Ryan Hoffman

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Last Active 01-14-15 8:14 pm
Joined 07-13-13

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08.29.16 Albums I Love That Sputnik Doesn't04.28.16 Albums Under 100 Ratings That Need Moar
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05.07.15 My Day Is Made (Post-Punx)03.30.15 Public Library Finds and Other Gets
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09.28.14 Moar Recent Gets09.06.14 New Music Acquires
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Albums I Love That Sputnik Doesn't

I find my music taste is very different than most other people's. Certain albums most people love I tend to find bland or just not very good; other albums are the opposite. Different strokes and all that. Here's some favorite examples of mine.
1Green Day
21st Century Breakdown

We'll start off with a controversial example. The singles of American Idiot were a big part of my middle school years, though I never bothered with the whole thing until a couple years ago. This follow-up came out when I was in high school and I immediately latched onto the whole album. Something about this album's story, music and lyricism made me appreciate it more as a work of art, whereas American Idiot's concept has grown more distant with time. American Idiot is more concise, compact and straight to the point than 21CB, but 21CB has more depth in its probing of Billie Joe's dual personality and views on society. I also like that 21CB ends on a somewhat hopeful note with "See the Light", whereas I can't get all the way to the end of AI with "Whatsername" because it's too downbeat and quietly despairing.
2Linkin Park
Hybrid Theory

Been a fan of this band since the Hybrid Theory days, so I'd like to think I have some cred there when I say that ATS is not only this band's strongest album achievement, but one of the more profound works of art I have found in this new century so far. People calling it part of their "electronic" or "pop" period of works as a broad descriptor are truly missing so many musical and lyrical nuances of what they did here. I like the mashup someone on YouTube created of "The Messenger" and Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack"; ATS and Kid A really are thematically similar, though of course both bands went about those themes in very different ways.
3Dream Theater
A Dramatic Turn of Events

Like many other Sputnikers, the Guitar Hero video game series was my first introduction to a whole new world of music, and that includes Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under". Images and Words later became (and will most likely stay) my personal favorite album of all time. I checked out Scenes and Black Clouds after that, became more attached to the latter surprisingly, and waited with bated breath to see what they would do next. And boy, did they deliver beyond expectations. "Breaking All Illusions" is one of the strongest tracks here, as many Sputnikers who don't even like DT's later direction will concede, but the whole album just takes me through a whole rollercoaster of emotions. Numerous other factors, small and large, which I won't write about here, contribute to me calling this their one other equal to Images and Words in terms of grandeur and emotional power.
Mylo Xyloto

Similarly to the above album, I found Mylo Xyloto an expansion of the styles on the band's previous release, and far from the accusations of "poppy"-sounding material fans of Viva la Vida would make otherwise, or even more irritatingly, people who only liked "Parachutes" and compares Coldplay to Nickelback. Sticks with me as the band's highest achievement.
5Parkway Drive
Deep Blue

I've never really heard in full their first two albums that old Parkway fans seem to love, but this album hit me hard during the worst period of my life trying, and failing, my first semester at college outside of my hometown. Lots of mental imagery associated with this one. Brutal, but technical and focused, much like Slipknot's Iowa, another album I find associated with this period in my life.

Sure, the three singles from Oracular became ubiquitous, but I was never quite as attached to them as I was that album's more experimental, second side. When this album hit, I really appreciated that they had taken that more experimental direction and fleshed it out, resulting in progressive-rock inspired tunes like the centrepiece "Siberian Breaks". I never found their lyrical criticism in "Flash Delirium" of the fans who latched onto them for "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" disingenuous; on the contrary, those songs came out during the time when people started to become addicted to dumb electro-pop songs with only a 4/4 time signature on the radio, so they were perfectly spot on. Always thought the artwork was pretty cool too; it's intentionally colorful, cartoony and psychedelic, and the image of not knowing which way to turn when the wave crashes over you fits with the album's themes nicely.
7The Used

Another one of those "never-paid-attention-to-their-older-stuff bands": I find this album a cut above the norm when it comes to infusing electronic elements into a modern-day post-hardcore/pop-punk/screamo genre blend. Their bassist is a secret weapon on this album, if one can believe it; he doesn't just follow the guitar, he is very audible in the mix and creates memorable counterpoint to the rest of the band (I'm thinking of the chorus to "Kiss It Goodbye" particularly). Yeah, some of the ballads here are a bit cheesy, but even then, they're better executed and have a better tension and release than other songs of their ilk. Not a classic or masterpiece by any means, but a very enjoyable and somewhat inventive listen if one takes the time to pick apart its details.
8Enter Shikari
A Flash Flood of Colour

Choccy should be proud of me for this one. Take to the Skies was my first introduction to ES, yes, but that one also indulged in too many "breakdowns-as-riffs", so to speak, which "Risecore" bands would then take to heart and make a whole genre out of. Shikari were still developing their genre synthesis, and I believe it came to full maturity with this effort. Some incendiary and highly topical lyrics, some "WTF?" genre-mashup moments that totally work and a nice, cheeky sense of humor are reasons to throw this one on. Sure, you can criticize them for some of their political statements (actually, no, guys, change won't be "criminalized" if the left resorts to violence regarding worldly inequalities), but they make it all sound so thrilling, I've gotta at least admire what they did here. Shame The Mindsweep couldn't live up to it (outside of maybe three tracks).
9Biffy Clyro
Only Revolutions

Probably the best/most enjoyable of their Garth Richardson-produced trilogy of albums for me, though I love all three to varying degrees. If you look at it in terms of those three albums, this one finely balances the off-the-wall moments of Puzzle with the more anthemic tunes of Opposites. The ending to "That Golden Rule" with the orchestra is just too epic.
10From First to Last
Throne to the Wolves

Ditched by fans who liked this band for Sonny's voice and/or image, and upset over the direction their new major label had pushed their self-titled album, in addition to various other personnel changes and personal struggles, FFTL reconvened and wrote what would become the defining album of their career... or would've been, had people been paying attention and given credit where credit was due. You thought "Heroine" was dark? You ain't heard nothin' yet, the band seemed to say with this "explosive protein-shake" of an album (quoted from the Alt Press interview about the making of the album way back when). What other band in the "scene" bothered to call out Hot Topic for perverting punk music, write arpeggiated guitar riffs approaching "Flight of the Bumblebee"-esque complexity and threw in an industrial electronica interlude featuring a vocoder unlike any you've ever heard, just to fuck with people? No one, that's who. Skrillex can come back all he wants; Throne still remains king.
11Porcupine Tree
The Incident

Most recent fans of Steven Wilson's work still consider In Absentia their most profound work. I, however, give that title to The Incident, often misunderstood but uniquely thrilling in a way that Wilson's recent albums like Hand. Cannot. Erase. cannot hope to match. If one considers the first disc one long 55-minute song with different movements, one can start to appreciate the structure of it as a whole and how each section contributes to the next. If that isn't progressive rock, I don't know what is. Wilson's more metaphorical approach to the way mass media can infiltrate our lives in the most unwanted ways is a welcome reprieve to all those bands who consider whining or despairing about the topic a good way to approach it. People act like disc 2 should've been left off, but I consider it a "story-after-the-story" in a sense; after considering the effects of media on society, Wilson refocuses on his own musings and life and his place in them. A perfect note for the band to end on.
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