Hello, again. Below is a list of favorite EPs and singles from 2011, as decided by me (and with input on at least two of them from Dres). Please note that these are personal preference, not my attempt to pretend that I have final say on what “best of 2011” means. You can go to Pitchfork for that. Also, though it may seem silly for the EPs to include a track, I’m going to do so anyway to give you a taste of the full EP. So, there.
Seams – Colours and Maps EP
I can’t find a link to this song, which is a great start to this list (Spotify here, however). The second track on the EP, “Watch Me Out,” is the one I would have included from this Scottish band of students. That’s right, students. The five members of this overachieving band are still in school, and very impressive because of it. Google “Watch Me Out,” or just ignore this and move onto the next song if you’re really that lazy.
Bastille – Flaws EP
This, along with the last pick, was a Dres recommendation that I liked. Above, find the title track “Flaws.” It grows on you with each verse and although at first the lead singer’s voice sounds a little punky (for better or worse, I happen to like it), it really grows endearing and impassioned as the song continues. Take a listen.
Team Me – Team Me EP
I posted about these guys recently, proof here, and still think they’re great. The only reason they aren’t ranked higher (see: lower?) on the list is that at certain times, the lead singer’s voice reminds me of the guy from Owl City, which makes me physically cringe a little bit. It’s mostly on the song “Dear Sister.” Just listen to how he says “sister.” Blerggggg. Anyway, the song is good enough for me to ignore that, and the song I’ve posted above, “Weathervanes and Chemicals,” doesn’t have that effect as much. And is great.
Jenny O. – Home EP
It’s fairly common knowledge among my friends that I go to a lot of concerts. Possibly too many. I’ve seen local singer/songwriter Jenny O. three times this year. Count ’em. Granted, she was opening for other bands twice, but still. That’s a lot. And the best part is, each time, I ended up liking her set better than the openers. I can’t even remember who the openers were at this point. Check out “Won’t Let You Leave” above. If you like female folky singer/songwriters like Jenny Lewis, Jenny O. is up your alley.
Air Review – America’s Son (Single)
As proof of how good this song is, it was included on Dres’ recent “Favorite Tracks of 2011” list. Now, I know you might think I’m cheating by including single tracks on here, but I’m only including them if they were true singles. I don’t know what else to say about this song except that it’s amazing. Also, if anyone watches Parenthood (or any other Katims show), this song belongs on that soundtrack.
The National – Exile Vilify (Single, Portal 2 Soundtrack)
Here’s something to know about me: I love The National. One of my favorite albums of 2010, one of my favorite acts from Coachella last year, and probably the best single I’ve heard all year. In addition to providing the also great “Think You Can Wait” for the Win Win soundtrack, Matt B and co provided “Exile Vilify” to the Portal 2 soundtrack, with a fantastic song that manages to give you universally understood lyrics that also apply to the video game. “Does it trouble your mind like you trouble mine?” is one of the most lasting lyrics I’ve heard all year.
The Weeknd – Thursday (Mixtape)
Now, this is tricky, because technically I could probably put these into the favorite albums section, but since they’re self-released and self-proclaimed as mixtapes, I’ve included it here. Also, it’s a toss up between the other two mixtapes he released (that’s right, three this year), House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence. This Drake prodigy is, in my opinion, about fifty times better than Drake. Find “Rolling Stone” above.
Lana Del Rey – Video Games EP
Alright. Here’s the deal with Lana Del Rey. Her name used to be Lizzy Grant, and she failed the first time around at a music career, but then was basically image consulted into Lana Del Rey, complete with fake lips and all. Here’s the other deal though: “Video Games” is a fantastic song and EP, and I’m really looking forward to her 2012 LP. She’s gonna be big. Look out for the lips.
Alex Winston – Sister Wife EP
One of the first songs posted on this here blog and one of the best EPs of the year, Alex Winston deserves some attention. She has a crazy great voice that’s somewhere in the same camp as Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom, and so far I’ve liked everything I’ve heard by her. Above find “Sister Wife,” the title track, but you should also look up “Locomotive” for more proof that this EP is solid.
Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes EP
And the number one spot goes to Alabama Shakes, led by the incredible vocal talent of Brittany Howard. Their band sounds like they’re from a different time, and they know how to rock, plain and simple. They blew up the south and are now touring wider, showing up in LA later this month (we’ll be in attendance). Ms. Howard’s voice has been compared to the likes of Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and even Robert Plant, and it can’t be ignored. Take a listen to “You Ain’t Alone” above.
There you have it, folks. Look out for my favorite 20 albums of the year coming up in the next day or so, depending on my laziness. Hope you enjoy the above tracks.