But really, this is a list of my favorite albums of all time. Okay, so it’s a misleading title, so sue me. It’s not simply that they’re just sappy, nostalgic albums to me–in fact, they’re all musically great–but each does have special meaning to me personally. I love music, and each of these albums has had a direct impact on my life. Whether it has been therapy, intellectually stimulating, musically influential, or just good music, music has both absorbed and accented thousands of hours of my life. And these are the highlights…
Included are the band, the album, a link to the album as well as a brief description as to why this album made the list…Enjoy!
My Favorite Albums of All Time , 1-25 (in no particular order):
1.) Pearl jam – Ten – Okay, this one’s kind of obvious. It’s one of the best selling albums of all time, so it almost automatically makes the list. And you can thank my older brother, Jason Helms, for forcing me to listen to them when all I wanted to do was play Super Street Fighter Alpha II Turbo (man, I loved that game…). From the kickass start of “Once” and “Evenflow” to the greatest guitar solo of all time in “Alive”, you begin to ask yourself, “How can there be 8 songs left in this amazing collaboration of sound!?” And with “Jeremy”, “Black” and “Oceans” also on the album, it definitely gets special attention on this list.
2.) Jack Johnson – Brushfire Fairytales – Definitely an instant classic. From the smooth melodies and nasty acoustic guitar licks, this album is not only catchy, but just overall classy. It came at a time when I was trying to learn how to play both guitar and drums and well, soon mastered most of the album on both. One of my faves for sure.
3.) Five Iron Frenzy – Our Newest Album Ever – This is one of those albums you can put on repeat over and over and over again and never really have to listen to any other song outside of this small diskette. It’s beautiful. It’s compact. It’s catchy. It’s packed with meaning and and literary reference. And on top of that, the guys (and Jeff the girl!) are all Christians, which is just kinda the cherry on top, but they just do a great job of incorporating meaningful, realistic lyrics with a very original, creative musical side. Just about everything you need to make this list. Miss you, Reese.
4.) Flogging Molly – Swagger – Flogging Molly is one of my all time favorite bands. They have four full-length albums, and they’re one of the few bands with as many albums in which I can play their entire collection on random and never skip a track. They’re amazing throughout and bring it every night on stage. That said, “Black Friday Rule” is one of the most inspirational, passionate songs ever written.
5.) Weezer – The Blue Album – This album, along with PJ’s “Ten” (and maybe some Alice In Chains and/or No Doubt) is one that epitomizes the 90’s rock scene for me. It has super catchy songs like “Surf Wax America”, “Buddy Holly” and (of course) “Undone (The Sweater Song)”. But it also has real songs with meaning and musical ingenuity such as “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” and “In the Garage”. And finally ends it with the most epic song ever written (sorry Led Zeppelin), “Only In Dreams”. God bless Rivers.
6.) Dispatch – Bang Bang – This album is probably my all time most-played album on the list. It has everything. Emotive, romantic ballads like “Two coins” and “Out Loud” and even crazy catchy songs like “Bats in the Belfry” and “The General” to just straight up weird, yet great songs like “Bang Bang”. It’s got it all. **NOTE: If you were to buy/download one of these albums on this list, THIS is the album I would advocate for the most. Just a though.**
7.) Gomez – How We Operate – This album will always remind me of driving around New England in the Spring of 2006. While driving through nine states in one day in under eighteen hours, I must have listened to this album ten times. Definitely a life-saver on that trip and a true companion-album since.
8.) Thrice – The Artist in the Ambulance – It’s my favorite artist’s best album. It’s really as simple as that. I love almost every song that this band has produced and some of the best ones are compiled on this album.
9.) Cake – Prolonging the Magic – One of those albums I grew up on. It was always on in the car on road trips and well…just about always on everywhere it felt like. Every single song it fit for a quite night of reading or blasting with the windows down speeding down the highway.
10.) Mutemath – Reset E.P. – I know, it’s only an E.P. (which, despite the actually meaning of the phrase, it’s only seven tracks long), but it was also one of the most impressive half-length albums I’ve ever heard. It was good enough that I was even okay with them waiting a few years until they came out with their first actual full-length album. It’s the best homework/writing music I’ve ever head.
11.) Relient K – Five Score And Seven Years Ago – While one of the newer albums on this list, only coming out three years ago, this album keeps me coming back. While it was disappointing at first because it was a rather large departure from their past, it marked a more serious, better-written, more talented Relient K than had ever been produced. Plus when you end with a song like “Deathbed”, an eleven-minute biography of a man’s search for Christ, you can’t really ask for anything more.
