The Songs of the Year 2011

The other day, a friend pointed out that this past year the usual high output of songs that got put up on The List was decidedly less than past years, to which I replied, yes…the necessity to work from time to time had certainly put a crimp in my ability to give away my usual amount of free music, but what did get tossed up was of such high quality as they more than made up for the diminished quantity. And with that in mind, here are the best of the best…the Songs of the Year…

Give Up


Ryan Karazija didn’t just come up with the best song this past year, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t also have the best album, too. I could have put any one of the twelve tracks from the album on the annual list…they are all that good…and it’s only a coincidence that ‘Give Up’ is the first track on the album. I’ve already yelled at you guys enough to BUY THIS RECORD, but if you haven’t, do it now! And mark your calenders kids, cuz Ryan’s gonna be taking a flight from Iceland over to New York to play a gig at Piano’s January 19 and MilkBoy in Philly on January 22nd.


DOWNLOAD: Polarise

If not for Low Roar, Cameras would have certainly been sitting on the top of the heap this year. I’ve played ‘Polarise’ so often, I’m pretty sure even Camille is getting sick of it! Nothing like a wall of hard-to-understand, harmonic, atmospheric, shoegazey melodies to win my heart.

Act On Impulse

DOWNLOAD: Act On Impulse

We all should have a dose of sweaty, angst-ridden rock to wake us up from time to time. They’re almost unheard of over here, but these four Scottish lads are burning up the clubs in Great Britain. Powerful, lotsa fun and yes…very sweaty!

The Ballad Of New York

DOWNLOAD: The Ballad Of New York
I swear Chiara Angelicola may have been plucked out of a Jazz Club from the 50’s and transported to the Here & Now to remind us what real music is like. She’s got a voice that can drop so low it will rattle your bones…and then outta nowhere she’ll crack a high note that will give you goosebumps. The Ballad Of New York is going to be on her next album, but in the meantime she’s got a lot more sitting over at iTunes just waiting for you to enjoy.

The Same Thing

DOWNLOAD: The Same Thing

There’s just something so comfortably reassuring about the way Cass McCombs sings. From the very first time I heard ‘The Same Thing’ I was won over. The melody, the slightly syncopated vocal style, the sad/lazy way it made me feel…it all works.


DOWNLOAD: Civilian

Another strong contender for my favorite album this year was Civilian by the Baltimore duo, Wye Oak. It’s a noisy mashup filled with masterful guitar work, shoegazey distortion, wonderful storytelling and Jenn Wasner’s languid voice holding it all together. It’s another record that you should seriously consider buying!

Have You Ever

DOWNLOAD: Have You Ever

We’ve been friends for quite a while and I even shot her album cover earlier this year, but when Gabrielle Aimée sent me ‘Have You Ever’ I was knocked out. I had never heard her slide into such a bluesy place and be so damned sexy on a song before, and the vibrato from the Farfisa-like organ transported me back in time.

The Search

DOWNLOAD: The Search

Kate Tucker has been a staple on The List from the moment we first heard her with the Sons of Sweden and since then we’ve followed her from Seattle to Ohio to New York and now to Nashville, so when she recorded an EP with Nic Danielson as K+Nikku we were on board. I’ve been goofin’ on her…calling her Katemau5…because of the slightly electronic edge to the EP, but she knows I love her…



The Pack A.D. is Becky Black & Maya Miller and they’re a hard-hitting garage duo outta Vancouver B.C. that has released four albums of stripped-down, pissed-off, dirty punk rock…and they’re bloody great! ‘Sirens’ is off of their latest release, Unpersons.



Going from the grungy goodness of The Pack A.D. to Sherlock’s Daughter shoegazing their way through ‘Reprise’ might be a bit jarring, but I’ve had their EP near the top of my iTunes folder all year and there was no chance it wasn’t making it on this list. Call it nonsensical aural wallpaper if you must, but Tanya Horo’s voice always has a calming effect on me…like a neural tranquilizer…I can feel any tension I’m feeling fall away as soon as she whispers in my ear…

Hit Me Where It Hurts

DOWNLOAD: Hit Me Where It Hurts

We’ve come to the end, but I’ve turned it up to “11” and hearing Chaz Tolliver channel Mick Jagger one more time seems like a perfect way to close out this years Best Of List. The Booze play boogie-rock that can’t help but make you think of the early Stones and The Kinks, and Tolliver seems to have mastered the fine art of Jagger-esque posing…in a good way!

