Freedom Like a Top100: Most Influential List
Top 100 Album Challenge:
Have you ever been “nominated” by a friend or acquaintance on Facebook for one of these Top 10 Favorite Album challenges but struggle to create a list of your own? Have you sat there in the quiet ambiance of your room or office and been left struggling to find the words to type? You tremble to express just how much 10 albums meant to you over the course (in my case) 36 years of life!!! (triple emphasis) Well that’s me and that’s my story. This is why I haven’t exactly been so keen to commit to these “challenges” and would rather relegate it to my blog here than post it on Facebook/Social media.
So with my best foot forward I am going to attempt a “list” and try to gather thoughts together and try to somewhat assemble what I think are my favorite 100 albums. These are albums that have made an impact at some point in my life over 36 years. Yeah that’s right, I can’t do 10, because in 36 years, far more than just 10 albums have influenced me. So instead of doing just some lazy quickly slapped together “List” meant to impress friends and hipsters alike, I have decided to dive in a bit deeper. Below you’ll find a list of 100 albums that have influenced me at different points over the course of my life. These albums are not in any particular order or arrangement. I just posted them the best I could from memory. I tried to avoid my LastFm playlist because that throws me off every time. I have to consider that pre-2007 (when I signed up for LastFm) I listened to a lot of the below listed albums more heavily and at different times. So join with me and feel free to discuss your likes, dislikes, and general distaste for what I consider MY personal influential list. Remember folks, these are just the albums that impacted me most over the course of my life. No offense to any band or friend left off this list. I know there were handfuls of “independent” artists that have influenced my listening habits over the years but in respect of this overall list and what I listened to the most, I have included my selections below.
Also, before you start asking “why aren’t there very many “NEW” titles in your LIST?” It’s tough to organize so many albums that were listened to at lengths over the years and assemble them in some sort of list off of memory. I am excluding a lot of more recent releases just due to the fact that I haven’t spent quite nearly as much time with these albums (except for My Epic, EISM, The Hotshot Freight Train, etc.). Anyway, I hope you understand.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy.
Top 100 Spotify Playlist via Freedom Like a Song Blog, posted below (and at the bottom)
[Original Challenge as posted on Facebook]
I’ve been nominated for the top 10 album challenge and in this challenge you are to list 10 albums that have stayed with you in some way. This challenge is not about best sellers or classics…just 10 albums that have had an effect on you in some way and it does not have to be in any particular order. List your 10 albums then tag 10 friends to do the challenge:
As much as I wanted to put one of the albums from the 90’s at the top of the list, I couldn’t help but name this band who really started my early fascination with Christian music during my pre-teen years. If it wasn’t for my cousins suggesting I check out some “Christian Music” and specifically Altar Boys, I don’t know where I’d be. This band really did help lay the ground work for what many people would (hate to) define as “Christian” punk rock music and it’s thanks to them that bands like Mxpx are still going strong today.
I struggled with my favorite FIF album seeing as how much I enjoy Electric Boogaloo but overall, this album made the biggest (personal) impact initially upon release….1997 was a big year for me personally. It was the year I began to chart my course towards adult hood and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was the year I got engaged and settled into a full time job. This album came at a perfect time in my life. The song “Every New Day” has been played so much over the past 15 years that I can’t help but sing along and shed a tear when it’s played on the stereo (or in concert). I played this song at my wedding and so many drives to work featured this song as a soundtrack to alleviate the strain of boredom. “Our Newest Album Ever” was really this band’s defining moment. Better production, better songwriting, and an overall more cohesive sound added to the benefit upon listener’s ears. The album has stood the test of time and still resonates with fans today. Ska and Rock never sounded so good.
There was just something musically defining about this album and truly original about it’s delivery that struck me in a unique way. I couldn’t help but feel captivated and drawn in by the album’s sheer ferocity but gentle melodic battle cry. It was the anthem of a generation and even though over time, different fans have latched on to different Thrice albums (even myself finding joy in their other discography), I can still find so many likeable tunes on this album that take me back to a certain time period and nostalgic feeling.
I had become so unaware and out of touch with anything “general market” (or dare I say, ‘secular’ at that particular time period] because of a personal choice and “convictions” that I somehow had been “feeling” at the time so I was out of touch with a lot of music. Thanks to CD listening bars here in Orange County, I was able to discover a few bands like Sensefield, Gameface, Farside, Face to Face, No Use for a Name, Millencolin, etc. when I began to branch out further from my “Christian” only music phase. So this little band called Sensefield entered my ear canal and I was instantly hooked. They had this certain sound that was tough to peg down and were so far ahead of their time. Not exactly punk rock, not hardcore, not rock n’ roll, not grunge, they were a unique hybrid something some people were calling “emo” and a thing I was just beginning to learn of. I fell in love with this album, everything from the melodies and and aggressive yet soothing guitars to the spirituality found in Jon Bunch’s lyrics. His voice truly carried this band and they wouldn’t be what they were without him.
This 1996 album, the band’s third full length release, stands the time as one of the great Christian rock albums of our generation. It’s simplistic yet full of charm and spiritually engaging music. Of all the bands out there, I really credit Plankeye with helping me find my Faith again (during high school) and for really inspired me to rededicate my life to Christ. The band changed my perception with “The Spark” but it was truly this album that shaped my personal taste and put me on the course with positive rock n’ roll.
So many good Mxpx songs before the release of this album and so many favorites on “Life in General” but for me “Slowly Going….” ranks as my favorite and I believe truly showcased this band as songwriters and musicians. There was a lot of controversy and negativity out there around the time of their departure from long time label home, Tooth & Nail, and much of this album is written from the perspective of that break up. At the time I loved both parties but could understand where Mxpx were coming from. “What’s Mine is Yours” is the biggest label break up song you’ve ever heard (and probably the most honest). I just dug the overall production, song writing, lyrics, that were found on this first major label release from everyone’s favorite (Christian) punks. I remember watching “I’m Okay You’re Okay” video on MTV and hearing the song on KROQ all the time back when it was new. The band had indeed reached new heights with the release of this album.
I can’t remember how many times back when this released that I played this CD but I jammed it non stop. I played the album relentlessly until I just wore it out into boredom (which was tough to do). I was a fan since “One for the Kids” and their “Underdog Ep” came out so I had high hopes for their first major label full length. When the album hit, I was blown away. It had big budget production, radio friendly sing-a-long melodies, hit song material and just everything you love about a big record. This was huge for them and for all of us fans. I remember cruising around town and on vacation many times playing this album. Huge fan.
Somehow this album escaped my secular music purge and I don’t know why that is? Could it be that this band absolutely rules and they are untouchable? Could it be they are divinely protected? Lol. Whatever it is, I loved this album and band so much that I didn’t have the heart to “sell” their album to Wherehouse Music along with all my other evil music. Every song on this album was a hit and Rivers really understood the power of a good melody. He wasn’t the best singer by any means but he had the charisma (for a dorky singer) and heavy guitar fuzz that came out at just the right time in the 90’s that exploded across all platforms (and radios). This album was huge in case all you little kids were just born during this time period and didn’t know. This band was on MTV practically every day and they played their videos so much that I had their songs memorized. I loved singing along with Rivers and Co. The band had trouble living up to this album on subsequent releases and I truly feel that it’s tough to beat “Blue” (especially all the bonus unreleased tracks that came out with this album).
