Yesterday marked the beginning of a 5 day quest to reveal the top 50 songs of 2011. If you missed it follow the link to check out numbers 50 -41. Today, I will be revealing the next 10 (40-31) and from the look of it we have a very eclectic mix of songs ahead. Enjoy!
40. Beirut - East Harlem (The Rip Tide)
Zach Condon's focus on his most recent record has shifted from the life of a vagabond and dreams of Europe to places closer to home. Musically, the record is built around three main instrumental players; the piano, the ukelele and horns. The brilliant "East Harlem" is driven by a simple piano riff but accented beautifully with the horn section. And then there's the opening line, delivered by Condon's angelic voice: "Another rose wilts in East Harlem, uptown, downtown, a thousand miles between us."
39. The Decemberists - Don't Carry It All (The King is Dead)
Fantastical folk giants, The Decemberists returned with another album this year and in my opinion it's their best since 2003's Castaways and Cutouts. With massive influence from legends like Neil Young, REM and The Smiths, this album is the first in some time without an overarching concept. The opener, "Don't Carry It All", reads like a socialist manifesto and couldn't be more relevant in our times: "And you must bear your neighbor's burden within reason, and your labors will be born when all is done." Well said Mr. Meloy, well said.
38. Slow Club - The Dog (Paradise)
The guy-girl duo from Sheffield, England came onto the scene in 2009 with their excellent debut Yeah So. Watson and Taylor have since reinvented themselves on and return with more aggression than ever and "The Dog" is a perfect example. While the music is still catchy and fun, the lyrics and delivery are no longer whimsical and loving but instead sexual and vitriolic.
37. Givers - Words (In Light)
Catchy, upbeat, fun; everything a pop song should be. Then you add, experimentation, brilliant instrumentation and percussion that could blow your mind and finally you have Louisiana rockers, Givers. This is present throughout their new album, In Light, and they save their best for last with album closer, "Words". Should be another dance party special.
36. M83 - Midnight City (Hurry Up, We're Dreaming)
The best kind of songs are those that are overflowing with emotion but still have a rhythm you can move to. Enter "Midnight City". Sonically, this song is beautiful in so many ways; the yearning synthesizer riff that carries the song, the layers that continue to build upon that base and then there's that saxophone solo. Anthony Gonzalez's words are delivered in earnest over this picturesque backdrop as he begs for someone to notice him. Yet the whole time I can't stop shaking my hips.
35. James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream (James Blake)
James Blake's self-titled debut full length was what you would expect from a teenager. It showed enormous potential but the end product felt unfocused and immature. However, when Blake hit his mark, the results were devastating. "The Wilhelm Scream" is built around a very minimalistic beat and the star of the show is Blake's heartbreaking delivery.
34. Balam Acab - Apart (Wander/Wonder)
I remember the first time I listened to this song, I was sitting under the coverage of a bus stop in New York with rain pouring down all around me. It was one of the most serene moments of my life. When listening to this album, and "Apart" especially its difficult not to get lost in all of the layers of sound. I've found its better to just wander through the wondrous abyss that Alec Koone has created.
33. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - If It Wasn't You (It's A Corporate World)
With a name like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. you have to ask yourself, "Is this band a joke?" Joke or not I can assure you that they are a band capable of crafting songs that are both catchy and alluring in equal measure. "If It Wasn't You" is a particular highlight from their debut full-length. The call and response structure of the strong is intriguing in and of itself and it also allows the duo to create some wonderful vocal harmonies.
32. Eulogies - Little Else to Say (Tear the Fences Down)
As a band, Eulogies are completely and utterly unimpressive. Their music is completely derivative and doesn't really bring anything to the table. But for some unknown reason, I absolutely love this rollicking little folk number off their most recent album.
31. Gotye - Giving Me A Chance (Making Mirrors)
"You know I love you more than anyone, but I get a little wrapped up in myself." What person who's ever been in a relationship isn't familiar with that sentiment. Lyrically, this song resonates on so many levels with any gender. Musically, the song is very intriguing because despite having such a laid back feel, there is so much going on that it keeps a vice-grip on your attention throughout. If I were ever to open a cocktail lounge, this song would be a nightly occurrence.
Thanks for reading and tune in tomorrow for the next 10 songs on the list.