Song of the Day

The Night


When the news broke last year that Claudia Dehaza was going to be leaving the Brooklyn-based trio School of Seven Bells, my heart sank a little. It’s hardly a secret that I’m a big fan of their luxurious, shoegazey dream pop…they’ve been featured on The List three times before, HERE, HERE and HERE…and God knows I’ve pretty much worn out their albums, Disconnect From Desire and Alpinisms, so it’s understandable that I couldn’t imagine how the band could continue without the harmonic melodies Claudia and her twin Alejandra spun into their songs. But the new duo of Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Dehaza have recently completed a new album, Ghostory, which is scheduled for a February release. With a bit of creative knob-twiddling, Alejandra is able to harmonize with herself while Benjamin stays at the top of his game assembling layer upon layer of guitars, synthesizers and frantic drumwork into what is unmistakably the SVIIB sound.

You can follow School of Seven Bells on their website and if you’re into planning ahead, the Album Release show is gonna be February 28th at The Mercury Lounge

Song of the Day



It’s been about 8 months since I gave you guys a taste of Cameras when I offered up ‘Polarise’ from their self-titled EP, but last week they finally released their first album, In Your Room, and I’ve had it locked on ‘repeat’ all day. I simply can’t get enough of Eleanor Dunlop’s beautiful, mystically dreamy voice and the way she can take the lyrics and swirl & spin them into her own shimmering, gossamer instrument. I dare you to decypher what she is singing on the first go-round, but once you figure it out you will melt…

I traded my heart
For a new one
I stole I stole I stole
Away away away…

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for exactly this type of lush, layered, shoegazey Pop, but I’ve been jonesing for this record from the moment I first heard ‘Polarise’, and these guys really delivered! I strongly advise a trip to the iTunes Store to pick this one up and then head over to facebook and ‘Like’ Cameras.

And as a bonus, here’s the video for ‘June’

Song of the Day

Amor Fati


Dream Pop, Chill-Wave, Glo-Fi, Nu-Gaze, Shoegaze, Witch House, Freak-Folk…..Christ, if not for wikipedia I wouldn’t be able to keep track of all the new names that get thrown at musical genres these days! I’m beginning to think that if you wanna get noticed in the indie scene nowadays, you had better come up with a new name for exactly what highfalutin mood your music is meant to evoke. All of which brings us to what may be the first ‘Chill-Wave’ song to ever make it on The List. Washed Out is the alter ego of a rather harmless looking lad named Ernest Greene, who apparently put together his first album, Within and Without, whilst holed up in his bedroom with nothing but a laptop, some synthesizers and a dream. I gotta admit, before I heard a note I was initially drawn by the name of the song…Amor Fati…it had me thinking he was an aficionado of chubby lovin’, but apparently it’s a Latin phrase glommed on by Nietzsche meaning “love of one’s own fate”. My guess is that besides twiddling the knobs on those keyboards, Ernest is reading some pretty deep shit in that bedroom…probably why he looks so serious. The song itself is a fluffy bit of aural wallpaper, complete with the requisite angsty vocals and layers of deep & meaningful synth runs and would feel right at home playing as the credits roll in an 80’s John Hughes teen flick! And while that probably sounds like I’m being a tad dismissive, I actually like it! Hell…I used to listen to Howard Jones, for God’s sake…I got nuthin’ wrong with admitting that occasionally I get off on a sappy, poppy, electronic concoction! You can head over to Mr. Greene’s facebook page and hit the ‘Like’ button and if this sorta things gets your toes tappin’, you can pick up the album on iTunes. And for the rest of you, I’ll promise to find a song with some guitars next time…

