The Top Five Defining Albums of my Youth

2008 marks the 15 year anniversary of the release of Liz Phair’s middle finger of an album Exile in Guyville. Its re-release has been getting a lot of publicity on blogs and public radio stations because for many, it was a landmark album, a defining album of their teens-to-early twenties. I didn’t get into Liz Phair until after I graduated high school, but the recent hullabaloo over Exile in Guyville got me thinking about the albums that really defined my formative years. Here is a list of my top five:
5. Relationship of Command: At the Drive-In
I mostly listened to grrl rock like Tori and Fiona, but something about the rawness of lead singer Cedric Bixler’s (now of the far inferior Mars Volta) voice and the frantic intensity of the music really appealed to me. Maybe it was an outlet for my teenage anger and angst, or maybe it just made me feel cool. Either way, the album still kicks ass.

4. Rated R: Queens of the Stone Age

I listened to this album over and over after I broke up with my first boyfriend. It’s not an especially sad album, so I don’t know why it brought me so much comfort, but it really became a security blanket. I can’t listen to it now without feeling a little sad and really, really nostalgic. Which is a shame, because it also kicks ass.

3. The Blue Album: Weezer
The World Has Turned and Left Me Here was the theme song of my junior year, also known as the year of awful braces and being overlooked for a good part in the school play. I was a nerd, and Weezer understood that–they spoke for me in the most beautifully simple and poignant way a band could. Sadly, I’ve listened to this album so many times that I cannot listen to it ever again.

2. Doolittle: The Pixies
Immediately when I heard this album I knew without a doubt that the Pixies were going to be my favorite band. And seven or eight years later, they probably still are.
I wore out every Pixies album I could get my grubby little hands on and I never, ever grew tired of them. Doolittle was schizophrenic brilliance and I felt better, smarter, just listening to it. It made me want to leave my small town and strike out, it made me want to dance, and it gave me one of my most persistent role models in Kim Deal. Minus the whole alcoholism thing.
1. Boys for Pele: Tori Amos.
This album will always make me think of my best friend in high school, and driving around at all hours in her old car that hardly ran. We listened to this album and talked about our lives, our fears, our crushes, our futures, loving Tori’s impertinence, her boldness. She was the adult version of what we wanted to be, wiser for all of her youthful indiscretions.
The album, too, was all about frustration with men and relationships, and although our situations were greatly different, I felt like I understood everything she sang about.

What albums defined your teenage years? Can you still listen to them?

[Photos from Wikipedia]

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