Best Songs of 2011, Vol. VII – Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Beirut, The Fair Ohs, Chairlift, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Night Manager
Flashback: It’s July 2011. Summertime is running full steam, and great new songs and albums are coming in from all directions. New releases from Beirut, Washed Out, Memory Tapes, and others are burning up the blogs. This July playlist mix – officially, Best Songs of 2011, Vol. VII – highlights one of the things that we love the most about putting together the music volumes for this 12-part, on-going series, Best Songs of 2011, is that we get to listen again to many great songs that made 2011 another memorable year for indie and alternative rock music.
The songs for each volume of the Best Songs of 2011 are representative of the weekly Top 10 Songs series. For 50 weeks in 2011, IRC listeners determined the weekly Top 10 Songs based on what songs we featured during the week were listened to the most. While the Top 10 Songs are dependent on which tracks we choose to post, Tweet and add to our FaceBook feed, the fact remains that our listeners, time and again, have helped create one of the most accessible, and popular, online resources for new indie and alternative rock on the web. Thank you to all of who visit regularly, Tweet playlists to your friends, ‘Like’ and comment on Facebook, and leave feedback in posts. It’s really special, and unique, that the listeners from all around the country and the world help pick the best new music, week after week, right here on IRC.
Each year, there are truly great songs that often get lost in the waves of new music that arrive on a weekly basis. Many of the songs that get lost, or forgotten is a better word, not only include the hundreds of excellent tracks that are dropped throughout the year from DIY artists and bands that few people have ever heard of, but also the ‘indie hits,’ if you will, from more well-known and popular bands that too often challenge what we think of as ‘indie’ (another story for another day).
So, just in case you missed any of the previous six editions of this popular series, visit the Best Songs of 2011 main page to get hundreds of the top free and legal MP3s singles of 2011. This installment covers the best music from July 2011.
Memory Tapes Tops Kaiser Chiefs, Big Spider Black, Old 97′s for No. 1
For the first full week of July (July 4-10), listeners chooose the then new single, “Yes I Know,” from the 2011 album, Player Piano, by Memory Tapes as the No. 1 track of the week. “Yes I Know” is was one of dozens of standout lo-fi, ‘chillwave’ tracks released during the height of summer. “Yes I Know” is complete with dreamy layers of synthesizers, dub-heavy vocals, soaring choruses, and a heavy drum beat. We kept waiting for the song to tear away from its mostly mellow atmospherics and rip into a full-on blaze of synth hazed glory – but it didn’t happen.
So, in that respect, it felt like a missed opportunity, but ultimately the song is a true-to-its-roots chill wave track that was appropriate for a hot, lazy day in early July. As a whole, Piano Player doesn’t disappoint, but it also just missed being a step up from their impressive debut.
Still, they are an admired band for all the right reasons, and with each release creates the prospect of a band that we think have yet to create their best music.
Memory Tapes’ lead single beat out fresh tracks from Kaiser Chiefs, Big Spider Black, Old 97′s and others featured below. You can also listen to all the Top 10 Songs for the first week of July 2011 here.
Listen to all of the first week of July 2011‘s top 10 tracks.
Washed Out Grab No. 1 Spot; Plus, Beirut, Eleanor Friedberger, Monarchs
For the second full week of July, we were honestly surprised that the new single, “Amor Fati,” from Washed Out‘s new 12-inch double single beat out the two new lead singles from Beirut‘s new album, The Rip Tide, for the No. 1 spot of the week. Usually, whenever we post music from Beirut, people eat it up like a stoner with a big box of popcorn at the movies. That’s not to say that “Amor Fati” is not a superb song, because it is, but the Beirut tracks are genius.
Plus, the anticipation by fans and the press, and blogger build-up to the release of The Rip Tide, made it seem even more reasonable that one of the two lead singles would top the listener’s choice as the No. 1 song of the week. That said, Washed Out didn’t outpace Beirut by much; perhaps the reason for this somewhat surprising result is that more people had either already heard the Beirut tracks, or purchased Within and Without, and didn’t need to listen to the tracks we posted. Washed Out has been on the rise for a couple of years. We remember when we were at SXSW in Austin, in March 2010, Washed Out were one of the most talked about ‘breaking’ bands, and their performances were always packed.
