I do this every year. These songs are what I loved this year, or what reminds me of this year, and are arranged in my preferred listening order. The playlist fits on an 80-minute CD, but I wanted to try making it downloadable this year instead of mailing out discs through the broke-ass postal service.
Download the zipped folder here. If the songs get lost in your media library, just search for the ones with the genre labeled "Dan".
1. Frightened Rabbit - "Footshooter"
I used some iTunes gifts from last Christmas to delve deeper into the world of Scot Rock. This is my favorite song from this very enjoyable album, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks".
2. Two Door Cinema Club - "What You Know"
This band is from Northern Ireland, so we burned this album along with some filler classic U2 for our rental car journeys around the island. I heard their music wafting out of a shop in Dublin, so I felt reassured that my finger was on the pulse of the Irish youth. Thank God we had that CD, too, because there were moments of awfulness over the radiowaves. You know that "I need a dolla, dolla, dolla is what I need" song that is on a commercial or two? I heard that on the radio over there. During a top ten countdown. Yikes. Kim and I heard Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" for the first time over there, and laughed about how awful it was. Then a few weeks later I learned that song tied her with "Thriller" for the most #1 hits from a single album.
3. James Mercer - "Journey Through the Past" (Neil Young cover)
I know almost nothing about Neil Young, but I do know that I love his songs as interpreted by The Shins' James Mercer. His cover of "Harvest" is also excellent.
4. Okkervil River - "Piratess"
I suppose this was my favorite album I bought this year, although I dislike a few of the yelling songs. This track and "Your Past Life as a Blast" are my faves.
5. Beastie Boys - "Ok"
I have nothing to say about this. It's simply a solid jam.
6. Kathryn Calder - "Slip Away"
She is the keyboardist for The New Pornographers. I enjoy both her face and her first solo album.
7. Fountains of Wayne - "Radiation Vibe"
I was explaining to a younger co-worker that this band had been around for some time, and that "Radiation Vibe" remains one of my all-time favorites. I was about to play it for her when I realized it was not in my possession. Horrified, I bought it that night and relived the magic for the rest of the year.
8. Simon & Garfunkel - "Overs"
For a few weeks when my sleep schedule was messed up, I would listen to my mp3 player with headphones while my wife slept. Two nights in a row, this song came up on the shuffle. I wasn't familiar with it before. It was kind of a perfect match for the quiet nights.
9. Telekinesis - "You Turn Clear in the Sun"
This album and the new Dodos album were both solid but not great. Still, I listened to them a lot in the car's CD player when I was too lazy to queue up a podcast.
10. Wild Flag - "Romance"
Former members of Sleater-Kinney. Hand claps. Awesome. I also recommend "Something Came Over Me" from the same album.
11. Ximena Sarinana - "Different"
You might recognize this song from a Pop Tarts commercial. I first heard it one morning on VH1. "Why wasn't this attractive young woman forced to wear a bikini for this video shoot?" I wondered.
It turns out she is an established talent from south of the border - this is her first English-language album. Catchy. I'm a sucker for those brass horns.
12. Foster the People - "Pumped Up Kicks"
This video, on the other hand, is really boring. Still, I'd call this the song of 2011. Total summer jam.
13. Noah and the Whale - "5 Years Time"
This is the third and final song within the whistling suite of the 2011 mix. I saw a lot of commercials for their new album while watching TV in Ireland, and remembered how quaint it was to advertise music on television. Oh, Europe!
14. Belle & Sebastian - "Your Cover's Blown"
If you want to get technical, I believe my love affair with this song started in 2010, on long drives to Illinois. Since then, it's become a go to song for a burst of energy. It's so good I wonder why it took me so long to hear about it.
15. Mates of State - "Maracas"
If you're like me, you'll get this song's final repeated lyrics in your head for an extended time, and you'll think it's totally annoying. But if you give it some time you'll come back with open arms. The pull of the funky synth is too great.
16. Eleanor Friedberger - "My Mistakes"
The Fiery Furnaces and their solo output continues its annoying pattern of two or three amazing songs on an album filled with the weirdest, hardest to like stuff.
17. Peter Bjorn & John - "IKYDLM"
I'd guess this is my favorite bassline of the year.
18. Andrew Bird - "Tables and Chairs"
This song really tugs at my heartstrings until he says "There will be snacks" and I'm just like, "Huh?".
19. The Jayhawks - "Smile"
As previously mentioned, this prompted some cry urges one Sunday morning.
20. The New Pornographers - "Go Places"
First dance at the wedding. Stuck in my head for a week afterward.