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.
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.
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.
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.
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)