Early last week, a Facebook meme asked users to list ten influential albums from their teenage years. We enjoyed your lists, friends. On recommendations from your adolescent selves, we’ve even gone back to listen to some we might have missed.
The lists are fun and provide a little insight into our close friends and casual acquaintances alike. A killjoy or two has suggested the lists purposely omit the guilty pleasures our unsophisticated teen tastes were partial to, or that it’s not progressive to hearken back to those days. But we think music is formative, especially at those years. It's not something disposable that you listen to and throw away once you're done because something newer is coming. We asked some favorite musicians who feel the same to share a story about an album on their own lists because music isn’t just formative, it’s also a beautiful way to connect.
When Kendrick Lamar's Overly Dedicated mixtape came out, I had just decided to drop out of high school and I had quit going. It was wintertime and I was pretty heavily smoking herb and popping bars. Me and my group of friends used to skate around all the time and sell weed and just do little petty shit like car hopping and stealing shit from people's backyards. So the mixtape dropped and we had heard a bunch of Kendrick’s freestyles that had been popping off that fall and I downloaded it and it was snowing that day, so all the high-schoolers were outta school and we just drove around on the ice seeing everybody and smoking and listening to this mixtape. The first track, "The Heart Pt. 2" — it's not on the Spotify/Apple versions but it's on the actual mixtape — just immediately got us. The man is just rapping his ass off dropping insane wisdom.
Out in Haiti adolescents barely have a home
In L.A. everybody think they fuckin on
Hop on Twitter perpetrate we doing big shit
Who we hangin wit and bragging bout the iPhone
I swear half of y'all cats just don't know Kendrick
It was just mind-boggling. I remember "Opposites Attract" having a huge impact on the way I had viewed relationships up to that point. All my friends and I were getting in trouble, getting locked up, dying. And Kendrick just gave our crew so much life. He had this urgency to his music and this desperation that perfectly captured the anxiety you feel being just broke and young but striving to elevate your situation. And then watching his rise from there has blown my mind over the years.
Allen’s list also includes Beck’s Odelay and Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson.
Chatterbox and the Latter Day Satanists, Boulder, Colo.
For me, thinking back on a band that influenced me growing up brings back 13-year-old me and a band that I didn't truly realize the effect it had on me till I was older. My Chemical Romance and The Black Parade always brings the image of angsty emo kids, but it was the first band that really meant something personal to me. I was broken by life by the time I was 11. With no one to confide in and no one to understand my pain, what I needed was empathy from anyone at all. That's exactly what those songs provided me with. It was an understanding of pain and a call to continue through the struggle of it all. "I am not afraid to keep on living/I am not afraid to walk this world alone." Those cries of courage will always push me through the roughest of times.
The Guillotines; Prophets of Addiction, Houston
My dad brought home the VHS Alice Cooper Trashes the World and he HATED it. Of course I loved it and watched it a million times over, but I had never heard the original group. This was back in the day when Warehouse Music let you preview CDs, so he took me in there and put on Love It to Death, Alice Cooper and put it on "I'm Eighteen" and my hair stood up! To this day it's my favorite song and those first five Alice Cooper records molded my musical life from then on out.
Gilbert's list also includes. Motley Crue’s Too Fast For Love and Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. The Guillotines return to Fitzgerald’s Sunday, February 19 with Dallas’ Speedealer.
Giant Kitty, Houston
My story would have to be about Le Tigre's Le Tigre. My dear friend showed the album to me and I absolutely hated it. I didn't like that women were screaming in an annoying way, I didn't like that they were talking about what I saw as "inappropriate" topics since I was an uptight homeschooler with very rigid ideas of what women should be like and most of their message was in direct contrast to the mindset I was raised with and around most of the time. Somehow I went from playing the album to troll my friends to actually engaging with it, and I have to say that album was the first time feminism reached me in a real way. It also helped me realize that it was okay for women to be powerful and loud. I'd be a very different person without that album.
Hakim's list also includes Flogging Molly’s Drunken Lullabies and System of a Down’s Toxicity.
The Unconvicted, Houston
So, my parents divorced in the 1980s and my dad moved to Tomball. It's not that we weren't close or had a bad relationship, but he moved to fucking Tomball! He might as well have moved to Mars. Anyway, he had a killer fucking stereo system and really liked rock. He never could get on board with my Slayer or Anthrax or much hair metal. He called it "headbangin' shit." However, one time I brought Type O Negative Bloody Kisses up to his place. I put it on and it was like magic. That motherfucker took it from me and has it to this day. We bonded over fucking goth metal! He still listens to the damn thing.
