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More Music That Made Me

Last time I did a Music That Made Me post (well, the only time until now, really), I talked about the top 5 albums that had an influence on me at various periods throughout my life. I even mentioned a few runners up! But I think it’s worth talking a little more about some of those runners up – and a few others I completely neglected to mention but were still very important to me growing up. When I say “growing up” I mainly mean high school. Because it seems like that’s the time when music most has an influence on us. When songs from these albums come up at the right time, I get a little nostalgic. Not that my high school years are THAT far behind me (scarcely over a decade, really), but I don’t know how else to describe the feelings they give me. It’s comforting and familiar. So without further ado, I present another round of 5 for Music That Made Me!

1) Dirty Vegas, Dirty Vegas

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I got really super into EDM towards the end of high school and into early college – at that time I just called it “techno.” For Dirty Vegas, I think it’s technically “house.” Anyway, silly labels I’ll never get right aside, this was one of my FAVORITE albums at the time. I’d take any excuse to listen to it – so I listened to it all the time. My brother and I would even put it on while we played video games. It took me to a different mindset. I remember being hooked from the first track “I Should Know.” I still get good vibes when I hear it. As I mentioned last time, I got my first taste of Dirty Vegas from a Mitsubishi commercial (featuring “Days Go By”) and I instantly knew I had to get the album. So I did.

2) Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions

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I mentioned this in the last Music That Made Me! It was tough picking between this album and the eponymous Sheryl Crow, but this one definitely came first for me. I remember it being a constant presence in my freshman year of high school. I loved this album so much. Her voice, the acoustic sound of the instruments, the sadness in (a lot of) the songs…I just felt it all deep in my bones and my heart. I still get that when I listen to tracks like “Riverwide” and “It Don’t Hurt.” Great production on this one. This was a really mature album for me to be listening to at the time, now that I think about it. I guess I (occasionally) had mature tastes? I say “occasionally” because…

3) Blink-182, Enema of the State

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This is the album that comes next in the list of Music That Made Me. Haha, I don’t believe you should ever be ashamed of the music you listen to, but I’m maybe a little embarrassed this is on here? Oh, this was a high school album alright. It came out in my freshman year and might very well have been the first album I bought with my own money* (given to me by my parents so I could spend an afternoon at the mall). I played the heck out of this one too. I knew all the words. Once in awhile, a Blink-182 song will come on and I’ll think to myself that I don’t want to hear it, but if I don’t move fast enough to change it, I’ll realize that yes, indeed, I do want to hear it. This is probably the bro-iest album I own? Oh, dear.

4) Télépopmusik, Genetic World

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More EDM/techno/whatever you want to call it! (Wikipedia says it’s electronic, trip hop, downtempo. Okay.) Again, as I mentioned before, I discovered these guys in a Mitsubishi commercial by way of “Just Believe” towards the end of high school. This one fascinated me because it wasn’t the type of techno that I was used to – but I still really, really liked it and I played it a lot. Angela McCluskey’s voice was heavenly to me (it still is) and her tracks are probably some of my favorite off of this album. These guys haven’t put out an album since 2005. That’s just 2 albums in 14 years! But each one is so deliberate – I remember noticing that even 11-12 years ago (or whenever it was that I bought it).

5) System of a Down, Toxicity

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I didn’t listen to a lot of metal in high school. Maybe because nothing came as close to the perfection that this album achieved! Wow, this is still such a great album. And another one I listened to quite a lot. The politicalness (I couldn’t think of the right suffix for this??) went completely over my head at the time. I remember hearing about this band getting a lot of crap when 9/11 happened. But I didn’t make the connection. All I thought amounted to “Hey, it’s just music and I like it, so whatever.” Ah, teenage ennui. “Chop Suey!” got me into this album. I had a roommate who would call it “Self-Righteous Suicide” and got disgruntled when corrected because “Chop Suey!” made no sense and wasn’t even mentioned in the song. Heh.

That’s all for now! No honorable mentions this time – Oh, I definitely have more albums that influenced me, but I think I’ll save them for another time! This increments of 5 works well for me. Till next time!

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Music That Made Me

This week, I’m taking a leaf out of the book of one of my favorite podcasts, Wham Bam Pow. They have this occasional segment called “Movies That Made Me,” where they have a guest come on and talk about a movie that influenced them or otherwise had some affect on them at some point in their life. I don’t know that I could do that with any movies or even TV shows, but I can definitely do that with music.

