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Jason Tate 05/17/12 02:29 PM

Thursday Discussion: Albums That Met (Or Exceeded) Your Lofty Expectations
I don't always know what I am going to write about for each week's Thursday Discussion. Sometimes there will be an event throughout the week that is just perfect for a starting point of inspiration for what I want to write about. Sometimes I'm looking at a bunch of random ideas I have stored in a notebook. This week my inspiration comes from a blog post I wrote late last night. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say about the new The Gaslight Anthem album, trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to word a post about the album, band, and my thoughts on it. I haven't written a full on album review in a long time (apparently to Drew's chagrin) -- I enjoy being able to just open up on a completely personal level instead of worrying about how to tackle a review from a more critical or objective viewpoint. I like being able to just flat out talk about the music and how it hits me ... instead of worrying about some of the politics that go into "official album reviews" (introduce band, worry about scoring, blahbalhablah). And I enjoy being able to talk about my evolution in how I feel about an album. What my "first impressions" are ... how they evolve with time ... and then come back and revisit an album a year or so down the road and see if I still feel the same way. Music, to me, is a journey.

So, with that, what I picked for today's topic is a look at those albums that have met my expectations over the years. We spend a lot of time in the forums (too much?) talking about the albums that we are expecting to be great, and how they don't live up to expectations. We call them "sophomore slumps" or complain about the singer being too happy now. Or we talk about the albums that really "grew on us" over time and how we learned to love them. But, for once, I wanted to really focus on those albums that I wanted to be something special from the first listen - and were. The ones that I was hoping were going to knock me on my ass - and did. The ones that my first impression of "holy shit" ended up standing the test of time five years later. I don't know how Handwritten will do on that time frame, but it's clearly now in the running.

So, here are the top albums that lived up to my expectations when I first heard them -- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the replies, or give me a rundown of the albums that would be on your list.

1) Thrice - Vheissu
NoteAfter listening to Thrice's The Artist in the Ambulance, I was anticipating their new album in a bad way. I remember knowing that it was going to be "different" ... but I was ready for whatever they were going to throw at me. That album hit me like thunderclap. Just massive. From the first listen through I was captivated. It ended up being a "grower" album for a lot of people ... but for me ... my expectations were insanely high and from first listen I couldn't believe how much better the album was than I even thought it could be. This one continues to hold up quite well for me. Passionate. Thick. Great album.

2) Brand New - Deja Entendu
NoteI feel like I bring this album up a lot in these discussions. It seems that anytime I am talking about an album that shaped my life or moved me ... this one has to be in the running. It sounds weird to say, but upon first listen I knew we had a classic on our hands. I got called out for my overhyping of the album pretty mercilessly at the time. But I feel like time has vindicated me on this one. I was hoping for a great album ... and I got one of my favorite albums of all time.

3) Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree
NoteI remember thinking "please be good, please be good, please be good" ... hitting play ... and having a smile on my face for pretty much the entire album. It was that smile of "this band was about to be one of the biggest in the world" mixed with "damn, they wrote a really great album." They set the bar pretty high with TTTYG , and I was a worried they'd wouldn't be up to the task. I think the band had been poised as "next big thing" for a year or so and the expectations were that anything else would just not compute. They stepped up, called their shot ... and sent it over the fence.

4) Blink 182 - Enema of the State
NoteDude Ranch was nothing short of life-changing. So how does a band meet my expectations after that? Eh, just go out and make arguably the best pop-punk album of all time. No big deal. Just another day in the life of Blink 182.

5) Bon Iver - Bon Iver
NoteAs one of the newer albums on the list - it just feels too important to pass up. This was a situation where after all of the hype and buzz about the first two releases, I wasn't sure it was even possible for the album to meet expectations. Where I thought it would just flat out have to be one of the best albums of the entire year ... or it would be seen as a massive disappointment. First listen through just flat out blew me away. What an album.

6) Jimmy Eat World - Futures
NoteThere were all kinds of rumors around this one ... because of the producer change, the "Trombino sessions," and the hype coming off of their previous album. I would say it it's in my top 5 of "most anticipated" -- and that first listen payed off like a "top 5 album" should.

7) Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
NoteThe anticipation over this album was at fever-pitch. I think just about everyone on this website at the time was wanting this one ... after they started to see mainstream success with Transatlanticism, I think we were all curious what direction they'd take. This album remains one of the more powerfully emotive albums in my collection. That first time you hear "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"? Yeah, expectations met.

ACA 05/17/12 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by Kurt Retenauer (Post 108120202)
Fun. - Some Nights

One of the few wrong answers to this question.

Jason, I agree with most of your picks. I'd put Sing the Sorrow on this list.

gregplaysdrums 05/17/12 02:35 PM

Anberlin's "Cities."
There were so many opportunities to download a leaked version of this record early, but I was looking forward to it so much that I decided to hold off and experience it all at once, on CD. It was worth the wait for me. I remember instantly falling in love with it. It's still my favorite of theirs.

animefan13LPfn1 05/17/12 02:36 PM

Definitely agree on FUTCT.

Also, my friend was building up "The '59 Sound" for me, telling me how awesome it was, how I needed to listen to it, etc. Needless to say I had ridiculously high expectations, and when I finally did listen to it, I was blown away.

Erik the Orange 05/17/12 02:36 PM

Blink-182- "Neighborhoods"

Say what you want, but this album is better than a lot of fans give it credit for. "Kaleidoscope," "Wishing Well" and "Even if She Walls" are some really great cuts.

anamericangod 05/17/12 02:37 PM

Deja is the obvious answer, as nobody really could have predicted how monumental it ended up.

As for very recent releases, Yellowcard's When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes totally took me by surprise. I thought those guys were washed up, especially after all I'd heard about for some time was the fact that Ryan was hanging out in college bars in Georgia and experiencing some sort of existential crisis. I'd go as far to say that that's now my favorite Yellowcard album. I never would have guessed they could pull that off after how their career had gone.

Butch Walker's Letters blew my mind even though I was a huge fan of Left of Self Centered. It was a Deja-like step up for him. Keeping the bits and pieces of what made him him, but then taking it to another level in an almost transcendental way. One of my favorite albums of all time.

North by Something Corporate more than met my expectations after Leaving Through The Window. Better songwriting, more of an edge, still catchy as hell.

The World We Know by I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business totally blows the debut album out of the water. The best Ace Enders release to date.

Mirrorsandfevers 05/17/12 02:37 PM

I agree with a lot of these. What's the story with Futures though? I never heard of one.

RyanFTW 05/17/12 02:38 PM

The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past

AFI - Sing the Sorrow

Hot Water Music - Exister

The Gaslight Anthem - The 59' Sound

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Shook Ones - The Unquotable A.M.H. (Wild Card Pick)

Blake Solomon 05/17/12 02:38 PM

Manchester Orchestra's Simple Math comes to mind instantly.

Anberlin's Never Take Friendship Personal and also Cities.

i'll ahve to think of some more later.

Blake Solomon 05/17/12 02:39 PM

oh, Why?'s Alopecia

Mirrorsandfevers 05/17/12 02:39 PM


Originally Posted by ACA (Post 108120312)
One of the few wrong answers to this question.

Jason, I agree with most of your picks. I'd put Sing the Sorrow on this list.

Oh you.

Thomas Nassiff 05/17/12 02:40 PM

This topic is perfect for the way I felt about American Slang.

Ryan Gardner 05/17/12 02:41 PM

Lost In The Sound Of Separation comes to mind immediately. Wasn't sure how UO could have a record as killer as Define - and wow did they do it again.

Coughlin's Law 05/17/12 02:41 PM

The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness.

After Gish, I expected big things from them and they didn't disappoint. I didn't think I could be moved like I was with Siamese Dream, especially when the rumors of a double album started to leak, but damn if Billy didn't pull it off with MC&TIS. This is the only band of my youth that didn't let me down with their first 3 albums. (4 if you count Pisces Iscariot, but it wasn't a true "new" release)

RyanFTW 05/17/12 02:42 PM


Originally Posted by Thomas Nassiff (Post 108120662)
This topic is perfect for the way I felt about American Slang.

Album was on some kind of different level.