Sean inspired me to make a list of my top albums. This isn't a top albums of all time per say, because that concept of “all time” makes me think of death and freaks me out.
Rather, this list just reflects the albums that have had the most impact on my life at a given moment. They're in no particular order, and each has a memory attached for your enjoyment.
Of course, from the very start, I have to separate the band that has had THE most influence on my life thus far, and probably forever. There are certain bands that just click with you. They make you see life in a special sort of way; in a way that you rarely see and only lasts for a short period of time. A lot of people don't get this band, and a lot of people do. The point is, they may not even be that spectacular as a band, and yes there are better bands out there, but Wilco unlocked something inside of me from the very start. So in their honor, they get a separate little place here.Yankee Hotel FoxtrotSummerteethBeing ThereA Ghost is Born
The Appleseed Cast- Low Level Owl 1&2
In the Doylestown bookshop, this new and beautiful music found its way into my ears. While looking at some books on Eastern Religion, Paul informed me that this was indeed “The Appleseed Cast” and that he had their Low Level Owl Albums but they were lost somewhere. I ordered both on amazon and listened for the next six months on a regular basis. “On Reflection” was and still is, my motherfucking anthem. Every droll rum can be played on my dashboard with optimal precision.
“Blind Man’s Arrow” was supposed to be used in a movie I was writing and I still think of the scene every time I hear it: A beaten and battered ALEXANDER PALFY emerges from his trailer park to a honey brown skyline, cue opening credits.
“View of a Burning City” will be playing loudly when the world ends.Funeral
A cold, icy trip to Barnes and Noble. Their was a small amount of buzz around this new Canadian band who made an album amidst death and winter in Montreal. Sounded fascinating. An overweight B&N specialist lead me to the “A’s” in the rock section, and no Arcade Fire was found. After searching frantically through ALL the letters, there it was- a slim little paper case tucked away in the “G’s.” I remember listening to this album so much, I even brought it in the bathroom with me. In fact, I specifically remember taking a poo and listening to ‘Crown of Love’ when it dawned on me that this was something remarkable (the album, not my poo). The Beatles
A long car ride to a funeral for a co-worker’s wife made for my first listening experience of the white album. I couldn’t help humming “I’m so Tired” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” at the ceremony. How could I sing Catholic Hymns like “Ave Maria” and “Lonely Shepherd” when “Mother Nature’s Son” seemed so much more appropriate? You heard it hear, “Long,Long,Long” is playing at my funeral. Odelay
I always felt like the coolest motherfucker on the planet when I listened to this one. I’d push my black Jetta to the max, blast “Sissyneck,” and expect everybody to give a shit.
As a few of you know, I was buried alive to the tune of “Ramshackle” and emerged from the ashes with “Jack-Ass” in the limelight. Demolition
Starting smoking Parliament Lights, quit smoking Parliament Lights, started smoking Camel Lights, fell in love, didn’t work out, quit my job at Target, and found Jesus.
“Dear Chicago,” and “Hallelujah” helped so, so much.Keep It Together
My warm little break-up album. The fall air had a smell that will never be recreated. Along open expanses of air and sky, I sang “In your red balloon you were a super high tech jet fighter, floating over planet earth, come back down here I’ll show you where it hurts.” I sang that shit like I wrote it. “Jesus on the Radio” spawned an eternal love for banjo.Summer Sun
If you ever have the opportunity to drive to Tampa Bay with your parents during the Christmas season, please take the opportunity to listen to Summer Sun the ENTIRE time. This is still the very best Yo La Tengo album, without question. Palm trees dressed in big tacky bulbs, a choppy Gulf of Mexico, and stolen Paul Mall cigarettes to the tune of “Beach Party Tonight.” Go listen and imagine.On the Beach
“She sat for some time, fixed and still, legs folded, hands cupped- a Bloomingdale Buddah on a Wednesday afternoon. A cold wind blows while she rolls her eyes and attaches her rhinestone flecked denim jacket. I stare at her, trying to make eye contact as if a recpriocated stare would fill the space between us. She glances over with thin razors for eyes and I know in her head she’s telling me to “fuck off.” So I do, and turn my attention to an old Neil Young song and a book of poems.” That about sums it up for this one.Dark Side of the Moon
I was in third grade doing homework, reading something about Native Americans, Ancient Egypt, or some other worthless historical tidbit. Dark Side of the Moon kept me company on my giant RCA portable CD player. I still remember my imagination running wild as I fell asleep to “Brain Damage.”
