It saddens me to say that this will be the final Five and Alive from here on out - or at least until I'm paid a couple of thousand to write a reunion column in ten years. There's really no telling what the future holds. But for now, as the site is changing and we, as staff, are finding new ways in bringing up discussion about our favorite albums, the bullshit of this industry and all the greatness that lies within the grooves of a few million records we may never get the time or chance to hear - I will now lay this column to rest. I also, very much backed up on work I owe a ton of people in the interview department, do not have the time for such a column anymore. So to the users, the staff and friends in this industry that have shared their choices with me, an enormous thank you for being part of something I wanted to be special. At times it got cutthroat, but I would hope, for the most part, the column at least expanded many of our libraries in discovering a few much needed gems.
This is a top five that I wanted to do for some time now. I even went back to see if I had done it on a whim, and by my records (unless overlooked) I had not. Maybe it was buried in a front page discussion I forgot about, but for the moment, I'll say I never brought it up.
Call it elitist, but I can still track, in chronological order, the first five records since childhood that changed the way I looked at music. These albums made me go, "Oh fuck, what is this? Nothing else matters." Yes, even at the age of eight, I probably cursed a lot - maybe. So this is a bit of a challenge, but I love having this conversation with people and I figured this would be a hell of a way to end it. I even think Pitchfork has a column with artists based around this one at this point.
I can't wait to see your lists on this one.
- love and respect
1) The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour
My oldest memory of even paying attention to music outside of it just playing on the car stereo is many a Saturday spent after getting up early to watch as many cartoons as possible. Once they were over, my mom generally turned off the television and turned on the turntable while she cleaned the house and made lunch. I was introduced to everything from Michael Jackson to Led Zeppelin (which as a kid, I confused with Lynard Skynard) to The Beatles. I fell in love with Magical Mystery Tour. I would have my mom play it constantly. It wasn't just music to me, it was something else completely. Something new beyond any Van Halen guitar lick or George Michael pop hit. It has since resonated subconsciously in my love of well rounded pop rock in the vein of Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter, The Format and many others who don't bastardize the term, but instead make it something beautiful and savant.
2) Jimi Hendrix's The Ultimate Experience
Okay, my best friend says this one can't count, because it's a compilation - but I have yet to change it. I've loved dirty rock and roll from here on out. Hendrix's guitar work is still unmatched. It's like being in a hardcore band and saying you want to play like Kurt Ballou. Don't even fucking try. I think it was Hendrix's live rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock that I fell in love with the most on this one. In every good rock album, for every Jack White, for every sex filled groove from The Black Keys or Death From Above 1979 or even the dirt and grime of the contemporary Red Fang and Every Time I Die - there is a heart and a rhythm. To me, it all comes back to this man's ability to make you believe he was one with the guitar instead of having it as a separate controlled entity. There will never be another Hendrix because of it. I will never forget the impact he had on me right before my age hit the double digits.
3) Blink 182's Dude Ranch
Nirvana's Nevermind would probably wedge itself between 2 and 3 at a nice 2 1/2 position. It was an album I enjoyed, but didn't really understand the impact as a whole until years later. At the time, Dude Ranch spoke to me. There are records for many of us as an adolescent pre-teen that are like a Bible for both music and life with no separation in between. For many of us, the line "I guess this is growing up," is forever branded on the back of our skull in memory of many years behind us and useful for those still to come. More importantly, Dude Ranch's message was as simple as its music. When you're at an age when all you want is a direct answer to the first constant bouts of "Am I being bullshitted right now?" - albums like this are more than necessary to stand-up and say, "Yes, I think I am being bullshitted!" I know for some, it was Enema of the State, but Dude Ranch taught me music could be serious, but not overly dramatic - what's wrong with a having a laugh amongst our problems. I continue to find the laughter through all the anxiety because of this album. Sometimes a song or album doesn't have to be overly complicated - sometimes it just has to make a direct impact at the right time for when it is needed.
4) RX Bandits' Progress
There's a point in our teenage years as music fans when we hear a record that changes everything - every. thing. - about what we know music is supposed to be. It could have been Daydream Nation it could have been Paul's Boutique and it could have been Kid A. Progress was that album for me. Not one song was comparable to the other. I couldn't explain to someone what the band sounded like without spouting off a short thesis. I'm not saying that the above albums or any other albums that came before it weren't honest and heartfelt, but this album ripped me open. It was a record that not only opened doors to other genres and styles, it was the first time I got "punk" and started having an opinion on social issues and actions - even on the smallest scale of getting through high school to a larger scale of reading as many facts as possible before coming to any conclusion on national issues. Like Jason said in yesterday's article, "I kind of miss the times when you bought an album - and then were basically forced to spend time with it and see what shook out." I've heard plenty of albums like that since then, but this was the first, and I am forever grateful for it.
5) Thursday's Full Collapse
I'm pretty sure everything that has ever needed to be said about this album has been written ten times better than I can put it, but I'll do my best to make it as personal and moving as possible. This was the first time I heard a record where the emotion felt overwhelming with every new track and turn within the song. It made me feel uncomfortable, yet I embraced every down stroke of the guitar, clack of the snare and crack in Geoff Rickly's voice. This was one of the times when an album buried me in its anguish, yet I still came back to its nerve-wrecking abuse. I've since been buried in this scene, and still look to Full Collapse and its past influences to sift through the bullshit of the decade ahead of it. Some in my generation herald The Smiths or The Cure or Joy Division from a decade they never experienced. This band took those influences and mixed them into their love of hardcore and made a contemporary dish for which I still can't get the taste out of my mouth from. It's an album that still makes me hungry to hear bands continue in that stride of creating something as adventurous a decade later. It makes my job that much easier.