Happy National Album Day. Share Your Favorites!
Today is officially National Album Day, and folks industry-wide are sharing the albums that have shaped their tastes and altered the course of history.
To start things off, I’ll share a few that have stuck with me over the years, from different genres (and maybe even a local). Then, I encourage you to share your own.
Our Lady Peace – “Burn Burn” (2009)
This one holds the distinction of being my favorite album of all time, by my favorite band ever. The strong alt-rock hooks make it highly accessible, and the songwriting is brilliant in its simplicity. I keep coming back to this one, year after year.
Personally speaking, this album came out at the right time in my life. Raine Maida has a gift for writing lyrics that straddle the line between cryptic and pointed, making it easy for the listener to apply their own personal meanings to the songs. At the time, I was able relate every song on “Burn Burn” to some event that occurred in my life that summer and fall, and that’s what made it so special.
Favorite tracks: “Monkey Brains,” “Escape Artist,” “Refuge,” “Paper Moon”
Bon Jovi – Crush (2000)
The year was 2000. I was 13, and I heard “It’s My Life” on the radio for the first time. My reaction was something to the effect of: “Who is this? I like this.”
I would find out that it was Bon Jovi. Yeah, that 80s band I had heard of, but never really paid attention to in my childhood. This was not only the album that made me a rock fan, but the first album I ever truly got into, from front to back. It opened doors past the friendly confines of whatever was on FM radio at the time, and encouraged me to discover deeper cuts from that point on.
There are plenty of high-quality ones, to the point where “It’s My Life” is honestly my least favorite song on the album. Not that it’s a bad song; it’s just that this album represents some of Jon and Richie’s finest songwriting, ever. This was a veteran band that still had plenty of stories to tell, and was now armed with an evolved sound that has nearly carried them through another two decades — and counting.
Favorite tracks: “Two Story Town,” “Next 100 Years,” “Mystery Train,” “Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars”
Twenty One Pilots – Vessel (2012)
I saw Twenty One Pilots for the first time at Radio 104.5 Winter Jam in January 2014. I went in not knowing anything about them outside of their lead single from “Vessel,” “House of Gold.”
They were a revelation that night. Their live performance was simply captivating, and their songs carried a weight and emotion that unified the packed Piazza at Schmidt’s. I went right home to learn more about this band, and I started with “Vessel.”
This album is Twenty One Pilots at their best. It’s erratic, but polished. It’s ambitious, and the interplay between genres comes off as a well-crafted, sonic stream of consciousness. Lyrically, this is Tyler Joseph’s finest work to date, as he explores the human condition in a way that is equal parts introspective and empathetic.
Favorite tracks: “Holding On to You,” “Migraine,” “House of Gold,” “Guns For Hands”
Kanye West – Graduation (2007)
I know… all of us, on one level or another (or maybe, multiple levels), miss that Kanye. But, if we were to “Make Kanye 2006 Again,” we’d be missing out on his finest work.
“Graduation” holds up as one of the best produced, most enjoyable hip hop albums of all-time. Every track has replay value in the present and, while “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is more ambitious and no doubt a masterpiece in its own right, this is the album that has stood the test of time as Kanye’s best and most universally revered.
For me, this introduced me to hip hop on a whole new level, at the apex of my college days. The floodgates opened up for me after “Graduation,” and there’s no doubt that my modern appreciation for newer hip hop artists like Logic was enhanced by this milestone album.
Favorite tracks: “I Wonder,” “Good Life,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Flashing Lights”
Cubbage – Where We Left Off (2017)
As a music fan, this EP from one of our own excited me from start to finish, from the first listen. The dynamic songwriting — brought out brilliantly in the studio — fuses influences from pop, rock, jazz, and R&B from opening track “Here & Now” all the way through. There’s even a little bit of modern folk and country flavor mixed in on “The Author,” which crescendos in a slow-burn to become the EP’s most powerful moment.
This was a statement release from a young artist with all the talent in the world, and it’s exciting to know that it could just be the tip of the iceberg.
What albums have inspired you? Let us know in the comments — let’s start a conversation!