Song, by Toad – Festive Fifty 2011 11-30

11.David Thomas Broughton – Ain’t Got No Sole The first song we heard from DTB’s fantastic album, and perhaps the poppiest of the lot.  Catchy, unusual and immensely hummable.

12.Kurt Vile – Baby’s Arms Another album from which it is tricky to extricate just one song as a highlight, but for some reason I’m giving this the nod above Jesus Fever or Puppet to the Man. I think it’s the most late night and glass of red winey song on the album, but it’s close.

13.The Sandwitches – Lightfoot Are you still allowed to describe songs as joyous romps these days?  Because that’s what this feels like, an idiosyncratic, gleeful romp of a song.

14.Josh T Pearson – Country Dumb It’s hard to pick out just one song from this record, but this one seems to stand out for some reason.  Maybe it’s related to the number of times I’ve heard it and the circumstances, but there’s an unsettling fatalism to this which lifts it above the autobiographical confessional of the rest of the album.

15.John Knox Sex Club – Above Us the Waves This kind of sincere, epic grandiosity is really difficult to pull off without coming across as a bit po-faced or joyless, but this is just spell-binding.

16.Jonnie Common – Summer Is For Going Places There are so many incredible songs on this Jonnie Common album I could easily have picked four or five for the Festive Fifty, but I didn’t want the whole thing to be dominated by one or two artists.  Summer is For Going Places is as laid back and infectious as the rest of Master of None.

17.Crystal Swells – Mellow Californian Another masterpiece of feral, overloaded lo-fi brilliance.  And no matter how messy they make this stuff, Crystal Swells always make sure the pop song isn’t lost, so it may not sound like it, but I reckon they know exactly what they’re doing.

18.Yoofs – John Actor is Monkfish I love the chorus on this, the vocal refrain, how well-controlled the momentum of the song is – and once again we have an unknown DIY band with two songs in my Festive Fifty.  Keep an eye on Art is Hard Records in the new year.

19.Hookworms – Teen Dreams For unheard of DIY bands to produce stuff with this much oomph is unusual.  This is from a self-titled 12″ now out on Faux Discx, and it’s, well, epic, I suppose is the best way to describe it.

20.Easter – Damp Patch For a band with three songs on a Soundcloud page and nothing else, I am a bit wary of over-stating my own enthusiasm for this band.  They have a sort of slow-burn to them, but then that spills over into raucous endings, a bit proggy, a bit krauty and all messy.  This track isn’t their most aggressive, but it’s bloody great.

21.Edinburgh School for the Deaf – Of Scottish Blood And Sympathies Epic, post-rocky, shoegazey awesomeness from a band who threw their biggest beast of a track down right at the very beginning of their debut album.

22.Earth Girl Helen Brown – Girls of My Dreams The weird sense of otherworldly fuzz on this record made it absolutely compelling from the first listen.  It’s like listening to a lost gem from the sixties with a brain so addled you can barely make out the stereo.

23.Jarad Miles – Miles Away Rocketship is a lovely record, and there are some gorgeous, touching songs on it, but perhaps the quietest, most low-key one of the lot caught my attention the most – touching and full of pathos.

24.Pillars and Tongues – Thank you Oaky Grandiose and beautiful, rich and enveloping – if one song sums up why you should own and love this album then I reckon it might be this one.

25.The Sandwitches – Heaviest Head In The West As much as the jaunty, carefree pop songs on this album caught my attention, one of the best songs on the album is this one, which is both far darker and contains one of the most arresting, enigmatic squeals in pop history.

26.Elbow – Lippy Kids I am not all that into the new Elbow album, but this track is an absolute blinder.  It’s gorgeous, and contains some of Guy Garvey’s most poignant lyrics.

27.Crystal Stilts – Shake The Shackles It wasn’t all that consistent an album, but there are some cracking songs – sort of like the Ringo Deathstarr album in that sense – and this is the best of them.  The crooned delivery almost has a New Romantic edge to it, but the rest of the song is shoegazey, garagey goodness.

28.FOUND – Machine Age Dancing The wonky breakdown in this had me sending text messages to the band the first time I heard it.  Songs like Vincent Gallo and Anti-Climb Paint may have been well familiar to FOUND fans by the time Factorycraft came out, but they kept plenty of gems to themselves, and this is one of them.

29.Tom Waits – Hell Broke Luce This is far from a vintage album, but the deranged crashing about of this song is probably as close as Bad as Me gets to vintage Tom Waits.

30.Palms – Wolf Despite the really, really rough recording (those cymbal crescendoes actually quite hurt my ears) this is still clearly a brilliant song.  It’s a more brooding approach to garage rock (and I use that term, as with all genre terms, extremely loosely) than some of the more frantic stuff I’ve heard this year, and is a song I played something like ten times consecutively the first time I heard it.

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