This was a tough one because I am equally a fan of their prior two releases, especially “Friction” since it held that debut title. However, I feel that the band had improved their overall songwriting to the point that “Speakeasy” becomes my favorite release of theirs. There is just something so powerful about the songs “Gold & Silver”, “Keep Waiting”, “Rivers Underneath”, “Free Fall (From Hand to Hand)”, etc. This “supergroup” of sorts stunned the world when they first teamed up and from the opening moments of “Friction”, we were all left with our jaws open at the sounds coming forth from that debut album. This release is certainly exceptional and further proves why Stavesacre have gone to be one of the biggest underrated rock bands of our generation.
This will cause some controversy because I know it’s not a personal favorite of some Dogwood fans but I don’t care, it strikes a chord (literally) with my heart and keeps me coming back again and again. This album came out shortly after September 11th attacks and really brought me closer to my Faith, more than any other album at that time. “Do or Die” as simple as it is, is just plain beautiful. I love “Through Thick and Thin”, “More Than Conquerors”, and “Building a Better Me”, but there is just something altogether special about this album that keeps it playing over and over in my stereo. Also, I know the real Matt Aragon and met him a few times in person. Cool guy. After the release of this album, long time guitarist Sean O’Donnell would go on to front and start Reeve Oliver (Hey I say you guys on Yo Gabba Gabba) and joined as bassist for Yellowcard for a few years. Now he is a solo artist and just released “Spirit Junkie” that you can buy on his bandcamp page.
It was between this and “More Betterness” that ranked on my personal favorites’ chart and this album won. This album came out during a more somber, reflective time in my life and really struck a chord with me. I know many of the lyrics have a political leaning but the songs themselves are just perfect examples of good music done right. This is one of those underrated bands and Tony Sly was one of those songwriters that comes around once in a generation who goes unnoticed yet writes really influential music, in this case, punk rock! I highly recommend you start with this album if you get into NUFAN and check out “For Fiona”.
12. Def Leppard “Hysteria” 
I’m sorry but despite how uncool it is to “like” Def Leppard, this band (and album) will always hold a special place in my heart. I was a little kid when this came out and I remember sneaking it into my collection then listening to it over and over again. I loved these songs and the band in general. I still listen to these songs and are brought back to a simpler time. Nostalgic feelings run deep while listening to “Hysteria” (and glam rock in general).
Who doesn’t dig this album? You have to be “too cool” or a hipster to admit you don’t enjoy NFG and this album. This release changed the band’s life forever and established Drive Thru Records as “heavy hitters” in the realm of music labels for their short period in the music scene. I jammed the heck out of this album when it came out and appreciate nearly every song found on this release. I still hold this album in high regard.
EMO! Well that’s what everyone heaped upon this band back when they came out and they were forever pegged as some “emo” next big thing. Although they had trouble following up their first three big releases with subsequent albums, there is no doubt this debut put them on the map and is closely cherished by fans to this day, including myself. I remember hearing it for the first time and going “who the heck is this band?” I have to buy a shirt NOW (and I did just that).
There was always a little danger in listening to this band’s music. Something about SD was just rough and gritty, realistic and street level. This final major label album (and last one with founding guitarist Dennis) still had that same SD signature sound and Mike’s gruff battle torn voice but something was special about this album that set it apart from their peers and my other albums I was into at the time. I don’t know what it was and why I grasped on to this album so much but I loved it and still do.
This band holds a special place in my heart since I first discovered them upon my many trips to the ole’ CD listening bar and found their early albums “Good” and “Three to Get Ready”. Their mix of punk, emo, and hardcore edge had them riding that aggressive edge among genres and was hard to peg them down to just one style. That’s what made Gameface stand out and their music truly unique. They weren’t the typical Offspring or Blink 182 snotty type band nor were they the Bad Religion or Pennywise tough punk rock type band. They were Gameface and fit into a style all their own. The band started to branch out after signing with Revelation Records in the late 90’s with the release of Every Last Time and then on my favorite album of theirs “Always On”. The songs are beautiful and hauntingly engaging. Just one spin of “Angels on the Wing” or “The Warmest Heart Attack” and even “Laughable”, it’s clear this band had a penchant for writing catchy upbeat numbers. Check this album out and give it a whirl.
A lot of fans love “Advent of a Miracle” and while I agree it’s a great album, this one ranks as my favorite. I am not sure if it’s because of nostalgia or because the album truly rules but I am leaning on the latter. Jason was a monster of a vocalist and you can’t help but be intimidated by his overbearing growling lyric delivery. This album inspired a lot of people myself included, and established this Florida band as a force to be reckoned with. It also opened the door for a lot other “Christian” bands to follow. I was blessed enough to have seem them twice with Jason on vocals and I can say that the band was explosive back then.
After Stephen, Deon, and Joey’s band Sagoh 24/7 dissolved we knew these guys wouldn’t sit still for long. If you can get past the rough production on the 2001 Sagoh release “Then I Corrupt Youth”, you will find a talented group of Guitarists, Bassist, and Singer. Their sound can’t be replicated by any other rock group no matter how hard the labels try. When Anberlin formed and I put them on “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2”, I knew they were going to be huge someday. I wasn’t far off and this album shows a band not afraid to step forward and hold nothing back. “Cities” is an important album for me and for fans across the globe. A beautiful album through and through. Although I shed a tear this year when the band announced their imminent breakup and “final” album I was given solace in the fact that I would have all these fine releases to remember the band for years from now. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to see their final shows here in So. Cal. Due to some personal emergency issues within our family but like I said, I’ll always have these albums, these songs, these words to treasure and a band to look up to. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the albums post-Cities, it’s just that this album had so many memorable songs for me and came out at the perfect time.
I debated this in my head and had to come to the conclusion that after years of listening to them back in the day, this album probably ranks more in my head as a “favorite” than even their “Self Titled” one does and says a lot. Ignorance is Bliss was their most hated album when it came out and really disconnected the band from it’s core audience. Unlike Yellowcard “Lights and Sounds”, their “concept” album that caused an audience rift, this album really had great production and everything sounded perfect. It was just a style shift that alienated the core audience and caused punk fans to cry foul. Of course 15 years have passed, the kiddies have grown up and people have mostly shut their mouths for good on what they thought they knew about this album. In fact, this release has become somewhat of a cult classic in many people’s minds which serves as a reminder to people not to jump to rash decisions and follow the flock mentality when making up their minds on what music to cherish. This is just a fine album period, no doubt about that.
How can I do one of these lists and not include Craig’s Brother? I’d have to be insane right? This band went through a major lineup change after the release of “Homecoming” but it wasn’t so drastic that their signature sound and melodies would be forgotten as is evidenced on “Lost at Sea”. This was the band’s defining moment and an album worthy of praise. In Ted’s (Bond) lyrics, you could see/hear someone struggling through emotions, spiritual brokenness, fear, regret, anger, and a general feeling of being “Lost at Sea”. You just couldn’t help but feel connected in some way. As much as I loved “Homecoming” and that particular lineup (Adam and Andy) sound, this one was my favorite. I especially enjoyed the production found on the album, the artwork, etc. “Back and Forth”, “Glory”, “Head in a Cloud”, “Prince of America”, “Lost at Sea”, “Masonic”, etc. were all solid songs that you can’t help but sing-a-long with.
