60 Favorite Songs of 2011: #60-21

Well, I got lazy and this is coming along later than I promised earlier. But I needed a breather after posting my favorite albums list, and perhaps you did too. In any case, here’s this, with the top 20 to come tomorrow. Maybe this’ll make a good playlist for your Monday workday.
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60 :: Zomby [ft. Panda Bear]
“Things Fall Apart”
from Dedication

Hip-hop-inspired post-dubsteppery over which Noah Lennox does that thing that he does so well.
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59 :: Azari & III
“Into the Night”
from Azari & III

These Montrealers crib liberally from disco and MJ on this killer opening cut from their solid self-titled debut.
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58 :: Zammuto
“Yay”
from Zammuto [forthcoming]

The Books frontman Nick Zammuto kicked off his solo career with this slice of infectious weirdness.
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57 :: Elbow
“The Birds”
from Build A Rocket, Boys!

Elbow plays build-a-song and Guy Garvey soars over their orchestral creations with his heavenly voice.
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56 :: Cults
“Abducted”
from Cults

I reluctantly had to slash Cults’ debut from my list, but “Abducted” is too irresistible.
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55 :: Nicolas Jaar
“Don’t Break My Love”
from Don’t Break My Love EP

Nicolas Jaar’s greatest standalone song appeared not on his album but on a late-in-the-year EP that cemented his status as one of 2011’s brightest new flames.
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54 :: Houses
“Soak It Up”
from All Night

The splendid, simmering centerpiece from Houses’ lovely debut.
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53 :: Cold Cave
“The Great Pan Is Dead”
from Cherish the Light Years

Maximalist new-wave-goth-pop. Brace yourself.
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52 :: The Roots [ft. Big K.R.I.T.]
“Make My”
from undun

Black Thought and K.R.I.T. deliver exquisitely depressive verses about the will to death on the first single from The Roots’ solid undun. Meanwhile, ?uest constructs one of those vintage-sounding jams that he’s only getting better at putting together.
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51 :: tUnE-YaRdS
“Powa”
from w h o k i l l

The finest showcase on w h o k i l l for Merrill Garbus’ insane pipes and songwriting steez.
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50 :: The Joy Formidable
“A Heavy Abacus”
from The Big Roar

An unabashedly huge cut from The Joy Formidable’s debut. They may not be playing stadiums yet, but their music makes it clear that they’re stadium-bound.
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49 :: Junior Boys
“Itchy Fingers”
from It’s All True

This jittery, off-kilter dance track gets It’s All True going with a bang.
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48 :: Frank Ocean
“Novacane”
from Nostalgia, Ultra.

Frank Ocean’s signature track got him onto mainstream radio without even seeing an official release. How very 2011.
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47 :: Yuck
“Stutter”
from Yuck

It’s nearly impossible to choose favorites from Yuck’s debut, but “Stutter”‘s flawless construction and wonderfully downbeat mood earned it a place on this list.
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46 :: Katy B
“Power On Me”
from Katy On A Mission

“Power On Me” would work as a great dance cut even without Katy B’s vocal, but her spot-on performance (the closest thing to a Robyn track that 2011 delivered to me) takes it to the next level.
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45 :: The Go! Team
“Yosemite Theme”
from Rolling Blackouts

Remember the dream house you designed as a kid? The one with the water slide from your bedroom down into the pool? This is the music that’s playing there all the time.
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44 :: Neon Indian
“Polish Girl”
from Era Extraña

Alan Palomo’s more polished sound coalesced into this slice of perfect pop longing on his sophomore album.
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43 :: Battles [ft. Matias Aguayo]
“Ice Cream”
from Gloss Drop

Not what I expected from Battles, but I like the new flavor.
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42 :: Rihanna [ft. Calvin Harris]
“We Found Love”
from Talk That Talk

This needs no explanation.
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41 :: Washed Out
“Eyes Be Closed”
from Within and Without

It was sad to exclude Washed Out’s debut LP from my top albums list, but build-up and release in the back half of “Eyes Be Closed” is one of my favorite 60-second passages of music from this year.
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40 :: M83
“Midnight City”
from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

