Albums for Ages with Associations

For months now NPR has been running a weekly survey asking people to vote for albums they love. This is all under the auspicious of “Albums Everyone Can Love?”  The question mark says it all. And their poll results are phenomenally interesting. I suppose I can’t be shocked that Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People received only 26% Yes, while getting a 13% No and 61% Haven’t Really Heard (seriously, WTF) when I myself Haven’t Really Heard Creedance Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1, which received a 55% Yes. These polls are such a fantastic curation on the part of the NPR All Songs Considered Blog staff. I base this assertion on the following. Their most recent poll sent me reeling into total recall the albums on the list which I too love with every fiber of my being – when and why. Fucking. Visceral. Let’s review.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness : Released 1995 : Loved 1995

I had just gone to my first sleep-away camp in North Carolina. My best friend had been going to this camp since the first grade and if she could do it, why couldn’t I? So I went. I saw. I hated it. I never went back. I did make one good friend there, though, and she conveniently lived twenty minutes from my house back in our home state. We started hanging out on the regular. She was a bit of a peculiar nut, and this nut loved Billy Corgan. We were 10 and we loved the shit out of that album. It is the first time I remember loving any album for that matter.

Cover of Fugazi's album "Steady Diet of Nothing"

Fugazi – Steady Diet of Nothing/End Hits : Released 1991/1998: Loved 1999

I came to love Fugazi not because of a pure love for Ian MacKaye or for Minor Threat. I don’t really even like Hardcore Punk that much (or at all). But I love Flea, aka Michael Balzary, the  bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers who I came to love above all other bands always and forever when they released Californication in June 0f 1999. It was the summer before 8th grade and all was well in the world. I quickly became obsessed with the album, all their previous recordings, their tour dates, their musical influences. Thus enters Fugazi. The band whom Flea talked about in interviews and the whose sticker he rocked on his bass guitar. I promptly went out and purchased Steady Diet of Nothing and End Hits. I’d never heard anything like “Long Division.” With that I was hooked and unwittingly primed to love Sonic Youth when I was introduced to them in 2001. And now that I think about it, I probably get my love of tiled walls in urban spaces from the cover. I also take great pride in the DC connection. But that is relatively recent compared with the timing of the discovery.

Beck – Midnite Vultures : Released 1999 : Loved 2000

Midnight Vultures is not Beck’s best album of all times. That would be Odelay. But in 2001, MTV showed actual music videos during the day and I was home sick trying to find something watchable to distract myself from my congestion and cough. Thus entered Sexx Laws, a song opened my eyes to a new world of aesthetics, a new side of Beck, and a new definition of sexy. Beck, I will always love you.  And I  will always love that album.

Fiona Apple – Tidal : Released 1996 : Loved 2002

I was late to the game on account of being 11 when this album came out. At age 17 I started listening to this album and didn’t turn it off for 7 months. I was in love for the first time. I didn’t know it then but it was starting to sour. I probably should’ve been more self aware given that my two favorite tracks were “Shadow Boxer” and “Never Is a Promise”

The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema : Released 2005 : Loved 2005

I was starting my second year at McGill University and was finding the academics lonely and unrewarding and the the Montreal winters unrelenting and depressing. What’s an English-speaking, artistically inclined but shy person to do? Sign up for a life drawing class taught in a predominately French-speaking area half-way across town of course. I was attempting to shake off a life of term papers, studying, snowfall and 20 year olds pre-gaming on cheap Depanneur-bought wine before heading to the same-old St. Laurent bars. Which one could argue is an awesome life, but I was bored. To get to this class I had to trek 40 minutes each way. This is the perfect block of time in which to listen to albums loaded on one’s i-Pod which they’ve never previously heard. Thus enter Twin Cinema. Thank you, Byron, for driving my musical expansion in 2004 through your massive external hard drive.

Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights : Released 2002 : Loved 2005

This band came onto my radar during my Montreal Music discovery years. I don’t know how or when I heard of them, but I know that by 2005 the house parties my roommates and I hosted in our St. Urbain apartment sometimes turned into dance parties if the weather was cold enough and the group care-free enough. During a particularly raucous affair on a very snowy night, my friend Kevin broke a futon frame as a result of vigorous jumping. We really didn’t care and never held it against him. In fact, I probably love this album more for it.  It would also seem that I have an affinity for post-punk music. Who knew?

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