5. Grandaddy – Sophtware Slump
The theme of this album is also one that I feel is symbolic to my autobiography. Lyrically, it directly addresses man’s struggle with our modern ways. The idea of coming to terms with technology by either embracing or disbanding it is one that we have probably all pondered at one point or another. As a developer and somebody who relies on technology to both make living and function day-to-day, I find this album a very appropriate choice. While part of me wants to live in a cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water, the reasonable side of me realizes that’s wildly unrealistic and would probably be horrible and lonely. Maybe we fellow musicians can all follow Jason Lytle’s lead and connect with nature by recording our albums isolated in the countryside without the distractions brought upon us by technology. There will always be something nostalgic about this album for me every time I listen to it, just knowing there’s somebody out there who shares the same sentiments.
4. The Church – Starfish
The Church is one of those bands that has been around for a long time. I never really listened to new wave or progressive rock growing up and can’t say I listen to it much today, but The Church is the exception to that rule for me. And maybe that’s because they’re more on the fringe of those genres. Something about their deep, psychedelic sound makes me forget that it’s tied to a specific era or style. While their style has changed slightly throughout their career, I don’t find myself drawn to one particular album. I chose Starfish as it includes one of my all-time favorite songs, “Under the Milky Way”. Another interesting tidbit about The Church: In 2004 Front-man Steve Kilbey collaborated with Shelby Tate of the band Remy Zero (another one of my all-time favorite bands) in the project titled “Isidore”. It’s no surprise that Shelby Tate was also a huge Church fan and tried to emulate some of their guitar sounds in his own music. If you’re a fan of either band, Isidore is a gem you should be sure to check out.
3. Sondre Lerche – Faces Down
If there is any kind of theme seems to emerge in my top five albums, it’s that I really like singer/songwriters. Sondre Lerche was a pretty young dude when he started writing great songs. And he’s showing no signs of letting up anytime soon. Maybe someday one of his new albums will make its way onto this list. Sondre can be clever, whimsical and sincere all at the same time. I’ve always admired Sondre’s ability to transform his style from album to album and pull it off so well. However, Faces Down, like many other singer/songwriters’ debut’s will always stand as their most distinguished and meaningful work.
2. Radiohead – OK Computer
In terms of overall musicianship, creativity and songwriting, OK Computer may be my favorite album of all-time. At the time that OK Computer was released, I was still in the habit of listening to whatever was on the radio. This included Weezer, Third Eye Blind, The Wallflowers, Oasis, etc… After really listening to OK Computer, it made me wonder what other interesting music was out there. This spawned a much deeper musical interest in me, which led me to discover so many other great bands that I listen to today. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of listening to this album. A couple of songs on the album, “Let Down”and “No Surprises”, are easily in my top 20 favorite songs of all-time.
1. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
I can imagine every one of the songs on every one of my top five albums started out with a guy and his guitar. When you strip music down to the bare essentials, you start to sense the inherent weaknesses in an artist. This is not so with Elliott Smith. To some, this album may sound simplistic and rough, but to others it is the sound of purity and honesty. It’s rare for a musician to allow themselves to be so vulnerable. I don’t think there’s an album I’ve listened to more in my music collection. Some may argue that Figure 8 is his best work, with all of its technical characteristics and completeness. And that makes sense, considering that seems to be the one time in his life that he wasn’t strung out and depressed. And Figure 8 certainly shows Elliott’s musicianship, but what you can’t sense is his desire to share with everyone his deepest inner dialog. A lot of people seem to describe Elliott Smith as an “intense” person. I think that really shows through in this album. Oh, and I guess you kind of have to be to stab yourself to death.