Who says the music industry is dead? There were more great songs released this year than I could possibly catalog here. Instead, I’ll just offer a random sampling that I can guarantee as being worthy of your iPod.
Who says the music industry is dead? There were more great songs released this year than I could possibly catalog here. Instead, I’ll just offer a random sampling that I can guarantee as being worthy of your iPod. (Warning: Ask me again tomorrow and I might pick 29 different ones.)
· “Does This Mean You’re Moving On,” Airborne Toxic Event. Actually the last single from their self-titled 2008 album, this track shows that the even if the guys from A.T.E. have been reduced to Jell-O by women as much as the next indie band, they at least still have their sense of humor — not to mention killer hooks. (Get the album too.)
· “I Ain’t Hiding,” The Black Crowes. The Crowes go funk? Yes they do, and it’s their best song of the decade.
· “I Feel a Change Coming On,” Bob Dylan. Bob’s weary but satisfied croak — “some people they tell me I’ve got the blood of the land in my voice,” he sings — and David Hidalgo’s lilting accordion make this a standout from "Together Through This."
· “Gimme Some Rhythm Daddy,” The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Setzer, with his wife and backup singer Julie Reiten, has turned out the best rockabilly swing duet that name-checks Internet cafés and lactose intolerance you’ll hear this year. It rocks and rolls.
· “Wrecking Ball,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. “Take your best shot, let me see what you’ve got; bring on your wrecking ball!” As Bruce and the band rage against the dying of the light, I have my doubts that this song is just about an aging stadium.
· “French Navy,” Camera Obscura. Where do I enlist?
· “Best I Ever Had,” Chris Isaak. The twang is back, and Isaak still carries the Orbison mantle as music’s best spokesman for loneliness — and sometimes even for ebullience, like on this rollicking track.
· “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” The Cocktail Slippers. Who knows how much English this Norwegian girl group knows — producer Steven Van Zandt wrote this ’80s-style slice of pop-rock — but they certainly know how to sell it.
· “Jesus Could be Right,” The Damnwells. I’m not sure what Jesus would have thought of this song, but at turns plaintive, defiant and spiritual, I challenge you not to love it.
· “Knotty Pine,” Dirty Projectors. This band freaks me out a little bit, but in a good way. And having David Byrne guest on this track certainly doesn’t hurt.
· “Sulphur to Sugarcane,” Elvis Costello. Elvis name-checks Worcester, Mass., among the other cities where the women fall at his feet in the tongue-in-cheek shuffle.
· “Harold T. Wilkins, or How to Wait for a Very Long Time,” Fanfarlo. Is that a dulcimer? Whatever it is, it fits right in with the trippy harmonies on this indie pop nugget.
· “Live Fast Die Old,” Frank Turner. At last, a rock song about rebellion that advocates actually sticking around to be rebellious.
· “All the Pretty Girls,” fun. Don’t bother me, I’m dancing.
· “Song Away,” Hockey. Another catchy pop number that could have come straight out of the ’80s, and I mean that in the best way possible.
· “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Kelly Clarkson. I’m pretty sure this song is meant as satire. And so sue me, I like Kelly Clarkson.
· “Closing Time,” Leonard Cohen. A standout track from this year’s two-disc “Live in London,” Cohen actually recorded this in 2008 — when he was 74. I’ll have what he’s having.
· “Stars of Leo,” M. Ward. Best song that sounds like it was recorded on a subway ever.
· “Long Hard Road,” Marshall Crenshaw. Still sublime, still underappreciated.
· “Blame it on the Girls,” Mika. Don’t bother me, I’m still dancing.
· “Whole Lotta Losin’,” Monsters of Folk. Folkies do rockabilly! These guys rock a lot more together than they do separately.
· “This Tornado Loves You,” Neko Case. Knowing Case, this song is probably about a real tornado. But it works as metaphor, too, and with vocals like these, who cares?
· “Just Breathe,” Pearl Jam. I happen to like kinder, mellower Pearl Jam. Again, sue me.
· “Sans Fear,” Pete Yorn. Another Springsteen disciple, Yorn can really rock — and he knows his way around a melody. About time he became rich and famous, don’t you think?
· “If It’s Not Love,” Rhett Miller. The Old 97’s frontman is still doing the liveliest downer music in all of alt country, and that’s saying something.
· “Early Aubade,” Roman Candle. Proof positive that jingle bells aren’t just for Christmas anymore.
· “Sea of Heartbreak,” Rosanne Cash with Bruce Springsteen. Nominating this down-home duet for a Grammy was the smartest thing the recording academy has done in years.
· “The Crow,” Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin, whose “New Songs for the 5-string Banjo” aren’t funny, just fun.
· “FEZ-Being Born,” U2. They’re back in "Unforgettable Fire" territory, especially with this track. They’ve still got the edge, and The Edge.
Peter Chianca manages Wicked Local’s “Blogness on the Edge of Town," covering Bruce Springsteen and other rock music topics.