The top ten starts with this – an album that would have been number one five years ago. Four Minute Mile was The Get Up Kids’ “I’m at college and my girlfriend is somewhere else and I really really miss her” album, and considering I was in the exact same situation at the time, it was only natural that I held onto this group of songs for as long as I could. Every time I would feel a little down, I would pop this sad sappy mix of poppy emo gold into my CD player and annoy the hell out of my roommate Joel. He, however, was raised as a turkey farmer, so I didn’t really care much. He needed a little culture, I guess.
Might as well start my drinking days now if i’m really alone — “Michelle With One ‘L'”
Lonesome Crowded West is the Modest Mouse CD that you’re supposed to like the best, I hear, and I don’t disagree with anyone who says it. It’s the prototypical Modest Mouse album; it’s quirky and sprawling, which is all done with a little bit of tongue-in-cheek lyrical prowess. I initially didn’t care much for this album, and this band, when Kerrie first plugged it into the Ford Contour’s CD player – a suggestion from her friend Melissa, I believe – but now look at me. While I see The Moon And Antarctica as a far superior album, I think Lonesome Crowded West has the best songs (“Trailer Trash,” “Cowboy Dan” and “Trucker’s Atlas,” most specifically.)
Opinions were like kittens/I was giving them away — “Out Of Gas”
Here’s the anthem album for the Hot Water Music Nation, the album that brought most of the old fans on board. There are more songs to sing along to, and, in my opinion, more emotion poured into this album, than anything they’ve done since. This was put out during it’s fight with Elektra records, who had a shitty band named “Hot Water,” and so because of that, the band name (for one album only) was The Hot Water Music Band. My favorite memories of Hot Water Music are usually when they play songs from this album live – it’s incredibly infectious and full of energy, and, for the most part, everyone yells the words out until the band itself could stop and let us all sing the rest.
So what will you say when it’s time to cut me loose from your new life/Don’t say you lost the feeling/I’ll bring it — “Just Don’t Say You Lost It”
Cursive turned itself from indie-rockers on the rise into full-fledged artists/geniuses with Domestica – a CD that’s reportedly not about singer Tim Kasher’s short marriage and divorce, though by the lyrics you could have fooled me. Everything from beginning to end winds together into a tragic story – from finding out that the boy may not like the girl as much as before, to suspicions of cheating, to the final clash that ends with everyone proclaiming that they’ve “lost the will to fight.” It’s all very powerful and all very conceptual – I guess that would make it a powerful concept album.
This house is the hole that you could never fill/With shattered dinner plates/That’s how we’ll communicate — “The Radiator Hums”
Split Lip, the original name of Chamberlain, came rumbling into town with Avail, Samuel, and Slapstick for a show at the Pomp Room and ended up leaving a mark on many of my friends. When Fate’s Got A Driver came out, Split Lip was only a few years away from changing into the alt-country band they currently are. Still, this sounds like the same band, and it’s songs never really stuck with me until, again, Marshall entered my life and I needed something powerful and emotional to listen to. It’s hard to imagine that a CD with such perfect vocalizing would need to be redone, but when this was released under the Chamberlain name, exactly that happened. I still like the original, and it’s better, by far, than the reissue.
I’m the one who reached for love and missed/Can you come down to me/I’ll be waiting with that same look on my face — “Five Year Diary”
I first heard Jets To Brazil at the 500 Club in Minneapolis, where they were opening for The Promise Ring. I knew that Blake was starting a new band, but I never imagined that they would be so different from anything I’d expect – first of all, Blake sounded, well, happy. That was unnerving enough, but to add to it, they had a distinct New Wave sound that was a fresh and welcome change from the usual multi-chord emo stuff that I had been imbibing at the time, and, thanks to a recorded copy of this album, I grew to love Blake’s new attitude.
They’re playing love songs on your radio tonight/I don’t get those songs on mine — “I Typed For Miles”
This was my first favorite album. It’s still high on the list because of it’s influence on much of what I still listen to today – this was the first non-mainstream album I ever liked, and it was the first album of the emo persuasion to catch my ear. Really, though, this wasn’t much of an emo album – it was straightforward rock in the Nirvana vein (soft-loud-soft dynamics, indistinguishable lyrics, on Sub Pop) except it was melodious, where Nirvana was almost punk in nature. At times it seemed very deep, and at times it seemed very complex, and it truly was the album that changed the way I listened to music. This album, actually, flowed seamlessly into the next (#3) in my transformation from Bad Religion/Offspring fan to Sensitive Wuss Rock boy.
Although you hit me hard I come back — “Song About An Angel”
And speaking of which — Texas Is The Reason, and this album most specifically, switched my mind frame from punk-rock and it’s friends to emo every day all the time. And, much like Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary, it’s not really much of an emo album – Do You Know Who You Are is rock and roll with some sensitive whiney guy singing. I guess this was called “Post-punk,” a moniker I never really understood aside from the members being former punk/hardcore band members who wanted to sing instead of scream. I remember getting this album just a few weeks before TITR came to town (they were supposed to open for Sense Field – they didn’t) and listening to it religiously, as if the meaning of life was somehow hidden in the lyrics to “Back and to the Left.” It still ranks as the best Revelation Records album (and there were a lot of good ones,) and it’s an album that still graces my rotation quite often.
This town was built on miles of hope/And I dare you to give one reason to stay/And maybe I won’t go away — “Back and to the Left”
So Jawbreaker sold out. Well, I’m the better for it, I guess, because this was the only Jawbreaker album that I ever liked to any extent (I enjoyed the other ones, but never listened to them extensively.) I have always felt that Dear You has the best song lyrics of any album I’ve ever owned, and that’s a pretty big feat. Blake Schwarzenbach was at his songwriting peak at this point, and due to a throat surgery, couldn’t be scratchy and punk anymore, so out came this, a major label debut with (gasp!) singing. It’s been continuously in my CD player for the last eight years, and will forever be an album that I measure all the new stuff against.
You are your worst revenge/Your very means, they have no ends/This is a story you won’t tell the kids we’ll never have — “Sluttering”
Here it is! Number one! And, while it’s not a golden oldie at all, it’s certainly the best CD I’ve ever come in contact with and the album that means the most to me out of all of the albums I’ve ever heard. M&A is, in my eyes, the perfect album – It’s hauntingly beautiful at points, trashy and unbridled during others, and the overall product is more than the sum of the individual songs. It’s about as perfect as music gets. Every song is tinged with loneliness, an expansive void, and the lyrics spell out, in parts, life as a destitute idea, the questions of afterlife, and the anger in holding on. When you get tired of the spacey parts, you get “Wild Pack of Family Dogs.” When you get tired of the heavy stuff, you get “Paper Thin Walls.” When you get tired of the album, it abruptly spits out “What People Are Made Of,” a song that leaves you stunned just long enough for the album to start over again. It’s an album with atmosphere, with what seems like twenty different layers, and it’s an album that has always made me think a little harder about life and death. It is, simply, my favorite album of all time. Number one with a bullet.
I’m sure you’ll tell me you got nothin’ to say/But our voices shook hands the other day/If you can’t see the thin air then what the hells in your way? — “Dark Center of the Universe”