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Rowan's Six Years on Here

that's right, with about a quarter of my life overall on here, I think I can now officially become a crotchety old man shouting at new users to get off my lawn. steel yourselves for another trip down memory lane no-one asked for, and here's to hopefully another six!
1The Ox and the Fury
Guitars Die In Hot Cars

"We'll Never Know". I actually originally joined this site just so I could shoutbox Vooligan and ask him if he had a download of this album. He did, the bloody legend, and I got it for a while and then lost it and now I only have half the album on my hard drive. Press F to pay respects. Also, pretty sure it was one of the last times he ever commented on the site (RIP Vooligan, Jim, all those other good Aussie lads). Either way this is an underappreciated Aussie funk/acoustic/pop record, a good snapshot of my taste at the time, obsessively collecting rare Aussie CDs before all the bands broke up forever.
2Jimmy Eat World

"Invented". Pretty sure in the two months of 2011 I was here I commented maybe twice, so there’s not much in terms of new music I discovered. And the pre-2011 stuff was basically Parkway Drive, Karnivool and AC/DC if you believe my (gone but not forgotten, vale). One of my least embarrassing and most passionate loves from that time is Jimmy Eat World. Sure, most people who aren’t ancient have at least a little love for Jimmy Eat World, but while others grew up on The Middle and Sweetness, I managed to grow up on Invented instead. I still think the title track is one of the more touching relationship songs of all time, and Adkins’ finest work as a songwriter. The way the dual vocals break apart and come back together in the second verse – yeah, maybe Bloc Party did it first, but you’ll never convince me Invented didn’t master the craft.

"Feeling This". Right there alongside Invented in terms of albums I still wholeheartedly love. If we’re tracing the full history, The Rock Show is the second full song I can consciously remember listening to in my entire life, and the bit in the video where Tom spits on the camera was literally the coolest thing I had ever seen. It took me a while to adjust to how different the rest of the self-titled is to Feeling This, but nowadays every little nuance and sonic experiment is gravy to my ears. Stockholm Syndrome and Not Now are definitely the better tunes, but Feeling This is the soundtrack to so many endless summers.

"Circles". Yeah, I liked Thrice. Sue me. This was always their best anyway – Kensrue’s best lyrics by far, and with the slightly-too-polished storm of The Alchemy Index in the rearview the rawness of Beggars was somehow exactly what I needed. As a dumb kid I would pretty much just air drum to All the World is Mad and ignore the rest; it took years for The Weight, The Great Exchange, the title track etc. to fully reveal their charms to me, a distinction which no other Thrice album comes close to matching. In all of that, somehow Circles stands as the imperfect still point, the off-kilter melody like a stumbling footstep finding its bearing, the beating heart of an already bleedingly sensitive album.
5The Cat Empire
The Cat Empire

"The Wine Song". Man, I was huge on these guys. They sound pretty awful to the objective ear, but if you’ve never known the pleasures of trying to hoedown with your friends to the breakdown of The Wine Song on the last day of high school, well, friend I can’t help you. Legends say I liked these guys enough to write my first two reviews ever about them; I can neither confirm nor deny these statements and certainly have no recollection of those word vomit pieces of garbage. But hey, good memories.
6Enter Shikari
Take to the Skies

"Sorry, You're Not a Winner". I started really experimenting with music towards the end of 2012, but to ignore the occasionally cringeworthy music I grew up with would be doing myself a disservice. Case in point, Enter Shikari, that ridiculous clusterfuck of brees, wub wubs and armchair political philosophy that somehow worked like a fucking charm. Sorry You’re Not A Winner will never not be four minutes of pure fun condensed into music, with the iconic handclaps and that bop of a half-time section. Despite my terrible 4.5 review for A Flash Flood of Colour, that album was bad enough to knock me out of the fanbase almost forever – until five years later The Spark hooked me right back in. Funny how things don’t change.
7The Used
The Used

"Blue and Yellow". Another band that never really went away. A strong nod to A Box Full of Sharp Objects and the hours of memories fishing on Runescape that it accompanies, but Blue and Yellow is the real kicker, a perfect ballad that never fails to transport me right back to childhood, watching the band fuck around on skateboards on that live DVD and growing up too fast. By the way, this is still a perfect album and I will not be told otherwise.
Sound Awake

"Deadman". The wait for, and eventual release of Sound Awake might have been my first real experience being totally immersed in the wait for an album, and fortunately also in the album completely living up to the huge hype. I don’t tend to spin Karnivool these days, but when I do I always find time for all ten minutes of Deadman; the creepy “water’s dark and cold” middle section, the heartbreaking “hey, guess I fucked up again”, and the effortless build back into the chorus it started with. Change into Change (Part 2) turned out to be not at all what I had dreamed of, but with the hindsight of some years I’ve accepted that maybe it’s just as good as what I had imagined.
9Pink Floyd
The Final Cut

