So, I was listening to a particular album on this list yesterday and realized that it’s one of those albums that never gets old. So, in homage, here are my top favorite albums of all time. Now that it’s done, it’s weird how difficult this post became. I have a lot of favorite albums in a lot of favorite genres, so I tried to keep it simple. Most of these albums are ones that I heard that drastically changed my views on music and introduced me to that certain genre. I’ll always be thankful for that, so here are those albums.
Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon
I know…I am a ridiculous, hopeless emo kid. This album is seriously awesome though. I believe I’ve said before, “It remains the sound track to summer teenage love and broken hearts.” Jesse Lacey’s vocals and awkward yet relevant, angsty lyrics get me every time. I really do hope that the next boy that you kiss has something terribly contagious on his lips. At least I did when I was eighteen. A lot of the lyrics and themes of this album are juvenile and downright silly, but it comes off far more endearing than annoying. And hell, haven’t we all been there before? The heart-on-the-sleeve trick really works for these guys, and this album. It makes me all warm on the insides when I hear it.
Everclear – So Much for the Afterglow
Oh 90’s alternative rock, how I love thee. And this album truly epitomizes it. This power-pop, radio ready album still gets played from time to time, despite being over a decade old. Once again, the lyrics are so poignant and catchy on this album. For any kid, holed up in their bedroom, listening to this album and dreaming of far away places, Art Alexakis is just so right. Everything is perfect in that fucked up way.
Green Day – Dookie
This was the very first CD that I ever bought with my own money. I went down to Sun Electronics (remember them!?) with my brother, and he helped me make my first music purchase. I still throw on this album from time to time just for shits and giggles. It’s so funny to see what Green Day has become and the situations that lead them there. This was before the eyeliner and glitter, before the arena shows and thousands of screaming fans. Before they made that song that’s played at every graduation or talked about boulevards and broken dreams. This was pure, unadulterated Green Day.
Less Than Jake – Hello Rockview
This album makes me get all nostalgic just thinking about it. So many times I wanted to take the west bound signs and just leave town. This is the soundtrack to running away, to escapism and beginning a new life, even it it’s right where you are. This is an album of growing up, decision making, and yet a drunken, punk rock mentality all at the same time. It’s also another one of those albums that I simply adore Every. Single. Track. It was also one of the first albums that got me into the punk/ska scene and it really peaked my interest, which lead to me diving headfirst into that scene for a few years. Sometimes it’s amazing how you can look at times of your life and the music that you were listening to and just be like, “Ah, that makes sense”. This is one of those albums.
Morcheeba – Big Calm
This album is what made me love trip-hop, and Skye Edwards. It is the epitome of all that is trip-hop, even if they’re old, dirty men. It seamlessly blends electronic music with the lush female vocals of Edwards. It spurned a great love for trip-hop for me, which has only grown since then. It an endless sea of ambient beats and I love it. It’s funny, this is probably one of the very few albums that compromise this list that I don’t have some silly memory to, yet it still make it on here. Props to Morcheeba.
Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Thank you Jim Platania, wherever you are, for introducing me to these guys in high school art class. They opened my eyes to what is now known to my friends as “Amanda’s Weird Hippie Music“. They spurned a love for odd, experimental indie…rock? Is that what you would call it? They veered me the way of Modest Mouse and The Decemberists. They gave me a whole new genre to explore, and that’s always a good thing. This album reminds me of the ocean and hallucinogens. Also, always a good thing. And this video is just fucking hysterical. Thanks YouTube.
Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine
Any time you see Nine Inch Nails on a list like this, it’s always Downward Spiral. Yes, that was a magnificent album, as well, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Pretty Hate Machine. Recorded almost entirely by Trent Reznor, it’s a rip-off of so many other things yet almost something entirely new. I have to admit that Nine Inch Nails has lost their luster for me. I got out of that stage somewhere briefly after the “Perfect Drug” days, but oh, how I yearn for ’89 Trent Reznor with the dreads and the leather and all that baby powder. And Cheerios and enemas. This album was another one to introduce me to a whole new genre of music. After this I dived headfirst into this goth subculture…which honestly kind of sucks when you’re 12. There’s really not a lot of goth kids to share your eyeliner or black clothes with. Meh, perhaps I was just a revolutionary.
Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom
Who needs heroin when you have this album? It just kinda does it for you. I wonder if Mike Doughty ever knew that would be said? This was the first Soul Coughing album I heard and its lead to my incredible fascination with Mike Doughty and all that he does. They were just plain weird, experimental, trippy guys. They were doing something totally unheard of the in the 90’s. They weren’t grunge, thank god. They were such and eclectic mix of fantastic musicians doing something out of the ordinary. And you know, they’re the only ones that I can classify in a category of their own. They didn’t turn me on to anything, they didn’t alter my perception of music. They just were. And I loved them for it.
Sublime – 40 Oz. to Freedom
Yes, I started smoking a lot of pot around that time. This album still does it for me every time, though. Especially, after a long hard Pittsburgh winter, when the thermostat hits 40, I put on this album in celebration of summer. In celebration of being able to hang out outside and be in the sunshine. In celebration of no more pollution ridden snow lining the sidewalks and making the bottom of my pants gross. This was another one that didn’t turn me on to anything. It just was, and is, a fantastic album.
Tori Amos – Boys for Pele
This album was the first to alert me to the driving, vocal force that is Tori Amos. This also started a life-long love affair with female vocalists. Oh that piano. I never knew that a piano could do that! Or that a voice so large could come from someone so tiny! Many years, albums, and shows later, I still love me some Tori. She’s just such a genuine artist. She goes some weird fucking places in her music sometimes, but then you just come to realize that that’s Tori. You can’t expect any different.
As you can see, a lot of these albums are older, and that’s a great thing. Perhaps in a few years, I can do another one of these with more albums that have withstood time and still haunt my music collection from now. Who knows!?