Photos by G.
2011 was a better than normal year for good tunes. In no particular order, here’s a list of 21 songs that made my world a lot groovier. I don’t think that all of the tracks were released as singles, and if they were, many of these gems were probably not played in a mainstream way (like the radio). That’s sad, especially when over-produced pop songs that sound good on ONE LISTEN ONLY are played ad nauseum to the masses while they open their mouths wide for something to suck on.
“Love is Blindness” by Jack White. This came out of nowhere! For the 20 year *gulp* anniversary of U2’s epic album “Achtung Baby,” UK Magazine Q enlisted a ton of A-Listers to cover the entire record. The whole thing is great and features the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Garbage, Depeche Mode, The Killers, Glasvegas and Patti Smith, who all newly recorded covers for this collection. Jack White’s cover of the final track “Love Is Blindness” is so freakin’ amazing, the first time I heard it, I knew it was immediately on this list. It’s gut wrenching and though I already loved the original version, this version is even more emotional.
“Superlove” by Lenny Kravitz. I am a big Lenny Kravitz fan and I’ve been really disappointed with his last 3 studio albums. So much of his newer material sounds really uninspired, unfortunately. However, when you hear a track like the 70’s laid back jam “Superlove,” it just proves that Lenny still has “IT.” Also great from Lenny in 2011 is the funky as hell track “Come On Get It.”
“Hold My Breath” by Holy Ghost! I actually like every song on Holy Ghost!’s self-titled debut album, but looking at my iPod stats, this is the song that I listened to the most (aside from “Do It Again,” but that song technically came out in 2010). Holy Ghost! Recently offered a free download of their cover of Ministry’s “I Wanted To Tell Her,” and it’s amazing! Search the archives and download it for a limited time!
“Vomit” by Girls. This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. In case you have not heard the song, it has nothing to do with puking, but it’s a gut wrenching song. Chris Owens’ vocals are so vulnerable as he sings about looking for love. The song has a nice build up and the climactic ending features backing vocals that would make Pink Floyd proud. When Owens sings the final lines “Come into my heart,” you will want to beat up the person that broke his heart! I highly recommend the entire record “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” as it’s epic from start to finish.
“The Man Who Stole A Leopard” by Duran Duran. Ever wonder what “classic era” Duran Duran would sound like in 2011? Just pick up their album “All You Need Is Now” to find out the answer! Mark Ronson, a huge Duran Duran fan, produced their new record and he suggested that Duran Duran don’t try to sound like anyone else – except themselves. The result is one of their best albums ever and “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” to me sounds like it could be “The Chauffeur 2011.”
“If He Likes It Let Him Do It” by The Drums. This song has a little bit of everything. It’s got some rock, surf, pop and dance elements to it and the chorus (which features the title of the song) is hauntingly catchy. I’ve read that The Drums will be taking a dancier direction for their next record (hopefully a’la Jonny Pierce’s other band Elkand), and I am very excited to hear it.
“Lotus Flower” by Radiohead. Finally a band who knows how to get Lotus Flower right! This song is an uncommonly catchy Radiohead track. It didn’t help matters when the video was released and it shows front man Thom Yorke living in the moment and dancing like the world is about to end. Every time I hear that song now, I can’t help but do the “Lotus Flower” dance. It’s extra fun when I am in a crowded subway.
“Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)” by Lana Del Rey. This is a rare case when the remix is better than the original song. The album version has a “noir” feel to it and this version is a club banger! Lana Del Rey recently debuted many songs in concert from her 2012 release “Born To Die,” and I have a feeling she’s going to be a big star. Put her on your radar now!
“Don’t Fuck With My Money” by Penguin Prison. Speaking of Penguin Prison, I of course love every song on their debut record, but I’ve listened to the opening track more than all the others. I don’t see how a person wouldn’t fall in love with this song immediately because it’s catchy as hell, just like every song on the album. I am not even saying these kind things because I appear in the music video for this song, but I can say, that is definitely a highlight of the year too!
“Up In Flames” by Coldplay. I appreciate that Coldplay decided to go against the grain and make a pop record for 2011’s “Mylo Xyloto,” but overall, I am not digging the album too much. I do like the song “Up In Flames” though a lot. It’s your typical Coldplay ballad, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with them in the first place.
“Come Alive” by Hanni El Khatib. Hanni El Khatib’s music has a little bit of everything – blues, soul, garage, doo-wop and punk. I’ve seen him in concert many times and this track is one of my favorites to see performed live. I hope that one day Hanni El Khatib will release a live album because the studio versions of his songs sound a little bit too polished as compared to the raw intensity of his performance.
“Hurting” by Friendly Fires. Disco! I love this song! Over the course of this year, I’ve gone through obsessions with this song where I listened to it over and over and over again. It was just released as a single, which is great news! Now the rest of the world can enjoy it as much as I have.
“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele. This song was played to death, but I will say one thing – I have never gotten sick of it. The song is just epic in every way. From Adele’s amazing voice to the torch song music, the track is flawless. She sings “We could have had it all,” but this song is proof that she HAS it all! I find some of her music to be a bit snoozy, but this song is one I can listen to on repeat (and I have) and it’s great and more powerful with every listen.
“Why You Always Here” by Katy B. British newcomer Katy B has made a great dance record with her debut “On A Mission.” It’s a perfect album to listen to before you go out clubbing for the night. It was hard to pick a favorite song on the record, but once again, I let my iPod be my guide and I listened to this track the most, edging out “ Hard to Get” and “Lights On.” As of press time, Katy B. is not that popular in the USA yet, so people – discover her music! You’ll like it!
“Night People” by Human League. Just when you thought Human League had dropped off the face of the earth, they returned with the 2011 album “Credo.” The album has its moments, but one of the best ones is the extremely dancey “Night People.” The melody and lyrics are very catchy and you’ll know exactly what they are talking about when they sing “There is a place that only the night people know.”
“In Our Own Time” by Lindsey Buckingham. Lindsey Buckingham just gets better with age. On his latest album “Seeds We Sow,” the songs range from reflective ballads to the rockin’ anthem “In Our Own Time,” which assets, “It wouldn’t make any difference. We crossed the line. From the fire we will rise again. In our own time.” It’s such an empowering anthem! It was a toss up between this song and “Stars Are Crazy,” which is a reflective look at questioning yourself.
“Abducted” by Cults. I love Cults. Their music is dreamy pop that recalls the Mamas and Papas crossed with a 50’s soul sound. “Abducted” starts off with just guitars and when the beat kicks in, it’s a party for your ears. This song is responsible for many great work outs I’ve had and grooving my ass off while straightening up my apartment. Thanks Cults!
“Keep You” by Class Actress. Class Actress works it! Their music has deep, lush dance beats that fall sonically somewhere between New Order and Madonna. When you hear Class Actress’ music, you’ll want to set up some strobe lights, set up the smoke machine and dance like nobody’s looking. I’ve done it and, let me tell you – a highly recommended experience!
“Breaking Down” by Florence and the Machine. I really like this song! It sounds like it belongs in a movie soundtrack as it is quirky and whimsical, but the lyrics are about having a meltdown and falling apart. Florence is massively entertaining in concert and I look forward to seeing her perform her new album “Ceremonials” live.
“Moneygrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Fitz and the Tantrums have had quite a year. They began 2011 by playing small venues and before the end of the year, they blew up and are playing to much larger audiences. Their song “Moneygrabber” was offered as a free download at the beginning of the year and I grabbed it! The song is soulful and has a full band sound which makes me appreciate real music by real musicians in an era of bedroom assembled recordings.