"At the Stars," Better than Ezra (How Does Your Garden Grow?)
Better than Ezra has always had a knack for writing ultra-catchy songs, but something about their third album was downright magical. I remember hearing this song for the first time on the radio and buying the record that same day. Does that ever happen anymore?
"Resignation Superman," Big Head Todd & the
Monsters (Beautiful World)
This track from Mr. Todd and his monsters has a bouncing bass line, grooving guitars, and a B3 (that’s a Hammond organ, for all you non-musicians) part in the chorus that will give you goose bumps.
"Another Horsedreamer’s Blues," Counting
Crows (Recovering the Satellites)
Many think the Crows’ first album runs rings around anything else they’ve done, but I think their sophomore effort is the best. There are intricate arrangements on every single song, and every single song carries a comfort like Mom’s lasagna.
"Give," Dishwalla (Pet Your Friends)
Everyone knows Dishwalla’s single, "Counting Blue Cars," but this moody track is way better. Perhaps J.R. Richards’ vocals had the kind of quality that started the whiny emo movement, but he used dynamics with his voice as well as anyone.
"Bad Reputation," Freedy Johnston (This
Chances are, you have heard this song but don’t know who sang it. I’m here to tell you that you should know, because Freedy Johnston has written plenty more good songs.
"Black Balloon," Goo Goo Dolls (Dizzy
Up the Girl)
Smooth yet soaring vocals and dark yet melodic songs marked the coming of age of this Buffalo, New York-bred rock band. And the bands’ sound in the late ‘90s typified the modern rock genre.
"Sex and Candy," Marcy Playground (Marcy
You all know what strippers smell like, right? It’s not clear whether Marcy Playground’s John Wozniak is singing about a chick that swings on poles for a living, but we can all picture the chick he is singing about.
"Hang," Matchbox Twenty (Yourself
or Someone Like You)
Yeah, most of you think Rob Thomas is a sellout. But you can’t obscure the fact that he really knows how to write a hit song. Even more, when he pulls back the reins a bit, as he does on this acoustic gem, he cements his place in pop history.
"Someday We’ll Know," New Radicals (Maybe
You’ve Been Brainwashed Too)
If you’ve ever been in love with someone so much it hurt, only to find out it was never meant to be, then this is your song.
"Singing in My Sleep," Semisonic (Feeling
Most people think Semisonic was a one-hit wonder, since "Closing Time" is likely the only song they know by this pop trio. But this album is pretty deep.
"Narcolepsy," Third Eye Blind (Third
Before lead singer Stephan Jenkins started dating Vanessa Carlton and essentially lost his manhood, he wrote some super-cool, guy-friendly songs about boozing, banging chicks and having trouble sleeping.
"Whatever I Fear," Toad the Wet Sprocket
On this Toad album, the band graduated from the breezy acoustic pop they were known for, and added walls of guitars that gave the songs more balls than a lottery machine.
"Open up Your Eyes," Tonic (Lemon
This was actually Tonic’s first hit, and a staple on modern rock radio back in the day. And it still kicks ass.
"We Are," Vertical Horizon (Everything
Vertical Horizon rocked themselves up with this album after their first few releases bordered on folk. And just like that, instant success. Yeah, I know, they did kind of disappear after that, but this album rocks.
"Shimmer," Fuel (Sunburn)
This is one of those songs that nearly made me drive off the road when I first heard it. It also took weeks to figure out the name of it, because terrestrial radio stopped telling us the names of songs so that they could get to the commercials faster.