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The Best Songs Of 2011: #1 – The John Knox Sex Club ‘Kiss The Dirt’

So this is it. My #1 song of the year. It nearly went to american newcomers Howler, but literally in the final days of compiling the top ten I had an epiphany with Scottish Band The John Knox Sex Club and I song I’d overlooked. I’m ashamed to say I came to this band rather late. Initially I’d dismissed them as a bit throw away or novelty because of their name and never actually had a listen to them. People I know kept mentioning them but still they passed me by. Then about a month ago someone ranted about this song, so I caved and headed to their band camp and gave it a listen.  At first I was in denial and didn’t think it was all that, then a couple weeks back I revisited it and it blew my fucking socks off. This song is Beautiful, Creepy and  Mental in equal measures. The sound of a group not holding back. It’s an unashamedly Prog Folk Rock song full of huge rock crescendoes and dense layers, and I fucking love it for that. It has more ideas packed into its 13 minutes than most bands albums. Sean Cummings Scottish brogue is spat out with a fiery intensity almost like a preacher as he’s joined by Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow & The Workshop. John Knox Sex Club are top of my list of bands I must see in 2012. I urge you to go buy their album ‘Raise Ravens’ which this is taken from. Join the club before it’s too late!!

TOP 20 BEST SONGS OF 2011 in full

1. The John Knox Sex Club ‘ Kiss The Dirt’

2. Howler ‘This One’s Different’ E.P

3. Josh T Pearson ‘Woman When I’ve Raised Hell’

4. Adam Stafford ‘Step Up, Raise Hands’

5. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins ‘ Bats In The Attic’

6. PET ‘What You Building?’

7. This Many Boyfriends ‘ Young Lovers Go Pop!’

8. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘ Fffunny Frends’

9.  St Vincent ‘Cruel’

10. Kid Canaveral feat King Creosote ‘Missionary’

11. Friends ‘ I’m his girl’

12. Arctic Monkeys ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’

13. Allo Darling ‘Let’s Go Swimming’

14. Cold Specks ‘Holland’

15. Cashier No 9 ‘Lost A t Sea’

16. King Post Kitsch ‘ you talk too much ‘

17. Spook School ‘hallam’

18. Summer Camp ‘better off without you’

19. The Strokes ‘under cover of darkness’

20. Los Campesinos! ‘hello sadness’

The Best Songs Of 2011: #2 – Howler ‘ THIS ONE’S DIFFERENT’ E.P*

Yeah you fucking read that right. An E.P at #2 because I just couldn’t pick one song from this brilliant E.P so it’s  EVERY SONG. I make no bones about how much I love U.S band Howler. I bought their debut E.P on Rough Trade – ‘This One’s Different’ – in the summer and I’ve played it to fucking death. It’s not re-inventing the wheel and it’s not incredibly original or different (hence the tongue in cheek E.P title). No, what it is is FANTASTIC, SIMPLE FUCKING POP SONGS played by guys either still in or barely out of their teens. For me the two highlights of the E.P are the fantastically titled ‘You Like White Women, I like Cigarettes’ (sadly being re-titled for their debut album in the new year) and the closing song ’14 Days’, but to be honest, I could put all of their songs in the top ten, because they’re all some of the best tunes I’ve heard this year that I’ve had on near constant repeat. So fuck it, I’ll put ALL FIVE SONGS FROM THEIR E.P AT #2 cos I can do what the fuck I want. You will not have seen Howlers name in any ‘Tips for 2012’ or the ‘bbc hot list’, because frankly most folk have their heads up their arses, and that bbc thing is just made up of bands signed to Majors anyway. Howler are going to go big next year, and most will wonder where the fuck they came from or why they didn’t tip them. Up until a few days ago, the band had the no.1 spot in my list sewn up. If this were a ‘band of the year’ they’d be top for me, but its ‘songs of the year’, and unfortunetly a big fucking beast of a song came along last week that was just too good and headfuckingly mental for me not to have as #1. Anyway congrats Howler!

The Best Songs Of 2011: #3 – Josh T Pearson ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’

We all know the back story behind Pearson and his wife troubles and his former band Lift To Experience and him fucking off to the desert or some shit like that for ten years. The fact is: it’s all irrelevant in comparison to how fucking great his deeply personal album ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ is, and this song taken from it. When he sings ‘Honestly, why can’t you just let me be, and let me quietly, drink myself to sleep?’ it really takes the wind out of your sails with it’s sheer brutal honesty and desperation. The sound of a man singing out his troubles and getting as close to the bone as it gets. Misery and fucking up never sounded this good.

The Best Songs Of 2011: #4 – Adam Stafford ‘Step Up, Raise Hands’

Ex Y’all is fantasy island frontman Adam Stafford’s solo album ‘Build A harbour immediately’ has topped many end of year polls, and understandably so. A handul of songs from that album also found themselves in folks top tens, but confusingly I’ve yet to see this one voted by anyone, which is a shame as it’s a wee pop masterpiece. ‘Shake your hips and start dancing like you’re born again’ intones Stafford, over massive break beats and one of the catchiest hooks of the year. This song was my #1 for a while, and it took some mighty fucking great tunes to dislodge it.