Cruising along through the missing pieces of my 2010s musical experience (previously, the 2010 Retrospective) and going into a very pivotal year that was 2011. To make any reader feel baby, old or just right: in 2011 I graduated high school, moved states, started college, and continued to build my blog and music repertoire.
What you’ll find here: a lot of 2011 standout singles, rogue older things I decided to get into, along with narration on where in my life these songs hit me. Whether it was during cleaning my childhood home and watching new families tour through it, graduating high school, picking songs to put on the final mix CD for my friends, spending a summer in limbo and driving around my hometown, navigating the new alien world of “Connecticut” and making new friends at college, the music here kept me company throughout. I hope this brings joy to anyone reading, but especially my friends that were with me through these times – hope I can suck you back in and take you out of 2020 for a bit. Again, a fully self-indulgent experience, but it’s fun for me to recreate these roadmaps. It might inspire you to do the same.
- Zoo Kid – “Out Getting Ribs”
Showed this to a friend in high school who would bring it up at lunch at least once a week: “Dude, that song, man!”. I wonder if he still reads my blog. Speaking of this song though, I just added the 7″ to my Discogs wantlist like a dumbass.
- Björk – “Army Of Me”
Buying a used Post CD at FYE? Priceless. Showing all my classic rock friends “Army Of Me” and being like “lol this is the “Levee” drum break”. Essential.
- Slint – “Breadcrumb Trail”
Buying a used Spiderland CD at FYE? Priceless. Getting steamrolled by “Breadcrumb Trail” late at night? Essential. I don’t think I even realized it was just about a roller coaster the whole time until a few months later.
- Purity Ring – “Ungirthed”
Talk about a debut single. This blew my mind the first time I heard it and was a hopeless Purity Ring stan until about 2013 or 2014. Still have never seen them live. Shame.
- Lemon Demon – “BRODYQUEST”
If you think of me from Winter/Spring 2011, you’ll likely think of “BRODYQUEST”, a video made by Neil Cicierega of a jpeg of Adrien Brody “walking” across various static landscapes. The point is this amazing song. I would play this after school on some portable speakers. Looking back, it was cringey but like, this is high school. It was awesome. The thing was most of my friends were into it too so, whatever.
- Smith Westerns – All Die Young”
This record came out at the perfect time: senior year of high school, moving to another state later, trying to cement friendships and letting some wilt away. Driving around a small town after get-togethers thinking “is this the last time I’ll see this person?” So dramatic as a high schooler.
- Radiohead – “Morning Mr. Magpie”
There was a period of time when I tried to defend this Radiohead album. That time has passed.
- The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness”
There was a period of time when I tried to defend this Strokes album. That time has passed.
- Destroyer – “Kaputt”
Would become a bigger thing later in the 2010s but back when this dropped I knew it was something sepcial.
- PJ Harvey – “Written On The Forehead”
Until her 2011 album, I had never heard of PJ Harvey. Ain’t life crazy like that?
— — —
- Cut Copy – “Need You Now”
BIG winter-warming record. One of my most listened-to in early 2011.
- James Blake – “The Wilhelm Scream”
LOVE the build up in this song, gradually getting more intense as it builds. I remember this album had just come out or was about to come out and I went to my local record store and asked if they had James Blake and they said “no because I have no clue who that is, he’s a nobody”. Cool.
- Toro Y Moi – “New Beat”
I think my first ever tweet was about dancing to this song. I even tagged Toro Y Moi. They didn’t fav it.
- Jai Paul – “BTSTU”
Heard this first during my independent study class in the school library. Listened to it maybe 10 times in a row. Showed it to every friend, acquaintance I encountered after. Probably my favorite song from 2011?
- Tyler, The Creator – “Yonkers”
If your 2011 didn’t involve seeing the music video for this song and then the Jimmy Fallon performance – woah. Props to you. Instantly put me in the “GOLF WANG” camp.
- Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
Came out at the perfect time – spring 2011. Will always remind me of it with more sun, thawing snow, buds on trees. Also driving to take AP tests. Not great!
