Best new indie rock songs, bands, music, artists, albums and playlists

Best Songs of 2011, Vol. I – Bright Eyes, Cage The Elephant, The Radio Dept., Cold War Kids, The Decemberists, Delorean



Today we kick off our Best Songs of 2011 series, albeit a bit early – but there are hundreds and hundreds of songs that we have to post in the coming months, so, no sense in waiting too long.

Afterall, with the kids back in school, and summer over, 2011 is hurdling to conclusion. So, with all of that in mind, it’s not too early to start putting up IRC’s Best Songs of 2011. We decided this year to do it chronologically, that way it’s that much easier to manage.

Plus, for each best songs of the year mixtape, we’re listing the four (only three for January) No. 1’s from the Top Ten Songs lists at the very top, with a link back to the original post they were featured in. At the end of each of volume, we’re including a poll so that readers can vote for their favorite song in each of the 12 volumes.  Also, look out for the Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2011 playlist series, coming soon.

Note: Some of the Top 10 Songs lists include advance singles that were released sometimes months before the official album itself dropped; many of those come from the popular playlist series, Fresh Tracks.

The No. 1 Songs – January 2011

Interestingly, the No. 1’s for January came off of some of the best albums of the year – albums so good that they remain among our favorites, and many other people’s as well, even this late into the year.

“Shell Games” Bright Eyes from The People’s Key

“June Hymn”The Decemberists from The King Is Dead

“The One” The Radio Dept. from Passive Aggressive: The Singles 2002-2010

Note: There was no Top 10 list for the first week of January due to the holidays


So quickly that time has come again – where it’s time to put together the Best Songs of 2011 mixtapes series. From now until the end of the year, on a near weekly basis, we’ll be publishing playlist mixes highlighting the songs in 2011 that IRC readers and visitors have been listening to, and downloading, the most.

There were also plenty of other terrific tracks from 2011 besides the No. 1 songs that will be included with each 12 volumes of the Best Songs of 2011 mixtape series.  We will be balancing between songs that made the Top 10 Songs lists, and other favorite songs of 2011 that didn’t make the Top 10 lists – for one or more reasons. We hope you agree; just remember to vote for your favorite song below, and bookmark this page so you can see how the vote count is going – these polls we be closed four weeks after they are published.


So, without further delay, here are more of our favorite songs of January 2011 – great tracks that were either released as advance singles, or as the lead track of new albums that dropped in January. These songs are totally in random order, and are not listed as most favorite to least favorite. Here’s the first of 12 volumes for the Best Songs of 2011.

“Around My Head” Cage the Elephant from Thank You Happy Birthday

“A Darkness Rises Up” Broken Records from Let Me Come Home

“Understand At All” Cloud Nothings from Cloud Nothings

“Equestrian” U.S. Royalty from Mirrors (self-released)

“Insects”Woodsman from Rare Forms


“Colours”Grouplove from Grouplove EP

“Synapses”Papercranes from Let’s Make Babies in the Woods

“It Goes Down” Tape Deck Mountain from Secret Serf

“Louder Than Ever” Cold War Kids from Mine Is Yours


“Cemetery Rain” Minks from By The Hedge

“The Merry Barracks”Deerhoof from Deerhoof vs. Evil

“Insects” Woodsman from Rare Forms

“Imagine Pt. 3”Smith Westerns from Dye It Blonde


“Marathon”Tennis from Cape Dory

“Down By The Water”The Decemberists from The King Is Dead

“Understand At All” Cloud Nothings from Cloud Nothings


“From Now Till…”Paper Diamond from The Levitate EP

“Slow Peels”Com Truise from Cyanide Sisters EP

“Chinatown”Destroyer from Kaputt

“Discipline Your Hands” Dearling Physique from DeadEye Dyealer


“The Unfazed” Dolorean from The Unfazed

“The Piano Lesson”John Vanderslice from White Wilderness

“Bloom”The Veils from Troubles Of The Brain EP

“Devils”Say Hi from Um, Uh Oh

This mix was created with songs published in the Best New Releases mix for January 11th , followed by the  Best New Releases for the week of January 18th , and January 25 . There was no BNR mix for the first week of 2011.

Vote For Your Favorite January 2011 Song

Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2011

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the upcoming Best Rarely Heard Songs of 2011 mixtape series as well. It’s been some time since we put out a rarely-heard mix, which often turn out to feature some of our, and your, favorite mixtapes because they highlight bands, songs and albums that are not as well-known as many other artists we feature on IRC.

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  2. Dear fellows of indierockcafe :P

    god, thanks you all for the amazing music you collect & share (ha, now i have a year and a half old daughter which is pretty fond of casiokids :)

    Un abrazo!

  3. Great songs, as always! I don’t know how you do it.. I mean, I do, but I’m still amazed.

    I voted for Equestrian by U.S. Royalty! Deerhoof gets my love too. Just to name a couple.

    Note: “Understand at All” and “Insects” have duplicates.

    • Hey Cesar: Thanks so much for the kudos. It requires A LOT of work sifting through hundreds of songs and submission and emails to pluck out the ones we think are best for our listeners because we know you’re all busy and need this kind of filter. That’s what we like most – sharing great music with people that they otherwise might never hear :)

      Spread the love – Twitter us, FB us, +1 us, etc. More love = more love :)

  4. Awesome website, I just found it the other day. Still learning and experiencing new indie music. I was wondering how you download the playlist/mixtape. Ive looked all over the place. I found some awesome songs I like.

  5. Man, I LOVED The People’s Key! I’m happy to hear that they (probably) aren’t breaking up after all. By the way, I think it’s great that the admin is around and responding to comments here!

  6. This list is fantastic. I love bright eyes, cold war kids, and cage the elephant. There are actually a lot of bands that you posted on here that I need to look up. Thanks for the list.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Travis – good taste in bands! Remember the songs are determined by IRC listeners’ favorites!

      • I do wish you guys would make little snippet-sized analyzations of the music listed though. The content is just not that informative.

        • Hi Andrew: Thanks for your feedback. Your point is well taken, but sometimes we – literally a few people with full time jobs and lives – simply don’t have the time. You wouldn’t believe how much time goes into selecting the songs to highlight, to go through all of the submissions, coding it all, fixing links, finding photos, verifying information and so on. But we are definitely making a renewed effort to include snippets – even if it is just a couple of sentences. Out of curiosity what would you like to see in each snippet? More details about the band or what we think of a particular song, band or album? Are you interested in contributing?

  7. Yes YEs YES!!!!

  8. Have you guys ever considered creating a Spotify playlist for these?
    Here is one but it doesn’t include: “A Darkness Rises Up” – Broken Records from Let Me Come Home because it’s not available.

  9. Some amazing music here. Especially love the Bright Eyes track. Going to check out all the other I haven’t heard yet too. Thanks :)

    • The list is based on what site visitors liked the most. plus, you’re talking about best videos or a YT song which is not how we present singles – you’ll notice all of our song mixes are created with MP3s. thanks.


  1. Best New Releases – Jonsi, Josh Ritter, Telekinesis, The Lower 48, The 65′s, Dolfish, The Coast of Nebraska, Trip Effect - Indie Rock Cafe

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