Friday, February 20th, 2009


This is a Facebook meme going around, but I don’t like to post these ON Facebook….

“Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you that they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the ass, literally socked you in the gut if you know what i mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others, including myself. Make sure you copy and paste this message so the people you tag will know the drill.”

Well… This is a hard one. I listen to a LOT of music. I have 36,000 mp3s (and only about 3,000 of those aren’t music). I spent 5+ yrs listening to a random playlist of 9000 songs (typically limit myself to playlists of 1000-2000 songs these days). I went through a set of rechargeable (Nickel-Cadmium) walkman batteries every day in high school. I have music playing 24/7/365 at home. I often turn the in-game music off in video games, leaving only the sound effects, so I can use my own music. I bring music to work and listen non stop. I would be very hard pressed to choose my 100 favorite albums, let alone choose 15.

So this will be kind of random and arbitrary! I will probably focus on some of the albums I listened to when I was younger (high school), as they shaped my future tastes. I also will try not to repeat 2 albums by the same band.

01. Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction – first cassette I ever bought, around 1988. At first I would just listen to Sweet Child O’ Mine over and over again. Chris Hanners made fun of me. Eventually my favorite song became “It’s So Easy”, and now I’m also quite fond of “Rocket Queen”. I’ve heard (and played) Sweet Child O’ Mine enough for a lifetime.

02. Metallica – Ride The Lightning – not my first Metallica album – that was And Justice For All, arguably more influential because it helped get me into metal. But then I got Kill ‘Em All, and liked it better than Justice, listening to it about 400 times in high school. Ultimately, however, I decided on Ride The Lightning as my favorite Metallica album, and this hasn’t changed in 10 or 15 years. This is the only Metallica album that I would still consider listening straight through in sequential, today. Metallica themselves can fuck off and die in 2009; they should be burned on the high alter of hypocrisy.

03. Megadeth – So Far, So Good… So What? – Along with Metallica‘s And Justice For All, and Megadeth‘s 2nd album Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, this was one of the 3 albums that got me into thrash metal and metal in general (or speedmetal, as we called it back then). I started with Guns N’ Roses, moved on to Metallica & Megadeth, and progressed into Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Kreator, Coroner, etc. This was also my introduction to the Sex Pistols, as Dave Mustaine‘s cover of “Anarchy In The UK” (retitled “Anarchy In The USA”) made me realize that Sex Pistols are a band I need to get into someday. (It took me until college to get around to this.)

04. 20080223 - cd longboxes - Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine, Jane's Addiction: Nothing's Shocking, Ministry: The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, Gwar: Scumdogs Of The Universe, Type O Negative: Slow, Deep And Hard, Atari Teenage Riot: Live In Philad Jane’s Addiction – Nothing’s Shocking – After seeing “Mountain Song” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (despite wikipedia claiming MTV wouldn’t air the video), I felt it slightly out of place. This was before 120 Minutes existed, back around 1988 or 1989, before Jane’s Addiction became mainstream. This was back when their 1st (live) album couldn’t be found in record stores, because they hadn’t “broke” yet. The cover artwork, in the form of a longbox CD case (remember those?), was perhaps the most subversive piece of art I owned, at age 14. I was a freshmen at the school across the street from my house. It wasn’t until I was a junior (1990-1991) that everyone seemed to know the song “Been Caught Stealing”. The songs were so incredibly powerful (Ocean Size, Had A Dad, Ted,Just Admit It, Standing In The Shower…Thinking, Mountain Song, Pigs In Zen.) To this day, I think the song “Jane Says” is probably the worst non-instrumental song on the album, maybe tied with Idiots Rule.

05. SabbatDreamweaver (Reflections Of Our Yesterdays) –  Click the album title for my 5800 word review on this album. One of 2 albums I have ever bought on all 3 formats: Cassette, Vinyl, and CD (original pressing for $54 and remaster for $26). I bought this because I liked the record company, Noise Records, and because I liked the cover art. It was around 1989. It was a truly random purchase. Extremely dense thrash metal, with TONS of lyrics for each song, and TONS of riffs. Sam Watson figured out that it was a concept album with an incredible story — and this was AFTER I had grown to love it. Eventually, lyrics surfaced on the internet, and I spent weeks in college listening to it over and over, fixing the lyrics until they were right. I had a national library search for the book it was based on fail twice, before finally succeeding some 10 yrs afterward. We now own the book it is based on, and have both read it. This might be my favorite metal album of all time, and is probably Carolyn’s too.

