80. Seam – Are You Driving Me Crazy?
When I think of the greatest “going to bed and having the CD player going” bands of all time, Seam is at the top of the list, and this album, their second full length, was the best. Seam was a band that, even at its artistic peak, was as far from well-known as was possible in the rising world of indie rock. They have since disappeared, as is evident by their fan website, which attempted to crash my computer upon viewing.
Had to clean up the mess/And nurse the cuts on my head/It’s no fun getting gone without you – “Broken Bones”
79. Guilt – Bardstown Ugly Box
Guilt was a smarter hardcore band, making interesting original chug-chug music when Earth Crisis was writing the same song over and over again, that fused the usual ear-bleeding guitars with foreign (at the time) pretty parts. Eric introduced me to Guilt, and then By the Grace of God (another Duncan Barlow band) when we were both seniors, but I didn’t really latch onto them until my freshman year of college, when I tired of the usual Victory records hardcore.
As a woman now, she walks to college with the fists of the sun on her back/She looks, and as her eyes swim through the tundra blue skies, she smiles/She is free – “phi”
78. Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen
Liking Ben Folds Five, especially this album, with it’s super-radio hit “Brick,” was not something that was done in the punk rock scene… and admitting it was even worse, so I took it as a rite of passage that I had become an old man out of touch with punk rock culture when I realized that, yes indeed, I really liked Ben Folds. I still do. And even though it’s cliché to mention, “Brick” is truly one of the poorer songs on the album, you’d do better with the higher spirited songs, the ones with swearing in them.
Give me my money back you bitch/I want my money back/And don’t forget to give me back my black T-shirt – “Song for the Dumped “
77. The Postal Service – Give Up
When I decided to take up the task of hosting a radio show at Augie’s radio station, KAUR, I did it with the reasoning that, during the course of action, I would expose myself to some new music – to something that I didn’t already have. My first discovery was The Postal Service, Ben Gibbard’s pet project. It’s Death Cab with computers. Later, after this album, The Postal Service breathed life into Phil Collins by covering “Against All Odds.”
But everything looks perfect from far away/’Come down now,’ but we’ll stay… – “Such Great Heights”
In the 60’s, there was the British Invasion, and in the early 2000’s, there was the “The” Invasion, where it seemed like hundreds of bands with names like The Hives, The Vines, and The White Stripes were bursting through to the MTV Buzz Bin. The Strokes were the first, or at least the first widely known, of these bands, and were the extremely sexy pick for “best new band.” I just thought they sounded extremely British, so I liked them, which, though very trite, is the way I ended up liking a lot of British bands.
Well, I’ve been in town for just now fifteen minutes now/And baby, I feel so down – “Last Nite”
75. Various Artists – I Am Sam Soundtrack
I really like the Beatles. And, because of this, I really liked the concept of this soundtrack, which is from a movie about a mentally challenged Beatles fan trying to raise and keep his daughter. Since it was too expensive to just get the Beatles songs together on one album, seventeen bands got together instead and covered some of the best from the band’s catalog. The best tracks are Grandaddy’s “Revolution,” The Vines’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” and Eddie Vedder’s “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”
You and I have memories/Longer than the road that stretches out ahead – “Two of Us” (Amiee Mann/Michael Penn)
74. Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around
This album captured the haunting sounds of Johnny Cash’s last songs and some of his best covers. Widely heralded for his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, Cash’s final album also has great renditions of The Beatles’ “In My Life” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” The best songs, though, are his originals, and the title track, which is his version of the Bible’s Revelations, shows not only how comfortable he was with his religion, but it seems also how ready he was to finally be done with life and experience whatever comes afterwards.
Tell my boy his daddy’s so proud of him/And don’t forget to give my love to Rose – “Give My Love to Rose”
73. Propagandhi – Less Talk, More Rock
Most people prefer How To Clean Everything over this album, but Less Talk, More Rock is the more political piece of work, and above everything Propagandhi was a political band. I first heard this CD in high school, but I kept coming back to it time after time, not only because the word play is clever and blistering, but because I knew all the words and could continue to sing along, no matter how reactionary I thought they were being. This was my first taste of “music as political tool,” and I always think of them first, before originals like the Dead Kennedys and the Clash, when I think of political punk.
We wrote this song because it’s fucking boring/To keep spelling out the words that you keep ignoring — “Less Talk, More Rock”
72. At The Drive In – In/Casino/Out
I was never as big of an At The Drive In fan as the rest of the Sioux Falls scene, though I attribute that to not being a part of Sioux Falls at all when they were at their peak. I did, however, enjoy this album, and remember seeing them in Minneapolis at the Foxfire. At The Drive In was moderate on disc, but amazing live, and I guess everything I saw carried over to the CD when I listened to it later.
This is forever – “Napoleon Solo”
The first Elliott Smith album on the list is actually the only one I don’t currently own (aside from a “backup” copy.) Figure 8 was his long awaited follow up to X/O, and with the acclaim he received on that one came the added pressure to create something equally as good. He succeeded, but moved away from his solo sound to incorporate more and more of a band vibe to everything. While it’s not my favorite album, it does have my favorite Elliott Smith song, “Stupidity Tries”.
And so I go from floor to floor looking for a port of call/Another drunk conquistador conquering the governor’s ball – “Stupidity Tries”