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This is part of a series suggesting ingredients for mixtapes or playlists on a variety of themes.

Every December I put together a mixtape of what I find to be some of the best tracks of the preceding year.  I say ‘some of the best tracks’ because in addition to including great songs I have two main goals: 1) For the mix to actually be a mix of sounds and styles; and 2) for the parts to make up a coherent whole.

As I noted in my best albums of 2011 post, I found the year somewhat weak when it came to top shelf albums.  When I sat down to put together my favorite tracks that was not an issue, though, and I had to do some serious cutting.  So while this list gives me a chance to recognize a number of bands that do not appear on the album list, tracks like Bon Iver’s “Holocene” (ridiculously good despite my indifference to the rest of that album), Tom Waits’ “New Year’s Eve”, Low’s “Witches”, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s “Heart in Your Heartbreak” ended up being elbowed out.

That said, presented in album sequence below is my Best of 2011 mixtape (with links to streaming tracks where available):

Whirring – The Joy Formidable
Whirring by thejoyformidable

Get Away – Yuck
Get Away by Yuck

Beat And The Pulse – Austra
01 BEAT AND THE PULSE by AUSTRA

Vessel – Zola Jesus
Vessel by ZolaJesus

Stamp – The Rural Alberta Advantage
Stamp by theraa

Eating Paper – David Bazan

MoneyGrabber – Fitz and The Tantrums
Fitz And The Tantrums – MoneyGrabber by 247QM

Radio – Raphael Saadiq
Radio by RaphaelSaadiq

Booty City – Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Booty City – Black Joe Lewis by Constant Artists

Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo) – Battles
Ice Cream (Featuring Matias Aguayo) by BATTLES

Gangsta – tUnE-yArDs
Tune-Yards – Gangsta by tUnE-yArDs

Midnight City – M83
Midnight City by M83

FFunny Ffrends – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – FFunny FFrends by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Bedroom Eyes – Dum Dum Girls
Bedroom Eyes by subpop

Make Some Noise – Beastie Boys
Make Some Noise by Beastie Boys

Michael Jackson – Das Racist
Michael Jackson by Das Racist by Das Racist

Burn It Down – Sims
Sims “Burn It Down” by doomtree

Get Some – Lykke Li

By Your Hand – -Los Campesinos!
Los Campesinos! – By Your Hand by Arts & Crafts

Where I’m Going – Cut Copy
Where I’m Going by cutcopymusic

In addition to putting together the song list each year, I come up with a title and cover art (that’s it up above).  This year, I had to name the disc after our blog, but I actually farmed out the cover design to Cory Freeman Design.  I think that was the right call.


An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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