- Yuck – “Get Away”
Even in 2011 I was like “there is no way Yuck will ever make a song as good as this”.
- Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
I was DEEP into Lady Gaga in 2011. Born This Way is good.
- Gang Gang Dance – “Mindkilla”
I could either put this song or “Glass Jar”, but this song really totaled my brain when I first heard it.
- Tune-Yards – “Gangsta”
Was kinda into Bird-Brains when it came out, but this set my brain on fire. Rushed to a friend’s house to show them and they were instantly like “yeah this sucks”. Ah, well, nevertheless!
— — —
- Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers”
Is this a sorority thing now? It was a big Hype Machine thing for me.
- The Black Keys – “Everlasting Light”
Got back into The Black Keys around this time. Still a great song!
- Kurt Vile – “Baby’s Arms”
Woah cool guitar sound dude. First time I was really paying attention to Kurt Vile.
- Tim Hecker – “In The Air III”
Ravedeath, 1972 was my introduction to Tim Hecker – a good start! I remember playing this for my AP Psych class in a presentation for some reason, maybe it was about the imagination? About ears and the brain? Not sure, but I told people to close their eyes and imagine where they’d be and then asked people what they felt after. My teacher was so into the whole thing. Just never been immersed in a track like this before.
- Hooray For Earth – “True Loves”
Hooray For Earth – underrated 2010s band. I think their 2014 album is their best, but this was a fav free mp3 download at the time.
- Friendly Fires – “Live Those Days Tonight”
I think I exercised to this song in he spring of 2011. Just a huge song.
- The Dodos – “Black Night”
Main thing I think about with this track is playing the new Pokemon and cleaning my house for realtor tours. Thanks, The Dodos.
- The Weeknd – “What You Need”
One cannot think of 2011 without thinking of The Weeknd and his myserious debut that was a FREE download. Although I prefer “The Morning” off this album, “What You Need” was the first track I heard and I think I was swayed by Pitchfork into liking this. However, I still really do love this project. I was happy I could pick out two Beach House samples.
- Jamie Woon – “Lady Luck”
I remember listening to this song maybe 10 times in a row during a computer class.
- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Belong”
Teenager anthem for the 10s. Come on, obviously!
— — —
- White Denim – “Burnished”
Shout out to Gorilla Vs. Bear for covering White Denim when no one else did.
- Battles – “Africastle”
I remember parking on someone’s lawn for a grad party and just staying in my car to listen to probably half of this Battles album for the first time. People just walking by and looking at me while the back half of “Africastle” just rips my car apart.
- Fucked Up – “The Other Shoe”
Mowed the lawn to this album once. I put the earbuds underneath shotgun shell earmuffs and really couldn’t hear anything else. Just me and Damian. Finally saw this song live eight years later.
- Bon Iver – “Holocene”
Early summer 2011 and no Bon Iver? I gotta be concerned about your motives, dude. Wasn’t all in on this album but man I listened to it a bunch.
- Cold Cave – “The Great Pan Is Dead”
I think maybe after the second or thid listen I was belting along with this song in my car.
- The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”
If you don’t know this song… please change that.
- Panda Bear – “Afterburner”
The main thing that comes to mind when I listen to this are humid Michigan springs. Like it’s cold and cloudy and HUMID. How weird!
- Charli XCX – “Nuclear Seasons”
Baby’s first Charli XCX song he liked.
- Shabazz Palaces – “Free Press And Curl”
Hilariously, this was the frist song I ever remember listening to on NPR’s First Listen / streaming thing. I attempted in the driveway of my house on my new Verizon “smart phone” and it kept buffering and it sounded BAD (my phone was bad). To this day amazing album. Just thinking about me trying to listen to this on 3G via NPR First Listen though, classic 2011.
- Gorillaz – “Bobby In Phoenix”
Huge Gorillaz fan was disappointed for the first time with The Fall. Revisited it and “Bobby In Phoenix” is unbeatably the best song.
