Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 10 Best Emerging Artists of the Past Decade

As the decade comes to a close, everyone is putting out their best albums of the decade list, their best this of the decade and their best that of the decade. I thought about doing those too, but then I figured why would I just regurgitate what I’ve read on several other blogs? What would be the point in that? So, for the end of the decade festivities, cousin Ryo is pleased to present his 10 favorite (or the 10 best if you prefer) emerging artists of the past decade.

The criteria for this post is that the band had to release their major label debut album between 2000 and 2009, had to be a pretty big hit (either in sales or radio play), and preferably were a band that everyone who reads this blog would have heard about at some point over the last decade. Deep independents, unfortunately, weren’t going to make the cut, no matter how great they were. With that in mind, here are my picks for the 10 most emerging artists of the 2000s.

Ryan Adams

Pulling out of the ashes of the defunct Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams ventured out on his own this past decade. His first release was 2000s Heartbreaker. Things only got better from there. In the years since his solo debut, Adams went on to form an incredible backing band (The Cardinals), released a slew of albums, and ended the decade by retiring from the music business. If he is truly done making music, Adams has left a legacy in his wake. With amazing albums like Cold Roses, Gold, and Easy Tiger (just to name a few), Adams gave his all this past decade. Every album is a treasure to hang onto and worth repeated listens. His onstage antics were well documented, and unfortunately, his hearing was compromised, which led to his early retirement. Adams is a musical and lyrical genius and definitely one of the best artists of this past decade.


Barreling in like a bat out of hell, Airbourne stormed the scene in 2007 with their self-titled debut album. Carrying a very AC/DC sound and kicking it up (to 11), Airbourne made a name for themselves through hard work, word of mouth, plenty of touring, and by making great music. Their sophomore set is due out next year, and while there is always a risk for the dreaded sophomore jinx, Airbourne’s debut was so solid, that I think they will be safe. Their independent debut EP sells on E-Bay for hundreds of dollars which shows the existing demand for the band. Airbourne truly brought back the rock and that’s what makes them one of the top emerging artists of the 2000s.


There is a reason that Hinder makes this list other than the fact that they released one of the hugest radio singles ever (Lips of an Angel) and other than the fact that they’ve put out two incredible rock albums, and other than the fact that they’ve toured as an opening act for some of the biggest names in rock and roll. The reason that Hinder makes this list is because they have so many haters. A band with that many haters can’t be anything but huge! I personally think that Hinder are this decade’s BuckCherry (who were dubbed the saviors of rock back in 1999). Hinder has brought back party rock and raunch like no other band before them. Their sleaze metal of drinking, smoking, partying, and loving women is just great fun. And of course there are the huge power ballads that the chicks love and sing at the top of their lungs. Yeah, Hinder is definitely one of the best bands to come out in the past ten years and they are a shooting star the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Hinder will be selling out arenas with their next release and they are going to be bigger than any hair metal band you can name (except maybe Guns N Roses). Hinder is that good.


After releasing their major label debut, Silver Side Up, in 2001, Nickelback went down a path of hard work and constant touring on their journey toward excellence, winning over fans the old fashioned way, one at a time. It wasn’t until the release of All The Right Reasons that superstardom was achieved, but once they were there, they never looked back. Nickelback may be hated by a lot of music snobs, especially the heavy metal crowd who write them off as wannabes, but it’s simply not true. Nickelback, while perhaps not the most innovative band of all time, are a fun band that rock. Their songs are catchy, radio friendly, and exceptional. They’re amazing in concert, and Nickelback is a band that you can just fall in love with. Numbers don’t lie, which is why they’re one of the top 10 emerging artists of the past decade. They are certainly the biggest thing to come out in the past ten years, and that’s true whether you love them or not.

Papa Roach

While not much was made of Papa Roach after their debut album, Infest, was released, Papa Roach has used the past decade to really build a following and brand their name. After the small success of Infest, the band knew they had something. They slowly started to drift away from their rap/rock hybrid and focused their energies more on the rock. It was The Paramour Sessions, their 4th CD, which pushed them over the top. All the while they had been building toward that sound, style, and level of enjoyableness. The Paramour Sessions is Papa Roach’s strongest album by far, and they continued that sound to their next (and current) album. Slowly Papa Roach is winning over a fan base of younger fans, as they continue to tour with bands like Motley Crue, Nickelback, and BuckCherry. They are one of the hardest bands to come out this past decade, and I think that they are going to be around for a long time. I look forward to a future with Papa Roach.