06. 20080223 - cd longboxes Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes – In my day, sonny, we didn’t have emo music. If you were crushing hard on a girl, or feeling a lot of teenage angst, you would listen to THIS album. Blister In The Son, Kiss Off, Prove My Love, Add It Up, Please Do Not Go, Gone Daddy Gone, To The Kill… This entire album was great, and helped show me that you could still rock with acoustic instruments, and “lead acoustic bass”. “Lead” bass is rare. Primus, Mr. Big (who I hated, but was impressed with the bassist), and some Violent Femmes were really all the music I could think of that had “lead” bass. I still remember an entire bus of random party-goers at Virginia Tech spontaneously breaking into singing this song. People from all kinds of different social standings and circles of friends united into a drunk carol of epic proportion — I remember that bus ride to this day. 4 years after getting into the album, I was surprised to find out that it was well known among all the other random Virginia Tech people. And later, they would play at Squires Student Center.

07. NoMeansNo – Live + Cuddly. NoMeansNo has way too many MASTERPIECE, EPIC albums for me to choose one. It’s really hard for me to choose a favorite between Wrong (the album), Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed / The Day Everything Became Nothing, Sex Mad / You Kill Me, or 0 + 2 = 1. But Live + Cuddly was the first NoMeansNo cassette I ever heard, after a guy named Dane played some of it for me in a car at a sleepover that Carolyn’s ex-ex-boyfriend had lured me to with the promise of cheerleaders also attending. (There weren’t any, and when we talked to some random chicks walking down the street, they informed us that the neighborhood nickname for this kid was “Turd”, lol.) Suffice to say that Dane helped me to influence the most people I have ever influenced in my life to like a band. When NoMeansNo came to the Rock N’ Roll Hotel, I could attribute 10-15 people being there because they got into it from people who got into it from me. It spread through my friends, Carolyn’s brothers friends, the Ingebrets3n brothers, and more. They are one of the most creative “punk” acts out there. It’s too bad their post-2000 work does not at all stand up to their pre-2000 work. I will also remark that their first album, Mama, clearly has songs that sound exactly like Primus‘s style (lead bass, nasally vocals) — years before Primus hit the scene. But this was not the sound they would ultimately have. It was punk — but only because it lacked classification elsewhere. It was punk with high variance. No two songs sounded a like. Usually, with punk, most songs by the same band sound somewhat alike. Still one of my favorite bands ever.

08. Alternative Tentacles – Virus 100 Dead Kennedys Tribute. Back in my day, sonny — before p2p and bittorrent — if you wanted 1 rare song by a band you lived that appeared on some strange compilation/tribute album… You had to go to the record store, special order the album, and play the waiting game. This album is well known among Dead Kennedys fans, and even among non-fans. I never heard a single Dead Kennedys album until AFTER college, despite the fact that I had this in *high school*. I knew I liked the songs, and I knew I would eventually like Dead Kennedys (Which I do now). What’s the rush? In fact, I would say that for about 80% of the songs on this album — I like them better than the Dead Kennedys version. They’re far more stylized and unique. This is also how I got into Victims Family, a NoMeansNo-produced funky punk band that has some decent stuff (and some stuff that’s not quite as decent). It’s also how Disposable Heroes Of Hyphopcracy got on my radar. I’m not into hip-hop, but they did a spoken word collaboration album with William S. Burroughs (“Spare Ass Annie”), and the fact that I had already heard them do California Uber Allies helped convince me to pony up the cash for Spare Ass Annie after seeing The Naked Lunch movie.

