|A band logo from a previous life|
Music has always held an important place in my life. When I was a kid, the sounds of Billy Joel and Elton John (my Mom's favorite artists) were ubiquitous in my home. My Dad enjoyed a great deal of classic rock, so I was exposed also to plenty of phenomenal tunes that likely contributed to my subconscious love of music as well as my unconscious development as a musician.
It wasn't until I reached junior high school though that I began to develop my own taste in music. I remember getting my first CD player from my parents during this time. It was a Marlboro one that they were able to get with the points from the packs of Marlboro Lights that they smoked. It was ironic given the degree to which I held smoking in disdain...but I have capitalism in my blood and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to own my very first CD player. At the time, the only disc that I could play was my Sonic CD video game (it would cycle through the game's soundtrack if inserted). My Dad felt bad giving me the player without having anything to listen to and so he took me to The Wiz on the corner of Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue. He let me pick out a few albums and, though I can't remember all of the ones I got, I do remember a few--the very genesis of my collection: Elton John's "The One," Seal's "Seal," the Batman Forever Soundtrack, and Ace of Base's "The Sign."
By the time I got to high school, I had already begun to open myself up more to music. 1997 proved to be a landmark year for me as I was introduced to some of my favorite music of all time. It was during this time that I began to listen to the radio on a regular basis (Z-100 back when they played a variety of stuff), tuning in for the "Nine at Nine" each night and even voting on occasion to champion a favorite band or song. My love for alternative rock deepened with each new album I explored: The Wallflower's "Bringing Down The Horse," Third Eye Blind's self-titled album, and Vertical Horizon's "Everything You Want" to name but a few. I also enjoyed the requisite pop of the time including the particularly rich collection of one hit wonders that came and went during the late '90s.
As I progressed through high school, I saw my musical interests vary a great deal. Where I had previously shunned rap, I developed a love for it and added a few solid albums to my collection. Then, in 2000, I was exposed to some heavier music for the first time through the wave of nü-metal, particularly Linkin Park and Disturbed. 3 Doors Down's "The Better Life" and Linkin Park's debut album quickly became among my favorites, adding to my ever-growing collection of CDs. I also begun playing acoustic guitar, which brought my love of and interest in music to a completely new level.
College exposed me both to myriad new types of people and music alike. I went to my first concert in October of 2001 (Hoobastank at "The World" in Times Square), I learned about some great bands through a friend of mine (Lit, in particular, developed into one of my favorites), and I finally ended my hatred of country music thanks to an ESPN commercial for the '04 World Series Of Poker (it featured Big & Rich's "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)"). I started a band called "Dark Horse" (see picture at the beginning of this entry) and watched it ultimately fall apart.
From a musician's standpoint, I found that listening to a broader array of music helped me to develop my abilities as a guitarist more fully. I stuck mostly to acoustic guitar and grew adept at singing and playing chords simultaneously. This, in turn, led me to play almost 1,100 songs for my unborn and then-born son from September 2009 through September 2010. During that same time-frame, I practiced a great deal at my electric guitar playing, finding that I enjoy it even more than the acoustic. My crowning achievement though came earlier this year when I was able to tab out an entire album by ear.
Overall, though, as much as I love to play music, I'd go nuts if I couldn't listen to it. Silence, though welcome in a few special instances, is a sign that something's wrong. There is always something playing in my home; it's important to me to expose my son to as much music as possible in the hope that he will develop an interest as strong as my own. With that said, I decided to take a look back at the past twenty years' worth of music and give in to another interest of mine: making lists. For this one, in particular, I had to dust off a number of math skills that I had not employed for some time; the fact that I was able to figure out the calculations and to achieve what I had set out to was quite fulfilling. Here's a quick note about the list and the methodology behind it:
The way that I ranked the albums was through a fairly detailed scoring system that I developed solely for this project. Each song on an album was given a score of 0 through 10 (inclusive) unless it was a skit, a verbal interlude, or an extremely brief instrumental piece (twenty seconds or less), in which case it was not included for grading purposes (such songs were labeled "N/A" in my spreadsheet). The rubric that I used is slightly unconventional in that it does not follow a traditional bell shape distribution of points (with "five" being average, per se). The rubric is as follows:
0 = Unlistenable
1 = Barely Listenable
2 = Listenable ***(This is what a "filler" track would receive for a score)***
3 = Alright
4 = Decent
5 = Pretty Good
6 = Good
7 = Above Average
8 = Great
9 = Excellent
10 = Hit/Single/Perfect
A track that received a score of 0 is one that I would skip immediately (if using a CD) or not add to a playlist (if using Winamp). Scores of 1 and 2 are applied for filler material; scores of 3 and 4 imply slightly better-than-average filler tunes. Scores of 5 and 6 refer to above average filler or songs that have memorable riffs and lyrics. Scores of 7 and 8 are used for the better non-single material on an album while scores of 9 and 10 are reserved for only the best tunes on the album.