The biggest song from one of the year’s biggest albums.
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39 :: Middle Brother
“Theater”
from Middle Brother

If you peeped my 2009 and 2010 lists, you know I love Delta Spirit, so I can’t deny this track sporting an impassioned — dare I say Lennonesque? — vocal performance from Delta Spirit frontman Matt Vazquez.
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38 :: Kendrick Lamar
“HiiiPoWeR”
from Section.80

This closing track from Kendrick Lamar’s debut boasts a fresh J. Cole beat and some of this new talent’s best verses.
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37 :: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“Heart In Your Heartbreak”
from Belong

These Montrealers crib liberally from disco and MJ on this killer opening cut from their solid self-titled debut.
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36 :: xxxy
“Ordinary Things”
from You Always Start It/Ordinary Things 7″

Skittering, fluttering post-dubstep.
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35 :: Wye Oak
“Civilian”
from Civilian

I never clicked with Wye Oak’s third album, but its title track sums up everything I love about the group.
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34 :: DJ Khaled [ft. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne]
“I’m On One”
from We The Best Forever

The mystery of what the point of DJ Khaled is remains unsolved, but if he continues to facilitate tracks like this posse cut (on which hip-hop’s newest and greatest fraternity kill a Noah “40” Shebib/T-Minus beat), you won’t hear me speaking ill of him.
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33 :: Wilco
“Whole Love”
from The Whole Love

“Art of Almost” and “One Sunday Morning” were the real attention-grabbing boundary-pushers on The Whole Love, but on the sorta-title track, they hit that perfect-Wilco-song sweet spot.
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32 :: Joker [ft. Jessie Ware]
“The Vision (Let Me Breathe)”
from The Vision

Alas, The Vision wasn’t the Joker album I was hoping for, but its title track is a solid gold jam.
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31 :: Yuck
“Get Away”
from Yuck

More Yuck, doing what they do best.
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30 :: Active Child
“Hanging On”
from Yuck

The perfect calling card for Active Child’s alluring, otherworldly style, “Hanging On” shows his ability to balance texture and atmosphere with strong pop instincts.
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29 :: The Middle East
“Dan’s Silverleaf”
from I Want That You Are Always Happy

This lively cut from The Middle East’s otherwise bleak album surges to life with this gorgeous, uptempo cut.
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28 :: Gang Gang Dance
“Glass Jar”
from Eye Contact

“I can hear everything. It’s everything time.”
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27 :: Jay-Z & Kanye West
“Niggas In Paris”
from Watch the Throne

I knew the Jay/Ye hybrid would be capable of many things, but I did not expect dumbass meme rap like “Niggas In Paris” to be one of them. And yet here we are, and it has taken over the world. I think the reasons are obvious. It makes me want to jump up and down and yell the lyrics and throw things.
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26 :: Vetiver
“Can’t You Tell”
from The Errant Charm

Subliminal music. A summer breeze bottled into a song.
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25 :: Beyoncé
“1+1”
from 4

A vocal performance for the history books.
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24 :: Rostam
“Wood”
from Wood [single]

This debut solo single from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij shows that he’s capable of crafting a sort of hybridized sample-pop quite different from VW’s work. Check out what I wrote about “Wood” here.
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23 :: Todd Terje
“Ragysh”
from Ragysh EP

SPACE DISCO!
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22 :: Cut Copy
“Sun God”
from Zonoscope

Cut Copy’s unstoppable closing cut from Zonoscope begins with a lengthy and excellent disco pop jams and then continues its journey into the 15-minute range with a spectacular, mathematically executed techno breakdown.
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21 :: Pusha T [ft. Rick Ross & Ab-Liva]
“I Still Wanna”
from Fear of God II: Let Us Pray

Pusha, Ross, and Re-Up Gang member Ab-Liva go to town all over one of the hardest beats of the year.
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~ by toren on January 8, 2012.

One Response to “60 Favorite Songs of 2011: #60-21”

  1. […] Favorite Songs of 2011 :: #60-21 […]

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