Lead vocalist Hayden Thorpe's unsettling voice is often a bit much for me, but it perfectly befits this track, a brooding combination of keyboards and lingering dread set to something strangely poppy.
69. Montezuma---Fleet Foxes
The harmonies here sound like the clouds opening and revealing the sun, and the opening stanza of, "Now I am older/Than my Mother and Father/When they had their Daughter/ Now, what does that say about me?" perfectly foretells of the album's lyrical fixation with the modern zeitgeist.
A tripped out dance track from an album that I wish had more, Ohio builds auto-tuned anticipation before cashing in with a dirty bass line with a shimmering electronica cover.
67. The Look---Metronomy***
The English Riviera is an album that's all about unrest, and the things that go unspoken. No where is that fact more evident than on The Look, a track that marries Joseph Mount's Too-Polite-To-Be-Trusted singing style with an equally faux-peppy mix of keys and synths.
66. Raconte-Moi Une Histoire---M83
The one and only song on my countdown that's about morphing into a from, Raconte-Moi Une Histoire is undoubtably Hurry Up, We're Dreaming's self-conscious display of whimsy, and though it has every reason to be too-cute, it works because it's adorable, endearing, magical, and features quite a breakdown once the story is over.
65. Putting the Dog to Sleep---The Antlers
The Antlers spend so much time and energy perfecting their beautiful instrumentation that Peter Silberman's miraculous voice is sometimes forced into the backseat. Not so much here, where the band clears out all excess sound in order to allow their frontman to give one of his most impassioned performances to date.
Killa may be the most instantly accessible song off of w h o k i l l, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't share its album's wacky, broken sensibilities, Garbus' assailing voice, uncompromising sense of forward motion powering a perfect introductory track into the strange world of tUnE-YarDs.
63. Black Night---The Dodos
Freed from the shackles of over-production that afflicted them on Time to Die, No Color opener Black Night is as much a call to action as it is an awesome song. Move the drums back up the the front, take out all those other sounds, and get ready to rock!
Going against the grain of just about every aspect of Radio-Friendly Hip-Hop, this stream-of-consciousness jam is set to a beat that uses small sounds like clicks, pops, and pseudo-strings. Oh, and Drake kinda kills it.
In which Battles locate the perfect groove and set up shop, allowing Futura to breath and evolve, revealing layers upon layers of sweaty, prog-rock intensity.
60. Wash.---Bon Iver
Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP featured a song very much like this one, entitled Babys. That song, lovely as it was, didn't feature the band's nine-man line-up, which allows for flourishes of Slide Guitar, Piano, and Violins, all adding up to yet another breath-taking triumph.
59. Running---Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX
A lot of what makes We're New Here such a cool album is hearing Scott-Heron's philosophical ramblings isolated at front and center of each track. Running has the good fortune of pairing one of his more intriguing rants with an absolutely colossal beat from Jamie XX.
58. Fast Peter---Moonface***
Spencer Krug's lyrics can be a bit unapproachable; He's more likely to sing about Dragons and Lore than Love and Heartbreak. That's exactly what makes Fast Peter so charming, as he recalls a conversation about a girl on top of swirling, enveloping Organ loops.
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming can, at points, sound like one big, long celebration. Wait, however, is not so light-hearted, taking down the tempo for a ballad in which Anthony Gonzalez repeats this simple phrase, "No Time," until it takes on a tear-soaked meaning all its own.
56. Come to the City---The War on Drugs***
Come to the City is primed and ready to completely destroy a stadium near you. It trades in the kind of arena rock that has been recently handed over to the sorry likes of Nickelback and their brethren. Come on, War of Drugs: Take the power back!
55. Grown Ocean---Fleet Foxes
Robin Pecknold sounds like quite the dreamer, but maybe you would be too if you had such an amazing band right behind you. Their harmonies and interplay dazzle, while the frontman recites beautiful, transporting imagery of his own making.
54. Peeping Tomboy---Kurt Vile
The single One-Man, One-Acoustic-Guitar track on Smoke Ring For My Halo possesses some effulgent, heart-swelling string picking, and opens with a line that might well serve as the album's thesis statement, "I don't wanna change/But I don't wanna stay the same/I don't wanna go/But I'm running/I don't wanna work/But I don't wanna sit around/All day, frowning."
53. Surfer's Hymn---Panda Bear
Opening with the sound of waves before sonically pulling in the tide, Surfer's Hymn brings its sun-soaked setting to vivid, tangible, Sand-Stuck-In-My-Swim-Trunks life. Probably the closest that I'll ever get to mounting a board myself.
52. Mona Lisa---Atlas Sound***
Bradford Cox has a way with loveliness, a fact perfectly exemplified by this small-scale wonder, which pairs breezy guitar strums with a radiant piano part to create one of Atlas Sound's most glowing tunes to date.
51. Lindisfarne I/Lindisfarne II---James Blake
James Blake is an album that's all about minimalism, and it doesn't get much more minimal that the lone sound of Blake's heavily auto-tuned voice (think Bon Iver's Woods, but on a less World-Conquering scale). This sole sound takes up the entirety of Lindisfarne I, bleeding into part II, which cashes in on all of that breathless anticipation by adding instrumentals to a variation of the same vocal track. (Note: Link leads to a condensed version of the two songs. Sorry.)
50. Drinking Problem---Surfer Blood
After flooding the awesome Astrocoast with Wall-To-Wall sound, Surfer Blood has found enough confidence in lead singer John Paul Pitts' deflated, Morrissey-recalling voice to clear out some space for the guy, as they do on the slippery half-lament Drinking Problem.
49. Novacane---Frank Ocean***
The break-out song of one of 2011 biggest new names, Novacane rides a bouncy, sensual beat from front to back, Ocean's Ripple-Free croon telling stories of indulgence, intoxication, and Stanley Kubrick.
48. I Follow Rivers---Lykke Li
She might sing on top of some poppy tracks, but Lykke Li has a No-Nonsense way about her that pins down the jumpy, blaring I Follow Rivers like a paper weight, lending gravity to the Catchy-As-Hell work of her bandmates.
47. Jesus Fever---Kurt Vile
Piano, softly chugging drums, guitar effects: There are a lot of things that Jesus Fever applies to its modest framework, but the reason it works so well is something far simpler: At it's most basic core, it's just a really, really good song.
Out of Tune---Real Estate***
One of the only songs on Days with even a hint of weighty meaning, Out of Tune is the beneficiary of some stellar strumming from guitarist Matt Mondanile, his slippery riff sliding along underneath Martin Courtney's repeated refrain, "You play along to songs written for you/But you're so out of tune."
Hype Starts Here's Top 50 Albums of 2011:
Hype Starts Here's Top 100 Songs of 2011: