This challenge has been doing its rounds on the internet, but the first person I follow that did it recently was Welshtroll. Me and Mr. Troll actually have fairly similar taste in music, but I was able to not double up on albums that he already picked. These albums are supposed to be influential, and for the most part they all were, which I’ll describe as I get into the list. I didn’t have too much trouble narrowing down this list, but I could have easily made a list of 30 or more. These aren’t representative of my favorite albums of all time, more a history of how my tastes have changed over the years. I’m also going in a chronological order of sorts, so don’t take the numbered list as a ranking system. With all that said, let’s get on to the list:
Somehow or another my musical interest started off with gangster rap. I think it was a combination of being sick of hearing the classic rock my parents listened to, and also trying to rebel against what they wanted for me. This was the far end of the spectrum. There were many other artists and albums that I enjoyed during this era of the 90’s, but Doggystyle stands out as being one that still sticks with me today. I love nearly every track, and still know all of the lyrics. You all love Gin & Juice too, you’re just afraid to admit it!
2. Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers (1991)
This album is my personal favorite from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also one of the first CDs I ever purchased. If I recall correctly, I bought this and Green Day’s “Dookie” on the same trip to the record store, though the latter album was the only good one that band ever did. Before this, I was buying tapes still, and listening to them on my walkman primarily. My parents were adamant that I shouldn’t be listening to that gangster rap, and this was my attempt at getting into other things. My love of rap would continue for many years after the fact, but I did at least get into some mainstream rock at this point.
As I said, my love of rap didn’t diminish for quite some time. I was still in high school when this bad boy dropped, and I wasn’t really a fan of Eminem before his second album. The first was a little too quirky, though I grew to appreciate it later on. This album was so raw and truly showed the lyrical power of Eminem. I felt it was a landmark album because he was able to prove that you didn’t necessarily have to fall into racial stereotypes to be good at something. It helped that he was also on Dr. Dre’s label and guest spotted on many of his tracks, but I was still impressed that a white guy was able to do this and be respected by more than just white guys. This was also about the time that my enjoyment of the genre started to diminish.
It was a few years after it released, but while I was in high school in the late 90’s I met one of my best friends, who would introduce me to Nine Inch Nails. It turns out I had heard “Closer” a time or two on the radio, but didn’t know much about NiN otherwise. He had me listen to “Pretty Hate Machine” and “Broken” along with this album, and I was hooked. I can admit that I never really got into Industrial much outside of this band, but damn I love nearly everything Trent Reznor has done (including How to Destroy Angels and his Soundtrack work). This album actually isn’t my favorite from the band, I’m probably more partial to “The Fragile” and later work, but it’s the era that started my love for electronic music.
Sadly, this was the last RATM album. I was a fan long before this album, as they actually helped bridge the gap between rap and rock for me, and probably many others. All of their albums are great, and though I didn’t really get the politically charged nature of the band, I couldn’t help but be attracted to the rhythms and the vocal stylings. This album was influential for me, because it was a cover album and introduced me to some other acts that I had never heard of before. It’s also single handedly responsible for getting me into punk rock, as they covered a song by Minor Threat called “In Your Eyes.”
It wasn’t long before I tracked this record down, because “In Your Eyes” was such a great song and I needed to hear more. At first, it was hard to get into. Minor Threat was a band around the time I was born, and had broken up long before I started really listening to music. Hell, this compilation disc released when I was six. Obviously the production values weren’t the same in the 80’s, especially for an underground band, so it was hard to hear the intricacies of the music, but after repeated listening, I fell in love. They are still one of my favorite early punk rock bands, besides the Misfits. This is their complete works, and it’s still a rather short CD, but as a former punk band member, I can attest that a lot of work can go into those handfuls of songs.
I was introduced to AFI right around the same time that I was getting heavily into Punk. The first album I heard was “The Art of Drowning,” which actually came out after this one in 2000. My girlfriend’s friend had just picked it up and was obsessed with the song “Morning Star,” which is slow and not that great of a first song to hear from a band. I immediately wrote them off, but my best friend at the time ended up digging deeper, and showed me some of their older work. Turns out they started as a punk band, and evolved over the years. Black Sails is my favorite album, though probably tied with “Shut Your Mouth and Open Your Eyes,” the album just before it. This is the sound I loved most from the band, when there was faster tempos, more screaming, and better lyrics.
Right around this period, Nick 13, the singer for Tiger Army, did some cameo appearances on AFI albums, and as such I got curious about him. That lead me to his own project, Tiger Army. Labeled as a “Psychobilly” band, Tiger Army was similar to AFI, but different enough to intrigue me. Turns out it’s a mixture of Rockabilly, Country and Punk Rock, and in the end that basically means punk music with stand-up bass, and maybe more singing than screaming. There are some songs that have that country feel as well, but in a way that I can tolerate. This album was influential for introducing me to the genre, though this band is still my favorite that falls under the label. It’s a shame they only released four albums and have been MIA since 2007 (Nick 13 has done some country solo albums though — yuck).