Now, where it gets complicated is with the songs that received a score of 10. Obviously a really catchy single that was popular in its time might be deserving of such a grade...but to have it rub shoulders with tracks like "Everlong" and "One Headlight"? Not happening. And thus I developed a second scoring system for singles. Any track given a perfect 10 on the initial scoring was subjected to a second analysis that featured a range of 1 to 10 (inclusive) where 1 represents only the most banal of hits and 10 represents my favorite, most cherished songs by that particular band.
The problem with calculating the total album scores arose with the consideration of "quantity over quality." I had to find a way to reward both the quality of the individual perfect 10s while taking into consideration the overall number of such tracks. Ultimately, my solution was to break the total album scoring down into two factors: percentage of the sum of the individual track scores plus a percentage of the bonus points that the album earned. I decided on a 90/10 breakdown. What I did first was to sum up the total point values for the songs on a given album. I think divided this by the total number of tracks on the album multiplied by ten. This gave me a percentage of points earned versus points possible--a decent representation of an album's standing. The issue that arose here though was that there were too many albums on an even footing that I felt should have been much further apart, hence the employment of the bonus points system.
The bonus score was also broken down into two constituent parts: Strength of Single score and Percent of Perfect Tracks. The former was meant to reward the quality of the songs while the latter rewarded the quantity. Strength of Single scores were calculated by summing the bonus point values for each song on an album (each one out of ten), multiplying the number of perfect 10s by ten, and then dividing the former into the latter. Basically, if you have two singles that are pretty good (each receiving a bonus value of 5), then the SOS for the album would be 0.50 (the two scores (5+5=10) divided by the number of singles times the total point potential for said number of singles (2*10=20) (10/20=0.50).
The Percent of Perfect Tracks was integral in determining my top fifty albums. All of these received 10s across the board because, in my opinion, every song is worth listening to and could stand alone as a solid track. The differentiation, then, came in the quality of each individual track in terms of the bonus points. Basically, I felt that if I was declaring an album to be one of my all-time favorites, it really should be devoid of any filler or fluff. Therefore, if an album had even a single song that I would routinely skip (sorry "The Sickness"--you can thank "Droppin' Plates for that one), it would be ineligible for the clean sweep of 10s. An imperfect system, sure, but it made things more manageable in the long run. Plus, without doing what I just outlined, a double-album like the Foo Fighters' "In Your Honor" would have destroyed something better simply because it had more songs. By keeping everything calculated in terms of each individual album and rewarding a greater percentage of solid songs instead of simply a greater number, I was able to achieve a much more balanced (and in my opinion, accurate) set of results.
Finally, the overall calculation for each individual album's score was as follows: 90% of the "Album Score" added to 10% of the "Bonus Points," which, in turn, consisted of 60% of the Strength of Single calculation and 40% of the Percent of Perfect Tracks. Symbolically, it can be read as:
((0.9 * AS) + (0.1*((0.6*SOS)+(0.4*POPT))))
I then converted the decimal results into a percentage and, voila, the final values out of 100% were tallied. I'm going to post the list in reverse order beginning with # 200 and I will add comments sporadically throughout until I begin to get near the top; then I will explain my thoughts and feelings about each of the albums.
Only full-length albums (LPs) were used and, in most cases, only the original release of the album was considered unless a re-release served as the de facto version; EPs, remix albums, cover albums, and acoustic versions of an album were not used regardless of popularity or superiority to original releases (as in the case with Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill.") Bonus tracks were not counted except in two cases where they were part of the re-release and should have been included as featured tracks anyway (Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" and Dead By Sunrise's "The Morning After"). Hidden tracks were scored in conjunction with the songs they followed (both tunes were given a single score) instead of being separated (in most cases the scores wound up being identical anyway). Cover songs that stood as individual tracks were counted as such but remixes and alternate versions of earlier songs on the albums were not included.
This is NOT a list of the best 200 albums of the past 20 years as such a list would be remarkably difficult to draft. For one, I haven't listened to a thousandth of a percent of all of the music that has been released during the past two decades and for me to speak intelligently to the "best" of even a single genre, I would have had to have listened to an incomprehensible quantity of music. With that said, my list represents MY favorite 200 albums of the past 20 years. Nonetheless, there will still invariably be people who will balk either at an inclusion or an exclusion and so I offer these caveats:
If an album isn't listed it's likely because...
