Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ten Significant Albums for Me

I'm sort of stealing an idea from Malia Vale here. And go ahead, laugh it up at some of the albums. I'm not going to be all, "Oh, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica totally changed my life" just for some street cred. Because...have you seen that album cover? Have you heard that noise that comes out of the speakers when you play it? It makes Satan and Baby Jesus cry in unison.

1) In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
I've tried to get a several people into this album, with no luck. In fact, when I first heard it, I liked it OK, then shelved it for a year. Then I brought it back out and...boom...something connected. It's not everyone's taste. Jeff Mangum has an odd voice, and nothing about the band is in any way traditional. It's a mass of funky instruments, the lyrics are hugely obtuse (think Decemberists). But when this album finally connects and you get it, it hits you deep in your soul. I know there are people out there who have had a similar reaction to this album, because it's something of a phenomenon that it continues to sell very well for a band that is no longer together and an album that has gotten minimal publicity. But I haven't met any of those people, although I'd like to. If you're thinking of giving it a listen, listen with headphones. It's the only way!

2) Us - Peter Gabriel
I remember going through a breakup that really, really bummed me out. This album came out around the same time, and it coincidentally was also about breaking up. Synchronicity. I listened to it non-stop for about a month (especially Washing of the Water), and then I moved on. Thanks, Peter!

3) August and Everything After - Counting Crows
THE soundtrack to my senior year of college. The two will forever be tied in my mind. In fact, at my internship senior year, I worked with a guy who was a member of the Himalayans, Adam Duritz's band before they morphed into the Counting Crows. He shared a songwriting credit on "'Round Here," and he gave me a demo tape of theirs which included that song and 3 or 4 others. It broke a few years later. Sadness.

4) It's a Shame About Ray - The Lemonheads
This came out just before my sophomore year in college. I've never been any good at figuring out lyrics on my own, and if you've never looked in the disc cover, the lyrics are there - in one giant jumbled mass. They took a line from one song, then a line from another song, and so on until the whole page was filled with the lyrics. So, one night before the fall semester started, I sat down and sorted out the jumble, and now every song is permanently etched in my brain. Too bad there wasn't a class in Lyric Decoding, 'cause I would have gotten an A.

5) Thriller - Michael Jackson
My friend Andrea and I bought our cassettes on the same day. We made our moms play it whenever they shuttled us around. We both got the poster of Michael wearing the yellow sweater vest (HOTTTT), and we were under the impression he was cute. Ah, to be 8 and naive again.

6) The Wall - Pink Floyd
I'm not the biggest Pink Floyd fan, but I think this is a really great album. You can hear and feel the madness. When I got depressed, this used to be my go-to album, which really creeped my roommate Kari out. She said I was the only person she knew who liked to listen to music that actually makes you even sadder.

7) Awake is the New Sleep - Ben Lee
It's a little premature to say, but I have a feeling this is going to be the soundtrack of this time in my life right now. Making changes, learning, growing, doing things I've been wanting to do for a long time.

8) Purple Rain - Prince
When I left California, I vastly underestimated how many cassettes I would go through in 12,000 hours of cross-country driving. Especially when you're driving through places lie Ozona, Texas, and it's all country-western or sermon radio. This was the only tape I didn't get sick of, even though I listened to it approximately 400 times. Plus, it amused me to be driving through Nowhere, Texas or Alabama screaming the lyrics to "Darling Nikki." Don't they arrest you for that in some parts? (I also had "The Way We Were" in the car with me. I mean, what?)

9) Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
I know it's cliche to say this album spoke to you as a female, but guess what? This album spoke to me as a female. I felt like Tori was my pal, that she understood, she knew guys were jerks and feelings are complicated. I find her annoying now, but this album meant so much at the time.

10) Nevermind - Nirvana
The first time I was on my own and everyone left, I put on this album. No particular reason, really, but it reminds me of independence. It also reminds me how sad I was when Kurt killed himself, and how I stayed up all night that night watching MTV's coverage, in shock.