I love year ending "best of" lists, but don't really feel qualified to write them. But this year, I'm going to make an effort in music. Three things contributed to my developing a music swagger. First, the advent of Spotify gave me free access to more music than my Napster Days (of which I am now uber-repentant). And if the music industry is reading this (hopefully they'll ignore that Napster part), know that Spotify has encouraged my to purchase more music this year than I ever have. That leads me to the second contributing factor: my immersion into Amazon Digital Music. Five dollar (and sometimes even cheaper) albums have become my addiction. When we take our loose change to CoinStar, we'll get it in Amazon credit which translates into more music. And finally, we purchased an Apple TV, which can play songs through iTunes (including your iPhone), which has providing a soundtrack to our family reading time. Yep, I listened to a lot of music this year.
So in no particular order (yep, I'm copping out) here are my top songs of 2011.
Foo Fighters-Walk To me, this was Foo's year. Their band documentary came out, their tour (which Kelly and I witnessed firsthand was epic) and their album Wasting Light was one of the best of the year. The album is solid from front to finish, and I'll predict it earns a couple of Grammys. Dave Grohl said that this is the greatest song he's ever written and I'm hard pressed to disagree.
The Head and the Heart- Down in the Valley This band burst onto the national scene this year and I'm glad. Great harmonies (mixing a female voice among a couple of men), powerful piano, and driving melodies. I love all their stuff, but picked this one because it's a great sample of their work.
Manchester Orchestra- April Fool I've been huge on Manchester Orchestra, having the chance to hear them at the House of Blues in Boston this year. It was the same day their new album drop and it's another gem. Although I listen straight through all the tracks, April Fool is typical of their style. Try it out.
Typhoon- The Honest Truth Heard the live performance on a late night talk show and instantly loved it. I'm excited for the reemergence of horns in songs today. That combined with both the lyrics and the honest, choir singing makes this a song you should discover.
M83- Midnight City It's techno, not my normal style, but I have much respect for them. I'm not sure if it's my urban proclivities that make me like this song more (I don't nominate this song for sound urban theology), but it makes me happy listening to it.
Home- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Even though this song was released in 2009, it didn't reach traction in the U.S. until this year. Everything they do has a retro feel to it, and it was a constant jam as Kaelyn and I drove to school (who doesn't love whistling?).
JayZ and Kanye West-Otis I love JayZ and can tolerate Kanye's lack of humility, so I was excited about this release. Unless you prefer strong language repeated gratuitoulsy, do like I do and download the censored version. This tribute to Otis Redding will be on my marathon running playlist for years to come.
Fleet Foxes- Battery Kinzie Fleet Foxes blew up this year. Many people included them on their best albums of 2011 lists and it's well deserved. I think of them as the second coming of Simon and Garfunkel. Solid strings, deep emotion, and gorgeous harmonies make them a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
Wye Oak- The Alter The duo just has a nice sound. I'm not sure I can explain it any better. Civilian was a great album and, again, this song is just a primer on their sound. Check them out.
Adele-Rolling in The Deep When all is said and done, people will remember 2011 as Adele's year and I love it. Substance truly wins out over style here, with the isolation of a generational voice and the absence of Gaga-style antics. It's mind blowing that she's so young, leaving great hope that we'll have decades of her brilliance to enjoy. Even though Someone Like You is powerful, I'll admit to fatigue and opt for Rolling in the Deep.