Thursday, July 10, 2008

A thing to do - My Version

My friend over at Living in Misery posted his version of this list a week ago and challenged other bloggers to do the same. It's taken me awhile, but I accept the challenge. He posted his favorite albums from every year he's been alive -- and while his list was a few albums longer than mine (snark), it was a great list. I encourage you to check it out. While you're there, follow the links to the Gorilla v. Bear post where you'll find another great list.

These lists are a great tool to not only understanding the"DNA-like" make-up of one's musical tastes, but they also are a great" go-to" reference to remind you of albums in need of a "dust off" & a fresh listen. They can also point you to an album you should own but don't, and even an album you should at least know and don't. I hope my list is as insightful as the other two I mentioned, and I encourage you to follow my fellow bloggers' lead and post your own.

Here goes!
1977: Iggy Pop "Lust for Life"
I know, you get sick of hearing the title track in those cruise line commercials. However, it's a great album & you can't deny it's lasting effect on modern rock.

1978: Buzzcocks "Love Bites"

A great pop-punk classic. Plus, you have to wonder if the title inspired the 1994 film Reality Bites.
1979: Ramones "End of Century"
(there's a bit of a toss-up over whether this is a 1980 release or not)
I have to include this album for many reasons, but most recently because it played a bit part in (but lasting memory of) my wedding. I had my DJ play a lot of Ramones for my reception (party), and I ended up ripping the bustle on my wedding dress while dancing to "Rock & Roll High School" with my Dad. How cool is that? That was one of my favorite memories of my wedding day.

1980: The B-52s "Wild Planet"
The greatest party band of all-time. And everyone loves a party.

1981: Joan Jett & the Blackhears "Bad Reputation"
Joan Jett paved the way for so many other female rockers of the next two decades. (Many of whom you'll find on this list.)

1982: Michael Jackson "Thriller"
How can I not include "Thriller?" I LOVED this album as a kid....the whole thing. A-side to B-side. C-side to D-side. I actually own it on Vinyl now. For the levels of craziness that make up "Michael Jackson" now, he topped those levels in sheer, musical talent throughout his earlier life.

1983: U2 "War"
I couldn't do this list without adding at least one U2 album. The mix of politics, religion, and great pop music merge into one on each U2 effort, and I feel that's something that pop/rock music of the 1980s, 90s and 2000s is greatly lacking. So much pop/rock music of the 1960s had great, overarching socio-political messages. Yet, in the past two decades the only place you could hear such powerful messages was in hip-hop and rap. U2 was the most creative outlet on the pop/rock side doing the same thing. It's only natural that I was drawn to the social gospel aspect of U2's lyrics, and the music wasn't so bad either.

1984: Run DMC "Run DMC"
I wasn't really encouraged to listen to rap music at the tender age of 7, but I have to include this Run DMC album because of its influence on later artists & my later love of a lot of underground/indie hip-hop.

1985: Big Black "Atomizer"
Big Black is on here because I couldn't squeeze Shellac's "At Action Park" album in at the 1994 slot. Big Black wasn't Steve Albini's first band, but it was the major predecessor to Shellac. Albini is an infamous engineer (don't ever call him a producer), and worked with more bands/artists than I can name. His current band Shellac is one of my favorites, and it helped shaped my love of "angular" music. I'm usually only one of 10 or 11 girls at a Shellac live show, which I never quite understood. It's not just a "man's band." However, it's not music for the light listener. Seeing Albini at work on stage is like watching a mad scientist of sound. It's magical. It hurts. It's marvelous. It's treacherous. I love it.

1986: Squirrel Bait "Kid Dynamite"
This album is on here, not because it's good -- it's teenagers from KY playing punk rock -- but because this band led to so many other incredibly important bands in my life...Slint, King Kong, Bitch Magnet, Gast del Sol, the Lemonheads, Palace , etc. Then you can trace the genealogical lines to so many other indie bands of the 1990s and 2000s. I used to be able to spout off the family tree connections at the drop of a hat, but old age and fried brain cells have gotten the best of me. I lost a lot of my indie rock trivia chops, but I still know how important this album was/is.

1987: Guns N Roses "Appetite for Destruction"
Oh gosh...what to say? Well, this was my first real die-hard crush on a rock band. I LOVED GNR. I had "Sweet Child O' Mine" on 7-inch. I watched the "Paradise City" (and the white leather jumpsuit) video over and over. I swore for years that I would dance to "Sweet Child" at my wedding (and I did). I married a guy who love GNR even more (WAY WAY MORE) than me. I won him over by giving him a pewter GNR belt buckle, bought on eBay. He knew I was the one after that. It was a match made in white-trash rock heaven.