During the early 2000’s I went through a bunch of different phases. Early adulthood will do that to you. Besides delving heavily into Punk, dipping into Psychobilly and keeping up with old loves Rock and Rap, I also got into some Post-Punk. I never labeled it as such, but that seemed to be the state of the times. Punk wasn’t really alive anymore in the sense of punk from the 80’s, it was mostly bands like NOFX, The Offspring, Pennywise, and Guttermouth that were just rehashing old ideas and kind of boring the shit out of me (I still love those bands though, btw). This new crop of bands were getting their start, and had the feel of punk but different ideas about how that should translate into music. Thrice was one of the bands that I fell in love with. “Emo” started taking off right around the same time, and I also enjoyed some of those types of bands as well (Senses Fail, My Chemical Romance, I Am Ghost, others). It was a short lived phase, but one that was influential for a time nonetheless.
Coheed & Cambria are still one of my favorite bands of all time. They came out during this era of change of the musical landscape and my own coming into adulthood. At first listen I actually thought the singer was a girl, but it turns out that Claudio Sanchez just has the pipes to hit the high notes. Listening to it now it’s more clear to me, but I was used to gruff male vocalists I guess. Coheed did something different in that the entirety of the band’s catalog is based off of a comic book series that the singer created. His lyrics and music are set to that story, so at times it feels like a regular ol’ rock song, and other times you’re wondering what the hell he’s talking about. I did buy some of the comics though, and that helps you to understand the lyrics, but I feel it can be enjoyed without that understanding. Coheed really revitalized my enjoyment of rock, and their later albums feel more like rock of the past. This was the first band I listened to that could be labeled “Progressive.”
I remember the first time I heard this band. I was in my roommate’s room, and he was watching Fuse, which was a newer music channel that still played music videos (what a concept!). “Unholy Confessions” was on, and I was mesmerized. This band was a harder version of AFI. I was still in love with that type of band, and these guys were metal as fuck. I had already started to enjoy a more hardcore type of music, but I give this album credit for making me into the metal-head I am today. Their album previous to this one was actually harder, and I loved it as well, but unfortunately this band kind of fell off. Rather than becoming more extreme, they decided to go the other way, and ended up being more Cock Rock than anything. I still have most of their albums and can appreciate them on various levels, I’m not as impressed by their newer stuff. Still, credit where it’s due and all that.
2006 was basically the year that I let go of most other types of music. I’d still buy albums from bands I had already followed, but I really dove headfirst into being a metal-head. Unearth was one of the first of these bands that I really got into, but others like Hatebreed, The Human Abstract, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, and many more saw a steady rotation. This was a period of time that I really had nothing in common with my friends, they mostly didn’t care for metal, and I went off to do my own thing. Unearth is considered “Metal-Core” in that they are sort of a traditional Metal meets Hardcore kind of sound. The singer screams but it’s more intelligible than some more extreme acts. I still love their old stuff, but I grew away from them as I got into harder stuff.
Chimaira became one of my favorite bands around 2007. When I heard “Resurrection” I was hooked. I immediately dove into their back catalog and was pleasantly surprised that all of their albums were fantastic. Typically a band either gets better or worse as time goes on, but Chimaira is in rare form, as they have changed but it’s never been better or worse, it’s just been their style and I love it. I feel like the singer is still rather easy to understand compared to some, but they have a gritty sound that never fails to excite. I also love the fact that they have a synth guy who adds layers to the songs that can’t be done without. This album in particular is great from start to finish.
I heard TBDM a time or two before this album released, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. When Nocturnal released, it was at the right time, and I loved it. TBDM is unique in that they mix various styles of metal in their records. Trevor Strnad is an amazing vocalist who can conjure Black Metal screams (raspy, higher pitched) with Death Metal growls (low pitched, guttural). The musical styling is distinctly Death Metal, but overall they are a mishmash of different sounds, and that’s part of the reason they’re one of my favorite bands to this day. I can also appreciate much of the lyrical content, being an atheist. I’ll leave that bit to your imagination. They are another rare band in which I can say I enjoy every last song they’ve ever produced. Some more than others, but it’s unusual to be able to say that.
I had sort of a rendezvous with rap in the early 2010’s. I was dating a girl who primarily listened to the genre, and I hadn’t touched it in so long that I didn’t really know what was out there. At some point, I discovered Yelawolf, one of the few white rappers out there. It’s no surprise that he and Mr. Slim Shady (Eminem) would connect eventually, and they did on his first official release (this and everything else is considered a mix tape). Yelawolf is similar to Eminem for more reasons than being white, but he hails from a part of the country you wouldn’t expect a rapper to come from – Alabama. I can relate to him more though, considering where I grew up, and he raps about things that I care more about, rather than “pimping” and “capping fools.” I also love the way he raps, being able to string words together so quick that it takes a listen or two to figure out what the hell he just said.
So there you have it, 15 albums that have influenced me throughout the years. Since I haven’t seen too many bloggers take part in this challenge, I’m going to tag a few people in hopes that they might:
#lists #music #community