Top 10 indie songs of 2011

Categories: Year-end blitz

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Photo by Stacy Schwartz
The Joy Formidable at SXSW 2011
2011 was a damn good year for music. When compiling this list of what are, in my opinion, the best songs released this past year, I had to continually keep myself on task, resisting the temptation to listen to the full album by each of these talented artists. Their collective work is just that good.

And while any year-end list is clearly up for debate, I believe that if all music lovers give another listen to the vast array of stellar releases that came out in '11, everyone can agree that this year had plenty of stirring, striking music that will continue to move us all for years to come.

So take a listen with me as I present to you my favorite songs of 2011.

10. Fleet Foxes: "Bedouin Dress"

While the title-track grabbed the most headlines from Helplessness Blues, "Bedouin Dress" was the track that I gravitated towards immediately on this glorious record. The harmonies and classic melody both soar, crafting an uplifting anthem that always takes me somewhere special.


9. Burial: "Street Halo"

No one quite captures the foggy grime of London's midnight streets quite like the enigmatic Burial. His hypnotic beats lead listeners on a guided tour of the city at night, all rough edges, dark corners and shadows.


8. James Blake: "The Wilhelm Scream"

By the time someone comes up with an appropriate genre that fully encapsulates exactly what James Blake sounds like, chances are he will have already changed up his sound completely and taken it in a new direction. For the time being, though, he has given us this gorgeous paean to the power of our own dreams.


7. The Horrors: "Still Life"

It took me a while to realize how great the Horrors new record Skying is, simply because I couldn't stop listening to its first single. It's a slow-burning bit of pop perfection that I will never grow tired of.


6. PJ Harvey: "Written On The Forehead"

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first reviewers to hear this track in advance of Polly's glorious Let England Shake, and while the sample-heavy track sounds nothing like the rest of her austere album, I've never been able to shake the urgency and inventiveness of this number.

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13 comments
Melissa Burleson
Melissa Burleson

You can make distinguishable indie music by using different instruments such as sitars, synthesizers, djembe, and ukulele. You can even add a touch of pop, folk and blues to your music. PJ Harvey has been in this industry for a long time, and she has already made a name for herself with her unique music.

PETER LAN$KY
PETER LAN$KY

"Still Life" is not the first track on Skying

Erik Thompson
Erik Thompson

Thanks for pointing that out, Peter--My mistake. I meant to say the first single from 'Skying.' Change has been made. One hell of an album, though, hey?

Mac Wilson
Mac Wilson

I think "indie" is meant in the context of genre, not necessarily means of release. The Joy Formidable's album was released on Atlantic Records, but it still fits the bounds of "indie". Now that you think of it, Erik could have titled his post "Erik's Top 10 Songs of 2011" and it still would have been an effective piece.

Anyway, thanks for "Written on the Forehead," which kind of gets overlooked due to its spot at the end of the album. It's an outstanding, outstanding track.

Guy
Guy

What does "indie" mean?

Idiots
Idiots

It means these people are all in their mid 30's and are desperately trying to be cool by calling the music they listen to "indie" instead of "stuff we heard on the Current and read about in Spin magazine."  

xxmickymousemurderxx
xxmickymousemurderxx

I'm 15 and I like Indie bands, I'm not trying to be cool I just like this style of music :)

Mark S.
Mark S.

I think "indie" is the new failed label that used to be called, "alternative," which used to be "post-modern," which used to be known as "college rock," which used to be known as "underground," which used to be known as "post-punk," which used to be known as "punk." 

Larry Smith
Larry Smith

It means 'independent'. As in, not signed to a major record label. Just like Ashlee Simpson!

Guest
Guest

Ha! Ashlee > Radiodead

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