Friday, February 20, 2009

The Weekend Music Game: The Album Edition

There's a meme going around Facebook that I thought I would steal and use here for the latest edition of the Weekend Music Game. And you don't need your music player for this one, unless, like me, it helps jog your memory.

List 25 (or 5 or 10...I don't really care...whatever you have time for) albums that you would consider to be life changing in some way or form. The albums that stick with you and you never get tired of. Maybe they meant something to you at a particular time in your life, or in most cases for me, they changed the way you think about music. I know that my list certainly won't be exhaustive, but this exercise gives you insight into who I am, and might also give you some ideas of music to check out.

So here's my list, in no particular order:

1. U2 - Boy - Not my favorite U2 album, but their first one and the one that got me hooked. Still love listening to this. Amazing how well it stands up nearly three decades later. I could probably pick a handful of albums from U2 that were important to me.

2. 16 Horsepower - Low Estate - this album introduced me to the band and is still my favorite. Solid, minor key, apocalyptic rock from David Eugene Edwards. Now I love all his stuff.

3. Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary - From first listen I was hooked and now I can't get enough of anything that Jeremy Enigk records.

4. The Fire Theft - The Fire Theft - speaking of Jeremy Enigk, this is a post-SDRE project that is just an amazingly listenable album. 

5. The Clash - London Calling - one of my favorite albums of all-time. These guys showed that you can be punk and be relevant, all the while producing melodic rock with attitude.

6. Mark Heard - Second Hand - Hard to narrow down my choices here, but Heard was a genius. So sad that he left us "All Too Soon." His influence opened me up to a whole world of new artists.

7. Vigilantes of Love - The Killing Floor - speaking of Heard, he co-produced this album (with Peter Buck of R.E.M), which is why I checked this out in the first place. Folk-punk with a southern gothic flair. Still my favorite album from a band that was my favorite band at one time.

8. Dire Straits - Communique - This album is passed over by many, but I love the seriously laid back, mellow sound of this disc. And some seriously great songwriting.

9. Bruce Cockburn - Humans - I discovered Cockburn a few years before this album, but this one really struck a chord. Came at an important time in my life while I was in college. I still think this is his best effort; great songwriting and mostly acoustic, right before he started going a bit more electric. I'm not sure I've heard another album with lyrics that touch me as deeply.

10. Tonio K. - Rome Unchained - Not many people know this guy, but his music is amazing. This is a collection of some of the most witty and biting love songs, and all very catchy and singable.

11. Andy Pratt - Motives - I discovered this guy/album while listening to my college radio station. The first time I heard it I was sucked in. Quirky piano pop with some great songwriting. I think he was at the top of his game on this one.

12. T-Bone Burnett - Proof Thru the Night - First discovered T-Bone when he was with the Alpha Band. This is my favorite of his solo albums, and he proves that he is a brilliant storyteller. 

13. Johnny Cash - American Recordings - I'm cheating here, because this is actually several albums, but I'd never really given Cash a chance until I heard this series of discs. I saw him in a whole new light and then went back and listened to his entire catalog. Wow.

14.  The Violet Burning - The Violet Burning - Dark and dreamy with lots of guitars. Another album that just sucked me in from the first song. 

15. Victoria Williams - Loose - For many, Vic's voice is an acquired taste, but I love it. And the cast she surrounded herself with for this album is amazing. I need to pull this one out more often.

16. R.E.M. - Document
17. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
18. Yes - Fragile
19. Joe Jackson - Look Sharp!
20. The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
21. Moby - Play
22. MuteMath - MuteMath
23. The Spirit That Guides Us - The Sand, The Barrier
24. Kelly Wingate - Are You Sleeping, Love?
25. Sufjan Stevens - Come On, Feel the Illinoise
26. Leslie/Sam Phillips - The Turning
27. Pedro the Lion - Control

And I could go on and on....

Post your list here. Feel free to tell us a little bit about some (or all) of them. And have fun!


James Byers said...

Pete Yorn - Music For The Morning After
Toad The Wet Sprocket - Dulcinea
Sixpence None The Richer - Self Titled
Counting Crows - Recovering the Satellites
Michael Roe - Safe As Milk (Uncurlded Version)
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
Sufjan Stevens Illinois
Vigilantes of Love - Blister Soul
Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?

Mandy Fleisher said...

Wow... here goes...

