Before continuing on what will no doubt be a road of self wankery and back patting I must comment on the list itself. I don’t believe songs really changed my life. They may have changed perspectives or really capture a moment, but at no point did I hear ‘Mountain Song’ and go “I need to be a Mormon”. With that in mind I also have chosen to omit a large chunk of early music in my life. This may seem like editing out pieces of history and sacrilege to the process. Why? #1 I don’t have many of those songs anymore because #2 they were awful and #3 In further reviewing my life they could be better explained in other sonic tones. It is not that I am ashamed of my musical past, but honestly who wants me to put Korn tracks and go “In the 4th grade I loved Korn, Freak on a Leash ass hole and die. PS this is when I started wearing only black, a period that would last way too long” In that same light I honestly vaguely recall the importance of those songs those many years ago. For the most part I will keep things contained to the past 8 years for clarity and to prevent too much ear rape.
Ennio Morricone – Them to Fistful of Dollars
In an attempt to not massively over indulge myself and yourself in the progverse of what are called “jack-off” guitar work. I emphasized the element surrounding them. Yea, I’m a The Mars Volta fan, probably to a moronic extent, I have a collection of bootlegs, can tell you how the songs changed via tour and all the little nuances only I could care about. This is one of those nuances. Every show they come out to this theme. The trumpeting fanfare can only mean “trouble is coming” and everytime it plays I’m swelled inside with joy as I know my brain will blown beyond the auditorium as I watch two latinos dance for hours.
Magma – Mekanik Kommandoh
Although this song is a collection of everything French rock excellence is, this is merely a representation of the full album Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. A 40 minute calamity that leads me on epic drives through endless plains of drear only to swell my emotions with ensembles unimaginable is about the only way to describe it. Discovered during a lull in music in my life Magma resurrected my desire to find the next piece of insanity and mindlessness that I had been missing for some time. Really an epic like no other, which is what I need, but not in the shit Guns n’ Roses way, rather in the “Fuck this is going to hurt” kind of way.
The Mars Volta – Day of the Baphomets
Simply put, it’s the best song ever. Heard on the eve of Summer 2006 I listened as my mind entered a new stratosphere of thoughts unknown. Forever will it embody the end of that summer, endless drives to and from Elgin Community College will be remembered by the Saxophone Guitar battle and Bongo solo. The song doesn’t capture emotions, rather it creates mental imagery that can only be described as love. The song loves you, in that tie you up and fuck your insides kind of way…
Throbbing Gristle – Disciple (At the Astoria 2004).
After a brief name drop I figured I had to investigate what “Throbbing Gristle” was. The only word I had been told was “offensive” and that is really what it is. Throbbing Gristle hates you. It hates me, and I hate it. I hadn’t been into ambience and noise until them, but when my anger boils I need a little discipline. I don’t think any other song purely captures a raw emotion in my body like Discipline does to my anger. Strolling by smiling faces I brood with the howls and terrors screaming in my mind…it’s a good thing. We need a little discipline.
Fugazi – Cashout
Damn it, Stephen Shoup was the man. I entered England bored with the sounds I had and desperate for something fresh. 1 thousand dance events later I had nearly given up when I was finally shown Fugazi. Funny enough I was given their last album first, The Argument. Cashout still is a musical savior in my eyes. The raw baddassery of the music reminds me of chill road drives with excellent sunglasses on. Fugazi was the beginning of pretentiousness and wonder. Greatness
Can – Halleluhwah
Sophmore year was the dawn of excellent music for me. Not that I didn’t find great sounds Freshman year, but I began to truly explore the boundaries the next year. Can is still the masterpiece of that exploration. A long 18 minute drone of perfect instrumentship is the peak excellence of long drives and paper writing. It was the perfect song to play when I just didn’t know what to play and 18 minutes later I’d say fuck it again and just hit repeat. This was also my big fuck you Grateful Dead fans.
At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor
There are few songs I’m proud of loving from my youth. One Scissor is one of those rarities. Caught during the ever AWESOME top 9 at 9 on the ol Q101 I fell in love with the frantic rock fest that had shattered the awful nu-metal scene (a scene I loved at the time). This was middle school, the year 2000 and spastic rockers said “you need to ditch the shitty music”. I did fortunately, but replaced with an odd assortment of electronics and j-pop for 5 years. Well… I guess it’s a reminder of the mistakes we make.
