Stolen from Buffy, here's 15 albums that helped form my taste and passion for music.
EMF - Schubert Dip: Before I had my own taste in music I would just listen to whatever CDs my parents had laying around. And in the early 90's that was EMF. My Dad loved this CD, and since I'd hear it every time we went to the lake it was only a matter of time before I loved it too. I can still listen to this CD today and enjoy it. It's actually on my iPod... Same goes for Collective Soul. Listened to it cause my Dad did, but still like em today. Well, the albums from that period. Collective Soul are a bunch of pussies now.
Weird Al - Bad Hair Day: Yep, was a huge Weird Al fan as a kid. And half the time I hear an old song I have to remind myself not so sing along with Weird Al's lyrics (myyyy balogna!). My mom even took my brother and I to see him live, and we ran into Brett Naskrent! Good times. But it was his parodies that got me into real music eventually.
The Offspring - Smash: After hearing Self-Esteem on the radio a few times I convinced my parents to get my this album for my birthday. It was the first real band I got into (I was late getting into music). For the next few years I was pretty obsessed with Offspring. Lol, I remember when Americana came out my friend Neil and I called each other up and hit play at the same time, so we could listen to the new album while we talked about it. =P
Our Lady Peace - Spiritual Machines: As I got more into music this was my first experience of a concept album. I found it really interesting and did a bunch of research on the book it was based on (though I still haven't actually read it).
Stabbing Westward - Darkest Days: First heard the song Thing I Hate in an intro to a Playstation Duke Nukem game and hunted down the band. Listened to this CD repeatedly for a good year. It still reminds me of all the drama I went through with a particular girl I was pining over at the time.
KoRn - Life Is Peachy: This was a big one. As I got more into music I joined Columbia House to expose myself to more music. I'd heard talk of KoRn at school, though this was before their massive success. This is the album that officially made me passionate about music. Up until now it was entertainment, and this album was when music became art to me. May seem like a weird source, even I admit it's a crass album and KoRn has become a cliche, but at that time of my life, those tumultuous teenage years when everything seems so important and life changing, this album was perfect for me. I was obsessed with KoRn for a good while. It is also solely responsible for my identification as a metal-head and "goth" for my high school years. Ahhhh, to be a teenager again.
Moby - Play: This was the first album that made me appreciate music on an atmospheric level. I have one memory of Brett driving around the city in his van while Julia and I were lying together under a blanket in the back =)
Vast - Visual Audio Sensory Theater: I admit I only bought this album because the name and cover-art really caught my eye at CD-Plus. Man, am I glad I did. Almost 10 years later I STILL listen to this album on a regular basis, and am not sick of it at all. Every so often you find an album that you just cannot get sick of, and this is the one. I've gotten so many people into Vast since then and everyone seems to love them once they give them a shot. This CD, their first, remains their best, but I've found something to like in each of their albums since.
Clint Mansell & The Kronos Quartet - Requiem For A Dream OST: I was always in to orchestrated stuff, soundtracks especially, but this was the album that solidified it. The soundtrack made the movie, and I was obsessed with the Lux Aeterna for a good long while.
Linkin Park - Meteora: I remember driving out to Bird's Hill Park with Brett and Linda the night Power 97 played the full album. Linkin Park was more than just another Nu-Metal band, in my opinion. That's why they're still around when all the others are long gone. They understood the importance of melody, and they knew how to blend the 2 elements of nu-metal, rap and metal, seamlessly. And Chester really knows how to belt em out. I have many drama-filled teenage memories with this band as the soundtrack. I also remember listening to Lying To Me a bunch while trying to decide if I should really get my first tattoo "Stay True". God, I was so emo, lol.
Devin Townsend - Terria: This is when my taste in music began to mature. Tim showed me this guy, the lead singer from Strapping Young Lad had his own solo career and it was amazing. Existential, silly, progressive, metal/folk. Devin Townsend was my gateway into all things progressive, which became a staple of my musical taste. If it weren't for this album I'd never have gotten into The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Pain of Salvation, etc... Suddenly verse verse chorus wasn't cutting it for me anymore.
Nine Inch Nails - Fragile: I don't know why I put off listening to Nine Inch Nails for so long. For years I had a pre-conceived notion of what they'd sound like and I wasn't interested. I pictured something like old school Tool, or Type O Negative. And even though there was a time I would have loved that, I felt like the time had passed and Nine Inch Nails was just a band I'd missed out on. But when I finally gave them a fair listen I was hooked. It was nothing like a imagined, more "industrial" and electronic, with some strong pop sensibility. Even the stuff from the 80's was passable as something new! Quickly became one of my fave bands, and I've never been able to find another band that quite "gets" it like Trent.
Mr Bungle - California: What a fucked up album from a fucked up band. A side project by Mike Patton (of Faith No More fame), this album caught me by surprise. It was completely different from anything I'd heard or enjoyed, and I took it almost as a challenge and forced myself to listen to it over and over until I liked it. And this is when I realized the value of expanding your musical horizons. From then on every time I got an album I never deleted it until I've had it a few months and given it a few real listens. Some people argue that you shouldn't have to "try" to like music, but to me it's the bands I forced myself to listen to because I heard potential that ended up being my all time faves.
Pain Of Salvation - Be: I'd have to say this was my favorite album of all time. Which is not to say I still listen to it as often as some other classics, like the previously mentioned Vast album, but I've never been as obsessed with an album as I was with this one. It was like the perfect storm for me. It was a new band I'd found on my own. It was progressive. It was metal. And they were philosophical. What part of that doesn't scream Dale? The album was an extremely planned out, somewhat convoluted concept album about the creation of God, God's creation of man and man's relationship with God. It's not a dogmatic approach to the God debate though, more the approach of a stoned teenager enjoying in a "what if..." conversation. The album uses various kinds of music, while somehow remaining prog-metal. One song is in the form of a prison hymn, the next is a Broadway musical style song split into 3 acts. Amazing album.
Vampire Weekend - Self Titled: I know this is incredibly cliche, but I swear I heard this album before everyone jumped on board. I took a chance on a band through iTunes and ended up loving it. I tried for months to get my friends to listen to it, and they mostly ignored me, then months later once the band had become huge, they were of course all listening to it. So juvenile of me to care, lol, but it was frustrating! This album opened me up to the "indy" scene. And even though I can't relate to it quite like I did with my metal phase, I still enjoy the music a lot.
I realize it's been a few years since the final entry, Vampire Weekend, but only because it hasn't been long enough to see what albums of the past few years will stand the test of time and form my musical tasted further, and what will end up being a flash in the pan. Either way, I love music and don't see myself becoming one of those 30 year olds who refuses to listen to new music or expand his tastes and just ends up listening to the same stuff he was listening to at 16 for the rest of his life.