I'm one of like 3 people in the world that still buys CDs regularly. It started as a hobby in high school (about the same time that their popularity was on the wane) and I never stopped collecting them. Someday when I am old I will have to buy a separate house to fit them all in and I will sit with stacks of them surrounding me, playing them one by one. I will be found dead still clutching my copy of The Raincoats LP with a large smile on my face. Of course the song that will be playing off of it will be The Void. Or maybe The Great Beyond by REM. Both of which would make great funereal songs. But I digress. This is a list of albums that have affected me personally in some way. Or ones that I just think are really boss.
(Pictures taken from Wikipedia, thus if the sizes are a bit wonky, I apologize.)
This was the second album I ever bought (the first one was Matchbox 20's Yourself Or Someone Like You, bleck) and I listened to it so much that I almost wore the darn thing out. Almost everyone I knew was into Nu-metal bands at the time like Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit, so I couldn't find anyone to share in its snarky goodness. I really could have used some punks to hang out with. I spent many long hours, car trips, and bus rides listening to Dexter Holland rip on boy band posers, high school dreams, and 70s schlock pop and it helped me see the world as the depressing hypocritical mess it is. I still love this one, even though I've moved on to noisier and nastier punk. The artwork is great too.
Nevermind might be the album that Nirvana is most remembered for, but In Utero is their masterpiece. Trying to get rid of the lunkhead jocks and hip posers that had latched onto the band when their popularity sky rocketed, Nirvana made an album that while not as dissident and noisy as say, Sonic Youth, was still a huge turn around from the pop sheen of their million seller. Everyone wanted Kurdt to write another Smells Like Teen Spirit and he turned around and wrote Rape Me. He put a collage of fetuses on the back cover and had a man in drag on the actual CD. He put songs on it that consisted of fuzzy noise that contrasted with sad acoustic numbers. He tried everything to make an album for the outsiders, the weird kids that never could fit in, which Kurdt always felt he was. In my opinion he succeeded, even though he never felt it was good enough. To a sad lonely guy trying to make it through the Hell that was high school, it was perfect.
In Utero was the gateway that led me to all different kinds of wonderfully weird offbeat bands and Journals was (and still sort of is) my guidepost. Of all the bands I've found by scouting out songs and albums in its pages The Vaselines are my absolute favorite. In fact if it wasn't for Cobain, almost no one would have heard Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee's cheery folk songs about religion and sex (sometimes both in one song!) and that would be a damn shame. The way of contains everything the group recorded in its short life so you can fully revel in songs about Monster Pussies, H.P. Lovecraft, and Bicycle seats named Rory. It's beautiful and sick at the same time and there's nothing else like it.
I thought long and hard about what Beatles album I was going to put here. It ended up being a tie between Rubber Soul and this one, their self titled double album (commonly referred to as The White Album). To me this was The Beatles at their peak, just before they really started to split up. The band wasn't really functioning well as a band anymore at this point so what you get is really pieces of four solo albums, not that thats a bad thing, in fact here it works brilliantly. You know what, theres been so much written about The Beatles that even though I love them much more than a 4th (3rd? 5th?) generation fan should, I feel weird writing about them. Everything has already been said over and over, by much better writers than I could ever hope to be. Let me just say that I consider Julia to be the most beautiful song I've ever heard, and I wish I could write something half that wonderful and haunting. That is all.
Last one for tonight. This album was released to tie in with one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but unlike most tie-ins this has nothing to do with the movie other than the tenuous link of pirates. This is an album of modern interpretations of old sea shanties and pirate songs by a very diverse group of artists. You've got underground folkies like Baby Gramps and Three Pruned Men, rock superstars like Sting and Bono, underground rock superstars like Nick Cave and Lou Reed, even actor John C. Reilly, its such a wonderful mix of styles. While not every song is gold, the majority are well worth buying the two discs. My favorites are Jarvis Cocker doing a chugging rocked out version of A Drop of Nelson's Blood, the aforementioned John C. Reilly doing surprisingly good versions of My Son John and Fathom the Bowl, and Loudon Wainwright III's version of the incredibly dirty limerick song Good Ship Venus. Very few people will probably buy this album and folk music purists will rant and rave about how its not pure enough for them, but it has Nick Cave singing a song about Gonorrhea, so they can all suck a rusty drainpipe. Its weird and wonderful and I love it.
I'll probably do this again soon, theres so many great bands and albums I could talk about. I could write a whole post about Strong Bad Sings or the Wipers Boxset by themselves. Let me dig through my collection and get back to you. Chao for now.
Oh and I lied. My funeral song will be Jolie Holland's torch songey version of The Grey Funnel Line from the aforementioned Rouge's Gallery. If you don't play it as my casket rolls down the aisle, I will haunt you all. Seriously.