1. Audioslave: Audioslave – It’s not quite the caliber of Rage Against The Machine, yet it’s still far and away better than anything else that came out this year. Chris Cornell’s voice leaves the listener wishing Zach de la Rocha would come back, but Tom Morello’s flawless musicianship saves the day.
2. Phantom Planet: The Guest – What do you get when you add a professional model (vocalist Alex Greenwald) and the kid from “Rushmore” (drummer Jason Schwartzman)? Some of the best new music of the decade. Though only “California” received radio airplay, the entire album contains gems that will ensure The Guest stays in your compact disc collection for years to come.
3. Something Corporate: Leaving Through The Window – Quintet from Anaheim show there is more to punk music than skateboards and bands with numbers (Blink 182 and Sum 41). Band can jam out with tunes like “Punk Rock Princess” and “If You C Jordan”, or take it slow with “Hurricane” and “Cavanaugh Park”. Best teen angst album of the year.
4. Ben Folds: Ben Folds Live – All the man needs is a piano and a venue, and Folds proves it in his first live CD since going solo. Hits like “Brick” and “Army” are present, as is a tasteful rendition of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. You have to see him in concert to truly appreciate how he caters his style to suit the audience.
5. The White Stripes: White Blood Cells – Brother/sister combo from Detroit provide depth to the East-Village-rawk sound that has taken over the airwaves. Although the radio overplayed “Fell In Love With A Girl,” the truly great song on this album is “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground.” The White Stripes also have the most original videos of any band on this list.
6. Eyes Adrift: Eyes Adrift – After years out of the spotlight, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic formed a power trio with Curt Kirkwood (Meat Puppets) and Bud Gaugh (Sublime) to form Eyes Adrift. “Alaska” and “Blind Me” are rock in its purest form with meaningful lyrics and driving melodies. This is definitely not an album I’d recommend to someone who gets his jollies from listening to Papa Roach or some other corporate puppet band.
7. Johnny Cash: American IV: The Man Comes Around – Despite contracting pneumonia three times in four years, the Man In Black found the strength to put out a new album in 2002. Many of the songs are renditions of other artists’ songs, but the force behind each and every note makes this a must have for any music fan. Perhaps most surprising is how good Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” can sound when it comes from Johnny Cash’s mouth.
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers: By The Way – No big surprise here as Flea and Anthony crank out more hits on their way to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame enshrinement. “Dosed” and “This Is The Place” are the best this album has to offer, while “Can’t Stop” will have you tapping out a bass line on the nearest table.
9. Pearl Jam: Riot Act – Seattle-based rock Gods are a little older and wiser, but no less musically talented on their seventh studio release. “Save You” and “Ghost” are two excuses to get bigger speakers. “Thumbing My Way” shows the maturity of Eddie Vedder.
10. The Used: The Used – The last place you’d look for good music is in Salt Lake City, but these crazy Mormons trade in their tabernacle for guitars, thus producing one of the freshest CDs of 2002. “The Taste Of Ink” got the most playtime, but the entire CD is loaded, including future hits like “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects” and “Poetic Tragedy.” The Used is definitely one to pick up for your collection.