In a weak year for albums, the song was king. (And the king is most certainly not dead.) By far my hardest list to whittle down to eight, my favorite tunes of 2011 were mostly heavy on the synth with a few countryside exceptions. Nothing broke any major musical barriers here, but just show eight bands or artists who had an incredibly knack for melody and musicianship.
The first single from Death Cab’s Codes and Keys set the tone for the album with escalating “You Are a Tourist.” The song embodied the band’s experimental approach with tweaks and effects that challenged their traditional guitar-heavy sound. Along the way, singer and lyricist Ben Gibbard delivered an unlikely gush of affirmations that matched-up perfectly with the song’s sonic groove. In fact, I’ve spent most of the year with “This fire grows higher” still echoing in my brain.