"The Fletcher Memorial Home". Obviously. These were the days of flaunting my thousands of Pink Floyd plays on to people on here (yes this used to be a thing to brag about), trying to explain that my lazy holiday days were filled less frequently by friends and more frequently by spinning Pink Floyd’s discography front to back, because I could. Yeah, I was a weird kid. Makin' friends with evilford, Jamie and Pleb on the Final Cut thread. Any song could have made the cut here for sure, but I’m pretty sure we spammed the lyrics to Fletcher Memorial Home about a hundred times on there.
10Alkaline Trio
From Here To Infirmary

"Stupid Kid". It feels weird putting decidedly not one of their best songs on here, but it’s not like I knew that at the time. Time To Waste and Mercy Me had made their way across my TV before, catchy slices of pop rock that I didn’t not enjoy, but it took that ridiculous mashup of Stupid Kid and Kill Me Quickly by Thrice (remember The Legion of Doom mashups? No? ok) to fully hook me into now one of my absolute favourite bands. The classic music video for this song didn’t hurt, either.
11Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

"I Appear Missing". The guy who wrote “Paul’s dad is warped and bubbling – oh well” back on Rated R was now taking us through an actual death experience in precisely six minutes of fantastic rock. The nightmare sequences are utterly terrifying – has anyone trademarked “a spitting image of me except for the heart-shaped hole where the hope runs out” as a horror movie tagline yet? – but it’s the closing lines about love that’ll truly stay with you. Absolutely killer live, as well.
12...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
The Century of Self

"Bells of Creation". Of the many bands I’ve discovered over the years through various means, Trail of Dead might be the only honest-to-god fluke. I just bought The Century of Self one day because I thought the cover art looked fucking sick. I spun the album on my Walkman (damn) on the train ride home, and turns out the music was also fucking sick. Shoutout to Conrad’s drawing skills, and klap's ever-incredible reviews.
Lost in the Sound of Separation

"Desperate Times, Desperate Measures". There’s no real reason for Underoath to be in 2013, but they had to go somewhere and my love for them has pretty much always been consistent. In fact, I think they’re one of the only bands who never let me down, putting aside my initial disappointment at both Lost in the Sound and Disambiguation, which with time turned out to be just as good as anything else they’d done. I’m still surprised they don’t get as much credit as they should for their experimentation; they didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but through Underoath’s discography I got my first taste of post-rock (Casting Such a Thin Shadow), ambient (Desolate Earth), and even death metal (those first two records). Not a bad record. Anyway, Desperate Times is here because it’s a stone cold banger, and Aaron’s “God where have I been” bridge is still one of my favourites of all time.
You Are My Sunshine

"The Grey Man". Copeland played a pretty decent part in the evolution of my musical tastes; they might have been the first time I was able to admit that music without heavy guitars could still be good. Big steps. I think I heard Pin Your Wings first on some pop-punk compilation, but The Grey Man properly pulled me in and got me to pay attention. Another band whose quiet boundary pushing flies under the radar; even long before Ixora you had stuff like “The Last Time I Saw Dorie” and “Not So Tough Find Out” which were totally unlike anything I had heard at the time.

"Hospital". Copeland are the better band overall, but goddamn if the stars didn’t align when Lydia decided to create Illuminate. It’s essentially perfect front to back, but nothing else gives me chills quite like when the chorus of Hospital kicks in.
16Marissa Nadler

"Drive". Cheers to acad for the sick end-of-year writeup that convinced me to check this one out. It took me about four years to fully check the rest of this album, so tbh it’s probably my fault I don’t like the rest of it nearly as much, but god knows Drive haunts my waking moments like the thought of something I forgot to do but swear I’m just about to get around to, if I could just remember. Maybe the peak of lo-fi sadgurl folk.
17Elliott Smith
Figure 8

"Can't Make a Sound". Spinning the entire Elliott discog front to back in one day back in 2012 when I first joined, as I was wont to do back then, and of course not remembering a single thing about it except for Waltz #2 (XO). Then rediscovering him on a bus ride to my new home before uni started in 2015. Can’t Make a Sound climaxing as the countryside flew past my window is probably one of the most formative music experiences in my entire life.
18Faith No More
King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime

"King for a Day". I had a pretty massive Patton kick back in the day. No bulli pls. I haven’t listened to his work in ages and I don’t miss it all that much, but I do really miss the days of Patton plug seshes with myself, laughingman, Judio, demigod and many others. Bonding over music is a beautiful thing and don’t ever forget it.
19The Antlers

