Well, here’s my two cents. And since a few of my favorite hip hop tracks this year aren’t on Spotify, welcome to my very white 2011 playlist. Still, this isn’t extremely comprehensive or ranked in any order…just some of my favorite tracks of the year that I keep going back to. Here it goes!
1. “Sunday Best” from I Believe You Liar by Washington
Somehow, I hadn’t yet heard of this chick from down under, but her debut full length is chock full of great pop songs and superb production. Great singer as well. This song was the first track from the album that hooked me in. Then I was done for.
2. “No Light, No Light” from Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine
Superb artistry. Grandiose, theatrical production. Great songs. Just what you’d expect from Florence Welch on her sophomore record. This song’s got serious attitude. Wonderful.
3. “Cannons” from The Year Of Hibernation by Youth Lagoon
When this kid put out this single back in the summer, all of a sudden folks knew Youth Lagoon brought something to the table. Great hooks with creative instrumentation.
4. “My Way Back Home” from Nothing Is Wrong by Dawes
Honestly, I didn’t think much of Dawes’ first record. But for some reason, their sophomore record Nothing Is Wrong struck a chord with me. I don’t know if there’s as much honesty in young guys out there than in these dudes. This record could’ve been made 40 years ago. But it wasn’t. And it’s resonated with a bunch of people this year and you’re seeing that Dawes might just be around for the long haul. This song is absolutely beautiful and when the guitar solo hits after the bridge, you’re a goner.
5. “Last Day Of The New Age” from No One Listens To The Band Anymore by The Damnwells
So this band is a tride-and-true melody machine wrapped in solid American mid-90′s kind of pop rock. I just love this band and this track is my favorite off this year’s record.
6. “Save Me” from Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams
My old faithful. No one speaks to me like Sir Adams, and his new record was so very refreshing. Stripped down to what he does best…write killer songs. “Save Me” is a great ballad from one of the best songwriters of our time.
7. “Shot In The Dark” from Augustana by Augustana
I liked a few of Augustana’s songs before this self-titled album dropped this year, but this album made me a fan. They never compromise a great song or melody to try to be hip, but rather dress a great song in modern arrangements and instrumentation and it comes out beautifully. This song kicks off the back half of the record with some real inspiration.
8. “Change The Sheets” from Change The Sheets (Single) by Kathleen Edwards
Okay, I’ve been a Kathleen Edwards fan for a little while. She’s an incredible writer. Then when I heard this song, I was even more blown away…boyfriend Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) had turned her amazing songwriting into a modern aesthetic with some haunting qualities and pop sensibilities. I. Love. This. Song. And what a freakin chorus line! “Change the sheets and then change me.”
9. “I Don’t Mind” from Moonlight Revival by Ponderosa
I ran across these guys last year some time and loved this track, so I was glad to see them release a full length this year. This is real American alt-country rock and roll. Great production and playing.
10. “Houdini” from Torches by Foster The People
Don’t judge. Whatever you think about Foster The People (trendy, flash in the pan, dude sounds like a girl) you can’t say that this record isn’t pretty groundbreaking. It’s like MGMT made a record without all the LSD. That’s right, it’s like Andrew VanWyngarden wrote more than two good melodies on a record. Anyway, I really dig the album, especially for a debut. And every damn track is great. Nevertheless, this one might be my favorite.
11. “Hymn #101″ from Nation Of Heat EP by Joe Pug
Lyrics, lyrics, lyrics. I mean he’s got the whole Dylan thing going on, but Joe Pug seems pretty legit. Either way, this song is all about the lyrics. Just listen to it. Pretty amazing.
Mike Jackson is a Memphis musician and music industry “professional.” He likes the Kwik Check deli across the street from where he works (Ardent Records/Ardent Studios) and likes to think he knows something about music. Aye, there’s the rub.