Our top 10 Augustana songs list presents ten of the best songs released by an American rock outfit specifically famed for its indie rock and pop rock sound. The band was formed in the early 2000s with its frontman Daniel Layus credited with spearheading its establishment. Joining him as part of the original members of the band were drummer Kyle Baker, bassist Simeon Lohrmann, and guitarist Josiah Rosen. Over the years, the band’s lineup has changed with vocalist Daniel Layus being the last man standing following the departure of all the other band members.
Augustana has built its reputation over the years as one of California’s most revered indie rock/pop rock outfits. The band has severally been likened to Counting Crows owing adoption of pop-rock elements to its signature sound. Augustana has also been compared to acts like The Wallflowers due to its noticeable rootsy piano-based rock sound.
Augustana’s Career Beginnings and Album Releases over the Years
After coming together, members of Augustana started creating music with its first official release being the demo album Midwest Skies and Sleepless Mondays. The demo album was issued in the spring of 2003 having been recorded in Jon King’s studio. Midwest Skies and Sleepless Mondays barely achieved mainstream success upon its release. However, the album drew the attention of major record labels to the band’s musical pursuits. Eventually, the band was signed by Epic Records, a label that achieved commercial success with releases from Meat Loaf, ABBA, The Jacksons, Heart, and Cheap Trick among others.
After signing a recording contract with Epic Records, Augustana issued its first ‘proper’ studio album, All the Stars and Boulevards in 2005. The album was Brendan O’Brien tasked with its production. Brendan has created his reputation as a successful producer having worked with eminent artists including Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden among others.
By the time the band was issuing this album, its lineup had changed with Jared Palomar taking on the bass and Justin South taking on the drums. Layus and Rosen were the only original members of the band on the lineup. All the Stars and Boulevards was a success, selling over three hundred thousand copies in the US and almost two million copies globally. The album topped the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart, flying to the ninety-sixth spot on the Billboard 200. “Boston,” “Stars and Boulevards,” “Bullets,” and “Sunday Best” are the best Augustana songs from the album.
Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, issued in 2008, marked the band’s third release and second major studio album. The album saw the band take on a blend of indie rock and roots rock sound influences. Amongst the personnel tasked with the production of this album was Warren Huart, best known for his prodigious work with The Fray, Korn, James Blunt, and Aerosmith.
The album failed to reach the commercial success feats achieved by the band’s previous release.
However, a hundred and twenty thousand copies in sales in the US wasn’t a bad deal for Augustana. Nevertheless, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt is the band’s highest-charting release on the Billboard 200, peaking at number twenty-one. The album also made it to the UK Albums Chart, rising to a peak position of number one hundred and fourteen. “Sweet and Low,” “Hey Now,” “I Still Ain’t Over You,” and “Twenty Years” are the most popular songs by Augustana from the album.
Augustana returned with its eponymous fourth studio album in 2011. Unfortunately, the album marked the band’s final outing issued under Epic Records. Augustana was a commercial flop despite making it to number twenty-nine on the Billboard 200. The album rose to number one hundred and thirteen on the UK Albums Chart. “Steal Your Heart,” “Just Stay Here Tonight,” and “Wrong Side of Love” are the best Augustana songs from the album.
In 2014, Augustana issued its fifth and most recent studio album, Life Imitating Life. The album managed to rise to a peak position of number sixty-seven on the Billboard 200. However, the album was a commercial flop. “Ash and Ember,” “Say You Want Me,” and “Remember Me” are the top musical gems by Augustana from the album.
Augustana’s Other Musical Pursuits and Legacy
Over the years, Augustana has been an impactful outfit in the indie rock and pop rock scenes. Thanks to its inspirational music career that the band has shared stages with artists such as Dixie Chicks, Dashboard Confessional, Acceptance, Maroon 5, The Fray, OneRepublic, and Counting Crows. Here we present the all-time ten best Augustana songs.
#10 – Remember Me
Ushering us to the ten best Augustana songs list is the striking hit “Remember Me.” The song is featured on the band’s album, Life Imitating Life. “Remember Me” is an emotional track that serves as the album’s closing track. Lead vocalist Dan Layus revealed that he penned this song wishing it to be there for his family to remind them that he loved them in a special way. His hope is that he is remembered for his impact on his family even after his departure.
