🔗 My Favorite Music Albumslisting Ido Perlmuter
First published: .
The Internet is replete with "Top 10" articles. Most of them are actually ads trying to sell you crap and are auto-generated by computers rather than actually written by humans. I will go so far as to say that this type of articles helped ruin the Internet, what with them dominating search results in every search engine and not providing any real value.
There's a reason why this type of articles has taken over the Internet: people are actually looking for them. I know this because whenever I talk about any hobby or interest of mine, people ask me to list my "Best 5" or "Top 10" of something, or to choose my favorite one. I never answer these questions, because I really don't know how (and have no interest in doing so).
Instead of choosing my top 10 favorite music albums or some other ranking that I can't truly justify, I decided to choose one "best" album for each of my favorite bands. I feel fortunate to have seen almost all of these bands live, and in looking at my choices, I can clearly see that the '90s were indeed great times for music.
The list is in alphabetical order. For each album, I have also noted my favorite song. There are many other bands I like or listen to, but either not enough to warrant a mention here, or I only regularly listen to a mix of their songs from various releases. For example, I love Eric Clapton, but it's pretty much impossible for me to choose a specific album as his best.
All - Pummel (1995)
For a long while I paid no heed to All, despite being aware of their relation to my precious Descendents. Eventually I realized it made no sense that I wouldn't at least try to listen to the material of a band that was originally supposed to be the direct continuation of my favorite band of all time.
I can see why All never shared the same success as the Descendents, despite it being mostly the same people and mostly the same music style. No matter how vehemently the band members argue that "it's the same music, just a different singer," it doesn't feel like that.
That said, All has managed to put some good albums out there, and I have grown to appreciate its part in Descendents history, its own history, and the fact that it managed to hold its own after the latter reunited in 1995, around the same time Pummel was released. This album brought a touch of darkness and anger to All's otherwise fast and peppy music, and produced some of my favorite All tunes.
Favorite song: "Self-Righteous"
The Ataris - Anywhere But Here (1997)
Ataris released four good albums (and one good EP) that were quite enjoyable, but growing discord has basically put an end to their good run. Since then, they've had an endlessly growing and changing list of members, with leader Kris Roe being the only original member still remaining.
Roe has a tendency to write nostalgic songs about how things used to be. This didn't use to bother me, but over the years it started to. Maybe that's why I prefer their debut album, which didn't really have those. Anywhere But Here is a fairly large album of 20 fast and fun songs.
Still, whatever you think about Kris Roe, he does have a way with words.
Favorite song: "Angry Nerd Rock"
The Beatles - The Beatles (White Album) (1968)
Here's a cliché for you: choosing the Beatles' weirdest album as your favorite. It makes sense though. There's only so much peppy love songs can do for you, and the band's earliest albums were replete with those. The albums grew more complex and interesting through the years, and I would say that The White Album was the climax of that progression. The editing was a bit strange, with some stark transitions, but Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison all wrote some of their best songs ever for that album. I will admit, though, that I don't often listen to the album in its entirety (or any Beatles album for that matter).
Favorite song: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
blink-182 - Dude Ranch (1997)
Like many other blink-182 fans, it was Enema of the State—the band's third album—that made me a fan, and its legacy as one of the most successful pop-punk albums is well deserved.
I remember that in order to listen to their previous albums, we had to wait until a family member of one of my friends traveled to the US so that they could buy it for us. And I still remember our excitement when we finally got Dude Ranch (together with Buddha and Cheshire Cat) and removed it from its packaging. Those CD liner notes were printed on paper with the best smell in the world.
Before Dude Ranch, blink was playing their own gritty but fun version of punk rock. It was then that they turned into a true pop-punk band. What I love about the blink-182 of the days before Tom Delonge lost his mind is that they were mostly in it for the fun. They didn't take themselves too seriously, wrote damn good songs, and just enjoyed life. It was great.
Dude Ranch has something that Enema doesn't. I don't know what it is, but it's there.
Favorite song: "Enthused"
The climax of "Enthused" is one of the best climaxes of any song ever.
Chixdiggit - Chixdiggit (1996)
Chixdiggit is a fun Canadian pop-punk band that is probably the only band ever to have sold merchandise before the band even existed. Musically, I've always compared them with the Ramones, but I'm not sure how much the comparison holds. Regardless, their albums are awfully catchy and fun to listen to.
Their self-titled first album is 15 songs long (most of them clocking in at under two minutes) and maintains a high level of enjoyability throughout. There's really no bad song in there.
Favorite song: "I Drove the Coquihalla"
The Clash - The Clash (1977)
The Clash were a pretty sophisticated band, and as much as I like London Calling, I actually prefer the simplicity of their self-titled debut. It doesn't have the influence or legacy of the former, but it's more consistent musically, so it's easier for me to listen to it in its entirety.
