My 7 Most Influential Albums

Inspired by Kottke’s list of favorite albums, I offer mine. After looking at the list, I’m surprised at the emerging pattern. Yes, this is roughly in chronological order.

  1. Anthrax – I am the Man
    Take 5 white guys, a simple beat, some dorky lyrics, and hit record. I ate up the DIY attitude and the playful self-parody (especially on the Extremely Def Ill Uncensored verion). This album is the reason I have to the urge to start every podcast with

    “We are recording tonight, I want to hear you singing it loud out there.”

  2. They Might Be Giants – Flood
    This was the first compact disc I purchased. After listening to repeatedly, I discovered you just need 2 white guys (not 5), a simple beat, and some dorky lyrics. Of all the albums on this list, this is one Jen and I can agree on.
  3. Rave ‘Til Dawn, Various
    Kottke reminded me how influential this album was for me. For all the same reasons he mentioned. Some how a dorky white kid living on a dirt road and 40 acres of woodland discovered techno music. It doesn’t matter that this album contains the worst of early 4-4 rave music. The first time I heard vocal loops manipulated to create rhythm I was astounded. Of course the voice is an instrument – how had I missed that before. This laid the groundwork for my love of Trans Am’s Futureworld and Add N to X’s On the Wires of Our Nerves.
  4. Too Much Joy – Son of Sam I Am
    The moment I heard their cover of LL Cool J’s “That’s a Lie”, I knew it was the beginning of a life-long, obsessive relationship. Tim Quirk’s lyrics are funny, timeless, and powerful, fully capturing the melancholy of growing up. The music is catchy, poppy, and comforting. In TMJ’s later track, “A Rap Like Mine” they admit;

    “We’re 4 white boys that grew up in the ‘burbs…”

    If The Vandals’ Fear of a Punk Planet ever grows up, it’ll be this album.

  5. All – Percolater
    An All show in Mankato, MN showed me that every song in the world is a love song. Even angry punk songs from 4 white guys with catchy beats and dorky lyrics.
  6. Panacea – Low Profile Darkness
    Sometime in the late 90s, I went to a drum and bass club in Hamburg, Germany. Imagine the back closet of the Star Wars Canteena surrounded by broken robots. That’s what I experienced there – this album was the closest duplicate I could find. Combine with Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Gibson’s Neuromancer for a dystopian, cyberpunk world more enveloping than BladeRunner.
  7. Brad Sucks – I Don’t Know What I’m Doing
    One white guy, simple catchy beats, and dorky lyrics. I completely ate up the DIY attitude and the playful self-parody, “one man band with no fans”. Brilliant.

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