Pop Evil

Brand new to the scene with their debut album (Lipstick on the Mirror) coming out just last year, this pick may come as a surprise. However, your cousin Ryo has spent countless hours with this disc, seen the band live, and knows the potential that they have. Pop Evil really can be the next big thing. If they can avoid the sophomore jinx and put out another record that even comes close to the brilliance of their debut, Pop Evil will be fine. Their live show is fun, their music is hard rock with a couple of great ballads, and their lyric writing is strong. Pop Evil takes me back to the days of high school, when hair metal ruled the airwaves and we were always waiting for the next big band to blow us away. Pop Evil is one of those groups. They are in the upper echelon of greatness and I really look forward to an amazing future for this band.


If Shinedown had not released The Sound of Madness last year, they would not be on this list. While their first two albums are good ones, it was their current album that launched this band into the stratosphere. A huge breakout album filled with a bunch of top 10 radio hits, The Sound of Madness is an incredible hard rock record with power. It provides Shinedown with their signature sound and put them on the map. Touring incessantly since the release, Shinedown has built a following released 4 top 10 singles and are showing no signs of slowing down. They are scheduled to open for Nickelback in 2010 and also plan a headlining tour of their own. There’s no word on when they will return to the studio to record their follow up, but that’s probably because that album is still selling like crazy and churning out the hits. Shinedown is rock’s version of the little engine that could. Each album got better and better until they exploded the rock and roll world with an extremely incredible record. If they can follow up this smash success with another strong album, Shinedown will be around for a long time.

The Reformation of Son Volt

Technically adding Son Volt to this list is cheating, as their debut album came out in 1995. However, in 1998, Jay Farrar broke up the band and went solo. This past decade, he reformed the group with all new members and released the brilliant Okemah and the Melody of Riot. Son Volt gets added to this list because they are a new band with a new sound that is simply excellent, using an old name. Farrar showed his ability as a songwriter this past decade. The Search followed Okemah and is hands down the best work that Jay has ever recorded (yes, that includes his time with Uncle Tupelo). The Search was one of those rare albums that are such an unexpected masterpiece; it reminds everyone of what music can be. The power and emotion put forth in that disc is what made it stand out. If I were putting together a list of the best albums of the past decade (which I’m not) The Search would be in the top 5. This past year, Son Volt released American Central Dust, and while not as good as their prior release, it is still a solid album, falling back on the more country roots of Jay Farrar. With three albums released in the 00s, the future is promising for the new Son Volt. I hope that they will be around for a long time, releasing even more great music.

Theory of a Deadman

Theory of a Deadman is another band that took their time climbing to the top of the charts and reaching for superstardom. Like Shinedown, it was their third (and current) release that solidified their spot on this list. Their self-titled debut drew a lot of attention and their follow up (Gasoline) was an excellent disc, but it was the release of Scars and Souvenirs that pushed Theory to the doorstep of superstardom. This has been a very productive decade for the Canadian band discovered by Chad Kroeger at the start of the decade. Overcoming the Nickelback wannabe comparisons, Theory branched out on their own, created their own signature sound, and released two major anthems in Bad Girlfriend and the insanely popular Hate My Life. These songs took Theory to the next level and while they are currently scheduled for a headlining club tour in early 2010, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them headlining their own amphitheater tour this summer. Theory is that good and their album continues to sell and climb the charts. It’s only a matter of time before they smash through the upper stratosphere of greatness. Cousin Ryo will be content watching every step of the journey for this great band.

The White Stripes

No one could argue that The White Stripes were one of the biggest stories of the past decade. Prolific writer Jack White not only fronted his own band (with partner Meg White), he also went on to front two other bands. White’s writing never stales and he appears to have an endless supply. White Blood Cells was the major release debut that put The White Stripes on the map and it was the humongous single Fell In Love With A Girl that had me discover (and eventually fall in love with) them. From their debut through the rest of the decade, The White Stripes would release several fantastic albums. Jack White was this past decade’s Bob Dylan, producing poetic, deep lyrics, and creating new sounds and styles of music that other bands had never tried. The future of music is safe in his hands. They blasted onto the scene in the 00s and it looks like they are here to stay, which is a very good thing for music lovers.

And there it is. Cousin Ryo’s 10 emerging artists of the 2000s. Disagree with this list? Got your own opinion that you’d like to share? Jump on in and tell the Guru your choices for the ten most emerging artists of the past decade!

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.

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