Best Electro of 2011 – PART I
Image via LaughterKey
At last, the best electro of 2011. I’m not ranking these, they’re in alphabetical order. Forthcoming is the second half of this list, as well as the Best Indie Rock and the best Dance and the Best Chill Music. It’s about time, eh?
Born Gold – End of Days (2:38)
Born Gold – Lawn Knives (2:04)
Born Gold were born as GobbleGobble and have changed their names for whatever reason. I don’t like the new name, it makes them sound like another trite eletro band, when they’re probably the most original act on this list. Both of these songs are glitchy, fast, and explosive. They finally put out an album in 2011, so I can take this chance to lavish praise on their sound, which is something like what a zombie-Gameboy would sound like if it had been run over by a train. Not that their sound is 8-bit necessarily…I don’t know what’s the source behind their sound, I just know I like it.
Butcher Blades – Jigsaw Limbs (3:41)
Butcher Blades were a late addition to the list. Jigsaw Limbs is a song that is both as gorgeous and celestial as a cathedral. It’s also a song that’s as dark as that same church’s hundred-year-old cemetery. It’s a lot to pull off in one song, and it does so by swinging between heavenly voices and a mean fucking beat.
Body Language – You Can (Keep Shelly in Athens Remix) 3:26
Such lovely voices, and then when they stop singing there’s an oddly melodic gutteral sound, like a five-year old trying to imitate the sound of a kazoo. I don’t know, I like the original almost as much as the remix. Here’s the video for Body Language – You Can, which do you like best?
Cut Copy – Corner Of The Sky (5:28)
I didn’t give this album a fair shake. I had very high expectations after their last one, and I was a little disappointed. But upon making this list, I had to admit Zonoscope has some very nice pop songs.“Corner of the Sky” is as good an example as any of why I think Cut Copy is one of the bands leading the new wave revival. Maybe I should have included “Don’t Blink And You’ll Miss A Revolution” on this list. Check at the video and let me know if you like it better.
Datarock – Catcher In The Rye (3:20)
A fun song for singing along with. “Catcher in the Rye” sounds like a pop band impersonating the Talking Heads. But unlike the Talking Heads, their lyrics are at times humorous and their beats are usually danceable, even pogo-worthy.
Edwin van Cleef – Lisztomania (feat. Jane Hanley) (4:20)
Phoenix had one of the most celebrated albums of the last few years. I’m a sucker for a cross-gender cover and this sexy version adds a little bit of sway to one of the most popular songs of the past two years. You don’t even realize the it’s been creating a build-up until the breakdown; it’s subtle but lovely.
Germany Germany – Take Me Home (3:32)
This is just one of many delicious and dreamy tracks available on Germany Germany’s Bandcamp page. Definitely one of the year’s best albums, particularly if you like dreamwave. The only reason I hesitated to add more of their songs to this list is that many lack vocals, which for some reason I care about. Expect to hear more from this band, as they know how to craft a tune.
GROUPLOVE – Colours (Captain Cuts Remix) (4:32)
I almost put this song on my “Best Dance Songs of 2011” list, but I decided I don’t always want to dance to it. I’d rather sing along and bop my head. This is a great remix for jamming in the car. I like that his voice is a wee bit rough, it balances the sound. Check out the Best Indie Rock of 2011 list for another Grouplove track. If you want to hear more Captain Cuts, there’s another remix of his on the Best-of Dance list.
Heartsrevolution – Teenage Teardrops (Ugly Kids Remix) (4:00)
You may have noticed that I’m a fan of Heartsrevolution. The woman behind it strikes me as a poet, using music as an excuse to express herself. She makes electro, but it’s a little bit more weird and dark than most of the poppy songs floating around. Many remixes just throw a beat on the first and last minute (to keep it simple and easy for the DJ) but this one stands on its own as a lovely electro song. The keyboard solo at 2:55 is not in the original and brings this home for the win.
BTW, since this is no longer publicly available on their Soundcloud, this link is currently exclusively available on this site.
IS TROPICAL – Lies (3:26)
A fantastic track off one of the best albums of 2011. From the first beat, from the first line, you know this song is a winner. It’s everything good electro should be: a little dancey, a little dark, with some fun layers and sound effects to keep it interesting, and plenty of drops and buildups.
Jhameel – Bernal Heights (3:24)
I fell in like with three different songs on this album and had a lot of trouble deciding which should go on this list. Jhameel’s not making banger dance songs, but they do groove enough to sway with the babe of your choice. They’re not the thick, layered dreamwave sound so popular now either. It’s simple electro. His voice is pretty, but what I like best about “Bernal Heights” are the long rests dropped in unexpected places throughout.
Joywave – Betelgeuse (3:14)
For the first minute, you think, “Oh how lovely.” Then there’s an explosion of tinklie keyboards. The song dances back and forth between synth and harmonies. Danceable, but would also fit in on your chilldown list. Ends on a drum solo because, why not, if you can pull it off? They do.
Kenna – Chains (3:51)
I can’t get enough of this song, and the video is terrific. The driving rhythm is a little dark, you get the sense that something is happening. The line “hey don’t sleep on my escape” is looped through the buildup, and when the beat drops and he sings “Hey, hey hey!” you may want to throw your hands in the air. Though I’m not wild about the album, this is certainly one of the best songs of the year.
Check back in a week and I’ll have both PART I and PART II of the Best Electro of 2011 as an easy-to-download torrent.