Short Story Inc., Chicago
In a time where rap, R&B and hip-hop were dominant and a young man’s growing mind can be easily influenced by his immediate surroundings, I found myself sleeping over my uncle’s house. We were supposed to go to a Chicago Bears football game the next morning with my aunt and other relatives, but I honestly had no interest in going. Fortunately for me, a fever struck me and I was incapable of attending. I got to lounge around in my uncle’s manor in comfort where I also was allowed to watch cable TV for the first time, as my family couldn't afford it. At the time this was a huge thrill to me.
I stumbled onto MTV and what I found changed my life forever. Blink 182. I must have been ten or 11 when I had my first encounter with the revolutionary sound that would lead me to my punk-rock roots. Unashamed. Blink 182 was the band that made me want to start playing music and write my own songs. The simple structure followed by intricate drum dynamics would take a major role in my first recordings and has led to a lot of demos, my first album and my first tour [with] Short Story Inc. There are many different influences in my music as I've learned to diversify and integrate lots of different music into my own expressions.
Jody Seabody and the Whirls, Houston
I've got a bunch, but one that stands out for really blowing me away upon listen No. 1 is Radiohead's OK Computer. I was about 16 or so and I had a bunch of friends that loved them and would sing their praises to me all the time; I just put off giving them a chance for the longest time, and I don't really know why. I was kind of a roots-rock dude, being raised on the Beatles and all that, and I would make fun of Radiohead for listing 'laptop' as one of their instruments, because you know, at 16 I had clearly had everything figured out when it came to 'real music,' right?? So anyway, one day I decide I'd give them a chance and started from the beginning and went and got Pablo Honey, and as you can probably guess, I wasn't all too impressed.
Luckily Clint, my best friend since third grade and Jody drummer currently but guitarist at the time, had gotten OK Computer and was really selling it to me, talking up how awesome it was and I should give it a chance and so on. So one night I'm staying over at his place and when we're about to pass out he asks me what tunes I wanna listen to and I ask him to put in OK Computer so I can see what the fuss is all about, fully expecting to have passed out two songs in and go on with my life. Except I didn't pass out two songs in, I fuckin' didn't pass out at all, I stayed up all night listening to that shit on straight repeat getting 100 percent destroyed by each respective song. I think I nutted like 14 times. After that I got the rest of their discography as fast as I could and they've pretty much been king for me since. Depending on the day. There's really so many albums that had a similar impact on me at that age, but there wasn't really a first listen quite like that one.
I was 14 and fresh to the hardcore punk scene in Houston. I was playing in a Blink 182/Anti-Flag cover band and had no clue what hardcore was. I was invited with my good friend and his father to go see a concert at Mary Jane’s Fat Cat across from the old Walter's [On] Washington. It was a school night and on the bill were bands I'd never heard of, like Terror and My Luck. The band we were there to see was Seattle hardcore legends Champion. My friend Rico had recently broke his leg and was on crutches, so we stood towards the back of this tiny cramped room. Once Terror started, they immediately called for a 'Wall of Death,' which I had never heard of at my young age. The crowd split in two and charged head-on into each other, then rushed the stage. They then[turned] around and ran directly to the back of the room, where we were standing in both awe and fear. Rico was swept off his crutches and dragged into the crowd of huge black hoodies.
To end this magical night of angsty violence, Champion put on one hell of a performance, ending the night with a man front-flipping off the stage and into the previous band's drum set that was stacked off to the side of the room. The man broke his leg instantly and passed out. A group of larger males carried him out while the band stopped and said 'I hope he's okay, but this song is for him,' and continued to chug away. I bought Time Slips Away and listened to it over and over. This was my mantra in my straightedge days. Over the next couple years I've played in various punk bands and went to hardcore shows, but none stood out like that first moment in this super-chaotic scene. I now play with Handsomebeast, which is a sexy soul-rock group that promotes no violence, unless you count vigorous hip gyrations and booty quakes.
Rodriguez's list also includes Axis Bold as Love by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights. Handsomebeast's next show is tonight at Axelrad.
The Grizzly Band, Houston
Third Eye Blind. Yeah. They could be considered one-hit wonders, but their debut album was a complete thought that helped soundtrack the last summer of my high-school years. Not only did that album provide angsty, fun music ('How's It Going To Be,' 'Jumper,' 'Good for You') but it was the first concert that I got to drive myself to. Houston is a good drive from Galveston and as a teen in a world before Google Maps, it was a monumental and rewarding experience. Audible art, responsibility, freedom!
Torres's list also includes Radiohead’s OK Computer and A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi. The Grizzly Band's next show is February 24 at Darwin’s Pub.
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