Five years ago I looked back on what music had the most significant impact on me at various stages in 5-year intervals of my life, a la Pitchfork’s interview series. Good luck finding the previous post I made on the subject. Here’s an updated version.
Age 5: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Most of the music I grew up on came from my dad; Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Steve Miller Band, The Allman Brothers, etc. Lots of late-60s and 70s rock. Fleetwood Mac is what I remember best and has continued to resonate with me the most. I may be looking back with tinted lenses a bit, but I think this album has most closely shaped and aligned with my current tastes.
Favorite track: “The Chain”
A year later my brother would get tapes of Green Day’s Insomniac and Weird Al’s Bad Hair Day. That trifecta of albums, along with the next one on this list, makes up large chunks of my musical personality.
Age 10: Weezer (“The Blue Album”) by Weezer
Weezer was another band that my brother introduced me to. At a time when I started to become more aware of my social standing in school (or lack thereof), Weezer’s celebration of geekdom pulled me in. This was also the year I started learning guitar, and the indie-pop-meets-punk-aesthetic-with-hints-of-metal sound heavily shaped my guitar playing and songwriting for years to come. Unfortunately the kinda-misogynist-at-times lyrics (“I want a girl who will laugh for no one else”?!) also partially shaped my unfortunate view of relationships for years to come, and wouldn’t be undone (ha) until college.
This last February some friends and I got together and played some Weezer covers for a Valentine’s Day cover show. It was a load of fun.
Favorite track: “Say it Ain’t So”
Age 15: Clarity by Jimmy Eat World
I got this album for Christmas in 2004 during a really weird and angsty time my first year of high school. Honestly this schmaltzy album probably didn’t help much, but the intricate, layered arrangements on a lot of the songs (“For Me This is Heaven,” “Goodbye Sky Harbor”) stuck with me. Looking at it now I can see just how silly the lyrics are, but it was the perfect soundtrack to a period that seemed like a way bigger deal at the time.
Favorite track: “For Me This is Heaven”
Age 20: The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky
When I got to college I took a class called “The Art of Listening to Music” and was re-introduced to a piece I had forgotten from the several times I watched Fantasia and listened to it as a terrified child: Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. It’s barbaric, violent, beautiful, and changed the world when it came out, and almost 100 years later it changed my world and set me down the dark path of contemporary classical music.
Favorite section: “Ritual of the Ancestors”
Age 25: Fez by Disasterpeace
Fez is a game that is without a doubt as much about the sound as it is the visuals, and the sound-world that Rich Vreeland has crafted for this non-violent explorative platformer is always such a treat to visit. Its aesthetic is unique and consistent without becoming grating (something that Vreeland has become quite adept at it, proving himself again with the superb Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake), evocative, and emotionally resonant while remaining clearly synthesized, yet somehow organic.
Favorite track: “Sync/Glitch” (yes, technically two tracks, but they sync (ha) up so nicely on the soundtrack album)