12.) The Postal Service – Give Up – Solid album from start to finish. While there are a few songs that scream “Garden State”, luckily we all knew this album long before the movie. Ben Gibbard’s soft vocals, witty lyrics and strong imagery evoke both strong emotion and passion from listeners. One of my top 10’s for sure.
13.) Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends – One of my favorite high school albums, I routinely could have been caught screaming most of these songs at the top of my lungs on my 45-minute commute to and from school each day.
14.) Tyrone Wells – Snapshot – A SoCal staple the last five or six years, Snapshot is an amazingly-written album. Besides thinking of all the shows he played at APU during my college career, it’ll always remind me of walking through a random swap meet in Costa Mesa, and seeing him playing a show…randomness…
15.) Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies – It’s catchy. It’s loud. It’s a great listen through the entire thing.
16.) Halfway To Nowhere – Beyond This City – From 5/8 intros and 6/8 ballads to hard core breakdowns and On Lisa covers, this album exemplifies my high school musical experience. Definitely one of my all time favorite nostalgic albums, I probably ended up seeing this band 40+ times live. Some great music and some great friendships in those memories.
17.) Kanye West – Graduation – Just when it looked like Kanye West couldn’t get any better, he comes out with…Yo Kanye! I’m really happy for you. Ima letchyou finish, but Dashboard Confessional had one of the best albums of all time! One of the best albums of all time!
18.) Dashboard Confessional – The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most – Road trips to SoCal. Hanging out with my brother. Screaming these lyrics in the car with CoRri. Burning random CD’s form Jason’s computer with these songs on them. Driving home way too late blasting this album. One of my all time favorites on just about every level of music.
19.) Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American – While it’s technically a self-titled album, I bought Bleed American (as it was originally entitled, before they changed it to a self-titled album after 9/11) at Amoeba records on Haight St. in San Francisco when I wasn’t really sure who J.E.W. actually was. Anywho, turned out they’re pretty good, and this is one of the best put-together albums on the list. Definitely one of those few albums with a full story-like structure and arch to it.
20.) The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It – Just about every mixtape (CD) I made in high school included a Starting Line song, and most came from this little ditty. A great high school album.
21.) Switchfoot – The Legend of Chin – I still remember the first time I heard it. Jason was back home for the summer and we were on our way to work (at the UPS Store…woot). It was playing softly in the background and I asked who it was and what kind of music it was. He replied, “Eh, just surf rock.” We’d seen them a few times already then at Spirit West Coast and well, I didn’t know it then but Switchfoot would go on to be one of my all time favorite bands. “Just surf rock”? C’mon, bro. You’re killing me here.
22.) Green Day – Nimrod – This was the first album I bought, and subsequently one of the most-listened-to albums I’ve ever owned. Reminds me of a simpler time, when stores like “Wherehouse” existed solely to sell music listening devices called “CD’s”. Weird now…the idea of having to go anywhere but online to buy music just seem archaic. Anywho, this album is still my favorite Green Day album by far, so all you American Idiot fans…get educated.
23.) Locale A.M. – The Sounds of Spring – A local band from Pinole, CA, I probably saw Locale A.M. 20+ times throughout my high school career. This album from start to finish is a classic Bary Area album. It’s musically intelligent and catchy as hell. While a little rough or unpolished at times, it screams passion and hard work. I could listen to this album on an endless repeat for a looooooong, long time.
24.) Plain White T’s – Stop – One of those bands you hear, you like, you forget about over the span of a few years, then a while later they become super famous and people keep asking you if you’ve heard of this cool, new band called PWT (thanks Delilah). Yeah. Annoying, huh? Anywho, I’m not bitter…I loved this album and it’s definitely the soundtrack to my high school cross country and basketball career. Plus the lead singer looks like my brother. And the fact that we talked with ’em after their shows at The Pound in San Francisco. All the added together…and stuff…I’m done now.
25.) Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – I know. Another cop out. Best-selling album (vinyl) of all time. Snaps. Well time tested and mother approved, this album still just reminds me of a random Saturday afternoon ten or so years ago when my brother was home (from college) for summer break and we spent far too long trying to sync up this album with the class Wizard of Oz film (the third lion’s roar in the MGM title at the beginning, btw). Very surprisingly, this myth was confirmed. And weird.