15. Broken Social Scene – "World Sick"
The first song on the album, and the first single they released to hungry fans. The bombastic drums and flickering guitar and synth spurts, serve as the perfect tone-setter for BSS's most "band album" to date.
14. The Walkmen – "Angela Surf City"
Quintessential Walkmen here. Simple-albeit-gripping guitar plucking and snare-tapping, flanked by singer Hamilton Leithauser's unhinged, roaring howl.
13. Theodore – "I Won't Be a Stranger"
Balancing the distant banjo plucking, junk shop horns, and the subtle frailty in Justin Kinkel-Schuster's voice, "I Won't Be a Stranger" captures all of the best parts of Theodore without overtly exploiting any of them.
12. Gaslight Anthem – "The Queen of Lower Chelsea"
Singer Brian Fallon and the boys channel their inner Clash with this one and end up striking gold. A mild departure compared to most Gaslight arrangements, and hopefully a preview of what fans should expect in the future.
11. Drive-By Truckers – "Santa Fe"
Having spent the 2010 summer touring with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, this song is living, breathing evidence of just how much Petty has influenced the DBT sound. Infectiously obscure lyrics backed by twang-pop sensibility and southern-fried guitars.
10. Free Energy – "Bang Pop"
I loved this song when I first heard it, but I didn't understand exactly how huge it was until I heard it blaring through the P.A. at a St. Louis Blues game. Armed to the teeth with squealing Thin Lizzy-esque guitars and a contagious chorus, "Bang Pop" served as the feel-good hit of the summer of 1979 in 2010.
9. Titus Andronicus – "A More Perfect Union"
The perfect mission statement from TA's near-perfect The Monitor album. Wailing guitars, time changes, Abe Lincoln speech samples, wailing guitars, Springsteen and Bragg references, and more wailing guitars. Seven-plus minutes of guttural punk bliss.
8. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – "Sink/Let it Sway"
SSLYBY have officially hit its stride. Sugar-coated indie pop that sticks to the roof of your mouth, seeps upward towards the brain, and remains there all day long. The bloggers were right about these guys after all!
7. The Hold Steady – "Hurricane J"
The Hold Steady arguably reared a different head than fans have seen in the past. Slightly more polished, slightly more sprawling and slightly more mature. With this song though, it's the same ol' Hold Steady banging out infectious barroom rock, singing about a 20-something waitress with a taste for the nightlife. Best rock song about a "Jesse" ever? Rick Springfield may have a different opinion.
6. The National – "Anyone's Ghost"
Like all great National songs, on this one, singer Matt Berninger's dark croon shines. The shuffled backbeat pops perfectly. The noisy, atmospheric guitars provide perfect ambiance. But it's the noodling, bottomed out bass that sets this song aside. Am I the only one that hears The Kinks' "I'm Not Like Anyone Else" in the chorus?
5. She & Him – "Ridin' In My Car"
This song encapsulates everything, I think, She & Him strive for musically: shimmering, timeless pop awareness anchored in the Golden Age of Rock n' Roll. Coincidently, one of the real highlights at this year's inaugural LouFest was when the band rolled this one out during the festival's closing Sunday night performance.
4. Kanye West – "Monster"
From Bon Iver's auto-tuned opening squawl, to Nicki Minaj's sick-as-hell machine gun fire-like verse, this track IS hip hop in 2010. West produced the year's best hip hop album, and he'll be the first guy to tell you so.
3. Superchunk – "Digging for Something"
Buzzy guitars, punchy, precise rhythms, and unreliable storytelling. Aren't veteran rockers supposed to slow down and mellow out when they hit their 40s? Not Superchunk. And this album-opener finds singer Mac McCaughan "dancing on propane tanks" and sinking paddle-boats. If Superchunk is referring to digging for some sort of fountain of youth on this song, I think they found it.
2. The Arrivals – "Simple Pleasures in America"
Underdog song of the year from Chicago's blue collar punk rockers. It's simple; it's fun; and it's damn catchy. I suspect many crusty boombox speakers will be blown thanks to this number.
1. New Pornographers – "Silver Jenny Dollar"
Dan Bejar makes incredible music on his own -- with or without the New Pornographers. This tune, however, is a perfect example of what happens when you let A.C. Newman, Neko Case & Co. lend a hand and give Bejar's avant-pop efforts the New Pornographer power-pop perfection treatment.