There are a number of things that make me crabby these days – weight gain, hipsters, stupid food fads (as opposed to the clever ones), climate change, the price of oil, pointless unemployment seminars, my cat peeing over the side of the litter box, sitcoms, and one that has gotten worse every year – popular music.

Thanks to websites like Unabashedly Prep – who’s Fred Castleberry puts out a monthly playlist, and Esquire Magazine – who each year puts out a music issue, 50 Songs Every Man Should Be Listening To I am still able to find good new music.  There was a time that I was able to find it by turning on 92.7 FM (Long Island), or MTV, but no longer.  I’m also crabby over reality TV. 

Below is a list of some of the songs I’ve enjoyed throughout 2010.  Enjoy!

1 – Mountain ManCrash Kings – this, oddly enough is one I actually did discover on the radio.  Most NYC radio is crap, but 101.9 has done a decent job of playing a lot of my alltime favorites, and has introduced me to a few gems like this one.  I believe it was new in ’09, but I just discovered it this year.  Bass, piano, drums, and vocals – no guitar.  Though, it’s powerful enough to make you wonder if it could be there, or if it ever was. 

2 – Precious StonePete Yorn – After the sleepy Back & Forth Pete was contacted by Black Francis who wanted to work with him, producing a record.  “Um, yeah?”  A few days in the studio, and we have Pete’s self titled album which is almost as good as his first.  The record kicks off with this song, and runs into Rock Crowd, tapering off somewhere near the end of the album; just the way I like it.

3 – Election DayLyle Lovett – I’ve enjoyed Lyle’s music for a long time now, but always stuck to a few select songs.  I discovered this moody gem one day while playing my iPod on Shuffle. 

4 – Behind a Wall of SleepThe Smithereens – I was driving down to Lewes, DE this summer when this classic came on the radio.  I knew I was familiar with the song, but I couldn’t remember who it was.  Luckily the DJ was able to confirm it, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since.  This is another one of those songs (and bands) that I just missed entirely when they first came around. 

5 – New Fang Them Crooked Vultures – I’m a huge fan of the Foo Fighters.  My wife loves Led Zepplin and Queens of the Stone Age.  Put them together and you get, HOLY SHIT!  This is the popular single off this amazing collaboration’s first album, and for good reason.  Backed by Dave Grohl’s signature hard drumming, and Josh Homme’s

6 – The Ghost InsideBroken Bells – Over the summer a friend suggested I put Broken Bells on my summer playlist, and the entore record has been in rotation ever since.  Broken Bells is artist-producer Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse) and James Mercer of the Shins – the second unreal collaboration effort on this list.

7 – Ever Fallen in LoveThe Buzzcocks – Kristina and I were watching a punk documentary, and this song was featured.  I’ve since downloaded versions by Pete Yorn, Fine Young Cannibals, and Teenage Fanclub.

8 – How You Like Me Now?the Heavy – This song makes me think of two things – sock puppets, and Candice Swaenpoel dancing in her underwear. 

9 – Uncloudy DayWillie Nelson – This is another one that came up on a day I put the iPod on shuffle.  Unfortunately like so many artists, Willie is often only known for a handful of his many, many songs.  This is one of those tunes that just puts me in a good mood every time I hear it.  The secret to long life?  Drink lots of water, smoke lots of weed, and never buy a new guitar.

10 – The ManPete Yorn – Yes, there are two Pete Yorn songs (plus another mention) on this list.  I have been a fan since his first album, Music For the Morning After.  This one is off this third studio album, Nightcrawler.  I rediscovered it this year before I saw him play a show supporting his new self-titled album.

11 – Sea of HeartbreakJohnny Cash – I round out this list with one of the classic Rick Rubin era songs off the Unchained album.  Only Johnny Cash could make such a sad song sound so uplifting.  On his later albums the uplifting gave way to melancholy, but he’s still one of the greatest ever. 

And for the record I was aware of 13 of the albums on Paste Magazine’s Top 50 Albums of 2010, only 3 of the top ten, and I or my wife own only about 6 of the total 50.  Just goes to show how out of touch musically I am these days.  If this was 1994 it would have been a different story.  Sigh…

~Sam

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