Monday, 29 September 2014

Music Monday - Three Albums That Shaped Me

As a matter of fact ...

I want to share three albums that shaped my childhood. Everyone has these. Those songs that transport you back to a time, a place and and even a person you used to be. I love that music has this power over us. It's not just an 'in the moment' experience, it's a lasting one that you can transpose your emotions and feelings onto forever. Just one listen can open up that box of memories.

For me, these three do just that. At the risk of sounding egotistical, welcome to my mind ...

1) Hail To The Thief - Radiohead - 2003

I was 11 years old when I first head this album. I'd heard the band's name before and thought it was cool. I also liked the album's cover art. It was a simple as that. I had no idea that buying it would start a lifelong love of the band.

As Radiohead albums go, this is one of their least known, trailing behind 'OK Computer' or 'Kid A' but it means so much more to me because it was the first album of theirs I ever heard. As I listened to the strange blend of guitar rock and electronic synth, I wasnt sure if I liked it or not. I was only 11 and had been raised on a steady diet of 90's pop from the radio and catchy 60's tunes from my Dad. As such, this album that floated, soared and sometimes stabbed into my ears definitely confused me at the time. 

After a couple of listens though, I was sold. The album's dark, mysterious tones became one with my early memories of family holidays and long car journeys. Whenever I hear Thom Yorke's ethereal voice punch through the pulsating snyth and guitars on this album, I am instantly transported back to being 11 years old, gazing up at the motorway lamposts as they flick past my family car driving through the night. Every time. Only an album that powerful could conjure up a memory this strongly for me. 

2) By The Way - The Red Hot Chili Peppers - 2002

This is perhaps a little more well known than my previous choice. When I first picked up this album, I had no idea that the band had been going for almost 20 years! It didnt even cross my mind, how could a band older than me sound so fresh and unique? 

Of course, naivity behind me, I now realise this was my first brush with funk rock. The Chili Peppers were a stark contrast to everything else I was listening to at the time. They were punky, punchy and singing about death, drugs and rock 'n roll in a way that blew my mind at 10 years old. I might not have understood the meaning of it, but I got the vibe. This album was like a chilled out rebellion; Anthony Kiedis lyrics were often upbeat and powerful but burst into songs packed with funky guitar riffs, horns and drum beats. It felt like punk's younger cousin from New Orleans. 

Not that I knew this at the time though. I just loved the sound and listened to it to death until every note, beat and word sound like a family holiday to center parcs. The best part? It still sounds as fresh today.

3) Parachutes - Coldplay - 2000

The 1st album I ever owned and I'm not ashamed to say it. Coldplay get a bad rep these days and for good reason, they produce pretty crappy pop at best. These days, Chris Martin likes to prance around in second hand clothes with rainbow vomit on and sing about shooting stars as every 4th lyric. Good for him though, he's managed to capture a huge demographic of teenage girls with more money than sense.

If I sound bitter, it's with good reason too. You see, I love the old Coldplay. When I have to show people what I mean, this is the album I give them. This is Coldplay at their best. This is when they rocked and wrote real ballads. Every song blends into the next to give the album a complete package feel to it. Everything is in its place and there is not one bum track to be found. 

It's not generic either, the songs sound different from one track to the next. They soar and kerang in the famous 'Yellow' and melt into feel good piano in the gorgeous and under appreciated 'Everything's Not Lost'. It made sense when I was 9 and it still makes sense now. There is something on this album for everyone, there is something to be heard on every level and there are a million reasons why it shaped me as a person. 

To put it quite simply; it sounds like my childhood.


I'd love to hear your albums. 

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