A) I've never listened to the album before (Candlebox & Silverchair's stuff, for example)
B) I don't like the particular artist (Radiohead and Muse for example)
C) I didn't like the particular album or didn't listen to it enough to warrant its inclusion (AX7's "Nightmare," for one).
If you feel an album should have been included let me know--the odds are that it fits in under A, B, or C...but maybe it won't. If I overlooked something I shouldn't have (we're not talking about the Muse shit or "OK Computer" here folks) then I can try to amend the list. Otherwise, just enjoy a trip down memory lane and thanks for reading!
MY TOP 200 ALBUMS OF THE PAST 20 YEARS (1991-2011)
(A shout out first to Andy McKee's "Art of Motion" and Loreena McKennitt's "The Book Of Secrets." Both albums are near-flawless and flawless, respectively but given the fact that neither album represents an easily compared genre, I didn't feel that it would be fair to include them and to rate them against their rock, metal, pop, and rap counterparts.)
Format is: Artist - Year of Release - Album Title Score
200. Authority Zero - 2004 - Andiamo 22.500%
199. Rage Against The Machine - 1999 - The Battle Of Los Angeles 23.250%
198. Matchbox 20 - More Than You Think You Are 23.883%
197. Stone Temple Pilots - 1996 - Tiny Music...Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop 24.000%
196. Everclear - 1995 - Sparkle And Fade 24.029%
195. Rob Zombie - 2010 - Hellbilly Deluxe 2 24.036%
194. Rage Against The Machine - 1996 - Evil Empire 24.545%
193. Buckcherry - 2008 - Black Butterfly 24.750%
192. Good Charlotte - 2004 - The Chronicles Of Life And Death 25.071%
191. Audioslave - 2002 - Audioslave 25.271%
190. Authority Zero - 2007 - 12:34 25.500%
189. Sum 41 - 2001 All Killer, No Filler 26.433%
188. Backstreet Boys - 2007 - Unbreakable 27.486%
187. Colbie Caillat - 2008 - Coco 29.250%
186. Matchbox 20 - 2000 - Mad Season 29.415%
185. Stone Sour - 2007 - Come What(Ever) May 30.000%
184. Rage Against The Machine - 1992 - Rage Against The Machine 30.400%
183. Cowboy Troy - 2005 - Loco Motive 30.750%
182. Creed - 1997 - My Own Prison 31.500%
181. Offspring - 2008 - Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace 31.683%
180. Rob Zombie - 1998 - Hellbilly Deluxe 32.167%
179. Gin Blossoms - 1996 - Congratulations...I'm Sorry 32.433%
178. The Eagles - 2007 - Long Road Out Of Eden 32.600%
177. Foo Fighters - 1995 - Foo Fighters 33.000%
176. Evanescence - 2011 - Evanescence 33.000%
175. Verve Pipe - 1997 - Villains 33.585%
174. Blessid Union Of Souls - 1995 - Home 33.855%
173. Coldplay - 2000 - Parachutes 34.000%
172. Sum 41 - 2002 - Does This Look Infected? 34.100%
171. Red Hot Chili Peppers - 2002 - By The Way 34.213%
170. Stone Sour - 2002 - Stone Sour 35.062%
169. Eminem - 1999 - The Slim Shady LP 35.243%
168. Red Hot Chili Peppers - 1999 - Californication 35.400%
167. Good Charlotte - 2002 - The Young And Hopeless 35.557%
166. No Doubt - 1995 - Tragic Kingdom 35.714%
165. Stone Temple Pilots - 1999 - No. 4 35.991%
164. Slipknot - 2004 - Vol. 3 - The Subliminal Verses 36.114%
163. Nine Inch Nails - 1994 - The Downward Spiral 36.271%
162. The Strokes - 2011 - Angles 36.500%
161. Seether - 2011 - Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray 36.633%
160. Avril Lavigne - 2002 - Let Go 36.692%
159. Incubus - 1997 - S.C.I.E.N.C.E 37.117%
158. 10 Years - 2008 - Division 37.231%
157. Tom Petty - 2010 - Mojo 38.067%
156. Big Kenny - 2009 - The Quiet Times Of A Rock And Roll Farm Boy 38.700%
155. Daughtry - 2009 - Leave This Town 39.000%
154. Default - 2005 - One Thing Remains 39.273%
153. Creed - 2001 - Weathered 39.345%
152. Limp Bizkit - 1999 - Significantother 39.492%
151. Queens Of The Stone Age - 2003 - Songs For The Deaf 40.443%
Reaction to the bottom fifty albums:
--Way to lie Sum-41: some killer and plenty of filler.
