2011 was a FANTASTIC year for music. There was so much incredible stuff to listen to and be inspired by this year.
Here’s my list of top tracks of 2011 with an honorable mention section strictly for Montrealers.
TOP ALBUM OF 2011 : SBTRKT / Never Never / Wildfire / Pharoas
SBTRKT is definitely my TOP record of 2011. Simply because 3 of my favorite songs of the entire year are on it, and also because this record does exactly what I want to do…creates unique and fresh variations of soulful dance-floor ready electronic music that has crossover Pop appeal. The vocal hooks are ULTRA catchy, the beats are SICK, and there is an incredible roster of vocalists and songwriters who collaborated to make this record a masterpiece.
Never Never feat. Sampha
Wildfire feat. Yukimi Nagano
Pharoahs feat. Roses Gabor
LITTLE DRAGON – RITUAL UNION / Precious
Little Dragon is one of my favorite bands, and their third record, Ritual Union, was another one of my top picks this year. Four songs on the record stand out most, especially Precious and Please Turn.
Canada’s SEXIEST Album of 2011 : THE WEEKND – HOUSE OF BALOONS / What You Need
The Weeknd is a phenomenon that I cannot help but admire. These guys figured out a magical yet seemingly effortless marketing / promo plan that people can only wish they had invented themselves. It encompasses brilliant packaging, an interesting front man persona, major outreach, and a suspenseful building of their brand along with some great songs. Is this an instance of being at the right place at the right time? The world was indeed ready to consume their damn SEXY music (which combines some elements of great futuristic R&B and epic sounding indie rock ) at the exact moment Drake twittered about them. The first mixtape, House of Baloons, gets the award for Canada’s SEXIEST record of 2011. The first time I heard , ‘What you need ‘ I melted within seconds. Seriously, this song drives me CRAZY. A couple other tracks off the record also make me happy BUT only a couple. I downloaded the second mix tape, Thursday, and found myself bored and so I haven’t even bothered with the third one yet! Also, his free use of the N-word turned me off BIG time. It just comes across as simplistic and careless songwriting. I do however LOVE the first official video that they put out this year for the track The Knowing.
JAMIE XX / Far Nearer
Apparently Steel Pan playing & dope UK beats makes me go mental. Seriously, this song makes me very happy.
BEST Dance Floor Soul Track of 2011 : OMAR & ZED BIAS / Dancing
Dancing has got to be my FAVORITE dance track of 2011. Omar’s collaboration with UK’s dance- floor beat master Zed Bias last year on the epic song ‘Special’ was on of my faves for 2010. I have been an Omar fan for awhile now so everything he does I eagerly consume. You simply cannot sit down for this one. I mean it’s literally impossible. Again, the mighty combination of Steel Pan & UK dance music = WINNER!
JAMIE WOON / Lady Luck ( HUDSON MOHAWKE’ SCHMINK-WOLF RE-FIX )
How I love Jamie Woon! Since the first moment I saw / heard him doing his thing live with his loop pedal on the track Ghosts I have been eagerly awaiting anything that he produces. This year I was thrilled to hear his song, Lady Luck. And particularly Hudson Mohawke’s killer remix! DAMN! This track is next level.
RADIOHEAD / Lotus Flower
Anyone who is a Radiohead fan is usually a Radiohead fantatic. Am I right? You’re either a fan or not. I have been a fan since the very beginning. These guys continue to amaze me in some way each time they release a record. Thom Yorke’s voice touches my heart in a special way that few vocalists can. It’s so vulnerable, raw, soulful, and absolutely beautiful. The first moment I heard this song I fell in love, deeply in love. The lyrics, the music, the vocals, the incredibly brave and original music video for it all put this track HIGH up on my favorite list.
AFRICA HI TECH / Don’t Fight It / Cyclical Sun / 93 Million Miles / Out in The Streets
This unique and left field electronic record made me lose my mind the first time I heard it. The collaborative talents of Steve Spacek & Mark Pritchard make for a winning combination. I have many favorite tracks off the album. I was very pleased to meet the guys after their show in Montreal in Nov. They are absolutely LOVELY to chat with, which makes supporting their music and their project even more worthwhile for me.
