you step on bubblegum from the mouth of the hottest girl in school. You don't tell anyone, but you keep that gum in a secret place to remind you of what it is you don't have. What?
Watch real music video here, it's awesome.

18. Radiohead - Lotus Flower

Album: The King Of Limbs (18 February)
Glitch Pop

I have an issue with this song. It’s just that every time someone plays it, I jump up, put on a hat and begin to dance like an epileptic octopus. I actually went to a support group for it, apparently its quite common, and we can all blame Thom Yorke and this (somewhat) solo-effort he has put out. Filled with tinkering layers and pitter-pattering rhythm, it’s covered in sounds without stepping on its own toes. Minimal but not stripped, obscure and doomy, captivating and dream-like, slow and trippy, building you up, droning you down, artistic like only Radiohead know how... and I better stop there. My therapist advised me to stop thinking about this track, it's bad for my heart.

17. REKS - 25th Hour

Album: Rhythmatic Eternal King Supreme (08 March)
East Coast Hip-hop

Look, basically, if you weren’t born on the streets, you just won’t get it. You see, the East Coast hood I grew up in, you had to be street-wise. If you wanted to be a gangster, you had to talk fast but not walk too fast, and you had to know there was no school without old school. Do you know what I am saying? You needed flow man. You needed grime. You needed to be massive. You needed to bounce your head with a straight face, otherwise you wouldn’t SURVIVE player. You get me? Yeah? Then get the fuck out my face.

16. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Two Against One (feat. Jack White)

Album: Rome (17 May)
Indie Rock; Operatic Pop

I relate to this song. You see, what most of you don’t know is that I was once a cowboy. That is, until the fateful day I passed a mirror and saw myself giving myself a disrespectful smirk. It was hypnotic, and I approached it as I sang acoustic songs to myself, fingers creeping around like little spiders, but never breaking eye contact. I decided right then and there that I didn’t want to be a cowboy any more, and I left the scene for good. I was 8 years old.
Please note that the above video is not official.

15. Jessica Lea Mayfield - Run Myself Into The Ground

Album: Tell Me (08 February)

I don’t know why Jessica, but you are making me feel guilty here. I want to help you. I want you to help me help you. You have so much soul, so much power, but you sound so sad - surely we can work it out? Why are you stringing my gut along like this? With your oh-so-fancy country flirtations and your pure-tear-jerking-genuine-vocal-brilliance... Why? Huh? Why are you doing this to me? And you want to know what's really fucked up? I am actually proud of you Jess. You just seem... stronger now. Almost better without me. You’re standing on your own two feet and you are giving women all around the world a reason to stop washing dishes and leave the kitchen. I will wash your dishes for you Jessica. I will do anything for you. Please take me back.

14. Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise If You Can See

Space Is Only Noise (14 February)

I’m pretty sure that if you missed your train back to earth and you were forced to spend a night floating in orbit, this is what you would listen to. Like being in the biggest open space possible and yet writhing in claustrophobia, you would have no choice but to grab a calculator and fix yourself; read the news; and watch your clock baby, watch your clock. I mean, space is only noise if you can see, right? It’s a weird situation to be in, that's what I’m trying to say.
(On a side note, every time that bass kicks in, I don’t know whether to go to sleep or pack my bag and run away from home. Does anyone else get that?)

13. PJ Harvey - The Glorious Land

Album: Let England Shake (14 February)
Alternative Singer/Songwriter; Chamber Pop

I need to take what I call a “serious moment” here. There was a lot of inner turmoil when it came to selecting this song because the whole album is just so fucking good. I felt I had to represent PJ somehow as she is in the forefront of 2011 right now, but while this is the first single, I can't express enough that it's not necessarily the best song. There isn't one. Because, I swear, if England itself grew legs, picked up a guitar and rented some studio time - stuff like this would be its lo-fi offering. Short marches through damp stone alley ways, it feels hauntingly patriotic as if in time of war, drunk with mood under grey skies with soldiers echoing “What is the glorious fruit of our land?” The fruit is deformed children. A call-and-response, bellowing out to the sound of a bugle declaring battle. Oh America! Oh England! Did I mention she sounds a bit like a witch? Ah, forget it, you will never understand how I feel about this shit.

12. Battles - Ice Cream

Album: Gloss Drop (06 June)
Experimental Rock

Have you ever eaten too much Ice Cream? Yeah, I have. It’s like a chaotic yet still user-friendly sex-feeling which builds up inside of you, especially if you have a deeper appreciation for the stuff. Mmmm, and then before you know it, you are naked in public, nothing but your headphones on, jumping around excitedly while you shout lyrics which no one else can understand. But everyone knows you are the party. Everyone knows you are the most fun. Court date still pending.

11. Anna Calvi - Blackout

Album: Anna Calvi (17 January)
Alternative Singer/Songwriter; Art Pop

Something about this song reminds me of religion. I get images of a sinister Santa and shit, rolling down a gothic hallway towards me. Or soaring above my head, but never quite striking... leaving me hanging. There is something stunning about that image, I think. An almost warmth with a cold center swirling around inside of you, covered in layers of evil which is brilliantly disguised by the most superb vocal composition. Yeah. That’s what this song reminds me of.

10. Dumbo Gets Mad - Harmony

Album: Elephants At The Door (02 February)
Psychedelic Pop

I’m not sure if this story is technically true or not, but it is truly something. I heard from a friend that MGMT were once on this smooth sailing boat trying to write music for a porno. They were practising the theremin and some percussion instruments and what-not, when out of nowhere they got hit by a giant whirlpool. Their boat got torn to pieces from underneath them, and they fell into the swirling water which just got bigger and bigger, softly burying their vocals and drowning them in such an original way, that this very song shot into the sky and nestled into an elephant's ear - which made him very angry. Isn't that beautiful yet so tragic, in a very unusual way? Some say MGMT never came back again, but that’s the only part of the story I don’t really believe.