--Creed...such a shame that Scott Stapp is such a douchebag--they had some great albums.
--Tragic Kingdom definitely should have been higher; looking forward to the next No Doubt album!
--The Downward Spiral is one of the best albums, as a whole, of this period but individually (and thus taken out of their original context) most of the tracks do not stand out, hence its low standing.
--The Daughtry album is surprisingly good but I'm hoping he steps up the rock aspect on the next one.
--If there's only one album you check out from these fifty, let it be Default's 2005 release "One Thing Remains." Really great stuff.
50 albums featuring a total of 39 different artists.
150. System Of A Down - 2001 - Toxicity 40.553%
149. Bush - 1994 - Sixteen Stone 40.567%
148. Audioslave - 2005 - Out Of Exile 40.683%
147. Maroon 5 - 2008 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long 41.283%
146. Puddle Of Mudd - 2001 - Come Clean 41.545%
145. Backstreet Boys - 1999 - Millennium 41.683%
144. The Fray - 2005 - How To Save A Life 41.767%
143. Evanescence - 2006 - The Open Door 42.754%
142. Finger Eleven - 2000 - The Greyest Of Blue Skies 42.855%
141. Jimmy Eat World - 2004 - Futures 42.918%
140. Nirvana - 1991 - Nevermind 43.267%
139. Creed - 1999 - Human Clay 43.300%
138. Slash - 2010 - Slash 43.314%
137. Papa Roach - 2004 - Getting Away With Murder 43.417%
136. The Strokes - 2003 - Room On Fire 43.736%
135. Rob Thomas - 2005 - ...Something To Be 43.800%
134. Jason Mraz - 2002 - Waiting For My Rocket To Come 44.433%
133. Sheryl Crow - 1993 - Tuesday Night Music Club 44.549%
132. 3 Doors Down - 2002 - Away From The Sun 44.917%
131. Blink-182 - 1999 - Enema Of The State 44.917%
130. Disturbed - 2010 - Asylum 45.000%
129. Cold - 2000 - 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage 45.031%
128. Static-X - 1999 - Wisconsin Death Trip 45.133%
127. Alice In Chains - 1992 - Dirt 45.333%
126. Switchfoot - 2003 - The Beautiful Letdown 45.755%
125. Boyce Avenue - 2008 - All You're Meant To Be 46.000%
124. Lostprophets - 2004 - Start Something 46.231%
123. Blues Traveler - 1994 - Four 46.267%
122. Godsmack - 2006 - IV 46.727%
121. Hinder - 2010 - All American Nightmare 46.800%
120. Tonic - 1996 - Lemon Parade 46.867%
119. A Perfect Circle - 2000 - Mer de Noms 47.433%
118. Jimmy Eat World - 2001 - Bleed American 47.827%
117. Darius Rucker - 2008 - Learn To Live 48.000%
116. Third Eye Blind - 1999 - Blue 48.031%
115. Hootie & The Blowfish - 1994 - Cracked Rear View 48.283%
114. Stone Temple Pilots - 1995 - Purple 48.582%
113. Sarah McLachlan - 1997 - Surfacing 49.150%
112. Ace Of Base - 1993 - The Sign 49.400%
111. Weezer - 1994 - Weezer (The Blue Album) 49.600%
110. Chevelle - 2002 - Wonder What's Next 49.982%
109. Matchbox 20 - 1996 - Yourself Or Someone Like You 50.833%
108. Jay-Z - 1998 - Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life 51.760%
107. Kelly Clarkson - 2004 - Breakaway 52.183%
106. DMX - 1998 - It's Dark And Hell Is Hot 52.433%
105. Cold - 2003 - Year Of The Spider 52.615%
104. Weezer - 2008 - Weezer (The Red Album) 53.000%
103. Godsmack - 2003 - Faceless 55.267%
102. Metallica - 1991 - Metallica (The Black Album) 55.950%
101. Wallflowers - 2002 - Red Letter Days 56.415%
Reaction to albums one hundred-fifty through one hundred-one fifty tracks:
--Toxicity...there's nothing like it man. Same goes for System Of A Down.
--Just saw Bush in concert last month--they sounded as good if not better than they did almost twenty years ago.
--Maroon 5...thanks for one of the most incredible spontaneous karaoke moments of my life.
--I honestly didn't want to include the Backstreet Boys stuff on here but it would've been disingenuous to leave it off. The hits on that album were among the ones I listened to on the radio every day. Granted, just about everything else on the album sucked but those songs are a part of that era.