Don’t Fight It
Here’s my vocal cut over Cyclical Sun that I recorded this year.
Cyclical Sun feat. Sarah Linhares
SOSA / Exit Wounds
There is beauty to be found in this track’s simplicity. One can’t help but sing along and rock out to this one.
JACQUES GREENE / Another Girl
This song put Montreal on the map in a serious way in 2011. This track will take you away. Be prepared to fall in love.
ZAKI IBRAHIM & DJ CATALIST / Something In The Water
I am a big fan of Catalist’s production and Zaki’s earlier work was also interesting, but this song took me over the edge. This is one incredible song. I have no doubt that this duo will be representing Canada on the international music map in 2012! Give it up for some SERIOUS Canadian talent!
MUHSINAH / One
This lady is DAMN talented. When I met her at RBMA in 2007 she was somewhat more advanced in her musical prowess / career than most of us participants and one could not help but admire her skills. Since then, she just continues to constantly evolve and carve out her place in the American music industry. ( Not an easy feat! ) She composes and produces her own music, plays a magical piano, and has a gorgeous voice which equals = Winning combination! She released a free double EP this year which was interesting. She seems to be attempting to gain her footing in the mainstream music industry by writing / singing songs that swerves between Rihanna-esque soulful pop music and Indie Rock attempting to appeal to…everyone? Even though most of the songs on the EP are not my thing, I cannot help but admire her songwriting skills and her determination to make it. I do however LOVE the track ‘One’. She is one to watch for in 2012!
BOOGAT – PURA VIDA EP / Montrealesa
Boogat is one smart man. Making Montreal’s own version of Cumbia music at the height of an amazing International resurgence of interest in Mexico and Columbia’s traditional sounds is a damn good move. Not only is the timing right but this is a smokin’ HOT track. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this song when I downloaded the EP, not only because it was great ( Boogat is a wonderful MC ) but because Boogat actually sings the chorus which is catchy and sounds GOOD. I have this one on my Winter Zumba playlist for all 6 of my Zumba classes that I teach each week. Let me tell you…the ladies and yours truly love dancing to this one!
JAMES BLAKE / Wilhelm Scream
Oh James! How can you not love him? His voice is simple but beautiful and ever since we all saw / heard him cover Feist, we knew he was destined for something great. His track Wilhelm Scream can only be described by one word repeated over and over again….BEAUTIFUL, beautiful, beautiful.
DJ JAZZY JEFF & AYAH / Back For More
I’ve been following this talented Toronto singer for a couple years now. She’s always making the right moves, especially by teaming up with the one and only Jazzy Jeff. Although I had heard this track last year ( or at least a snippet of it ) when it officially came out for FREE download this year I was very happy. This is one damn good track!
BUG / Mechanical Soul
The UK’s Bug makes SICK beats and this song is just killer! I’m really looking forward to releasing Relative Volocities, a track that we wrote in collaboration this year and will drop in 2012. Keep watch for it!
FLORENCE & THE MACHINE / No Light No Light
This is an absolutely stunning song.The lyrics blow my mind. EPIC!
BEYONCE / End Of Time
I just discovered this song but can’t seem to forget it so it must be love!
JILL SCOTT / So In Love With You feat. ANTHONY HAMILTON
This song just makes me feel good. It’s pretty simple and formulaic BUT I guess when it’s good, it’s good, right? And hot damn… Jill Scott has discovered her inner sexy like never before. She’s never come across so confident and sexy. She is making women all over the world PROUD.
HONORABLE MENTIONS : MONTREAL’s OWN TOP TRACKS of 2011
KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE feat. Bembe Segue – MOONSTARR Broken Mix / Mystery of The Ages
I love everything Moonstarr does! Not only is he family ( and the executive producer of my record ) but he’s also one my favorite producers ever. More MOON in 2012 please!
SIBIAN & FAUN – I’m Sorry
S&F have just started making some noise this year in town and internationally as well. Xavier ( one half of the duo ) was Montreal’s RBMA participant in Madrid this year. These boys are young and eager and will definitely be working their way into your headphones in 2012. Here’s on of their best future R&B tracks!