"Revisited". This was my AOTY for 2014, for whatever it’s worth. I don’t really know if it holds up, but I vividly remember the memory of how it used to be and that’s enough really. Spinning Palace at a friends’ house when everyone was out except the two of us, and kinda falling in love just a little bit for the first time. Wishing I could play piano. Being gobsmacked by the lyrics to Revisited (still, to this day, a masterpiece to my ears) and the way Silberman’s voice complimented them. This’ll probably never be what it used to, but fuck it, some new Antlers would be nice anyway.
20Trophy Scars
Holy Vacants

"Everything Disappearing". I’d still not entirely lost the habit of jamming full discogs at this point, so like an idiot I started at the first album and went straight through. I’m amazed I wasn’t immediately put off for life – remember my post-hardcore experience at this point was basically, like, At the Drive-In – but I think even from the start there were glimmers of what this band would become. Everything Disappearing is still a magnificent closer in every way, and I rarely listen to this in full any more, but the “Lauren” section doesn’t hit an iota less hard than it originally did. Turns out Chicago Typewriter would be a precursor to a future life-changer album for me, but we’ll get there.

"My Name is Jonas". I don’t know how or why Weezer became so huge for me. It seemed like there was no real distinction between me being vaguely interested in them and me becoming a full-fledged stan, it was like flicking a switch in my pleasure centres. I hopped on the hype train for Everything Will Be Alright despite never having heard the early albums it was supposedly a comeback to (lol), but Back to the Shack and The British Are Coming genuinely got me through my high school exams. One year later, on the way to my first day of uni, no clue of what I was getting into or if it was even worth it (looking back, on average, yeah it pretty much was); I spun Blue over and over on the car ride down. Perfect soundtrack to that day.
22Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience

"Mirrors". Remember the site collectively losing its shit over this album? Good times. Unashamedly bombastic and massive, a handwritten love letter magnified and plastered all around the world. Not a second wasted, even as Justin gives us a minute of music for every decade his grandparents were together; who knew growing old could sound this fucking magnificent?
23The National
Trouble Will Find Me

"Pink Rabbits". You know that sea of worries Berninger is so scared of? Man, the entire thing is right here in those piano chords. Pink Rabbits crescendos and breaks back down as lightly as a feather; an extra note delicately played here or there, and we’re in an entirely different world. Very possibly the band’s crowning achievement.
Brother, Sister

"O, Porcupine". I think these guys might have been a 2014 discovery for me, but whatever. As early as like 2009 I heard January 1979 mashed up with Underoath’s Dangerous Business – Legion of Doom was fucking iconic, man – but it was just too weird for me at the time. Fast forward however many years, and Aaron's entrance on Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste (one of the best musical moments of all time tbh) finally convinced me to put on Brother, Sister. It’s the only album I ever slapped a 5 on after one listen (Jeff Buckley’s Grace got there in two). O, Porcupine chosen because it’s probably my favourite mwY tune, and to stand-in for Sunny Day Real Estate who I got into hard around the same time.
25Eyedea and Abilities
By the Throat

"Burn Notice". My nascent hip-hop taste had only barely started developing when I stumbled across By the Throat on some random’s Sputnik list (whoever you are, I’ve long since forgotten but I thank you deeply). Its hyper-emotional poetry and grungey backing tracks completely blew my mind, and some of these songs legitimately saved my life. RIP Eyedea.
26Red House Painters
Songs for a Blue Guitar

"Have You Forgotten?" Down Colorful Hill is the highlight of this discography and my favourite Kozelek work to this day, but man, there’s just something about this song. Strip away the nine-minute slowcore arrangements, the electric guitar and drums, and (cough) the self-indulgent spoken word diary entries and what are you left with? One guy with an acoustic, a truly lovely voice, and timeless melodies that cut deep into your soul and take up permanent residence. I think this will never not be one of my favourite songs of all time, even if Kozelek manages to put me off his music forever (seeming increasingly likely); I will always come back to this.
27Frank Ocean

"White Ferrari". If only you could crank up that radio background noise until it drowns out all those words you don’t want to hear and he doesn’t want to say. "I'm sure we're taller in other dimensions" section is still a game changer.
28All Human
Teenagers, You Don't Have to Die

"Rogue Bee". Maybe the most genuinely fantastic discovery I’ve made on the site by just stumbling on a song out of curiosity. If I’d known this was the brainchild of Fear Before the March of Flames and Trophy Scars members I would have rushed to check this, but I missed Teenagers, You Don’t Have To Die until 2016 was almost completely over, and I stumbled on And So Peter Dances. Rarely has a piece of music gut-punched me as cleanly and quickly as when that final string section comes in, and helping to spread this album around the site (and onto the Year-End list) was one of my most genuine pleasures.
29The Weakerthans
Reunion Tour

"Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure". It was All Human for Christmas, The Weakerthans for New Years’. This happened essentially randomly – let’s just say I wasn’t in the best mindset after midnight on New Years’, with no one to see and not even a chance of sleeping. I stumbled on Plea From a Cat randomly, after maybe a year of being peripherally aware of the saga but having never devoted time to it. I played the whole quadrilogy back-to-back that night, and on the first few mornings of January Reconstruction Site, Reunion Tour and Winter Wheat became my travelling companions on train rides and bus rides and long walks through a hometown that was not the same. Hats off to John K. Samson.
30Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

"Da Mystery of Chessboxin'". After a couple tentative experiments with the genre the previous year, consider this a stand-in for me fully diving in. You would not believe how white I looked spinning this album incessantly around campus.
31Kanye West

"Blood on the Leaves". This one stands in for Yeezy’s discography in general, because the first half of 2017 saw me forced into long walks to uni in the freezing cold almost every morning, my only company the voice in my earbuds, which nine times out of ten became Kanye. But this fucking song, man - chopped up with a shakily held razor, the remains shot into the stratosphere with those massive horns. We open on his 808s self, vulnerable, broken and autotuned, then stand exhilarated witness as he transforms into the Yeezus persona; the moment of total loss of control at "WE COULDA BEEN SOMEBODY" is truly galvanising. Just over a minute of genuine bar-for-bar glory; then, just as quick as the beast comes out it goes back in the cage, and we end where we began, Nina Simone glitching over piano chords, Kanye almost incomprehensible a la “Runaway”. No wonder even David Lynch loves this song.
32Earl Sweatshirt
I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside

"Grief". When it wasn’t Ye on my iPod it was Earl, which pretty much sums up me pinballing between depression and joy for the entire first half of the year. The chasms of this song are almost unfathomable. Even putting aside that incredible first verse – the best of this decade - the yawning canyons between each kick of that bass drum feel deeper than is permitted by physics; that repeating deep voice sample, anxiety captured on tape like a ghost and then looped in a moment of time to stop it breaking free. Good fucking grief indeed.

"Da Art of Storytellin' (Pt. 1)". Yeah, big hip-hop year. I pretty much played every OutKast album to death throughout 2016 (and there wasn’t a single uni party where Hey Ya and Ms. Jackson don’t get played like, three times a night). Emerging unscathed from that onslaught is that middle run of songs on Aquemini, Skew It On the Bar-B through Storytellin’ Pt. 2 where literally every single note is perfect. Aquemini is an easy standout – that goddamn fourth verse was the first one which every properly blew me away – but Storytellin’ Pt. 1 is a sneak favourite that has become easily the band’s crowning achievement for me. Andre combines vivid detail with genuine pathos in a way that makes every carefully chosen word electrifying – you feel the heady rush of falling in love in exquisite detail, only for the gut-punch of an ending to, uh, punch you… in the… gut.
Everything Will Be Alright in the End

"Everybody Needs Salvation". Hopefully throwing this one in will convince people to check it; not only is it possibly the finest of all Weezer’s b-sides, it’s probably in their top 10 best tunes overall. Anyway, it’s a good stand-in for Weezer’s legendary catalogue of b-side material overall, and the countless hours I spent creating new tracklists, hunting down demos and other such nonsense since that first spin of Blue a couple years prior. Good times, good times.
35Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger in the Alps

"Smoke Signals". The most recent obsession; thanks to atari and Blush for getting me to check this one out. A song which weaves together Bowie, Lemmy, Twin Peaks, emotional devastation and black humour in a beautiful and effortless package. I could be listening to this one for a long, long time.
36Angelo Badalamenti
Twin Peaks (Limited Series Soundtrack)

*awkwardly taps mic* and uh, shoutouts to the great people here who I consider genuine and long-time friends: tommygun, evilford, Jac, Pleb, Buttery, key, lloyd, demigod, avon, Sowing, Arcade and the whole staff crew, SpaceMan, Pheromone, Blush, LandDiving (who the fuck is?), cryptologous, winesburgohio (the nickname king tbh), dbizzles, Scuro, clavier, big daddy Zorbas, my best friend kris (and all the bomb squad lads), MORTIMUSPRIME, SarcasticBtrd, bubs, Typhoon, Zip, pjorn, etc. etc.
Additional shoutout to every other person on this site. Y’all rule.
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