The following is a list of the top 5 albums that influenced or otherwise had some effect on me at some point in my life. They aren’t necessarily my top 5 favorite albums (though some of them are). Rather than present them in the order of least to most influential (or the other way around), I’m presenting them in the order that I discovered them (not the order they were released). This is the music that made me.

1) Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill

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This album came out when I was 9, though I don’t think I started listening to it until I was around 10 or 11. It was the first album I remember listening to over and over again that wasn’t a Disney soundtrack, or otherwise an album meant for kids. It’s funny looking back on it because this album is all about being an adult. Re-listening to it in my 20’s, I feel such a connection to a lot of its themes. I don’t know what drew me to it as a kid. It might have been her unique voice. I certainly hadn’t heard anything like it before. It was harsh but powerful. It was so the opposite of my Disney soundtracks. The production on this album is flawless–I think somehow I recognized that even as a kid. It was (and still is) such a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.

2) Nelly Furtado, Whoa, Nelly!

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I was really beginning to discover my musical independence in high school and, like most kids in my generation, found a lot of my music at that time on MTV. It’s where I first heard Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird,” and it’s had a special place in my heart ever since. I related to a lot of that album when I was in high school. It was something about the persistent theme of a wandering soul, of someone who was still figuring out who they were and where they belonged. It helped that she, too, had a unique and intriguing voice. I loved the way it never seemed content to stay still or predictable, making it consistent with the themes of the album. It was very different from what was dominant in pop music at the time, which, according to this Slant magazine review, was “‘pop princesses’ and rap-metal bands.” (That is totally what pop music was at that time. They’re not even slightly exaggerating.)

3) Gorillaz, Gorillaz

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The first time I saw and heard “Clint Eastwood,” it blew my mind. It was unlike ANYTHING I’d seen on MTV at that time. I didn’t even know something like that could exist. I’d never even contemplated it. It wasn’t even the pinnacle of what they would accomplish, but my brain and ears were hooked. When I got the album, I was delighted at how this music was (again) so different from anything else I’d heard. It really set the bar for what music could be for me at that time. I also loved the shroud of secrecy that the band kept around them. It was like believing in Santa Claus all over again. I wanted to know so much more about them, but the not knowing was a thrill too. I still remember that sense of wonder when I re-watch Clint Eastwood, even though I now know the physical faces behind the cartoon facades.

4) Deltron 3030, Deltron 3030

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Well, what can I say about this album that I haven’t said before? Deltron 3030 changed everything I thought I knew about rap, and even what I thought I knew about music. It really raised the bar for me.There was no going back after hearing the track “3030.” It’s no wonder, considering there was a lot of creative exchanging of musical ideas going on between Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Damon Albarn at that time, and you can totally hear it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it had the biggest influence on me since I’d first heard/seen “Clint Eastwood.” It’s just a surprise how long it took me to discover it! (It was around the end of 2010, I think.)

5) iamamiwhoami, kin

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So I think I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love iamamiwhoami. But I don’t think I’ve given a definite reason. kin is that reason. I’d already heard of them by the time they’d started the slow-release of this project/album. And I’d been intrigued before, but bounty didn’t have the same sense of continuity that kin did. kin was not as busy as bounty. It seemed to have a clearer sense of direction, even if it wasn’t clear to the viewer/listener what that was. It was better than following a TV drama from week-to-week (kin was released biweekly). I eagerly awaited every single release up to the very end, when I snatched up the CD/DVD release and watched it in its entirety. It was only after a few watches that it finally became clear to me what it was about. I won’t say because I think it means something different to everyone, and everyone is meant to discover what that is on their own. But it’s so deeply personal to me. I feel it in my bones every time.

Honorable mentions:

Björk, Vespertine – This album had a pretty good influence on me when I was in college (a lot of Björk’s work did) but it falls just shy of the top 5 most influential list. Sorry, B!

Madonna, Ray of Light – I never listened to a lot of Madonna growing up, but I remember getting interested in her around this time. This was when she was going through her Kabbalah thing. It made for a magical album.

Moby, Play – I played the hell out of this album in high school. Moby’s music was such a curiosity to me, mainly because it seemed to defy genre. It took my mind to totally new places.

Sheryl Crow, The Globe Sessions – Another album I played the hell out of in high school. It was so soulful, and I’d never really experienced anything like that. It reminded me of my experiences with Alanis Morissette, but softer.

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