1. August and Everything After - the Counting Crows. This was the first album I ever purchased for myself (with allowance money). Obviously I had heard Mr. Jones on the radio and wanted to learn more, but I was blown away by the overall album. I still go back to this one every now and again. It has a timeless quality for me.

2. Blood on the Tracks - Bob Dylan. I was never going to be able to make this list without at least one Dylan album... the hard part was choosing which one. I really took the time to sit and listen to this one shortly after my 21st birthday. Dylan hits a depth of insight into human nature with this album that I've never heard elsewhere. From falling in love, to visceral heartbreak to those brief affairs that shape us, this album gets it right.

3. A Love Supreme - John Coltrane. This album has 3 tracks and it's just over a half hour long. And brilliant from top to bottom. Coltrane proves that you don't always need words to express your point.

4. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand. When I first heard this album in early/mid '04 (thanks to Virgin Radio UK), I referred to it as "musical cocaine." I listened to it constantly.

5. Kid A - Radiohead. Though I've said that OK Computer is their best album, Kid A had the most profound effect on me. They manage to bend sound to the point of breaking it, and still create brilliant aesthetics. Greenwood even built a guitar to make the sound on tracks 4 and 5.

6. Illadelph Halflife - The Roots. I won't pretend to know a lot about hip-hop, or even be the world's biggest fan. But the Roots are in a class of their own, and taught me a lot about how similar two completely different kinds of music can be.

7. ( ) - Sigur Ros. This album is amazing. If you haven't heard it, stop what you're doing immediately and go and listen.

8. White Blood Cells - The White Stripes. I'm pretty sure I could play the drums as well as Meg White, but Jack White's guitar, voice and lyrics could turn anything into genius. And Meg's drumming definitely gives their sound a unique quality.

9. Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan. From the movie High Fidelity: "What?! Don't tell anybody you don't own f-ing Blonde on Blonde... it's going to be ok now."

10. The Crane Wife - the Decemberists. The first time I heard the Decemberists I didn't like them. At all. And then two years went by and I realized they were one of my favorite bands of all time - because of this album.

And some others...

11. Whatever and Ever Amen - Ben Folds Five
12. Live at Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
13. Abbey Road - the Beatles
14. The Four Seasons - Antonio Vivaldi
15. Grace - Jeff Buckley
16. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - the Flaming Lips
17. Employment - the Kaiser Chiefs
18. Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay
19. Graceland - Paul Simon
20. Birth of the Cool - Miles Davis
21. Definitely Maybe - Oasis
22. Document - R.E.M.
23. Wildflowers - Tom Petty
24. The Queen is Dead - The Smiths
25. The Man Who - Travis

Justin said...

Idlewild The Remote Part I love this band and I love this album because this is where they finally put it all together. 100 Broken Windows was great, but this felt like the first time Idlewild really sat down to make a full album.
Bayside Bayside This album is in no way musically significant, but I love it. I love every stupid angsty part of it. I think Bayside does their kind of music better than anyone and this album is the perfect example of that.
Dave Matthews Band Under The Table and Dreaming I know it's not cool to like Dave Matthews anymore, but no album has affected my life more. My parents bought this album for me for Christmas and I fell completely in love with it. I think this is one of DMB's two most honest albums (Before These Crowded Streets being the other)
Death Cab for Cutie Plans The album that got me into Death Cab. Great top to bottom.
Dispatch Gut the Van This live album is THE soundtrack to my four years at Penn State. Especially my sophomore year.
Elliot Smith Either/Or This album needs very little explanation. I don't understand how anyone could not like it.
Paul Simon There Goes Rhymin' Simon Paul Simon has done more to define my musical taste than anyone. I could have picked any of his albums but this one covers the most ground.
Ben Folds Songs for Silverman I don't know why, but this is the Ben Folds album that resonates with me. People rarely seem to agree.
Guster Goldfly Guster's first and best. I like them as a pop band, but this was more than a pop record.
Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain This album was so much different than what everyone else was doing at the time. Completely blew my mind the first time I heard it.
Van Morrison Veedon Fleece This is the album that taught me to listen to music that I liked rather than music that other people said I should like. Completely epic.
Traveling Wilburys Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 This album always makes me think of my dad. He loves it. So do I.
Pearl Jam Ten There is nothing more annoying than arguing with Pearl Jam fans about which album is their best. This album got me into the band so to me, it's the most important. Black is one of the most gutwrenching songs I've ever heard.
Oasis (What's The Story) Morning Glory My family is English and we were over there not long after this dropped. It was unfathomably huge. A perfect British rock album. Hell, a perfect rock album period.
Modest Mouse The Moon & Antarctica I rotate through Modest Mouse albums all the time. In the end, people have convinced me that this is their best. See, I have an open mind.
Keane Hopes and Fears This album always makes me think of rain and I still listen to to it on most rainy days. God knows why? said...

