Top 5 Records That Changed Your Life Vol #4

February 3, 2008

Chuggin’ right along with Vol #4.  Again, a bit of a dichotomy in terms of taste and musical background. The only other important difference between these two is that Greg comes into the store fairly regularly, and I don’t think Nick Strate has been to the new location at all.  Harsh dude.  

First up is Greg. Here he is…
…and here is his response.

“This email will probably be dumped into the annals of email hell, but I was considering the whole music/record that changed your life and thinking to myself, hmm… has a record ever changed my life? At first I said “ha, yeah right.” Of course, these days I am older and I am not as passionate as I used to be, so the thought of a record having an impact seemed ridiculous.

Though after thinking of it, and I may be wasting my time with this email, but I realized that things did change my life. Thing like records and music and skating. I thought about it and realized that I wouldn’t be where I am or be the person I am if it wasn’t for a few records or bands or periods in my life.  Yes, I am a nobody and I am not in a band or anyone anyone knows, but I have been on this scene since ’95. Yes, to an individual who grew up with Battalion of Saints or The Descendents or Scream this may not seem like a big deal – rowing up with punk in the 90’s.  But to some of us it had a huge impact.  So to avoid anymore rambling here is my top 5.

Rancid- And Out Comes the Wolves
I mention this album cus I was told about a hotline that one could call to listen to music. I called the hotline with my friend when I was in 8th grade. I used to be a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan and was always wondering who the heck the band called Rancid was when I was looking through tapes at the record store.  Well eventually I found out who this band was. I am not saying this album was the fastest or best Rancid album. What I am saying is that this album changed my life because it catapulted me into other bands. It got me listening to NOFX and other current fast bands which is apparently what I needed. I was sold on the thing called punk at that point.  I was an angry skating teen at that point just looking to mess stuff up. This made me aware of other things out in the world. These bands also got me into Operation Ivy and Minor Threat and Youth Brigade, etc.

Reversal of Man/ Swing Kids- Any album
Ok so I put these two bands together cus they got me into a whole other realm of music. I was in High School in Orlando and I was invited to a show by a friend. Little did I know that this show would be a huge deal for me. It was in a kids home in winter park or maitland, I am not really sure. I got my hand shut in a car door and it sucked and my sister was flippin out on her boyfriend but aside from that the night was amazing. Basically we went to a house show and I was so tired and annoyed with the whole night but eventually this band Reversal of Man played who I was told was awesome. Well they played and it ended with Matt Coplon at my feet and a drum stick in my hand. He was laying on my feet in nothing but his boxers. I have to say that I was blown away. Later that night I went to my friend ethan’s house and we went to sleep to the Swing Kids 7″ and I was further blown away. So for the next month or so it was nothing but Reversal of Man and Swing Kids on a tape that Ethan made for me. It was awesome. It had an impact because it got me into a whole new realm of music and way of life. It got me into bands like MK Ultra, Charles Bronson, Spazz,  Portraits of Past, Frail and Four Hundred Years,  etc. It was more intimate and personal and I was really into it.

Joy Division- Everything
 I don’t have much to say about them other than what has already been said. They are amazing. Just listen to them. I can’t express in words what this band is all about.

Rudimentary Peni
Everything,  but mainly the ep’s, Death Church, and Cacophany.   Like Joy Division this band impacted me. I read a book written by the singer and I was able to get a zine written by some dudes in Orlando in the 90’s. This band is hard to describe, but if you like punk and obscure shit this band is for you. To me they have a sound of their own. The vocals are insane and they are a must listen to anyone who cares about music. This is regardless of what music you are into. Just listen, they are too hard to describe.

Gza- Seriously, just listen to the Liquid Swords album.
 GZA reminded me that hip hop wasn’t dead. It was living in the hills. It wasn’t a giant that everyone seemed to miss-mos def. GZA was around to remind people that there was still lyrical masters. He was able to mix awesome beats with slick lyrical skills. He paved the way for Lupe Fiasco and Talib and Mos. He Followed in the steps of Tribe but with a new twist. He probably heard common sense at some point and built on the neo style. The point is that for one who has lost faith in hip hop, there is still real hip hop out there and this album is hip hop. This album is simple skate music, it’s lazy Wu Tang music.

Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
 I know this marks 6 albums and I could mention way more than six albums that impacted my life, like The Misfits Walk Among Us, but I felt this album was more appropriate. This album is a nod to anyone who knows how to play the guitar and enjoys folk and punk or just folk, because folk is awesome. This album made the list because it is simple. There is nothing grand about this album.  It’s a simple composition that should give any young person hope that they can form a band. Jeff’s songs are so easy to play and so enjoyable to play. For those who only know power chords this album is a great catalyst to learning how to play acoustic songs. Aside from that, this album is simply awesome. I can’t say much more than that, it has been ranked amongst the best albums and what not on big magazines reviews and blah blah blah. The basic point is that this album brings a simple method to the table. It appeals to a variety of crowds and it should expand anyones musical taste.

So there is my list. I know its 6 instead of 5, but 5 is hard to stick to.
Next up is Mr. Nick Strate.  Here he is, singing an Abba song.

…and here is his response.

Storm and Stress – “self titled”
My old band opened up for these guys at Stripmine Records in the summer of 1998. I knew two of the members to be in Don Caballero (Ian Williams and Erich Emm) and one (Kevin Shea) occasionally played with the Swirlies. double cool. I was getting stoned upstairs while they played, so I couldn’t really see what was happening. It sounded like a tornado. For about 30 or 40 minutes. When I walked downstairs, there were drum pieces, guitar parts, strings, cables, records, CDs and most of Damian Lee’s impressive pornography collection (shredded) strewn from one end of the store to the other. I was excited to buy the record and see how this all came across on vinyl. And while not one of my favorite records, it’s one of the most inspirational. It’s about an hour’s worth of strung together vocal, tonal and percussive fragments. Certain parts of it are really, really beautiful. That record taught me to embrace chance, to REALLY love improvisation and to buy more guitar pedals.

Sorry. I’ll keep the rest of these a bit more brief.

Palace – “Viva Last Blues”
Touching, raucous, beautiful. Got this in the 10th grade, I think. Oldham’s voice hits the warble supreme on this record. The production is so warm and loose — it sounds like the band rehearsed the songs maybe only once or twice before recording. This record’s a commitment; it’s a ramshackle dedication to love, self-pity and getting loaded. What’s better when you’re 16?

Blonde Redhead – “La Mia Vita Violenta”
A decadent, but very serious record. I learned a lot about playing music from this record. Lots of open tunings, f**ked up chords, drone, noise, bizarre production. Still relatively accessible though. One of the things I loved about this record was how these Berklee graduates could make a really epic and adventurous jam out of a two-note bassline and really minimal guitar playing.

Bowie – “Low”
The aforementioned Damian Lee gave me a huge chunk of Bowie’s discography (The Man Who Sold the World to Scary Monsters) on vinyl when I was hanging out in the store one day. I spent about a year and a half obsessively flipping over Hunky and Ziggy. I was a freshman in college before I got to Low. I taped this record and walked around Washington D.C. listening to it on a deafening Walkman level. Beyond fostering an appreciation for really, really good production values, this record taught me that it was OK for an artist to be kind of phony as long as the artist was being phony in an interesting way and making some kind of valuable contribution to the cultural capital. Low succeeds on both of those levels.

Steely Dan – “Countdown to Ecstasy”
Though I feel like I should mention Mercury Rev, Guided By Voices, Pavement or some other band that scored the transformative drug experiences of my youth, the coveted 5 spot goes to th’ Dan. Got into this around my Junior year of college. I’ve got my complaints about the way Fagen and Becker sometimes approached songwriting, but these jams are solid gold through and through. The most important thing about this record, though, and the reason that it changed my life, was that it made me realize – probably for the first time – that my parents were actually cool. I stole their copy, after all.

You can check out Nick’s blog here – http://ricottapark.com.



  1. Steely Dan! Thank god, I’m not alone!

  2. Dude, Steely Dan is awesome. Everyone should listen to Steely Dan.

  3. Rudimentary Peni! A great top five if I do say so…I remember the album inserts just being these impossibly small drawings Nick Blinko did (those and the book apparently done while he was institutionalized?)…his vocals on Cacophany used to give me the creeps.

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