John. Founder, Writer, Photographer. (Chicago, Illinois)
Dan Whitman. Editor, Writer. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
I only casually knew of The National when I first saw them play live in the fall of 2007. After the show, I had a new favorite concert. Then Alligator and Boxer took me over. It wasn’t so much what those albums changed in me, but what they mirrored.
Ryan Siverson, @rysiphoto, flickr. Photographer, Videographer. (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
It wasn’t one song or band that changed my life, but a community of amazing musicians discovered through new and equally amazing friends. The Alarmists, The 4ontheFloor, Doomtree, Roster McCabe and others blew my mind, introduced me to new people, organizations like the nonprofit “Rock the Cause”; that I regularly volunteer for; and reignited my long-dormant passion for photography.
Jim Brock. Jim Brock Photography. EyeOnTheMusic. Photographer, Writer.
Angelino heart beats with NOLA blood. Cover the NO/LA scene, jazz, blues, long jams and anything else that nourishes my being. I shoot with a fan’s eye/emotion. Image as soundtrack. The Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East is still a scorching mix of blues cry, jazz improvisation and pure soul burning fire 40+ years later. Anders Osborne‘s American Patchwork from 2010 is a furious black hole, thrumming with seismic solos and arrangements. A raw Strat driven confessional with light at the end, and my idea of a good time. Miles Davis. Just, Miles Davis. He was truly the birth of cool. Music is timeless, period, and I am incomplete without it.
Cindy, last.fm. Writer. (Singapore)
An album that completely changed my view of music would be Hurts‘ debut album, Happiness because I’d never thought that a pop band signed on a major label could make such good music. (How indie-snobbish of me) If I hadn’t googled them after hearing ‘Wonderful Life’ on Kitsuné Maison Compilation 9 and thinking ‘”Hmm who is Hurts? They sound like a boyband!”, I wouldn’t have discovered more of their music and their aesthetic that I love so much! Pop music can be really good too
Aster Murphy, flickr. Photographer. (South Carolina)
From a young age, music had always been the most important part of my life. I truly don’t think there was one particular album or artist that changed my view towards music rather than a plethora of them. Some albums in particular were The Flaming Lips‘ The Soft Bulletin, Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West, and The Mountain Goats‘ The Sunset Tree because while all very different they’ve each had a large influence on my life and pushed me through some very emotional times.
Ryan G, iamtunedup.com, last.fm. Writer. (Columbus, Ohio)
MUTEMATH‘s self-titled record changed my view of what was necessary to be intense music. The quartet displayed a level of musicianship previously unnoticed in other bands and I realized that I didn’t have to latch onto something right away in order to really enjoy it. The ambient, ethereal jams of the self-titled record fit any mood and “Reset” is still one of my favorite instrumental pieces of all time.
Ada Katarina, @adakatarina, Tumblr. Writer. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
In middle school my Aunt gave me a copy of Björk‘s Debut and it completed changed the way I thought about music. It was immediately cooler than anything I’d ever heard and at the same time, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was listening to. It made me realize you don’t always have to understand something to like it or have appreciation for the artist’s work.
Ryan Hampton, flickr. Photographer. (Toronto, Ontario)
Pink Floyd‘s The Wall would have to be the album that has impacted me most, the story, the emotion, The concept of the album. Ever since then I’ve been addicted to albums that tell a story over the songs, that by the end of the record leaves you with new opinions and a head full of thought.
David Priebe. Musician, Artist Manager, Professor, Writer. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
When I was in high school I heard Nirvana for the first time. It was raw, sloppy, and exploding with energy, and I thought, “I can do that.” So I bought a guitar. Since then, music has been at the center of everything I’ve done.
Suisa, Writer. (San Francisco, California)
I grew up religiously listening to Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, and Weezer. So it’s hard not to say that it was any one of their albums that changed my life. The truth is, nothing woke me up like discovering Rage Against The Machine’s The Battle Of Los Angeles. The intensity and anger hit my teenage mind in a way that nothing ever had. I believe that if it weren’t for this album, I wouldn’t have branched out the way that I did with music. It really shook up my world.
