Here’s the first installment of the Song, by Toad Festive Fifty for 2011 – a collection of the fifty songs I have been enjoying the most this year. The fifty themselves and the precise order can hardly be described as definitive of course, because you know how fluid things like ‘favourite’ songs can be, but roughly speaking this is the stuff I have been enjoying the most in 2011.
Just as a note, in order to make it a broader representation of the bands I’ve liked the most, I have made it harder and harder for bands to have a song featured on the list the more they already had on it. So a band’s second song got a relatively free pass, but their third would be nudged down a wee bit, to try and encourage variation and stuff like that.
31.Anna-Anna – Mirrors of America I’m aware there are very few women represented on this list, and a lot of those who are seem to share the ghostly, incredibly still delivery, albeit in a more folky setting, with Anna-Anna.
32.Sonny and the Sunsets – Home And Exile I could have half of this album on here, but this one always stood out, as a gem of retro, slightly woozy pop.
33.Quiet Americans – Summer House Straightforward lo-fi garage stuff this, but a hugely, hugely hummable tune.
34.TV Girl – Benny and the Jetts Simple and enjoyable summery pop, but another one so hugely infectious you simply can’t stop humming it.
35.Yoofs – Sidewalk I love the guitar effect, the riff, the energy, everything. Keep an eye out for this lot on the brilliant Art is Hard Records in the new year.
36.Zed Penguin – This Town A bit of a departure for an Edinburgh band, this. I think my favourite part might be the gorgeously tremulous guitar sound Matthew gets from his hand-built amp.
37.David Thomas Broughton – River Lay On an album as good as Outbreeding it takes an awful lot to stand out, but this does. For someone who can be a little obtuse, this is such a warm, welcoming record and this track epitomises it as well as most.
38.Evil Hand – Returned In Time These guys don’t exactly push themselves forward, and their releases can be a little erratic, but when they nail it their songs are as good as anyone in Scotland at the moment.
39.Powerdove – Sickly City Ghostly, slightly disorientating, and hypnotic. This is possibly the finest song on an album which makes a gorgeous job of using minimal instrumentation and glacial pace to turn those three characteristics into a truly beautiful album.
40.Emit Bloch – Dorothy (New Version) Given how much I loved the gorgeous acoustic version of this song which I heard last year, it’s almost inconceivable that I should then also love a big glossy pop version too. But I do. Good songwriting, it seems, trumps even my lazy habits.
41.The Honey Pies – Hair of the Dog Boisterous and enormous fun, this album is a gleeful romp through rock ‘n’ roll cliches, but done with such verve that you can’t help but enjoy it. This is a bit of a Clash throwback, the most raucous song on the album and probably my favourite.
42.The Low Anthem – Ghost Woman Blues After the genius of Boeing 737, The Low Anthem show they can have just as much impact at the opposite end of the spectrum with this gorgeous ballad.
43.Loch Awe – I Will Drift into 10,000 Streams For a band who do things I like and things I don’t, this demo came out of nowhere a few months ago, and I love it. The slow drum beat, the really sparingly used electric guitar, the way the two voices work together… fine work!
44.The Blue Runes – Stream For me to get into a classic/psych rock EP made by a band from Puerto Rico wouldn’t have been a particularly great bet at the start of the year, but The Blue Runes released a brilliant EP, and this track is probably the biggest track on it.
45.Adam Stafford – Shot-down You Summer Wannabes A cracking song by a guy whose music I only got into embarrassingly late in the day, considering how long ago his debut solo album was released. Nevertheless, a couple of storming live performances did the trick, and I am now entirely converted.
46.Horsecollar – Christopher A jaunty little piano line stands out immediately, but the rest of this song is bloody great too – a presumably unheard monologue delivered to a friend, and a stand out on a fine album.
47.Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On A gorgeous song on a gorgeous album. This record is a little more approachable and a little less creepy than the last, and lush, lovely songs like this one are the reason.
48.Lady Lazarus – Nazarite Oath Ghostly, unsettling and lovely at the same time, this has a lot in common with the excellent Powerdove.
49.Silverbacks – Atta Boyz Simple this one: a cracking pop tune, good riff, and extremely hummable.
50.Pet – What You Building Another song which came as a bit of a surprise, given Edinburgh doesn’t generally do this kind of music all that well, but this is lovely.
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