If you were stranded on a desert island and could only pick 14 of your favorite CDs to listen to for the rest of your days, what would they be? Here is a list of my favorite albums along with some commentary about why I picked each one.
14) The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
The Shins exploded onto the scene after the single for their first album was featured in the movie “Garden State.” Their second indie-pop album features a blend of cheery, uptempo tracks as well as mellow, relaxing songs that have an almost folksy feel to them.
13) The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)
This synth-pop duo is made up of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello. Their one and only album was a smash hit which features masterfully produced songs that I can happily listen to over and over again. The album’s signature beeps and bloops remind a lot of listeners of old-school Nintendo games, and have been often imitated after this album’s release.
12) Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)
For a good old-fashioned alternative rock album, look no further than Arizona’s own Jimmy Eat World. Bleed American features some of their biggest hits and is pretty much loud from start to finish.
11) Hopesfall – The Satellite Years (2002)
If you want to feel like you are on a journey into space, this album is the perfect soundtrack to your cosmic adventure. The melodic hardcore songs transition from quiet and mellow to fast and intense with little warning. It also features some good screaming vocals.
10) Lagwagon – Let’s Talk About Feelings (1998)
This album is an essential part of any Lagwagon fan’s collection. Although it clocks in at just under 26 minutes, this CD offers some of what I would consider to be the band’s best material.
9) The Crystal Method – Divided by Night (2009)
The Crystal Method is an electronic music duo that consists of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland. Their latest studio album features their signature fanatical production along with a variety of guest appearances. These guys take electronic music far beyond the typical “1-2 punch” bass lines and create a unique sound of their own.
8) The Killers – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2009)
This is a live album which was recorded in England. It features many of The Killers’ biggest hits and is overflowing with extra touches on the songs that are not found on their studio albums. As a huge Killers fan, this is album pure gold.
7) Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)
The electro-pop sounds of French band Phoenix have enormous replay value. Every time I put this album on, I relax and enjoy the expertly produced beats, synth sounds, and smoothly-delivered lyrics. This one is definitely high on my most-played list.
6) Royksopp – Junior (2009)
This album is an absolute masterpiece of downtempo electronica from the Swedish duo known as Royksopp. With these guys, it’s all about quality over quantity. This CD has the magic ability to be upbeat or relaxing depending on what mood you are in when you listen to it, and that’s why I love it from start to finish.
5) Coheed and Cambria – Second Stage Turbine Blade (2002)
The first full-length album from this band features outstanding recording quality and some very memorable guitar riffs. It is also the first of the band’s many concept albums which tells a long and complex backstory.
4) The Lawrence Arms – The Greatest Story Ever Told (2003)
Bands with two singers are often polarizing: some people love them, some don’t. With this 3-piece punk rock band from Chicago, it works beautifully (in my opinion). The insightful and emotional lyrics also break the mold of traditional punk music, setting these guys apart from the rest.
3) Story of the Year – Page Avenue (2003)
The first full length album from the St. Louis-based post-hardcore/screamo band Story of the Year is my favorite from them. It features catchy riffs, ridiculous bass, tight production quality, and some serious screaming vocals. It’s got more energy than a pot of black coffee and I love it!
2) Dido – No Angel (1999)
This British pop artist has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. Most people know her because one of her tracks was sampled by Eminem, but if you dig deeper you will discover that her debut album is a carefully-crafted work that just flows beautifully from start to finish.
1) Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (2006)
Wow, where do I begin with this one? From the first time I heard “Lazy Eye” with its massive ‘wall of sound’ distortion, I knew there was something special about this LA-based shoegaze band. The heavy use of effects and dreamy vocals give this album a unique sound that I just never get tired of hearing.