The 25 Best Songs of 2011
(So Far)

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10. Middle Brother – “Me Me Me”
This year’s superest super-group (with members of Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit) has out-monstered Monsters of Folk.”Daydreaming” and “Blue Eyes” could have also made the list.

9. Rye Rye – “Sunshine (featuring M.I.A.)”
M.I.A. helped discover Baltimore’s Rye Rye, and she continues the support on this infectious track from the youngster’s long-awaited debut LP.

8. Over the Rhine – “The Laugh of Recognition”
After 20 years, Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiller have only gotten better as songwriters, and the addition of Joe Henry as producer is a match made in the perfect smoky dive.

7. Seryn – “We Will All Be Changed”
There’s so much restrained joy in this song, it gets exponentially better with every decibel you turn it up.

6. Iron & Wine – “Tree By the River”
It was difficult picking a favorite from Sam Beam’s latest album Kiss Each Other Clean, but this feel-good sing-along will do nicely.

5. Lykke Li – “Love Out of Lust”
When I saw Lykke Li years ago at a festival in Norway, I didn’t think she quite lived up to the hype—I saw the as-yet-unheralded Ida Maria right after, and was much more impressed. But the new album is gorgeous, especially this track.

4. Peter, Bjorn & John – “Dig a Little Deeper”
Every bit as catchy as “Young Folks,” this song looks to be another summer anthem from the Swedish trio.

3. The Decemberists – “Down By the Water”
Colin Meloy’s ever-more ambitious band stripped away the prog-rock opera for an earthier approach, and it doesn’t get better than this little jaunt featuring Gillian Welch (though “This Is Why We Fight” comes pretty close).

2. Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
The best song Fleet Foxes has recorded so far is the title track from the band’s upcoming album, due May 3 in the U.S.

1. The Belle Brigade – “Losers”
Every so often a song comes around that I need—and thereby the entire office needs— to hear every day for a month. Right now, that’s this anthem from Los Angeles brother/sister, Simon & Garfunkel-loving duo The Belle Brigade.

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