Adanowsky – Estrella Immortal
This year has been the advent of salsa/bossanova/ and all things wonderful and Latin. Aside from the lord and savior Larry Harlow, Adanowsky has lead the charge. If there is one think he has done is created many awkward drunk dance sessions in my room. A double rum and coke, and some Adanowsky and the night is wonderful. So if there is one thing remember him for is that you never remember what happens when he hits the scene.
At the Drive-In – Napoleon Solo
The loss of wonderful people means the compilation of songs that had nothing to do with them but somehow you still use them to remember the best times. Laying on our English porch with a bottle of red wine and crying at the moon. What an awful night, but at least it was captured perfectly here. Also see Televators for equal results
Ben Folds – Underground
I remember first hearing this song while watching some fan made music video for Seriel Experiments Lain…yea, fucking RAD. I eventually would use it for a DCHS golf video that was labeled “The first time golf looked interesting”…I think that teacher was incorrect…Golf never looks interesting, and driving carts is about the only joy I received from it.
Bjork – Hunter
Bjork is better than you, and she dresses weirder than that Gaga bitch. She also did it first. Her music may not remind me of a specific moment per say, but just an overall feeling of drear that is beautiful why sad. Everytime I rock the Bjork emotions swell over in a way that can’t be described. Somehow people still hate her, I think they’re stupid in the head for it.
Capcom Sound Team – Ken State
Ummm, so I HAD to include this, and yes it is video game music. However, about 5 or 6 years of serious tournament Street Fighter II play and about 18 years of being a gamer nerd mean I have to include a tribute to it. In all actuality though, the song itself although made on a synth years sounds pretty awful in that regard it still is unbelievably catchy…AND AWESOME.
Adam Freeland – Fear
For the past few years every Summer I make a night time mix CD to play while I drive. Every year this song makes it on there. Simply put it is the perfect cruising with your windows down song. The night lights stroll by at a perfect pace and beat. I am the mobster of downtown Algonquin when I hit the scene…or maybe I just love the bass.
Colossal – Human Jackson
In all awkwardness of the moment I have to admit there was an era where I loved Colossal. Obviously this moment was personal and related to a significant other of the time. As time passed though I could not determine if I liked Colossal because I had just willed myself to or that I actually thought they were good. Combining my pure spite disliking them for a while with the previous did not help my conundrum. I guess it means that song is that…it is spite. So I am not sure if I like Colossal as a sound, but I hate them on principle. Is that bitter? I guess, but then again I am a huge child in mind. So fuck you Colossal.
The Cramps – The Crusher
HA! The first song I ever played on the radio was this..and well I guess RRRRAAAAPPPPPEEEE is as much an intro you can ever make. The Cramps’ demented surfer rock prose is just about the best way to describe some of those off drinking nights in England. Dancing on beds to the Cramps is about the best thing you can do. Oh yea, we did it to the Gorillaz too, but fuck that, DO THE CRUSHER.
Daft Punk – Crescendolls
So, Daft Punk fucking rocks, well I guess not rocks, but…um Houses? I am not much of a electro/house/techno guy in all honesty, but there is something about how this song swings that when I first heard it my mind exploded in a thousand million pieces. I could not imagine a song could be so simple and so catchy. Slamming this into the car and blasting til the crackle was unbearable was my idea of a good time, and it still is. There is no way to listen to this song except at full volume.
The Dead Pets – Problem Child
I discovered The Dead Pets at a Flogging Molly show and they were the first obscure band I felt I had discovered myself. Simply put this was my template for what great punk should be. The singing was ferocious and uncalled for and nothing about the music had an inkling of talent to it. Shit was awesome when you were 17 and about to go to Peru and I guess that is still true. Nothing about The Dead Pets as a whole is bad, and this is the perfect way to start the emotion
Dispatch – The General
To be fair this is not a real favorite of mine. I think the song is entertaining at most, but there was one summer I heard the track about 6,000,000,000 times. It was hanging at my friends short lived internet café inhaling second hand hookah smoke against my will and playing Counter-Strike. Those were good times, albeit depressing times if you pondered how honestly lazy I was at the time, but fuck the song did help in being lazy.
