Because the music industry is dying, there are still many bands that I love, whose music I have all over my Ipod, but I still have never once purchased their CD.
* Taking Back Sunday
I just bought their first album "Tell All Your Friends" (special edition) (2002) at Circuit City's going out of business sale so technically I should not include them here. However, I think their music complements the other bands I've listed.
Part screamo, part rock 'n roll, Taking Back Sunday combines lyrics that are a bit more concrete than their peers like Brand New or even Dashboard Confessional with the hardest rock of all of the bands I've listed. It's unfortunate that the lead singer has now left the band to pursue a solo career, as I can't imagine their music without his trademark voice. Songs from their first two albums were featured on almost every one of my "College Mix" CDs.
Favorite songs: "You're So Last Summer", "There's No 'I' In Team", "The Ballad of Sal Villanueva", "This Photograph Is Proof (I Know You Know)", "Eleven", "Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team)"
* Jimmy Eat World
This band basically guided me through college. Their lyrics are sometimes simple when taken outside the context of their music, but coupled with the melodies and the inflection in the singer's voice, the lyrics become something amazing.
I'd pass over the more popular album "Bleed American" (2001), and listen to "Futures" (2004), which has a dreamy, ethereal feel. This album - even though I never owned it in CD form - was the soundtrack of my four college years.
Favorite songs: "If You Don't, Don't", "Night Drive", "Work", "Drugs or Me", "23", "Over"
* Dashboard Confessional
Sense a theme? Dashboard got a bad rap for being a whiny, emo band, but beneath the devoted fangirls are some amazing songs and some heartachingly beautiful lyrics. It's kind of unfortunate that they've become a laughingstock and sort of a runner up to anything Conor Oberst does.
I'd check out "The Swiss Army Romance" (2003) (earlier released as "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most" (2001) on an independent label with a somewhat different tracklisting). I think Chris Carraba's music gives a voice to anyone who has ever experienced any form of heartbreak. And yes, that was a totally emo type sentence, but deal with it.
Favorite songs: "Screaming Infidelities", "The Secret's In The Telling", "Slow Decay", "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most", "The Best Deceptions"
* Brand New
I'd say Brand New is for those that like their music a little heavier and more intense than both Jimmy Eat World or Dashboard. Their lyrics are more abstract and far less relationship-centric; they have a sense of totality, of spanning the globe in a way I can't quite explain. Brand New has the sort of epic, soaring lyrics hundreds of bands wish they could write.
The album "The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me" (2006) got me through an extremely dark semester, one where I sat outside in the cold and smoked too many cigarettes. That album was the soundtrack for all of that. "Deja Entendu" (2003) is also an incredible album with many complexities, while "Your Favorite Weapon" (2001) has more of the pop-punk swagger of a band just starting out.
In short, they are incredible, and I am not really sure why I don't own any of their albums. I think I should go buy some.
Favorite songs: "Degausser", "You Won't Know", "Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis", Jesus Christ", "Jude Law & A Semester Abroad", "Soco Amaretto Lime", "Seventy Times Seven", "Handcuffs"