21. Starflyer 59 “Leave Here a Stranger” 
This 2000 release is my favorite by the band but that can be debated of course. “Gold” and “Silver” really got me interested in the band back when they were new and there weren’t any other “Christian” bands playing the shoegaze indie rock sort of style. This release slows things down a bit, drops in some moodiness, and wraps you up in a big blanket of melody. It’s epic and for that is the reason the album remains one of my favorites.
22. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Let’s Face It” 
You can’t have Skacore and not mention the bosstones. There wouldn’t be ska-punk without these guys and there wouldn’t have been a complete thirdwave revival had it not been for this band and their like-minded pals. Seriously this album was so good and even though The Impression That I Get is their most recognizable song, it is still my most favorite of theirs next to “So Sad to Say” and the most played. I never get tired of Bosstones’ music and I will always play this band no matter how old we all get. Their last two albums have been some of the best music of their careers and they show no sign of slowing up.
23. Living Sacrifice “The Hammering Process” 
This is one of the bands that has consistently gotten better with each subsequent release over the years. “Reborn” was a rebirth for the band when it released in 1997 on Solid State. The band had switched vocalists and labels so most fans didn’t know what to expect. When “Reborn” hit, it completely changed the landscape for all things metal and hardcore, melding the two and defining a new genre. They weren’t the first to do this but the way they played it was so unique and jaw dropping that you couldn’t help but throw your fist in the air and sing (Scream) along. “The Hammering Process” came in the year 2000 and completely changed what we thought of the band at an even greater point. They had switched some members again by the time this album came out, with Rocky and Arthur along with an extra percussionist to round out the lineup of Lance and Bruce. A totally unique record and one that pushes this band to the forefront of metalcore today.
24. The O.C. Supertones “Chase the Sun” 
While “Supertones Strike Back” had some of my favorite songs and strikes a nostalgic feeling with me, this album is the mature comeback story the band needed to write to stay on top of their game and prove that they were more than just a So. Cal. Skapunk band. I love this band’s music and I use to think that HiFi Revival was my least favorite of their albums, even ranking as a “crappy” one, but I have changed my tune in the past few years, finding myself loving it. In fact, I can’t find an album of this band’s discography that I like the least except maybe their debut but that’s because of its sub-par production (sorry Bob Moon). As a lyricist, Matt Morginsky wrote some of the finest rhymes and most intelligently written “Christian” lyrics for a band of that type of genre (next to FIF of course). There just weren’t any other bands like these guys out there and still to this day, aren’t too many others have come like them. They were/are one of a kind, a once in a generation type act and once they decide to finally hang up the suit and ties, they’ll be sorely missed. As for this album, so many songs stand out as solid “hits” and many of them didn’t even grace radio. Go back and listen to this whole album and tell me you can’t find a favorite on this album.
25. Focused “The Hope That Lies Within” 
The band really started strong with “Bow” and blew most people’s perceptions of what spirit filled lyrics mixed with the aggressiveness of the hardcore genre can sound like. This wasn’t the classic metal sound of yesteryear or another glam band mixed with “I love Jesus” lyrics. This band was straight up HARDCORE and wasn’t afraid to wear the tag. They lived the lifestyle, breathed it, and didn’t let up for a second. Although I love the “Bow” album and believe it holds a sentimental part of my soul, this 1995 album really changed my thoughts on Christian hardcore, or “Spirit Filled Hardcore” if you will. “The Hope That Lies Within” added a dose of melody to the hardcore chords that the band had become known for and laced with spoken word type vocals from front man Tim Mann, that truly set this band apart from so many of their peers. Sure there were bands like Chain of Strength, Mouthpiece, Bold, Inside Out, Youth of Today, etc. that pioneered the sound but none could touch the spiritual, emotional, and aggressive nature of Focused. Oh and for the record, Focused came up with the tag of “Spirit Filled Hardcore” and were true pioneers. Just imagine what the band would have sounded like with Tooth & Nail’s current production budget of today. Favorite songs: “My Blood”, “Consumer”, “Dead Sky”, “Empty”.
26. Too Bad Eugene “At Any Rate” 
When I heard that former Craig’s Brother members had started a new band after the release of “Homecoming” towards the end of the 90’s, I was ecstatic. When I first heard this album, I was floored. It was amazing in so many ways that I can’t even begin to explain. Melodic punk rock done right. This trio (Adam and Andy plus Adam’s brother Sam on drums) played music that bands need 5-6 members these days to accomplish. So many great songs could be found on this album. It’s a shame that no one has re-released it or pressed it to vinyl because it is just an incredible release. Sure “Moonlighting” was good when it came out on Tooth & Nail 2 years later, but it just didn’t hold the same ferocity and anthem-laced hooks that were found on this debut. The band explored topics of punk rock scene ethics, religion, politics, love, and hope. Still such a great album by a band no one has probably ever heard of.
27. Value Pac “Incognito” 
Although the first two albums hold up that nostalgia factor for a lot of people and inspired a lot of kids to pick up instruments to play happy, poppy, Christian punk music, this is the album that for me, was inspiration. It was produced by Social Distortion guitarist Dennis Dannell (before he passed away) and held that grit factor that so many Social Distortion albums became known for. “Incognito” was a gritty, dirty, punk rock album filled with realism, hopeful yearnings, and a penchant for crying out to God in despair. It was different from past material yet still had that Value Pac sound. The “ska” element had been replaced by more slowed down old school punk rock sound (ala Social Distortion). Songs like “Bad Bad Me”, “Corporate Cover Up”, “Prodigal”, “Dear God”, “Free”, were all solid numbers. This album has been out of print for a number of years but my hope is that someone will approach Chuck Cummings (Drummer for Dakoda Motor Co. and The Altar Billies) to re-release it on Vinyl with new artwork.
28. The Prayer Chain “Mercury” 
The band hit it big with “Shawl” and “The Whirlpool Ep” back in the early 90’s but it was this 1995 album that truly defined them and made the band stand the test of time. With its controversial nature, this album was a big step forward for the band and took them out of that whole “grunge” scene that was slowly dying out by the time this album hit. It was atmospheric, moody, and featured a ton of slow burning jams. It was indie rock from a Christian perspective before too many of those bands existed. I saw this band a few times during their existence and this album will forever live on in my heart as my favorite Prayer Chain release ever.
29. No Innocent Victim “Flesh and Blood” 
This late 90’s hardcore album really established the band as the front-runners of a spirit-filled hardcore scene and kept them running for many more years to come. Drummer Jason Dunn even started his own label (Facedown Records) in the late 90’s which then took off and is still highly regarded a hot bed of talent in the Christian rock/hardcore/metal underground. This album is a gem and probably Victory’s most important “Christian” hardcore release ever.
30. My Epic “Broken Voice” 
This ep has continued to inspire me and lead me to worship God even over this past few months during my wife’s stroke and hospital stay/recovery. It’s a true inspirational album and something much of the “industry” has ignored. Their failure to recognize true talent is the reason so many people have written off the Christian market as holding little to no relevance (I speak of the general industry in charge of the marketing, promotion, hype, and release of albums that are heard by the public and put in front of a music buying public for mass consumption). This is a beautiful piece of music and Facedown as well as the band was wise to take a risk and strip down the instruments to mostly acoustics and record this simple ep. The simplicity of it and the organic feel just creates a unique listening experience that captures your attention from the onset of listening and keeps you entertained the entire time. Thank you Facedown.