Hillary Sprecher, @hillarylynn1. Writer. (Madison, Wisconsin)
I spent a lot of my childhood taking trips to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, on Lake Superior to go backpacking with my family. Those long drives were passed with the heavy rotation of Steve Earle, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Bob Dylan, John Prine, and the like, but Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan is what struck me at that young age. It all just spiraled out of control in every direction from that point on.
Mike Olinger,@mdrnvisionaries, Modern Visionaries. Writer. (Southern California)
Mike or Musically Mad Mike to you is completely “batty” over music. In his spare time you can find him catering to his record collection -in the thousands!, digesting through dozens of music magazines, and blogging over at Modern Visionaries.
Lucas Mengelkoch, Tumblr. Writer. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
I owe being a metal head to one album and that’s Trivium‘s sophomore effort, Ascendancy. It’s the record that converted me from hating screaming and super brutal music to being absolutely enthralled with it. There will always be a place in my heart for punk rock and ’90s pop/rock, but I’m always on the search for that next heavy album to blow me away.
Brandon Kenney, @BrandonFKenney. Writer. Photographer. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
An album that profoundly changed the way I view music is “Hemispheres” by Rush. With elements of classical, jazz and latin this album introduced me to the world of music. The immense talent, synchronization and lyrical depth of the album shaped how I understand and appreciate music.
Michaela Katz, Flickr. Photographer. (New York, N.Y.)
I never knew how much music could affect someone until my first year of College. I spent most of my time in the studio drawing and the only way that I was able to motivate myself was if I was listening to music. It was my inspiration, it steered and fed my creativity. One album that was on constant repeat was the Black Keys‘ Brothers. Patrck Carney and Dan Aueberach are definitely an amazing duo. With their catchy lyrics, perfect instrumentation combined with beautiful falsettos. The first song I heard from that album was “Tighten Up,” I was not only intrigued by their music but their music video caught my attention as well. The Black Keys never cease to amaze me, with their brilliance and individuality. They were the first step in my journey to “good modern music” and I thank them tremendously for that.
Amber, Radio Free Chicago. Writer. (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Before I heard Elliott Smith at the record store near my house, shortly after Either/Or came out, I was living in a world of classic rock and mid-nineties alternative. Smith and “Miss Misery”, however, made me realize that music could hurt, it could be cathartic, and it could be clever, all the while sounding raw and beautiful.
Dave, In the Black Box. Writer, Musician. (Dublin, Ireland)
I came home from a festival after having lost myself in dance and good times looking for a fix. Something that I could listen to at home but gave me the feeling that I was standing in a field with 50’000 other people dancing my heart out to the ultimate uplifting music. My brother handed me a CD called Everything, Everything by Underworld and while every track up until “Rez/Cowgirl” had absolutely blown my mind, this one track that finished the album was single handedly changing my life. My mind was on fire. It was and still is, pure perfection.
Jimmy Roxy. Musician. (St. Louis, Missouri)
Skrillex, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. Remix DJ’s, in my opinion, embody the natural progression for Western composition: manipulating basic motivic materials into a work grander than the original. Unfortunately, most DJ’s seem to lack the intricacy and flair for novelty to create truly transcedent “absolute music.” This album convinced me, that if he were still alive, Eduard Hanslick would choose Skrillex over Brahms. It’s an absolutely bitchin’ album, crafted with such attention to genre-defying details, one can only sit back and beg for mercy.
Kaitie, @kaitiekov. Writer. (Washington D.C.)
What you once were isn’t what you want to be anymore. Does anything else sum up the transitional period that is high school so well? I was introduced to Wilco’s Summerteeth my sophomore year by a coworker at a kooky little music shop. I’d never heard such a glorious cacophony of “noise,” contained in such listenable songs. I played that album constantly and it’s still one of my favorites.
