Ok, so over the years I've seen dozens of lists of the best albums of all time, the best bands, etc, which all tend to be skewed towards music from the last five years and also neglect a lot of good music out there... I'm not going to say this is the end all - be all list, but I'm listing out my favorite bands and the best albums they put out. Some of the names will be unfamiliar, so I challenge you to go find some of them and give them a listen. I've been into music as long as I've been into comics and I'll even go back and read old comics and listen to old CD's and remember the "soundtrack" for those comics, what I was listening to at the time. So, enjoy and let me know what you think! These are in alphabetical order by artist, so not to make some acts seem better than others. There are regular albums, b-side collections, live albums, or whatever I might like...
· AC/DC ~ Back in Black - I can remember when I first heard these guys... I was pretty young, 5 I think and was blown away. Good times!
· AFI ~ The Art of Drowning - I've been listening to AFI since their Wingnut Records days (1995 I think) and have been hooked since. They've evolved over the years and some would say they sold out, but I don't agree. They have gone through a natural evolution as demonstrated by each album if you listen to them in order. The Art of Drowning was when I feel they hit their stride and it's a freaking amazing album.
· Alice in Chains ~ Facelift -I was a freshman in high school, disillusioned with the world and then grunge came on my radar. My musical tastes were never the same afterwards. I love a lot of their music following this album, but I always go back to this one. If you like Alice in Chains, go buy Jerry Cantrell's solo stuff, particularly Degradation Trip 1&2... You will realize that Jerry was really the genius behind the band. I saw him live a handful of years back before he got AIC back together and the band Comes with the Fall did his support (the lead singer of CWTF is the new singer for AIC, by the way)..... anyway, just educating!
· Alkaline Trio ~ Goddamnit! - What happens when punks grow up? Well, in the case of Alkaline Trio, they keep playing the same music, evolving towards darker themes of love, loss, and death. A thousand bands trying to make it after them WISH they could be as good. Give them a try, every album is great and you can really FEEL where they're coming from if you're old enough.
· Angry Samoans ~ Back from Samoa - You'll see me sneak a bunch of old punk into this list... These guys are great and influenced a lot of later underground punk bands. If you listened to punk in the 80's after "New Wave" hit the scene, you're lucky... I thought when "punk died" it went away, but it didn't. It just went underground and got better.
· The Animals ~ Self Titled debut (1964) - Ok, I’m sticking some old rock and roll, too… The Animas, specifically the voice of Eric Burdon, helped to make music what it is today. Just give The House of the Rising Sun a listen and tell me I’m wrong.
· Anthrax ~ Persistence of Time - I was a freshman in high school when this album came out. Metal was my life at the time and this album was at the top of my list then and it’s up there now, too. I like a lot of the stuff before it and after it, but specifically Got the Time is just an in your face metal song that tells you exactly how much Anthrax just kicks #%^!
· Arctic Monkeys ~ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not - Arctic Monkeys stuck another shot of lifesblood into the British music scene a few years ago and we’re still paying for it in a good way. They stuck elements of reggae, dub, and even jazz into a sound full of texture and soul while still remaining energetic.
· As I Lay Dying ~ An Oceans Between Us - Hardcore Metal at its finest. A beautiful combination of amazing musicianship, brutal power, and screamo meet melody. I LOVE this band.
· At the Drive-In ~ In Casino Out - I was sad to see this band break up, though they lead to the formation of the Mars Volta and Sparta. I was exceptionally bummed out when some friends and I bought tickets to see them and they broke up the day before the show we were going to see them. Very sad… They’re the first band on this list I describe as Progressive Punk… The basic idea is what happens when punks learn to play their instruments and get influenced by what came before. In this case punk meets progressive rock. The Mars Volta took that idea to the next level…
· Babyshambles ~ Shotter’s Nation - If you read any tabloid stuff you may have wondered “who the hell is this Pete Doherty guy?” Well, this is where he’s from. Drugs, sixties influences, brit-punk mentality, mediocre singing and musicianship, but somehow it works. Think what would happen if the Strokes OD’d, picked up instruments, and were on a steady diet of early Stones.
· Back Door Slam ~ Roll Away - What would happen if the best voices and musicians from the 1970’s were born again in the bodies of some teenagers with soul but didn’t have a billion years to waste their time in the studio? Back Door Slam is what would happen. Something about these guys takes me back to a time before I existed.
· Bad Religion ~ Generator - By far Bad Religion’s best album in my not so humble opinion… they had great albums before and after, but this is right in the middle of their best work and I listen to this album more than any of their others.
· Barry and the Remains ~ A Session With the Remains - these guys used to tour with the Beatles, believe it or not. The specific album is a healthy combination of their own music, well written, soulful pop music from the 60’s mixed in with some great covers of good music from the time. It was very common for musicians back then to cover each others songs for albums.
