1. Brand New – “Play Crack The Sky” (2003)
“Calm me and let me taste the salt you breathed while you were underneath”
The final track off of the Long Island foursome’s second album “Deja Entendu.” This acoustic song is beautiful, yet hopeless. A valiant attempt at survival. At a performance in Manhattan, I once heard front man Jesse Lacey introduce the song as the time the 4 band members died while on a boat in the Atlantic. Obviously not meant to be taken literally, but interpret for yourself. This is just one of Brand New’s countless songs that can be placed under the category of brilliant. Often compared to their fellow Long Island rivals, Taking Back Sunday, but many fans have a loyalty to one or the other.
Brand New > Taking Back Sunday
2. The Spill Canvas – “The Tide” (2004)
“Heaven’s not a place that you go when you die, it’s that moment in life when you actually feel alive”
I discovered this band by accident 10 years ago when a stranger friend requested me on MySpace. She had this song playing on her profile, and for some reason I listened to it, and I was hooked. This group, from the wild and crazy state of South Dakota never quite got the credit and recognition that they deserved. “The Tide” is the first song that you should listen to if you’re unfamiliar with TSC. It’s Nick Thomas’ writing style at its best, and tells a story that’s as captivating and heartbreaking as the music video that comes along with it.
3. Silverstein – “I Am The Arsonist” (2009)
“Gasoline and fire is the perfect combination”
Most of us believe that great bands don’t age like wine. Usually “their early shit is better,” to which I normally concur. However, Silverstein is an exception. Their fourth (yes, fourth) full length album, “A Shipwreck In The Sand” is their best, not to take anything away from how great their first two albums are. “I Am the Arsonist” tells the tale of a man whose wife leaves him for his best friend. He then proceeds to burn down their house while they are inside. Grab yourself a Labatt Blue, some maple syrup, and listen as these guys become your new favorite Canadians, eh?
4. Taproot – “Lost In The Woods” (2005)
“A long drive to see you lie in bed, a long ride wishing for your life”
I’ll never understand how these guys never grew an enormous fan base. Lyrically, their music blew me away when I first started listening to them in the early 2000’s. “Lost in the Woods” is a track off of the bands 2005 album “Blue-Sky Research,” which to this day is probably one of the most underappreciated albums I have ever bought. This song, which Billy Corgan had a part in writing, captures a picture of all the emotion that a character goes through as he is about to lose a loved one. He hopes for the best, but is preparing himself for the worst. Give them a listen, and discover a talented group of guys from Michigan that you have been missing out on for over a decade.
5. Blink 182 – “Roller Coaster” (2001)
“All I remember’s the way her bedroom smelled”
Your classic punk rock love song. These guys were everyone’s favorite band at one point or another. Their one of a kind on-stage antics, and music videos that involved streaking and poking fun at the one time popular boy bands and pop stars that we all loved to hate were at the tail end of when quality music videos (or any music videos for that matter) actually existed. Sadly, our children will never know of such awesomeness, when music television actually played music videos. What an insane concept.
6. Straylight Run – “It’s For The Best” (2004)
“I’ve become content with this life that I lead, where I drink too much and don’t believe in much of anything”
It’s almost as if this band came and went in the blink of an eye. Formed by former and now again, current Taking Back Sunday members, John Nolan and Shaun Cooper, Straylight Run gave us something different than what we were all used to. Piano and guitar filled melodies, paired with both male and female vocals that helped brew an indie sound that fit perfectly with the sad lyrics that this band presented us with. “It’s For the Best” relays the idea of growing older and losing what’s important in life because you’re never satisfied and always want more, even though often times, you will never find what you are seeking. In turn, you tell yourself that it’s for the best so that you can keep some piece of mind in your own head. You’ll enjoy this one, and when you do, treat yourself to “Now it’s Done,” and “Another Word for Desperate.”
Straylight Run > Taking Back Sunday
7. Breaking Benjamin – “Sugarcoat” (2002)
“Look what you did, suck on your lies til your eyes turn red”
It’s unfortunate that a band with such talent couldn’t keep it together. Last I heard, there was an ugly break-up that saw 3 of the band members in court over the rights of their music. Most notably known for such singles as “So Cold,” and “The Diary of Jane,” but “Sugarcoat” is a track that may be unfamiliar to the casual fan. The character in the song obsesses over someone who is not exactly who they seem. He or she wants to believe that the person they have this fascination with is genuine, but their “sugarcoat” was what masked their true identity.
8. Belle & Sebastian – “Piazza New York Catcher” (2003)
“I wish that you were here with me to pass the dull weekend, I know it wouldn’t come to love my heroine pretend”
Perhaps the most interesting song on this list. A song that may leave you wanting to dissect its lyrics piece by piece because of all of the hidden messages and phrases that it’s laced with. It would be easy to believe that this is a happy-go-lucky love song about 2 young lovers who elope to sail the world. But look a bit deeper. Is it possible that these 2 had an obligation to be together, instead of a genuine passion for one another? Loving this song will be the easiest thing you do today.
9. Underoath – “A Boy Brushed Red…Living In Bland And White” (2004)
“These sheets tell of regret”
Underoath was a band filled with energy. They would walk out on the stage and have a presence that demanded everyone’s attention right off the bat, always opening with a song that set the tone for the entire performance. It wasn’t until about halfway through their set that you realized that the band stood in front of you in the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, those booming screams and crashing symbols and riffs were coming from a Christian rock band. “A Boy Brushed Red…Living in Black And White” stands for someone who is living in their own black and white world, but steps outside of their box once the lure of lust becomes too difficult to resist. A sin if you will.
10. Three Days Grace – “Riot” (2006)
“Let’s start a riot”
An anthem for the rebellious. This is something we can all relate to during those times where we feel stressed, angry, overwhelmed, and beat down. It all builds up inside of you and you just want to scream and break anything within arm’s length. How satisfying would it be to just lose your mind once in a while and let it all out?! Well do it already! You have Three Days Graces permission! See, and you thought Silverstein were gonna be the only Canadians on this list. No no no, not on my watch. I show plenty of love to our neighbors to the north. Or east if you live in Alaska.
11. Fun. – “The Gambler” (2009)
“I swear when I grow up I won’t just buy you a rose, I will buy you the flower shop and you will never be lonely”
This one’s a real tear jerker. It’s a song that is sung through the point of view of vocalist, Nate Ruess’ parents. From their first dance at the ripe age of 18, to their life together as an elderly couple with two grown children, this song shows how love and family can in fact last the test of time.
12. Tickle Me Pink – “Typical” (2007)
“Maybe someday you’ll get it, perhaps you’ll regret it, or maybe you’ll find someone else who accepts it”
The model in this music video who crawls underneath the bed sheets and emerges wearing only a bra and panties (oh, does that word still make you cringe ladies?) is more than reason enough to enjoy this song. However, the actual song does exhibit a story that many of us are familiar with. It shows the potential dangers of never truly knowing someone that you’ve become infatuated with. The individual in the song puts his foot down and eventually removes himself from the toxic situation that he’s in, but unfortunately, not everyone realizes that it’s time to go when you’re not getting back what you give in a relationship.
13. Bayside – “Megan” (Smoking Popes cover) (2006)
“I’m butter on a summer day when she’s around”
An incredibly beautiful song that I think can be interpreted in a number of different ways. It’s obvious that Megan is missed terribly, but at this point in time, it’s just not possible to have her by your side. The narrator is patient and waits as long as his will power allows him to, but it just seems that suicide is the only alternative and one day, she’ll meet him at the gates.