31. The Hotshot Freight Train “Get Low” 
This album is relatively new but made a definite impact in my life. These gentlemen are talented songwriters and an underrated band. I think with the right push, they could really reach a huge crowd and influence a whole lot of people. They have a big sound and the rich involvement of instrumentation invokes emotion. It’s inspirational, working class music sure to cause a ruckus in any part of the country. It doesn’t hurt that I knew a few of these guys in their prior band, Joey’s Loss, but don’t let that name association persuade you into thinking there is any sort of favoritism going on here. I legitimately love this band and their music is without a doubt some of my favorite out there right now.
32. Less Than Jake “Anthem” 
This album got me into Less Than Jake again after falling out of favor with them for a few years. I guess I just lost track of them over the years but really started paying attention with the release of “Anthem”. The song “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” is still a favorite of mine from this album. Just so many catchy songs from this record. Short, fast, melodic, ska-punk songs from this Gainsville, FL, based band.
33. AFI “Sing the Sorrow” 
I played this album a whole lot more back in the day when it released than I do now but it was huge. This is a definite “classic”. It was a departure from the band’s prior aggressive hardcore-punk and showed the band moving in a more commercial sound but still edgy enough for long time fans. Although I still follow the band, most of their post-Sing the Sorrow albums have started to sound the same (stale) even though ‘Burials’ certainly had its moments. The band has always had that dark subject matter so they kind of ride the line of what I normally listen to but I’ve dug their music for a long time.
34. Relient K “Mhmmm” 
This album found the band ditching some of the childish leanings of their past, and embracing a more adult subject matter. While this album definitely had a commercial sound and catchy tunes, there was something unmistakable about Matthew’s voice and lyrical content. Relient K could be pegged as “childish” music to some but for the rest of us, it was good clean fun that we enjoyed and could sing-a-long with.
35. Jimmy Eat World “Bleed American”
The album that released under a different titled back in 2001 and changed the music landscape for good. Such a fantastic release and a strong Jimmy Eat World album. This and “Futures” rank as my favorites but this is the album that changed it all for me because of just how huge it was. I love this band still to this day and “Damages” was just as great as all prior material.
36. Ghoti Hook “Sumo Surprise” 
There is something special about this punk/rock group that set them apart from so many of their peers. While “Two Years to Never” was an exceptional album and “Banana Man” cemented their fate as light hearted punk jokesters, I really feel that this release was the best debut for a band. It had the perfect balance of harmonies, melodic punk beats, and tongue in cheek like humor. It was witty yet not overly complicated to cause boredom. It was in your face punk rock mixed with equal parts melody and humor. I love this band and songs like “Seasons”, “Tract Boy”, “Body Juggler”, “Shrinky Dinks”, “Scared Am I”, and “Never” were proof of their profound importance in our music scene.
37. P.O.D “Satellite” 
A favorite of mine too and the band’s defining work. Released on September 11th 2001, this album captivated the hearts and souls of millions and went on to sell millions of copies of “Satellite” across the globe. Spiritual intensity mixed with positive and hopeful lyrics created a unique hybrid combo that no rock band has really come close to accomplishing.
38. Project 86 “Drawing Black Lines” 
After their explosive debut on BEC in 1998, we all knew this band would be on the rise. They truly were. Mixing elements of hardcore, rock, rap, and melody into a soundscape only defined by Project 86. “Drawing Black Lines” pitted the band against the biggest rock bands of the time and I truly feel this was the band’s best most aggressive work by far. “Songs to Burn Your Bridges By”, “Truthless Heroes”, “And the Rest Will Follow” were all solid releases but it was this one that put the band on the edge. With the release of “Wait for the Siren” and an all new lineup, only time will tell if this album is knocked out in favor of “Wait for the Siren”. Yeah, it’s that good.
39. Beloved “Failure On” 
This album came out at a perfect time in the music landscape. Sing/Scream music was all the rage and bands of this caliber were just starting to gain their footing in the scene. This was one of those rare bands that truly captivated you with their album and music delivery. There was something truly inspirational about “Failure On” that is tough to put a finger on but once you listen to the album, it just feels right.
40. Six Feet Deep “The Road Less Traveled” [1996/97]
This band broke up far too soon and wasn’t given a fair shot due to shady record deals and labels that merged and/or went under before the album could gain traction. If I could get an interview with these guys one of these days, I’ll do it. Anyway, with “Struggle”, you had a groove oriented hardcore type release almost a rap-like delivery and with the second release “The Road Less Traveled”, found the band traveling more along the melodic hardcore barriers. This band showed incredible promise but thankfully a few of these musicians decided to carry on right after their demise and started Brandtson in it’s place. Check this album out if you ever get the chance because it’s worth it.
41. Poor Old Lu “Sin’ 
When I first heard this band while I was in high school, I didn’t know what to think. They had a sliver of that “Seattle” sound but weren’t a grunge band. They were alt-rock with attitude. I love this album. “Bones Are Breaking”, “Sickly”, “Complain”, etc. are all solid. This band released quite a few charming albums before breaking up. They reunited briefly in 2002 for the release of “The Waiting Room” but they quietly faded back to obscurity shortly after. It’s a shame because they really were a talented group.
42. Embodyment “The Narrow Scope of Things” 
Released in 2000, the revamped lineup of Embodyment came back with a new singer and a completely different sound than their death metal label debut. This was a sound I truly appreciated and set the stage for several more releases to follow before the band called it quits.
43. Underoath “They’re Only Chasing Safety” 
Released in 2004 and featuring a slightly revamped lineup than was found on their prior albums, this album pushed the band in all new directions and single handedly created a whole genre. “Define the Great Line” was a great album but this was the release that put the band on the map and probably sold the most amount of copies.
44. Emery “The Weaks End” 
As much as we all want to sit back and argue about which Emery album is better you can’t deny that this is the album which put Emery on the map. This little known east coast transplant band rose to stardom through the release of “The Weak’s End” and has a successful career today because of it. There are so many wonderful songs on this album that I can’t possibly name them all. Released in 2004, this album did a lot to influence me and make me a fan.
45. Something Corporate “Leaving Through The Window/North” [2002/2003]
It was tough to nail down just what Something Corporate album was my favorite, thus both albums ended up on this list. This band created piano infused rock that inspired a dozen or more other bands to follow in their footsteps over the course of the next decade. Introspective, emotional, heart on the sleeve alt rock sang with passion from none other than Andrew McMahon. It’s crazy to think that Andrew went to the same high school as my brother and I and my brother went to a few of their shows back when they played the Coach House pre-Drive Thru. I once caught them live at HOB Anaheim with Juliana Theory and it was the finest show I’d ever seen. So good.
46. Demon Hunter “Summer of Darkness” 
Demon Hunter was at first a gimmick, with their identities shielded and their music relying heavily on Slipknot sounds but by the time this album came out and the lineup changes, their music went to a whole new level. This one was a truly great album and set the band apart from so many of their peers. What they accomplished with this release and subsequent releases, set the bar high for not only “Metal” but for “Christian” metal as a whole entity. The band has that unmistakable sound and the vocals from Ryan Clark make this a group worthy of a listen. Demon Hunter have certainly come a long way in 10 years post- Summer of Darkness as is evidenced on this year’s “Extremist” album (which was awesome) but this album served as the perfect gateway into the band and their signature sound.
