With the exploded music industry the way that it is (no money, lots of bands...exploded), the truth of it is there were hundreds of thousands of albums and millions of songs released this year. On that scale, I have only heard a meager portion of what was released. My top nine albums list is coming shortly, but before that, here are my nine favorite songs from albums that did not make that list, but in a surprise twist, ordered randomly (The top nine albums list WILL NOT be ordered randomly).
9. U2 -- Song for Someone
Yes, U2 released a new album this year, no it isn't even close to my favorite U2 album ever, but still, it's U2, and it's got some great songs. "Song for Someone" features U2's best qualities: religious inspiration, a rapturous guitar solo bridge, and Bono's quiet voice building up to a soaring outro. Plus, it was free. Thanks, rich dudes.
8. Demon Hunter -- Death
All four albums Demon Hunter have released post-Triptych have featured the same flaw: great, exciting first half, followed by five or six songs that do nothing to set themselves apart from each other. Admittedly, Extremist is the closest they've come to their glory days, though it gets bogged down in its final third (2/3 of a great album is better than 1/2!). That doesn't change the fact that "Death" is the most striking opener of any Demon Hunter album ever. That tearing sound in the intro? Ryan Clark ripping out the pages of a satanist bible. These dudes aren't fooling around.
7. Sucre -- Wandering Back
Stacy Dupree and company could only bless the world with an EP this year, but soaring at this level of ridiculous beauty, 1:24 is about as much as the human brain can handle.
6. Linkin Park -- Rebellion
Linkin Park's The Hunting Party is a great idea (let's be an 80's heavy metal/punk band!), but the band get bored with the idea halfway through, and mostly stick to what they know from that point on. "Rebellion," though, featuring System of a Down's Daron Malakian on guitar, is the most high energy moment of Linkin Park's career. Drummer, Rob Bourdon, unleashes a technical mastery he's never even hinted at before, Malakian does his traditional, Armenian music inspired rock riffing, and Linkin Park's two vocalists sing some of the deepest lyrics the band have penned.
5. John Mark McMillan -- Love at the End
The sloppiest way I can describe this song is what if Springsteen found Jesus--not like if Springsteen sang about finding Jesus--he's kind of done that already. What if he actually found him, though? Bam. This song.
4. Islander -- Coconut Dracula
This song features a ridiculously infectious hook and holds the honor of sounding like the great, high-energy, fun hard rock of the early 00's. Even better, the song is from the perspective of The Mummy, curious and inspired by the fact that his buddy, Dracula, has started eating coconuts instead of people's blood.
3. Chevelle -- One Ocean
La Gárgola is a departure from Chevelle's increasingly polished run of albums over the past decade. It's also, unfortunately, a step back from the high quality of their last two albums. The rawness is appreciated, but unfortunately, nothing on La Gárgola sets itself apart...except for the two songs where the band break character, album ending slow-burn "Twinge," and the strangely mystical "One Ocean," probably the prettiest, most moving song Chevelle have recorded. Here's a bizarre Youtube-mashup someone made with the song and a Bill Hicks routine...that strangely works perfectly.
2. Sleep -- Clarity
I hate weed culture. I hate when my friends and family who smoke it try to talk to me about it. I hate weed. My goodness, though, do I love stoner music. I have no idea why, but probably because my natural disposition is high. Sleep have an hour long album called Dopesmoker that is entirely composed of one hour-long song, featuring the same, repeating, dark and sludgy riff, over and over again. I've listened to that album over a dozen times. "Clarity," released as a single in collaboration with Adult Swim, is not an hour long, but it is eight minutes of grimy, trippy perfection, I'll take. Thanks, Sleep! Now get off my lawn, and go get a job!
1. Banks - Brain
After hearing the first four tracks of Banks' Goddess, I received a serious scare: how was I going to add another album to my already completed top nine? Jillian Banks sounded like a female version of the Weeknd, slow and dirty, seductive and scary, hypnotic and deep. But then the next ten tracks headed in a far more mainstream direction, seriously bumming me out. Still, those first four tracks are killer, with "Brain" blowing mine the most.