Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten Modern Rock Bands by Urban

*Posted September 18, 2008*

There are not nearly enough news/opinions about music on this website.

Criteria: The band’s first major release had to occur during or after the year 2000.

10.Black Light Burns

Everyone hated Limp Bizkit but sorta realized that their guitarist was kick-ass.Now, Wes Borland, formerly of LB, has his own awesome band that nobody really knows about.Borland is the lead vocalist but still shreds on many tracks.Their first single from the album Cruel Melody, Lie, garnered some radio play, but it seemed like it left the radio as quickly as it came.But it got me hooked.I listened to everything I could find on youtube, saw them play live in Pittsburgh last summer, and got their album.Borland is awesome, the kind of front man in a Scott Weiland type way that plays to the crowd in an enjoyable over-the-top act.Former members of BLB include musicians from A Perfect Circle, NIN, and Marilyn Manson.I will leave you with the music video of their first single and best song, the previously aforementioned Lie.


The voice.Shinedown has one of the better vocalists in rock today, but he has to deal with having a less-than-spectacular band surrounding him. Vocalist Brent Smith carried the band through their first and best album, Leave a Whisper.A vocalist can only go so far.Their second album was a major disappointment, and the new single for their upcoming album is so-so at best.I don’t mean to continually blast them; I do have a strong memory of how pure they were when they burst onto the scene.But with new band members, the picture shown is the original lineup, lighter songs, and an average band surrounding a great singer, Shinedown has gone from underground greatness to mainstream mediocrity.I recommend any track from Leave a Whisper, including Fly From the Inside.

8.A Perfect Circle

Just making the cut by releasing Mer de Noms in 2000, A Perfect Circle could be considered a supergroup.The brainchild behind the project was Billy Howerdel, a former Tool guitar tech and current front man for Ashes Divide.He brought along the famous Maynard James Keenan of Tool, James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins, and Josh Freese and Jeordie White of NIN.A listener can hear the influence of these bands within a Perfect Circle.Along with Tool, the center of the band are the vocals of Keenan whose unique style make him one the better vocalists in not only recent history, but also of all-time.Even with the constant comparisons between Tool and a Perfect Circle, APC does have its own distinctive sound.They are not Tool’s twin, more like a second cousin.I would say that their sophomore effort, Thirteenth Step is their best album, and the song Weak and Powerless was a radio favorite when I was a senior in high school.

7.Breaking Benjamin

Even though front man Ben Burnley is a semi-asshole, BB is a solid, tight group of rockers.Along with Shinedown, their first album, Saturate, is their best.Their two other efforts are not as great, but they don’t fall way-too-far off the map like a newer Shinedown album.I guess there is a special connection with these guys because they are from Wilkes-Barre, even though I could care less about eastern pa, and the fact that they play a lot of shows in State College.Nothing too fancy with Breaking Benjamin, a typical current rock band with catchy songs.But the way the band plays together, evidenced by their live shows and tight albums, makes them one of the better rock bands on the current scene.On a side note, myself and fellow columnist Dave are friends with current Lowjack guitarist Jason Davoli, who used to be a band mate of Burnley.Supposedly Davoli left Burnley’s band in disgust after Burnley told him he wanted to change the band’s name from Plan 9 to Breaking Benjamin.Below is the song Phase from Saturate.Not many people know about it, but it has a great intro.

6.Linkin Park

I know, I know.Everyone makes fun of this band.They play to the radio and they rap.Yeah, they do, but they are good.I mean, the rock/rap thing is popular, ever hear of Rage Against the Machine?It is a recurring theme, but LinkinPark’s best album is their first, Hybrid Theory.The second was almost as great, but their third, Midnights to Midnight, has been a major disappointment.The major problem, too many lovey, light songs.Scream, yell, that’s when you’re good at.A major boost for LP are their live performances.Some of the best concerts I have ever been too are LinkinPark concerts.The band itself is good up the middle.Solid dual vocalists, a famous DJ, and an underrated drummer.LP’s guitarist and bass player are below average imo.Like so many bands, I hold onto what once.The shows are still great but the albums are going downhill.The video I chose is One Step Closer live from Pittsburgh, which was taken by Brian Lohr’s camera, who happens to be my good friend and has a knowledgeable rock mind.


