Cuckoo's Eleven - The Best of 2011

 

Top Eleven Songs of 2011:
Download Best of 2011 iMix

  1. Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out

  2. Adele - Rolling in the Deep

  3. The Black Keys - Lonely Boy

  4. Big Deal - Chair

  5. Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know

  6. Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks

  7. The Decemberists - Down By The Water

  8. Cut Copy - Where I'm Going

  9. Gringo Starr - Shadow

  10. tUnE-yArDs - Bizness

  11. Radiohead - Morning Mr. Magpie

Honorable Mention:
WILD FLAG - Romance
F**cked Up - Queen of Hearts
Bon Iver - Holocene
Cults - Go Outside
Beady Eye - Bring the Light
M83 - Midnight City
Wye Oak - Civilian
The Roots - The OtherSide
Unkown Mortal Orchestra - Ffunny FFriends
Dangermouse and Danielle Luppi - Black

Guilty Pleasure:
LMFAO - Party Rock Anthem

 

1

The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead

"So raise a glass to turnings of the season / And watch it as it arcs towards the sun / And you must bear your neighbor's burden within reason / And your labors will be borne when all is done."

Third album in a row to make the list, this time at number one. A stripped-down version compared to Picaresque and The Crane Wife. If you wonder to what extent Peter Buck influenced this album, just listen to "Down by the Water" and "The One I Love". Frontman Colin Meloy is rumored to be taking a sabbatical from music to focus on writing children's books. If his books are half as good as his music, don't be surprised if you see me standing outside Barnes & Noble wondering why they don't do midnight releases.

 
2

Adele21

"There's a fire starting in my heart / Reaching a fever pitch and it's bring me out the dark."

Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn. Unless that woman makes millions writing in singing about it. In that case, the fury (and stupidity) belongs to the ex-boyfriend, who is suing for royalty rights. No, I'm not joking.

There is no surprise this album did as well as it did in 2011. The opening and closing tracks are bookend masterpieces. The opener infers a strong-willed woman who's moved on from an ended relationship, convincing herself it was for the better. The closer infers a moment of self-doubt, conjuring an emotional meeting in ten year's time. Here's to hoping that Adele makes a full recovery and takes a well needed break. If all her albums sound like this in a future, no one should mind if she takes a four-year hiatus between albums.

3

Florence + The MachineCeremonials

"You are the hole in my head / You are the space in my bed / You are the silence in between what I thought and what I said."

The year of the woman continues. I still lament excluding this group from my 2008 list. I consider this album to be even better. Exactly what are they feeding these English women? Not quite at the level of Adele, but not too far off, either.

4

RadioheadKing of Limbs

"You got some nerve, coming here / You stole it all, give it back."

Thom Yorke seems to sneer at the replicators on this album. Absolutely brilliant.

5

The Black KeysEl Camino

"Well your mama kept you but your daddy left you / And I should’ve done you just the same / But I came to love you / Am I born to bleed?"

Following the best album of 2010 is a tricky situation. Don't get me wrong: I really like this album. But there are at least a half dozen times when you feel like they're about to go into beast mode. And with an exception or two, they don't quite make the leap. Kind of like the Green Bay Packers - so much anticipation of making a repeat run, and it turned out there just wasn't enough gas in the tank. Still, a good album overall.

6

GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost

"Just a look was all it took / Suddenly I'm on the hook / It's magic / Follow you and follow me / Everybody else can see / It's madness."

Second time on the list. I think this album is even better than their first.

7

Bon IverBon Iver

"Not the needle, nor the thread, the lost decree / Saying nothing, that's enough for me."

This album is intended for very, very good headphones. You may not like it as much if it's played on anything else. The mixing isn't as strong on small speakers.

8

Foster the PeopleTorches

"Robert's got a quick hand / He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan / He's got a rolled cigarette / hanging out his mouth, he's a cowboy kid."

This band may have set the new record for depressing-lyrics-distracted-by-upbeat-melody. Making a song about a school shooting danceable? Wouldn't have thought it would work, but it does. Even more of a coincidence: a band member's cousin survived Columbine.

9

YuckYuck

"To collapse in a sugar cane / Suck it sweet to kill the pain."

Sounds like Elliott Smith teaming up with Girls. Lyrics aren't quite there to really make that comparison, but you get the idea.

10

Wild FlagWild Flag

"We love the sound, the sound is what found us / Sound is the blood between me and you."

This group reminds me of Best Coast, but recorded before breaking up with their boyfriend(s). Or perhaps they just got their groove back.

11

Chris BathgateSalt Year

"That’s why the liquors gone / that’s why I’m bumming dimes / all my letters are loud and thin."

Singer-songwriter originally from Illinois. Reminds me a lot of Beck from the Sea Change era.

Honorable Mention


 

 

HM

tUnE-yArDsW H O K I L L

"What's a boy to do if he'll never be a gangsta? / Anger in his heart, but he'll never be a gangsta / If you move into his neighborhood, he'll never make a sound."

What is it with New England white rich kids who find ways to make Afro-beat sound good? This makes Ezra Koenig sound completely mainstream.

 
HM

Wye OakCivilian

"I am nothing without pretend / I know my faults / Can't live without them."

The singer reminds me of a cross between Cowboy Junkies and Jefferson Airplane.

HM

The Pains of Being Pure at HeartBelong

"In a cell that looks just like a family home / where solitaire is all you know / and there’s nowhere that you could go."

The Promise Ring got back together, listened to Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr., and The Cure, and then recorded this album. Prove me wrong.

HM

The War On DrugsSlave Ambient

"I was there to catch a man / I thought I had him by the hand / I only had him by the glove."

I've head comparisons to Bob Dylan and My Bloody Valentine. Call me crazy, but I hear more Psychedelic Furs, Springsteen, and Tom Petty.

HM

CultsCults

"Well I know what's good / Exactly cause I have been there before / Yeah I know what's good / Exactly those things night cannot behold."

Manhattan-based indie pop band with a Portishead kind of feel.


 

 

HM

F**cked UpDavid Comes to Life

" 'Another morning in this place has ripped me out of my dream' / Realizing life's a waste as the whistle lets off steam / One thing about it all is nothing's ever going to change / It's like our progress has just stalled and everyday is the same."

Josh Zucker makes Craig Finn (or Eddie Argos) sound like Jeff Buckley. The music is so good, though. Imagine Dicky Barrett fronting The Hold Steady.

 


Guilty Pleasure of the Year


 

 

GP

LMFAOParty Rock Anthem

"I'm running through these hoes like Drano / I got that devilish flow rock and roll no halo / We party rock yea! that's the crew that I'm reppin / On a rise to the top no lead in our zeppelin."

Let's evaluate this situation: The frontman is an ex-day trader. Their hype man is dressed up as Pimpbot 5000. The lyrics make Cake look like Allen Ginsburg. And yet, I find myself lured to this song like the Sirens. At least Fergie isn't part of this group, right?

I like this song. Sue me.