recently went to check out a band called the Good Gospel Truth. A Brooklyn quartet originally from Tennessee, these guys put on one of the best club shows I've seen in a long time. Choruses sung in spirited unison; crashing drum fills; hard-charging guitar crescendos. In a word: anthemic. Thinking about the show afterwards, I realized that a [good portion] MANY of my favorite bands could be described using that same word. It turns out I'm a sucker for huge guitar riffs, galvanizing vocals, and martial drum beats. So without further adieu, here are my top ten anthemic bands. What are yours?
1. U2 -- If the word anthemic disappeared, U2-ish would be a good replacement. Bono always sounds like he's singing mass, the Edge's guitar rings like the trumpets at Jericho, and Larry Mullen's rhythmic stiffness is a virtue. Adam Clayton? He, uh, always looks stylish.
Signature anthem: "Pride (In the Name of Love)"
2. The Clash -- Any band dubbed "the only band that matters" has got to have some serious anthemic power. Punk rock is often associated with a kind of nihilism, but the Clash sounded like their hearts might explode from caring so much.
Signature anthem: "Death Or Glory"
3. The Who -- I'm thinking of the Who's Next stadium rock version of the band more than the early modfathers. Pete Townshend's power chords and Keith Moon's roiling drum fills were, and are, key touchstones for any band wanting to sound bigger than life.
Signature anthem: "Baba O' Riley"
4. The Arcade Fire -- Win Butler and Co. are more dour than the other bands on this list, but even when these guys are singing about the apocalypse, their rag-tag widescreen epics make me hope they put out a few more albums before the end comes.
Signature anthem: "Wake Up"
5. Thin Lizzy -- Too often thought of as a one-, or maybe two-hit wonder (if you count "Jailbreak" along with "The Boys Are Back In Town"), Phil Lynott's band fused streetwise swagger with mythology-infused poetry and a saber-rattling twin guitar attack.
Signature anthem: "Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend"
6. The Hold Steady -- Craig Finn's finely wrought lyrics turn hardscrabble hardcore kids into heroes. Tad Kubler's soaring guitar solos and Franz Nikolay's baroque keyboard flourishes do the same for their band.
Signature anthem: "How A Resurrection Really Feels"
7. The Waterboys -- For a hot minute back in the '80s, the Waterboys were at the forefront of a wave of big sounding UK acts like Simple Minds and Big Country. But they were the best, and their densely detailed productions and stirring folkish melodies shouldn't be forgotten.
Signature anthem: "This Is The Sea"
8. The Killers -- Maybe the most self-conscious of all the bands here. They get a lot of grief for being so obvious about their influences (U2, Springsteen), but writing anthems ain't for the humble hearted.
Signature anthem: "All These Things That I've Done"
9. Oasis -- For a short time, Noel Gallagher's huge guitar sound and his brother Liam's sneering swagger had this band competing for the title of "world's biggest." They've since slipped, but their rip-roaring sound has never shrunk.
Signature anthem: "Live Forever"
10. Bruce Springsteen -- A no-brainer. The Boss has written a handful of songs that a lot of Americans--and everyone in New Jersey--would gladly adopt as a new national anthem.
Signature anthem: "Born To Run"