Like a disease that won’t stop spreading there is a meme/game/way for Facebook to secretly collect additional data on you so it can advertise to you more accuratly later/thing going around on social media where people are supposed to identify ten influential albums and share only the album cover with no explanation.
You are to then tag someone else and guilt them into doing the same thing. Well, one of my best friends, Scott, tagged me in it and since I have this blog I thought I would just take a few minutes to write about each of the albums instead of just posting the album cover.
In no particular order, the ten albums that influenced me the most are…
Nirvana – Bleach (1989)
This album made me want to learn how to play guitar. I almost certainly heard songs from Nevermind first being a normal teenager in the 90s but I know I bought Bleach, found my mom’s acoustic guitar and then bought the Bleach guitar tab book during the summer of 1994. I’ll write an entire post on this later, but I learned how to read tab and play guitar because of this album.
Influence Factor: 10/10 I am who I am based on Kurt Cobain almost as much as my parents.
Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)
This album made me realize punk was still alive during my lifetime. It screamed rebellion, defied the idea of God, and felt personally painful all at once. I remember in High School we were assigned to write about an album that told a story and I choose to write about Antichrist Supserstar. Fortunatly for me someone in class wrote about the Downward Spiral and my eyes were opened to the story it tells. Trent’s ability to go from March of the Pigs to a song like Hurt in one cohesive album is masterful.
Influence Factor: 5/10 I love NIN and this album did influence my song writing, but it more confirmed my beliefs than taught me something entirely new.
Brainiac – Hissing Prigs In Static Couture (1996)
I wasn’t ready for this when I first heard it. I didn’t get it at all. Thankfully my girlfriend at the time did and we kept listening. Turns out, it’s amazing and I was an idiot. Influential to more than just me, this album taught me about breaking songs, about being weird and about being proud of it. How influential was it? After I finally understod their records my band completly switched gears and basically tried to become a Brainiac ripoff.
Influence Factor: 10/10 I base all new music I hear on how it compares to this band.
Luscious Jackson – Electric Honey
I have no idea how I found this album, you see back in the day (good grief) seemingly every piece of recorded music wasn’t available at your finger tips. Discovering something new meant interacting with someone, seeing a random band live and getting hooked, or just spending your very hard earned teenage dollars on an album and hoping for the best. No matter how I came across Electric Honey I feel in love with it. Every song feels personal and sentimental, every beat makes me want to move and it’s the kind of album you want a band to repeat and they just never do (and honestly, they never should).
Influence Factor: 1/10 I actually feel like I wasn’t super influenced by this but it’s one of my tope ten favorite albums. oops.
Deee-Lite – Dewdrops in The Garden (1994)
Love. Freedom. Relaxation. Liberation. Fun. NY. Love. Sexual. Dancing. Electric. Love. House. Horns. Love. Movement. I can’t believe people think this group is a one hit wonder off a song from their far less superior previous album. This is what ever dance record should try to replicate until the end of time as far as I’m concerned.
Influence Factor: 8/10 This record really showed me how much soul and life electronic dance music can have. It changed my perspective and desires in the dance music I listened to. I wanted everything to be like Deee-Lite, it needed to be able to be performed live.
Man… Or Astro-Man? – 1000x (1997)
I first heard of MoAM? from a friend (and one time mentor!) Chad. I remember looking through his cds thinking “I’ve never heard of any of these groups, where do I even start?” The Silver Jews!?! The Make Up!?! Trans Am!?! Six Finger Satellite!?! U.S. Maple!?!? He said “start with Man… Or Astro-Man?” and he was right. I feel in love immediately. The first recording of theirs I bought was 1000x, an ep (I’m sure it was the cheapest which is why I bought it). I fondly remember putting it in the car CD player outside of Tower Records in Annapolis and being blown away. This stuff had no lyrics (for the most part) but instead had these rad science fiction samples and weird instrument sounds. It was the next sound I would try to replicate on my guitar. .
Influence Factor: 8/10 Man… or Astro-Man? is now one of my all-time favorite bands and for a long time they were my number one. This ep, despite having a few songs with vocals, showed me how serious yet fun instrumental rock could be. I realized that ever song didn’t have to have someone singing to be interesting! Soon after buying this I would buy as many MoAM? cds as I could and I’m now currently trying to complete my MoAM? discography on vinyl.
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
I feel like ever fan of rock music is going to have this record, Pet Sounds, a Stones record or a Zepplin one on any list like this. I grew up on the Beatles, singing all of their hits, but really only the early stuff I would learn as a became a teenager. I started listening to this album on repeat trying to find all of the small hidden noises and inflections. Sgt. Pepper’s was an eye opener for me and A Day In The Life remains one of the, if the not the greatest, songs ever written in my humble opinion.
Influence Factor: 7/10 This was probably the first record that really challenged me. The lyrics were representative of misery in a lot of cases. The idea of psychedelics could be heard but I hadn’t yet experienced them. After writing a handful of songs I remember thinking “OK, when do I try to write a magnum opus like Sgt. Peppers?” Yeah, I was an ambitious 14 year old.
Madonna – The Immaculate Collection (1990)
I’ve joked that my Mom owned three tapes and that was all we would we listen to on long road trips, Billy Joel River of Dreams, a B-52s one and this. No extra tracks, just big pop hits from Madonna.
Influence Factor: 7/10 Girl pop is one of my favorite genres and several of my all time most listened to artists would probably call Madonna massively influential. My love for Charli XCX, Tove Lo, etc. all stems from listening to this cassette a thousand times on the drive to and from Wisconsin as a kid.
Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables (1980)
The Sex Pistols were probably the first punk band I actively listened to but Dead Kennedys connected with me on a whole other level. Jello Biafra’s voice was so annoying it made me feel like literally anyone can be the singer of a band. The first song “Kill The Poor” hooked me on their anti-capitalist message. The more I learned about Jello the more I loved them. They weren’t afraid to call people out by name and I think that is something that is still rare.
Influence Factor: 8/10 The ethos that Jello espoused I wanted to replicate in every way possible. The reverb heavy surf and rockabilly guitar was something I would continue to ape to this day. How influenced was one by DK? On one album Jello tells a story of being chased by jocks and hiding in a phone booth while in Portland. When visiting Portland I found that phone booth and stood in it.
Jack Dangers – Hello Friends! (2001)
Jack Dangers was one of the main guys in Meat Beat Manifesto and I really loved their stuff and was excited to find this album to be completely different than MBM in a good way. The album is Jack Dangers mixing together a bunch of different breakbeat stuff with samples and remixes he himself had made with a partner in a collaborative DJ duo called Tino. I have listened to this so many times it has become one of those records where I know ever little sound.
Influence Factor: 6/10 This record really helped me understand how mixing as a DJ could be an art of its own that can lead to wholly unique sounds and songs.