El-P – Tasmanian Pain Coaster
I am not an expert on Hip-Hop. Simply put that is the case. However the raw aggression and anger that punched me in the face when I heard this was more than I could handle. This is walking with attitude and showing everyone why I dislike the “hoes and Patron” kind of rap at its core. At not point do I feel silly listening to the lyrics, rather I feel proud that hip-hop could be this intense and vicious. The fangs come out and suck out anything worth living for in those brief six minutes. This is desolate and the city all at once. Above all of that it makes you feel like a badass.
The Falcon – The Routes We Wander
If the Dead Pets were template The Falcon was a scathing rake to my ear drums reminding me how raw and excellent Chicago was and is. Originally introduced to me in the back of a Chevy Suburban one summer day I wouldn’t reunite with it until a fellow American would give it to me while I chilled over seas. Its raw savagery is blood pumpingness to its core and is another great way to party, there is the cool party, the dance party, and this…it gets ugly.
Flogging Molly – Devil’s Dance Floor
Few songs from my youth are worth remembering, and by youth I mean High School. I don’t remember where I first found Flogging Molly but it was love at first site. This song was on constant repeat in my old Chevy Astro that lasted about as long as a Phish concert. It is not even that this is their best piece of music, its simply that remember able, and purely wonderful in all aspects. It’s a song to my youth, and early love I suppose. Or is that too sappy? Probably…yea…
Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
Winter 06= Franz Ferdinand. I bought the CD on a whim after a magical Guitar Hero rendezvous and instantly the dance rock fantasm hit me like an abusive husband. I still put on my party mixes to this day since we all know it and we all love to dance to it and every time I think of freezing my ass off in the Achieva with a broken heater dancing along just to keep warm.
Green Day – Welcome to Paradise
What happened Green Day? You were the first CD I would constantly put on repeat (although funny enough I never actually OWNED it) and now you just suck so fucking hard. What happened to the those rebellious youthful days that weren’t so political, just hating on the system. You used to be so cool, what happened? I miss those days, please start being awesome and faux punk again…I want my rebellious youth (elementary style yo) back…
PS Your concerts are still cool…so what the fuck!?
Hella – The Ungrateful Dead
This summer was a math rock disaster and if you talk math rock you talk Hella (or anything with Zach Hill to be totally honest). One song has stuck in normal rotation as a theme of desolation and despair. There is no remember able moment attached Hella at all, but I do use it to point out how most rock bands having horrendous drum sections. This song sounds like 30 years in the future and we have no Delorian to get it back to where it came from.
The Hold Steady – Stuck Between Stations
Surprised? Yea, I was at first, but I realized how important this song is to me. It was the sign that I wouldn’t accept anything the indie scene threw at me and told me was good; if I had done that I would be listening to Nite Jewel (note: if you ever find me listening to Nite Jewel hire an assassin to kill me). I’m not fan of the Bruce Springsteen bartastic butt rock of feel goodery, and maybe that is because I’m way too cynical and unpleasant to be around, or maybe I just don’t like Wesley Willis.
King Crimson – 21st Century Schizoid Man
Rob Radtke likes few things, be it Talking Heads, King Crimson, or Medieval History. However Anything he likes you should take note that its going to be excellent. The fusion of rock and Jazz was something I was not aware of (to much of any extent) until my first year in college. Since then I have been in love, and we get along swimmingly. I’m sure this would be the point where Victor my roommate hated everything that resonated from my computer speakers. We got separate rooms now so I guess its ok….more on that later!
Kit Ream – Don’t be Holy Poly over my Souly
I love shitty movies, shitty movies that are just so bad that it comes full circle into excellence. It is super rare for music to do the same, but this is an exception; and completely insane example at that. This isn’t Nickelback bad, its Orson Wells in his last years bad. I share this with almost everyone at some point to go “no THIS is shitty music”. The story behind it is about as insane as well. What? You want me to tell you? Google is your friend you bitch.
Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll
Why do you like rock music? This is a question I have never been asked but IF someone were to this would be the answer, or really any Zeppelin song. For many years I sat in the back of the before mentioned Chevy Astro as my mom blasted 97.9 the Loop and sped like a devil on horse steroid. I think this may have had an effect on my brain, but this is ok I’m cooler for it.
The Mars Volta – Cicatriz ESP (Live)
Why do I love the Volta so much? It isn’t so much their studio albums (they are awesome by the way) but rather their completely fucking insane live shows. The lights, sounds, colors, and everything else just destroy your concept of what a good show should be. After a 3 hour set in London I learned what a good concert should be. This is the embodiment of that.
Modest Mouse – Dashboard
After 5 weeks of surviving on bread and beer in Europe it was time to finally make it back to England. I am not sure exactly the reasoning for hitting repeat on this over and over, but it just seemed like the best song to get home to, and I was so desperate to get back there. Even today its my go to “I just want to get home song”.
Om Kalsoum – Aghadan Allak
The Middle Eastern musical scene (well Egyptian in this case) has so many example of purely amazing sounds that will never fly in the states. This was my first foray into the genre and therefore Om Kalsoum holds a very special place in my heart, she was also a musical beast. If you thought Michael Jackson dying was a big deal, you have no idea…think coffin hijacking.
Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Half Kleptos
This is the most played song on my iPod, and for a good reason it is like pop music was given a lot of Ketamine and told to go fuck itself in an alley. The lyrics are gritty, nasty, awful, vulgar, and the music is to match. To quote myself when reviewing this album of nastiness “Never in my life have I been so ear raped as I was here. Each track is a true face fuck of raw music cranked up to 20 and then given an axe to murder you with. What’s worse is the addition of Cedric Bixler Zavala’s (that At the Drive in guy remember?) most morbid lyrics to date (“Girl you ain’t better than the germs I spread”) create an unholy mutant that can only be described as perfect. Even the track names hardly take them selves seriously with titles like Paper Cunts and Fuck Your Mouth. If you experience anything this year, experience this, do it like 30 times and then go have a smoke after, you’ll need it.”
Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Devouring a Sibling
I’ve had dreams to this song, strange dreams where God has just awoken, or maybe it isn’t god. Whoever he is he creates the universe to these sounds, the people grow around him from the fruit of his desires and wishes. The people do not understand his interest to say away from this affair and they begin to war. I awake from these dreams saddened. Such simplicity brings about such deep thought.
Pink Floyd – Bike
Ann Wheeler is a mutha fucka. Dilapidated dance steps singing along to Bike are the best ways to enjoy the late late hours or even middle of the day. After Syd Barret Pink Floyd turned into something that was attempting to be greatly epic and to be honest I once loved it. Then I realized that the closer the sound is to insanity the happier I become. Most of my friends are closer to that side of the spectrum, so its like I’m hanging out with friends…YAY!
Polysics – Kaja Kaja Goo
I once referred to Polysics as the band if you cut their wrists rainbows would spill out. The pure mental energy beaming from this orgy of 80s meets Crystal Meth is so profound that is sends me into a tizzy. The song wasn’t significant, but rather badass until I saw these guys live in a tiny little club in Chicago. I think after that day my mind didn’t work the same. I was so floored by the power that I danced myself into pure energy and then back. I fortunately didn’t hit anyone.
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
If I were to do this list correctly I would merely submit the entire Queen collection and with a letter that says “if you don’t get it you should probably go deaf”. There is a myth that goes around clubs in the Leicester area of a man who danced so hard to Don’t Stop Me Now that he literally caused the place to close or in some cases implode. I can’t confirm the true fate of the clubs, but I know I danced so hard that I had circles surrounding me, for better or for worse (after 9 rum shots you just…forget) I was in the spotlight, and this song is pure spotlight.
Rage Against the Machine – Fuck Tha Police
Before my estranged love for every Volta I had a hard on for everything Rage. I journeyed the entire world to find all the greatest live gems to blast through my computer. Yes this is merely a cover, but I there were plenty of drives to work that had me blasting this at 9am bast the speed checking cops. I love the local PD, but I can recall my angst any time this hits my blood stream. I love being angstry.
