It seems to me that, up to this point, I fell in love with styles of music and bands that sort of epitomized that particular style (i.e. hair metal and Warrant; grunge and Nirvana; pop and The Beatles), burning the bridge to whatever previous style of music I'd been interested in. From age 21 and on, however, you'll notice that I don't so much "burn a bridge" or "slough a skin," but, instead, sort of layer skins and bridges atop one another, which is kind of gross.
Though I'd been performing in bands since high school, this period also saw the formation of Root Shoot Leaf, my first "real" band, as I call it. Looking back, it was a pretty naive, but I certainly hinged alot on the success of this band. It was also the peak of my musical output: Root Shoot Leaf released 5 full-lengths and 3 EPs between 2004-2007.
Anyway, here's what I was listening to.
1. John Coltrane - Giant Steps
Larry Harms, one of my music instructors as Illinois Central College, really got me hooked on this record. The title track and "Naima" are two of the best songs, of any style, I've ever heard. There used to be a bar in downtown Peoria where every Friday Larry and a group of friends would play good jazz. I remember sitting in the dark with my sweating glass of whiskey and coke, letting all those notes in my ears. I wonder if they still do that.
2. Thelonious Monk - Monk's Blues
What drew me to Thelonious wasn't that we shared the same last name (as so many people have wondered) but the disjointed melodies, the unpredictable nature of his songs. Thelonious was a jazz rock star. And Monk's Blues, more than any other record, really embodied Thelonious' own character.
3. Bela Bartok - The Six String Quartets
I found this vinyl in a record store in Peoria. I'd heard a few pieces from Bartok before and really enjoyed them, but nothing prepared for the beauty and the strangeness of his quartets. I fell in love immediately.
4. Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica
There were a few years where I didn't write "rock songs" as it were (as I was more focused on composing string quartets and little chamber pieces), but I always said, once I heard Moon & Antarctica, that if I wrote rock songs these would be the kind of songs I would write. I don't know that I kept that promise, but Modest Mouse might be credited with getting me back into rock and roll.
5 & 6. Brigh Eyes - Lifted, or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground & Fevers & Mirrors
My sister, Mandy, made me a mixtape (okay, a mix CD) because I'd asked her for some good music that wasn't on the radio. One of the songs she put on the tape (CD) was "Haligh Haligh A Lie Haligh" off of Bright Eyes' Fevers & Mirrors. I had to have more of this guy. These records tend toward the melodramatic when I listen to them nowadays, but both still hold a special place in my heart.
7. The Strokes - Is This It?
I jumped on The Strokes bandwagon a little late. I didn't get into Is This It? until their second lp, Room on Fire, was already out. But from the opening guitar riff of the title track all the way down to the last, Is This It? is a near-perfect record, fun and rough around the edges.
8 & 9. The White Stripes - White Blood Cells & Elephant
The kid who handed me White Blood Cells and said, "Listen to this record!" also listened to bands like Stain'd and Creed. I did not have high hopes for The White Stripes. Then I put the record on, and discovered even Stain'd fans aren't wrong all of the time. Both of these records sound as fresh and as hyper-active as they did when they were released. It's a shame The White Stripes are over, but they left behind a near-flawless legacy.
10. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
Say what you will about Coldplay these days, but this record (and their debut) is solid. The melodies and guitar lines are interesting and the songs hold up. I still get a little vaklempt when "Warning Sign" comes on.
Next time, I get weird. Real weird.