--Nevermind...I'm okay with where it landed--not as big a landmark album as people make it out to be.
--I can't believe the Black Album was so low but there are a bunch of solid albums ahead of it.
100. Foo Fighters - 1999 - There Is Nothing Left To Lose 57.091%
99. Weezer - 2009 - Raditude 58.300%
98. Green Day - 1994 - Dookie 60.160%
97. Goo Goo Dolls - 1998 - Dizzy Up The Girl 61.391%
96. Big & Rich - 2007 - Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace 62.655%
95. Disturbed - 2008 - Indestructible 63.633%
94. Filter - 2010 - The Trouble With Angels 64.100%
93. Stone Temple Pilots - 1992 - Core 64.867%
92. Lifehouse - 2010 - Smoke & Mirrors 64.867%
91. Lifehouse - 2005 - Lifehouse 65.327%
Reaction to albums 100-91:
--Dookie is just an amazing album. Would've been career-defining if not for American Idiot.
--Seriously--how many hits are there on Dizzy Up The Girl!?
--Big & Rich's album was incredible--I really hope the next one is as good if not better.
--Filter. Scope them out!!!
--Core = Epic grunge
90. Eminem - 2000 - The Marshall Mathers LP 66.041%
89. Breaking Benjamin - 2006 - Phobia 66.800%
88. Lifehouse - 2007 - Who We Are 67.633%
87. Disturbed - 2005 - Ten Thousand Fists 69.286%
86. Goo Goo Dolls - 2002 - Gutterflower 76.950%
85. Linkin Park - 2007 - Minutes To Midnight 80.162%
84. Third Eye Blind - 1997 - Third Eye Blind 84.229%
83. Shinedown - 2005 - Us And Them 89.619%
82. Disturbed - 2000 - The Sickness 90.748%
81. Crossfade - 2004 - Crossfade 94.600%
Reaction to albums 90-81:
--Goddamn...I remember when the Marshall Mathers LP came out. Do you remember the craziness that came with the track "Kim"?
--Supposedly Breaking Benjamin designed Phobia to have every song potentially be a single. I don't know if they succeeded but it's definitely a great album.
--Gutterflower would have been SO MUCH higher if not for Robbie's horrendous vocals.
--Third Eye Blind's self-titled album is insane...except for two or three tracks. Should've been top ten and would've been if not for these duds.
--The Sickness blew my fuckin' mind the first time I heard it. It would've been top ten if not for "Droppin' Plates," which is, hands down, the worst song I've ever heard. Ever. By any band. The worst.
80. Three Days Grace - 2009 - Life Starts Now 94.976%
79. Seether - 2005 - Karma And Effect 95.200%
78. Seether - 2007 - Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces 95.500%
77. Seether - 2002 - Disclaimer 95.800%
76. 12 Stones - 2002 - 12 Stones 96.100%
75. Nick Carter - 2002 - Now Or Never 96.500%
74. Hoobastank - 2006 - Every Man For Himself 96.650%
73. Lit - 2001 - Atomic 96.815%
72. 3 Doors Down - 2008 - 3 Doors Down 97.000%
71. Incubus - 2004 - A Crow Left Of The Murder 97.043%
Reaction to albums 80-71:
--Seether's become one of my favorite bands, especially after seeing them live.
--I've listened to the 12 Stones album a hundred times--just a good overall listen.
--I still can't believe people hate on the self-titled 3 Doors Down album--it's their second best one behind The Better Life.
70. Finger Eleven - 2007 - Them vs. You vs. Me 97.055%
69. Nine Days - 2000 - The Madding Crowd 97.150%
68. Eve 6 - 1998 - Eve 6 97.273%
67. Sublime - 1996 - Sublime 97.320%
66. The Fray - 2009 - Fray 97.327%
65. Mighty Mighty Bosstones - 1997 - Let's Face It 97.350%
64. Flogging Molly - 2008 - Float 97.382%
63. Lit - 1999 - A Place In The Sun 97.400%
62. Gin Blossoms - 1992 - New Miserable Experience 97.400%
61. Incubus - 2006 - Light Grenades 97.415%
Reaction to albums 70-61:
--A bunch of self-titled albums in a row...weird.
--Let's Face It is probably my favorite ska album ever.
--New Miserable Experience had some of my all-time favorite songs, especially Hey Jealousy. Awesome album.
--Light Grenades could have been SO much more if not for the "new direction" Incubus started heading in.