Song of the Day



I had every intention of kicking out something rocky and dark and loud today, but I’ve had a headache since breakfast, so I’ve been quietly humming along all morning to this dream-poppy number from Brooklyn-based Aussies, Sherlocks Daughter. I first discovered these guys last month when I saw bandmembers Tim Maybury and Tanya Horo on the cover of the Village Voice in a real estate feature. Based on that bit of notoriety, I don’t know what convinced me to check them out, but I’m glad I did ‘cuz I love this kinda stuff. I find it very relaxing to be enveloped by waves of feedback-drenched shoegazey guitars, moderately self-important electronica and a softly swirling nondescript female vocal. They’ve caught the ears of the downtown music intelligentsia since even Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore is a fan…which, now that I think of it, sorta makes sense since Tanya’s voice is a lot like a softer version of Kim Gordon’s. Sonic Youth producer John Agnello is apparently twiddling the knobs on their debut album, due out later this Spring. In the meantime, head over to their MySpace Page to hear a few more tracks.

Song Of The Day


DOWNLOAD: Polarise

There are songs that can draw me in simply because of a visceral mood they create…songs where the lyrics and music blend so perfectly that reality gets momentarily turned off and I’m suddenly carried away by an aural wave of emotion…songs like this. I first heard ‘Polarise’ on Alt Nation and was immediately transported into a Cocteau Twins/Slowdive/Lush/My Bloody Valentine/Jesus & Mary Chain universe of dark, melancholy keyboard melodies, swirling atmospheric guitar runs, and an almost cinematic sense of dire importance. At the 40 second mark when that tinkling guitar sneaks up on Eleanor Dunlop’s hypnotic vocal, it actually raised the hairs on my neck.

Cameras are from Sydney, Australia and besides singing, Dunlop also handles the keyboards, while Fraser Harvey plays guitar & bass and Ben Mason is on drums. You really gotta check these guys out on MySpace or on their Facebook Page and you can get the Cameras EP on iTunes

Song of the Day



Yes, I know…..I haven’t been around much the past few weeks…work and the impending holidaze have simply gotten the best of me, but I promise to end the year with a flourish of posts that will inform, delight and entertain! And on the entertainment front, I’m happily gonna stay away from Christmas Carols by tossing out a leak from the forthcoming album from Asobi Seksu, the noisy dream-pop outfit from Brooklyn last featured on The List back in March of 2009. If ‘Trails’ is any indication, Fluorescence…scheduled for a February release…promises to carry on the duo’s signature wall of shoegazey noise and operatic melodies. I’ve always heard heavy doses of Slowdive, The Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine in their music, but Yuki Chikudate’s trilling soprano vocals on this song have really tapped into a Siouxsie and the Banshees vibe! Her voice bounces and swirls around the layered, fuzzy arrangement with such abandon, it’s exactly what I would expect from a band whose name is Japanese for “playful sex”…! So head on over to their MySpace page for more playful sex, I mean…Asobi Seksu.

Song of the Day

Quarry Hymns

DOWNLOAD: Quarry Hymns

The Montreal-based Land of Talk has a perfect song to kick off what looks like it’s gonna be a very nice week. Liz Powell’s easy-going vocals, the cool shoegazey vibe and the light and airy mood the song has put me in has almost convinced me blow off the mountain of work I have in front of me and spend the rest of the day up on the roof soaking in the sun. And even though the lyrics are profoundly sad, there is a sweet sexiness that is both uplifting and hopeful…

…And on days like these
I could take apart my window
So let down, I was so let down…

‘Quarry Hymns’ is off of Land Of Talk’s second album, Cloak & Cipher, that dropped last week. Check out their MySpace page for more information and be sure to check out this acoustic version that was recorded under a bridge…

Song of the Day

Sleep Forever

DOWNLOAD: Sleep Forever

It’s been more than a year since Crocodiles graced the pages of The List with Neon Jesus, and their debut album, Summer of Hate, tore up the blogosphere and they toured across the US and Europe opening for bands like Holy Fuck and The Horrors…but now they’re back with more buzzy, swirling, My Bloody Valentine-like psych-rock on this Summertime 7″ release. ‘Sleep Forever’ is meant to whet your appetite for their new full-length release due out September 14th on Fat Possum Records. I’m diggin’ singer Brandon Welchez’s laid-back vocals, but what really stands out is the tight production on this song is a noticeable change from last year’s intentionally punkier, lo-fi album.

