Back in March, each of us set out to pick 100 of our favorite albums. The intention was simply to focus on personal favorites rather than trying to pick a list of the 100 greatest albums of all-time.
When we got done with those lists, we compared our choices, and 12 of our picks were the same. So we decided to rank those 12 picks in order and present them in descending order from No. 12 to No. 1. Today we present No. 4.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
ALBUM OF THE DAY
Fallen Empires (2011)
"This Isn't Everything You Are," "The Garden Rules," "New York," "In The End" and "The Symphony"
Very few bands have made an immediate impact on me like this Northern Irish quintet. From the moment I heard "Chasing Cars" off the Eyes Open album, Snow Patrol had a fan for life. Two albums later, the band gave this masterpiece to the music world. Like we have discussed about other albums many times over the course of this countdown, this record is a great band finding its sweet spot and firing on all cylinders. It's a thoughtful and emotional album that is equally effective on the ballads, like "Lifening" and "New York," and the anthems, like "I'll Never Let Go" and "The Symphony." Lead singer Gary Lightbody has such a likeable voice with just enough of a Northern Irish accent to make it instantly recognizable. He also flexes his muscles as a songwriter with some of the best lyrics the band has produced to date on this album. When people tell me, "Nobody's putting out any good music anymore," I point them in Snow Patrol's direction and tell them, "No, you just aren't looking hard enough."
Yeah, I think Chuck and I both veered away from some of the obvious picks in search of albums that demonstrated a band's growth and maturity. In several cases, that led us to the same exact place like this album with Snow Patrol.
It would have been easy to go with either of the band's first two major-label releases - Eyes Open or Final Straw. If you were looking for evidence of the band's growth, then you could have even tapped their third album A Hundred Millions Suns. Those are all fine efforts by the Northern Irish outfit, but there's something about the emotional depth of Fallen Empires that makes it stand out. Front man Gary Lightbody has always worn his emotions on his sleeves, and he's always been open about the wounds that love and life inflict. His reaction to those wounds feels less visceral this time and more introspective - as if he's pulling back the scabs and peeling off the scars to try and understand how we heal rather than focusing on the injuries themselves.
This gives the album an almost spiritual intensity at times as it teeters between the hopelessness of the moment and the promise of redemption that the not-too-distant future holds. "Just take the hand that's offered, and hold on tight" he sings to a friend in the early stages of a painful breakup in "This Isn't Everything You Are." "There's joy not far from here, I know there is," he offers with conviction, and the rest of his Snow Patrol peers help deliver the message with just enough confidence to make you believe it.
BONUS ALBUM OF THE DAY
Day & Age (2008)
Why I Love It
The Killers are an American band, but they fit in the same general space on the alternative rock spectrum that's inhabited by bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay. Like those bands, their expansive sound is made for arenas, and they've played their share with hits like "Human," "Spaceman" and "A Dustland Fairytale" - all of which can be found here on this impressive collection.
"Losing Touch," "Human" and "A Dustland Fairytale"