Rage Against the Machine – Bulls on Parade (live)
Nuclear bomb is one way to describe the first notes that hit. Another is revelation. Combining the two would result in a word that does not necessarily make sense. To me it would though. This song is an anthem to my anger. When I don’t want Discipline or Tasmanian Pain Coasters I slip into a comfy rage (see what I did there?) and recall the youth that was filled with hatred. I’m pretty alright now guys and gals
Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name
Yea, 3 Rage songs, DEAL! My political angst explodes upon hearing this track, its like a raging surge that evokes my disdain for the man and all he stands for. It brings me back to their live show where middle fingers coated the sky and we all at once shared that disdain. No unfortunate people could ruin that show.
Russian Red Army Choir – Soviet National Anthem
For the most part I skipped any classical songs. Mostly because as wonderful as they are I found it hard to found one that truly reminded me of a special moment. I think their beauty is that they can cover all moments. So why did I chose this to represent? Simple, if you didn’t know this was the anthem to Stalin’s fantastic all around good time you would think it to be the most glorious fanfare ever. Also it led to one of the greatest discussions in my apartment “Why does our National Anthem suck so hard compared to this” and “how did we ever win the Cold War?” It’s a terrific song, full of poise, power, and pride. It makes you wish in soviet Russia anthem moves you.
Sambomaster – Seishun Kyousoukyoku
Pure funk/rock awesomeness. It’s like running for you damn life, which is what I did to the old DCHS (that’s Dundee-Crown Highschool for the fools in the back). I am not sure if this is the song I played when I left, but I am saying now that it is, because it makes the story way cooler. I ran far away, and am forever glad I did.
Shpongle – Around the World in a Tea Daze
Peru doesn’t really have temples, but a shit load of mountains. You feel a worldliness when you explore them. I pretend to sound philosophical when listening to Shpongle, and really I feel a sense of it when I do. It isn’t as if the stuff is amazing, but it really makes you feel…out there and for that I must forever give it props. So rare do I listen to a song and just sucked into it.
Starsailor – Way to Fall
You held me as I laid there. Napoleon Solo over, this was bar none much worse to face. We are still wonderful together, and what makes it worse is I can hardly finish the track without thinking about the wonder I have now and the emptiness I lost. It’s essentially a cursed song. I wish it could have a negative play count and a million plays at the same time. Cliché? Yes, but we live in clichés and once it is accepted you learn to appreciate all the little clichés.
Stella Luce – Be Still My Bleeding Heart
To this day this is the only song that features me in it (ha! The only one). Alana Rolfe you are way too badass for words. I still am not sure where I am in this song, but regardless the gypsy folk love I receive from these moments keep me smiling all the less. I totally am going to brag about it to my kids.
Yoshida Brothers – Storm
I had to be cooler and use something that was so Enya yet so not Enya that one could not tell if my pretentiousness super ceded me or if really I love ocean sounds. In any case Storm is just…storms. It is my rainy day track, none of the Banana Pancake shit, but rather just some slick cool Japanese guitars bringing on the rain. If you ignore the drum machine beat you really feel it, and way more so than you should its like the little drizzle is the storm of the century…better grab the railing of the boat!
Zach Hill and Mick Barr – Lakes in Space
This song sucks. Like its just a fucking mess of all things sound and music. Which is why it is here. I have used this song to do 2 things. Continually annoy my roommate Victor with a casual “hey can you come here for a second” and also use it to express my feelings “The Governor of South Carolina makes me feel so….” Try it…you’ll see the laughs you get.
The Mars Volta – Drunkship of Lanterns
Single handedly the most important song I’ve heard in the past 8 years. Yes, no joke. Before this monster I was a wash in a sea of techno, pop, eurobeat, and the occasional rock song. However one lunch break led me to hear this monster “Check it out, its crazy”. From there about 1 billion play throughs later it resulted in the mess of a musical taste I hold today. I can’t describe what did it for me, but for certain it was every element that made me forget that synth pop shit and worship the distortions that rock could truly provide. 6 years later I have heard it twice live and each time has been such a lovely experience of sonic fury beating me like a baby seal. Thanks.