09. WeenPure Guava. After hearing Push Th’ Little Daisies on Beavis & Butt-head, I knew this was a band for me. I wasn’t wrong. This album blew my mind, and introduced me to one of my 3 favorite bands (Ween, The Misfits, Atari Teenage Riot). Listening to Ween has been pretty much a daily occurrence ever since, and Ween is the band I have seen the most times live — 8 (counting the Gene Ween and Gene Ween Band shows). Basically, this album helped expand my love of modern psychedelic music, and greatly influenced my music taste. Although I got this in 1992/1993ish, it was not until about 2001 that I decided Ween was tied for my favorite band. But the voyage started with this AMAZING album. My favorite track? Morning Glory!

10. Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits. Won by my dad in a sweepstakes contest in 1995, I threw this into my 12-disc changer without knowing what to expect. What we were treated to was a bunch of cover songs of cartoon themes. Liz Phair, Semisonic, Matthew Sweet, Juliana Hatfield, Tonya Donelly, Collective Soul, Butthole Surfers, Helmet, The Ramones, Reverent Horton Heat, Frente, Violent Femmes, Face To Face, Tripping Daisy, Sublime, Toadies, The Murmurs, etc. These were, for the most part, bands I never listened to, and to this day am not the slightest bet interested in (except Femmes, Ramones, Surfers, and to a lesser extent Rev. Horton Heat, and The Murmurs who had a great song Beavis & Butt-head watched called “You Suck”). Yet they made an album of songs I absolutely loved — mostly because they didn’t write them. Old, corny TV songs re-done in modern styles. All the soul of the old, and all the style of the new. It was the perfect mashup, and was probably a Top-10 listened-to album in college for Carolyn & I. Sublime turned the 30 second Hong Kong Phooey theme song into 7.5 minutes of sometimes psychedelic reggae madness. Popeye The Sailor became a fast, aggressive, headbanging song. Happy Happy Joy Joy became something that could be moshed to. H.R. Pufnstuff had far more charm than the original. Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah was the perfect one for Violent Femmes to improve, and improve they did. The whole album was a masterpiece. Later, Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks gave the exact same treatment to the Schoolhouse Rock! songs, with pretty much equal success (including a Ween song, as well as Man Or Astro-Man?’s best song ever, Biz Markie, Lemonheads, Skee-Lo, Moby, Pavement, and such). These 2 albums are in a category of their own.

11. Type O Negative – Bloody Kisses. Best gothic metal album ever? I think so. You just can’t beat songs like Black No. 1, Christian Woman, Blood & Fire, Too Late: Frozen, or We Hate Everyone, and the rest of the album is quite good too. I was a Carnivore fan before Carnivore changed its name to Type O Negative. So this was really the 4th studio album byt hese guys. But it was groundbreaking at the time — their shows are still extremely popular to this day. Type O Negative did for gothic metal what Sisters Of Mercy did for gothic rock!

12.Ministry – In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up. I first heard the song “Thieves” (with samples from Full Metal Jacket) when I saw D.R.I. (with Bad Religion opening) at the old 9:30 Club. They played it on the speakers in between bands. I went out and got the live album, and to date it is one of my favorite live albums ever. The accompanying video IS my favorite live video ever (and I lost my VHS! Stolen by friends, I assume.) Most of the songs on this album were better than the studio equivalents! They were longer, more aggressive, and had TWO drummers. This began my descent into industrial metal. This album was ultimately responsible for me liking KMFDM, Rammstein, Atari Teenage Riot, Chemlab, Nine Inch Nails (who I got into because of the raw aggression of Broken; I hated Pretty Hate Machine in high school), and Marilyn Manson.

13.Atari Teenage Riot – Burn, Berlin, Burn! Just click on the band name to find other posts where I gush about Atari Teenage Riot. Combining techno, industrial, metal, punk, hip-hop (tiny bit), and noise into a genre they dubbed “digital hardcore” — ATR redefined the very meaning of the word “heavy” for me. Slayer‘s got nothing on these guys. Metallica wishes they could make something this aggressive. Most death metal is too generic and unrelenting to really get me going. These guys get me going. And politically, they are the only band to capture the true rage that we should be feeling with the state of the world and society being what it is today. There other albums are equally as good, but this is what helped me START THE RIOT (one of their songs)! In fact, Atari Teenage Riot has inspired real riots, with riot police, mass arrests, and everything. I’d pay good money to travel back in time and attend that show. Too bad Carl Crack is now dead.

