So I have been tasked with piecing together the 10 albums that influenced me the most. Immediately there was some debate over the definition of "influential" amongst our crew. Like how do you define the difference between "influential" or "favorite" albums? Is it motivational? Did it get me through a tough time? Or do I just like it because it sounds cool. Everyone defines these things in their own way and that's what makes music great - it's subjective! There is also a generational element to this as well. I grew up in an era where making your own playlist was becoming the norm.
Don't get me wrong I loved the CD player that I got for Christmas in 2005, but rather than buying whole albums I was spending hours at a time downloading music (and viruses) from Limewire and YouTube. Was the quality great? I would say about 50% of the time it was ok. Some songs were perfect and others were definitely recorded by someone that was holding a cell phone up to a speaker. But my point is that people that were master CD burners like me had the freedom to pick and choose their favorite songs at the time and we weren't limited to just full albums. That doesn't mean that my generation didn't still enjoy full albums front to back, but it definitely changes the dynamic.
So for the purpose of this whole exercise, here is how I made the call - These are albums that I relate closely with some of the most vivid time periods of my life. That means it probably falls somewhere in between "influence" and "favorite." Depending on the time of year, I find myself invested in a number of different genres of music. Because of that, there's no way that I would have been able to rank these from 1-10, but I think it's gotta be one of the more diverse lists out there. Here we go:
Mac Miller - K.I.D.S
Starting off with something that is actually a mixtape and not an album - am I stupid? Well maybe.... but I wont have a hard time justifying this to anyone in my age bracket. This was the music that I listened to as I started to find myself as a high schooler. We thought it was the coolest thing that some of us could finally drive and that meant that we could finally hang out at gas stations and spend money on fast food 5 days a week. During 99% of those rides this was the tape that was playing in the background. Most of us had older cars where we had to use the cassette tape thing that had an AUX cord that attached so we could play music off of our iPhone 3 or whatever. It was a time when we all thought we had it figured out when we definitely didn't. We thought it was dope that some kid that was roughly our age was putting out music like this and we were uoung and invinceable. - and who woulda known what Mac Miller would eventually mean to me and so many of my friends. This was the start of something special and I am pumped that this actually got released in full to all streaming platforms just a few weeks ago so I am counting it as an album.
Linkin Park - Meteora
Lots of us can get into our feelings listening to Linkin Park. We were reminded of that when we lost Chester Bennington a few years ago because of those feelings. Lots of my friends would pick Hybrid Theory as their favorite LP album, but I always gravitated to this one above all others. Lots of people loved it or hated it because it has the same sound as that first album, but I took it as them sticking to what worked best for them while creating new music that kept us interested rather than bored. The fact that this album is pretty short helped it's cause for, because it was easy to listen to all the way through in a single car ride or whatever. This album also had a bunch of super radio-friendly singles that we still play on the X to this day, which was huge for me as a guy that loved consuming local radio when I was younger. This and Hybrid Theory also laid the groundwork for their collaborative album with Jay-Z which I also enjoyed in my younger days.
Foo Fighters - The Colour And The Shape
You'll find me on my Foo Fighters grind HEAVY between the months of May - September. I have no idea if it makes sense to anyone else but I can get super seasonal with my music. Spring and Fall in particular give me my greatest moments listening to Dave and the gang singing at me. Even though I am a fan of most of the Foo Fighter's work from the 90's until now, this was an easy choice in terms of influence for me. Obviously I wasn't going through a divorce so I can't say that my situation was exactly the same, but the theme of liberation was definitely felt. I forget where the interview was done, but I can remember Dave saying that this album was like a weekly visit to a therapist where you come out feeling better about yourself. It was the perfect mix of up tempo and some ballad stuff for me. I also remember loving this album so much that I did a class project on "My Hero" in high school. I think I got an A but I can't remember. I still loved it so much that I used "Everlong" as one of the songs when I would make practice radio demos when I was still an intern with DVE.
Zac Brown Band - The Foundation
Curveball! Actually Zac Brown is one of my favorite musicians ever. People hate how often he experiments with his different interests but I think it shows his range of abilities. How many others have released a true country album, a rock project and an EDM project all within a few years of eachother? This is a guy that has worked closely with Dave Grohl and Avicci (RIP). Range baby. Anyway this is the album that reeled me into country music heavily back in 2009/2010. I had enjoyed country music in the past but this is what really got me into the genre full on. The first time I saw them live was when they opened for Kenny Chesney (yes that famed Kenny Show) back in 2010. The minute they started playing I was IN. While I have enjoyed a bunch of their work since this album, I am also inclined to say that they will probably never put out an album as good as this again. One of the best debut albums I can think of and it was a huge part of my summer listening in my high school days. (BONUS - Peep ZBB covering Van Halen And Rage Against The Machine On Their Tour Last Summer)
Blink-182 - Enema Of The State
The Blink debut of one of the greatest drummers of my lifetime - Travis Barker. I didn't really discover Blink until my middle school days, but once I did I can remember listening to bands like them and Green Day on some virus filled website called RadioBlogClub. We would all sit in middle school typing class and spend the entire time using proxy sites to work around the school content filters to listen to music and play games on MiniClip. I was never ever good at skateboarding, but you know damn well I wore DC shoes and knew how to draw that graffiti slayer "S" on all my notebooks. This is an album that never fell out of rotation for me from that time through high school and college until now. I was PUMPED to see them play this thing all the way through during their most recent tour with Lil Wayne.
Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
I was considering sticking with one Blink album, but then I thought "why in the hell would I do that?" This album meant a lot to me and plenty of others as they grew up through their high school years. As I enjoy this album now, it rings so true that we face so many of the same problems now that we did when we were younger. I mean look at this crazy f*cking world we are in right now. I can see myself listening to this as a pump up before a high school hockey game, a slow down after some rejection or just as I drive around. Even though I am way different than the person I was 10 years ago I remember that I still hold many of those same emotions inside me every day. A bonus is that this album included one of my favorite Blink songs and music videos ever.
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV
Remember how I just mentioned Lil Wayne playing with Blink? I know that tour was a complete disaster, but the Pittsburgh show was unique because Wayne showed up and he actually played second because his bus "broke down" or something like that. That has nothing to do with this album but I considered it relevant. I never really understood why this album got so much hate. Some people said that Wayne sounded bored and tired, others said that they liked previous installments of Tha Carter series better. That is where I felt completely different, as I didn't LOVE much of the work prior to this - and then this album converted me. This is a good example of what I talked about in my intro where this is simply an album that I associate closely with some of the most vivid memories of my life. Senior year of high school. I listened to this album on REPEAT. We included lyrics from "John" into our pregame ritual for Serra Catholic Hockey (lol.) Did I actually have a choppa in my car? Wouldn't you like to know - but my point stands that it was just a whole album that I can closely associate with making great memories as I finished out my time in high school.
"Drowning in the political soup" - This lyric still sticks doesn't it?
Mac Miller - Swimming
Talk about coming of age. This is a more recent album that has had a tremendous impact on me in a short period of time. I will openly admit that my emotional connection to this was definitely fueled by the loss of Mac shortly after it's release, but damn is this album special. A hard reminder that we weren't as young an invincible as we thought in our earlier years. Now we've gone through struggles, we have watched close friends die and we are up against it to make our own way in a world that doen't do you many favors. After my love for him originated with things like K.I.D.S / Blue Slide Park / Best Day Ever, I kinda fell off the Mac train a little bit. His life started to run in a different direction than mine. I always paid attention to his work but I couldn't relate to some of the things he was singing about in between these projects, but this album brought it all back for me. It was his proof to the world that he had matured beyond what he was doing in those middle years after he found his original fame. There is a song off this album that I could relate to any emotion that I have experienced in the last 2 or 3 years. Certainly they are different experiences than the things I dealt with in high school, but the theme of finding mental peace means a lot to me with this one. I will miss Mac Miller for as long as I am on this earth.
Kenny Chesney - When The Sun Goes Down
I know I will take some heat on this one, but that is because people that aren't open to all types of music will see this on the surface as "just a guy that has fans that cause a mess on the North Shore." But there's no reason for me to not be honest. Kenny was my gateway into Country music as a whole. This Kenny album means more to me than any other because of all of the relatable messages that come from it. Hell the whole theme of my blog was to reminisce on time periods in my life where these albums meant the most to me and there's a song about just that on this album. I ask you to take any blind hate for country music that you might have and set it aside.
Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms / Van Halen - 1984
Couldn't decide which one of these to put in the last spot so I made my own rules and just put them both here. Above all else these albums just remind me of getting connected to classic rock for the first time. My dad was a DVE listener through and through growing up and a lot of the adult figures in my life were too. I can recall going through many hockey workouts in the old gym where we would have these two albums on repeat day after day. After you spend so much time listening to these two all the way through you kind of have no choice but to love them. They always bring me back to my dad who has been a huge part of a number of areas of my life, but that time that he invested into my hockey teams growing up was something that influenced me to want to do the same thing for my kids if I am ever lucky enough to have them one day.
These albums also fell into consideration because like the ones above they are related to some great time periods and memories of my life
The Postal Service - Give Up
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
Asking Alexandria - Stand Up & Scream
Zac Brown Band - You Get What You Give
Wiz Khalifa - O.N.I.F.C
Pearl Jam - Ten
Check Out What Influenced Other Members Of The X Family
Abby's Top 10 Most Influential Albums
Russ' Top 10 Most Influential Albums
Stacy's Top 10 Most Influential Albums
Katie O's Top 10 Most Influential Albums
Brandy's Top 10 Most Influential Albums