HMCMB’s Songs Of 2011

2011 has been a big year for us at HMCMB. We like to use these posts as a way of wrapping up all the new things that have been going on, and hope that the compilation, which lets face it, you’re all here for, acts as enough of an incentive for you to continue reading.

The year has seen us bring in a number of new members/contributors, as well as a whole team of friends and helpers all willing to step in and assist when we needed it. It goes without saying that we are of course eternally grateful to you guys! The year has also seen us start up our new podcast at Recharged Radio which you can see by following this LINK, or searching for us on iTunes (yeah, iTunes!). Our music tastes also broadened as the year went on, made no more evident than by our SFTW feature and ‘Exams Mixtape’ that was released in May this year (with a second hip-hop compilation very much in the pipeline at current) . These developments have been great and allowed us to branch into areas unknown and meet readers and people we never would have otherwise.

Another area we delved into was the world of acoustic sessions. Any regular readers, or indeed anyone within earshot of any HMCMBer may well have heard about these. We launched with “Sessions September”, one a day for a month, and it’s admittedly been a difficult ride, working out how to use all the kit needed to bring them to you and putting up with the inevitble less than ideal conditions that crop up from time to time, but it’s been worth it. To hear more of our thoughts on them, hit this LINK, or just go straight to YouTube.

So with all that in mind, what better way to celebrate than putting together a list of our favourite tracks of the year. As with our 2010 list, these tracks may not make every list of 2011, for a start there’s no PJ Harvey or Metronomy, names that are popping up with an alarming frequency, but they are our favourites of the year. We hope you can enjoy them too.

We’ve painstakingly put together 16 tracks that are not only some of our favourites, but best represent the roots of the site. With that in mind, the grand majority are unsigned artists dying to get heard, or those who epitomise everything we love about music right now. Admittedly, for legal reasons some of our picks had to be omitted. For those then, a big shout out to Ben Howard and the inspirational “Every Kingdom”, Bon Iver and his eponymous sophomore effort, Little Comets’ jaunty debut, Yuksek’s french electro pop and lest we forget Jamie Woon and his, ‘post-dubstep’debut “Mirrorwriting”. Jamie XX has remained a constant  throughout the year as he excelled himself as producer come remixer and SBTRKT has shown everyone how minimalist electronic music should be done. As far as singular efforts go it’s been hard to shake M83′s spectral “Midnight City” the quirky brilliance of Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” or Various Cruelties’ effortlessly cool ‘Neon Truth’. There is of course a huge gulf of hip-hop absence  here, reason being purely that we like to keep things fairly compartmentalized and that that round-up/compilation is coming soon.  Below we’ve included a little reasoning for each of our ‘Songs of 2011’s inclusion. If you’ve read enough by now though, here’s a download link: 

If you are willing to allow us to grace your presence for a few moments longer, head on down and enjoy!

HMCMB’s Songs Of 2011

Bastille  -  Icarus

We’ve said it before and we will say it again, “Icarus” is pop music how it should be. Smith’s voice diving and soaring amongst a meticulous musical backdrop whilst the synth manages to retain a complementary rawness with tight knit vocal harmonies accentuating the emotion and a steadfast drumbeat ensuring the piece remains grounded. We loved Bastille the moment we heard them, so were pretty pleased when they had such a fruitful year. Read more about that HERE whilst enjoying this perfect piece of soaring pop balladry.

Closer- Young Runaways

Finally covered back in September HERE, Young Runaways have been a favourite for us over the past year. They play the full orchestral sound to their absolute advantage, complimenting the indie riffs with a gorgeous brass and strings ensemble. Catchy and upbeat this band of revellers are faintly reminiscent of Stornaway. Put simply, you can’t get enough of folk.

Sunburns  –  “Soma’s Starting”

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. It shows that all you need to craft the perfect carefree summer anthem is hand claps, a guitar, some brass and a pleasant vocal timbre, oh and a spot of whistling. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound so simple after all but there is, however something immediately accessible about “Soma’s Starting”, and it’s abilities to melt your troubles away, leaving you in a state of languid euphoria… A state which can surely only see you wanting more of Sunburns, which luckily you can find HERE.

Run – Daughter

The beautiful icy voice of Elena Tonra, who fronts Daughter, combines chilling lyrics of lost love and other wistful laments with a fabulous soundtrack. This track is the perfect accompaniment for a crisp wintery morning. Or any other day for that matter. We think she is great. Think Marling, her lyrics are thoughtful without the pretentious clichés which plague young singer- songwriters. After supporting the likes of Ben Howard and Benjamin Francis Leftwich we hope 2012 holds great things for her.

