Of all the year-end best-of lists you’ll ever read, the ones devoted to music are, by and large, the most helpful. Chances are, you already know what the best movies of the year are. “Up In The Air,” “Avatar,” and so on. But every year, there are roughly a billion bands releasing a billion albums and demo tapes. I’m far too lazy to listen to all of that dreck. I need help. I need to be told what to listen to, preferably by someone who is not affiliated in any way with Pitchfork.
It’s impossible to know if the music critic you’ve chosen to read will have tastes that align with yours. This is what makes music both so wonderful and aggravating. What’s that? You don’t like the Gaslight Anthem? How is that possible? ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?! But best-of lists are a useful shortcut to help you find albums and tracks that you may have missed, that will melt your face off once you give it a first spin.
Here were my favorite ten rock songs from the past year, along with links to full audio (except for one). By all means, list yours in the comments. You may hate all of these songs and bands. Then again, maybe one or two will hit you right where it counts. That’s always the hope when you spin a new track. Please note this list is confined to rock only. If you're looking for country, or hip hop, or whatever it is that Adam Lambert does, please consult other sources.
1. Mastodon - ”The Czar”
2. Mastodon - ”The Last Baron”
I could have listened to a lot of other songs and albums this year. Instead, I listened to Mastodon’s “Crack the Skye” 50,000 times. It was my favorite album of the decade, and these two gargantuan songs were the main attraction.
3. Alice In Chains - ”Private Hell”
It still sounds like the late Layne Staley is singing on this track. Studio trickery, OR WAS STALEY EXHUMED FROM THE CRYPT AND REANIMATED IN THE ULTIMATE ACT OF ROCK AND ROLL BLACK MAGIC?!
4. Bob Mould – “MM 17”
I couldn’t find full audio of this on YouTube, so you’ll just have to preview it on iTunes. The ex-Husker Du and Sugar frontman started the decade dabbling in electronica and writing scripts for the now defunct WCW. He ends the decade with more of same ass-kicking guitar rock he’s been doing forever.
5. Doves - ”House of Mirrors”
As I’ve said before, Doves are like Coldplay, if Coldplay wasn’t awful. Also, they don’t wear uniforms.
6. Them Crooked Vultures - ”New Fang”
Because no ten best song list is complete without something Josh Homme had a hand in.
7. Oasis - ”The Shock of the Lightning”
“Mr. Shersby!! You've been warned seven times this month to stop bringing up Oasis!“
8. ISIS - ”Hall of the Dead”
Between Mastodon, High On Fire, and ISIS, metal was rescued this decade from the Korns of the world. God, I hated Korn.
9. Pearl Jam - ”The Fixer”
Every couple years now, Pearl Jam releases a new album, and everyone says, “Whoa, Pearl Jam are BACK! It’s their best album since Vs.! ZOMG!!!” Then everyone settles down and realizes it’s another pretty decent late-era Pearl Jam album with a handful of good tracks.
10. Dan Auerbach - ”Trouble Weighs a Ton”
The man fronts the Black Keys, does his own solo work, and just released a hip hop record. So prolific. He’s just like Ryan Adams, except that I don’t want to punch him in the face and steal Mandy Moore from him.