If my top songs of the year are an indication of anything, it’s that it’s been an interesting and eclectic year for music. Many of the biggest artists in music released albums in the first part of this year, which has made it one of the most exciting starts to a year I can think of in recent memory. Looking ahead to the rest of the year makes me just as excited, as releases from Stephen Malkmus and I am assuming Atlas Sound and perhaps Animal Collective could make this a giant year for music. Here is the list of my top 15 songs of the year!
15. Kurt Vile – Ghost Town
I’ve always really admired Kurt Vile’s music, but have had a hard time getting into him. Honestly, he sometimes bored me. “Ghost Town” has changed my mind and had me revisit much of his music, to catch the subtleties that can lie in any of his songs. “Ghost Town” is rather long and the music does not change much on first listen, but once you spend some time with the track, you hear little nuances and additions that make you want to come back time and time again.
14. The Dodos – Going Under
I like the The Dodos. But the problem I have with them is that they do tend to sound a lot alike the more you listen to them. Having admitted that, “Going Under”, off of their new album No Color, was a breath of fresh air, as the guitar breaks out into a heavily distorted, fast paced jam session that the vocals try and catch up with, which is hard to not rock out to at any point.
13. James Blake – Wilhelm Scream
To listen to James Blake, and this song in particular, you really need to have a decent pair of headphones. As the song swells into a soundscape of noise and static, as Blake is still swooning “I don’t know about my dreams, I don’t know about my dreaming anymore, all that I know is that I am falling, falling, falling.” You might as well fall in. See what I did there!?
12. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
The title track off of Fleet Foxes sophomore album is a good representation of the band as a whole. The song is about the fear of growing up, being happy with who you are, and simply being yourself. It’s a gorgeous song on a beautiful album that is even better live.
11. Cloud Nothings – Understand at All
Could Nothings’ self titled album is a great piece of power pop indie punk (maybe?) and is one of the catchiest albums of the year. The opening track, “Understand at All,” brings you in with a fun guitar riff and doesn’t let go until the final chorus, when you realize the song has actually ended and you have hit repeat for the sixth time.
10. Destroyer – Blue Eyes
Kaputt is a one of my favorite albums so far this year, and Blue Eyes is easily my favorite song off of the album. The horns throughout are used so well, especially at the end as the song fades off into the sunset.
9. The Antlers – Rolled Together
I read somewhere that this song was like The Antlers trying to do Sigur Ros. It is, and I love it. The wailing vocals in the beginning and middle of the song are amazing.
8. Blanck Mass – Chernobyl
I’m a sucker for synthesized ambient dreamscape music, especially if it sounds anything like Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. This song from F*ck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power’s debut album is a mesmerizing synth trance song that makes me feel as if I am gliding along the bottom of the ocean.
7. Panda Bear – Slow Motion
So this technically came out as a single last year, but the album version is very different, so I am including it. Take that, 2010! Panda Bear has perfected his rinse and repeat vocal style with this song, with the catchiest moment in recent memory, when sings “it’s counting out, you show what counts. It’s counting, it’s counting!” I dare you not to catch yourself singing that randomly at all hours of the day.
6. Bon Iver – Holocène
The standout track on Bon Iver’s new album, “Holocene” catches me every time the song swells up as Justin sings that he “can see for miles, miles, miles.” It makes me long for whatever he is looking for.
5. Yuck – Rubber
The first time I heard this loud guitar fuzz closing track from Yuck’s debut album, I knew it was something special. You can’t help but feel the energy and anger at the end when the band is just going full force for two and a half solid minutes of blissful, beautiful feedback noise.
4. Wu Lyf – We Bros
It was hard to pick a single song off of Wu Lyf’s stunning debut album, but it is too hard to not sing along and bob my head like an idiot when the band starts chanting “We brooooos, we brooooos!” I have so much fun listening to this song that it is probably illegal in the south.
3. Washed Out – Eyes Be Closed
I love dreampop, so when I first heard the opening track to Washed Out’s new album, I was filled with bliss. The ending build up explodes with synthesizers and reverb vocals, and may be my favorite musical moment of the year so far.
2. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Strange News from Another Planet
This was a really close run for number one. An insanely epic 16 minute opus that includes five tracks and is the most epic ending to an album I have ever heard. If you haven’t checked out this album this year yet, you are really doing yourself a disservice. Just want to reiterate: epic.
1. Radiohead – Separator
This is one of the most gorgeous songs that Radiohead has ever produced, with dream-induced vocals and a simple and elegant guitar line at the end that gets my head bobbing every time I listen. I think my favorite part of the song would have to be the bass, though. If you listen, it begins with a complicated and clever bassline that goes on and of between a full line and just random plunks of the notes. When it goes back into full effect during the many builds in the song, I feel a certain nostalgia that I want to revisit again and again.