Top 5 Tracks of 2011

by Katherine

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not christmas. The end of year lists time! A time when music nerds everywhere finally have a legitimate excuse to lose themselves in the maze of their record collection (or downloads folder), and I’m no exception.

Oh, and I know my blog usually serves as a compendium of all my published work – before you immediately begin wondering what editor published such ramblings, please note that my end of year lists always fall under the category of ‘unpublishable guff’.  Seriously guys, if you thought my published work was bad… OOOH BOY.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 tracks of the year

(top 10 albums to follow whenever I can be arsed)

    1. Thao & Mirah – Eleven
      If there was any justice in the world, this anthem of a song would be blasted from bars, pubs and nightclubs everywhere. Famous people would do crappy remixes of it! Thao & Mirah would appear in an expensive video where they dance around an air hangar in sparkly hot-pants! Kanye would rap over it! About his penis! And everyone would talk about how clever he is!  HURRAH! ‘Eleven‘ basically sounds like a really really really REALLY brilliant Tune-Yards track (and as you may know, that’s very brilliant indeed, see #2), and Merrill herself even features in it, yelping away in the background like she’s just stood on a plug. And in an age of folk-moping (looking at you, Oberst and Vernon, you drips) isn’t it wonderful to hear a lovely indie pop song about how lovely love is and how it should never go away and everyone should be in love all the time because it’s just so damn LOVELY? And that’s just what this song is. Damn lovely. Ever since I’ve listened to this album for this first time, I haven’t been able to blunder my way through a single morning without sticking my head-phones in and listening to this track at full volume. It should be marketed as a hangover cure. It’s reviving, fortifying. It’ll blow out every cobweb you have in your head and fill your brain full of sunshine. It’s fucking fantastic, is what it is. Have a listen. 
    2. Tune-Yards – Gangsta
      Come on, now. I refuse to do that ridiculous capitalisation/spacing malarkey, Merrill. I can take the grainy home recordings. I can take the face-paints. Heck, I can even take the faux-Jamaican accents. But tUnE-yArDs? W H O K I L L? You are not 15 years old, Merrill, and you are not writing your myspace profile. Cut it out! Anyway, once you get past the obnoxious titles, Merrill Garbus is actually one of the most interesting people floating around pop at the moment. ‘Gangsta’ is her crowning glory – it’s catchy, punchy, exciting as hell. And it has a lovely BANG BANG BANG! refrain you can shout while making appropriate finger-pistol gestures, which is always nice. Have a go…
    3. Jay-Z & Kanye West – That’s My Bitch
      Damn, Yeezy and Hov, where the hell ya been?! Let’s be honest, there was no way messrs Jay-Z and Kanye West were going to get together and make anything less than fantastic, now was there? They could have stood in the studio quietly farting for two hours and the critics still would have gushed about how it’s all an allegory of THE ILLUSION OF CELEBRITY and THE FOLLY OF DECADENCE and KANYE’S STRUGGLES WITH STARDOM and so on. Luckily, Watch The Throne is 100% flatulence-free, and also brilliant, so there you go. There’s so many tracks I could have chosen here, but ‘That’s My Bitch’ is particularly OTT. From Kanye’s ridiculous fake phone-call at the start of the track (Hello – can I speak to, uhh… uhhh…. uhhh… yeah, you know who you are! Look!) to La Roux’s brilliant helium chorus (I’m no fan of the lady myself, but I definitely feel less stabby towards La Roux after listening to his track. She still has silly hair, though. Unbelievably silly hair.) to Jay’s surprisingly tender love-note to Beyoncé in the final verse – although his swoonsome comparisons to Marilyn Monroe and The Mona Lisa are ruined a little by the last line, where he grunts ‘Get your own dog, ya heard… that’s my bitch!’ … I doubt the dog comparison is going to score Jay any brownie points with the missus any time soon. Poor Jay. At least he tried.
    4. St. Vincent – Chloe In The Afternoon
      You know that experiment everyone did in GCSE science when you got a prism and one of those mini lights, and you shone it through the prism and it bounced everywhere and MADE A RAINBOW? That’s what Annie Clark’s music reminds me of sometimes. Both are beautiful, diaphanous and unpredictable. And both are impossible to pin down. ‘Chloe In The Afternoon’ sounds like Sleater-Kinney on xanax – the guitars are grinding and clashing and gnashing their teeth, but Annie seems to float above it all, narcotised, like at the end of old-time musicals, when the leading man and lady float dreamily off into the sky while singing a high note and‘The End! is scribbled across the screen in fancy lettering… ‘Chloe In The Afternoon’ is awkward – it’s all limbs and nerves and angles and jagged edges – and it certainly isn’t the catchiest thing on ‘Strange Mercy’, but it’s sure as hell the most interesting.
      (Also, Annie Clark is RAVISHING. Just thought I’d put that out there.)
    5. Wild Flag – Future Crimes
      A year in which a former member of Sleater-Kinney releases some music is a good year indeed, and in 2011 we were spoiled. Corin Tucker’s record was kind of okay, but Wild Flag are something else (I still have my theory that if you got the music from Wild Flag and laid the vocals from Corin Tucker’s album over it, you might make A WHOLE NEW SLEATER-KINNEY RECORD. But I digress.). Wild Flag are an extra-super-group made up of 2/3 of S-K – Carrie Brownstein (she of excellent hair and star of my pre-pubescent crushing) and Janet Weiss, Mary Timony from Helium and generally being amazing, and Rebecca Cole from The Minders. Like Watch The Throne, I didn’t expect Wild Flag to be anything less than amazing, but I was shocked by just how amazing they were. Wild Flag is one of the funnest, grungiest records I’ve heard all year, and ‘Future Crimes’ is sublime. ‘I want you back to front, I want you front to back, I wanna feel this again, just like a heart attack…’ is a lyric that etched itself onto my conciousness for quite some time.