TOBOGGAN / City Glaciers Reprise
Toboggan is an amazing and relatively unknown Montreal beat producer / genius. His stuff is BAD ASS! Download his album for FREE on Bandcamp! And watch for him in 2012!
SHE’S GOT A HABIT / INCUBATOR RUB / Blind Spots
Blind Spots was my favorite track off of SGAH’s debut EP last year. When I heard The Incubator’s remix I was happy all over again. He did a great job of remixing a song that was already amazing. Here’s hoping we’ll hear some new material from The Incubator and from She’s Got A Habit in 2012.
SIKH KNOWLEDGE feat. UNESS / Buggin’ Out Remix
There’s not much to say here except that this is a damn good collaboration between two Montreal mega talents!
METAZON / Swing It In
I have big love for Metazon. I had the absolute pleasure of working very intimately with them on their 2011 album release of World Class Buffet. I sang on one of the tracks, Looking Back, and perform live with them any chance they get to do a show.
JENN MIERAU / Hush
Jenn is an extremely talented Montrealer. She has MAD skills! Anyone who has seen her live knows this well. She plays beats live on her MPC, loops her own beatboxing and vocals along with playing keys with incredible skill, while singing in an absolutely lovely voice. Watch out for her in 2012. She is coming out!
KRYSTALE / Caught Up (Kaytradamus Remix feat. Louie P. Celestic)
Krystale is a young and absolutely lovely Montreal singer and songwriter. Her voice is beautiful! She produced her own EP this year. I look forward to hearing her continue to develop as an artist and master her songwriting style with time and experience. I think if she plays her cards right she’ll successfully carve out a niche of devout fans.
SIMAHLAK / Spin the Globe – Jorm and Rabbit in Nairobi
Sim is a mysterious man who prefers to lay low and work his heart out in the shadows. He is always up to something interesting and comes out with these mega masterful tracks that get outreach that most Montrealers can only dream of. How does he do it over and over again? MAD RESPECT for this one Sim!
WAYNE TENNANT /Mercyless ( FRED EVERYTHING / ATJAZZ Vocal Mix )
Wayne is family and an amazing Montreal singer. We’ve shared incredible musical experiences, especially while working together on the Soltribe album in Venezuela in 2005. I’m so happy to see him exploding all over the internet and throughout the House music scene worldwide. Since I met him and heard his vocal style I knew he was destined to make House music. It’s an inevitable marriage that I’ve been thrilled to witness in 2011. For all you House lovers who don’t know… meet Wayne and watch for him 2012!
ANGO / Better For You
Beautiful! Looking forward to hearing more. Go Ango go!
LUNICE / Glow
Lunice makes dope beats. I do like this video too.
SARAH MK / Think Dat
Sarah is working her butt off trying to push Montreal’s Jazz / Hip Hop fusion community to the next level. This perhaps began with her time in the Kalmunity Vibe Collective. She has succeeded thus far by producing her debut solo Ep. She is determined, motivated, and positive every step of the way. I look forward to her developing as an artist and think her skills as a songwriter can only improve with time. Big up Jordan Peters for his production on this one!
My Greatest Music Achievement of 2011 : SARAH LINHARES – MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE
This has been an incredible year for me and music. I finally released my debut full length record! After years of preparation and life getting in the way, I burst on the scene like a motivated Queen. Since the record release mid October I have had incredible support, great press and reviews, and an overwhelmingly positive response from so many people WORLDWIDE. For this I am so grateful.
From the bottom of my heart I wish you all an incredible NEW YEAR full of love, success, joy, health, and lots and lots of good music! THANK YOU FOR YOUR AMAZING SUPPORT!
Here’s my DEBUT MUSIC VIDEO for ‘Only Human’ from the record. Help me reach 1 million views! 😉
PS. A Massive big up to all the INCREDIBLY talented collaborators on the record who make this a monumental success for me!
PTR, MOONSTARR, KENLO, SIKH KNOWLEDGE, CAMPLAIX, THINK TWICE, AKLIMATIZE, DAVID RYSHPAN, WAYNE TENNANT, MARK HAYNES, ANTHONY PAGEOT, NANTALI, ANEL, GENE PENDON, MANO