An admittedly subjective case for why these are the bands that matter most.
10.(3-way-tie)COLD WAR KIDS, VAMPIRE WEEKEND, THE KOOKS. OK, so I cheated. I managed to get twelve bands into my top ten. So shoot me. I decided to make my #10 about young bands with potential. Vampire Weekend made their debut album fresh out of college and it is striking for its originality and its sense of fun and adventure, all while maintaining a strong pop sensibility. The Kooks have put out two albums full of passionate pop songs and have a great singer who has a voice that can fill a stadium. And Cold War Kids have a sound that is both very American and very unique, a very rare accomplishment these days.
9.COUNTING CROWS. Their first album came out 15 years ago and it will probably always be their best work. But Adam Duritz remains a songwriter and singer of tremendous depth and talent. A great American voice. And their newest release Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings is their best in years.
8.NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS. At the age of 51, Nick Cave has been around forever, but continues to make music that is energized, passionate, and vital. He doesn’t get a lot of love in this country, but he should. He is one of the very best songwriters of the modern era, clearly influenced by people like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and he can go places lyrically where few other songwriters would dare to tread.
7.ARCTIC MONKEYS. These young Brits are on the list solely due to the shocking brilliance of their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Honestly it’s one of the best albums of the last ten years. Easily. It is a potent expression of youth, anger, poverty, horniness, loneliness, longing, frustration, and even the joy of emotional release through music. And it’s also catchy as hell. Too bad their second album isn’t nearly so inspired.
6.MUSE. Hard to believe they’ve been around almost ten years now. With each album they get bigger and better. Their lead singer, Matthew Bellamy, is so talented it’s scary. When you see them play live you realize he’s some sort of musical prodigy, the strange ease with which he plays incredibly complicated things both on guitar and on piano. Their music is always exciting, inventive, and grand.