— — —
- Daft Punk – “Da Funk / Daftendirekt (Live)”
Bought Alive 2007 on a whim after seeing it on sale at Best Buy when I initially went to buy blank CDs to burn final mixes for friends. I had been a big fan of Discovery all summer, so this wasn’t a left field purchase. I didn’t realize that this would turn into being maybe my all-time favorite live album? Such great mixes of songs and the reactions from the crowd push it over the edge. Can’t even imagine being at one of these shows. The 00s were a crazy, irony-free zone compared to now, eh?
- The Flaming Lips – “See The Leaves”
Would drive around my small town of Saline, MI BLASTING this song with my windows down. Seeing Flaming Lips around this time was also truly foundational.
- Ty Segall – “You Make The Sun Fry”
- Washed Out – “Amor Fati”
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “How Can U Luv Me”
This little couplet of songs acts as a representative of “the cobbled libary”. The scene is the following: my house is gutted by the moving crew, aside from the few personal things my sister, my mom and I were taking to the hotel we’d be living at for the month of July. I had just bought my first laptop computer for college. All of my music library exists on my parents desktop computer, in a truck, going to the East Coast. I accidentally “restore” my iPod with all my music on it, effectively deleting everything, leaving me with no music except for the few CDs I held onto in my car. The rest of my library was then cobbled together with free mp3 downloads from Pitchfork, Stereogum, GvsB, and other music blogs. I’d listen to these few Ty Segall, UMO, Washed Out, Peaking Lights, Grimes, Thundercat, etc, over and over driving around. They represent a time when I was forcible separated from classic rock and went right into the new new stuff.
- Cut Copy – “Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution (Toro Y Moi Remix)”
Forget when I encountered this remix but damn it’s great. Listen if you haven’t. Not on streaming.
- Elite Gymnastics – “Here, In Heaven”
Didn’t become a full obsession until later but I wish Elite Gymnastics put out more music.
- Youth Lagoon – “Montana”
Bonded with Youth Lagoon on Twitter because our name’s are Trevor. That felt cool.
- Real Estate – “It’s Real”
Ok this one is obvious. 2011 and “It’s Real”? Ultimate summer jam.
- Clams Casino – “I’m God (Instrumental)”
Wait ok, THIS one is obvious. I think I downloaded this from YouTube initially. Still an A+ song.
— — —
- Araabmuzik – “Streetz Tonight”
The fact that Electronic Dream is not on streaming will deprive zoomers Araabmuzik’s impact on early 10s electronic music and that makes me sad.
- Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”
I was ALL IN on Lana for most of 2011. I listened to “Video Games” endlessly. My most-viewed post on my blog, historically, is a Lana Del Rey post (mostly because the Google algorithm brought the image I was hosting up in the first page?). After that SNL performance I was like “ok this has been fun”. But man, in the moment? Nothing was better than this. I tstill think it’s pretty bulletproof.
- Little Dragon – “Ritual Union”
The little reoww-ruuuu” sound is classic. Loved seeing them perform this like eight years later for the first time.
- Gauntlet Hair – “Top Bunk”
Gauntlet hair – underrated band! HUGE summer fav for me. Bold, bodacious sounds just cluttering up the mix. It’s awesome.
- Ford & Lopatin – “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)”
Bought this CD from a record store in Philly. Huge pickup. Blasted in my car for the whole summer. Hugely overlooked record IMO. Just a great messed up summer drivin’ song.
- M83 – “Midnight City”
If you were “too cool” for this song in 2011, come on man. It’s also fair to not like it. But man, this song. OH – I remember being on Reddit talking about this song being like “i’m about to be a college freshman I can’t wait to walk around on campus to this and think about how great of an adult I’ll be” and someone responded like “wow you just won the internet good sir”. Another time, another age. I think if I didn’t meet my partner in 2012 I would have become a Reddit bro.
- St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
I remember to “unlock” the premiere of this song we had to tweet #strangemercy or #stvincent a bunch of times. I wish I still had my old Twitter account to see what I was doing or that + how many times I did it. Either way, the first taste of new St. V since Actor was a special one. Still a big favorite of mine.
- Das Racist – “Michael Jackson”
Michael Jackson? A million dollars? You feel me? Holler. This was a Facebook status.
- The Rapture – “How Deep Is Your Love?”
