Eyewear thought that 2011 was an extraordinary year for music, though many anticipated bands and artists underperformed, with lacklustre releases, not least Coldplay, who have become pathetically upbeat in a bland way that seems utterly out of sync with the times. This was very much the year of brilliant women, as well as folk/Americana. Here is the playlist of 2011 - 45 minutes of excellence.
Nick Lowe - 'Sensitive Man' - Lowe's return was most welcome, and this jaunty, old-fashioned tune had the lovely surprise of "I'm no dinky-doo".
Nathaniel Rateliff - 'You Should've Seen The Other Guy' - in a year of (yes) sensitive, reflective Americana, Rateliff's broken-yet-defiant persona in this song seemed to capture the sad-sackery of our serial-recession era with dry humour and poignancy.
John Maus - 'Keep Pushing On' - 2011 saw many bands explore techno, synths, and 80s stylings, but no one else came up with a more hauntingly original, and inspiring, take on this, than Maus.
Katy B - 'Katy On A Mission' - here was the dancefloor anthem for an underground London - smart, sexy, and utterly undeniable.
PJ Harvey - 'The Words That Maketh Murder' - Harvey was the artist of the year (if not decade), and her album of an England and its wars was the masterwork those who love her had hoped for.
Gillian Welch - 'Tennessee' - "... and heaven when I die" - rarely has a song moved so much with its melodic stoicism. A latecomer to this list, but now one of my favourite songs of all time.
Pajama Club - 'Can't Put It Down Until It Ends' - probably the most cleverly edited and complex pure pop song since 'Good Vibrations', this husband-and-wife team from down under recall the glory days of Split Enz.
Wilco - 'I Might' - speaking of The Beach Boys, here we have an adrenaline-rush of American-style rock that's light and dark at once.
Lady Gaga - 'Born This Way' - already a somewhat annoying fixture as Icon Numero Uno, this was her monster hit, a gay-disco pastiche of Madonna, that still managed to smack of unique talent.
Lana Del Rey - 'Video Games' - the dirge-like, Lynchian viral sensation of the last few months, no song of the year was as sexy, ominous, and retro-sad. It was like Mad Men set to music, injected by a blonde hophead.
Florence + The Machine - 'What The Water Gave Me' - the most stirring, uplifting and flamboyant song of 2011, recalling the great days of Siouxsie and the Banshees, and yes, Kate Bush. This was the big 80s back, an age unafraid of emotionality.
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