This idea came about as an exercise floating around the Facebook news feeds. The question was, what was the ten most influential albums on your life? For me, this was a chance go reminisce. To dig and research a little, correcting a little of my memories on what I heard before what. It brought out a couple of many stories I seem to have around my music experiences. Plus this will give you some insights into how my music tastes formed to where they sit today. So in not any specific order, let us dive into my ten most influential albums on my life.
Americana – The Offspring
It is the first punk album I owned, Offspring’s “Americana.” The preface to this is the Offspring covered the Damned’s “Smash it up” in Batman Forever with that catching my ear. However, that isn’t a full album. So it was “Americana” that earned the distinction of my first punk album. This one came to me as a Christmas present in 1998. It actually inspired me to buy my first import, the Japanese EP “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” that included their cover of the Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated” and a Low Rider remix of “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.” I went on to buy Offspring albums up until Splinter from this point. I went on to find the Ska Punk Show on the Edge 106.3 to help find others like them in this energized genre of music.
Goodbye Blue & White – Less Than Jake
Not a usual entry to getting hooked on Less than Jake, but after enjoying my time with them on the Ska Punk Show I walked into a record store to buy a LTJ CD. I ended up choosing Goodbye Blue & White at random from the available stock. It worked like a charm and I played it constantly for months. I gradually expanded my LTJ collection to every LP and CD based EP they’ve release since. This love of the band would further into a LTJ tattoo and them sitting only below one other band in my favorites. In addition, I credit them for being y “gateway ska” to my expanded my knowledge of Ska bands after. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just learned there was a No Idea Records re-release of it in 2008 with a couple more tracks I need to find.
White Trash, Two Heebs, and a Bean – NOFX
I go with the album that started my infatuation with the band NOFX. That is right, “White Trash, Two Heebs, and a Bean.” Their humor I felt on the mark and communicated with me on making light of any situation without being too serious. The album included NOFX staples such as the iconic song “Bob” and a song about Fat Mike’s obsessions with lesbians making it perfect for the teenager in me. The album has a little bit of everything in its sound, with a little blues in a song about drugs, a little ska/reggae in “Johnny Appleseed,” and folk in “Buggley Eyes.” Plus the punk sound that I associate and love from NOFX. This album is why I found No Gimmick’s “One Wop, Two Micks, and a Bean” album name and art humorous on first glance fifteen years ago. The NOFX logo on the cover was the first consideration for my tattoo, although I went a different direction on it when it happened. This is when the adventure to my favorite band of all time started, and it is one great punk rock album.
Enema of the State – Blink 182
Moving onto the secret I’ve been harboring, an album I still like to this day, Blink 182’s “Enema of the State.” As you see above, I started my punk rock adventure on Offspring’s “Americana.” As a sixteen year old kid, just getting his driver’s license I needed audio to fill the silence in the car. Because of that, it was the local airwaves, the radio, that took on the challenge. Hearing songs like “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things” from “Enema of the State” just clicked. It had a humor I loved, which makes sense given my attachment to NOFX. Before you even question it, yes, they have common stage shtick and way. Fat Mike acknowledge it in the NOFX book as to why he thinks they were a little jealous of the rise and success of Blink. The other thing was, seeing them live, I enjoyed the crappier sound compared to the album recordings. A little more “punk edge” to it as my teenage self-thought.
The other thing to say about “Enema of the State” is that I can go back to it unlike other pop punk albums I purchased in high school. An example is New Found Glory’s “Sticks and Stones.” I can’t relate to that one anymore, and that has inhibited my ability to enjoy it these days. Yet, I somehow enjoy the immaturity and sound of “Enema of the State” to this current day. I can recite the lyrics verbatim and certainly an anthem for my high school years.
Patches In Time – Authority Zero
Let us go back to Authority Zero’s “Patches In Time.” The first local band album I can remember purchasing. I was hearing their early songs constantly played on the Edge 106.3/103.9. Remember, the radio was my soundtrack to my time in my car, as highlighted above, and at my first job at a dry cleaner. This motivated me to go seek out the album filled with mostly highly motivating and high energy tracks from our local boys. I would follow that up looking for the prior album, “Live Your Life” for favorites I had heard off including my still favorite Authority Zero song, “Mesa Town.” That album, I never got physically and found in a digital, late 90’s way.
The influence of this album was bigger than that though. It would lead me to dig deeper into the local scene, run to Eastsides in Tempe and Zia. They were the record stores known their local band selection like No Gimmick, Last Action Zeros, Two Dimes, and Point Nine Percent. The next couple years I made it out to a couple local shows, like Oktober’s CD release at Minder Binders. I remember at that one hitting my head on that parking lot moshing with a thinly lined pit border. So I have to thank Authority Zero and Craven Moorehead for his Ska Punk show for showing me the amazing local scene we had even then.
Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures Vol. 2 – The Aquabats
This one shouldn’t take a lot of you by surprise. It is “Myths, Legends, and Other Amazing Adventures Vol. 2” by the Aquabats. This album permeated my life through multiple avenues. From “Pizza Day” on the Ska Punk Show to my first girlfriend, Steph, selling me on them. If you have read this far, you can already see that the Ska Punk Show is a through line in my discovery of a lot of bands back in the day and a major influence. This was an album regularly played and sang when I hung out regularly with Joe and Ben, two coworkers of mine at Babbages. We were singing along verbatim and quite regularly on car rides. It is such an entertaining, silly and well put together album. It may stand as my favorite Aquabats album, but that’s a debate for another day.
MC Chris – Life’s a Bitch and I’m Her Pimp
I bring you the album that showed me there was a genre for that nerd in me, Nerdcore Hip Hop. This one put lyrics to hip hop that I completely could relate to. First heard as MC Pee Pants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and the track Fett’s Vett in the end credits of an episode of Sealab 2021, MC Chris’s music was revealed to me. “Life’s a Bitch and I’m Her Pimp” was an album MC Chris put up for free to download. An album blending multiple science fiction references into a song making Boba Fett into a badass, an intro about himself tied to a DQ Blizzard, a catchy tune about too much Robitussin, and one about fucking up a Christmas. The album all split up with these entertaining skits that he has continued onto other albums. His songs use words about nerd culture icons, movies, cartoons, computer software and video games. My first live nerdcore show was when I saw MC Chris perform at the Phix back in 2007. I found MC Lars, Mega Ran, MC Frontalot, and a couple others since. It is a little more niche amongst many that follow me, but I love this genre.
Rev – Reverend Horton Heat
This time the story is probably the most recent influential album, revealed to me back to Punk Rock Bowling 2014. I was at a club show to watch Old Man Markley, but they weren’t the headliner. It was this band called Reverend Horton Heat. I’d seen a rockabilly band prior in Dead Bundy and the Neat Neat Neats, but it didn’t stick in my CD player that long. However, this night, I found these songs exciting to dance and move to. I was into the music so much that I didn’t even put together a girl was flirting with me when she asked if I was a street dancer. Instead, I gave her a puzzled look, a “No, why would I be?” and went back to moving my feet.
Most of this night’s songs came off of their brand new released album “Rev.” There was humor, innuendo, and a bass sound I really fucking loved. Hell, there is a song about zombies on it. I went on to buy the album and listen to it quite regularly. I tracked down more of the back catalog, putting me up to five LP’s and two EP’s at the time of this writing. Jim Heath easily my favorite guitarist to watch these days and I’ve seen the Rev seven to eight times since. I found Koffin Kats, The Limit Club, Creepsville666, MSD, and growing the knowledge of this genre. Thanks to Limit Club, I’ve already started learning Rockabilly history when they performed with Tim Polecat. I have a bit to go on learning more on this genre, but “Rev” is one of my favorite albums found within it.
Waiting For Spring – David Benoit
With this one, I probably surprise a couple and bring Jazz into the mix. This one harkens from my childhood. It is the tastes of my dad in Jazz and Blues played frequently around me growing up. David Benoit’s “Waiting For Spring” seems to stick with me the most of all the greats he played around me, including B.B. King and Nat King Cole. The album is an excellent smoother Jazz. Of course, finding out David Benoit did Peanuts music too was like making him an idol to the kid version of me. This is probably the roots of my appreciation for solid Jazz and Blues, with a great bass line through it. Heck, probably another hook that Rockabilly also strikes with me.
All That We Know – Larry and His Flask
To round this list out, I did try to think about a specific alternative album that influenced me. This includes from favorites Rage Against Machine, Weezer, and Gorillaz. Unfortunately, no specific album stood out to me that I felt made an impact like Larry and His Flask’s “All That We Know.” Picture this scene, walking around Warped Tour, a little annoyed with majority of the lineup. Well, in 2011 I purchased my ticket before knowing the line-up. I ended up pretty bored walking around most of that year’s Warped Tour. Alghough, Less than Jake did give me one of my thrills in moshing to a Ska Punk cover of “Spongebob Squarepants,” and I did get my signed drum head this day. Despite that, there was a lot of downtime.
Around four o’clock, there was this energetic group of guys mostly adorned with beards called Larry and His Flask that grabbed my attention. They were going to town on that stage facing the sun in 112 degrees. They ended up amazing me in their performance and crowd engagement. I bought their only album at that time, “All That We Know.” I listened the hell out of that. Well written, political and I could tell the energy in the recordings were just the same as on stage. I proceeded to give them money for their “Fill the Flask” campaign with the next album. They opened my world to another amazing genre, of Bluegrass and “Punkgrass.” They preceded me finding the fantastic Old Man Markley by only five months. Found more of that Bluegrass sound with The Devil Makes Three(recommended by John of OMM), Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold, The Haymarket Squares, and The Blood Feud Family Singers going forward. They opened my eyes to another superb genre of music.