In chronological order, in terms of how I experienced them and when they were life-defining for me. As I look over this list, I think it captures the arc of my life so far surprisingly well.

White Heart, Don't Wait for the Movie
Michael W. Smith, The Big Picture
Glad, The Acapella Project
Amy Grant, Lead Me On
Steven Curtis Chapman, The Great Adventure
King's X, Dogman
Undercover, Devotion
Various, Brow Beat: Alternative Unplugged. Haunting material from The Choir, Poor Old Lu, Michael Knott, Terry Taylor, Dig Hay Zoose, The Throes, Lost Dogs, Mortal, LSU, Undercover, and Adam Again
U2, The Joshua Tree
Pearl Jam, Vs.
Led Zeppelin, Zoso
Third Eye Blind, self titled
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Counting Crows, Across a Wire
Pearl Jam, Live On Two Legs
Sixpence None The Richer, This Beautiful Mess
Bruce Springsteen, The Rising
Johnny Cash, American IV
Neil Young, Greendale
Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3. "Blind Willie McTell" alone is life-altering.
Radiohead, Hail to the Thief
Sam Phillips, A Boot and a Shoe
Rilo Kiley, More Adventurous
Nas, Illmatic
Fleet Foxes, Self Titled

Wendy Edsall-Kerwin said...

U2 - Zooropa really speaks to a certain time in my life hope & despair all rolled into one package

Toad the Wet Sprocket - Dulcinea This one is probably my fav of theirs, but each of the albums speaks to me in different ways

Alice in Chains - Dirt just a superb album

Led Zep III - a wonderful mix of all their best styles, hard driving like the Immigrant song, traditional like Gallow's Road, dreamy like Tangerine

Pearl Jam - 10 Each song on this great and pulls the emotions out you have to sing it out loud

Soundgarden - Bad Motor Finger easily their best album

Kristen Hirsh - Hips and Makers she's such a brilliant songwriter

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace I just can't stop listening to this since I got it last year, i mean over and over again, it speaks to me that much

Pogues - Essential the name says it all

Sonic Youth - Dirty I love so much of their music, but this album is great and listenable the whole way through, even if you have a headache (unlike some of their other albums...)

I can't help but realize that I'm kind of stuck in the 90s after looking at this list (OK I did know that before) But you wanted albums that stood the test of time...

teamccloud said...

Taking after Daniel Klotz's chronological order of things:

1. On the Fritz, Steve Taylor -- I listened to Christian music almost exclusively in high school, and nothing was hipper and better than Steve Taylor. And no one else in the Christian mainstream would dare to expose and antagonize Christianity's sacred cows.

2. U2, Joshua Tree -- I had heard of U2 because of their Christian connections before JT, but this was the first U2 album I owned. These days I tend to skip the first three songs because I like the live versions better (as I've written before, "Where the Streets Have No Name" brings me to tears when I hear it), but JT is a near-perfect album from the Best Band in the World.

3. Bob Bennett, Matters of the Heart. I was an exchange student in Holland in '86-87 when a friend gave me a cassette with this taped on one side and a Phil Keaggy album on the other. I had taken just 10 cassettes and my Walkman with me, and by the time I got the Bennett tape I was longing for something different to listen to. Matters of the Heart fit the bill. I knew then that the songwriting was stellar, but it wasn't until I listened to it about three years ago that I realized how pointed and poignant it was.

4. Chase the Kangaroo, The Choir -- I don't remember how I got turned on to The Choir except that I remember listening to a demo album in a Christian bookstore and loving it. This solidified my evolution into music that explores faith without being worship tunes. Plus, it was great '80s alternative music, regardless that it just in the Christian market.

5. Lead Me On, Amy Grant -- Although I had begun to listen to more alternative Christian music by now, I found this Amy Grant album amazing even as college student. When I listened to the remastered version a few months ago, the poignancy of the songwriting hit home on a number of songs now that I am a dad and have a few years on me. One of Christian music's best albums ever.

6. Achtung, Baby, U2 -- This album marked such a stylistic change for the band, and it was kind of tough to adjust to. But at its heart and core, it is still U2.

