It’s always such a stress filled moment picking the Best Albums of the Year. Albums are cohesive works (at their best) of art and if you don’t recognize one, I feel like I did a real disservice to the artist. Fortunately, I’ve been asked to pick the top ten songs of 2011. I’ve got a few near misses for this song list such as:
Number 13: Tedeschi Trucks Band: Come See About Me. I talked to Derrick after Laura Shine’s awesome interview with him and Susan and he said the making of Revelator seemed really natural, and it shows.
Number 12: Hoot’s and Hellmouth: Apple Like A Wrecking Ball. A real step forward for this band. Gorgeous & subtle.
Number 11: Winner of the “Next Louisville Musician With A Shot At Making It” award goes to Dave Moisan. His Ungravity CD is awesome and his song Mexico almost beat out my number ten – and that should tell you how highly I think of this cat’s work. Dave’s music just works.
With my near misses out of the way, here are my top ten songs of 2011:
Number 10: My Morning Jacket: Holdin’ On To Black Metal. Their show at the Palace was my 2nd favorite live show of the year (beat out only by the Pixies who set the same venue on fire several months later). MMJ sets the bar higher each time I hear them, and this CD does likewise. I agree with Jeffery Lee Puckett from the Courier-Journal in thinking that Circuital may be but a step in a new direction for the band. If true, than consider: These guys have been together as long as the Beatles (recording wise). How much better can they get?
Number 9: Diego Garcia: You Were Never There. Garcia’s work doesn’t sound like anybody else (hence his inclusion here). Plus this song will haunt your tropical dreams.
Number 8: Motopony: Seer. Why do I like this song? It’s just good – except for the shout at the end; it upsets me every time.
Number 7: Company Of Thieves: Tallulah. Big, sweeping and in your face. Besides, it’s about someone named Tallulah, and short of Miss Bankhead, where else have you heard THAT name?
Number 6: Bob Schneider: Hand Me Back My Life. You gotta love a song that is not only lyrically smart and musically catchy, but also gets listener’s requesting that “da-da-da-da-da-da song”. I hear yeah.
Number 5: St. Vincent: Surgeon. The first time I heard it I though, “OK, cool build, wicked guitar hook…” But then out of nowhere something sounding like a pod from Parliament Funkadelic’s Mother Ship lands at the end of the song. Just too cool.
Number 4: Matt The Electrician: I Will Do The Breathing. We’ve all been in that place where the world seems overwhelming and we need the help of a friend to pull us through. Matt Sever expresses this sentiment with beautiful poetic intensity. “I will be the feathers on the wings of the bird that flies you where ever you need to go…”
Number 3: Raphael Saadiq: Heart Attack. This song grabs you by the throat (or rather the feet) and never lets up. It’s the booty shaker of the year.
Number 2: Dawes: A Little Bit Of Everything. Listening to a song in the WFPK studio is a bit different than while driving in your car or at home. We radio hosts are busy cueing up tracks, typing in the on line play list and pulling underwriting copy, all while answering emails or the phone. Rarely does a song force me to just stop and listen to the lyrics, but this one does it every time. It has the lyrical line of the year for me: “Baby, can I make an observation? You don’t seem to be having any fun at all.” Musically it sounds like a tune Jackson Browne could have written back in the 1970s. I mean that as a big compliment even though I’m not a Jackson Browne fan. Weird.
Number 1: Foster The People: Pumped Up Kicks. I love this tune‘s melody, and as usual, WFPK was the first to spin it in Louisville. Its insanely catchy melody caused the song to go viral everywhere. The strange thing is, it’s about a kid who snaps, finds his Dad’s six shooter and is plotting revenge. This is not the usual lyrical fodder for a pop song. I became acutely aware of these lyrics back in May when I found myself staring into the barrels of two six shooters. I fought off my would-be robbers with a water bottle (!) and I don’t recommend you try this at home. So despite its lyrics – or maybe because of them – Pumped Up Kicks will always be the sound of the summer of 2011 for me. Hence, it comes in at my number one.