Favorite song: "White Riot"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory (1970)
The Dude was not wrong to give so much import to his Creedence tapes. As far as swamp rock goes, CCR are the undisputed champions. It's my favorite music to listen to while road tripping in the United States. In my WIP book of short stories from the road, I mention giving two hitchhikers a lift in Northern California for 100 miles where we drove with the top down and sang CCR songs the entire way. There was also one time in Saguaro National Park in Arizona, where I came in to the parking lot of one of the trails blasting "Commotion" through my car stereo. A man in his fifties or so came up running to me, all excited, and out of his wallet produced a small, laminated ticket stub from a CCR show he went to sometime in the '70s in New York City. He has kept it in his wallet for decades and decades. I was jealous, but thankfully got to see John Fogerty playing CCR songs live twice.
Cosmo's Factory, the band's fifth album, produced the most hits. Nothing but hits in fact. The band was easily at its peak with this album, which perfectly showcased their ability to fuse different styles into their own, unique sound.
Favorite song: "Ramble Tamble"
I absolutely love "Ramble Tamble". It's weird and completely uncharacteristic of the band. It starts one way, then suddenly takes a detour through a road I never expected CCR to tread. It's difficult to explain, you'd have to give it a listen if you haven't already.
Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)
You wouldn't think overly cynical, bleak political hardcore could be fun, but apparently it can. A bitter cynic like myself absolutely loves to hear other people's cynicism, it's good to know you're not alone in thinking that everything sucks.
Thirty-five years after the band's dissolution, the Dead Kennedys remain the most successful and well known political band in punk rock, and perhaps music in general. The band's 1980 debut album continues to please angry assholes like me. While their subsequent three albums did produce some fan favorites, none have been able to surpass Fresh Fruit.
Favorite song: "Kill the Poor"
Descendents - Milo Goes To College (1982)
What can I say about the Descendents that hasn't been said before? That they're the greatest band of all time? That they're bigger than Jesus, Moses and Xenu combined? That their history is more interesting than the present of everything? All true.
I am not one to show too much emotion (unless that emotion is annoyance), but the first time I saw them live—on my second night ever in the US—I was so incredulous that it was actually happening to me that I was in tears. I've seen them four more times since and each time was incredible.
I love the history of the band (see also: All) and the fact that every one who ever been in the band also wrote songs. It's not every day you find a band where every member writes songs and brings their own "voice" into the band. And of course, I love the music.
By now, it's probably a cliché to choose Milo Goes to College—the band's debut album—as one's favorite, but it's an easy decision to make. It's teenage angst at its absolute best, and the album's influence on punk rock was justifiably immense.
Favorite song: "Hope"
The Doors - The Doors (1967)
In all honesty, I am not a Doors fan. I just think their debut album was brilliant. Strange Days was also good, but all their other albums didn't do much for me. The Doors is an ingenious album, a musical journey that truly gives someone who was born in the '80s a feel of the '60s. And it always impresses me how one of the most popular rock albums of all time is not guitar-driven.
Favorite song: "The Crystal Ship"
Bob Dylan - Desire (1976)
Growing up in a house of two big folk fans, I've been listening to Bob Dylan practically from birth. While it was his extensive catalog of music released in the '60s that was the most influential, I find his 17th (!) album, Desire, to be his best. As a kid, I loved playing it on my parents' turntable, and I still love it more than 30 years later.
Favorite song: "One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)"
Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave (2003)
I think the most appealing feature of Fall Out Boy's music is the incredible vocals of Patrick Stump, but I should also give credit to Pete Wentz's ability to weave words together. Until their break-up in 2010, they've released four albums of modern poetry backed with loud guitars. Their reunion in 2013 was unfortunate though, and my life would have been better if I hadn't seen them playing cringey music at Victoria's Secret shows. Not that I begrudge them doing what they do, it's their life, but it's not my cup of tea.
Take This To Your Grave, their debut album, was a lot more rough around the edges than their later albums, and I suppose a more enjoyable pop-punk than emo.
Favorite song: "Homesick at Space Camp"
Fenix TX - Fenix TX (1999)
Fenix TX is a story of missed potential. For a while, it looked like they were going to be one of the big names in pop-punk, but internal conflicts stopped the band's road to success and eventually they broke up.
On the bright side, we were left with two pretty good albums of fast and catchy punk. The band's first album was mostly re-recorded after the band was forced to change its name and thus re-released. If you manage to put your hands on the original, I recommend it, but the re-recordings are better. The band's second album (or third, depending on your viewpoint), Lechuza, was quite good as well, but failed to achieve the novelty of its predecessor.