Later on in life, around the time I was 16, 18, and actually pretty recently, I would have the stereotypical smoke sessions to Dark Side of the Moon. A few times we’d get so stoned, that we would throw my friend Josh’s personal belongings out his third story window and watch them smash on the concrete below. A dozen eggs and potted plants meeting the pavement to “Eclipse” is something to behold. Stankonia
Another CD to smoke to. Most of the time, we couldn’t even feel our faces. Josh always knew all the words, and I would just giggle in a corner with the strobe light near my face. We always played it straight through in order, so there are certain milestones we’d reach. For example, by the time “Kim //& cookie (Interlude)” played, we’d be deep into some philosophical conversation that we’d forget we were even listening to Outkast. All of a sudden these black bitches are talking shit in our living room and we’re all freaked out.
I’m almost positive I lost my virginity to “Humble Mumble.” Elephant
The climatic White Stripes album. An album that went perfectly with unabashed, uncaring, vainglorious youth. One time I was playing “Ball & Biscuit” at ungodly levels through town and some skinny bearded bald man gave me a strange look. It was right around the killer guitar solo about 5 mins in, and I remember wanting to point at him and yell, “this is me being young, motherfucker! Go back to your J. Crew cave.” I just beeped at him instead, but he got the message.
I always got air on the bumps of Old New Road while listening to “Girl You Have No Faith in Medicine.”Pneumonia
The three-year bedtime album. I never identified with a song I had so little to identify with as I did (and do) in “Jacksonville Skyline.” Kid A
At the peak of my mono I was feverish, comatose, and delusional. Probably not a good idea to play Kid A on repeat. I remember having visions of that vampire episode of “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” when the song “Kid A” first came on. I’m still a little freaked out when I hear that song. Nonetheless, this is and probably always will be my favorite Radiohead album. Me and Jill would always blast “Optimistic,” doob tube and smiles abound. Weezer
What a great summer I had when I first heard the Weezer album. So young, so free, so fucking nostalgic I AM! But really, it was youth at its finest- first love, first kiss, first cig, first drunk, first theft at CD UNIVERSE. The Essential Bob Dylan
I felt very mature when I first listened to Dylan. I was kind of proud or something, like I was some kind of connoisseur or learned audiophile. I cleaned my room one April in Saturday and listened to this double disc for four hours. A great introduction to Dylan. “Maggie’s Farm,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” were favorites at the time. Chronicle, Vol. 1
This greatest hits album has been playing since I was an infant. My dad would always play “Down on the Corner” on our weekend trips to pick up my brother.
A few summers ago my dad won close to 40 grand playing the Pennsylvania Lottery. I was in desperate need for money at the time and didn’t know if I was going to be able to afford the transition from BCC to a real college. Problem solved.
Along with helping me out for college, my parents gave me $2000 to buy a new laptop and get clothes and what not. The first thing I bought was this Creedence CD along with a knock off pair of Dylan’s 1965 Ray-Bans and a blues harp harmonica in the key of C. I would play the shit out of that thing while listening to Creedance and Dylan. I felt like a millionaire.Tepid Peppermint Wonderland
The very first album to grace the walls of my apartment. I was finally free to do whatever the fuck I wanted and all I wanted to do the first day was drink a six pack all by myself in a room devoid of furniture and play The Brian Jonestown Massacre as loud as possible. “Servo,” “Straight Up and Down,” and “Anenome” were my drugs.
If you haven’t seen the movie Digg!, please let me know and I will let you borrow it, even if it means airmailing it to Sweden. A Rush of Blood to the Head
That’s right, Coldplay motherfucker. Before they sold out to the Totebag wielding Starbucks sipping, yacht riding contemporary adult listening demographic, and married iced vagina actresses, Coldplay knew how to make great music. “Amsterdam,” and “Politik” helped me cope with whatever self-inflicted bullshit I was putting myself through at the time. Fire Theft
One of four albums I bought for my first trip to Montreal and the first album I loaded into my ipod! I took my ipod everywhere and listened to the Firetheft like it was the only album I owned. It’s a great CD if you haven’t heard it. I enjoy “Sinatra,” “Chain,” “Backwards Blues,” “Waste Time Segue,” and “Uncle Mountain.”Transatlanticism
The second of four albums I bought for my first trip to Montreal. Perhaps one of the most memorable times I’ve ever had in my life. You’ll read about it someday, I promise.
Anyway, I kept trying to play this CD in the car but Josh kept requesting lame shit that I’ve heard a million times like Led Zepplin and Sublime. I had to play it when he was asleep, which was good because it goes well with quiet mountains.
My Morning Jacket- At Dawn
This album is right up there with my boner for Wilco. I first heard “At Dawn” at dawn, which was pretty fucking amazing. I was in Montreal (third of four albums I bought for the trip) grabbing some coffee at six in the morning. I was up high near Mt. Royal and had a great view of the entire city. The whole place felt so strange and beautiful- strange people, strange smells and the sky seemed to stretch on for miles.
