Wednesday, December 28, 2011

MRML TOP 22.1 SONGS of 2011

Sure I love doing year-end lists (best non-albums releases HERE, best under-appreciated albums HERE and my want list is HERE)  but making one for songs-of-the-year list is sheer folly in light of thousands of songs released over any given twelve moth period. So let us suspend our disbelief in the comprehensiveness of this blogger's listening and enjoy some ripping tunes. And ripping it must be, since we here at MMRL crave music that, regardless of genre,  >  moves  >

Unlike my unappreciated albums list, neither acclaim nor sales (or the lack thereof) are a factor here - and crossover betwixt the two lists is discouraged - this time it's strictly about the songs!

Here, in no particular order, order are the songs, each of which contains a hyperlink to allow you to hear and/or see the song.

1.  Greg MacPherson:   "Party at Greg's House"   (from Disintegration Blues)
Winnipeg singer/song-writer/community activist/label head MacPherspon (more HERE), has his own way to rock but goes anthemic here to intoxicating effect.

2.  The Spazzys:   "Divorce"   (from Dumb is Forever)
Comeback of the year for these Australian queens of pop-punk (more HERE), after they survived a tortuous legal battle to release their second album, with kick-off/kiss-off single.

3.  Ben Jones:   "I Wish I Was the Person I'm Pretending To Be"   (from Echobox)
Self-loathing never sounded so hummable, as it does on this track from the excellent solo debut from the leader of British power-pop band, The Lovedays.

4.  Paul Simon:   "Rewrite"    (from So Beautiful, So What)
Of course every writer of lists got pulled into Simon's narrative about a damaged Vietnam vet who works at the car wash while endlessly revising his screenplay, because we all sympathized a bit too much, it didn't hurt that the song is just beautiful.

5.  The Generators:   "You Against You"   (from Last of the Pariahs)
These long-running former Schleprock-ers (more HERE), never get the respect they deserves for their Social Distortion-meets-Bad Religions punk sound but they perservere.

6. The Front Bottoms:   "Flashlight" [or "Maps"]   (from Self-Titled)
To get this New Jersey indie-punk band, sort of a mixture of The Weakerthans and mewithoutYou, it helps if you love songs that put the heart-breaking narratives up high in the mix.

7.  Houseboat   "Quivering"   (from Thorns of Life)
I already regret leaving this off the "Best Albums of the Year" list what with Grath unloading one of his best batch of "pityscapes" with catchy tunes and endlessly clever lyrics on us.

8.  Buffalo Tom:   "Guilty Girls" (from Skins)
It's funny how I've always admired the commitment and intelligence of nineties alt-rocker Bill Janovitz but never fell in love with one of his songs till this infectious number.

9.  Mates of State   "Palomino"    (from Mountaintops)
Sure, maybe it's just a 21st century kind of pop but if you love soaring hooks and alternating male/female vocals you can find some unguilty pleasure herein.

10. Night Birds:  "Bad Biology"   (from Fresh Kills)
This ultra-ultra-ultra catchy ripper by NJ surf-core band featuring at least one ex-Erg is originaly from 2009 but finally saw wide release on this 2011 singles collection.

11. Tommy Stinson    "All This Way for Nothing"   (from One Man Mutiny)
Replacements advocates, like yours truly, are often left grasping at straws when trying to explain how, if the band was such a crucial part of the eighties, why so little great things have come from the band's members in the twenty years since their break-up. Well  this Stones-y album from bass player Tommy Stinso ain't gonna settle a thing but at least it gives us a replacement Replacements track in, "All this Way For Nothing".

12. The Decemberists:   "The Calamity Song"   (from The King is Dead)

Somewhere between Bad Religion and The Band (well no one but me would read them that way, exactly) lie this widely-praised beloved Portland indie-folk-rock band, who I've always found pleasant but never so much as on this album packed with finely-written acoustic pop songs!

13. Will Hogue:     Goddam California  (Hogue discusses the song HERE)
Glad to have a country song make the list, this wouldn't have got any mainstream radio play but that's just because of the cursing and not because Hogue couldn't lay waste to a lot of today's' country elite in song-to-song combat

14. Teenage Bottlerocket:   "Mutilate Me"   (from Mutilate Me 7")
Wyoming's finest rock n' roll band spit out another trashy but catchy punk tune from their sole release of the year.

