40) Goo Goo Dolls – “Keep The Car Running”
Few bands have transformed as dramatically over the course of their careers as the Goo Goo Dolls. They started as a garage punk band, morphed into heavy alternative when Johnny Rzenik took over lead vocal duties, then rode the success of mid-90’s hit “Name” into their current status as glossy adult-rock. Most of the original fans abandoned them as sell-outs years ago. I picked up in the mid-90’s and have followed them ever since, though I admit their recent release left me uninspired. All except this track, a seeming throw-away towards the end of the album. This one has the kind of atmosphere that I really dug from them on albums like Dizzy Up The Girl and Let Love In.
39) Cage The Gods – “Favourite Sin”
A late entry to my list, this is a cool mix of modern hardrock and 80’s arena-style with a winding guitar intro and the usual macho posturing that I’m a sucker for. They find a groove and just sit in it, just guys playing music that gives them a kick in the ass while they knock a few back. Not everything has to be Mozart.
38) Blood Ceremony – “Ballad Of The Weird Sisters”
I think I once described this as Sabbath meats Jethro Tull with Grace Slick singing, or something along those lines. Maybe toss in a whiff of Blue Oyster Cult for fun. Folk-metal might be a good label, if one need apply. This is actually one of the brighter tracks on the album, more Tull than Sabbath. The guitar work is phenomenal throughout.
37) Sons Of Icarus – “Let It Burn”
Remember Candlebox, the mid-90’s Seattle grunge wannabe’s signed to Madonna’s vanity label? They were kind of the Nickelback of their day, openly mocked for being a knock-off of the real thing. Well if, like me, you liked that band and just wished they’d muscle up a little more, here’s your cure. The vocalist is a dead-ringer, but the band that backs him up has balls about six sizes bigger than Candlebox ever did. This song shreds mightily and makes me want to hit something. In a good way.
36) Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington – “Out Of Time”
When I first heard STP was doing a project with the lead singer of Linkin Park I thought the idea was insane. Then I heard this track and did a complete 180. It blows me away how much Chester sounds like Scott Weiland at times. Plus the song has way more energy than later years STP, when Scott was drowning in heroin and not all that interested in making coherent music anymore. Of course hardcore fans of both bands seem to hate this marriage, but it works for me.
35) Ed Roland And The Sweet Tea Project – “Love Won’t Bring Us Down”
Ed Roland was the chief songwriter and vocalist for 90’s rock radio stalwarts Collective Soul. Here he branches out with a new band, and while his vocal style is unmistakable, the overall sound veers more towards a countrified almost rockabilly feel. The horn splashes in this one really make it, as does the twangy guitar. The fact that he looks like a bad Joe Walsh impersonator in the video is an added bonus.
34) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Let The Day Begin”
You might remember this song as a minor radio hit back in 1989 for The Call, a fact which is important as this version serves as a bit of a tribute to that band. The Call’s vocalist Michael Been was the father of BRMC’s bassist Robert Levon Been and was actually working as the band’s sound engineer when he died of a sudden heart attack during a 2010 concert. The resulting album is heavy with his memory as a result, although this cover tries to pick things up. Definite Joshua Tree era U2 vibe coming off of things, particularly in the guitar work.
33) Fall Out Boy – “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”
I know Fall Out Boy had some hits prior to this, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you what they were, so it’s not like I was onto this song for anything other than that I really liked it. The mid-to-late 2000’s seemed to produce a lot of bands like this that merge rock with a danceable R&B, almost hip-hop vibe. Sometimes it works, sometimes not (at least for me), but when it works it’s phenomenal. Dig the bounce on this track. I mean seriously.
32) Vertical Horizon – “You Never Let Me Down”
I remember hearing *of* Vertical Horizon back in the late 90’s, but for whatever reason I never really got into them. I gave their new album a listen out of a “wow, they’re still around” curiosity and found I kept going back to it every couple of days. This is the opening track on the album and I really love the vocal hook of the chorus. The guitars are just prominent enough to keep my hard rockin’ ears happy. I also love the weirdly passive-aggressive lyrics.
31) Goodbye Motel – “Set It Off”
There are songs that I honestly have no clue how I even came to listen to them. Usually it’s a YouTube wormhole that I ended up getting sucked down into where I suddenly find a track that just grabs me for some reason. This is one such case, as I can’t really tell you anything else about this band outside of the fact that I really, really like this tune. It’s from that Coldplay family of piano/clean guitar rock. I dig the little drum shuffle during the verses as well.