So I mentioned on facebook a few days ago that I have a bit of a problem being overly gracious to people. One way I display that is by only recognizing a work once for being great. Therefore, if an album made my top ten albums of 2011 list, any song on that album is ineligible for the top 25 tracks. It seems silly, I’m sure, but this is how I’m doing things. It enables me to introduce as much awesome music as possible, so hopefully you’ll allow me my eccentricities. I’ll try to get a YouTube video or embed for each song so you can hear it for yourself and decide whether or not it is worthy of the list. And with that, we’re off:
30.. “The Kids Are Ready To Die” by The Airborne Toxic Event-The album as a whole was a step back from their debut, but I still really dig this song.
29. “I Won’t Say The Lord’s Prayer” by The Wonder Years-I don’t usually respond to music like this, but The Wonder Years newest album Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing was a really strong entry for the genre.
28. “Are You Can You Were You” by Shabazz Palaces-Hip hop at another level. Black Up is a work of art.
27. “Dealbreaker” by Rachael Yamagata-Maybe it’s because the song reminds me of “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” but it’s the best song on a solid record.
26. “Take Me, I’m Yours” by The Great American Novel-I never got around to reviewing You and I, but it’s a poppy love letter of a record that I hope leads to bigger things for these guys.
25. “Judas Priest” by MC Lars-This guy delivers his rhymes with a lot of intelligence. This is a heavy song, but one I think people will like given the chance.
24. “Hibernation” by Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds–Under Streetlight Glow was sent to me on a whim by the gentleman who hooked me up with tickets to see The Mountain Goats earlier this year. It’s a really good album. You’d think with the band being from Milwaukee they’d hit Chicago a lot, but you’d be wrong.
23. “Tornado ’87” by The Rural Alberta Advantage–Hometowns was a tough act to follow. The RAA keeps delivering with songs like this, so it seemed effortless.
22. “Every Time I Visit You It Rains” by The Michael J Epstein Memorial Library-The way Epstein spreads around his talents, it’s surprising that any of it is any good. The fact that all of it is good borders on scary.
21. “By Your Hand” by Los Campesinos!-It’s true, I didn’t love the new album as a whole, but the first song is a great one.
20. “I Don’t Want To See You Like This” by The Joy Formidable-They broke through in a major way in 2011, and this song may have had a lot to do with that (along with tireless touring and also just being really talented).
19. “I Still Believe” by Frank Turner-Hardcore punk turned singer/songwriter Turner delivered a solid album this year with “Let England Keep My Bones.” I really like a lot of songs off that, but this is my favorite.
18. “Look At Me Now” by The Elected-Blake Sennett took a couple years off from music after Rilo Kiley put out Under the Blacklight, but made a fairly triumphant return this year with Bury Me In My Rings. He’s definitely still got his pop sensibility.
17. “Mistakes” by Mates Of State-One of the only bad things about going to Mexico in September was missing this show. A good time was had by all, both in Mexico and here in Chicago. This album was a narrow miss by my count, but a couple really good songs and this great one.
16. “Never Quite Free” by The Mountain Goats-Damn you, John Darnielle! Can’t I make a list without you popping up? Apparently not.
15. “Lovecrimes” by Frank Ocean-Man, that Frank Ocean sure does love Kubrick. His use of Nicole Kidman’s dialogue from Eyes Wide Shut is fantastic here.
14. “Rhyme The Reason” by Golden Bloom-Shawn Fogel just writes hits. It’s all he knows how to do.
13. “Divine Bell” by Abigail Washburn-I gave a friend of mine a bunch of music a while back, and when we got together a few months later he told me that City Of Refuge was the only one he would still listen to. Can’t blame him. I just isten to this one song over and over.
12. “Backpackers” by Childish Gambino-A more mainstream version of Tyler, The Creator. Comparisons to Drake are wildly misguided.
11. “Street Fighting Sun” by Blitzen Trapper-I guess this would be described as American music. Classic rock-y stuff.
10. “Mysterious Power” by Ezra Furman and The Harpoons-One of my favorite Chicago musicians (now in San Francisco) playing the title track to the newest amazing record.
9. “A Lack Of Understanding” by The Vaccines-One of my favorite records of the year, The Vaccines put out a lot of great songs in 2011. Something like “Norgaard” or “Post Break-Up Sex” might be found on other lists, but I like my music a little more subtle.
8. “Jejune Stars” by Bright Eyes-A couple solo records later and Conor Oberst returns with a new Bright Eyes album. It’s weird, and I don’t exactly think it’s his best work. That said, this song is really good.
7. “Exercises In Selfloathing” by Dastardly-I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this song over the last 8 months. Can’t wait for the new album in January!!
6. “Hell Broke Luce” by Tom Waits-The master at work.
5. “Cruel” by St Vincent-I was so prepared to hate everything about this record, then this song came along.
4. “Murder To Excellence” by Jay-Z and Kanye West-While I ultimately felt disappointed a bit by this record, Yeezy’s verse hits hard.
3. “East Harlem” by Beirut–The Riptide is a very good record. This song is the beginning of Zac Condon’s life as a truly original artist.
2. “Coming Down” by Dum Dum Girls-This song. On repeat. Forever.
1. “O Ye Drowning Children” by Chaperone-As if this is a surprise. I’ve been saying this was my favorite song for about six months now. It still is.