Katia, last.fm. Editor, Writer. (Chicago, Illinois)
Swimming in the music of Elliott Smith and Hayden in 1997, I was given a copy of I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One by Yo La Tengo and I was hooked. With folk, rock and experimental sounds, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out opened my eyes to countless ways a trio can use multiple music textures to move the soul. Every mixtape I’ve made to woo a boy has included one if not more tracks from this album.
Ina J. Writer, Musician. (Paris, France)
Ina J is a Canadian musician, living in Paris and touring across Europe. She fluently speaks French and English, understands Spanish when spoken softly. Demands to be moved by music. Can easily break into a redundant rant whilst talking and writing about race, gender and feminist issues and their relation to music and its roots. Enjoys mocking herself a little too much.
Portia Medina, @sweetporkchop, The Adventures of Sweet Little Porkchop. Writer, Student. (Los Angeles, California)
Portia “I’m with the band” Medina grew up with two older brothers, both musicians. They held opposite ends from the 80’s glam rock scene to the early 90’s grunge punk revival. For years she was a rock purist who held a strange obsession with Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith, respectively. Until her first love exposed her to the world of roots reggae, traditional ska, and underground hip hop. Desmond Decker and Souls of Mischief seared an everlasting impression in her ears that set off a whole new fascination.
Christopher Stoppeillo, @christohfur, last.fm, tastermakers mag. Musician, Writer. (Boston, Massachusetts)
I was raised in New Jersey on punk and hardcore. While I hardly listen to that anymore, I still think some experience in those genres could improve all styles of music. I have a standing goal to write a song that can bring a complete stranger to tears. Not there yet so until then, I’ll just keep writing about others who are. Ask me if you want to hear some of my favorites.
Rachel (odetoxylophone). Writer. (Chicago, Illinois)
1. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation (because who could survive the angst of adolescence with out Kim Gordon blaring amongst synchronized coffee sips and cigarette smoke, It is the “Loner Drip” album that rescued me through high school
2. Sunset Rubdown – Sunset Rubdown EP (Their debut album that inspired me to pick up the glockenspiel after listening to the track “A Day in the Graveyard”)
3. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (Just an all around brilliant album from start to finish… to recite a line, “If I enter into the slipstream, between the viaducts of your dreams, would you… find me, could you… kiss my eyes, lay me down, to be born again“)
Stephanie Valdivia, flickr, Tumblr. Photographer. (North Hollywood, California)
The first Circa Survive song I ever heard was “The Great Golden Baby” which is on Juturna. It was just beautifully put together. I was about 13 and it blew my mind. Anthony Green’s lyrics, and the fact that a couple of the songs were inspired by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was what hooked me. From that day on they became my favorite band and always will be.
Steven Coffman, @scrapescatter, last.fm, Scrape Scatter. Writer. (Denver, Colorado)
When I put on my friend’s headphones and heard the first 3 seconds of “Have Patience” on Coalesce‘s Give Them Rope the effect was instantaneous. I knew this was the music I had been searching for. It was a fusion of honest punk ideals executed with metal ferocity. The dissonant, off-beat technicality of it all was something I had never heard before and has been at the core of my musical tastes ever since.
Cala Valentine. Writer. (Toronto, Ontario)
I’m never sure if there was one album that changed my life, it’s always the live shows that get me. But one of the most important would have to be Radiohead‘s Pablo Honey. I heard the song ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ and knew I had to get a guitar! Ever since then music has been one of the most important things in my life whether its writing it, reviewing it, or just listening.
Kellie, last.fm. Writer. (Atlanta, Georgia)
I received my first record player at age 6, and I haven’t stopped listening to music since. There have been so many albums that impacted my life and shaped my musical views. Violent Femmes‘ self-titled album was the first to show me that music doesn’t need typical format in order to be beautiful. Also, John Coltrane’s Lush Life ignited my passion for jazz, and taught me how to feel sounds, not just hear them.