50. Seryn – “We Will All Be Changed”
Many times I reach for indie-folk because of its soothing elements, but not here, where Seryn delivers an uplifting, multi-instrumental, snare drum-hammering, group-chorused piece of goodness. When the music dies down and the voices swarm to sing “We can shake but can’t control/these possibilities to grow”, it’s a top moment and a worthy start for the list..
49. Panda Bear – “Last Night at the Jetty”
What would The Everly Brothers sound like if they existed in 2011? Maybe like Panda Bear, a side project of Animal Collective frontman Noah Lennox. There’s a definite throwback element to songs like this that harken back to yesteryear vocally, updated for today musically.
Link to download: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15299-tomboy/
48. Boy & Bear – “Feeding Line”
Australia’s answer to Mumford & Sons? Right down to the ampersand even. “Feeding Line” not only suckers me in with my weakness, the mandolin, but its forward-moving chorus is makes for a perfect blend of pop folk and rock elements.
47. GIVERS – “Up Up Up”
The perfect song for the indie summer was all over mid-year lists, but seems to have been forgotten by years end. “Up Up Up” is catchy and swirling, the right choice for an 80 degree day, driving in your car with the windows down.
46. William Fitzsimmons – “Fade And Then Return”
The new album may have been a little disappointing after 2008’s “The Sparrow and The Crow”, but there’s nothing disappointing about this one, which combines Fitzsimmons’ penchant for hushed tones and emotional vulnerability with newfound use of subtle electronics.
Link to download: http://tinyurl.com/cy3hpnn
45. Drake ft. Stevie Wonder – “Doing it Wrong”
Drake purists may not have liked the new album, but that’s probably for the same reason I found some of it (some…definitely not all) compelling. Most of all is this moody, slow burner that features a harmonica solo from Stevie Wonder of all people. The song is stripped down, simple, and distant, and sets the scene for an apologetic-yet-unsurprising breakup.
44. Lana Del Ray – “Video Games”
I suppose it’s my role to explain why I like a song, but I have trouble here. Perhaps it’s in Lana Del Ray’s delivery, like how she sings “you da bestest”, or how it’s impossible to tell whether she’s playing the part of man’s perfect girl or coldly chiding her unappeaciative partner when she sings “go play your video games”. The swelling cinematic orchestra, complete with harp, doesn’t hurt either. Explainable or not, there’s an allure here.
Link to download: http://loftandlost.com/2011/11/07/lana-oh-lana/
43. Cold War Kids – “Skip the Charades”
I came down pretty hard on Cold War Kids’ newest album, but nothing I said applies to “Skip the Charades”, which is much more in the mold of classic Cold War Kids, one of the more underrated bands out there. If only I could tell them to “skip the charades” and stop transitioning to arena rock.
42. Cider Sky – “Northern Lights”
Twilight may not be my cup of tea film-wise, but I always appreciate Pacific Northwest cinematography and their soundtracks have given us originals from the likes of Bon Iver, Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear, and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. The newest edition lacks the big indie name, but newbie Cider Sky’s dreamy and positive “Northern Lights” fills that gap more than admirably.
41. The Black Keys – “Gold on the Ceiling”
Just in time, The Black Keys complicated year-end list making with a December release. Thankfully I got to it in time to hear “Gold on the Ceiling”, a rousing classic piece from The Black Keys with some of the most toe-tapping and infectious sounds of the year.