Favorite Albums of All Time, Pt. 1

I love music and I like to think I have a pretty wide variety of genres that I listen to.  If you scroll through some of the artists on my iPod, you’ll find everything from The Beatles, Eminem, Metallica and New Kids on the Block to Flogging Molly, Garth Brooks and Mumford and Sons.

I’m not a music expert or critic by any means, but if a song or artist makes me feel something – if I can connect to the words or music in the song in a certain way, then to me, that’s what makes great music. It’s not so much about slick production or perfect vocals, but about what makes me feel some sort of emotion. Some songs bring tears to my eyes, others make me feel happy. Some remind me of where I’ve been at in life and others just make me want to dance and have fun.

Since music means so much to me,  I decided to post a list of some of my favorite albums of all time. It’s probably going to be pretty long and since new albums come out every day, this will definitely be an ongoing project. Most of these albums won’t make the critics lists but that doesn’t bother me.  To me, they don’t need a critic’s seal of approval – I think they’re great and that’s all that matters.

Ready? Here’s the first 10 on my list (side note: these are in no particular order – I would probably have a very hard time ranking them in any sort of order):

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Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Alanis put to music all the angst-filled emotions of a woman scorned and millions thanked her for it. She said what all of us have wanted to say to the jerks in our lives and she rocked hard while doing it.

Favorite Songs: You Oughta Know, Right Through You, All I Really Want


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The Dixie Chicks – Fly

Natalie Maines and company brought a little pop, bluegrass and folk to country radio and paved the way for today’s country-pop crossover superstars. It’s very rare that you will find an album where every song is good, but this is one of them.

Favorite Songs: Cowboy Take Me Away, Let Him Fly, Without You


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Hanson – The Walk

Inspired by a trip to an African orphanage, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson crafted an album full of uplifting tunes and messages of hope. Most people only know them as the trio that gave us “Mmmbop” back in 1997, but this is the album that proves the band’s artistry and musicianship.

Favorite Songs: Great Divide, Been There Before, Tearing it Down, Watch Over Me 


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Fallen – Evanescence

Rock and roll never sounded so pretty. Amy Lee and her band Evanescence stormed on to the mainstream music scene in a huge way back in 2002. Her gorgeous opera-esque vocals set to piano driven goth-rock earned the band a Best New Artist Grammy and 17 million albums sold world-wide. But when your debut album exceeds perfection, there’s really no place to go from there but down. Two follow-up albums later, the band is still making excellent music, but nothing will ever top Fallen.

Favorite Songs:  Going Under, Whisper, My Immortal, Imaginary 


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Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay

Christian music doesn’t normally cross-over to mainstream pop, but Jars of Clay’s song Flood became one of the biggest crossover hits EVER for a Christian artist. Their first album was their best – mixing an acoustic, organic rock sound with deeply spiritual lyrics. Nothing else they’ve released since then has sounded quite like this gem.

Favorite songs: Love Song for a Savior, Flood, Boy on a String, Liquid


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Bad – Michael Jackson

When something that was put out over 25 years ago still sounds catchy and current, it definitely deserves a spot on my list. Not to mention the five #1 songs the album produced – the first time that had ever happened in music history. Bad contains some of the best and most infections pop songs to date. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Michael Jackson was and always will be the “King of Pop.”

Favorite Songs: The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Smooth Criminal


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No Doubt – Return of Saturn

Gwen Stefani is the ultimate cool chick. She’s not the best singer around, but her voice is clearly recognizable and sometimes that’s all you need. Return of Saturn, the follow-up to the über successful Tragic Kingdom, didn’t leave my CD player for months.  Even now, 12 years later, I can still relate to some of the lyrics – maybe even more so than I did at the age of 17.

Favorite Songs: Simple Kind of Life, New, Ex-Girlfriend, Artificial Sweetener


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The Moffatts – Submodalities

Canada’s answer to Hanson, the Moffatts, went a decidedly darker direction on their second album and enlisted Metallica producer Bob Rock to give it some edge. The result? Anthematic, fist-pumping rock songs you want to crank in your car and sing along to at the top of your lungs. It’s a shame no one in America really knew who these guys were because they put out some pretty awesome tunes in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Favorite Songs: Bang, Bang, Boom, Typical, I Don’t Want You to Want Me


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Adele – 21

The unbelievable voice. The emotion in the songs. The fact that your heart breaks over and over for this girl each and every time you hear Someone Like You.  Most of us have been there at some point in our lives too and that’s why so many people identify with Adele’s music. This is the album you listen to before you hit the Alanis stage. The first time I listened to 21, it moved me to tears and still does two years later.

Favorite Songs: Rolling in the Deep, Turning Tables, He Won’t Go, Someone Like You


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Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – Self Titled

Part country, part rock and roll, SK6ERS never really hit it big. Chances are you’ve never heard of them, but they’ve put out some of the best Americana rock of the past decade. The songs, mostly penned by Stephen Kellogg himself, are lyric driven and usually autobiographical. Energetic and upbeat – perfect for listening to on a sunny day driving around town.