Lungs  -   Twin Brother

Taken from the indie side of Twin Brother’s spectrum moody ‘art rock’ comes “Lungs”. As a fellow Brightoner and tremendous talent his resonant vocals and roaring crescendoes were an obvious inclusion.

Black Sheep  -  The Barettas

Dark and gritty reprobates The Baretta’s spring straight out of a gravel pit of teenage angst, old fenders and rockabilly. Kind of. A band flung together after several expulsions and a need to portray the ‘decay’ surrounding them. Whether you believe all that or not, their hard edged 50s chic has had us entranced all year.

Up All Night – Alex Clare

Racy and vibrant, this Londoner captures the urgency and madness of insomnia perfectly. There are a lot of layers to this track and the synth and heavy basslines can be attributed to the fine set of producers Diplo and Switch. But after you’ve stamped your feet along to ‘Up All Night’ notice the quality behind it, Clare has a really weighty, soulful voice. You can’t quite pin him into genre, (and that’s what we like about him). Influenced heavily by soul and jazz, the album “Lateness Of The Hour” was out in early July and lends itself nicely to funk, punk and even a slice of dubstep.

Punching Underwater  -  Secret Pilot

With a bassline that would have the Seven Nation Army all scrabbling for their notebooks, the Mancunian Secret Pilot pick up the next spot. Raucous guitar, driving vocals and an overdose of excitement to boot. How could we not?

Buildings  -  Beats Small

There’s something almost menacing about the heady atmosphere of “Beats Small”. An all-enveloping, dense, swirling soundscape, complete with ritualistic chanting, intricate guitar found amidst a richly textured backdrop and calling, haunting vocals which all lend themselves to a slight feeling of unease. Unease most probably generated by the fact that this unlike anything you’ve heard before, as powerful as it is difficult to pin down “Beats Small” is simply best heard.

Sex  -  The Slowdown

A relatively unknown quantity, B I G S L E E P, or T H E S L O W D O W N as they’re now known come in all guns blazing with “Sex”. Epic choruses and lyrics fit for any brooding teenager all bound up in an indie fusion of The Answering Machine and late Kings Of Leon. Expect big things.

Walk The Moon  -  Anna Sun

After the year that’s been we figured a splash of musical Prozac wouldn’t go awry, and “Anna Sun” is undoubtedly the track to provide it. Instantly uplifting, a lonely voice striding across bouncy chords, joined by a crescendo of synth and chants, tempo and intensity yo-yoing throughout, simply put, this is five minutes of magic.

Stuck In My Id  -  Reptar

Propelled to, well, moderate success due to their eye catching performance at Austin’s temporary tech and music haven SXSW, Reptar have gone from strength to strength this year and in the process picked up a rich blog following. The bounce and wonderfully distorted vocals of this Freudian epic is testament to their talents.

 Higher Love – James Vincent McMorrow

The ode to the softly sung of 2011 continues with McMorrow. As it’s only right to include a cover, here is a taste of Steve Winwood’s classic “Higher Love” chillingly recreated with husky and distinctive vocals. If you think you recognise it, that’s probably because it features on the Love Film advert, yay for good music researchers. If you’re looking for more Morrow check out the lovely “We Don’t Eat”.

She Loves Me  -  Live Like Kings

An example of how live music and a thirst for new music can have such an effect. Live Like Kings were the modest support for Sissy & The Blisters at The Hope, Brighton, earlier this year. A stellar performance and thorough internet search later, “She Loves Me” has notched up over 65 plays since October. A worthy inclusion and perfect example of why music needn’t be complex or hyped to be brilliant.

If We’re Still Alive – Slow Club

Had to include this song, frank, angst ridded and hypnotising, youthful poignancy resounds in the rhythmic build up. The double act, hailing from Sheffield, uses a variety of bizarre percussive instruments in their set including a glass bottle and even a chair. Perhaps this is what maintains the quirky and folksy sound of “Still Alive” although the vocals are often haunting. That’s what gives them such depth as a duo. Their second album “Paradise” was out in September, it’s good, promise.

Bear Driver  -  Enemy

Try as you might to resist it there is something unquestionably alluring about the cascading folk instrumental and youthful exuberance of “Enemy”, which when coupled with the swooning, woozy, haze of contentment which descends with it seems a pretty good place to leave things.

As a reward for your time, here’s the download link (just click it): HMCMB’s Songs Of 2011

It’s by no means been a straightforward year, an absurd number of delayed trains, stormy weather on filming days, moments when the amount of time HMCMB has absorbed has been borderline detrimental to our lives, and even missing an interview with one of our favourites, Mac Miller. But it’s been worth it. We really hope you enjoy our Songs Of 2011 as much as we did. See you in 2012.


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