You come to The Recommender to hunt out new music. Well, today’s gigantic post has our Top 40 Tracks Of 2011, so your hunting won’t get any easier than this. Think you’ve heard them all? Think again. Perhaps, if nothing else, hit play on the tracks you’ve never heard before? We’re confident that this list won’t only surprise you, but will equally reward you too.
To clarify, please note that the only criteria for a tune to earn an entry is to have either; A) been officially released this year as part of a single or album, or B) arrived into our music folder during 2011. All the tracks are in deliberate order with the number one track being our favourite.
We’re positive that you will agree, it’s been another fantastic year. This list could have easily been a top 100, but alas we’ve painstakingly narrowed it down to 40 after much deliberation. We caught up with the overall winner and they’ve kindly added their response to the accolade below.
GANGSTA - TUNEYARDS
REVIEW: If this list was marked on creativity alone this could be number one. Original, inventive, authentic, deadly and relentlessly punchy. This track is one highlight in an album that contains thousands of them.
COME SAVE ME – JAGWAR MA
REVIEW: Arriving in our inbox late in 2011, this tune slipped straight into the top 40. Instant and adorable, it’s the sound of several decades put in a blender, with brilliant results.
RIDE – FRACTURES
REVIEW: Sometimes reflective and tense, sometimes soaring and mighty. This is a return to the kind of exceptional rock anthem that people used to write.
PATIENCE - FORT FAIRFIELD
LOTUS FLOWER – RADIOHEAD
REVIEW: Nestled inside one of Radiohead’s most consistent albums for years was this stunning single that that showed them off at their jerky, flowing best.
NIGHT SCHOOL – COASTAL CITIES
REVIEW: Just like Foals at their early best, this has the sound of guitar notes being played as lightly as a centipede walking up the fret board.
BEAVER – HOLGER
REVIEW: This has as much bright Latin sunshine bursting through every second of it’s three minutes than is physically possible. Uplifting, positive and energised, this is Brazil doing guitar music better than the rest of the planet.
LEAVE ARGENTINA – POLARSETS
REVIEW: The ‘new Two Door Cinema Club’ delivered the next massive indie pop anthem that’s good enough to swallow up the entire teen market in one massive chorus.
GOOD LUCK – CYMBALS
REVIEW: This spiked indie track somehow powers on beautifully without any actual momentum. It’s like opening up Foals only to discover they were performing without any batteries inside them.
AMOR FATI – WASHED OUT
REVIEW: One of our ‘Best Albums of 2011′ contained this sublime hit, which managed to glow brighter than any others classified by the glo-fi genre.
PUT TO SLEEP – PORCELAIN RAFT
REVIEW: As we await the release of what could prove to be one of 2012′s best albums we couldn’t get more excited about this artist. This dreamy, synthetic pop tune is a precise example of why we’re so damn excited.
IT’S ALRIGHT (ON THE SUEZ CANAL) – LEISURE
REVIEW: Like Badly Drawn Boy when he was at his best, or Pulp at their most charming, this Boston trio deliver timeless, melodic, mature pop with bags of character.
RIVER JORDAN – DOG IS DEAD
REVIEW: When they join all their voices up together, as they do repeatedly on this tune, it’s pretty arresting, especially live. Add in their relentless energy, powerful key changes and brave song-writing and you get a thunderous hit like this.
I FOLLOW RIVERS – LYKKE LI
REVIEW: This is pop with guts and soul, from an artist who continues to deliver some of the best music around with her 2011 album, Wounded Rhymes. What’s not to like? This is utterly deadly.
BLUE GOWNS – BLUE HAWAII
REVIEW: This song is from Raphaelle Standell-Preston, better known from the Canadian band, Braids, but rather than delivering a set of lightweight spin-off tunes, she designed masterful songs like this. This is the sound of complicated love in a serene environment.
THIS CROWDED ROOM – FREEDOM OR DEATH
REVIEW: Throbbing synth pop like this hasn’t been delivered with this much likable maturity since Miike Snow. Patient and warm, this is impossibly satisfying.
BRING EM HOME (GOLD JACKET REMIX) – D.VELOPED
REVIEW: Mashups are undeniably useless on the whole, only good for the Hype Machine charts, rather than any credible analysis. However, this is ridiculously addictive. Drop this at any party and you win. Of course it topped the Hype Machine charts, but this remains an absolutely killer tune made with skill and dexterity.
THE WORDS THAT MAKETH MURDER – P J HARVEY
REVIEW: Did anyone mind Polly winning the Mercury Music Award with her Let England Shake album? No, surely not. She’s still making some of the most inventive, striking music around.
TRUE LOVES – HOORAY FOR EARTH
REVIEW: This is a song that grabs you around the throat and never lets go. The drop at 34 seconds still knocks us over every time we hear it! An absolute classic.
HEYO (SILVER MORNING) – LA BIG VIC
REVIEW: You need a bucket of water to be thrown over you after listening to this tune, just to wake up from it’s hypnotizing controls.
MILK – THEME PARK
REVIEW: This is music with the fun switch permanently cellotaped on. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is throwaway pop, as there’s still stackfuls of craft and melody located inside it.
PARIS COLLIDES – RUFUS
REVIEW: This is seriously good. Australia’s synth pop just advanced to the next stage with this storm-fuelled, intoxicating masterpiece.
