5. Toro y Moi – Freaking Out
Chazwick Bundick rose above the chillwave this year with his full length release of ‘Underneath the Pine’ early this year. Just when I thought that my chillwave was dying, Toro y Moi gave me an extra life with Freaking Out. Bundick’s voice has gotten better with each of releases and song ‘All Alone’ competes as one of my favorites tracks by him. I am excited to see what direction he takes us next.
4. Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes
The Shakes exploded on the scene, causing me to tread water as I drowned in their sea of soul. The attention this band has received not only comes from this EP, but also their live shows. I am thrilled and honored to allow the Alabama Shakes to knock me out with their fist full of funk tonight at Radio Radio.
3. Dirty Gold – ROAR
Who would of thought a group of high school kids from San Diego could build the EP that served as my summer anthem? The kids from Dirty Gold have left me thinking that anything is possible, regardless of age. These indie prodigies have caused me to put on my shades and look deeply in to the bright careers the have ahead of them. I am thrilled to see what they bring to be in the future. My guess is that once the ‘California Sunrise’ sets on 2011, they will rise and provide a new project with a brighter polish.
2. Dum Dum Girls – He Gets Me High
Readers of Thought on Tracks understand that I have a weak heart for this San Pedro quartet of female distortion. 2011 was quite the year for the Dum Dum Girls as this served as the appetizer to their excellent full-length ‘Only in Dreams’. While appetizers are petite and initial, ‘He Gets Me High’ fills my belly with a four song entrée. The Smiths cover of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” is my favorite cover song of this year and serves as a reminder that sometimes remakes can compete with originals. I take my hat off to the Dum Dum Girls for having an absolutely spectacular year, especially for me.
1. Beach Fossils – What A Pleasure
Surprise, surprise a Brooklyn based band takes the crown in my world of EP’s in 2011. This hardly feels like an EP sitting at sitting at eight tracks. They build off their 2010 self-titled LP, and to me even sound better. Beach Fossils coast during this EP using beautiful melodic guitars to allow listeners to ride their wave. The song “Calyer” has received airplay on Sirius XMU and has been floating in my head ever since. Beach Fossils team up with Wild Nothing on ‘Out In the Way’, which seals the deal for me. I am expecting more from Beach Fossils in 2012. My nautical eye tells me these Beach Fossils will not wither, but gain value with time.
Written by Brett McGrath
For many years, friends have relied on me as the music guy and constantly asked me the question of “What music should I be listening to right now.” While humbly embracing this distinction, I have been left mildly insane. This question drove me crazy. It was like a persistent sliver of Indiana Oak between my left toe, sock, and Converse. I am the executioner and enjoy delivering on the spot, but this constant thorn in my side left me thinking: “I am really into 11 bands right now, how do I pick just a few? “They know I am not just listening to buzz bands, are they searching for a deeper answer?” “Is there any way I can track the music I have been listening to the past 10 business days and send a report in .xls format?” Feeling exhausted, I search for easy remedies. Then stories like this form and make my job easier. I wish the Dum Dum Girls directly reported to me…they would make me look like the best manager of all time.
San Pedro-based, Sup Pop-backed, beach chicks Dum Dum Girls delivered their second full-length album this September with Only in Dreams. The production quality is astounding and takes all the yummy elements of their first release, I Will Be and bakes them out to deliver a delicious touch of sweetness. This makes sense though right? This album was produced by song-writer Richard Gottehrer who crafted such classics as “I Want Candy” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” It is my best guess that if the Dum Dum Girls were in formation in 1963 Gottehrer would of subbed them in for Smash Records’ trio The Angels. Dee Dee Penny would have entered with her howling guitar and The Angels would have cut a double. 4 chicks v. 3? I will take the numbers.
The Dum Dum Girls are one of those bands this year that has accomplished tremendous things in the indie-rock scene and established themselves in a way that make it easy for me to tell all my readers that you should be listening to them right now. No Brainer. During my “Best Cover Songs of 2011” post, I slated their interpretation of The Smiths “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” as the best cover song of the year. I confidently gave them this honor because this was not just a cover song I liked, it was more than that. It was song that I really liked. Dum Dum Girls carried this sense of establishment onto their latest LP Only in Dreams and have sold me on their sound. Hook, line, and sinker – I am mesmerized and California dreaming. The Dum Dum Girls shine the summer sun in the fall. Aligning the timing with their geographic location was never their thing – that is why I dig on them.
The first song I heard from this glorious record was “Coming Down.” It was the first track of theirs that hit the blogsphere and I was hearing a different Dum Dum Girls. At first I had to take a step back and reflect.
