2009 was a good year for the Alternative and Rock scene. Sure, we were bombarded with Lady Gaga’s, and Pinks, and Taylor Swifts, but there were some really great tracks floating around out there just waiting to be heard; others were blaring on the radio so often that they just got stuck in your head. Don’t you hate that?
This list, which is by no means complete, is just a small sampling of some of the best in Alternative, Rock, and even some Punk and Metal thrown in for good measure. Keep in mind the list is by no means in order…that’s up to you.
1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero
Right off, we’re going to start with the most pop-centric of the bunch. This song will get stuck rattling around your brain for hours after the first listen. And every time you hear it after that, it’s going to make you want to dance.
2. The Fray – You Found Me
We’ll get this one out of the way in a hurry. While more apt to top the Adult Contemporary charts, the fact remains that The Fray is an alternative-rock band. And while this song doesn’t reach the levels of emotion that “How To Save A Life” did, it still puts forth an amazingly poignant set of lyrics, coupled with a great score.
3. Alice In Chains – Check My Brain
Red Hot Chili Peppers may be content with performing songs about how amazing it is to be from, or live in, California. Countless others have the obligatory “Fame is too hard and California isn’t as great as it seems”-songs to keep them going. But Alice In Chains takes it a step beyond with “Check My Brain,” a song whose chorus is based around one line (“California’s all right/Somebody check my brain…”) pertaining to guitarist Jerry Cantrell moving to California. And since he’s already famous, we can only hope that one of his friends warned him about how bad L.A. sucks.
4. Tegan and Sarah – Hell
“Hell” has a great little hook in the chorus, and has one of the catchiest little synth-runs ever to be heard underneath slightly-distorted almost-punk guitars.
5. Anti-Flag – The Old Guard
Ah, some punk! And not that watered-down pop they’re calling punk and selling to little girls who just want to be “unique” like everybody else. No, we’re talking about Anti-Flag. They’ve been around since 1988 (when 2 of the members could barely play their instruments) and have been consistently churning out awesome music with a political bent, and just enough pop-sensibility to keep it catchy, since then. Why haven’t more people heard of this band?!
6. Marilyn Manson – I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies
This song is one of the best on Brian Warner’s latest release The High End of Low, and is a great song to drive around town listening to for some reason. Honestly the entire album is very different from most of what Marilyn Manson has done in the past. If you never heard the vocals, you’d never know it was them. Some may consider that a bad thing, but why stay the same when you can surprise people?
7. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Pen & Paper
Remember that line earlier in the article about “almost punk?” Well it almost applies to TRJA. Sure, they’re poppy, and sure teenage girls love them. But they do have some great tunes, and this is one of them. Just avoid the music-video…it almost ruins the song.
8. Brandon Patton – Rockets
Brandon Patton may not have the marketing some (most) of the others on this list have, and may not be world-famous (yet,) and he may be addicted to Magic: The Gathering in a bad way, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the best indie-artists out there right now. This song has a wonderfully funny bridge that involves Patton discussing the lyrics to the chorus. The bridge is similar to another song of his (“Auspicious Moment”) but not enough to feel like he’s a one-trick pony. And as an added bonus for all the geeks, Mr. Patton’s alter-ego “Blak Lotus” is MC Frontalot’s bassist.
9. Green Day – 21 Guns
While they can hardly be considered anything less than “Biggest Punk/Pop-punk Band in the Universe” these days, it doesn’t change the fact that Green Day puts out a good album. This track, from their latest album, “21st Century Breakdown,” just feels epic; something that very little punk does well.
10. Rise Against – Audience of One
Audience of One is one of those songs that starts playing in a bar (or on TV,) and you’re wondering, “Where have I heard that before?” Then, right around the time the chorus kicks in, you’re screaming at your buddy, “Hey, this is that song from that one band!” And nobody can ever name the band. How people can forget Rise Against, even with Tim McIlrath’s extremely distinct voice, is one of those mysteries that probably won’t ever be answered.
So there you have it, 10 great Alternative and Rock songs from 2009. There were hundreds more, and if there had been time to include them all, it would have been done. Unfortunately, the year’s almost over, and we get to look forward to more great music in 2010…as long as Lady Gaga retires on December 31st.Honorable mention (because the article was finished before the author realized this was a song, and not a zoo-exhibit) goes to Cage the Elephant for their extremely catchy tune “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked,” which can be heard in the opening sequence of the recently released video-game, Borderlands.