I have been making these top 10 to 20 lists for the past decade. I have been so busy with my standup that I might not be as informed as in past years, but here is my list. I still bet you will find something you like that you never heard before. I’m such a public treasure.
1. Jack White-Blunderbuss
It isn’t even close for who has created the best music of this century. White Stripes were the best band. The Raconteurs and Dead Weather had some great moments. So when Jack went solo you knew it was going to be good but damn if he didn’t produce the most catchy music of his career. If this isn’t the coolest song of the year, it’s definitely the coolest video.
2. The Coup-Sorry To Bother You
This is the record that I always heard people touting Outkast for making. Bringing Sly Stone grooves to the hip hop world, this Oakland group is funky and has serious shit to say. Bay Area Bombs they are throwing.
3. Imagine Dragons-Night Visions
The best debut of the year. It seemed like every time I heard a new song on the radio that made me go who was that, it was Imagine Dragons. This is the record that Coldplay would dream of making, instead of the half-baked offerings they have put out recently.
4. Band of Skulls-Sweet Sours
Now that the White Stripes have disbanded and the Black Keys have went more T-Rexy, here is your blue-psychedelic band to embrace. Plus they have the great mix of male and female singers blending together.
5. Blackberry Smoke-The Whippoorwillow
It’s been a long time since a southern rock band embraced the pop of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Well here comes Blackberry Smoke. They might not be the most original, but this record is like the greatest hits of southern rock. Do I hear the Van Zants, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Georgia Satellites, etc. Yes. Thank God I do. Makes me feel like I’m in a pickup truck listening to them even when I’m driving my Sonata.
6. Deftones-Koi No Yokan
The most underrated band of the past decade is the Deftones. They were put in the group of Korn, Limp Bizkit, etc when they hit, but they were always way more experimental and clever. The Deftones always seemed like kids who loved the high and lows of a screaming Pixies, but were more metal than Joey Santiago’s surf guitar.
7. Mumford and Sons-Babel
Only 2 years after their smash debut, the band comes back with worthy follow-up. There is more of an edge to this one, like their live performances, though no songs are as great as their first 2 debut singles. Still a quality recording from beginning to end.
8. Bruce Springsteen-Wrecking Ball
The past couple records Bruce has put out had some great songs, but the production swallowed up the texture of the music. With a change in producers, the songs were allowed to breathe a little more, not banging you over the head with a wall of sound. Unlike most of the greats of his generation, Bruce continues to make music you still want to hear and not just rely on the classics.
9. Foxy Shazam-
Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll. If Queen had grown up in Cincinnati, Ohio today, they would be Foxy Shazam. They remind me of Detroit’s Electric 6, but the Motor City group has a lead singer who sounds more like Tom Jones instead of Freddie Mercury. If you can listen to this song and not hum the chorus afterward, you are not human.
10. Fun-Some Nights
In 2009 this unknown band to many released its debut which I rated as the number 1 record of the year. Their sequel blew-up on the radio with some great singles, which is the reason why I have it listed here. I just believe their debut was superior so I’m going to link this song from that record, as you should listen to it.
11. Miguel and Bruno Mars
While Bruno Mars put out a record that you couldn’t escape on the radio and rightfully so, as the dude can write a hook like an all-timer, I rate the debut by Miguel as just as good, just overlooked. Miguel has pipes that drift between Babyface and Daryl Hall. Check him out.
13. Bill Fay-Life is People
Here comes a story like Nick Drake of an singer/songwriter who made great music in the late 60’s/early 70’s, who was dropped from his label and wasn’t heard from again…except Bill Fay kept writing music and Wilco championed him nearly 4 decades later. Like an English John Prine. You believe every word his weary voice has to offer.
14. Japandroids-Celebration Rocks
Every year needs it’s bar band/power punk band and this year the Japandroids step into that void. Really someone needs to take a stipend from all of these bands profits and send it to Paul Westerberg. The House that Heaven Built is the song the Gaslight Anthem wishes they had on their newest release.
15. Lincoln Durham
My good friend, Will Carroll, who I did these lists with for a decade (check out his top 20 for this year here) turned me on to this solo bluesman. He reminds me of the great Chris Whitley, who had one of my favorite debut records of all-time. Looking forward to seeing Durham grow as an artist.
A couple notes. I had the Alabama Shakes in my Top list last year for their 4 song EP, which is why I don’t have their debut record listed this year.
Finally I want to mention if Green Day would have just released 1 record with my handpicked top 12 songs from their bloated 3 record set, it would have been in my top 5. They were far too self-indulgent in releasing 3 records, instead of just pulling out the best and leaving their fans with something very memorable. Instead, they over-saturated the market and the 4 or 5 good songs on each record were lost in the shuffle. My suggestion is illegally download all 3 and then make your own best of the Uno, Dos, Tres.