47. The Crucified “The Crucified” 
This was originally released in 1989 but I didn’t find it until it was re-released by Tooth & Nail in 1994. This was such a great album by a highly influential Christian metal band. Mixing elements of punk, metal, and thrash, creating a style all their own. If you can check this album and band out, don’t miss the opportunity. While “Pillars of Humanity” certainly carried this band onward and cemented their popularity in metal circles, this is the album that got me pumped and excited in their music. I actually prefer this release over “Pillars” but they are both fine albums, when speaking of The Crucified.
48. Model Engine “The Lean Years Tradition” 
For some reason, Black Eyed Sceva changed their name after their first full length and ep release. That spells trouble when you’re a little indie Christian band who doesn’t have a big national fan base. It was like a fresh start with this album yet still carrying that trademark Black Eyed Sceva sound. Intelligent lyrics is an understatement. Jeremy Post created some of the most forward thinking and intelligent lyrics I have ever seen written by a “Christian” band.
49. Switchfoot “The Beautiful Letdown” 
Their first few albums were great but I wasn’t really a fan until this album hit. It had all the elements of a big sounding rock record. Several of the songs on this album were all over radio/tv at the time of release setting the stage for a huge comeback success.
50. Bloodshed “Self Titled” Ep 
Oh my goodness was this little ep a gem. Of all the hardcore bands in the 90’s, this release really affected me. Most of the members of this band were in early high school when this ep was recorded. I remember being stoked to learn that myself and the band were like the same age while I was listening in high school. The members of this band have all gone to do some great projects over the years ranging from B is Bridgie, Stairwell, to Rock Kills Kid, to Pilot Whale/My Compatriots, and a huge number of other stuff. I think guitarist Sean Stopnik has been in more bands than can possibly be counted. This ep had the perfect mix of melody and hardcore. “Emo-core” done 19 years before today’s bands. This was released in 1995.
51. Blenderhead “Prime Candidate for Burnout” 
This post-hardcore/punk band surprised the heck out of me when they burst on to the scene back in 94’. I didn’t discover this album until a year after it’s release but when I did, it really impressed me. It was rough, raw, under produced, and gritty, the way good punk should be. Bill’s vocals were spit in your face and and you could feel the emotion carried through the speakers. For a “Christian” band, they were something ahead of their time and something truly original. Sure, there were other bands they sounded similar to, but for a Christian youth like myself at the time, none of that mattered. What mattered to me, was that they had a voice I cared to listen to and because of that voice, I was a fan and enough so that I continued to listen.
52. Sixpence None the Richer “Sixpence None the Richer” 
You can’t possibly list influential Christian albums and not name a single Sixpence None the Richer album. “Kiss Me”, ever heard that one? If you haven’t, you’ve obviously been living under a rock.
53 Over It “Silverstrand” 
I found this band with the release of “Timing is Everything” back in 2002 and was blown away with their fast & explosive punk rock. It was everything I loved about the genre. Fast, melodic, and straight forward, to the point. I followed the band for a number of years and waited for their follow up album which came in 2005 on Lobster Records. It was a “bigger” release with much more promotion and a bigger budget. It just sounded nicer to the ears than Timing is Everything. Not long after the release of this album, the band left Lobster, and signed with a major, releasing “Step Outside Yourself” the next year (2006) which was an even bigger release although a bit slower, more refined, and dare I say, commercially minded album. While I appreciate the sounds on their final effort, I prefer the edge that this album had and the special connection it had with me. RIP Over It.
54. Brave Saint Saturn “Anti Meridian” 
Another later era album that is making its way on my list. Originally released in 2008 and their first release away from 5 Minute Walk. Reese Roper (Five Iron Frenzy) and the gang made an album that really won me over and made me a Brave Saint Saturn fan. It’s totally different from Five Iron Frenzy but still likable and charming. “Mercenary”, “Starling”, “These Frail Hands”, and “Invictus” should all be made into Five Iron Frenzy songs at some point.
55. No Doubt “Tragic Kingdom” 
Another “safe” album that somehow didn’t bother me back then. Gwen & Company made sweet music that could get any party started and the crowds moving. Sure in recent years they’ve mellowed out and become some top 40 pop stars but back then it was a different story. They were a garage ska-pop-punk band from Orange County that transcended the backyard club scene and made it to arena success. I’ve seen them a few times since the success and both times were amazing. Once in 96’ with Mxpx and Weezer was a definite highlight. This band ruled MTV and radio throughout the 90’s and early 00’s. It’s too bad their music recently just isn’t that good. Who knows, maybe they’ll wake up and do a throwback, revival type record mixed with a current sound?
56. Denison Marrs “Then is the New Now” 
This second album from Florida’s own Denison Marrs shows the band on a more commercial worthy course and put this band in the leagues with the biggest groups of that time period. It’s tragic more people couldn’t have gotten a taste of what this band had to offer and their incredible music.
57. Cool Hand Luke “Fires of Life” 
What can I say about this band other than that they were an inspirational, worshipful band before such a thing was popular. This album was the band’s 4th release as a band and second album on Floodgate. I believe it was their best effort up until that point. It really connected with me on a spiritual level.
58. Stairwell “The Sounds of Change” 
Pop-rock never sounded this good before and these former bloodshed members created a sound all their own. I love this album and Jonathan Caro’s vocals sounded awesome on this album. Excellent production, songwriting, and musicianship. This band was ahead of their time.
59. Theocracy “Mirror of Souls” 
This 2008 release really made me a fan of Power metal otherwise known as the genre of glam rock vocals mixed with high intensity metal. Such a fan of this band. I would have included the new album because it is stunning in every way, but this is the one that hooked me in.
60. Comeback Kid “Turn it Around” 
This was a huge album for Facedown Records and for this “new” Canadian hardcore/punk band that no one had yet heard of. I remember hearing a demo of some songs passed to me online from someone in the band or management (I forget, my brain gets fuzzy over time) and being a huge fan of it. These guys had immense talent probably because a few of them just got off the road spending time in the band Figure Four where they had perfected their craft (hardcore). This band was totally different from that past style and put the band on a fast path toward super stardom. Although their best album “Wake the Dead” was also their last with vocalist Scott Wade, the band would go on to release several more including one just recently. This album serves as the perfect introduction to the band and Facedown Records as well. Check it out.
61. The Juliana Theory “Emotion is Dead” 
Released in 2000, this album HUGE for the band and label. Their songs were everywhere and Brett Detar never sounded better than he did on this album. “Love” was great but this album really established the band and set them on the course for worldwide acclaim.
62. ZAO “Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest” 
OMG, this album blows all other metalcore bands away except maybe Living Sacrifice. A genre shaping album that changed the whole soundscape and people’s perceptions of how metal and hardcore could mix. It was as heavy as you could get and Dan’s growling lizard hissing like vocal delivery was a real unique piece of work for its time period.
63. Acceptance “Phantoms” 
This album was simply touching music meant to invoke emotion when listening. So many solid songs found on this album. I first found the band with their “Lost for Words” release but it wasn’t until this full length that I completely fell in love with their music. So many people wanted to tag them as a “Christian” band but they really didn’t need the description or recognition. They were an incredible group of musicians in any light and established themselves on this, their final release.
64. Stretch Arm Strong “Rituals of Life” 
I chose this album to feature because it was way ahead of its time and a genre defining band. This album came out in 1998 and really changed young people’s views of what a hardcore band should sound like. It had that balance of perfection both in recording and musicianship. I still love this album and listen to it every now and then.
