20. “No One Knows” – Queens of the Stone Age: One of the stoner rock head-bangers of the decade, Songs for the Deaf brings out the darkest guitar tones perhaps in the entire Queens of the Stone Age catalog. The stand out track “No One Knows”, a tempo shifting up and down roller coaster brings out the best in Josh Homme’s crew and shows his ability to craft some of the best tunes in rock today. The band has changed a lot throughout its existence, from the temporary presence of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), while the common factor is Homme and his talent as one of the best songwriters and orchestrators today.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “No One Knows”
19. “White Winter Hymnal” – Fleet Foxes: A great song your dad can love too! The harmonies and folk instruments all highlight a picturesque scene where a little boy wears a red scarf and plays in the snow. Fleet Foxes are one of the best bands from the 21st century’s first decade, but it wouldn’t sound out of place to hear their music come out of any time during the last hundred years. It’s nice to know lush, beautiful soundscapes will never go out of style.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “White Winter Hymnal”
18. “Chicago” – Sufjan Stevens: Oh Sufjan Stevens! How we long for the days of your “50 States Project” and the epitomal album about our state. One of the most brilliant aspects of Stevens’ music is the incredibly dense arrangement of each song, and this is especially true of “Chicago;” each time you listen to it, your ear can easily find a new part, whether it is an instrument in the background or a harmony you didn’t quit hear before, that adds to the complexity of the song. This track also has the power to take us places. About seven seconds into the song, a beat is taken up that sounds strangely similar to a train moving down the tracks. Combined with the lyrics, this song awakens the sense to travel that lies within each of us. It always brings forward the feelings of driving down the highway and passing under the first skyscrapers as you enter a city (which might be Chicago.) Every decade needs a travel song, and “Chicago” fits the bill (after all, it was the driving song in Little Miss Sunshine. That has to give it some points.)
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Chicago”
17. “Jesus, Etc.” – Wilco: “Jesus don’t cry/You can rely on me, honey/You can come by any time you want” became the tingling lyrics that came out of Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s pen and onto a page and into a microphone. The depressing moments that come from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this track exhibits the grace and elegance the band has to produce blissful tracks with beautiful instrumentals. The album was recorded in a dark place, and the ability the band to come back with the depressing tones on this record in response to the happiness of Summerteeth, it makes 2002 look like a lonely year.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Jesus, Etc.”
16. “Maps” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: If you haven’t put this song on a mix CD for somebody special it’s probably because you can’t feel love. The jangly guitar, the pulsing drum beat and the chiming synthesizer are all build up to the most unabashedly sincere chorus of the decade. Karen O isn’t being ironic: she loves someone like no one else does, and she makes sure you know about it. If everybody felt feelings this strongly, and sang them out this honestly, love would be easy.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Maps”
15. “The Funeral” – Band of Horses: This song is more than just the lead single from Band of Horses debut album, Everything All The Time. It is not only exemplary of the band’s music, but also much of the music that has come out of the latter half of the last decade. Guitars and vocals drenched in reverb has become a large attraction for many artists, and “The Funeral” shows just how great of a song can be achieved by employing these techniques. “To the outside, the dead leaves, they are alive” gives us a visual of lead singer Ben Bridwell’s inspiration through life and death messages in his falsetto vocals.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “The Funeral”
14. “Float On” – Modest Mouse: Through Modest Mouse’s breakthrough single “Float On”, Isaac Brock tells us “We’ll all float on/Even if it gets too heavy/We’ll all float on” as a feel good anthem for anyone feeling down-in-the-dumps. Even if bad news comes your way, there’s always a way to look up. With the stroke of each guitar string, we can admire “Float On” as quite the optimistic point of view. As Brock said in an interview about the song, “I just want to feel good for a day.” This track definitely lasts more than a day.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “Float On”
13. “The Rat” – The Walkmen: Pummeling guitar riffs followed by even more destructive drums. Can’t we get a break here? “The Rat” contains the perfect balance between instruments when you’re trying to lead some type of demolition. All you want to do when you hear this song is throw a chair or smash a table. It’s just instinct. The anger of the lyrics just pierces your eardrums. “You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor/You’ve got a nerve to be calling my number” lead singer Hamilton Leithauser seemingly screams at the top of his lungs at the start of the song. The track epitomizes the rage that can come out through just some pieces of wood and strings and vocal chords and just sound raw as can be.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “The Rat (Live)”
12. “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor” – Arctic Monkeys: What is it that pushed Arctic Monkeys into the success that they are currently enjoying? We can all agree, by taking a look back at history, that being four boys with accents from England never hurts a band. But what really shot Arctic Monkeys to the top is contained in “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”. It is a song that perfectly accompanied the generation that came of age in this decade. It has the energy of youth and poignant lyrics about the proverbial “chase.” It is great to see how much Arctic Monkeys have matured since these days, but it was clear from this song that, even in their humble beginnings, that knew how to craft a song that would have people interested and listening.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”
11. “All My Friends” – LCD Soundsystem: Such a dark track such as James Murphy’s “All My Friends” couldn’t possibly stand out within the ridiculously catchy tunes in LCD Soundsystem’s excellent Sound of Silver LP could it? The depression and unknown finds its way through the album and into the heads of listeners, with that bludgeoning intro piano and those bass chords just hit a nerve within your body. The track is a complete buildup into Murphy’s bone chilling lyric “I wouldn’t trade another stupid decision for another five years of lies”, which really hits home. This song is one decision you can’t help but agree with.
If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here: “All My Friends”