The following eleven albums have been in my CD rotation from the day the were introduced to me. The bands included in the list shaped my music taste, my youth, and in a lot of ways my ideals. While much of my music taste has moved on - I no longer listen to bands like Phish or Weird Al (though he puts on one of the best shows I've ever seen) - these bands remain close to my heart.
I attribute, to some degree, my liberalism, my fear of conformity (boy, this could fill a couple blog entries), my appreciation for irony, my hatred for hypocrisy in this world, and my sense of humor to the seeds planted by these bands and albums.
In addition, as my music tastes change and evolve, punk rock still holds a special place in my aural heart. I could list a lot of older school bands that I really like, but I didn't start enjoying until later in life. I would not have explored those musical roots had it not been for these albums. My distaste for a lot of mainstream music is also rooted in these albums. Without further ado:
They Might Be Giants - Apollo 18 (1992): TMBG reminds me that music does not have a formula. A band does not have to pump out the same album every year with a new title to maintain a fan base. And I love the obscure lyrics that keep you thinking about deeper meaning.
Suicide Machines - Destruction by Definition (1996): the Suicide Machines were the first band I saw live. Amazing. So much energy and passion behind their music. They touch on every aspect of life from the mundane to the painful. Their albums have also showed an impressive evolution, but this one still hits on every level.
Catch 22 - Keasbey Nights (1998): First band I discovered on Napster. Probably one of the best live bands I've ever seen - the reason I've seen them 6+ times. Also full of energy and passion. The album feels like it was made out of a necessity to put this music into existence, not to pay the bills.
Anti-Flag - Die for the government (1996): AF lost me along the way because of their hypocrisy. The "never sell out" band of the decade that sold out. I don't mind if a band sells out as long as they never swore not to do so. However, this album is politically charged, and further left off the map than me, but I still like that it keeps one thinking.
Operation Ivy - Self Titled (1991): Energy, passion, great lyrics. One of the original newer generation punk bands that kept the "old" spirit alive.
Dead Milkmen - Death Rides a Pale Cow (1997): A compilation of earlier work. Tongue in cheek humor, biting sarcasm, catchy music, and very sing-able.
Dropkick Murphys - The Gang's All Here (1999): Working class Irish punk rock. Sure I was a middle-class kid from French and German heritage, but this made me wish my dad was in a union. and his dad's dad etc. Also great to see live.
Bouncing Souls - Hopeless Romantic (1999): I don't even know what to say. The Bouncing Souls are one of my favorite all time bands. This was just the first one of theirs that I owned. Their new one - the Gold Record - still rocks my socks.
the Queers - Later days and better Lays (1999): More sarcasm, self-depricating humor, and classic shitty 3-chord punk riffs. What's not to like?
Boysetsfire - After the Eulogy (2001): My introduction to hardcore music, though hardcore is debatable in some of their stuff. They are amazing live, their lyrics are deeply moving and personal. And turns out they are from Newark, DE... who knew?
Weezer - Blue Album (1994): OK OK everyone in my generation likes this album. And it's certainly not deep or funny or cutting edge. But it was original. And EVERY song rocks. I know the lyrics and guitar solos better than I know how to breathe. Also the first album I ever owned - I still have the tape.