1988: The Pixies "Surfer Rosa"
Songs from this album became my and my college friends calling card on jukeboxes throughout Columbus. We entered a bar; the Pixies came on the jukebox. I've played many a game of pool with "Gigantic" playing in the background. This album takes me right back to my college days.

1989: Slint "Tweez"
Enter the Louisville legacy. This band was the tipping point for 1990s indie rock. I can't even explain how important Slint is. If you don't get it, you won't get it. If you're an indie rocker from Louisville, KY, it's in your blood and it always will be. This album is great.

1990: They Might Be Giants "Flood"
Between 1991 and 1994, I listened to album regularly, and it cemented my love for eclectic pop. I actually discovered it on a church youth retreat because Presbyterians are a bit wacky & love line-dancing to REM, Dr Demento and TMBG. (Hippies!!!) If you're really lucky & I'm feeling particularly nostalgic I'll do the "Camel Dance" to "Istanbul (not Constantinople)." That is, if you're really lucky...

1991: Nirvana "Nevermind"
This album came out at the most perfect time in my life. I had just turned 14, started to feel rebellious, but was not the type of girl who rebelled outwardly. So this album (played loudly on my Walkman) took me to a world in my head where I could be what I want/say what I want/look the way I want. In reality, I was still in my shell, but with this album I was somewhere else. I can listen to this album in full today, and it STILL says all those things to me. It never lost its luster. It still takes me away. And I still crank it up to 11.

1992: Uncle Tupelo "March 16-20, 1992"
This album is probably the polar opposite of "Nevermind." This is one definitely one of my top albums of all time. While Nirvana takes me forward, rebelling from what I am. This UT album takes me backward to remind me of where I'm from. It's a reflective album, a quiet album, and it too never lost its luster.

1993: Liz Phair "Exile in Guyville"
This one became important to me in 1997. I was floundering between roles of girl/woman, girl/friend, girl/girlfriend, and this album spoke to everything I was feeling. "The Divorce Song" and "Mesmerizing" were particularly important in dealing with (or not dealing with) the dude that consistently broke my heart over the course of 3 years.

1994: Rodan "Rusty"
The album that was equivolent to the best one-night-stand (or "one-CD"-stand) of all time.
This album finally broke me out of my shell, formed who I would be, shaped my musical tastes from then on out, developed my ears as a musician, let the Louisville indie rock blood flow freely through my veins, added attitude to my passion for music, and so much more.
[Sidenote: I actually have had at least 3 guys who have "showed me their copies of" this album, I guess, in the hopes of "woo-ing" me, shall we say? I will tell you that does NOT (always) work, and that I am happily married now -- so please, no one "show me their Rodan" anymore.]

1995: Pavement "Wowee Zowee"
The soundtrack to the summer after high school. My favorite Pavement album (sorry, S&E and CR/CR fans!). It still sounds like summer & brings back fond memories with every listen.

1996: Rachels "Music for Egon Schiele" and "Full on Bells"
Both of these Rachels albums helped form my musical compositions. You can hear their influence in my composition projects from Music Theory I through IV. Plus, they opened the ears of many an indie and punk rocker to more sophisticated music. As my then-boyfriend once observed at a Rachels' show, "I've never heard a roomful of punkrockers so quiet"....and they were digging it, too. A classical chamber orchestra never seamed like an appropriate opener for Fugazi, until the Rachels came along.

1997: Built to Spill "Perfect From Now On," and Modest Mouse "Lonesome Crowded West"
This one's a tie because I couldn't pick between the two. "Perfect From Now On" played over and over on my stereo 1998-2000, and is one of my all time favorites. The most-perfect moment on that album is the 4:20 marker on track 7. Listen and melt.

The Modest Mouse album marks all of my fondest memories of college. It reminds me of roadtrips, memorable shows, fun parties, mixtapes in J Dehass' car, and on and on. It equals good times and good friends.

1998: Sunny Day Real Estate "How It Feels To Be Something On"
This album picked me up when I was down. It's beautiful, anthemic and soothing. Greatest reunion album ever.

1999: Juno "This Is The Way It Goes and Goes and Goes"
This album saved my life in 2000. It's probably tied for my 3rd favorite album of all time. In late-2000/early-2001 I was stuck in a massive self pity-party (after a broken wedding-engagement, a 2nd breakup, an unhappiness at my job, with my friends), and I didn't know where to go or what to do. Listening to this album over and over, woke me up, kicked my butt, and made me realize I was doing it all to myself. "January Arms" (track 6) is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, and when blared from my car radio had the ability to shake me out of despair. "A black hole by nature know there's something better. You know there's something better. ...I can't waste my life waiting for you to come alive."