I also used to play this on the way back from Y100 with Jen. We were starting to really like each other and I’m pretty sure it was me introducing her to this album that fed her infatuation.
The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The first time you hear the Flaming Lips, they sound so strange and intriguing. I remember me and Steve taking hits from the gravity bong when he played this for me. “Fight Test” made so much sense! “I’m a man not a boy, there are things you can’t avoid, you have to face them.” So true man, so true. “Do You Realize” is one of the most beautiful songs around. Europe 72
I like the Grateful Dead, and I think a lot of people would really appreciate their music if they heard this album. It’s one of the best live CD’s I’ve heard, the quality and content is just amazing. I remember blarring “China Cat Sunflower” through town and just happened to drive by a whole mass of tie-dyed Dead Heads. They were all cheering and singing along to the music. It was a great feeling and I felt like Jack Kerouac or some shit.Return to the Sea
I must have played this CD a thousand times at Anthony & Sylvan last year. As Paul already knows, I cried listening to “Swans(Life after death).” It was my first day of work and I stopped to get an energy drink at the Indian store. I grabbed a scratch-off ticket, “cash cow” I think it was, and went back to my car to drink my drink. While “Swans” was playing, I scratched this little ticket off and won $100. I felt so good, and the moment was so pure that I fucking had tears in my eyes.
When we went to see Islands, the singer came down into the crowd to greet us. We walked over and right away Paul screams, “This guy cried while listening to Swans!” I shook his hand and he kind of avoided eye contact and walked away.Demon Days
A great summer album. Every song is listenable and has a high replay value (GamePro slang). Masterfully produced with great beats and lyrics as well. I love the apocalyptic theme and everything else about the album. “Kids with Guns,” “Last Living Souls,” and “O Green World,” are so conscious of what’s going on AND you can dance to them! “Demon Days” is also a great song; very spiritual. By The Way
Reminds me of the special little beach trip I took. Pretty much played this album non-stop the summer it came out, and I still listen to it all the time. I think it’s some of the best RHCP. It’s very unique and is filled with hooks. “Cabron,” “Minor Thing,” “Venice Queen,” and “Dosed” are stand out tracks. I like that the album is mainly about California without shoving it in your face like some of the other RHCP albums. Like instead of “Dani California,” we have “Venice Queen,” which is obviously about a woman from Venice Beach, CA, but is more subtle in its approach.The Velvet Underground
I’m still confused as to why The Velvet Underground doesn’t get any radio play. Not that radio matters anymore, but why can’t B101 play “What Goes On” instead of playing “Tiny Dancer” for the fifth time that day? This album is filled with cool shit like a few songs about heroin; a stream of consciousness poetry jam with an insane little organ (the murder mystery); a song about losing yourself and your mind, presumably while on drugs (I’m Set Free); and a loving little song about Jesus (Jesus). I’m actually not surprised as to why the VU don’t get radio play (although they should). Chutes Too Narrow
Long before Garden State and all the gayness that came with it, I was listening to The Shins on WinAmp. That’s right, I’m the first one who EVER listened to the Shins. But whatever, I love this album, it’s so loving and catchy and poppy and fucking great. “Pink Bullets” is where it’s at.Seven Swans
Thanks Paul for introducing me to this album (and Sufjan in general). I remember being completely stoned driving home with you from Geoff’s when you played “All the Trees Will Clap Their Hands.” When I first heard that song, I remember thinking how it was probably the most beautiful song I had ever heard. This album is just so damn good, and so pure. It made me want to do good things, be a better person, and get a lil’ spiritual up in this world. Anyone who can make a Christian themed album without sounding like a douche has my complete respect and devotion. “To Be Alone With You,” and “The Transfiguration” are also favorites. The Cold Vein
My all-time favorite hip-hop album.
For the first time in my life I felt the pain and struggle of inner city black people. The album has a great concept, mixing futuristic imagery such as robots and mechanical societies, with the cold, gritty indifference of city life. Pure genius. It always seemed to be raining or cloudy when I listened to this album, which made it all the better. We spent lots of time listening to this one and trying to freestyle to its classic rhythms. Every track is spectacular, but I really love “Pigeon,” “Scream Phoenix,” “ A B-Boy’s Alpha,” and “Iron Galaxy.” You Forgot It In People
Regardless of popular opinion, it was I who introduced Broken Social Scene into the mainstream conscious, NOT Pitchfork media. I was seriously listening to this album back when you could barely find it on amazon and it had the blue cover. But whatever, who cares. I really enjoy BSS, but none of their other albums come close to this one. “Lover’s Spit” made me look at the world in a different light, if only for a short ride home in rush hour traffic. “Pacific Theme” puts me at ease and “Stars and Sons,” “Looks Just Like the Sun,” and “Cause=Time” are unmatched.