60. Finger Eleven - 2003 - Finger Eleven 97.450%
59. Lonestar - 1999 - Lonely Grill 97.545%
58. Jason Mraz - 2005 - Mr. A-Z 97.550%
57. Avril Lavigne - 2004 - Under My Skin 97.650%
56. Foo Fighters - 2002 - One By One 97.655%
55. Collective Soul - 1995 - Collective Soul 97.700%
54. Sugarland - 2004 - Twice The Speed Of Life 97.709%
53. The Wallflowers - 2000 - Breach 97.780%
52. Papa Roach - 2006 - The Paramour Sessions 97.785%
51. Green Day - 2004 - American Idiot 97.785%
Reaction to albums 60-51:
--Where The River Flows on the Collective Soul album is one of the heaviest songs ever.
***THE TOP 50***
50. The Bollox - 2009 - The Bollox 97.818%
49. Authority Zero - 2002 - A Passage In Time 97.850%
48. Linkin Park - 2003 - Meteora 97.900%
47. Maroon 5 - 2002 - Songs About Jane 97.900%
46. Fuel - 1998 - Sunburn 97.927%
45. Papa Roach - 2000 - Infest 98.000%
44. Fastball - 1998 - All The Pain Money Can Buy 98.015%
43. Staind - 2001 - Break The Cycle 98.062%
42. Dead By Sunrise - 2009 - Out Of The Ashes 98.062%
41. Foo Fighters - 2005 - In Your Honor 98.080%
Reaction to albums 50-41:
--If you like Flogging Molly or the Dropkick Murphys, scope out the Bollox--you won't be disappointed.
--Songs About Jane was HUGE for what felt like forever.
--Infest--definitely an underrated album because of the genre it falls under.
--In Your Honor--not sure there was a more diverse album to come out of the past ten years, man.
40. Fuel - 2000 - Something Like Human 98.100%
39. Flogging Molly - 2002 - Drunken Lullabies 98.200%
38. Hoobastank - 2001 - Hoobastank 98.200%
37. Dry Cell - 2002 - Disconnected 98.246%
36. Alanis Morissette - 1995 - Jagged Little Pill 98.250%
35. Linkin Park - 2000 - Hybrid Theory 98.250%
34. Nickelback - 2005 - All The Right Reasons 98.255%
33. Foo Fighters - 2011 - Wasting Light 98.255%
32. Billy Joel - 1993 - The River Of Dreams 98.260%
31. Metallica - 2008 - Death Magnetic 98.260%
Reaction to albums 40-31:
--It pisses me off to no end that the phenomenal music on Something Like Human is Carl Bell's doing and not Brett Scallions. Saw Brett perform with the revamped Fuel at the Starland Ballroom. What a killer voice, even now.
--Drunken Lullabies is the single best album for St. Paddy's Day, period.
--Hoobastank's album should be higher but "Better" and "Give It Back" are such pedestrian tracks that I couldn't bear to mark them up any more than I already did. "Pieces" is a WICKED tune with such a crazy arrangement (in Open E it's crazy, in standard it's almost impossible) and of course "Crawling In The Dark" and "Running Away" are among the top songs of the decade.
--Dry Cell's only problem was being signed (briefly) to Warner Brothers at the same time Linkin Park was blowing up. One of the most expensive albums you'll find on eBay.
--Jagged Little Pill: the quintessential alt-female album from the mid-90. Fuck you Dave Coulier a.k.a Mr. Duplicity!
--Hybrid Theory would have been higher if not for "Cure For The Itch." I hate that on every album they have at least one shitty track that prevents it from being 100% listenable.
--Wasting Light...best album of the new decade, hands down. Bridge Burning? Why that would be my third favorite Foo Fighters track right behind Everlong and HJP!
--Billy Joel and Metallica...probably the only time you'll ever see them in the same sentence lol
30. Audiovent - 2002 - Dirty Sexy Knights In Paris 98.300%
29. Foo Fighters - 2007 - Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace 98.350%
28. Jason Mraz - 2008 - We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. 98.400%
27. Plain White Ts - 2007 - Every Second Counts 98.431%
26. The Script - 2009 - The Script 98.440%
25. Three Days Grace - 2006 - One-X 98.450%
24. Hoobastank - 2003 - The Reason 98.450%
23. Shinedown - 2008 - The Sound Of Madness 98.527%
22. Daughtry - 2006 - Daughtry 98.550%
21. Disturbed - 2003 - Believe 98.550%
Reaction to albums 30-21:
--It shouldn't be a surprise that the brothers of Brandon Boyd and Mike Einziger would create some awesome music together...it was just a surprise that it happened on only one album. I blame shitty single selection as much as the charges of nepotism and what not for their downfall.
--Fact: Jason Mraz is one of the best songwriters of our time.
