30. Alkaline Trio – Maybe I’ll Catch Fire

While Goddamnit was the first place I heard Alkaline Trio, Maybe I’ll Catch Fire was the album that kept my interest the best. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and it’s good. This album reminds me most of mowing lawns – it was at it’s peak in my rotation when I worked for the St. Cloud Parks Department, and was a permanent fixture in my mini-disk player during that time.

I’ve got a big fat fuckin’ bone to pick with you my darling — “Radio”

29. Ben Folds Five – s/t

Forever and Ever Amen was the album that hooked everyone on Ben Folds, but their first full-length album was actually the best one, and if you ask most hardcore Folds fans, it’s the one that really defines the band. Still, either way, Ben Folds made a living on being both self-deprecating and sappy at the same time, which this album really hits rather well. “Philosophy” is still a standard at his solo concerts, and is, in my opinion, his best work.

It’s really not that you can’t see the forest for the trees/You never been out in the woods alone — “Philosophy”

28. Less Than Jake – Losing Streak

Ska! Ha! Okay, I admit. I did, at one point, go through an ill-advised “ska” period in my life, but I did it very poorly. I never really caught on well with the genre, and aside from Less Than Jake and The Suicide Machines, I wasn’t really a fan at all. Still, Losing Streak could be the best ska album ever made. Much like The Decline has everything I liked about NOFX in one album, Losing Streak captures everything I liked about the ska-punk bands. I managed to get into a Less Than Jake show for free at First Ave in Minneapolis simply by having my friend Nick hook me up with Roger’s backstage pass. I think it was Roger. I can’t tell those guys apart, honestly.

So with one hand on the wheel and the other out the window/With a smile on my face and my middle finger up — “Rock-N-Roll Pizzaria”

27. The Blacktop Cadence – Chemistry For Changing Times

When Hot Water Music brings strings into their music, this is roughly what you get. Chemistry was members of Hot Water Music making more emo-friendly music. Add a haunting female voice and some orchestral type sounds, and you’ve got a beautiful album that’s a far cry from the mile-a-minute punk that Hot Water Music spits out. This was a very hard item to get a hold of for a few years, and I felt pretty special to have one of the original copies of a CD that everyone always seemed to be looking for. It’s since been re-released (in shinier packaging…ugh) and it’s still a great listen.

She said that she’d work/But what is she working on/When I’m as useless as a broken guitar string? — “Last Night…After I Bought The Wine”

26. Ugly Cassanova – Sharpen Your Teeth

The story behind Ugly Cassanova is such (taken straight from their website): “The first time any one seemed to care that Edgar Graham (a.k.a. Ugly Casanova) existed was in the summer of 1998, when he impressed himself upon the members of Modest Mouse while backstage at a Denver show. Casanova began to share some rough songs with the trio and…by the end of Modest Mouse’s tour, Casanova, with much reluctance, was persuaded to record some of these songs and hand them over to record labels for issue as singles or parts of compilations. Predictably, immediately after he had done so, he disappeared.” I, personally, think this is bullshit, but I still love this album. It’s pretty obvious that Isaac Brock wrote this stuff, and, again, Brock’s brilliance strikes gold.

We clung on like barnacles on a boat/Even though the ship sinks, you know you can’t let go — “Barnacles”

25. Braid – Frame & Canvas

I bought this album the same day as Avail’s Over The James. Unfortunately, I never really listened to the Avail disk, shoving it further and further back in my collection, choosing instead to memorize and fall in love with the Braid album. In fact, we may be able to deduce that this album drove Avail from my life all together. Personally, I don’t mind – this is the greatest Braid ever got, and the album had some of the best KSSU radio hits I ever played.

Nineteen ninety eight looked great on plain white paper on the fiftieth plane to Champaign — “The New Nathan Detroits”

24. Texas Is The Reason – s/t

If it wasn’t for this being a short EP, only three songs long, it would have cemented itself in the top ten next to it’s full length follow up Do You Know Who You Are? Basically, Texas Is The Reason entered my life because of Eric – I believe Terry Taylor may have suggested the EP to him for a Christmas present because of my undying love, at the time, for Sunny Day Real Estate. The bands sound similar at first listen, but one realizes eventually that Texas is far better at making rock songs sans the preening emo vocals. All three songs are classics.

You act like i don’t know my own way home — “Antique”

23. Cursive – The Ugly Organ

A newer entry, The Ugly Organ took art-music to another level. Much like Domestica, The Ugly Organ is a inward looking concept album, this time crafted more as a play than as a documentary. It’s awkward at times, but it’s as powerful as Cursive gets, and is as chock full of heartbreak and self-loathing as anything Tim Kasher has ever written. This is, reportedly, his “getting even with the ex-wife” album, a “grudge-fucking” compilation, according to All Music Guide. It’s an angry enough album to possibly be true.

I’ll never know who you are, and I don’t deserve to/My little girl, we would’ve been so… oh, nevermind — “Sierra”

22. The Impossibles – Return

After overplaying Weezer for a few months, I looked for something new to fill the gap. The rumored new Weezer album (which became the Green Album) was nowhere to be seen, so when I heard this Impossibles album, an album that was a far cry from their previous ska-punk existence, I latched onto it with both sets of claws. This was, to me, the new Weezer album, though truthfully, It’s better than anything Weezer put out (with the exception of Pinkerton.) And while I hate to base my review of such a great album around a washed up band, I’ll always remember the people who would come into Software Etc. when it would be playing and ask “Is this the new Weezer album?”

Tested our limits/Pushed so hard that we broke in two/And you are broken to this day — “Enter/Return”

21. Hot Water Music – Fuel For The Hate Game

This was another Christmas gift from Eric, and was the first Hot Water Music album I ever owned. Fuel For The Hate Game came shortly before what I consider their peak (Forever and Counting) and actually came out only a few months before Forever, if my memory serves me right. I remember surfing around online in Yahoo Chat when I went to school in Marshall and running into someone with the screen name of “WaterMusicHot.” I was quoting HWM lyrics, and he was finishing them up. He IM’d me, and I asked who he was, and he said he was Jason, of the band itself. I looked up the screen name and the profile, and the name wasn’t the same. “It says your name is Chuck!” I said. Duh. It was Chuck’s account.

You’re forgetting why we’re here/And what we’re fighting for/And who’s listening — “Drunken Third”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 27th, 2005