One individual's opinion. From what I've heard so far, 2011 was a decent year for music. 2005 and 2008 were better. But, I didn't discover half of the songs I love from those years until the calendar flipped. So, this list is sure to change.
F'ed Up - "Queen of Hearts"
(Television can't say their correct name, so I guess I won't either - being mindful of my audience.) From beginning-to-end, their 2011 album David Comes to Life is the best. Some things I've read about this Canadian band get hung up on which genre to classify them as. When you worry about that, I believe, you can alter your willingness to simply enjoy the music.
It's kind of cool that their video for this song substitutes the singer's voice with others'.
Yuck - "the Wall"
They're from London. I have more music from London bands than any other two cities combined. Some day I'd like to go there to see and hear English Football and bands. Yuck's debut LP, from which this song comes, has the worst album cover art of the year.
(Unofficial, but well done, video for the song: link.)
Alabama Shakes - "On Your Way"
Daaaang, this band is good. They have one EP under their belts so far and I'm definitely wanting to hear much more! I have seen them listed on a lot of other blogs' 'best of 2011'; "Hold On" seems to be the song-of-choice.
the Vaccines - "Wreckin' Bar"
They have some longer songs and some songs that are better lyrically. But, for good ol' rock 'n' roll, this is hard to beat.
the Tonies - "Pretty Fake"
Speaking of good ol' rock 'n' roll: finally, the follow-up to 2000's critically-acclaimed Daily Dose! Here's hoping more power pop will come from this Kalamazoo, MI trio sooner than in a decade.
Those Darlins - "Boy"
A band I'd love to see live. I don't know the band well enough to say this for sure: but I think this is one of the few where "the blonde" (as I call her) performs the lead vocals. They're from Murfreesboro, TN (just south of Nashville). I've been to that town a couple times.
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors - "Steal My History"
Sorry, I can't find a youtube video for this song, or any other site that allows play of this entire song. You'll have to trust me: It's good. It kind of starts nanaNAna nanaNAna nanaNAna nanaNAna .... with drums and tambourine and then a guitar squeals aWEE WEE - aWEE WEE. Then the vocals kick in. Pretty full sound after that. The band is known for a western-like, pretty mellow sound - this song is more "rockin'" than most of their tracks. Also one of the few bands (but not the only) on this list I've seen live.
Dum Dum Girls - "Heartbeat"
What's the word for that guitar sound at the beginning? I'm hearing it on more songs lately, and I love it. Also love the female vocals and wall-of-sound instrumentation behind it. Better than the songs they selected for singles, imo.
Heartless Bastards - "Parted Ways"
Like a lot of memorable bands, the vocals are unique and great, but don't overlook the band if you check them out.
Sloan - "Unkind"
This song by long-time Canadian rockers, is reminiscent of early-80's power pop. Could today's American mainstream radio handle a station that played music like this? I guess most of the Knack, Phil Seymour and Nick Lowe didn't get much play back then either. History will be kind to Sloan though.
Howler - "You Like White Women I Like Cigarettes"
I have no idea what it's about but the sound is right. I just discovered this band and am happy to learn they're from Minneapolis. I visit there frequently and would like to catch them before they have to play in arenas.
Fleet Foxes - "Helplessness Blues"
This song is listed last, but certainly not least. From what I've seen from other blogs, it's not an original choice either.