As someone who grew up buying singles I still constantly search for that manic pop thrill. Anyway I’ve been sucking a thoughtful tooth and thinking about 2011 in terms of tunes and I’m saying this has been a great year for new music. Here’s an unabridged list of my favourite tunes of 2011.
I love that my long-term heroes (yes, that’s you The Fall, Wire, Magazine, Luke Haines, Tom Waits, and Half Man Half Biscuit) are still making vital, lovely, wonderful tunes that can still grab me by the throat, shake me around, and make me oh so glad to be alive and grateful that I am still so in thrall to this glorious noise that we call music.
I remember, as a kid in the 70s, being told by my Mum that I was just wasting my money as I went to the record shop (ask your parents kids) to buy the latest Bowie or T.Rex 45 rpm single (ask your parents again kids). Mum, you got that one wrong. Here am I poised to turn 50 and it’s still the most important thing in my life (obviously I’m discounting my lovely family and friends in that analysis).
Anyway, getting back on track, these days there’s so much new stuff to try and hear but, it’s worth it, as there are still so many nuggets out there. Still some great mainstream pop tunes (hello Adele), and this despite the modern curse that is X F**t*r and the formulaic cynical pop tunes that result from it. Fortunately I can shut most of that codswallop out and concentrate on the good stuff. And what a lot there’s been eh?
The Black Keys (who aren’t so new I know) came out of nowhere towards the end of 2011 to make the monumental ‘Lonely Boy’ which could have been made pretty much anytime since 1970 but who cares, it’s magnificent.
Then there’s those great folky artists working away on the periphery, like The Felice Brothers (how great, how weird and how wonderful is ‘Fire At The Pagent’?) and Bill Callahan who gets better and better. ’America!’ is superb.
Then there’s what I’d broadly label dance-pop. The Rapture continue DFA’s amazing heritage and tradition. And Hot Chip’s Joe Godard made my favourite dance tune of the year.
Music is still getting bent out of shape by the likes of Suuns (and many, many, many more). I saw Suuns earlier this year and I’d say it was probably my gig of the year. Their album is stunning.
Rock n Roll still lives on too. I’ve mentioned The Black Keys but what about Yuck? I love Get Away. Mainly because it reminds me so much of Dinosaur Jr. But genius steals. Or something. And what about The Walkmen eh? Not sure why they don’t appear to get more recognition.
And pure pop-wise, Cults (who were the most disappointing live band I saw this year) are great on record (ask your parents yet again kids). When that post-Spector sound is done well it’s still sublime.
I’ve seen a lot of live music too. But that a whole other post. I plan to work out the best live music I’ve seen this year. Watch this space.
Roll on 2012.
Oh, and here’s the obligatory list (with links to the tune on YouTube)…
11. Suuns - Arena
16. Cults - Bumper
20. Yuck - Get Away
EDIT: Just mixed up my top 20 into a handy downloadable mix. Yep all 20 tracks in one gloriously gorgeous mixed up mess. I’ve thrown in a few effects, and generally dicked around, to make it a bit more idiosyncratic. So, have a listen and revel in some of the best tunes of 2011….