15. Wild Flag:   "Romance"   (from Self-Titled)
This song is catchier and more fleshed-out then any I remember from Sleater-Kinney

16. The Smoking Popes:   "Still in a Punk Band"   (from This is Only a Test)
An improbable nineties come-back tale by this band who sound a little like a Morrissey-fronted Weezer, which now that I think of it might be a goad career move for all concerned.

17. The Copyrights   "Crutches"   (from North Sentinel Island)
Y'know some bands get praised for their consistency and other bands, like the Copyrights get damned for it, as if the band making a prog-metal concept album based on Bartleby the Scrivener or having Kenny G play with them on national television would be more worthwhile then another slab of jackhammer pop songs.

18. 1/2 Man 1/2 Biscuit   "Left Lyrics in the Practice Room"     (from 90 Bisindol)

While it's no Achtung, Bono, the new 1/2 Man 1/2 Biscuit (whom BBC DJ Andy Kershaw called "the most authentic British folk band since The Clash") album still offers even more proof  that Nigel Blackwell is, like Roy Harper or Robyn Hitchcock, one of those Englishmen so particular in their eccentricities, that their appeal becomes (sort of) universal.

19. Canon Bros.   "Out of Here"    (from Firecracker/Cloudglow)
This track puts this Winnipeg duo's guitarist, Allanah Walker, on lead vocals, where she excels, and lets her winningly chant “Hey Let’s get out of here, I hate it here!” until you want to reach through the speakers and help her escape.

20. The Valkyryans (ft. TV Smith):   "Gary Gilmore's Eyes"   (from Punk Rocksteady)
These Finns have by no means made a perfect album but this collection of punk covers, Jamaican style,  does overcome its novelty appeals by proving just how the malleable the punk rock canon is.

21.  Cold Warps:   "Stupid Tattoos"   (from Self-Titled cassette)
This lo-fi punk-indie band's cassette was a strong contender for non-album release of the year list but Brushback only told me about it last week!

22. Okkervill River:   "Wake and Be Fine"   (from I Am Very Far)
Yup, they are one-time indie darling (though ones who recorded an album with Roky Erickson) and yup, they have bearded members but this songs is strong and the band perform it with a real jump in their step.


22.1 I Am Chimp!    "Old Men in Coloured Trousers" (from "I Am Chimp EP)
The best :21 second song of the year, bar none!

Y'know our last two lists generated less COMMENTS than usual...

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  1. (Psst. The Decemberists are from Portland, not Seattle.)

  2. i like moses luster and the hollywood lights-"i`m the lion"
    in 2011 i hear a lot of jazz and soul from the old heroes....
    i am an old school guy ;-)

    by the way: hey jeffen hope you had a great x-mas and all your whishes came true.
    happy new year and thanx for your great blog

    greetings from germany
    Herr Pauli

  3. Well I am overcome with joy that we made your list Jeff :-)

  4. Hooray! I prefer "Down" and "Black Tiles," but it's great to see the Buffalo Tom and Wild Flag records represented here.

    If I added one, it would be "Soft Information" by New Ruins.

  5. I really enjoyed that Half Man Half Biscuit tune!

    "Guilty Girls" is pretty sweet as well.

    I like how "All This Way For Nothing" brings back the early 90's pre-alt explosion dance-rock beat (see Buck Pets).

    "Palomino" & "Romance" remind me that, if you can make it to the first chorus, the majority of videos on the Wedge are at least all right.

    Missing in action? I'm quite fond of The Darcys "Don't Bleed Me"

    And who could forget this beauty?

    Other than that? METAL METAL METAL!


  6. Anon

    Herr Pauli'
    Best if the season to you and thanks for all the comments!


    New Ruins sounds good

    The video for DBM is wrenching. I could've out Willie Moon here couldn't I?
    P.S. glad you liked the 1/2 man...

  7. you're really spreading the word about great music . . . thanks


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