20. Mineral – The Power Of Failing

These guys tried as hard as they could to be Sunny Day Real Estate, and they pulled it off pretty well, with the soft/loud combinations and heart wrenching lyrics poured out by their wailing singer. Mineral, who broke up after only two albums, stuck with me well during my first years at Marshall, mainly due to their songs about loneliness (because I was a lonely guy in Marshall) – songs that, in the typical emo-kid way, I thought were all written about me in my “woe is me” way. The songs still hold up well today.

It’s just not the same when you’re staring/Into a perfect golden sunset/And thinking about how you sold your soul/To send the rain away
— “Slower”

19. Elliott Smith – X/O

This was the first Elliott Smith album I ever owned, purchased shortly after I discovered how cool it was to like Elliott’s music. The thing is, I never really expected to continue with my adoration – I thought it would just be a nice addition to my music collection… some newer acoustic ballads to place next to the emo stuff I’d been raising myself on. In reality, this album (which was put out in the midst of his Academy Award nomination hype) helped wean me from the “usual” stuff I was listening to and forced me to look at other genres of music, for once.

Waiting for sedation to disconnect my head/Or any situation where i’m better off then dead — “Sweet Adeline”

18. Coldplay – Parachutes

The top Brit-pop album on the list. Coldplay made Brit-pop cool for the indie rockers, and brought a new form of British Invasion to the states, when Parachutes came out. This was a reminder of all things England to me – it came out mere months after my return from the Mother Land, and therefore, became my favorite album to reminisce with. For some reason, Parachutes seems more “real” to me than the widely praised Rush Of Blood To The Head, I suspect because it’s not as well produced and a little rawer. Me likey the accent too.

We never change do we/We never learn do we — “We Never Change”

17. Built To Spill – Perfect From Now On

Well, when I started to listen to all things Modest Mouse, it was only a matter of time until I began following Built To Spill, and this was the first album I did that with. It’s a little more sprawling than their other albums, capturing their more jam-band side very effectively. Perfect was one of those rare albums that actually got better the more I listened to it – it seemed every few months I would come back to it and find a song that I had always ignored, play it constantly for weeks, and then continue the cycle again a few months later.

I can’t get that sound you make out of my head/I can’t even figure out what’s making it — “I Would Hurt A Fly”

16. The Get Up Kids – Woodson

The Get Up Kids – emo princesses at their finest. Woodson suffers from the same thing that the Texas Is The Reason EP does – too short to be continually worthwhile. Despite the fact that all of the songs are great – in fact, these four could very well be their four best songs – it never really garnered as much play as the full length follow up because, well, who wants to play such a short CD when you’re going to have to change it in 15 minutes again anyway? I guess that’s the breaks for me, and one of the main reasons 7” records never became a big deal to me.

These bridges and boundaries are bringing me closer to you — “A Newfound Interest In Massachusetts”

15. Sunny Day Real Estate – LP2

I remember that a few days before this CD was supposed to come out, my friend Aaron and I went to Disk Jockey in the Empire Mall (the little one that was in the spot where that sports store is now) and found it, mistakenly, on the shelf – three days before it’s release date. Hooray! It’s all pink, and it never really had a real name, and it’s one of the better follow up albums I’ve ever heard. Diary ruled my life during this time, and LP2 was a great CD to have at a time when I thought Sunny Day would be my favorite band for the rest of my life. Oh, and it’s pink.

Was it you I saw under the moon — “Rodeo Jones”

14. The Promise Ring – Nothing Feels Good

Nothing Feels Good propelled The Promise Ring into near stardom, and it really signaled the peak of Davey and Co. From here on out, the band became almost a parody of itself (Very Emergency) on it’s way into becoming something completely different (Wood/Water). Still, Nothing Feels Good is the exact opposite of what it’s title suggests – everything feels good when listening to this, the peppiest rock album ever disguised as “emo.” You can’t help but hum the lyrics in your head for days after listening to it.

I’m proud of my genius just like a painter/And dumb like a poet I think
— “Forget Me”

13. Radiohead – OK Computer

Typically, a top album countdown such as this would have put OK Computer, a CD that’s widely considered to be the best ever, at number one, two, and three. Unfortunately, while I agree that it’s an amazing album, it hasn’t had as much of an impact on my life as the next twelve. I bought this in Marshall the first day I saw the video for “Paranoid Android,” and really, I’ve never looked back – ruining one copy and having to burn a new one to put in the original packaging. It was one of my first jaunts outside of the emo-shell I had built around myself for my first year of college. It also has the best set of music videos of any album I’ve ever known.

The head of state has called for me by name/But I don’t have time for him — “Lucky”

12. Weezer – Pinkerton

This wasn’t just a Weezer album. This was Pinkerton – a dark album based loosely on Madame Butterfly and, most importantly, the most grown-up music Rivers Cuomo ever wrote. Apparently, he hates this stuff now, but I, as well as many other Weezer fans, wouldn’t be such without this. You can take the two self titled albums all you want; this is when Weezer was good. And while it’s the least radio friendly Weezer content, it’s also the most honest and tortured. Really, who wants to hear a different version of Buddy Holly twelve times on an album, when you could hear twelve different versions of River’s obsession with some Asian girl at college?

I like you way too much/My baby, I’m afraid I’m falling for you — “Falling For You”

11. Ween – The Mollusk

The Mollusk is nautical – it was taped near the sea to give the full effect – and it’s the best and most diverted album Ween has. Most fans will mention Chocolate and Cheese or Pure Guava when they talk about the “Best Ween Album,” but it really doesn’t get much better than the first Ween I ever owned – first heard while making sandwiches at Erberts and Gerberts and blasting it’s way up my chart every year since. I think it’s the sea chantey feel of every song (even the country and Irish ones) that gives it an almost “concept album” vibe. Also, “The Blarney Stone” is the perfect “get drunk and fight” song.

If I don’t get some fresh bread soon/Gonna punch you in your face and bark at the moon — “The Blarney Stone”

This was lovingly handwritten on March 28th, 2005