You can hang with Crocodiles over on MySpace

Song of the Day

Here Sometimes

DOWNLOAD: Here Sometimes

I swear as God is my witness, it was just this morning as I was taking my shower, I was wondering, “When the Hell is Blonde Redhead gonna put out something new?!!”, and Voila!…a leak from their next album drops in my lap a few short hours later! The trio of Kazu Makino and the Pace twins (Simone and Amedeo) have been making music together since 1993 and have released seven full-length albums, but noting since 2007 and for dream-pop junkies like myself, that’s far too long. ‘Here Sometimes’ is apparently gonna be the first track on Penny Sparkle, due out September on 4AD, and if this is representative of the rest of the album, it’s far more synth-heavy than their previous effort, 23.

Sez Kazu…

“I am not sure what Penny Sparkle is but I hope I offered to them as much as they offered me. I know that we have never made a record this way and if I could go back in time, I would do it exactly the same way again…”

For more of Blonde Redhead, hit ’em on their website or over on MySpace or sit back and enjoy the video for ’23’…..

Song of the Day


DOWNLOAD: Babelonia

We’re gonna do a musical about-face from last weeks ‘The Muscle & Charm’ with a leak off of the new album from School Of Seven Bells, due out next month. I love this Brooklyn-based trio and their psycho-hypnotic swirl of mesmerizing vocals, vibrant melodies and rhythmic noise. I was tossing out cuts from Alpinisms last year as fast as I could get them and I’m looking forward to hearing what the new record has to offer. On ‘Babelonia’, I’m instantly taken by the familiar Cocteau Twins-like chanting from twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza and carried along by Ben Curtis’ shoegazey wall of of chugging percussion, layered guitars and electro-atmospheric noise. Disconnect From Desire is set to drop July 13th, but in the meantime you can check SVIIB out on their MySpace Page

Song of the Day

The Bailing

DOWNLOAD: The Bailing

I needed a bit of ambient fuzz to help me start the week and the this morning I fell over a leak off of Monster, the 5-song EP by Inu, the new project comprised of producer Mikael (Count) Eldridge (DJ Shadow, No Doubt, New Order, Radiohead) and bassist/guitarist Tim Hingston (The Nightland, Stripmall Architecture), featuring cello superstar Zoe Keating (Imogen Heap, Dresden Dolls). I liked ‘The Bailing’ so much after only a couple of listens that I actually coughed up the five bucks to buy the rest of the EP. I’m sure some of you might find this easy to pass off as your usual mellow blend of electronic trip-hop with techno-squonky vocals, but the smart production and theatrical guitar structures carry this much further up the musical ladder. I get a wonderful Joy Division vibe off of these guys. Don’t believe me? Then head over to Inu Music to stream the rest of the EP. They’re apparently following up this EP with a full-length in March…I’ll be keeping them on my radar, for sure.

Song of the Day



It’s been a long time since the Swedish Dream-Pop/Shoegaze outfit The Radio Dept. has graced the list, but they’ve tossed out this little taste of happy aural fuzz from Clinging To A Scheme, their album that’s set to drop early next year. I’ve been a fan of their loopy, whispery, languidly distorted music ever since I heard ‘Keen On Boys’ off of the Marie Antoinette Soundtrack…..

Keen On Boys

DOWNLOAD: Keen On Boys

Now I’m not sayin’ this stuff is gonna cure cancer and the blend of shoegazer pop with feedback-heavy psychedelia ain’t for everyone and some of you might think that Johan Duncanson’s vocals get a little syrupy at times, but I like the ethereal and almost hypnotic final effect…and besides…it’s my blog and I can post what I want!

Check out The Radio Dept. on MySpace


Song of the Day

I Became A Prostitute

DOWNLOAD: I Became A Prostitute


It’s been a couple of years since Glasgow’s The Twilight Sad have shown up on The List, but with leaks popping up everywhere from their new album, Forget The Night Ahead, I dare say a lot of folks are really looking forward to October when it drops. The first single, ‘I Became A Prostitute’, isn’t even supposed to be released until August 3rd, but like I said, leaks happen! And while the quality of this one ain’t gonna win any awards, the droney wall-of-noise guitar runs, James Graham’s Morrissey-on-downers vocals and the total feeling of hopelessness and melancholy we’ve all come to expect from The Twilight Sad hits you like a shovel to the head and just makes me wanna pick up the CD even more. You can head over to MySpace for a bit more Sadness and as a bonus, here’s the extremely dark (and sexy) video that accompanies the song…..