--Every Second Counts has a special place in my heart because I listened to it at least a dozen times, start to finish, while driving around the Big Island of Hawai'i on my honeymoon.
--Saw The Script for the first time opening for Paul McCartney at Citi Field. Wasn't surprised they blew up the way that they did. Kick ass album.
***THE TOP 20***
20. Bryan Adams - 1993 - So Far So Good 98.586%
An album that features just about every one of Bryan Adams' hits except for "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman." Still can't believe "Summer of 69" isn't about the year.
19. Shinedown - 2003 - Leave A Whisper 98.600%
Brent from Shinedown has one of if not the best voices in rock. I absolutely cannot wait to hear the new album next year. This one--their first--was a revelation at the time. Shame these guys aren't more well known.
18. Three Days Grace - 2003 - Three Days Grace 98.600%
Adam Gontier's voice has that scathing quality to it that I love in a singer. He writes some amazing songs--an even blend of awesome acoustic work and skull-splitting heavy electric work. This album is by far their best.
17. Big & Rich - 2004 - Horse Of A Different Color 98.615%
One of the few albums that I can listen to for days without getting bored. Love these guys like they're family and SO proud that John Rich won Celebrity Apprentice (which allowed him to raise upwards of a million dollars for St. Jude's).
16. Hinder - 2005 - Extreme Behavior 98.620%
Hinder gets a lot of shit for being a generic band of the Nickelback variety but I couldn't care less. Austin Winkler's got a voice that could cut through glass and this album was simply chock full of great songs.
15. 3 Doors Down - 2000 - The Better Life 98.636%
Kryptonite gave me one of the best van memories ever. Loser was one of the first full songs I learned to play on guitar. Duck and Run made Heather even cooler than she already was. If Smack, The Better Life, and Down Poison weren't such pedestrian tunes this album might've been even higher on the list.
14. Vertical Horizon - 2005 - Go 98.650%
This album has grown on me in recent years and I'm glad it has. Matt Scannell's acoustic guitar work, in conjunction with his infectiously beautiful vocal melodies, really come through on the songs featured on Go.
13. Evanescence - 2003 - Fallen 98.650%
I had as big a crush on Amy Lee's voice as legions of goth teens probably had on her. She has one of the purest voices in all of rock...it's just a shame she's such a cunt (as the reports of the behind-the-scenes stuff that went on in her band seem to say).
12. Foo Fighters - 1997 - The Colour And The Shape 98.662%
Everlong is one of the greatest songs ever written (up there with the likes of Stairway, Layla, Freebird, Hotel California, and Wish You Were Here/Comfortably Numb) and features what has to be one of the most insane drum riffs ever. And to think that it's just one of four of the Foo's best tracks (HJP, Monkey Wrench, and My Hero are the other three) on this album.
11. Lit - 2004 - Lit 98.662%
Of course I fell in love with Lit right when their hiatus went into effect. I've been waiting seven years for new material...anxiously awaiting, thanks to their self-titled release. This is just an insanely good album...really hope the new stuff lives up to it!
***THE TOP 10***
10. Incubus - 1999 - Make Yourself 98.662%
If it weren't for that goddamn Battlestar...ugh! This album was damn near perfect and it showcased Mike's ability to craft deceptively simple and mind-boggingly complex songs. Pardon Me, Drive, Make Yourself, Stellar...craziness.
9. Lifehouse - 2003 - Stanley Climbfall 98.700%
Another album that I've only recently come to appreciate more fully, every track on this album is a stand out one. I probably like the songs, collectively, even more than the ones on No Name Face; it's only the history associated with the latter that gives it the edge.
8. The Wallflowers - 2005 - Rebel, Sweetheart 98.700%
I really couldn't stand Red Letter Days when it came out...but Rebel, Sweetheart? Love at first listen. "God Says Nothing Back" inspired me while writing my second novel and every single song is amazing. Here's hoping the next Wallflowers' album is as good as this one!
7. The Calling - 2001 - Camino Palmero 98.745%
I liked "Wherever You Will Go" when it was on the radio but I came to love this album and all of the other songs on it. "Stigmatized" is a beautiful tune and "Unstoppable" and "Adrienne" are addictive in their own right. Heather will be happy that Camino Palmero is (deservedly so) sitting in the Top 10.
6. Lifehouse - 2000 - No Name Face 98.750%
It's funny that every time I share the music that I have written with friends and family that they like the heavier stuff but love the acoustic tunes. Aside from my favorite alt-rock bands of the mid to late-90s, no other band encapsulates so purely the sound that beats in my musical chest. No Name Face was probably the first album that I really loved from end to end and it's for that reason that it's what I'm listening to right now as I write out the last of these reflections!