65. Every New Day “Even in the Darkest Places” 
Released in 2006, this album was a tough one to define. Was it hardcore, was it punk, was it metal? A truly influential band that was short lived and little heard. I loved this album and “Silent Streets” still remains one of my favorite songs.
66. Twotimer “See What Happens From Here” 
This punk rock album was the defining moment for Screaming Giant Records. It was one of their last releases and the finest album I think I own in their catalog. Melodic punk rock done right. The band only released this one full length album before calling it quits a few years later. I loved this band, still do.
67. Slick Shoes “Burn Out” 
Punk rock never sounded so good than it did on this album. The addition of a second guitarist to compliment the playing of Jackson, was even better. It was fast, melodic, and passionate. The band’s best album by far and still holds up against the sands of time.
68. Hangnail “Transparent” 
The band had reached the end by the time this 2003 release came out. This was the band’s final album and I believe the best swan song by a punk band ever. I spent many days and nights cruising to this album and singing the lyrics out loud. I miss them.
69. Bleach “Space” 
I was torn on what album from this band to feature. I really like them all and several of their later era albums are probably (definitely) better than this one. However, I first discovered the band with this album and my girlfriend at the time (now wife) would cruise around town jamming this album. It was very reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins and Everclear but they put their own spin on the sound. All Bleach songs are great, check them out. Sometimes I even hear a bit of Saves the Day (Vocally) in their later music.
70. Further Seems Forever “Hide Nothing” 
The hotly contested debate over what singer was the best for the band is still being fought over online to this day. For me personally, I dug all their vocalists in a unique individual manner. I just happened to love this album the best out of the three I own. It probably has something to do with me being a huge Sensefield fan dating back to their “Building” album (Revelation Records). So it was natural for me to enjoy this release when it came out in 2004. So many beautiful songs on this album and lyrically on fire.
71. As I Lay Dying “Shadows Are Security” 
I was torn on whether to list an AILD album or not considering the legal matters involving Tim and how much I disapprove of his actions. However, you can’t deny the influence this band had on the music scene pre-legal drama. They influenced a whole generation of bands and inspired countless clones. Anyway, this is what I thought of the album…This is a later era album but still one that blows most bands of today, away. I loved everything about this album from the melodic moments to the brutal breakdowns and metallic elements mixed with Tim’s harsh vocals. The addition of Dave Arthur (Dismissed/Kings to You) doing the singing parts on this album really sealed the deal for me. I was working with Dave Arthur in the past when I ran the Indie Vision Music label and just always thought he was a strong vocalist. I am glad AILD added him to the mix.
72. The Huntingtons “Get Lost” 
This album released in 1999 and was a real departure for the band. Some of the more upbeat poppy sounds were replaced with somber and moody music and slowed down a bit. If there were ever a band to replicate the Ramones sound, it was The Huntingtons and this album showcased that band at their most influential moment. Now today we have a ton of Ramones like punk bands out there but Huntingtons were doing it 10+ years earlier.
73. Bloomsday “The Day the Colors Died” 
Wow, what can I say. This beautiful album came out in 96’ to little fanfare. Most people probably didn’t even know it existed. I found it because I was a real music aficionado and was always digging for new music. Also, working at a Christian bookstore didn’t hurt 😉 I think this was marketed as a “Grunge” like album, considering the band was from Seattle and all but I believe it was a totally different sound rooted somewhat in the Seattle consciousness. It was moody, emotional, ethereal, and shoegaze-y. A totally unique album for the Christian market at the time and still stands strong today. You won’t find this on Spotify or iTunes but it’s worth a listen if you have other methods of finding good music.
74. No Motiv “Daylight Breaking” 
This genre bending band truly broke the mold with this defining album in 2004. They disappeared into the abyss shortly after its release but came back a few years ago with a strong ep that definitely caught fan’s attention, again. These guys are one of those underrated bands that most people just didn’t bother to listen to on first notice but once people gave them a proper spin, they were fans for life. Their mix was equal parts rock n’ roll, and aggressive punk rock. They wouldn’t settle for radio friendly sing-a-long boy band semantics, this was a rock band set to get your fists in the air and your adrenaline pumping. You’d more likely see these guys touring with Strung Out than with Simple Plan if you catch my drift. This was the band’s third full length release and best one yet.
75. Saves the Day “Stay What You Are” 
Quite possibly my favorite Saves the Day record and the only one I really listen to anymore. I don’t know why that is but everything about it strikes me as perfect. The melodies, the songwriting, the production, the commercial aspect of it. The album is just the complete perfect package. “At Your Funeral” is my favorite Saves the Day song ever.
76. Coheed and Cambria “In Keeping Secrets of Planet Earth: 3” 
I don’t know what it is but I just love this album and mostly because of a few singles. I know the production level isn’t as great as their later releases or as memorable as the next few albums that came out following this one, but there is just that sentimental connection I have to this sophomore release that keeps me coming back. “Blood Red Summer” and “A Favor House Atlantic” are two of my favorite C&C songs ever released and maybe that’s because our whole family sang along to them while on vacation a few times back when it released….”Good eye sniper…..here I’ll shoot…you run….”
77. Spoken “Moment of Imperfect Clarity” 
My personal favorite Spoken album and really a defining moment for the band. This was their first release on Tooth & Nail after releasing 3 albums on Metro One. The band had changed their sound slightly by the time they arrived at the Nail and by the time of this release, all horrible memories of their debut had been forgotten. “Promise” is one of the catchiest rock songs ever written.
78. Sick of Change “These Shattered Lives” 
Another band that broke up far too soon. This album came out in 2001 and was an instant favorite of mine. While their debut had a few okay tunes, nothing really stood out. It wasn’t until this album released that I was completely blown away by their sound. So many good songs on this album and it’s tough to narrow down a favorite list seeing as how every song is fantastic. Seriously check this one out.
79. Every Day Life “American Standard” 
This 1997 release by So Cal. Rapcore kings was so explosive and edgy that most Christian bookstores wouldn’t carry the album. “Disgruntled” was controversial for it’s artwork and “Whitey on the Moon” song but this one was even more so, lyrically. I look back on this album and can’t believe this came out when it did. The band was so underrated that they just never reached the acclaim that other similar bands did in less time. This band should have blown up huge by the time Limp Bizkit, P.O.D, Rage Against the Machine, Thousand Foot Krutch, Korn, etc. started to take off. It was a shame to see this band almost forgotten by the Christian industry and their albums locked up after labels folded. I think had they been with T&N, things would have been totally different. The band went on a brief hiatus after the release of 1999’s “Moment of Clarity” but then re-formed and came back with an album in 2001 on a new label but it failed to make a mark as well. Anyway, I could label “American Standard” as a classic in its genre. Topics not generally covered by the majority of “Christian” bands. Read the lyrics and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
80. Millencolin “Pennybridge Pioneers” 
Following up my favorite album “For Monkeys” was going to be tough. I discovered the Swedish punk band with that album. It was silly goofy punk rock with a slight ska-punk sound but still struck me as fun. This album was a departure. It had better production and utilized Epitaph’s full promotional campaign/budget. I remember hearing about this album (back then) all over the place and hearing it at Tower Records around its release date. This album got a lot of plays back in the day. The band followed up this release with some quality albums every few years but this one was fine punk rock in every essence of the term.