Put this song on the final mixCD I gave to some close friends before I moved. Thought I was being real deep and stuff. Still a great song. I think I stood next to the lead singer of The Rapture at a Todd Terje concert at Terminal 5 in 2015. Very odd memory.
- Burial – “Stolen Dog”
Picturing helping my mom navigate driving from Michigan to Connecticut mostly in the rain with a dog and guinea pig in tow. Listened to Burial’s Street Halo EP over and over, a solemn but driving three-track EP that instantly brings back sensations like the feel of the old carpet in the hotel we stayed at, the smells of my friends’ homes and experiencing NYC-area traffic for the first time.
— — —
- Crystal Antlers – “Two-Way Mirror”
- Wild Beasts – “Invisible”
- Handsome Furs – “Damage”
- When Saints Go Machine – “Kelly”
- Beat Connection – “In The Water”
I associate this quintet of songs with the short month I spent living at my parents new house in Connecticut after moving from Michigan, and starting college. I pulled them from maybe Under The Radar’s list of Best Tracks of 2011 So Far, or I Think I’m Floating (RIP). Definitely trawled some blog that definitely doesn’t exist anymore. Anyways, I spent that time playing Portal 2, being sad I’m not in Michigan anymore, and unpacking just to re-pack for college.
- CSS – “Hits Me Like A Rock”
Vividly remember pulling up to my freshman dorm on move-in day listening to this song. Feeling very overwhelmed, intimidated and uncool. Trying to capture some mojo.
- The Caretaker – “Libet’s Delay”
I remember putting this on out loud in my freshman dorm room and thinking I was really cool, although there was no context besides my roommate thinking I was playing like, oldies? Either way, shout out to Altered Zones.
- Dan Deacon – “Woof Woof”
Dan Deacon’s Bromst was the first album a new friend at college recommended me. I think it was because I said I liked Animal Collective? Anyways, at the time I would always go to sleep listening to music. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and “Woof Woof” had come on shuffle and I was so incredibly confused. I think I told my friend the next day like “I just woke up with all these weird cartoon woofs and meows with a wild pitched up voice” and he just laughed at me. I love this album now. Oh and later I met this friend’s hometown/high school friends, who had pictures online at a Dan Deacon concert, so I thought they were the coolest people ever. Still friends. Phew.
- Girls – “Alex”
I wish more people remembered Girls!
- Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”
Era Extraña is incredibly underrated. Also counts for a 2012 song, as it was he first song I ever played on the radio.
— — —
- Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Classic tune for me. Young Galaxy is an amazing group. Put it on maybe every early college mix.
- Cut Copy – “Hearts On Fire”
I got into Cut Copy’s 2011 album in a big way, but neglected to check out their previous one for no reason. This song still slaps and might be on my current exercise playlist.
- The Decemberists – “Mariner’s Revenge Song”
My freshman year roommate (still a very close friend!) was super into The Decemberists at the time. I was a dabbler. He showed me “Mariner’s Revenge Song” and I was like ok this is a good band.
- Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Bright Lit Blue Skies”
I vividly remember scurrying from class to class in a packed freshman year schedule and listening to Before Today over and over. Again, still a fantastic album!
- Burial & Massive Attack – “Paradise Circus”
I remember sneak-listening to this song during an English class when it dropped. We were in the library watching a movie? Maybe? I thought it was the coolest thing.
- Grimes – “Oblivion”
“Y’all ever heard of this up-and-coming artist Grimes?” – Trevor in 2011. I knew when I heard this that it was gonna be HUGE.
- Future Islands – “Balance”
Lots of nice memories walking around campus to this song. Hell yeah.
- Born Gold – “Decimate Everything”
Oh look, it’s GOBBLE GOBBLE from my 2010 list. Their debut as Born Gold still holds a special place in my heart and this was a HUGE favorite from the year. Still a fantastic song.
- Beyoncé – “Countdown”
I was definitely a “pop is crap” person until about 2010, so a new Beyoncé album was a cool moment to live through. Imagine if social media was at the height it’s at now when this came out.
