9. Love and Death -- Whip It
My wife used to be a huge fan of Korn. She quickly scooped up Brian Head Welch's new band's album and made me listen to it a lot. You know what else I used to have to listen to a lot? Devo's "Whip It." False River Academy played that song at every single pep-rally for my entire 12-year stay. In fact, one of the reason's I scheduled a half-day for my senior year was to miss pep-rally's so I wouldn't have to hear Devo's "Whip It." Love and Death's ridiculously heavy cover of "Whip It" rights all wrongs.
8. The Dismemberment Plan -- Invisible
I may be alone in this, but I always thought The Plan were at their best when they sang about the lonely, isolated, and socially rejected. "Invisible," track three on The Plan's comeback album, Uncanny Valley, continues this legacy. "Snow on the window of the taxi back home/I just sit back and I turn off my phone/The streets are glittering without a care/And I just vanish into thin air"
7. Rosetta -- Hara/The Center
Rosetta's A Determinism of Morality is one of my favorite albums of the last two decades. Its follow-up, The Anaesthete, seems as if it was purposely written to be difficult, and had me struggling for aural landmarks. Fittingly, my favorite Anaesthete song by far is the crushing and beautiful "Hara/The Center," which sounds like it could have come directly from A Determinism of Morality.
6. The Civil Wars -- Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover)
A band in a genre I don't like covering one of my favorite songs from my favorite genre. It's magic. I don't know what these two people were going through when they recorded this song, but you can feel it, and it is intense.
5. Night Verses -- Parasomnia
After last year's debut EP, I had some really high hopes for Night Verses debut LP. It is a good album, but it is also the musical equivalent of eating 600 chocolate bars. The awesomeness just keeps going and going until you want to throw up. Because of that, my favorite track is a respite from the rest of the album's raucous cacophony. "Parasomnia" is a mesmerizing conjuring of its title.
4. Nine Inch Nails -- Various Methods of Escape
I'll be honest. I didn't think a clean, happy, well-adjusted Trent Reznor could make a good album. I was very wrong. Hesitation Marks was one album away from making my end of the year list. It's proof that despite having a life lacking in drama, Reznor has lost none of his musical curiosity. Just because you kill your demons doesn't mean you aren't still haunted by them.
3. Alice In Chains - Stone
Score another one for bands I loved in the '90s. Jerry Cantrell sang on far more Alice In Chains' songs than most people realize, and his voice and sludgy riff take "Stone" to heights few younger bands could reach.
2. Chvrches -- Night Sky
At the age of 17, upon hearing Kelly Macdonald ask Ewan McGregor "What's wrong, boy? Cat got your tongue?," I decided that the Scottish accent was the greatest of all female accents. I then promptly married an Iranian woman with a Southern accent, so maybe I am fickle. Alas, I still have Chvrches, singing lines like, "And I want you, now and for all time," while using vowel sounds I've not only never heard before, but am not sure I actually am hearing. I don't even care if that sentence made sense.
1. Karnivool -- We Are
Few songs have fired me up like "We Are." I am not sure why. It has that strange fortune of subconscious power behind it. Something about the broken, yet driving rhythm of the song, Ian Kenny's vague, yet inspiring lyrics, and the beautiful, yet harsh bursts of guitar come together to create the kind of song one can listen to over and over again, yet never fail to feel better afterward.