OK, so it's been a long time since I've done this. What can I say? Life can get hectic sometimes. With that said, let's catch up a bit. Sure, I've strayed and I haven't followed through on some promises I might've alluded to here. For instance, I had really intended on posting a monthly list of my favorite albums this year, mostly so it would be easier when compiling my year-end best-of. Well, I got as far as January. So just to play a bit of catch-up let me just mention some awesome albums that came out in the last few months:
- Arcade Fire- Suburbs
- LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening
- Sleigh Bells- Treats
- The National- High Violet
- O. Children- O. Children
- Best Coast- Crazy For You
- Free Energy- Stuck On Nothing
- Robyn- Body Talk Pt. 1
I guess it's also time to admit that the decade retrospective just isn't happening. Ten years is a lot to look back on. So in its place, I've decided to follow a musical kindred spirit, the lovely and awesome, Sunlovey. She and I had this same idea to pretty much steal Pitchfork's "5-10-15-20" feature and do one of our own. It's a pretty cool concept where some hipster indie artist waxes poetic about the music they were listening to ages 5, then 10, then 15...you get the idea. Anyway, the difference between me and Sunlovey is that she went ahead and did her list (check it out here: http://sunloveyforever.blogspot.com/2010/08/inspired-by-pitchforks-5-10-15-20.html) Now I follow in her ever-fashionable footsteps. So here it is, my my life story in music, in multiples of 5.
Thinking back to 1981 is tough. I may not have been as cool as I would become at the age of 5, but there were hints of what direction my musical taste would go. To think, just a year later, I would go on record to admitting that my favorite band was the Clash; I made this bold statement at my 6th birthday party when the magician brought me up for a trick and asked me what my favorite band is. Then I proceeded to sing "Should I Stay Or Should I Go." Anyway, back then I was living in Brooklyn. The first music I remember listening to and actively liking was The Beatles and The Stones. I was too small and too young to be allowed to work the record player so I had to wait until my older brother or sister were there to play records for me. I remember listening to a lot of big rock bands like The Who and Styx. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite songs of all time is "Come Sail Away." To this day, I listen to it and just love it. But again, this was the beginning of the 80's so I have fond memories of seeing videos for the first time and being enthralled by it all. The ones that stood out most did so for very different reasons.
First, there's Gary Numan's "Cars." He sounded like a robot and the video was so bright but the song was just so catchy. My older brother or sister bought me this 45 and I still have it. It's one of my most prized possessions in my record collection (by the way, the B-side is "Metal.")
Then there's Joan Jett & The Blackhearts' "I Love Rock N' Roll." She will always and forever be the definition of "BADASS." Shaggy hair, thick eyeliner, leather jacket...just utter coolness. I consider this to be the start of my obsession with big sing-along choruses and handclaps.
I have to admit that I had to look online for a list of what albums came out in 1986. It turns out that there was some really good stuff that was released then. Songs I'd be tempted to say that I loved back when I was 10 just to maintain some cool points. For the record, those would be "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from The Smiths and "Bizarre Love Triangle" from New Order. But again, it was Brooklyn in the mid-80's and heavy metal was pretty popular. Hell, I can't even lay claim to liking Slayer's "Raining Blood" at this age...it was out back then, but I definitely did not know it. That being said, this was the time that my slow evolution into becoming metalhead really began.
Yeah, that's right...Van Halen. I friggin' LOVED Van Halen. This was the first single without David Lee Roth. Now I loved Diamond Dave, but I loved VH so much that I really wanted to like his replacement, Sammy Hagar. I'll be honest, I do really like this song. I dug the album, 5150, as well. But then they would really go into the crapper. I prefer old Van Halen to Van Hagar, that's for sure. Yeah, this song is still good, but it will never top "Dance The Night Away" from Van Halen II. That one is still proudly on BriPod. On another note, I remember being at a friend's birthday party and there was a singing contest (yes, an actual singing contest with a $10 prize) and even though I had a sore throat I went up there and sang "Why Can't This Be Love." After I sang it, I even bragged to one of my friends and said "Yeah, that was the new Van Halen song."
And here begins my unhealthy love of hair metal power ballads. I can't even call Poison a guilty pleasure because I happily proclaim my love of their music even now. And not in the ironic sense. They just wrote some really great pop songs. Hell, on more than one occasion when out doing karaoke, I have gone to Poison for my song choices ("Talk Dirty To Me" and "Fallen Angel") AND I was told that I was charismatic and that I could sing on key upon finishing each "performance." Now that I think about it, I think I sang this song when I tried out for Glee Club. Hmmm, that explains my unbreakable bond to Bret, CC, Bobby, and Rikki.
By this point I was a full-fledged metalhead. I spent my Saturday nights staying up late watching "Headbangers Ball" with Riki Rachtman. This is how I got exposed to the heavier stuff, like Pantera, Exodus, Sepultura, etc. I was so into metal that I tried to grow a mullet. Seriously.