Song of the Day

We All Belong To The Red Sun

DOWNLOAD: We All Belong To The Red Sun

Don’t Waste Time

DOWNLOAD: Don’t Waste Time

It’s been almost two years since The Morning Stars have been featured on The List when I sent out ‘Don’t Waste Time’ off of their amazing debut album You Can’t Change The World, but the other day Michael Ivic sent me a leak off of their new release, Radiation. As with the earlier album, there are elements here that bring to mind bands like Oasis, Love and Rockets and even The Beatles…especially the way the vocals & airy psychedelic guitars are layered together in the voluptuous mix. This song has a lot more of an easy-going, shoegazey vibe than anything off of the earlier album, but there’s also a level of sophistication and worldliness that is drawing me in. No news on when the album drops, but you can head on over to their MySpace page for updates.


Song of the Day

Oh Hey


I guess I gotta get back on the horse and send somthin’ out to you guys, lest you forget I’m here! I was shuffling through my favorite indie sites this morning and came across the new single from Charlene, a shoegaze outfit from Newton, Mass, that seriously reminds me of early Mercury Rev! The shimmering guitars, the lazy, almost narcoleptic phrasing of the vocals, the melodic & ornate fuzzy wall of sound…it all filters down into a beautiful, noisy song. Check out Charlene over at MySpace or on their WEBSITE where you can download selected cuts (click on the ‘Music & Merch’ link) from their previous releases!


Song of the Day

Panic Switch

DOWNLOAD: Panic Switch

The most anticipated indie release of the year…the new Silversun Pickups album, Swoon…isn’t due out for a couple of weeks, but the number one request on college radio and alt/shoegaze stations across the country is ‘Panic Switch’, the first single that got leaked a few weeks ago. At nearly 6 minutes, the anthemic, feedback-heavy, Smashing Pumpkins-like opus has lead singer Brian Aubert’s desperately pleading vocal sounding like he’s ready to pick up where last year’s smash hit ‘Lazy Eye’ left off, with his voice rising above the band’s signature guitar distortion over a steady thumping bassline and car-crash drums. There’s just a hint of self-indulgent rock-God posturing where it quiets down and meanders about two-thirds of the way in, but they redeem themselves by storming back with an awesome, energetic finish. Check out Silversun Pickups over at MySpace


Song of the Day

Young Adult Friction

DOWNLOAD: Young Adult Friction

New York Pop-Fuzzsters, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, who previously graced The List with ‘This Love Is Fucking Right!’, finally got around to compiling a bunch of the 7-inchers they’ve released since forming two years ago into their first, self-titled full-length album. Often called the happy offspring of My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub, what distinguishes POBPAH from a lot of their shoegazing peers is a true sense of musical craft and not screwing things up with overwrought production and unnecessary bells and whistles. And a good friend asked that I get outta the musical doldrums I have been in lately and toss out something more up-beat & up-tempo that he can listen to on his morning jog…this shoud do the trick! You can check out more POBPAH over on their MySpace page


Song of the Day

Long Live The Fallen World

PLAY: Long Live The Fallen World

I can’t put my finger on it…and even though I really, really like it…there’s something deeply disturbing about this song. Maybe it’s the way lead singer Catherine McCandless’ trance-like voice sort of begs and pleads the lyric…it’s like she’s transmitting a feeling of doom through the words. And the way the distorted, watery guitars and fuzzed-up keyboards fight to get heard past the thick production just adds to the sense of hurt and pain. I can’t quite imagine what these guys are like live…you can find out if you wanna hit Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow, ‘cuz they’re opening for The XYZ Affair and Pete & J…but I figure a few anti-depressants and a beer might help to take the edge off! It’s depressing and dark and sad…and I love it! Their new album, Invisible Republic, doesn’t have a release date quite yet, but you can check ’em out over at MySpace