Top [20+] Albums, Songs and Genres?

One of the current Facebook memes is a list of the top 15, 20, 25 albums that have shaped your life. I have heemed and hawed on my list and finally decided to put it together here. I was having a hard time nailing it down to albums, in general, so I have opened it up a bit more.  I think I will keep it to a list of 15 or 20, but a few items will be grouped, like Twee Pop, a few will be one-off songs... because the album was not as striking as the single song and a few will just be random.

  1. The Magnetic Field - "100,000 Fireflies"This song existed for me before I heard it. It is a perfect song and I knew I loved it from the first note. I love that live, they switch off who sings the song. At first Pat thought the song had two parts, the female voice leading the song and the male voice responding.
  2. Twee Pop: Bunnygrunt Action Pants!, Cub Betti-Cola, Tullycraft Old Traditions and New Standards, Of Montreal The Gay ParadeI love Twee Pop. The first time I came across it was a promo tape of Bunnygrunt's Action Pants! That lead me on a quest for more and to Cub, Tullycraft and a host of other sweet sweet pop ensembles. The best were the Athens Pop Fests: three days of blissful pop, my introduction to Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal. Whle I really disliked living in Atlanta, I really liked living close to Athens.
  3. Kitchens of Distinction - "Four Men"One of the first songs I remember hearing that with lyrics explicitly detailing male-male sex. There is a whole host of Kitchens of Distinction songs I love, but this one stands out for being openly gay before it was quite so common and accepted.
  4. The Smiths - RankThis was the first Smiths album I bought at Rolling Stones on West Irving Park. At this point, the Smiths had actually broken up but it was my first forray into Morrissey. Years later I would get Hatful of Hallow which is probably my favorite Smiths compilation, with "Accept Yourself" and "Handsome Devil," another explcitly gay song. The Queen is Dead is my favorite Smiths full-length... I could go on, but you get it.
  5. Kate Bush - The Hounds of LoveI recently rediscovered this LP and it is wonderful. Kate Bush is a great musician and artist and the combination of the pop gems on side A and the concept of drowning on side B makes this a perfect LP. While I love digital music and its convenience, sometimes records really got it right. You had twenty mnutes to a side and those two sides could be complete opposites from one another.  Once CDs came around with a 70-74 minute playtime I think artists became quite lazy at culling weaker songs from their releases. This is a gem and I can listen to it a 1,000 times over.
  6. Stereolab - Mars Audiac QuintetNo matter what way you cut it, I love stereolab... the droning organs, the sweeping synthesizers and the quirky electric pianos mit Rocksichord. Mars Audiac Quintet is the first Stereolab album I owned (or borrowed from KDIC) and their poppiest so it always holds a special place in my heart.
  7. Moose - Cool BreezeMoose were shoegaze, then pop and I loved them in both roles but the song "Suzanne" on the Cool Breeze e.p. is amazing and blends everything I want from a song into 4 minutes.
  8. Ride - "Vapour Trail"I love shoegaze and a number of bands that fall into that genre, but my favorite songs are when those bands break out of their genre mold (although Ride albums post Going Blank Again really push this to a limit). "Vapour Trail" if a beautiful song and it always makes me with I was more nostalgic.
  9. The Aisler's Set - Terrible Things HappenThe Aisler's Set take the 60s pop esthetic, meld it with pop's girl group sound and turned it into a think of smokey beauty. I still remember the first time I heard this CD and I cherish it to this day.
  10. The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, StrikeWhenever I need to dance around the kitchem while I am making breakfast, this is the shit. Fun, fast, loud and great to bounce around while making pancakes.
  11. Rocketship - A Certain Smile, A Certain SadnessBack on the twee train with Rocketship, but they had a great sound.
  12. Echo and the Bunnymen - Crocodiles, the B-52s - The B-52sThese two albums could be no more different but they did come out around the same time and they both served as my introduction to that dirty word "alternative" music. Ultimately, I guess both were reinventing psychedelia in their own ways and within the confines laid out before them by their pop music forefathers.
  13. Apples in Stereo - Fun Trick Noisemaker Elephant 6The Apples in Stereo are perfect, sleepy pop music. Fuck it, pretty much the elephant 6 collective. If they haven't been named already, they should be in my list.
  14. The Cure - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss MeI got made fun of alot for having part of a poster for this in my highschool locker, but was worth the trouble.
  15. Digable Planets - Reachin' (A New Refutation Of Time And Space)This always takes me back to 1992/1993. The mood and vibe seem timeless, there sound clips from Sesame Street bring it back to being a kid, the topics are clearly adult and the surreal themes are visionary.
  16. Pizzicato Five, Fantastic Plastic Machine, CorneliusShibuya-Kei = Fun.
  17. Os Mutantes - TechnicolorWhat can I say about Os Mutantes. This probably is not their best album, but it is their most accesible and the first one I bought. I then found out that Pat had a whole host of Os Mutantes and I was hooked.
  18. Prince - Sign O' The Times, Parade, Around the World in a DayMy Prince trifecta. I think Parade is my favorite though... the song "Mountains" always makes me daydream.
  19. Madchester - the Inspiral Carpets, Charlatans UK, Happy Mondays, Stone RosesThat fun blend of 60s mod dance beats, organs and psychedelia made the last few years of high school a bit more bearable!
  20. Papas Fritas - HelioslefAgain wth the Twee Pop I suppose, but this album just blew me away when I first heard it and still does today. From the opener "Hey Hey You Say" to the frenetic anthem of the open seas "Words to Sing' and the pure pop "Come Sing About Me" it is a great pop album.
  21. New Order - "Ceremony" and "Confusion"I loved New Order a bit more bare and dance oriented. "Ceremony" is a great New Order guitar song and "Confusion" seemed to pretty much capture dance music from the early 80s. New Order is probably just songs anyway since their singles and LP releases were never related in their early years.
  22. Love - Forever Changes, Zombies - Odyssey and OracleI found out about Love pretty late in the game but I appreciate their cynical take on the "magic" of the hippie 60s. Perhaps it was being a band from LA and not SF, but they seemed to know that the magic was going to be short-lived and cynical at best. Their arrangements, lyrics and guitars always make for beautiful songs. This would also be a backward salute to Belle and Sebastian, specifically because I think Stuart Murdock referenced Love as one of the bands that influenced them! The Zombies seem to fall into the same genre for me, at least the Odyssey and Oracle songs.  They had big pop hits but kind of fell by the wayside while making a great record with gems all around. At the time, I don't think anyone wanted to hear negative songs about the summer of love, but looking back, maybe they should have listened more closely?
  23. Pas/Cal - Oh Honey We're Ridiculous, Saint Etience - Good HumorAh. pop. I don't think Pas/Cal and Saint Etienne have much to do with each other but I am afraid I will get to 25 pretty quick...