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Greatest Guitar Albums of the 2000s

Rock was far from dead in the first decade of the 21st Century.

Tim Coffman

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If you’re into rock music, about ninety percent of your attention is probably focused on the magical six-stringed instrument at the forefront of each song.

While there have been fantastic rock drummers, bassists, and vocalists over the years, the electric guitar gives most rock bands their melodic punch. These five albums from the 2000s show how indelible the jolt of a guitar is, years after its apex. 

5. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – The Arctic Monkeys (2006)

As the 2000s began, many bands started to strip things back to a garage rock feel. While bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes made big waves, The Arctic Monkeys’ debut holds up as a most cohesive collection of stripped-down rock and roll. Songs like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” and the scorching opener “The View From The Afternoon” capture a youthful, frenetic energy with the guitar swagger of duo Alex Turner and Jamie Cook.

These songs prove that the spirit of rock and roll never left — we just needed the Arctic Monkeys to remind us of its ferocity.

4. Meteora – Linkin Park (2003)

This one is a throwback to the nu-metal wave which swept the nation at the turn of the century. Linkin Park stood apart from the Limp Bizkits of the world by showing more heartfelt anguish in their song structure. The guitars are stripped back to a supporting role for this outing, but they hit like a sledgehammer on headbangers like “Don’t Stay,” as well as on the arena rocker “Faint.”

The album also showcases guitarist Brad Delson as a sonic landscape artist on songs like “Breaking the Habit,” which allows his guitar flourishes to put you in the uncomfortable, depressing environment that Linkin Park have become synonymous with.

 3. Songs for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age (2002)

This band stole the show after the nu-metal wave to bring a desert-style boogie to hard rock music. Guitarist Joshua Homme shows off his fretboard pyrotechnics on songs like “No One Knows” and the title track by taking the great riffs of the 1970s and slathering on a sultry, sexy, and bluesy grime.

This album’s guitar sound goes down like a smooth whiskey that can stick with you for days, weeks, or years if you’re not careful.

2. The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (2006)

Just when it looked like they were going to be an emo flash-in-the-pan, My Chemical Romance struck back in 2006 with some of the best guitar assaults of the modern age. Guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero layer mammoth tones over a dramatic tale about a dying cancer patient.

The almost-eponymous “Welcome to the Black Parade” and the musical juggernaut “Sleep” match Queen-esque guitar heroics with pummeling power chords that make the tunes irresistibly captivating from beginning to end.

Without question, this is an album anyone slightly interested in the guitar should pick up.

1. American Idiot – Green Day (2004)

This album does not contain the best guitar solos or the flashiest playing, but Green Day don’t need complex scales and sweeping solos. This album is at the top of the list because it is the catalyst for 2000s-era guitarists.

Green Day’s second act masterpiece shows the band going all out on the guitar production with unforgettable hits from the bristling title track and the political “Holiday,” to the pensive “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

This album woke up a generation of rockers and made millions of teenagers say, “That’s what I want to do.” This album’s presence is still being felt in today’s rock scene and pushed the guitar back into the forefront of music at the dawn of a new century.

These albums vary in style and compositional elements, but they share an elemental power. These records indicate that while rock waned in popularity, it was far from dead in the first decade of the 21st Century. 

There were only slight flickers of powerful rock music in the 2000s, but tunes from these band prove that it only takes one of those flickers to start a forest fire.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Tim picked up the guitar at 10 years old and never looked back. He has been writing about music since 2011 and has loved every single minute of it. Music is his MO every day and he will do whatever he can to make sure that he's involved with it every day of his life.

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