Favorite Songs: Anthem of Our Discovery, My Sweet Charade, Star the Day Early, Vegas, You’ve Changed

10 Musicians You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, But Need to Give a Listen, Pt. 1

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Butch Walker

Georgia-born singer/songwriter/producer Butch Walker is no stranger to the music business – he’s been performing in bands and as a solo artist since the late 80s. While you may not have heard any of his solo music, chances are you’ve heard something he’s written or produced for other musicians on the radio. Walker has penned and produced monster hits for Avril Lavigne, P!nk, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Fall Out Boy, however the songs he records for himself are drastically different than the pop anthems he’s most famous for.

Fans of lyric driven rock and roll, infused with bits and pieces of folk, country and pop, should definitely check out this incredible artist and performer.

Albums: Left of Self Centered, Letters, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonites, Sycamore Meadows, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, The Spade.
Songs You Should Download: Best Thing You Never Had, Hot Girls in Good Moods, The Weight of Her, Summer of ’89, Mixtape, Here Comes The (Heartache)


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Ashley Monroe

In 2007, Ashley Monroe had a modest Country hit with Ronnie Dunn called I Don’t Want To. When her follow-up single failed to chart, she became the victim of record label politics and her debut album, Satisfied,  was shelved. Monroe parted ways with her label the next year. Satisfied eventually saw the light of day – two years after leaving Sony Music, it was released as a digital download, mysteriously without the lead single that helped her chart to begin with.

Since then, Monroe has been writing hits for Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean and she’s also one-third of the all girl Country group Pistol Annies. Ashley signed with Warner Nashville and will release her second album in both digital download and CD format on March 5th.

Monroe has a beautiful, classic country voice and writes some truly heart-wrenching songs.  Fans of Alison Krauss and Miranda Lambert will enjoy her musical stylings.

Albums: Satisfied, Like a Rose
Songs You Should Download: I Don’t Want To, Make Room at the Bottom, Like a Rose


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Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Massachusetts based Americana-rock band Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers have danced around mainstream success for quite some time, but never seem to really catch that big break in the music business. Their 2009 album, The Bear, cracked the Billboard Top 10 Heatseakers chart and was the #1 album in the Northeast region for a time.

Known for their high energy shows,  the SK6ERS (as their fans fondly refer to them) infuse an eclectic mix of instruments, including a tuba, accordion, mandolin, and harmonica into their roots-based blend of rock and roll. Fans of early Bob Dylan, Mumford and Sons and Mat Kearney will dig their tunes.

SK6ERS are currently on hiatus, which is really quite a shame but Stephen Kellogg is still writing and playing his solo material for fans and hopes to release an album of new material in the Spring of 2013.

Albums: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Glassjaw Boxer, The Bear, Gift Horse
Songs You Should Download: Anthem of Our Discovery, You’ve Changed, 4th of July, Glassjaw Boxer, Shady Esperanto and The Young Hearts, Gravity

 


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Plumb

After performing for years in a band, Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (aka Plumb), nearly quit the music business. Then a fan who had been sexually abused wrote her a letter about how her song Damaged had changed her life. The note inspired Lee to remain in the music industry and continue writing songs people could connect to.

Many of her songs have strong spiritual overtones, but aren’t exactly classified at “Christian” music. Plumb’s musical style ranges from dance pop to alternative rock and in 2007 she recorded a lullaby album after giving birth to her second child.

Like so many other artists on this list, Plumb has written a handful of hits for other musicians that you may have heard on the radio: Everywhere by Michelle Branch and I Wanna Be With You by Mandy Moore, just to name a couple.

Fans of Evanescence, Paramore and Garbage will definitely be in to her sound. Her sixth studio album releases Feb. 26th.

Albums: Plumb, Candycoatedwaterdrops, Beautiful Lumps of Coal, Chaotic Resolve, Blink, Need You Now
Songs You Should Download: Sobering, Here With Me, I Can’t Do This, Better, Motion, Hold Me, Cut


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Jessica Harp

At the age of 8, Jessica Harp began writing songs. At 13, she picked up a guitar and learned to play. By the time she was 20, she’d already released an independent album of country flavored pop songs. Somewhere along the line, she met and formed a friendship with Michelle Branch, who took her out on the road as a back-up singer. Eventually, the two formed a country band called The Wreckers and had a #1 hit called Leave The Pieces.

After the success of the record, both girls decided to take a hiatus from the band and work on solo projects. Country mega stars Vince Gill and Keith Urban signed up to work with Jessica on her solo album – all the right elements for a big hit. Then the record label refused to promote it. A Woman Needs, her second single, barely charted. Frustrated over years of being snubbed in Nashville, Harp decided to walk away from music for good.

As of 2013, Harp is writing again and keeping in touch with her fans via her Twitter page. New music is hopefully on the horizon from a promising country act that never should have had her spirit broken by her record label in the first place.

Albums: Preface, Stand Still, Look Pretty, A Woman Needs
Songs You Should Download: Memphis, The Good Kind, Someone Else’s Life, Way Back Home