Hey, folks, 2011 is more than half over, which means it’s time for me to share the 15 songs released this year that I’ve consistently enjoyed and listened to the most.
Several of them have already been featured on this here blog with a Racking Up Plays feature, in which case I’ve linked to those posts. And we’ll likely be visiting most of them again when December rolls around. That’s OK. They deserve it. Even the unstoppable mainstream hit that came in at No. 1. (I realize I may need to turn in my official Snobby Blogger membership card, but the iTunes play-count function doesn’t lie.)
15. “Good Man,” Raphael Saadiq
The Oakland native and Tony! Toni! Toné! member released another solo album of old-school R&B, but this time it’s a lot grittier and guitar-driven. Saadiq said this song was inspired by a friend of a friend who was falsely accused of domestic violence, not to mention downtempo, ’70s soul ballads. It also finds a way to rhyme “monogamous,” which is pretty impressive.
14. “The Cult Song,” Shannon and the Clams
What’s not to like about the San Francisco band’s latest bout of bonkers garage rock? The aggressive reverb? The chanting of “OOGA BOOGA!” and “ONE OF US!”? The message? Surely we can all agree that cults are bad, mmmkay?
13. “The Valley,” Okkervil River
Has folk-rock ever tipped so heavily toward the “rock” end of things than on the opening track to the Austin band’s sixth album? Between those cracking snare hits and Will Sheff’s ghastly lyrics about “the valley of the rock ‘n’ roll dead,” it’s like the song was made for devil horns and head banging.
12. “Just For Show,” Atmosphere
Minneapolis can make a legitimate claim to be the capital of independent hip hop given everything that Rhymesayers and Doomtree have been unleashing lately, and the enduring rap duo Atmosphere started it all. On this track, Ant offers up a slow reggae beat to support Slug’s portrait of a passive-aggressive relationship coming apart. More blah blah blah.
11. “All Black Everything,” Lupe Fiasco
The Chicago rapper offers a lesson in alternate history, describing an America in which the Atlantic slave trade never happened. Dreams of a color-blind world are wrapped around a woozy string sample and a bangin’ breakbeat. More blah blah blah.