09. Cults - You Know What I Mean

Album: Cults (07 June)
Twee Pop

Do you remember your first real kiss? Does the thought bring back the engaging scent of nostalgia, swamped by adoration as you slow danced during the late-60’s? Wasn't it so soft at first, but followed abruptly by the flow of adrenaline, causing your heart to beat like little baby punches inside of your ribcage? And yet despite this conflict, the process felt so natural and was over far too fast, leaving you wondering “what just happened??” Right? Right. This feels like that.
Please note that the above video is not official.

08. Jamie Woon - Lady Luck

Album: Mirrorwriting (04 April)
Blue-Eyed Soul

My friends hate the new me, but when I listen to Jamie Woon's smooth falsetto, sampling his own voice like an instrument, it hooks me worse than smack. Who hurt you Jamie? Who hurt you? Tell me, and I will cry for you. I mean, I’m not gay or anything, but he is in a different LEAGUE my friend, and this song should be a Top 40 hit all year round. Please fuck me Jamie Woon. Fuck me hard. Once again, I’m not gay, not into that shit.

07. The Naked and Famous - Punching In A Dream

Album: Passive Me, Aggressive You (14 March)
Indie Pop; Electronic

Man, if you ever got to punch a dream, this is what it would sound like. You’re bouncing around after you snorted a line of pure sugar, slapping pink things whilst singing these radio-friendly lyrics word-for-word even if you’ve never heard the song before. It’s exciting! A poppy-retro kind of exciting, and massive proof that this band obviously works really hard on what they are doing. Well, congrats guys, probably the catchiest song of the year so far.
(Please note - originally released in 2010, UK release 2011)

06. Tennis - Long Boat Pass

Album: Cape Dory (18 January)
Twee Pop

I was once seeing this innocent girl who was super happy and loved to rollerskate. During one summer in the 70’s, we went to the beach together and frolicked in the sun - the simple life. It was picturesque and lovely. We admired the boats and scenery until the sun was too hot, and then I bought a soda-pop for us to share. That’s when she burst into song. This. Very. Song. I was in a musical all along. Hardly anything in my life exists. WHO AM I? WHO WAS SHE?? WHY ARE YOU READING MY THOUGHTS??? LEAVE ME ALONE.

05. Katy B - Katy On A Mission

Album: On A Mission (04 April)
UK Funky House

Yeah man, this track reminds me of the time I dropped an E at some club in Brixton. It was off-the-fucking-hook, the right time at the right place. I was dancing with a big smile, ear to ear, and everything was in slow motion. I kept making eye-contact with the most gorgeous ladies, and we shared smiles, as if we knew something that general society didn't. I kept falling in love with everyone - friends, strangers, you name it - I loved them all. It felt so modern and so perfect, as if God had remastered the whole world, and the production was delicious. That kind of shit lingers with you, man. Those moments last forever.

04. Lanu - Beautiful Trash

Album: Her 12 Faces (07 March)
Nu Jazz

Put summer in a jar. Throw in some upbeat tempos and stir until very light and creamy. Add the infectiously catchiness you previously mixed with the voice of smiles, and then sprinkle the top with whole load of love. Shake until well care-free and happy-go-lucky, and then serve warm. That’s how this song was made. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t dig it.

03. Gang Gang Dance - Adult Goth

Album: Eye Contact (09 May)

Just by listening to this atmospheric and hilariously titled song, I think you will all agree that there is no real way a human could have made something so immense and generous. Theories are varied, but I believe that they are electronic aliens, synthesized by the government. They must have escaped, hiding out in Japan learning vocals, and then moving down to India to learn traditional music. They eventually settled in New York and released this track, ensuring that they are forever planted in our heads, completing their first step towards world domination. You want more proof? Ok: Ever since I started listening to this song, my erectile dysfunction has disappeared. Explain that shit.

02. Tyler, The Creator - Yonkers

Album: Goblin (10 May)
Hardcore Hip-Hop

"What you think of Hayley Williams? Fuck her! Wolf Haley robbin’ ‘em, I’ll crash that fuckin’ airplane at that faggot nigga B.o.B is in, and stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn oesophagus and won’t stop until the cops come in." That's all you need to know about this song.

01. James Blake - Limit To Your Love

Album: James Blake (07 February)
Art Pop; Electronic

Ok, so it’s a cover song (originally by Feist) which is normally against my principles. But let me tell you a secret as to why this track was chosen (please don’t tell anyone). The first time I heard this piece, a very unsettling incident took place. I ejaculated. But this wasn’t any ordinary ejaculation, it was in slow motion, and it came out in the litres. Dense semen was quietly pouring down my leg and it was ice cold. And then... it sucked right back in. All that jizz crawled back into my cock, forever lost like life itself had turned onto itself, and I felt such immense tension that I cried in silence for hours. Mark my words: if a better song is released in 2011 - then all that Mayan 2012 shit is true.


(Alright Jared, wrap it up nicely. No pressure. Leave these people with something to remember. Something smart. Something witty. Don’t fail me now Jared, this is the most important part of the blog. Make me proud. Make yourself proud.)

Uhm, ok, so a horse walks into a bar and the barman says “why the long face?” and the horse says “cancer” and the barman says “we don’t serve your kind in here” and the horse says “I bet you I can pee in that shot glass from where I'm sitting” and the barman says “what is this, some kind of a joke?” and then the horse pukes up blood and dies.

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