This was a band I really enjoyed but they were simple. They offered me the luxury to listen to a group of girls beat out songs about heartbreak on their electric guitars. I knew the Dum Dum Girls as a band that delivered simple songs that were easy, quick, and exciting. They owned a special spot in my listening experience – so simple that I underestimated them.
“Coming Down” provided such a powerful impression that I was taken aback. I had no idea these girls had the capabilities to deliver a song that spanned 6 minutes and 30 seconds. It sounded nothing like them, and was still able to attract my attention. After I got use to this song the Dum Dum Girls had me on a platter. The meat and potatoes of the Dum Dum Girls were the next course and all I can say is MAN ‘O MAN! “Bedroom Eyes” is the hottest song going right now and rightfully so. It is so catchy, so “My Boyfriend’s Back”, so Dum Dum Girls. This song has the potential to rise above great tracks such as M83’s “Midnight City”, Cults’ “You Know What I Mean”, Cold Cave’s “Confetti” and SBTRK’s “Wildfire” to become my favorite song of 2k11. Only time will tell, but it owns a longboard that is being driven straight into my heart. “Wasted Away” backs out the lower end of the album and lines like “I would rather waste away then see you only in dreams” resonate with me.
The Dum Dum Girls are not controversial and they continue to find ways to extend their sound. I appreciate these gals because of their authenticity and willingness to take chances. Although the problem will never be completely solved, at least I can thank The Dum Dum Girls for providing me an easy response to questions for at least the next 6 months. Wishful thinking, right? Only in Dreams.
Written by Brett McGrath.
Love them or hate them, people are always talking about them. I have yet to notice anyone else make a 2k11 list covering covers. My selections for the best songs from previous recordings are as follows:
13 Real Estate – Barely Legal (The Strokes)
I could not be any more pumped up for the upcoming Strokes cover album Stroked. If the rest of the disc stacks up to the first single from Real Estate, we are all in for a real treat. Congrats, Real Estate, on making this song your own–no small task.
12 The Black Keys – Dearest (Buddy Holly)
The Black Keys work wonders on their take on this Buddy Holly classic. Short, sweet and fantastic. The Keys at their simplest, which is always a good thing.
11 Morning Benders – Lovefool (The Cardigans)
Hand claps, acoustic guitar and three part harmonies. Rarely do I say that a cover surpasses the original, but this sure as hell comes close. A helluva rendition of the classic guilty pleasure from Swedish rockers The Cardigans.
10 Friendly Fires – I’m Good, I’m Gone (Lykkie Li)
What better way to add buzz to their latest release, Pala, than to put out of cover of a song that people can’t hate. These guys have a formula and it is continuing to work.
9 She & Him – Oh Boy (Buddy Holly)
When I heard that a tribute album to Buddy Holly was going to be dropped this year I thought “Oh Boy”! Unsure of what to expect I found exactly what I was looking for with this track.
8 Fitz and the Tantrums – Arthur’s Theme (Christopher Cross)
This is a silly cover from a silly movie by a band getting a lot of buzz this year. I love it.
7 Hooray for Earth – Lewis Takes Action (Owen Pallet Cover)
This band has caused me to take a step back ever since I started listening to them. No Love, True Loves, and Sails make their full-length debut stand strong. This cover makes me think they are going to be around a while.
6 Bat for Lashes – Strangelove (Depeche Mode)
Natasha Khan continues to be the mark for indie innovation. This pairing just makes sense to me.
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Higher Love (Steve Winwood)
After Dodge posted the video of them covering this at the White Cabaret in Indianapolis I was extremely jealous for being out of town. If this does not win you over, I am not quite sure what will. Their cover of The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” deserves to be on this list as well.
4 James Blake – A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
James Blake and the Dub-step movement has been one of the hottest topics of 2k11. This song makes me believe there is some legitimacy to it.
3 Mr. Little Jeans – Suburbs (Arcade Fire)
Sometimes groups get popular after they have maxed out on buzz via a cover (i.e. First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song). I thought it would be impossible to cover anything off this album. I was wrong.
2 Bon Iver – I Can Make You Love Me / Nick of Time (Bonnie Raitt)
Justin Vernon’s release this year deserves to be album of the year, win a Grammy, and be talked about for the rest of eternity. Opting to play this to national audiences instead of a track on his latest release tells you how good he thinks this is and I would have to agree.
1 Dum Dum Girls – There is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths)
This beats out Bon Iver because of the happiness it brings to the table. This cover has given me a newfound respect these four Californian garage poppers. This is number one because I do not think of it just as a cover, I consider it one of my favorite songs of the year.
Written by Brett McGrath