Saturday, July 19, 2008

Years in Music

I've had surprisingly little 'home in front of the computer' time this week, so in lieu of writing a real post I'm going to participate, slightly tardily, in this meme that has been floating around in which you pick an album for every year that you've been alive. The exact criteria for the choices are left quite vague, so I'm approaching it with the idea that I'll pick the album that is most closely associated with that period of my life.

That said, for obvious reasons it's a bit hard to do so for my pre-teen years. In fact it's almost impossible to pick anything at all for the first few entries, since for most of the early Eighties it's hard to even find albums that I've even heard for some years. So my first pick is Flash Gordon by Queen. I've never heard the album, but I sure loved that title track when I was 10. “Flash! Aah ahh!”

This is the only year out of the twenty eight that I'm genuinely at total a loss to pick anything for so I'm going to go with Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports, even though I've never heard a second of it, just because I always liked that guy.

In contrast 82 is actually an easy one. Dire Strait's Love Over Gold was the first album I ever fell in love with. At the age of two I probably wasn't that fussed about it, but I really got into it once I turned five!

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut. It wasn't until fifteen years later that I actually heard it, but as covered previously here I still have a soft spot for the Pink Floyd album that everyone else hates.

This is another tricky pick due to scarcity of decent music that I'm familiar with from 1984, but I'm going with Metallica's Ride the Lightening, even if I don't think I've ever listened to it once all the way through. Eighties metal deserves to be namechecked at least once on this list.

Again I'm going to go with Dire Straits. Brothers in Arms has always felt like the quintessential Eighties album to me, which is perhaps a little strange given that it's a throwback to Seventies stadium rock in the era of new wave and synthpop, but it sure got played a lot around my house.

It would be remiss of me to leave Coil off the list! Horse Rotorvator is certainly not my favourite album of theirs, but it's far and away the best thing I could find for 86.

I'm going to reprise 1983 here and go with Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Yet another album that everyone hates, but that I grew to enjoy before I was told that I wasn't supposed to like it.

And just as it would be unjust to forget Coil, it would also be unforgivable not to mention Skinny Puppy, one of the few good things to come out of a wretched musical decade. Again, VIVIsectVI is one of my less liked albums of theirs, but it's still the best thing I could find listed for a crummy year.

The Cure's Disintegration. It would probably be more honest to pick NIN's Pretty Hate Machine, but that band is going to pop up a lot later, and Disintegration's unbelievably depressing mood made a pretty huge impression on me when I first heard it, ten years after its release.

I'll go with Skinny Puppy again. Too Dark Park actually does happen to be my favourite album of theirs.

There are albums that meant more to me that I could pick, but Nirvana's Nevermind is, to me, the quintessential Nineties album, and provided a pretty consistent soundtrack to my high school days.

Pretty much the last year that I had any trouble picking an album for. Nine Inch Nail's Broken is a great album. But not that great.

I wanted to pick Einsturzende Neubauten's Tabula Rasa, or Nirvana's In Utero for the sake of diversity, but who am I kidding? I love Tool's Undertow to pieces. Even if they far surpass it in many ways on later albums, it has a raw dirtiness that I still return to often.

This was a really fucking great year for music. Nirvana's MTV Unplugged, Jeff Buckley's Grace and Mayhem's De Mysteriius Dom Sathanas are all worthy candidates, but are all comfortably eclipsed by NIN's The Downward Spiral, an album which has all kinds of special significance to me, and which I've blathered on about in this blog many times before already.

The Smashing Pumpkin's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness hasn't aged that well, but it was both ubiquitous and universally adored (see what I did there) for a good long time in the mid Nineties.

Nick Cave's Murder Ballads. Great album, although one I didn't come to until quite recently. I'm really only picking it so that I don't have every Tool album somewhere on this list.

Radiohead's Ok Computer. I didn't actually get this one until the next year, but its morbid paranoia made an unfortunately appropriate soundtrack to my last years of high school.

This is the point at which I can actually start doing this list properly, as it wasn't until this year that I became a real music geek. The soundtrack to this year for me was actually Ok Computer and Mellon Collie more than anything else, but Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals was a pretty constant companion too (honourable mention also goes to The Smashing Pumpkin's Adore and PJ Harvey's Is This Desire?). Can you tell that I was a miserable teenager that year?

A total no brainer. I must have listened to NIN's The Fragile at least three times a day for a year after it came out. I still remember skipping uni classes to go and buy it the day it came out. And hanging around in the record store for about an hour the day before because they were playing it on the PA.

A Perfect Circle - Mer de Noms. More fun memories associated with this album, such as coming home totally shitfaced from one of those fun Uni mid afternoon booze ups to find that my friend had left this album in my room for me. When I woke up the next morning I remembered nothing about what it sounded like, only that at the time I was listening to it I thought it was the most incredible thing I'd ever heard.

Tool – Lateralus. How could I pick anything else? Not just the soundtrack to that year, but to most of my life since...

I'm pretty sure we listened to Korn's Untouchables and System of a Down's Steal This Album a lot more, (and we definitely listened to Cripple Mr. Onion's album even more still, but it was a year or two old at the time) but Boards of Canada's Geogaddi always brings to mind all the times we sat in the sun chilling out and drinking Summer Ale. It felt like we did that a lot back then, even though it was barely ever sunny in Christchurch, and I was hell busy with my final year of Uni.

Massive Attack's 100th Window would probably do as well, but Radiohead's Hail to the Thief lived in our kitchen stereo for most of the year and got played probably twice a day at least (once by Barnes, once by me). It must have driven our other flatmates nuts.

There were many far better albums released this year (Nick Cave's Lyre of Orpheus, Dillinger Escape Plan's Miss Machine and Isis' Panopticon come instantly to mind), but Velvet Revolver's Contraband got a hell of a lot of playtime from me this year, and is fairly strongly associated with an old girlfriend as well. I sure wish I could pick a better album for this year, but this is the actual honest choice.

I blame Meshuggah's Catch 33 (along with Miss Machine and Panopticon, but they came out the year before) for turning me from a relatively middle of the road hard rocker into an unredeemable metal troglodyte. Damn you brutally heavy, technical music!

This was the year I moved to Australia, and Tool's 10,000 Days was the soundtrack to the three months of pissing around it took me to get here. Few albums are as strongly associated with specific times as this one is for me.

I'm a bit torn here. Musically I think of this as the year I got turned on to Nightwish, so I could list Dark Passion Play, but the truth is I like Once a hell of a lot more, and even if the music didn't do quite as much for me Nine Inch Nail's Year Zero is the obvious choice, both for the innovative way that Trent Reznor used the internet as his liner notes, and for how the album concept reflected world events of the last five years so well.

Opeth – Watershed. See my post of a few weeks back. This album still fucking rocks!

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