7. Welcome to Struggleville, Vigilantes of Love -- Through college and the early and mid '90s, I did a lot of soul-searching and questioning. I guess you could say that "I've been trying to negotiate peace/ With my own existence." There were also many times that I felt as if I was walking "a dead-end path in a dry cornfield." Even in the midst of this, I found hope in the music, even if Mallonee turned me off later.

8. The Charity of Night, Bruce Cockburn -- I discovered a Cockburn album in the bins at my local Christian bookstore and got hooked. This album represents the one that changed my life, so to speak, because of its illustration and recogntion that "I wear my shadows where they're harder to see/ But they follow me everywhere/ I guess that should tell me that I'm travelling toward light."

9. U2 Go Home, Live from Slane Castle -- As I mentioned above, the live versions of U2's music have bowled me over recently, in particular the versions on this double CD. There are weeks when this is all I listen to on the drive to and from work.

I think I will end it here. I was going to add The Trumpet Child by Over the Rhine as my 10th album, but I can't say that it's life-changing. It's a great album, and ranks among my favorites, but I don't think I'd be completely honest that it ranks as life-changing.

Others that hold a special place (in no particular order):

The Turning, Leslie Phillips
Dry Bones Dance, Mark Heard
Darn Floor - Big Bite, DA (Daniel Amos)
Sticks and Stones, The 77s
10 Songs, Adam Again
Dig, Adam Again
Films for Radio, Over the Rhine
Notes From the Lost Civilization, Tonio K.
Nothing But a Burning Light, Bruce Cockburn
Circle Slide, The Choir
Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, King's X
Automatic for the People, REM

Jonathan said...

1. Pearl Jam - Ten: My first taste of "alternative" music. Still one of my favs. Can't wait for the reissue.

2. U2 - Rattle and Hum: I really like the sound of this album and the power of Bullet the Blue Sky.

3. Rhythyms Del Mundo: These songs performed by Coldplay, U2, and more with their Latin sounds is just amazing!

4. Built To Spill - Keep it like a secret: This album was a whole new sound for me. Reminds me of my road trip across the US.

5. Fugazi - 13 Songs: This album is just so full of energy. It's a real pick-me-up.

6. INXS - Kick: This was my middle school days. Love the sound of this album!

7. Ministry - The Mind is a Terrible to Taste: One of my first introductions to industrial music. Still love this from time to time.

8. Nine Inch Nail - Pretty Hate Machine: MY all-time favorite from Trent.

9. Nada Surf - High-Low: Just a nice melodic album to get me through the day.

10. Radiohead - Pablo Honey: I love this album on cold Spring days.

11. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mothers Milk: This takes me way back. The sound of this album is so raw compared to their newer albums. The lyrics are so much different. Taste the Pain, Higher Ground, and Knock Me Down are just awesome songs.

12. Thievery Corporation - The Mirror Conspiracy: Thievery Corporation remains to be one of my favorite chill out bands and this album is perfect for that.

13. Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman: I was first introduced to Underworld back around 2000. Their music always mesmerizes me and this album is great to design to!

14. Vanessa da Mata - Sim: This album is absolutely stunning. It's also awesome to hear Ben Harper performing on her song Boa Sorte/Good Luck.

15. Sugarcubes - It's It: I can't forget to list some Sugarcubes here. I can listen to Birthday over and over again. Even though it's not my birthday... the song is great and I always enjoy some Sugarcubes sound.

Lydia said...

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (I could listen to this album over and over again. It continues to surprise me, and seems to have a transformative power, no matter what my mood. I'd say it's probably my favorite of all time.)

Paul Simon - Graceland (I could also listen to this over and over again. I love the African musicians and harmonies - love Ladysmith Black Mambazo!)

Joni Mitchell - Blue (Joni just says it like it is - and her voice is beautiful.)

Crowded House - Woodface (Great album full of good songs, and my introduction to Neil Finn & Crowded House.)

Beck - Mutations (This just fits into a certain time period of my life and brings with it a flood of associations whenever I listen.)

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (Just undeniably cool. Miles was just a genius.)

Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey (Van is the man, and this album in particular reminds me of my Dad singing along with it in our kitchen.)

David Bowie - Hunky Dory (My introduction to Bowie - besides his crazy, tights-wearing character in Labyrinth. Some great songs on this album.)

Kenny Neal - Let Life Flow (One of my Dad's favorites. He got to sit on stage during Kenny's set at the Pocono's Blues Fest last year, and I got to meet Kenny this Fall. He played his song, "Fly Away" for me - did the guitar solo right next to me - and dedicated it to his friend, Dean. An awesome moment I will never forget.)

