I could’ve made this list twice as long but I capped it at 50. Most of these are actual singles. The rest should be. Beyond the top ten, ordering is fairly arbitrary.
- Metronomy – The Look (MP3 | Video)
I first heard this song back in February and I have yet to tire of it. I wish the keyboard solo outro lasted forever.
- Exlovers – Blowing Kisses (MP3 | Video)
Rocking shoegaze pop of the highest order. Can’t wait for the album.
- Acid House Kings – Would you say stop? (MP3 | Video)
A shuffling beat, handclaps and a chorus that will never leave your head.
- Trailer Trash Tracys – Wish You Were Red (MP3 | Video)
Originally a b-side to their first single, “Wish You Were Red” gets elevated single status now, part late-’80s 4AD, part Twin Peaks soundtrack, all awesome.
- Baxter Dury – Claire (MP3 | Video)
Like all of Happy Soup, “Claire,” bristles with clean, purposefully mid-fi production and minimalist arrangement, leaving us to contemplate the “ooh oohs” and Baxter’s charming mumble.
- The Liminanas – Trouble in Mind (MP3 | Video)
This is the a-side to this French ensemble’s new single which was only available at the merch table of their recent tour. Chanson garage! It may be my favorite song they’ve done yet, and was certainly a highlight of their live shows.
- The 2 Bears – Bear Hug (MP3 | Video)
When Joe Goddard isn’t busy with his band Hot Chip or his solo recordings, he makes house music with his burly bearded cohort Raf Rundell under the 2 Bears moniker. This song is rediculous and rediculously awesome.
- Real Estate – It’s Real (MP3 | Video)
Whoah oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh… it’s really good.
- Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Trouble (MP3 | Video)
Despite the name, this is some seriously good dancepop, that should hold you over till he releases an album or the new Hot Chip album arrives.
- Jonny – Candyfloss (MP3 | Video)
Norman Blake + Euros Childs = Indie rock Reese’s Cup and it’s as delicious as you’d expect.
- Cashier No. 9 – Goldstar (MP3 | Video)
Take country-tinged West Coast style songwriting and harmonies and then add orchestral production courtesy soundtrack maestro David Holmes and you get Cashier No. 9 who are from Ireland (not Scotland as I would’ve expected). Perfection.
- Grass Widow – Milo Minute (MP3 | Video)
First single for Grass Widow’s own HLM label is the sometimes obtuse band’s most straightforward single yet, the closest they’ve come to pop. More like this please.
- Peter Bjorn and John – Second Chance (MP3 | Video)
Swedish trio get back to basics and make maybe their catchiest album ever? This one is for sure their best single since “Young Folks”… more cowbell? No, just enough.
- Blood Orange – Sutphin Boulevard (MP3 | Video)
Where the JMZ meets the Airtrain is where we’ll find Dev Hynes’ best moment from his latest musical incarnation.
- Still Corners – Cuckoo (MP3 | Video)
Spooky, ice cold, wistful, dreamy… Still Corners in one song.
- Shit Robot – Losing My Patience (MP3 | Video)
Shit Robot is Markus Lambkin but this track features writing credits from both James Murphy and Alexis Taylor (who provides vocals), this is a true DFA supersingle. And as good as its credits.
- Ringo DeathStarr – So High (MP3 | Video)
The second best shoegaze pop song of 2011.
- TV Girl – Benny and the Jetts (MP3)
All samples, apparently, but TV Girl makes them his own on one of the year’s catchiest hooks. Get the whole EP for free here.
- Terry Malts – Something About You (MP3)
It’s pop. It’s punk. But it’s not pop-punk. It’s the Terry Malts!
- Radical Dads – Skateboard Bulldog (MP3)
You loved the YouTube video. Now love the indie rock song. The b-side is great too.
- Destroyer – Kaputt (MP3 | Video)
Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker, NME… all sounds like a dream to me.
- Metronomy – The Bay (MP3 | Video)
Only band to get two tracks on this year’s single list. This is the disco stormer. It’s so special by the bay.
- Veronica Falls – Bad Feeling (MP3 | Video)
All bow to the aweome, fierce jangle of Veronica Falls.
- Little Racer – Little Racer (MP3)
I love it when a band has a theme song. At least when it’s good, like this one is. From Brooklyn, they’re new.
- Dent May – Fun (MP3)
Dent drops the ukelele, for the moment, and goes crazy in the studio and delivers two great sides of a 7″. It’s almost a dance track. Almost. Definitely fun.25 more classic 2011 tracks after the jump!