When I was 15 every one of my friends loved Metallica. There was also an all metal station on AM radio back then; AM 1480- Z Rock. I remember the day that "Enter Sandman" came out, Z Rock played it non-stop. And I don't mean every hour...I mean they played it on repeat for what felt like a whole day. Ever the non-conformist (well, as non-conforming as someone who still liked the floofier hair metal could be, I suppose) I was more into Megadeth. I totally wore out my cassette copy of Rust In Peace. This was the first song off that album and it's just a total killer. I still remember arguing with friends over who's better: Metallica or Megadeth. I still can't believe I always sided with Dave Mustaine.
Yeah, that's right....I just went from Megadeth to Mr. Big. Like I said before, I'm a sucker for power ballads...even ones that didn't have much power. Also, around this time my perpetual case of being girl crazy really started to get bad. Needless to say, if you were a girl I had a crush on then this song ended up as the centerpiece of the mixtape I'd make. Really, just try to resist this song...it's almost impossible.
At this point, I was living in Boston going to college. I was just under a year away from getting involved in college radio (which I still am to this day.) I was also slowly becoming a goth. It was a couple of years after NIN's The Downward Spiral so it seemed like industrial bands were sprouting everywhere. I was one of those kids who hated Stabbing Westward but loved Gravity Kills but also went backwards to discover older industrial bands like Front 242 and Skinny Puppy and just about anything that Wax Trax! put out. Industrial music also opened the door for straightforward electronic music. I had pretty much ignored anything with keyboards while I was a metalhead (though I secretly liked Depeche Mode and New Order) but with a supposed industrial music revolution kind-of happening I opened up my musical palette. Oh and I also still dug Weezer.
I had seen Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds when I went to Lollapalooza '94 but I just didn't get it then. It took this song with Kylie Minogue to turn me around to both artists, as I'm a fan of both of theirs to this day. This was on Murder Ballads and it might be my favorite "he said/she said" type of song. And this is what led me to becoming a bit of a goth.
SKINNY PUPPY!!! This was definitely case of "better late than never." Sure, Puppy pre-dated NIN; sure, Trent even used "Dig It" as the prototype for his own "Down In It." The Process wasn't a typical Skinny Puppy album, if such a thing even exists. I grew to love this band's older stuff more but this song, "Death" holds up very well over time. Just hearing it makes me want to thrash and stomp about flailing wildly. I met Ogre a couple of years ago and he was very very nice. We talked about our favorite Cure albums: mine is Disintegration, of course and his is Pornography. I told him that that was my second favorite Cure album...I lied, it's really The Head On The Door.
Like I said, I still liked Weezer. Pinkerton was such an awesome album. I can't believe how much this band sucks now. Stupid Rivers Cuomo. This album was so full of awkward charm. One of the many reasons I like this song is the pro-wrestling references: "Watching Grunge leg drop New Jack through a press table"...ECW! ECW! ECW!
So after college, I went through a bit of a dark period where all I listened to was industrial, classic goth and New Wave and well, that's it. When it came to new music, I was a bit lost. I'll admit, the only new stuff I was into for a while was that band that won VH1's "Bands On The Run"-- Flickerstick. Oh and I liked Incubus but only the album, Morning View because I thought "Wish You Were Here" was an awesome song. Thankfully, I started dating a girl who was very much into indie rock (our first date was an Interpol concert.) That was enough to open the door for me to rediscover good music.
The Faint was one of the first bands I remember reading about after 2000 that was being compared to some of my favorite New Wave bands. It was an interview I read where they mentioned that the song they most wanted to hear in dance clubs was "It's A Sin" from the Pet Shop Boys. Based on that alone, I picked up Danse Macabre and instantly, "Glass Danse" jumped out as my favorite song by them. It makes perfect sense that an ex-goth (or a supposed ex-goth with goth tendencies) would fall head over heels for this band.
During the great Britpop War between Oasis and Blur, I chose my side wisely. My pick was Pulp. To me, they were head and shoulders better than either Oasis or Blur. And the thing that separated them was Jarvis Cocker. Easily one of my favorite lyricists (up there with Reznor, Robert Smith, Martin Gore.) The lyrics to "Common People" is one of the biggest reasons that that's in my Top 10 favorite songs of all time. Anyway, "Bad Cover Version" appeared on the last Pulp album, We Love Life and Jarvis is at his sarcastic best comparing a former love's new boyfriend to himself by saying that it's like a bad cover version of him, even going so far as saying that the new beau is like "a later Tom & Jerry, when the two of them could talk, or the Stones in the 80's." Just brilliant. As much as I dig Jarvis' solo work, I still pray that Pulp reunites.
By now, my music taste is fairly well-rounded. Sure, I'm still a big music snob, but can you really call someone who loves Robyn, Robbie Williams, M.I.A., and Spoon equally a snob? That's something to ponder.
With a name like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it was inevitable that I'd like them. On that same note, I do tend to gravitate towards bands with clever names whether it's I Love you But I've Chosen Darkness, A Place To Bury Strangers, or The Go! Team. But there is the occasional letdown-- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I'm looking in your direction.
Sure, it'll never beat "House Of Jealous Lovers," but The Rapture is one of those bands that demand dancing. The part in this song that goes "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this, they cross their arms and stare you down, and drink and moan and diss" is pretty great, mainly because I used to be that guy. Now I dance like no one is watching. Is that a line in a song? There's no way I could've made that up just now.