Neil Finn - Try Whistling This (Some wonderful, sometimes haunting melodies and lyrics.)

Brandi Carlile - The Story (Someone who seems to write for me, at times, you know?)

Beck - Midnight Vultures (A super-fun pastiche that my sister and I love to blast in the car and sing along to.)

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Once (A beautiful soundtrack to a beautiful, life, love and music affirming film.)

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James (I could listen to James' sweet voice for hours!)

Joni Mitchell - For the Roses (Once again, love Joni, and this album tackles some different ground, lyrically, that struck me in the last few years.)

Kate Bush - The Sensual World (This one took me a while to get attached to, but Kate's ethereal sound grew on me, and I love some of the songs on this album.)

John Gorka - Land of the Bottom Line (Met John when I was volunteering at Godfrey Daniels in college. Love his mellow, warm sound and his lyrics.)

Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die (I enjoy traditional bluegrass, but was excited by the new direction Nickel Creek took with this album - also played it so much when it came out that it definitely has some big associations with memories from that time.)

Ozomatli - Ozomatli (This band has an awesome sound, eclectic influences, and a socio-political & humanist side that I appreciate, and this is probably their strongest, most interesting album.)

The Beatles - Revolver (Love all the Beatles' music, but got particularly attached to this album at one time.)

Patty Griffin - Children Running Through (I love Patty, and I could probably also put Impossible Dream & Living With Ghosts on this list, but there are a few songs on CRT that I particularly identify with.)

U2 - The Joshua Tree (I actually first got hooked on U2 with All That You Can't Leave Behind, but went back to listen to a lot of their earlier stuff and played this one constantly for a while.)

Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade (Love the combination of his folksy/Americana sound with the technology on this album. Also, just some great songs, and brings back memories of seeing him at Philly Folk Fest last year, which was a blast.)

Angelique Kidjo - Black Ivory Soul (Her performance at Long's Park was one of the most uplifting and beautiful concert experiences I've ever had, and this album contains some of my favorite songs of hers.)

Grateful Dead - American Beauty (Can't get into a lot of the Dead's more jam-based stuff, but I love the songs on this album.)

And this list could go on and on...

egcramer said...

Off the top of my head and in a hurry...

The Streets: Original Pirate Material
Oasis: Definitely Maybe
Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha
R.E.M.: Murmur
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
The Zombies: Odessey & Oracle
Slowdive: Just For A Day/Souvlaki (can't decide which)
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss: Raising Sand (surprise newish entry!)

Aaron said...

Great idea. I'll probably only make it to five or so (and in no particular order):

1) Sinatra at the Sands - my first live recording of Frank Sinatra. This album cemented my love for his music and appreciation for him as a musician.

2) Rooney by Rooney - For a summer job about five years ago, I worked on as a maintenance guy at a sports camp out in Golden, MO. I listened to this CD every time I cut grass...which was every day :-)

3) The Better Life by Three Doors Down - Vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. This was all that I listened too and I loved every second of it.

4) Places for Breathing by Revis - High school. Driving my dad's car around on a Saturday afternoon with the windows down.

5) In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson - Beer on the front porch, stogies with a friend, walking on the beach...what doesn't this album remind me of?

So seems like most of my music is associated with memories...great game!

~rae said...

Can I still participate in this edition of the weekend music game? It's still technically the weekend, right?
1. Nirvana - Bleach... It was the first CD I bought, and the only CD I had when I bought my first CD player. I'd hang out in my room listening to this over and over. laying on the floor next to the cd player.
2. Train - Drops of Jupiter... I bought this CD the same summer my family and I went on vacation to Maine. This vacation involved so much driving (since we live in PA) and so I head my walkman on. This CD was the soundtrack to that summer. Still takes me back.
3. Joni Mitchell - Miles of Aisles... Although my parents exposed me to a lot of music, I cannot recall hearing joni until I was in college. I heard this album while hanging out at a friends apartment in Harrisburg. I refer to Joni as musical oxygen to me.
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes... Just got this a couple weeks ago and I think this entire album is incredible, every lyric, every note. I play it frequently while driving... I also listened to it while spending a quiet afternoon with a friend at his home, cooking and talking.
... I know there are so many more albums to list, and a total of 4 albums is pretty weak on my part... hope you all accept my (short) contribution anyway!