Favorite song: "No Lie"
Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape (1997)
I was a big Foo Fighters fan in the late '90s and early '00s, and I still appreciate the band's contribution to rock and their continued success, but I found most of their work since 2002's One by One to be more misses than hits.
The self-titled debut album was pretty good musically, but suffered from the fact that Dave Grohl was basically singing gibberish. In fact, the band didn't even really exist back then, it was just Dave.
For The Colour and the Shape, Grohl had recruited an actual band (a trio), and the three wrote some pretty damn good songs.
Favorite song: "Monkey Wrench"
Yes, I've chosen "Monkey Wrench" to specifically avoid choosing "Everlong", 'cause that would be too obvious.
Garbage - Garbage (1995)
I think Garbage was the first CD I've ever bought, shortly after its release. In fact, I still remember picking it up at Tower Records. I was just starting to find "my place" when it came to music, and haven't truly discovered punk yet.
I find it hard to express what drew me to Garbage back then. I suppose I like loud rock music with a strong female lead. Also, the band's drummer was Butch Vig, who produced my favorite Smashing Pumpkins album only two years earlier.
Garbage were also the first band I bought tickets to see live, back in 1999 in Israel. I still listen to them from time to time, and got to see them live again last year after 22 years.
Favorite song: "Only Happy When It Rains"
The Get Up Kids - On a Wire (2002)
The Get Up Kids have always been unique in the punk scene. Every one of their albums has its own unique sound, and it is no surprise that people have difficulty assigning them a specific genre. Matt Pryor—the band's lead vocalist and songwriter—is a terrific lyricist, and his work with The New Amsterdams is also worth checking out, as is his solo work.
While most people seem to like the band's second album—Something to Write Home About (1999)—their best (and I do love it), it's their third album that has always been my favorite. In fact, I consider it to be a musical masterpiece. Moody and brooding, it is one of few albums that can literally send a shiver down my spine.
Favorite song: "Walking on a Wire"
Green Day - 39/Smooth (1990)
Together with Oasis and the Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day was one of my favorite bands of my high-school days. If you want to know how big of a Green Day fan I was, you should know that in 1999 I wrote them a letter asking them to rethink releasing Warning (although I believe I haven't actually sent it). I don't remember how I knew Warning was gonna suck, but I did. Somehow I knew that it would be the end of the Green Day we grew up on. I write a bit later about what I call "the transitional album", where a band starts playing with a new sound, creating a surprisingly good and innovative fusion of old and new, before completely deserting the old one. For Green Day, this was Nimrod, their fifth album, which was damn good, but anyone could tell was a sign of things to come.
When I say that my favorite Green Day album is 39/Smooth—their 1990 debut—I actually mean 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, the 1991 compilation which combined it with two EPs. For two high-school kids (and a somewhat older drummer), they wrote pretty good songs, musically and lyrically.
I appreciate that Green Day released five excellent albums before turning into a stadium band, but I don't listen to these albums as much as I used to. 39/Smooth and Kerplunk weren't as polished and "accessible" as Dookie and later albums, but they have that charm of early-days Bay Area and a DIY feel that you can never get with a major label.
Favorite song: "Paper Lanterns"
Jawbreaker - Dear You (1995)
Oof, if there's ever been a more controversial album for a band. Dear You was very unpopular with fans when it was released, but its brilliance could not be denied for long.
The album is extremely guitar-driven, with a unique sound that I've never heard before. Blake Schwarzenbach's voice was even different on the album, and it complements the music perfectly. Dear You is dark, angry, depressed and full of energy.
Favorite song: "Friendly Fire"
"Friendly Fire" is actually an outtake that was released in the 2004 reissue of the album (and earlier in the B-side album Etc.), so I'm not sure if it's a fair choice. Still, it is a song that sends shivers down your spine and sweeps you from the first moment that guitar comes in, and maintains it till the very end. How it was left off the album originally is beyond me.
Lagwagon - Blaze (2003)
Lagwagon has been a Fat Wreck Chords mainstay for many years. They've only released four albums in the past 20 years (and nine altogether), but they're still very much active. Joey Cape is a great songwriter, and the band has been putting out solid punk rock for its entire career.
I think Blaze—their sixth album—is underrated, and ridiculously under-represented in their live shows. It's 14 songs of pure energy.
Favorite song: "Tomorrow Is Heartbreak"
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta! (2006)
Chicago-natives The Lawrence Arms were always known for their highly energetic playing. After they released The Greatest Story Ever Told in 2003, I thought they would never be able to top themselves again; but three years later, they did, with one of the most high-octane albums of all time. Fun and angry at the same time, a lot of its songs remain crowd pleasers at their shows, and for good reason.