· Beastie Boys ~ Hello Nasty - I’ve listened to the Beastie Boys for years… I loved Check Your Head because I learned at the time they created their own samples to rap over and it was just genius. Something about Hello Nasty, though, is just a masterpiece in my mind. Front to back, I love listening to the album.
· The Beatles ~ Love - I’ve been listening to the Beatles since I was born… My mother played Sgt. Pepper for me on vinyl all the time when I was just a hatchling. I loved it then and I love the band now more than ever. I picked Love as my favorite because it was made for the show in Vegas, is re-mastered, and mixes things up a little. Amazing stuff whether you’re a new or old fan or haven’t even heard them before (shame on you).
· Beck ~ Odelay - I wish I could pick six of his albums, but I’m sticking with my one album per band rule… Beck is a genius, the sooner you accept it, the sooner we’ll all get along. He broken on the scene a couple of years before this album came out and in this one he mixed elements of every musical style under the sun. Just listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. Trust me, you’ll like it.
· Bikini Kill ~ The Singles - Honestly, I didn’t know who the heck this all girl band was in the 90’s. They could be considered the originators of the GRRL rock scene. Give this set of 9 songs a listen and you’ll see how they were so influential. Pretty straightforward punk with lyrics that let you know that they’re really not happy campers and they’ll kick you where it hurts if you point it out to them.
· Blacktop ~ I Got A Baaad Feelin’ About This - Mick Collins…. The man, the myth, the legend in his second band. Blacktop broke up a handful of years ago, but the idea lives on in the Dirtbombs. This is modern garage punk at its finest, loud, dirty, and did I mention loud? Mick Collins is the leader of the rabble, who first came around with the Gories a few years before. He is a genius, too… If I were to make an album today, I’d want him to produce it and maybe some of his cool would rub off on me.
· Black Flag ~ The First Four Years - I love Henry Rollins, but there’s something to be said about the music from before his time. It was fast, angry, urgent, and amazing. He brought other elements to the band which can never be forgotten, I mean he’s probably one of the most amazing poets around, but this is where Black Flag started and you can see why.
· Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ~ Howl - Every album these guys do switches things up quite a bit. When I first heard this album I thought that maybe someone switched out the CD with something from the 60’s, but no, it was them. I grew to love this album and I’ve probably listened to it at least three hundred times since it was released in 2005.
· Black Sabbath ~ Paranoid - You know, I have all of the Ozzy years of Sabbath and Paranoid has always and will probably always be my favorite. The heavy dirge of the music is just crazy and Ozzy’s voice transcends into some really dark places.
· Black Tide ~ Light From Above - What, why the heck am I putting this on here? I can’t believe the things that this band can do and, well, can you beat Shockwave on expert in Rock Band? I don’t think so! A healthy shot of 80’s thrash metal put into the bodies of some teens – early twenties guys. Wow! I want to see what they do next.
· Blindside ~ About a Burning Fire - I first head these guys when the album Silence came out in 2002. When this album came out, however, I decided that the band was just freaking amazing. Give this one a listen and you’ll see what I mean. It’s modern metal at it’s finest with a lot of other influences and textures mixed in.
· Blind Faith ~ Self Titled - Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech, each famous in their own right from their separate bands got together in the late sixties to form the first supergroup. Once you hear the first licks of Had to Cry Today and you’ll be hooked… Once Steve’s voice comes in, you can die a happy person.
· Bloc Party ~ Silent Alarm - Another British import, amazing amazing amazing… did I mention amazing? I don’t know where they came from but when this album came out in 2005 I was thrown for a loop. They kind of took up the mantle of Blur in my mind since they were out of the picture around this time. They added elements of brit-pop, punk, electronic, and some other stuff. Something about Kele’s voice just kills me in a good way.
· Blur ~ Modern Live is Rubbish - Social commentary from, along with Oasis, were the beginnings of what we know as brit-pop… I won’t say a whole lot here, they were just a great band and I think this was their best album. I heard they’re doing a new album now, though!
· Brand New ~ Deja Entendu - The best band by this album. You could consider these guys emo, I guess, but I don’t really think so when it comes down to it. Emotional lyrics, sure, but there’s so much more to this band. Great grooves, harmonies, well placed emotional screams, etc… The lyrics are probably the best thing about band, though, almost free form poetry, but it just works with the music.
· The Bronx ~ Self Titled (1993, not the two others that are also self titlded) - The Bronx is what rock is all about. They made this album using the three take rule, which means you play the song as a band three times and take the best of the three. This allows for the recorded medium to be as raw as possible, as close as you can get to a live album, while still remaining slightly produced. The guys voice is gravel and if their live shows are any indication, alcohol induced. Punk as it should be but with a rock kick.
· Built to Spill ~ Keep it Like a Secret - I saw these guys live I think around 1999 when this album had just come out. They are amazing musicians and I wish more bands were around now with their level of integrity.