At No. 4, Eleanor Friedberger’s lead single, “My Mistake,” from the LP, Last Summer, really struck a chord with listeners, not only because it’s just a terrifically upbeat song chock full of hooks, but it just also has the appropriate summer radio sound to it and even a sax solo to boot. To round out the Top 5 for the third week of July was another cheery track by a female vocalist – “Business Casual” from the Monarchs‘ self-released album, The Rise and Fall. Also, don’t miss the other five great tracks from that week’s Top 10 Songs – there are also great songs from Oax, another Washed Out single, Sons and Daughters (reminiscent of The Clash), Zomby (Animal Collective clones), and Fiction 20 Down.
Listen to the other five tracks for Week 2, July 2011, including songs from Oax, another track from Washed Out, Sons & Daughters, Zomby and Fiction 20 Down.
IRC Band Pick, Night Manager, Hits No. 1; Portugal The Man, Crystal Antlers, Sun Airway
That takes us to the third week of July’s top releases and Top 10 Songs list. The incredibly catchy melodies on “Pizza Pasta” from the relatively unknown New York indie band Night Manager surpassed all of the other tracks for that week to grab the No. 1 spot. Ryan Ellis at Weekly Tape Deck wrote: “Arranged with dubby guitar, warped bass, and a trashcan backline, [Caitlin Seager's] voice never seems to stay put and has easily become one of the band’s hallmarks, teetering up and down in wanton abandon.” Indeed. If you like the track, we encourage you to get the EP, Fire Talk (which is on sale at Amazon for only $2.97).
Obviously, IRC listeners preferred the track over other strong singles from new releases by Buxter Hoot’n; Portugal The Man; Crystal Antlers and Sun Airway, among others. That’s a pretty solid line-up of artists to beat out for a band most ‘indie’ fans never heard of before – it just goes to show that we never know who the listeners are going to make No. 1 in any given week. Another relatively unknown indie band, Buxter Hoot’n passed the others to capture the No. 2 spot with their lead single “Blue Night” off of their self-titled debut album, followed by Portugal The Man; Crystal Antlers and Sun Airway.
Listen to all the top 10 tracks from the third week of July 2011, including the bottom half, featuring songs by The Teenage Lesbians, Young Buffalo, Ghastly City Sleep, The Vain and I Believe in Hotpants.
The Fair Ohs Capture No. 1, Followed by Chairlift, Cymbals East Guitars, Pallers, Golden Bloom and Others
The final week of July (summer always goes too fast) consisted of yet another fantastic top ten songs playlist, thanks to the loyal listeners and new visitors who, once again, pick out the top tracks from numerous songs posted on the site, and/or via Twitter and Facebook, that week. Up against stiff competition from bands like Chairlift and Cymbals Eat Guitars, the band The Fair Ohs nudged by them to take the No. 1 spot thanks to the standout indie rock single, “Baldessari.”
Right after, the playlist jumps into the oddly named track off Chairlift‘s 7-inch release, “Amanaemonesia.” But once you get the hang of it, you might find it’s fun to say, even though it isn’t really a proper word. That said, “Amanaemonesia” is such a fine song that listeners streamed and downloaded it more during the last week of July than any other track but “Baldessari.”
Next, ranking at No. 3, was the lead single, “Rifle Eyesight” from Cymbals Eat Guitars‘ new album, Lenses Alien. It is one of the best singles of the 2011 summer music season – it’s lo-fi, alternative rock mixed with elements of chillwave that switch back and forth throughout the song, including a number of raw, rip-roaring distorted guitar solos, and the strongest evidence yet that CEG must be influenced by Jane’s Addiction. “Rifle Eyesight” is also a long song, clocking in at eight and a half minutes. It is unusual for a song that long to make it into the Top 10, let alone the Top 3, but it’s an exceptional track. Next, at No. 4, the perfect follow-up track was Pallers‘ “Come Rain, Come Sunshine” off their latest album, Sea of Memories.
View all of the tracks for the last week of July 2011′s Top 10 Songs.
That does it for the seventh volume – or the month of July – of the Best Songs of 2011 playlist series. Check out the other Best Songs of 2011 volumes, or January through June, and look out for the remaining four volumes to come in the next couple weeks.
- dirtyrockmagazine.com » Best Songs of 2011, Vol. VII – Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Beirut, The Fair Ohs, Chairlift, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Night Manager