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Sowing's 10 Most Influential Albums

Have you ever stopped and wondered to yourself, "Gee, I really wish I knew how SowingSeason came to appreciate groundbreaking and genuine artists such as Taylor Swift and Brand New?" Well then, aren't you in for a treat! These are the albums that shaped my musical tastes as they exist today, in (roughly) chronological order. Remember that these albums go back to my youngest days, so reserve judgment for the horrible music that I currently listen to, and leave the 14 year old me alone.
1The Beach Boys
Endless Summer

Approximate Years: Childhood / Future Influence: Fun., Jack's Mannequin, Taylor Swift / Story: Like many kids, I grew up listening to my parents' music. When we would go on vacation, the long car rides would be passed listening to this group's soothing melodies. It's a greatest hits compilation, but as a kid you really don't care about that sort of thing. I blame this album for my inability to resist a pop song with infectious choruses.
2Simon and Garfunkel
Greatest Hits

Approximate Years: Middle School / Future Influence: Tigers on Trains, Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes / Story: Still my parents' influence, but this is the first time I remember actually relating to music. As an angsty 7th grader, I still recall thinking I knew what 'I Am A Rock' was about. There was this girl I was becoming really good friends with, I liked her and we would walk home from school together every day. Then one time she started walking home with my friend from social studies class instead and I don't think I ever talked to her again. Wow, I was a dick.
Come Sail Away - The Styx Anthology

Approximate Years: 2004-2006 / Future Influence: My Chemical Romance, The Decemberists, Coheed and Cambria / Story: This was the first album I ever bought with my own money. I grew up with so much more than the two albums listed above, and almost all of it centered around classic rock. Queen, The Who, Zeppelin, etc. One day I heard Renegade on the radio and nearly shit my pants thinking I had discovered the best Queen song that I never heard. I was pretty disappointed when I found out it was these fucking guys I never heard of, but I really wanted the song and didn't know about limewire yet so I bought the album. I actually ended up buying their entire discography afterwards, minus their shitty post-1980's stuff. The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight are still among my all-time favorite classic rock albums. They combined my love of sound rock music with a more theatrical, epic side.
Ocean Avenue

Approximate Years: 2005-2006 / Future Influence: Blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41 / Story: This was one of the first albums that I enjoyed that was actually from my generation. The lyrics were about relationships and breakups, and I was a naive high schooler who related to every worn out cliche that Ryan Key threw my way as I endured the hardship of unrequited love. This record basically shaped all of my pop-punk tastes, including the even more monumental album below.
5Green Day
American Idiot

Approximate Years: 2005-2006 / Future Influence: Rage Against The Machine, Anti-Flag, System of a Down / Story: Like many high school kids, I found myself swept up in the political craze. 9/11 was in the past, but still vivid. I didn't know how I felt about the Bush, terrorism, and homeland security. And then, here comes this cussing, confident Billie Joe Armstrong out of nowhere with some of the most entertaining and generation-defining music I'd ever heard. I was already comfortable with my punk rock tastes, so this fit perfectly. It impacted me more in terms of content though, as I began my search for music with a similar agenda. This album actually helped me branch out into metal, believe it or not.
6Brand New
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Approximate Years: 2006-2008 / Future Influence: Thrice, Manchester Orchestra, The Republic of Wolves / Story: By 2006 I was a college freshman. Everything was unfamiliar, new, and exciting. Growing up under a rock though, I didn't have much real life experience and that came back to bite me in the ass...a lot. Through it all, TDAG was right there with me as I lost my innocence. It was there when, for the first time, I heard people openly questioning religion while causing me to doubt my own faith in God. It was there when I lost one of my closest friends in a car crash, and the wailing guitar solo of Limousine spoke to me like a kindred soul. This remains my all-time number 1 album, and I don't know if that will ever change. It literally helped make me who I am today, as a person - not just musically.

Approximate Years: 2008-2009 / Future Influence: Agalloch, Converge, Dream Theater / Story: I had a college buddy who was really into these guys, and at first I hated them (I mean just look at my prior influences leading up to this). I remember immediately liking the clean vocals, but I just thought the growling sounded ridiculous and wasn't music. Over time I came to appreciate the musical genius behind the unfamiliar growls, and eventually I embraced all aspects of Opeth. This led to a brief 2 year stint in which I worshiped metal (yes, me) and also led to my discovery of this website - which was huge into metal back then.
Brother, Sister

Approximate Years: 2010-2011 / Future Influence: Bright Eyes, Frightened Rabbit, Titus Andronicus / Story: Now I know you may look at some of the albums I listed as connected to this and think I'm an idiot, but I'd describe this as the album that got me into "messy music." What I mean by that is music that focuses less on structure and more on delivering content. Brother, Sister is an absolutely chaotic mix of good singing, bad singing, talking, screaming, soft acoustics, roaring get the idea. I connected so strongly to this album that all of my future musical endeavors became about finding something as passionate as this, regardless of how neatly it is composed.
9The Tallest Man on Earth
There's No Leaving Now

Approximate Years: 2012-2013 / Future Influence: The Milk Carton Kids, Jake Bugg, made me retroactively appreciate Dylan / Story: I wasn't really high on The Tallest Man on Earth when it seemed like everyone else was, it took me some extra time. I don't regret it though, because it came at the perfect time (coinciding with the year of Swans) to keep me grounded in my folk roots. More importantly, it helped me appreciate different vocal styles. Often, it seemed like I needed a vocalist to sound smooth and melodic aka not real, and Mattson changed that for me. As a result, a whole new realm of far more authentic folk and indie opened its doors to me, and I'm eternally grateful to The Tallest Man on Earth and, more particularly, this album.
The Seer

Approximate Years: 2012-2013 / Future Influence: To this point, really just more Swans / Story: In 2012, I was out of college and had to commute an hour each way to my first teaching job in the city. Every other weekend, I'd drive an extra hour to see my girlfriend. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the road. The Seer kept me company in a way no album ever had. Yeah, I had heard GY!BE, Sigur Ros, and other post-rock bands (not that this is post rock) but I was never able to get completely lost in any of those records at the time. Maybe it's because I have this unreasonable infatuation with the idea of the end of the world, but The Seer completely captivated me. Sometimes, I'd turn it on and I wouldn't even remember how I drove from point A to point B. It also remains my first drone experience. At this point it's hard to say the impact it's had, although I can say that it has greatly improved my appreciation of long, overblown instrumentally inclined albums.
11The War on Drugs
Lost in the Dream

Approximate Years: 2014-Present / Future Influence: ??? / Story: This is more of a speculative inclusion. I was already starting to lean more towards folk again before 2014, but Lost In The Dream solidified it. Adding in an ambient, dream-like element, I found myself somewhere between the indie likings of Dylan (I hear traces of him in Eyes to The Wind) and the no-frills rock of Springsteen (Red Eyes, baby). That's a great place to be for now, so we'll see where it leads.
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