2000: PJ Harvey "Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea"
This album makes me feel like a powerful, soulful woman. Love it. For all of the guy-centered/fronted bands I listen to, it's nice to go back to an album with a real woman delivering a real woman's message -- and rocks while delivering it.

2001: Juno "A Future Lived in Past Tense," and Les Savy Fav "Go Forth"
Juno again....I don't know of a more wonderfully-indulgent band than Juno. The onslaught of three guitars in one band is usually over-indulgent, but not here. This is just mindblowingly "straight TO the top" without going "over the top." Tracks to make you melt: the 3:54 marker on track 9, and all of track 6. Track 3 and 4 are triumphant rockers. You can skip over a a few tracks in the middle, but definitely hit 1-4, 6, and 9-11. TURN IT UP ALL THE WAY. Make your ears bleed a little. Make the musical experience a physical one. You'll get what I mean if you do it right.

This Les Savy Fav album is a rocker from beginning to end. I LOVE it, and i love the band. A Les Savy Fav show is pretty unforgettable....don't stand up front unless you dare.

2002: Oasis "Heathen Chemistry"
I didn't really appreciate Oasis until 2002. With this album, I really came to love the band, and I went back a revisited all of their older albums. I was too much of an indie snob to give them props in the 90s. Now I love them. Beatles rip-offs? Not quite. It's too easy to say that. I urge everyone to give them more of a chance.

2003: The Shins "Chutes Too Narrow"
This album was on constant repeat during late 2003/early 2004 while our house was under construction. It lifted me up when I got stressed over my new grown-up worries (house, upcoming wedding, money, work).

2004: Bonnie Prince Billy "Sings Greatest 'Palace' Songs"
Call me a purist, but I prefer all of the old Palace albums to Oldham's later works. Nothing compares to the original Palace songs. It's that Ohio river laziness that I love. These renditions are good, but not as good as the originals....which were more vulnerable, more sloppy, more real.

2005: Bloc Party "Silent Alarm"
This just shows that I'm less of a snob in my "old-age" than I was in my youth. Bloc Party was everywhere from the radio, to TV (thanks OC andGrey's Anatomy), but I still really enjoyed this album.

2006: Sleater Kinney "The Woods" (not the best SK album)
Ten years after I first discovered SK, they make another great album. Girl rock, turned up loud, without being cutesy or shrill. I refuse to call it riot grrl. I just call it rock and roll.

2007: Kanye West "Graduation"
His lyrics may not be the best of any rapper out there (I can think of far better), but the production on his albums and the samples he chooses are great. Despite what you think of him as a person, he's owned some of the great musical moments over the past few years.

2008: The jury is still out....I've enjoyed Plants & Animals "Parc Avenue," but to date nothing has rocked my world. Check back with me next year.


Anonymous said...

I don't have time for specific comments (you already caused me to leave late for work) but excellent list. Like we were talking about, a great "greatest" list needs to be autobiographical and eclectic. Your's scores on both accounts.

Nice fish *BTW
(*BTW is short hand for by the way)

ks said...

BTW, i know what BTW means. :)
BTW....":)" is a little hieroglyphic symbol of the internet-age that symbolizes a smiling face.

Sorry i made you late for work. I'm rather verbose.

John DeHass said...

I don't know half of those noisy little bands you mentioned. We listen to civilized enka music here in Japan. But I was touched that you mentioned my name in your blog! And if I had a Rodan, you bet your sweet little ass I would show it to you, haha!
BTW, you know my taste in music--you think I would like that Rodan stuff or the Juno stuff?

ks said...

John --I'm sure you WOULD show me your Rodan CD if you had one, but as I mentioned that just doesn't work anymore.(BTW, your mastery of walking that line between sweet & sleazy amazes me still!) :)

Hmmm....I think your taste would go more for the Juno album, "This is the way it goes and goes." Some songs are pretty, some are rockers, and some just rip your heart in a million pieces and then somehow put it back together again. The 3 guitars make it loud and swirly, but I love it. They also did a great split EP with the Dismemberment Plan in 2001.

Anonymous said...

I love reading people's best of lists and agree yours is great. Anyone who digs Rachel's and Pixies is A-ok in my book. Your account of playing Gigantic on the jukebox while shooting pool was hot. Come to think of it, that song makes pressure washing sexy.