5. The Wallflowers - 1996 - Bringing Down The Horse 98.800%
No single album is more important to me than Bringing Down The Horse. It's what inspired one of the best friendships of my adult life and what established both taste in music and my obsession with expanding my musical horizons. I love every song on this album and feel that, as a whole, it pretty much defines my adolescence in a way that nothing else could. It was the first of innumerable connections that I've had with my hermano through the years and I'll forever be indebted to Jakob Dylan for making this incredible album.
4. Everclear - 1997 - So Much For The Afterglow 98.800%
I always loved this album as a teenager but as an adult I've developed newfound respect for Art Alexakis' lyricism. As some of the songs on this album grew more personal for me, I realized just how intelligent his lyrics are and it makes me sad to think that shit like Ke$ha and Nikki Minaj dominate the radio and collective consciousness of teenagers right now. Instead of listening to a man bleed his life story onto paper, creating truly personal and penetrating lyrics, they're listening to the nonsensical, self-aggrandizing drivel that passes for modern pop music. So Much For The Afterglow will never be dated but will instead age like a fine wine. Believe it.
3. Vertical Horizon - 2009 - Burning The Days 99.000%
When I walked 21 miles last winter, what helped me through the rough final stretch was this album. Once again, the guitar riffs and vocal melodies, in accord with the lyrics themselves, produce an almost incomparable listening experience. I still can't believe this album is only two years old...in another ten years, I'm sure it will still be deserving of the bronze medal in my list of top albums.
2. Vertical Horizon - 1999 - Everything You Want 99.509%
The final song on this album is, like Everlong, one of the best songs ever written, bar none, hands down. I've never seen another song before or since with such an amazing guitar arrangement. Everything You Want is an album I know intimately, start to finish, every note, every drum hit, every line of lyric. I can listen to it perpetually and still find new things to love about it. It's an almost perfect mix of songs and is probably the one album I would take with me if trapped on a deserted isle with only a CD player or iPod with unlimited battery life lol One of the only full albums that I played for Timmy during the concert series I set up and deserving of every ounce of effort I put into learning the tunes. Can't wait to listen to it in the morning on my way across the island!
1. Incubus - 2001 - Morning View 99.677%
In my opinion, there's no such thing as a perfect album...but if there was, it would be Morning View. There is simply no better arrangement of songs in existence than those featured on this album. It was the pinnacle of Incubus' career and it will never be reached let alone approximated by those boys from Calabasas. Song after song, every track is technically perfect in its own right with only varying levels of awesomeness separating them. Nice To Know You is one of their best tracks with an almost Cantrell/Staley-an vocal harmony for the chorus. Circles is a complicated, heavy, amazing song that demonstrates how quickly, easily, and smoothly the album can transition from heavy to heavier and then to lighter. Wish You Were Here has some great lyrics and laid back guitar-work. Just A Phase is a quintessential Incubus track: deceptively simple on the surface but, deep within its inner workings, rife with musical complexity and depth.
Then there's 11am. The greatest set of lyrics of any song I've ever heard. Brandon Boyd's metaphors and wordplay is tremendous and incomparable. Blood On The Ground continues his wordsmithing ("Blood in my mouth beats blood on the ground"--think about that for a second). Mexico is one of my all-time favorite acoustic tracks of any band. Warning is undeniably creepy, not even accounting for the really unnerving video associated with it. Echo features a riff that was co-created with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai and has an incredible ambient sound to it. Have You Ever and Are You In fall into the same category as Just A Phase and are just awesome tracks. Under My Umbrella is a wickedly intricate song when you consider the guitar work, bass riff, and drum beats used.
And finally there's Aqueous Transmission. There's nothing like it. The most relaxing song I've ever heard on a rock album. It features a Chinese stringed instrument (the Pipa) as well as the sounds of frogs that the boys in the band heard on a nightly basis. By including those chirps, Incubus tied in the very location that the album was recorded at into the mix, transforming it into a song in and of itself. Close your eyes while you listen to it--tell me you're not transported immediately to that river, feeling yourself drifting away to a better place...
The album begins on a heavy note and ends on a light one that blends perfectly right back into the opening notes of the initial song. It's not a concept album and that's part of what makes it amazing--how smoothly it forms a musical circle--a never-ending sonic sequence that, like the river in Aqueous Transmission, never changes and is never the same at any given moment. It's like Finnegans Wake, beginning and ending in the middle of the same sentence.
Morning View. The best album I've heard in the past twenty years' worth of music...and possibly beyond!