81. Hands “Give Me Rest” 
Facedown Records scored with the release of this album and the signing of this band in 2009. I followed this band from the time of their first couple of demos all the way until their end with this final album. It was ambient metal, experimental, and independent music all rolled up into one neat, tidy package meant to blow speakers out all over the world. I couldn’t believe the power of Shane’s vocals and meat behind the instruments on this album. Just so much depth to be found. It’s no wonder these guys have gone to start to really great (and totally different) bands – Everything in Slow Motion & Glower (Check out each of them).
82. Fall Out Boy “Take This To Your Grave” 
“From Under the Cork Tree” is a much better album and should totally rule my list but I have “Take This to Your Grave” on here for sentimental and nostalgic reasons. This is the first album I discovered FOB with. I saw them in a small, dark, mostly empty club in So Cal. With Dismissed back in 2003. That was the highlight of my life and my time of working with Indie Vision Music as a label. My big claim to fame, lol. Haha. Anyway, I loved this album to death when it came out and listened to it all the time back in the last decade. When it was followed up by FUCT, that album held the same value if not more and then each album that followed was a bit better than the last until their comeback release which “I” thought was a disaster but obviously the public doesn’t agree. Anyway, great album, great band.
83. Jars of Clay “Jars of Clay” 
One of the few “CCM” related releases even though this band didn’t enter that realm at first. I remember when they first came out and launched with the “Flood” single. It got airplay on both Christian radio and on general market stations. It blew up all over the place mostly due (and thanks to) to groups like Matchbox Twenty, Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Gin Blossoms, and all that other “College Rock” that caught on in the early part of the 90’s. In fact, the band even went out on tour with Matchbox Twenty and I remember some controversy about them not liking some foul language coming from Rob (Thomas) and their being some beef between the bands. I read about it back then. Anyway, this album was huge and was influential for both them and youth all over the world, as well as “Christian” music as a collective unit. It sold millions of copies and changed the landscape for good. A lot of bands followed in their footsteps adopting a similar sound. The band followed this album up with the fabulous “Much Afraid” album but this one ends up on my list because it was my introduction to them and the one that exposed me to their music. Not only that but it got me thinking about CCM again when I was at that impressionable “I hate the establishment” type age.
84. Bon Jovi “Slippery When Wet” 
I am sorry but I can’t mention the 80’s without mentioning the awesome power of a Bon Jovi record. I was like 9 years old when this came out and I remember sneaking it into my collection because it was kind of “edgy” for a young little one to have, didn’t want the parents to disapprove. I loved this band for a long time and the songs on this album, especially the singles, really never get old. Oh shush, you too cool for school hipsters. Get outta here!
85. U2 “The Joshua Tree” 
I have this album now on Vinyl after not having it for a number of years. There are just so many great songs on it and it is without a doubt, a “CLASSIC”. U2 has done what so many other bands have failed to do, stick together for 30+ years with all original members, tour the world year in and year out, still selling out stadiums and releasing chart topping albums. Heck they even release albums that people complain about deleting from their collections because they got it for free? How dare they! Seriously though, this band has inspired so many and single handedly created the “U2 Christian Music Sound” that so many CCM and Worship bands adopt over the years, even now. Thank you U2, or should I say, no thank you?
86. Pearl Jam “Ten” 
You can’t mention the 90’s and not mention the single most important non-headline grabbing, without controversy, without rehab, rock band around. Pearl Jam along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and countless others were responsible for a movement of music that as much as they hate, inspired a whole generation of anti-heroes and slackers that have now moved up the corporate ladder and are running your favorite companies of today heh heh wink wink. Grunge was a word most bands wanted to distance themselves from back then and really hated the definition and terminology of it all. It was a word dreamed up by corporate America to try and sell a product, which in the end WORKED. It caught on and burned across the world like wildfire, influencing youth and adults alike. Pearl Jam were one of those highly influential bands that have stuck together through it all and continue to influence generations of music fans long after trends have come and gone.
87. Coldplay “X&Y” 
It was a close tie between this album and “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, very close. Those two albums are very different from each other, like polar opposites. Kind of like Zooropa and The Joshua Tree (how ironic). Anyway, there was just something soothing and otherworldly about this album that calmed me and put me in another place every time I spun it. I listened to this CD so much when it came out and on long trips. It inspired many day dream trips and lessened the burdens of long drives and late hour work sessions. Coldplay was just hitting their stride by the time this album released and I believe this was a fine album. While Coldplay has never been a cutting edge band, none of that matters. What matters is that they are an entertaining band who soothes the soul and lessens the pain by striking you with their subtle but gentle rhythms. I’ve seen them live and they are just as entertaining.
88. Green Day “Dookie” 
Pop-Punk done right. This was the first “real” pop-punk album I ever heard. I was stuck like glue on alternative rock at that time period and grunge/alternative was king. I was on the verge of a reawakening and remember getting into this album a few months before I ditched all my “secular” albums. This album was EVERYWHERE in 1994. Songs were played all over radio (multiple formats), videos all over MTV, band on the covers of multiple magazines, Green Day was all over the place. They were fast, furious, and snotty, the way a good pop-punk band should be. This band wrote the catchiest most melodic, radio friendly tunes that radio didn’t understand. It’s so weird to watch videos from “Dookie” now on TV and have your young kids tell you that these are “old” can we watch something else? Man, what happened to the time?
89. Unashamed “Silence” 
Simply put, this is my favorite Unashamed album. A lot of it was recorded live and had rough production but I don’t care, there was just something special about it for that time period that really set the band apart from so many other Hardcore groups. “I Surrender”, “Blessed Redeemer”, “Stand”, “Gain”, “Never Ends”, are all powerful spiritual songs.
90. The Blamed “Frail” 
I remember waiting for this to come out back in 95’. I had the Tooth & Nail catalogs that advertised their upcoming albums and this was one of them. I had so much love for the first raw album “21” so my anticipation was high for this new one that featured a new vocalist by the name of Jeremy Moffat (later with Stavesacre). The album was raw, fast, gritty, and powerful. It hit you in the gut and didn’t let up for a second. I am still in love with this album all these years later. I don’t know what it is but songs like “Weakness”, “Feeding the Ignorant”, “For You”, “Just Because”, and The Crucified cover “A Guy in a Suit and the Pope” were so aggressive that it put most “Christian” rock bands to shame.
91. Man Alive “Open Surgery” 
I want you all to know that this band/album knocked Extol off my list (sorry Extol). I just couldn’t exclude this band from my album listening history because of how significant they are to it. I first met these guys in year 2000 from a fellow named Adam Rosenfeld that cold called me from Israel. He managed the band and ran a label called “Men of Israel Records”. He wanted to sell a few of his releases including Man Alive in my webstore (at the time). I talked to him about the band/label and got a little back story. I then met the guys in person when they visited the states in 2001 and played my “I’m Your Biggest Fan Vol. 2” release party even though they weren’t on the compilation. They were really down to earth guys and totally eager to get their voice heard in this country among a scene of musicians all vying for attention. It’s that eager spirit and spirituality (that really doesn’t need explaining) that has drawn me to their music year after year since then. The band talked their way into signing with Militia Group back in mid 00’s and released “Open Surgery” which was their most well known and acclaimed work here in the states. I loved “Work in Progress” their prior release to Open Surgery and “Self Titled” that came out in 2008 was even better, more punk rock in spirit. The band released “A Light Goes On” last year independently to little fanfare due in part because the band is all the way in Israel and has little promotion here in the states. If I could help them, I would. Anyway, “Open Surgery” is a beautiful album by a fine band who deserves attention even after all these years.