- Plastic Flowers – Strange Neighbors (We Won’t Be Friends) (MP3 | Video)
There is no shortage of ’80s-style gloom-n-romance these days, but this was among my favorites.
- Young Galaxy – Peripheral Visionaries (MP3 | Video)
Anthemic, atmospheric, danceable… one of Montreal’s more underrated groups. Produced by those Studio guys and it shows.
- The Strokes – Machu Picchu (MP3 | Video)
This wasn’t actually released as a single, not sure why. It’s the best song on the album and most obvious pop song.
- WhoMadeWho – Every Minute Alone (MP3 | Video)
It’s like the Doors going squelchy techno… in a parallel universe where that’d be a good thing.
- Django Django – Waveforms (MP3 | Video)
One of my great hopes of 2012 giving us a welcome taste of what’s to come. And yes, they do sound a bit like the Beta Band.
- John Foxx & the Maths – Evergreen (MP3)
Onetime Ultravox singer goes back to his synth roots. This sounds like it was made in 1981 and was actually made completely with vintage gear. And is a great song beyond the luddite excercise.
- Wye Oak – Holy Holy (MP3 | Video)
The most spectacular moment on Wye Oak’s terrific third LP. 3:19 into it is where it gets me every time.
- SBTRKT – Pharaohs (MP3 | Video)
I know “Wildfire” was the jam and all from SBTRKT’s deservedly-praised debut, but this was my favorite.
- Peggy Sue – Song & Dance (MP3 | Video)
Maybe my favorite Peggy Sue song ever. Everything about them is just a little askew: the rhythms, the harmonies, the guitars. In a wonderful way, of course. Also weirdly danceable.
- The British Public – Bears (MP3 | Video)
Rediculously catchy ’90s style indie rock in the BOAT mold. Looking forward to hearing more.
- Jeffrey Lewis – Cult Boyfriend (MP3 | Video)
I bet Eddie Argos is jealous that Jeffrey Lewis wrote the best Art Brut song since “Good Weekend.”
- Pete and the Pirates – Come To The Bar (MP3 | Video)
A great example of everything Pete & the Pirates do so well. Puts a smile on your face and gets you dancing, if just a little.
- Sissy & The Blisters – We Are The Others (MP3 | Video)
Kind of embarrassing name, but a pretty good band. And a fantastic single. Very Damned, don’t you think?
- Allah-Las – Catamaran (MP3)
Laid back and surfy, not too low-fi but still sounding like it’s drifting this way via AM radio. Lovely.
- Yuck – Get Away (MP3 | Video)
After being initially very jazzed, my interest in Yuck’s album faded as the year went on. I still like it, and “Get Away” is maybe the best song on it that didn’t see the light of day last year.
- Small Reactions – Nerve Pop (MP3)
Atlanta indiepoppers making good with their first single on Magic Marker.
- Ski Lodge – I Would Die To Be (MP3)
Like Beach Fossils covering the Smiths… that’s a very good thing. I listened to this one a lot.
- This Many Boyfriends – Young Lovers Go Pop! (MP3 | Video)
More confident sounding band, louder and less twee than the TMB we’re used to. Really hoping NYC Popfest snags them for next year’s festivities.
- The Hairs – Duh! x 12 (MP3 | Video)
This is the new band from Kevin of Knight School and L’il Hospital before that. Maybe it’s the presence of a bassist, but I think The Hairs is the best thing he’s done yet. Waiting for the next single!
- Blouse – Time Travel (MP3 | Video)
I wish Blouse’s debut album had more songs as great as this one. Think they’re heading that way, though.
- Widowspeak – Fir Coat (MP3 | Video)
These Brooklynites get compared to Mazzy Star out the wazoo but, David Roback and Kendra Smith were never as peppy as this song. Molly Hamilton has an amazing voice and they write a good hook.
- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Heart In Your Heartbreak (MP3 | Video)
Working with big league knob-twiddlers Flood and Alan Moulder didn’t hurt TPOBPAH one bit, as evidenced by this terrific bit of lithe-tongued popsmithery.
- Heavenly Beat – Faithless (MP3)
This is John Pena who is in Beach Fossils and am happy to report Heavenly Beat sounds nothing like them. (I like Beach Fossils, mind you.) If you didn’t know better, you’d think this was a Scandinavian indiepop band.
- The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day (MP3 | Video)
I wish the rest of their new album dropped the tired cheerleader music in favor of fantastic pop songs like this, which features Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino.
- AZEALIA BANKS – 212 (MP3 | Video)
Filthy lyrics, but you gotta dig the vibe of this song which goes well with “Bear Hug” actually. It’s a banger!