Albums That Changed My Life

  1. Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl (1988)
    On cassette. The first album I bought with my own money. It was glossy and not "kid music" (although MC Skat Cat bridged the line in retrospect) and made me feel like I was basically a teenager. My mom was an aerobics instructor at the time, and I asked if we could listen to it while she drove to work; yes, it was the late 80s.
  2. Nirvana, Nevermind (1991)
    I was watching MTV with my parents in the room when the video for Lithium came on. They didn't look up from their magazines. I had to go up to my room and think about what I had just seen.
  3. Reservoir Dogs soundtrack (1991)
    This was the album that taught me that something retro could be cool. This was way before Throwback Thursdays.
  4. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle (1993)
    I was hanging out with @jesseno in his room and he recounted this song he had heard and liked that didn't sound like anything else: "got my mind on my money and my money on my mind," was the part he remembered. A few weeks later I heard Gin & Juice on the radio.
  5. Bjork, Debut (1993)
    This was unlike anything I had heard before, and introduced several new styles to me: an ethereal, bold sound that I think continues to reverberate as the backbone of a whole genre of indie music; excitingly abstract aesthetics (Bjork is how most of us first saw the style of Michel Gondry); fashion (I don't know that I was conscious of responding to someone made use of a 'look' before Bjork).
  6. Wesley Willis, Greatest Hits (1995)
    I was introduced to this my freshman year of college by my classmate Andrew Bujalski, then a senior. Wesley Willis was a homeless street musician from Chicago with about as severe a case of chronic schizophrenia as one could imagine. Actually, more: he was beyond imagination. Wesley wrote thousands of nearly identical songs and sang them with a contagious, relatable passion. Were we laughing at him? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. This opened my mind and influenced me a lot.
  7. Weezer, Pinkerton (1996)
    My only real connection to the joy of anything emo came in college, through my influential college roommate W. David Marx, who also introduced me to Cibo Matto and other stuff.
  8. Handsome Boy Modeling School, So, How's Your Girl? (1999)
    Another of Dave's introductions, to a new style of cool. "The Truth" from this album is still one of the great songs in the soundtrack of my life.
  9. Beck, Midnite Vultures (1999)
    The song "Debra" was my introduction to this zone where ironic and sincere merged into something playful and euphoric.
  10. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
    All of the feels of a certain kind.
  11. Gorillaz, Gorillaz (2001)
    The second half of this album is still one of the most mesmerizing and underrated stretches of music of the past twenty years, in my opinion.
  12. Original Cast Recording, Hamilton (2015)
    Sorry to be one of those people but I guess I have to be one of those people about this.