92. Overcome “Blessed Are the Persecuted” 
Before Solid State became a label, a little band from Arizona comprised of youngsters, created this hardcore masterpiece. Heavy and to the point. A brutal heavy hitter from a young band with spirit filled lyrics done 19 years before most of the bands of today. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of their heavier more “Metal” sound of later albums, I held this hardcore release in high regard.
93. Watashi Wa “The Love of Life” 
I loved the last album on Bettie Rocket. Sure it was a little rough sounding in the production department but you could clearly comprehend a band with talent from that release. This album was huge, both in sound and exposure. I loved this band and this release really inspired me. The songwriting had improved immensely from prior material and Seth’s vocal chops were so much better by the time “The Love of Life” was recorded. I had booked them to play our Church in San Juan Capistrano back 2001 and I got to see them progress from “What’s in the Way” to this new stuff and I can tell you without a doubt, they had improved so much as a band by the time this album had released. Especially now with the Lakes stuff.
94. Live “Throwing Copper” 
I had the first ep, the debut, before this album released called “Mental Jewelry” and it had me interested in their music. These guys were a young band when it came out. Their sound was totally different than the “Grunge” stuff at the time. When “Throwing Copper” released in 94’ it blew me away. Almost every song had me singing along and reading the lyrics. Ed was a tortured soul and really sang his heart out on this album as much as it hurt. The reason I follow Ed’s solo work now is because of this early album and how much of a fan I was at the time. Although, I did chuck this album out at one point along with all my other stuff (read all the other mentions above/below, they all found their way back into my collection at some point over the next decade or so).
95. Brandtson “Dial in Sounds” 
This Ohio band perfected the “emo” sound and pulled it off with ease. Sure two of them came from “hardcore” backgrounds but that didn’t stop them from making sentimental, heart on the sleeve, rock music, meant to invoke emotion and generate teary eyes. “Dial in Sounds” was the first full length I really got into by the band. I found them with their first independent full length before Deep Elm on Steadfast Records but didn’t dig it as much and Fallen Star Collection sounded weird. The 2000 ep was awesome and by the time this full length came out, the band was in full forward thinking emo mode. It was a close call between this album and “Send us a Signal” for favorite Brandtson album but I believe I gave this one the most listens back in the day.
96. Everything in Slow Motion “Phoenix” 
This is a later era album and my list is mostly earlier material. It has been such a chore to try and gather all these releases together and I found myself digging in to mostly earlier material rather than newer stuff just because I am more familiar with it (longer listening time). This album really impressed me this past year. Maybe it’s because I am a bit biased towards Shane and his work with the band HANDS in the past but I absolutely love this album and everything about it. Thank you Facedown Records for continually churning out quality music over the years. Even though my list has been filled with T&N/Solid State releases, I respect Facedown and love your albums just as much. It’s just that I find myself lately listening to far less “metal/metalcore/hardcore” than I have in the past. This album is/was truly a gem though and should be promoted with every ounce of energy coming from the Facedown family. EISM for life.
97. Noise Ratchet “Till We Have Faces” 
This little album released to big crowds and huge hype back at the early part of the last decade. While they have since slipped into obscurity, the band was very much alive back then and drew big numbers at shows wherever they played. They had a (emo) style that was huge and big with fans of bands like Juliana Theory, Taking Back Sunday, even a bit of Thrice (slowed down). They had a style all their own. Joel (Lead vocals) now plays worship music and the other guys are in The Delta Spirit. It’s unlikely they’ll ever reunite but at least we have this album and the 2003 ep to remember them by. If you’re real special, you’ll even seek out the “final” album recorded for a major label with Rick Rubin for American Recordings that was shelved when the band decided to break up. It was incredible. That is all.
98. Mortal “Wake” 
I loved this album when it came out in 94’ on the Frontline label. I appreciated their more industrial moments of prior material but this one amped up the “rock” element and was complimented by their carefully placed electronics. The band had a few more releases going more in the direction of techno/trance/electronica until they broke up and went full board with Fold Zandura. This album was my favorite moment from the band. It’s cool to see Jerome still making music with Switchoot.
99. Dinosaur Jr. “Where You Been?” 
This was such a weird band for me. I’d never heard anything like J. Mascis before in my life. I guess that’s why I appreciated his music and the way he sang (If you can call it that). The guitar fuzz and warm distortion used take on a life of its own. You feel persuaded to sing-a-long and bob your head to the beat, even if you don’t understand what the heck he’s singing. Heh heh. This album is just great in every way and is one of their finest works. I also appreciate the last couple of Dinosaur Jr. Albums that have come out the past few years post-reunion. I still need to get that solo album though. Back in the 90’s I played the heck out of this album. I even bought the vinyl just recently in true nostalgic spirit.
100. Goo Goo Dolls “Dizzy Up the Girl” 
You can’t have the 90’s and not mention alt-rock superstars, Goo Goo Dolls. They defined a whole generation of alternative rock. From the moment I heard “We Are the Normal” on some video show in the early 90’s I really dug this band. I went out and bought “Superstar Car Wash” (Metal Blade) soon after and was hooked for life. This album got them huge and they were everywhere throughout the late 90’s. I always had room for this band in my collection and even though I was listening to mostly punk/hardcore/ska/indie music, there was always a place for the Goo Goo Dolls.
Honorable Mentions: False Idle, A Common Goal, The Smashing Pumpkins, Haste the Day, Rage Against the Machine, Paramore, Extol, Much the Same, Ray Torres & The Mercy, Jess Penner, Brand New, Orion Walsh, Dead Poetic, Counting Crows, Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Classic Crime, War of Ages, The Deal, Seventh Star, Nodes of Ranvier, Altars, Jesus Wept, Pax 217, xDisciplex AD, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Urge Overkill, Soul Asylum, Sponge, Bush, The Wallflowers, Third Eye Blind, Farside, Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink 182, Offspring, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Armor for Sleep, Thursday, Life in Your Way, Waking Ashland, Slow Coming Day, Dismissed, Next in Line, Pennylane, Joey’s Loss, Quick and the Dead, Tourniquet, Rancid, Deliverance, Michael Knott/LSU, The Police, Two Thirty Eight, Preson Phillips, Roadside Monument, Officer Negative, Ninety Pound Wuss, Make Do & Mend, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Journey, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, Children 18:3, Blood & Water, Capital Lights, Safe Haven, Sons, Olivia the band, My Chemical Romance, Becoming the Archetype, All Star United, Name Taken, Noise Ratchet, A Beautiful Mistake, Off the Record, Flatfoot 56, Norma Jean, The Wedding, Story of the Year, Foo Fighters, The Used, The Killers, Take it Back!, Fireflight, Ignite, Dashboard Confessional, Finch, THE BEACH BOYS (only have ‘Greatest Hits’ collection so they have been excluded).
Top100 Spotify Playlist via Freedom Like a Song Blog:
Posted on October 14, 2014, in Articles, News and tagged Blogging, Brandon's Most Influential List, Brandon's Top100, Freedom Like a Song, Most Influential, Most Influential List, Top100. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.