- Tycho – “Hours”
This song still holds up so hard. HUGE college freshman track for me.
— — —
- Korallreven – “As Young As Yesterday”
- Sleep ∞ Over – “Romantic Streams”
Two very cool albums I reviewed for my radio station’s new music committee. I vaguely knew of these two bands from Gorilla Vs Bear, but the fact I got a Hippos In Tanks CD at the station felt especially cool. Korallreven album is a BIG 2011 for me – I gotta re-rank the albums from that year.
- Azealia Banks – “212”
Even if she’s problematic as hell, we still have this song and its music video.
- The Goat Rodeo Sessions – “Attaboy”
Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan on a project together? Ultimate nerd-dom for me. Me and a few friends were obsessed with this track in particular. I remember playing this for my radio station’s new music committee too and being very passionate about it, even though no one there cared about bluegrass/nu-grass.
- A$AP Rocky – “Bass”
Transport yourself to late 2011 and think about how ASAP Mob were EVERYWHERE. Clams Casino was having a huge year and he was about to get bigger too. “Bass” was my first introduction – this mixtape was a free download! I remember showing it to a friend and we were both like “woah, what even is this??” Wild to think about that nine years later.
- Mazzy Star – “Common Burn”
Baby’s first introduction to Mazzy Star. I remember listening to this in a dining hall on a rainy fall day – that was a vibe.
- My Bloody Valentine – “When You Sleep”
Wrote a paper about My Bloody Valentine and Loveless.
- Oneohetrix Point Never – “Andro”
I had tried to listen to OPN on his 2010 album Returnal but it was a bit too experimental for me at the time. Replica on the other hand, comprised entirely of random VHS samples, was a concept I could get down with. It was also incredibly spooky and was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I drew the album cover on my dorm’s whiteboard most weeks.
- Discovery – “Osaka Loop Line”
Show this song to a naive college freshman and they will think it’s the coolest song of all time. I have the proof. This whole album still holds up. It’s still wonderful. Just think of a college freshman listening to this, though. Specifically one in 2011. There we go.
- Holy Ghost! – “I Wanted To Tell Her (feat. Nancy Whang & Juan MacLean)”
If you’ve never heard this Ministry cover, please change that. Ministry purists might hate it, but I love Holy Ghost! and hearing Nancy Whang’s voice on things, so this scratched an itch. I think I had just watched Drive for the first time, so I felt ULTRA cool.
— — —
- Brian Eno – “1/1”
- Boards of Canada – “roygbiv”
Went on a NYC trip with some college friends. Downloaded a bunch of music beforehand that I thought would fit being “in a museum” since we were going to the MET, which were Brian Eno’s Music For Airports and Boards of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children, two albums a college freshman should be required to listen to (just kidding). Still associate both with wandering through the sprawling museum. Still haven’t been back. Now is not the time.
- Dinosaur Jr. – “Little Fury Things”
Listening to Dinosaur Jr., or You’re Living All Over Me, rather – pretty great!
- Death Grips – “Guillotine”
“Man this group is crazy. Well, I probably won’t be listening to them again.” – Trevor, 2011
- Jacques Greene – “Another Girl”
Put somewhere on a Best Songs of 2011 list, loved it ever since.
- Kanye West – “Lost In The World”
Had a moment with my college friends listening to this song on repeat on the last day before our freshman year winter break.
- Rustie – “Surph”
- Julianna Barwick – “Keep Up The Good Work”
- Grouper – “Alien Observer”
This trio of Rustie, Julianna Barwick and Grouper are all artists I saw on various Best Albums of 2011 lists and never saw / cared about earlier in the year. I found various .zip downloads of all of them across the internet and checked them out, the latter two still being foundational, ultra-favorites. Both made my Best Albums of the Decade. The Rustie album is great too, but I’ve faded away from that style of electronic.
- The Weeknd – “Montreal”
The last entry in the “trilogy” of Weeknd albums. Again, didn’t hit the peaks of the debut, but it still had me SO stoked and part of the whole “crashed website” trying to download it for free. That’s another thing – The Weeknd’s first three albums were all free downloads. What a world.