· Burning Airlines ~ Mission: Control! - These guys were considered at one point to be “The best band you’ve never heard of”. Listen to this album, worship this alum, and you’ll see what I mean. Progressive punk again, punk with more skill, more chords, more power, and just amazing! Hooks, lyrics, harmony, song after song… I didn’t like their follow up album, Identikit, as much, but I won’t hold it against them. BUY THIS ALBUM!
· The Buzzcocks ~ Singles Going Steady - These guys were kind of considered the pop of the punk scene, I guess, but I think they were one of the best bands to come out of the British Punk scene from the late seventies. Listen to the songs, there are a lot of great hooks, beautiful emotional and punchy lyrics, etc… Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley are just great and they’re still at it today with the Buzzcocks, though I think the rest of the lineup has changed.
· Cardigans ~ Gran Turismo - Ok, so if you know the band you probably think of their song Lovefool from the album before this one… It is NOT indicative of their style. There was so much more depth to their music which is why they never really made it well in the mainstream (US) when this album came out. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
· Chelsea ~ The Punk Singles Collection 1977 – 82 - If you’ve heard of the band you might know that this is where Billy Idol came from. He was in Chelsea, then Generation X, and then solo. Don’t hold it against the band! I love Billy and have even seen him live in the last five years, but I don’t want people to think this band is all about him, it’s not. This was before he was the singer, actually! British Punk at its finest ~ three chords, angry lyrics, and relevant for the time… still sounds great today.
· The Chords ~ So Far Away - These guys were around in the British Punk scene, too, and probably one of the best sounding bands of the time with a lot of harmonies mixed in, unlike a lot of the stuff out there. From the first song, Maybe Tomorrow, I was hooked on this album.
· The Clash ~ London Calling - Like most official publications out there, I think London Calling is The Clash’s best album. I LOVE their debut album and think everyone should own it, but London Calling had so much more to it you can’t argue with its place as the best album. If you wonder who Rancid wanted to be in the 90’s, listen to the Clash’s albums and you’ll see.
· Cold ~ 13 Ways to Bleed Onstage - great “nu-metal” from 2000…. I don’t like the term “nu-metal” but that’s what they called it at the time. These guys, too, were so much more and underrated. I think they’re still at it, but this was their best album. Don’t expect turntables and rap, because it’s not in here, it’s solid.
· Coldplay ~ A Rush of Blood to the Head - I was debating not putting them on this list… I love the band, but feel a lot of their newer stuff is disposable pop music. Sorry! When this album came out (their second), they secured their place in history as an amazing band with great musicianship, lyrics, etc…
· Comes with the Fall ~ The Year is One - As I mentioned before I first saw these guys open for Jerry Cantrell and then picked their instruments back up and played with Jerry on stage as his backing band. Great band carrying the torch of the grunge era, but still modern and relevant.
· Corrosion of Conformity ~ Blind - Back when Headbanger’ Ball was at its best on MTV, late night when I should have been sleeping I first heard Dance of the Dead and was hooked on this band. Great metal from the time and I still love the album today.
· The Cramps ~ Psychedelic Jungle / Gravest Hits - I’m a hu-human fly, and I don’t know why… Oh my god, there’s something about this band that makes me want to listen and marvel at the sounds. 60’s garage sounds mixed with a horror element… Like the Munsters meets the Monkees by way of the Sex Pistols. If that doesn’t make you curious, I don’t know what will. I had heard of them before this, but I saw them live opening for White Zombie in the 90’s and the lead singer, Lux Interior, climbed to the top of a huge speaker, stuck the mic in his mouth, and started humping the speaker, making obscene noises… Shocking, yes, but it got everyone’s attention, I tell you that!
· The Cynics ~ Get Our Way - The Cynics were part of a garage revival that stayed in the underground for most of the 80’s and 90’s and resurfaced this century with bands like the White Stripes, the Hives, and a few others. The Cynics, like the other bands, were not the originators of the sound, but they carried the torch well…. And it’s a great album along with a couple of others of theirs… If you like this one, pick up Rock ‘n’ Roll.
· The Damned ~ Smash It up: The Anthology 1976 – 1987 - The Damned was the first horror-punk band, I think… they added gothic elements to punk and ran with it producing some amazing tracks over the years. The Anthology collects some of the best of the time.
· Darkest Hour ~ Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation - Not for the faint of heart… Not for those who can’t handle music that’s faster than you can tap your hands… Fast, aggressive, angry sounding, screaming, but it puts a smile on my face.
· The Dead 60’s ~ Self titled (2005) - I loved this album and was very sad with the direction the band took after this one. They were like what would happen if the Clash came around today and had to start again from scratch. It was refreshing and amazing and now I’m not sure what to think of the band, unfortunately. Dead Boys ~ Young, Loud, and Snotty - If you didn’t know, punk was actually an American creation from the 60’s and early 70’s and the brits took it over, marketed it with bondage gear and that’s what influenced the masses. The Dead Boys were actually around in the US from 1976 and produced some music you can’t call anything BUT punk and did it better than many of the British bands.