#9 – Twenty Years
“Twenty Years” is one of the most emotive hits ever released by Augustana. The song is featured on the band’s album, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt. “Twenty Years” has its lyrics take a dive at matters of the heart which can be a little dilemmatic. Away from the nostalgic lyrical content, “Twenty Years” features an impressive rhythm that is made up of simplistic chords. This gives the song a natural feel crowning it beautiful despite being filled with a crashing wave of emotions.
#8 – Ash and Ember
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Augustana songs list is the haunting hit “Ash and Ember.” The song was issued as the first single to the band’s studio album, Life Imitating Life. “Ash and Ember” is yet another reaffirmation of Dan Layus’ excellence at issuing songs with a complex emotional touch. The song is the band’s final release to make it to the mainstream charts, rising to a peak position of number twenty-seven on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay Chart.
#7 – I Still Ain’t Over You
“I Still Ain’t Over You” is one of the brightest musical gems off the band’s album, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt. The song finds Augustana giving us a taste of its roots rock influences almost similar to those of bands like The Wallflowers. “I Still Ain’t Over You” starts off with some magnificent guitar riffs telling of a great song to come. This upbeat song also brings the best out of Dan Layus’ vocal delivery. Catchy feels like the perfect word that fully describes the song’s groovy tune. “I Still Ain’t Over You” was a mainstream success rising to the twentieth spot on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay Chart.
#6 – Sunday Best
Number six on our top 10 Augustana songs list is the charming hit “Sunday Best.” The song is featured on the band’s album, All the Stars and Boulevards. “Sunday Best” features some authentic pop-rock melodies that fully complement Layus’ emotive vocal delivery. The song also brings some pleasant acoustic guitar tunes. You can feel the band’s innovative sound echo over the entirety of this album. Despite not making it to the mainstream charts, “Sunday Best” remains a fan-favorite track.
#5 – Hey Now
Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt, the band’s third studio album, is home to the fifth pick of our ten best Augustana songs list, “Hey Now.” The song brings the best of the band’s emotive pop-rock hits which seems to have been the template for most of the releases on this album. With “Hey Now” the band explores melodic pastiches of pop rock with significant rootsy influences. “Hey Now” is yet another magnificent hit by Augustana that never made it to the mainstream charts. However, the song has enjoyed endured popularity rising to become a fan favorite.
#4 – Steal Your Heart
Listening to songs from the band’s eponymous album, Augustana seemed to have fully chucked its soft piano-driven pop-rock influences. This is replaced by some hard-hitting guitar riffs. “Steal Your Heart” is one of the songs that showcase the excellence of the band releasing guitar-driven pop rock/indie rock hits.
Like most of the songs on this album, “Steel Your Heart” is Augustana’s best stab at issuing Bruce Springsteen-Esque rock ballads. While most of the songs on Augustana never made it to the mainstream charts, “Steal Your Heart” managed to enter the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay Chart, peaking at number eighteen.
#3 – Stars and Boulevards
The third pick on our ten best Augustana songs list is the amazing hit “Stars and Boulevards.” “Stars and Boulevards” brings us back to the piano-driven pop-rock ballads from the band’s album, All the Stars and Boulevards. This song possesses some of the most seasoned lyrical content by the band with an on-point musical delivery. “Stars and Boulevard” was the band’s first song to make it to the mainstream charts, peaking at number sixteen on the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs Chart.
#2 – Sweet and Low
“Sweet and Low” is a musical gem featured on the band’s album, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt. This pop-rock ballad was penned by the band’s lead vocalist Dan Layus in conjunction with Mike Flynn. Layus revealed that he was thinking of things his wife would say to him. His major takeaway is that through the highs and lows of a relationship, we all need the presence of that one special soul.
The band challenged its fans to record a cover version of this hit and post it on YouTube. “Sweet and Low” made it to position eighty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100. This made it the second and last hit by the band to make it to the Hot 100 chart.
#1 – Boston
Number one on our top 10 Augustana songs list is the band’s signature hit “Boston.” The song is featured on the band’s album, All the Stars and Boulevards. This piano-driven pop ballad was originally issued on the band’s unofficial first studio album, Midwest Skies and Sleepless Monday which was recorded in Jon King’s studio.
“Boston” has its lyrics allude to a draining relationship that leaves the singer feeling unfulfilled. The song is Augustana’s highest-charting hit rising to a peak position of number thirty-four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Top 10 Augustana Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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