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Ryan’s Top 30 Albums of the Last 10 Years (2004-2014) Pt. 3 of 3

It’s come to this. Since I’m usually on about something completely ancient, I’ve decided to compile a rough list of my favourite albums over the last ten years. I’ll warn you, there are thirty of them altogether and they span a few different genres. The list is presented in absolutely no particular order. While I’m sure I could rank these albums from greatest to least, I have decided not to so as to give each its due respect. Here is the final of the three batches.

Blackbird – Alter Bridge

After Creed’s initial falling out with vocalist Scott Stapp, they joined forces with the great Myles Kennedy to form Alter Bridge. The first record was great but I was constantly having to explain to people how it was different from Creed (should have been obvious to anyone who actually took the time to listen to the record). When the second album, Blackbird, came out there could no longer be any debate. Alter Bridge was an entirely new band. This album embraces blues and metal elements to create a hard rock masterpiece that walks a thin rope across an expanse of cock rock and metal and never ever loses its cool and falls in. Kennedy’s voice is absolutely a force to be reckoned with, but is also quite soothing, never becoming something gaudy to please AC/DC and GNR fans. I think maybe Slash saw this because Myles is the only damn thing that has ever made me enjoy something featuring said
guitarist.

Fresh Wine for the Horses (2 DISC VERSION!) – Rob Dickinson

I’m a really big Catherine Wheel fan and Rob Dickinson’s first (and only) solo record was something very great as it captured Rob’s skills as a songwriter and was something infinitely more down to earth than the glorious sheets of shoegaze that the Wheel used to generate. Even so, it wasn’t instantly my favourite. There is a strong Peter Gabriel influence on the record, in my opinion, and I really dug that, but there was definitely something missing. A couple years later, a deluxe two disc version of the album was released and that one hit home! For starters, the tracks have been rearranged on the album proper, giving it a much better flow, and a new track called “The End of the World” has been added which is exactly what was missing. This is now the best track on the album! The real gem, however, is the second disc which is an EP titled Nude, which includes basic acoustic versions of Catherine Wheel tunes! The versions are completely different than their CW counterparts and are wonderfully wellproduced. Rob really bares his soul with these ones, as there are no pulsing guitars bleeding out over his words. The songs take on a whole new poetic meaning. This is a must have.

Broken Frames – Eyes Set To Kill

I’ve been following this Arizona metalcore band since damn near the beginning and it has been a distinct joy to see them develop into something totally bad ass! On their fourth full-length album, Broken Frames, Eyes Set To Kill replaced “screamer” Brandon Anderson with Justin Denson. This lends the album a much more raw sounding edge and counters singer Alexia Rodriguez’s increasingly epic voice. This girl wails on both vocals and guitar (I recommend you check out her solo record Underground Sounds, a very neat electronic pop album that showcases the softer sides of her great voice). The songs on Broken Frames are infinitely catchier and somewhat darker that what the band had done before, with some of them even treading into thrashier realms. I’m partial to “Ryan,” not because of its title, but because it is again a baring of someone’s soul. The very capable Cisko Miranda became the band’s official screamer (and is featured in the videos singing Denson’s parts), but I do think Denson was the best of the male vocalists they’ve had. I’m very happy with all the great stuff the band has been putting out lately and I continue to support them, however Broken Frames is my favourite.

For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver

This record went surprisingly unnoticed by myself until a co-worker and fellow musician introduced me to it. Mostly written and recorded over a three-month asylum in his father’s isolated hunting cabin, Justin Vernon constructed a beautifully atmospheric minimalist folk record with so much feeling it’s downright chilling at times. I will go into more detail about this record and the rest of Bon Iver’s discography in an upcoming article for this publication.

Reise, Reise – Rammstein

Here is another band I’ve been supporting since damn near the beginning. Almost two decades and still the fourth album, Reise, Reise, is my favourite. Playing out like a concept record, all of the album’s mighty tracks are solid gold. The riffs are gripping, the choruses are epic, and the entire record is teeming with the band’s dark melodramatic atmosphere and twisted, quirky sense of humour. Only on individual tracks have the band come close to again grasping the kind of awesome this album had.

After – Ihsahn

Ihsahn has pretty much always been better than everyone in modern metal (except maybe his brilliant wife). I don’t care if that statement alienates me. Where his previous albums covered traditional black metal subjects like mythology and apocalyptic battles between Heaven and Hell, his brilliant third album After is all about the anti-climax that happens, well, after. Stepping well beyond the bounds of standard black metal, After features chillingly sombre melodic sections that lift gooseflesh, and juxtaposes these with chaotic, saxophone-laden nightmares. The feeling is like walking through a cold wasteland after some cataclysm and the vibe is overwhelmingly that of despair and longing. After is without a doubt one of my favourite records of all time. Brilliance is seldom put to music this well.

Act 1: Goodbye Friends of the Heavenly Bodies – Neverending White Lights

I’ve been here before and last time the article was far too long! Truth is, I could talk about Daniel Victor and all of his fantastic work for hours and hours at a time, the man is another idol of mine and it was very difficult for me to single out just one of his records, but like I’ve said before, the one that got me in is the one I’ll default to if necessary. If you want to read the basis of what I think of Act 1 and the rest, please check out the spotlight I did on Neverending White Lights last year. It’s hard for the geniuses of my generation to achieve notice in a market flooded with label-tailored hits, so please support this dude and the wonderful work he’s done.

Memento Mori – Flyleaf

I wrote about this fantastic album in my last article for Wave Maker Magazine (a review of Flyleaf’s Who We Are EP). Like so many of the albums that have made this list, Memento Mori was a definite high point and Flyleaf has yet to achieve that kind of greatness in the time since.

Meet Glen Campbell – Glen Campbell

One of my favourite country artists of all time, Glen Campbell is one of those great guys that just knows how to sing a song and perfectly capture its vibe. A few years back, he put out Meet Glen Campbell, an album of covers, many of which were from more recent artists. While many would probably have seen this as an attempt to cash in (no pun intended) on the popularity of Johnny Cash’s American series, I was absolutely blown away by the raw soul the album had to offer. Glen took songs we’ve heard a million times, like Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” and made them his own. I even think his upbeat rendering of “Good Riddance,” which features guitar AND mandolin solos, is much better than the original. Other tracks include touching covers of Tom Petty (“Walls”) and Jackson Browne (“These Days”) songs as well as a version of Paul Westerberg’s “Sadly Beautiful” which I’ve only heard a few times because it is simply too damn sad. Glenny hit the nail dead on, proving that even in the twilight of his career he was still capable of putting out pure, astonishing quality.

Odes – The Flowers of Hell

Greg Jarvis and his Flowers of Hell have produced some of my favourite music and sound art. While I was tempted to include the band’s album O in this list, I’m afraid the latest release, Odes won out. This covers record is more than the band playing other peoples’ songs. Instead, it uses the songs of some of their favourite artists to sum up everything the Flowers of Hell are. Plus, “O Superheroin” is one of my favourite moments in music ever. This almost alone makes the album worthy of being one of my top thirty of the past ten years.

Dimensionaut – Sound of Contact

Sound of Contact. What else can I say about this album? If I was ranking this, Dimensionaut would undoubtedly be number one. Check out my in-depth review (and love letter) that I wrote for this album last year. Sometimes I feel like pinching myself to see if the album actually happened!

Ryan Smith

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Categorised in: Playlists, Themed

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