FALL WEATHER – CHELSEA BURGIN
REVIEW: You’re in a hazy bar. A camera slowly and steadily zooms in to a beautiful woman seductively smoking her cigarette through a holder. She’s staring straight at you. You can’t move. This is classy, cinematic balladry at it’s most breathtaking.
BLANKET – BACHELORETTE
REVIEW: This marvellous artist is one of the most original to deliver in 2011. This tune is a striking example of how she fizzes and crackles with everything she does.
BIRDS – REAL FUR
REVIEW: Wit-fuelled alternative pop, with lots of Talking Heads overtones, was popular this year, but no other band did it as enjoyably as this lot. The lyrics are worth their entrance fee alone, but alongside that the music effortlessly bounces and grooves along behind it.
TWO ISLANDS – OUTFIT
REVIEW: Buzz band of 2011? Perhaps, but there’s far more maturity and design behind the hype to leave us with credible contenders long after the chatter has quietened.
BETTY JANE (JAGWAR MA’S LOVE ME REMIX) – BUMBLEBEEZ
REVIEW: The only remix on this entire list, as we will always favour original works first, but this re-work by Jagwar Ma is simply too good to resist. It also re-designs the original from scratch, actually improving it, actually making it feel one of the freshest songs of 2011. Turn it up loud.
SAIL – AWOLNATION
REVIEW: Aaron Bruno is as inconsistent as Beck, but just as much the songsmith, with tracks and ideas that come bursting out of him. This is perhaps his finest moment, with one of the best basslines of 2011.
NEVER LEAVE – ZULU WINTER
REVIEW: Tipped as the ‘next Friendly Fires‘ may prove to be as much a weight as it is a compliment, but there’s absolutely no denying that this London five-piece emerged as serious contenders this year.
YOUR LOVE IS CALLING MY NAME – THE WAR ON DRUGS
REVIEW: Racing along like Arcade Fire at their Springsteen best, this steam-train of a song is relentlessly fantastic.
HANDS – ALPINE
REVIEW: An exceptional tune to kick off our top 10. The video is just as good too. This Australian group challenges the notion that Scandinavians make the best left-field pop around.
SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW – GOTYE ft KIMBRA
REVIEW: An absolutely enormous single that delivered one of the finest moments of 2011. Like all the best love songs, they share a personal moment that in turn speaks to just about everyone on the planet.
LEAF – CAVE PAINTING
REVIEW: It’s not just because this band are from Brighton that they’re being punted around as ‘the new Maccabees’. They actually write sublime, matured, melodic pop singles that aim just as high as their forebears.
BREEZEBLOCKS – ALT J
REVIEW: Nobody sounds like Alt-J. Nobody ever will. This slurred lament is rewarded for it’s brave originality, but also for it’s craft and adorable appeal.
VANESSA – GRIMES
REVIEW: Clare Boucher finally gained the worldwide traction she deserves after a blinding SXSW performance. Sensationally good, hypnotic, intangible songs like this are exactly why the world woke up to her in 2011.
UP AND DOWN – CHAD VALLEY
REVIEW: Hugo Manuel undoubtedly released one of the best EPs of 2011 and this is perhaps it’s highlight. It’s an absolute killer tune that’s filled the floors of every Recommender DJ set ever since.
KELLY – WHEN SAINTS GO MACHINE
REVIEW: Electronic pop music at it’s most addictively brilliant. Instantly lovable, no other tune has had more bounce than this in 2011, but tucked away inside this direct hit we get class and design that reaches far beyond it’s peers.
MESSAGE ON THE WIRE – SWEET LIGHTS
REVIEW: Last year we had Alexander Ebert’s Truth in the top 5. This is 2011′s Truth. Yes, it’s that good. A timeless classic. This flies in the face of anyone stating that “they don’t write em like that anymore“. Oh yes they do.
STILL LIFE – THE HORRORS
REVIEW: From one of the albums of 2011, this massive hit opened the flood gates to an audience that not even The Horrors thought they would reach. An absolute nailed-on classic, this is the sound of a band evolving into something anthemically huge.
LOSE IT – AUSTRA
REVIEW: It balances the timeless with the instantly-adorable. The light with the shade. The gothic with the pop. The sour and the sweet. It’s a song of contrasts in an album packed with juxtapositions. It blends astonishing skills, particularly with Katie Stelmanis’ exceptional voice, with perfectly placed synths and a pace that only pauses as if to catch it’s breath. Like all the biggest singles it has a start, middle and end, as it evolves in stages, but throughout we get an honest outpouring from a melencholic heart. Breathtakingly exceptional.
KATIE STELMANIS: “Its an honor to have Lose It recognised by The Recommender as their top track of the year. Its a special song for me, about the process of fighting for something, and then realizing that its already gone. It lived through so many different arrangements before becoming what it is today, and I’m happy that so many people have found a connection with it and have celebrated it this year.”
So that’s it for another year folks. As always, let us know your thoughts please? We’re sure you have an opinion on our opinions? Do you agree? Do you disagree? What would be your number one? Did you discover any new tunes on this list? Are there any glaring omissions? Thanks for following The Recommender. It’s been another fantastic year with many highlights. We can’t wait to help deliver 2012′s to your computers next year. (MB)