I might catch some flack for this as this band is basically Creed minus Scott Stapp.But that’s the great thing.This band doesn’t have the Stapp hammer that was pounding all of the talent out of his band mates.One of those mates, Mark Tremonti is arguably the best guitarist in rock today.Stapp’s replacement, Myles Kennedy, is one the better vocalists around.Having a great vocalist and lead guitarist is the central engine of this band.AB has two great albums that can each stand on their own.It is easy to flip-flop on deciding which one is better.If AlterBridge continues to pound out great music, they can easily rise on this list.Strong vocals and power chord guitar solos, make AB great current rockers.Creed who?The video is of Ties that Bind, the opening track on Blackbird.It’s 100 mph, the whole time.


A raw, hard-nosed first album.Follow that with a heavy, yet tighter sophomore effort.Continue that trend with a crafty, mature, and yet still hard-core third album.This is Seether in a nutshell.A vastly underrated band that continues to rise and ripe with each album.It’s weird, because I can’t really explain how this happened.Shaun Morgan is a solid front man, but the rest of the band is nothing to write home about.A combination a good songwriting and a band that plays so well together causes solid music for Seether.Another good sign for a band is that each album can stand on its own.Each is distinct and each is great.My heart leans with Disclaimer, but the best all-around may be Karma and Effect.Since I can’t decide, I’ll pick a video from their most recent effort, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces.

3.Three Days Grace

I can remember so many starts of these bands because they were on the radio when I first got my driver’s license, and it seems like I have listened to their songs hundreds upon hundreds of times.TDG is no different.I can remember as clear as day when I Hate Everything About You was on the radio.That song led me to the rest of their first album, which rocks very hard.They followed up their early success with an equally great second album, One-X.Both are rock solid.It is difficult to pick a favorite.TDG has a distinct sound that makes them slightly different from a lot of these bands.Adam Gontier’s grunge-esque voice coupled with Barry Stock’s screeching chords almost make a listener think about comparisons to Alice in Chains.Live show wise, I think I have seen TDG more than any other band, probably 5-6 times.Their shows are always great with a good mixture of hits, and solid covers.Here is hoping that they continue to produce solid music.The video is another shout out to a Brian Lohr video.It is me, Lohr, and Mike Whipkey singing I Hate Everything About You on the way to Atlantic City this past Xmas break.

2.Velvet Revolver

Guns and Roses plus Stone Temple Pilots equals an orgasmic musical sensation that lasted for too short of a time.Members of Guns and Roses continued to write music after they had their rough separation from ultra-asshole Axel Rose.Rumors were that they were looking for a singer and began to target Scott Weiland after STP broke up.The relationship between Slash and co with Weiland started rough, but the two sides eventually came together and there seemed to be a match made in heaven.The dream marriage produced two excellent albums with the first, Contraband, easily being the best, although Libertad is no slouch.I saw VR with Weiland twice.Once at the Rolling Rock Town Fair Five and another at the Chevy Amphitheater is Pittsburgh.The latter was one of the best concerts I have ever witnessed.They played a great mix of hits coupled with a few G and R and STP tunes.Scott Weiland may be the best front man of all-time.His on stage antics are legendary.But his antics off-stage have been well-documented and have gotten him in trouble.Weiland was recently “fired” from the band, and the G and R crew are currently looking for a new singer and will continue to use the name Velvet Revolver.The VR/Weiland combo was pure while it lasted.When it comes to VR, the song of choice has to be Slither.


How can any supergroup top Velvet Revolver?Enter Chris Cornell, the father of grunge and perhaps the greatest rock vocalist since Robert Plant.Much like Guns and Roses, the members of Rage Against the Machine were searching for a singer after their split from Zack de la Rocha.Enter Chris Cornell.If G and R led VR, than the opposite was the case for Audioslave.Chris Cornell was the clear leader and visionary for the band.They produced three albums, all great in about five years.First, the self-titled Audioslave is somewhat raw with a good mix of heavy and slower tracks.They wrote the material quickly, but the finished product was still excellent.The second, Out of Exile, is probably more tight and shows the progress the four members had made for themselves.Finally, Revelations, is a swift change, a move toward a blues sound.I was skeptical at first but Cornell, Morello, and co made it work.And then all of a sudden the dream was over.Audioslave was no more.Cornell divorced himself from his new band mates over musical and personal differences.It was almost fitting in a way.Audioslave went out of top with three top-flight albums.They didn’t slide into suckiness and mediocrity like some once great bands, Pearl Jam.They rocked out and then walked out.Jim Brown.Barry Sanders.Audioslave.I almost respect that in a way.Audioslave in a sense opened my eyes to Rage Against the Machine, to Soundgarden, to grunge, to all great music.Actually, it was pretty easy for me to put them at number one.From 2002-2007, Audioslave was the best rock and roll band around.

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