As the first decade of the century is winding down and I'm getting used to the idea of living in the 2000's, I thought I would reflect on the music that has made the greatest impression on me these last 10 years. There's no way I could list all the great music I've heard - or take time to blast all the lame, posing artificial substitutes either - so I'm going to simply focus on albums as a whole. Also keep in mind, I LOVE rock music! There's really not a thread or fiber of my being that's inclined to enjoy hip-hop, and you won't catch me listening to much country either. I say this to forewarn you that my list is obviously biased towards a certain and particular genre. I'm admitting that upfront. So without further ado, here are MY Top 10 albums (in no particular order) of 2000-2010:
Lifehouse, No Name Face (2000)
Of course, the first time I heard "Hanging By A Moment" I was hooked - and knew that this band would go far. But what was even greater for me was the depth with which Jason Wade explored and explained his faith. We spent 4 hours in a van on the way to youth camp one year engrossed in conversation about the meaning of each of the songs. I'm not sure (at that point) I had ever heard such a raw and honest look at faith. *And it wasn't even in the "Christian" category!
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001-2002)
Have you listened to this?! Much like Pet Sounds (from the brilliant mind of Brian Wilson), this album is beautiful melodic noise! And yes, there is such a thing. It makes statements - political, spiritual, musical statements. And the execs at Reprise Records (the morons who refused to release the album) are probably still consoling each other for their ignorance. You will most likely either love this album or wonder what planet I'm from for suggesting it be added to your collection.
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
I think of the first Coldplay album (Parachutes) much like I think of Jars of Clay's first release - many people loved it, it had their "hook" song on it ("Yellow" vs. "Flood"), and many people never realized they kept making music. And it kept getting better! What I loved with this 2nd effort was (like Jars) they didn't rest on their success - they kept inventing. It's more aggressive and electric than Parachutes. GREAT songs!
Tonic, Head on Straight (2003)
The album was Grammy-nominated for "Best Rock Album" of the year & "Take Me As I Am" was nominated for "Best Rock Song". For me, Tonic is a band that sustains the essence of rock music. Emerson Hart's voice is simply amazing! Guitars, vocals, overdrive - it's all about tone. When I saw the trio last fall (2009) in concert, they played for an hour and 45 minutes solid.
Keane, Hopes and Fears (2004)
Another true 3-man band storm the planet (from the UK, no less). Tom Chaplin's voice is not like butter, it's like fire. It melts butter! The pounded rhythms and melodies - the way Tim Rice-Oxley makes the piano sing - is fresh and genius. And at the same time, it's just plain-flat, simple-minded piano music. Some would argue their 2nd release, Under The Iron Sea, is better. I disagree.
The Fray, How to Save a Life (2005)
Here's one of those bands that took a LONG time to actually "make it". And once "Save a Life" hit the radio and the stores, the band's fame exploded. This is one of those albums that I can play - start to finish - any time for any reason.
Switchfoot, Nothing is Sound (2005)
While the band admits that the making of this album (and the scattered process of it's production) nearly drove them to quitting, I still love this collection of songs. Some bands put out a group of tunes, while others understand that the right songs, put together in the right way, create a story. This album tells several stories in my mind, many of which were very life-changing experiences for me. [The first 4 songs particularly]
U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2006)
While All That You Can't Leave Behind was U2's announcement, "We'll be sticking around (and ruling) another decade, there was something about How to Dismantle that connected with me. Maybe it was that it started with "Vertigo", one of the most in-your-face pop/rock songs in years. Or that the spiritual overtones on the album weren't overtones - they were overt! The music was new, but it was still U2. I still debate whether or not this has taken over top bill for me from The Joshua Tree. (That will remain in debate for awhile!)
Paul Baloche, A Greater Song (2006)
This is not an album of worship songs, it's a worship experience! Much of this is due to the fact that Baloche refuses to compromise a few simple principles: he records all his albums live AND he does it at his home church in Lindell, TX. I love these songs because I feel like I'm there, in the room, lifting them up for the very first time with that same roomful of people. But set all that aside, and these are still individually some of the best worship songs of the decade: "Hosanna", "Your Name", "What Can I Do"...all instant classics. And the funny thing is, most people don't realize that Paul Baloche has written as many worship songs as Tomlin, Redman, and Crowder put together. If you love to lift up Christ in song, buy this album!
Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (2007)
Again, the storytelling. While I do NOT think Dave Grohl and crew were attempting to serenade, this is one of those collections of songs that is diverse, while every song remains true foo material! Try to listen to "The Pretender" and not walk, run, drive faster. I dare you! This album is pure rock. My favorite since There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
It almost choked me to leave 2 of Jars of Clay's albums off my list (Good Monsters & The Long Fall Back to Earth), but that's the fun and difficulty of making a list like this. With that in mind, I thought I would list some of the others that could have (maybe should have) made MY list:
Snow Patrol, Final Straw & Eyes Open
Vertical Horizon, Everything You Want
Collective Soul, Youth
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
The Killers, Hot Fuss
Pete Yorn, Music for the Morning After
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
Lifehouse, Who We Are
U2, No Line On the Horizon
Radiohead, In Rainbows