14.Sex Pistols – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle. Yes, I know this isn’t “really” the Sex Pistols, and that their only true studio release was Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. Despite that fact, this was one of the most listened to albums by Carolyn & me in college. It sat in our 12-disc changer for years, just like Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits. Despite it not being “real” Sex Pistols, I found this album to capture a particular essence that made it realer than a real Sex Pistols album. Most Sex Pistols fandom probably considers this to be sacrilege, yet this is how I feel. Don’t get me wrong — Nevermind The Bollocks is a seminal classic. But I might even like the Ex Pistols The Swindle Continues better than Nevermind The Bollocks! Either way. The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle is the single “Sex Pistols” album that I would have to choose to take to a desert island.

15.Minor Threat – Complete Discography. While I originally owned this as two separate cassettes, they released them onto 1 cd, and I now consider it 1 album, because it all fits on a cd! This is the first song I ever performed in my first band — and I hadn’t even heard the original at that time! In high school, I grew to GREATLY love this. It is some of the best punk that ever existed, and has not been forgotten, like some greats often are. It seems everyone still remembers and loves them. If they were to tour as Minor Threat today, I’m thinking the shows would quite possibly sell out. Too bad Ian MacKaye is a dick and a hypocrite, now seen drinking around D.C. bars despite starting the [stupid] straightedge punk scene. To quote the Undead: “No Vices! How boring it would be if we had No Vices!”

NOTE: No The Misfits albums were included because there are so many The Misfits albums that are varying permutations of the same songs. Thus, any good Misfits song appears on multiple different albums, making it really hard to pick one as being particularly influential.

I wish I had room to include Moistboyz #2, Mr. Bungle #2 (Disco Volante), and The Undead‘s Dawn Of The Undead on this list. But I don’t. I would also consider putting Freezepop‘s Freezepop Forever album on this list, if only because it is an incredible departure from my normal music tastes. I also wonder if The Church‘s Starfish album belongs here for similar reasons.
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 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] We had been trying to watch every Johnny Depp movie that had a palatable summary. The summary of this movie deterred us from watching it for quite a long time.

PEOPLE: Johnny Depp. Al Pacino. Directed by Mike Newell who has directed about 80 things I don’t care about.

QUIRKS: FBI agent infiltrates mob, gets caught up in mob life, eventually stops reporting to the FBI. He’s REALLY into his job. Based on a true story.

BAD STUFF: Just another mob movie about mob stuff.

CONCLUSION: I also wrote this review a couple months after watching it, and LITERALLY REMEMBERED *NOTHING* without going to IMDB and re-reading on it. I find “guys with guns chase power” stories to be rather generic and banal, and often don’t remember the details of the story even 2 or 3 days later. Honestly, I had more fun watching the b-movie (c-movie?) High Times’ Potluck, which had the lead singer of the Lunachicks starring as a girl who ends up turning the mafia into stoners, and also had a Tommy Chong cameo, Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob fame) and the dad from The Wonder Years in it (as the mafia head). Now THAT is memorable, even if the movie was done on a low budget (by High Times magazine).

Now, Donnie Brasco wasn’t meant to be fun like Potluck; it was meant to tell a story. It definitely had intensity. But it loses points for simply being a topic Carolyn & I aren’t generally interested in, and for being very realistic. Which is to expected from a true story. By the way, Carolyn & I also have absolute zero interest (negative, actually) in ever seeing The Godfather. So there was a reason we put this off for so long. It’s really not our thing.

RECOMMENDATION: Johnny Depp fans should see this for completionism. People who can stand mafia movies really like this – it got some Oscar nods. But if you share the taste of Clint and Carolyn, there are a million other movies to watch that are more entertaining.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: At 3 stars, I tie Becky for the lowest rating. Ian, Glen, Metinee, and Darren all rated it 4 stars (really liked it), while Wayne & Christian rated it 5 stars (loved it). So in this case, I disagree with some of the people who rate the most like me (Ian, Christian) out of my 20 or so Netflix friends. (more…)