40. Farside – s/t

Settling in with only four songs (not including the two “hidden” tracks,) this EP from Farside showed that Revelation Records bands didn’t have to be either hardcore or pusscore – that they could be simply rock and roll. They, surprisingly, never really caught on with the usual punk rock crowd, though I vividly remember Eric wearing a Farside hat for years. “Knox” may be the best song they ever put out.

I’ve always known who I am/But I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about it – “Knox”

39. Avail – 4AM Friday

Hey! Punk rock! I never would have become an Avail fan if I hadn’t seen them with Floodplain, Split Lip, Samuel, and Slacker in what could have been one of the best shows the Pomp Room ever held. Avail, being all punk rock and stuff, wasn’t the most talented band, but they may have been one of the most fun, complete with tag along groupie/second vocalist/tattoo artist. This album came out when I worked at Best Buy, but held it’s greatness in my mind long after I had gone to college and given up on the genre. I feel that it stands today as the best pure punk rock album ever made.

4 a.m. Friday awaken to a scream/He’s not gonna make it real it didn’t seem/No-don’t let go/No-make it through – “F.C.A.”

38. Radiohead – The Bends

The Bends was the first Radiohead album that you absolutely had to like if you were going to be considered a college radio fan. This is the one that was supposed to change rock music, a feat that was later pegged on OK Computer when it came out. The Bends saw Radiohead become more of what they are today – artsy and British – and saw them shy away from their Buzz Bin status, earned from the single “Creep,” on Pablo Honey. While it’s not as complex and original as OK Computer, it’s as good as it could get when it came out, and holds up well today.

I need to wash myself again to hide all the dirt and pain/Cos I’d be scared that there’s nothing underneath – “The Bends”

37. Sense Field – Building

Sense Field put out Building at the peak of their careers, when Killed For Less was still a hot new emo thing to listen to – when their stock was as high as it could get. They hit it pretty well with Building, making their sound faster and more enjoyable without losing their pussiness, which, by the way, is what Sense Field was perfect at. They mixed up their sound so that, unlike previous albums, every song didn’t sound similar. I held this album in pretty high esteem through the age of 20, and I still don’t mind breaking it out every once in a while.

I will see you again/Someday soon/Will you save a seat for me? – “Fiesta”

36. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Yoshimi is a weird album – it’s meant to be the soundtrack to a Japanese film of the same name – but, then again, The Flaming Lips are a weird band. I latched onto this album shortly before moving back to Sioux Falls, and it still sits in heavy rotation. They are quite a trip, live, with their bunny suits and bloody Japanese video playing in the background. Like I said, they’re weird.

Her name is Yoshimi/She’s a black belt in karate/Working for the city/She has to discipline her body – “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1”

35. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

This is as close to “college/indie rock” I get – mentioning any Wilco album on any list guarantees a measure of credibility, or so I’ve gathered from the praise that is consistently heaped on the band, who have been considered deities in the genre for years. All hyperbole aside, though, this album is really good, and they’ve raised in status, in my mind, at least, from “that band that opened for REM in 1999” to an actual viable talent.

You’re gonna lose/You have to lose/You have to learn how to die – “War On War”

34. Elliott Smith – Either/Or

This is the best of the “Elliott without a full band” albums (he had a lot more backing from X/O on) and, if it were not for hearing and falling in love with X/O first, would be my favorite Elliott Smith album. He sounds, as expected, tortured and miserable throughout, but this was before he was a big name in music, and so I guess he has an excuse for it at this point in his life.

Tripped over a dog in a choke-chain collar/People were shouting and pushing and saying/They’d traded a smoke for a food stamp dollar – “The Rose Parade”

33. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head

What can I say about Coldplay that Q Magazine or the British tabloids haven’t already said? This album, regardless of the hype that preceded it, was every bit as good as was promised, and was a follow up that many didn’t think the band had in them. I always believed in them, though, because I’m sympathetic to the bands that should never have become as popular as they eventually do. Does that make sense? It’s late, and I don’t have much to comment on aside from “I really like this CD…it’s good.”

I’m pushing you down and all around/It’s no cause for concern – “Amsterdam”

32. The Beatles – Let It Be

This was actually the final Beatles album ever released, even though it was recorded before Abbey Road. This is the “Beatles in a big fight” album – I’m pretty sure that Ringo and George walked out eight or nine times a piece during the recording of this. The re-released Let It Be…Naked, which is the album I own, strips the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” away from the original music, so that it sounds more like what Paul wanted in the first place. John would have hated the new one, I guess, but I guess that’s a moot point, since he’s dead and all.

Nothing’s gonna change my world – “Across the Universe”

31. The Promise Ring – 30 Degrees Everywhere

Davey, lisp and all, was one of the most compelling front men in the emo genre, if only because he never really looked comfortable on stage. This album, which includes my favorite Promise Ring song “Scenes from France,” came out before the band went all “uber happy/poppy,” and was one of the last bands I’d ever see at the Pomp Room. This, like a lot of the emo albums from my high school years, hasn’t really aged well – it sounds so sparce and kind of boring in parts now – but it was one of my favorites well into the college years, and I still love it.

Couldn’t you take the second bus home?/Couldn’t you just take me with you? – “A Picture Postcard”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 20th, 2005