Favorite song: "Like a Record Player"
Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview (1998)
While I often say that the Descendents are my favorite band, the fact is that Less Than Jake is the band I listen the most to. Their music is incredibly fun, and the lyrical work of drummer and band leader Vinnie Fiorello (who, unfortunately, left the band in 2018 after 26 years) has always resonated with me. I'm also a sucker for bands with two lead vocalists. I give LTJ a lot of credit for being a very positive influence in my life. In 2012, when I saw them live for the first time in Chicago, I waited in a "take a picture with the band" line for a very long time just to shake their hands and say thanks. In hindsight, I should have taken a picture with them too.
Anyway, Hello Rockview—the band's third album—was when they really found their sound. It is not as well polished as the fantastic Anthem, perhaps (which may be an advantage), but it is fun, well written, and truly makes you wanna jump.
Favorite song: "Big Crash"
Lit - A Place in the Sun (1999)
Like the rest of the world, I got to know Lit thanks to the massive airplay that their music video for "Miserable"—which featured Pamela Anderson—received on MTV. I haven't had the chance to fully listen to their last two albums (their fifth and sixth), but their first four were all fun to listen to, and I particularly enjoy them when I'm already in a good mood.
A Place in the Sun was their second album, and is nothing but fun from start to finish.
Favorite song: "My Own Worst Enemy"
Mad Caddies - Just One More (2003)
The Mad Caddies are the feel good band of every year. Their sound has evolved through their career, starting from a Jazzy sort of ska-punk, through a sea-shanty sort of ska-punk, and finally to what I would call the perfect beach music. I can't listen to the Mad Caddies without feeling like I'm at the beach.
I think I started listening to them after Just One More—their forth album—was released, but it may have been earlier, I was pretty much into anything released on Fat Wreck Chords.
Just One More zig-zags between calm & pleasing ska and fast & loud punk rock, creating an extremely fun album.
Favorite song: "Good Intentions"
Man Alive - Open Surgery (2005)
Man Alive is a punk band founded in Israel by Americans who made aliyah. Like Useless ID, their songs are in English rather than Hebrew. They've released five albums over the years and a couple of EPs.
Their first album, released in 2001, was impossible to find for a long time. I used to badger Jon Shkedi—the band's bassist—to post it online whenever I saw him (which was quite frequently in the late 2000s, as I did Jamie and David too). Eventually Jon did post it on YouTube, along with all of the band's other albums and main releases.
Open Surgery was the group's third album, their most successful, and easily their best. The songs mostly deal with interpersonal relationships and many of them seem to be written as if they were one side of a dialogue. The music is terrific and keeps your blood pumping throughout the album's 36 minutes.
If you're interested in hearing some Israel punk rock, I urge you to check out Man Alive. All their albums are quite good, including their fifth, which was never truly released and only posted to the band's YouTube page.
Favorite song: "Say What You Want"
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Love Their Country (2006)
I was leaning towards Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah (2004) at first, because it perfectly captures the band's humor and just-for-fun nature. I mean, think about it: a band that only plays punk covers of old and popular songs and likes to dress up gets invited to play at a kid's Bar Mitzvah; they agree, but decide to only play songs they've never played before, and also record the entire show and release it as their only live album. It's brilliant.
I would have been lying though. Love Their Country is easily their best album in my opinion. Probably because I'm also a fairly big country fan, and already loved all the songs on the album.
I listen to Me First a lot.
Favorite song: "Eastbound and Down"
Melakhekhey HaPinka - Nikvat Ska'at (2004)
I feel compelled to mention Melakhekhey HaPinka (מלככי הפינקה) here, despite them only releasing one album and two EPs. This Israeli punk band fused Middle Eastern music with hardcore punk, creating a unique sound unlike anything else. They were practically Gods in the local punk scene, and every time they played a live show was a celebration.
Also, every year during the Purim holiday (which is somewhat similar to Halloween), the band would dress up (or, more accurately, down) as the Misfits and play a tribute show under the name Mikhfits.
Their first album was released as a CD and was packaged in a hand-cut paper pita, complete with all the fixins.
Favorite song: "Jacklin"
Millencolin - Home from Home (2002)
Swedish skate punk band Millencolin has enjoyed a lot of success around the world. Lead vocalist and songwriter Nikola Sarcevic likes to write songs about his life, mentality, and the struggles therein. He does this with clear, direct language, and his lyrics reflect the progression of his and his band mates lives over the past 30 years. I feel a deep connection to their words and music.
Home from Home followed after the success of their forth album Pennybridge Pioneers, which was not only terrific from a musical perspective, but a philosophical one as well. Home from Home improved on that with a more polished production and a sweeping, immersive sound.
Favorite song: "Greener Grass"
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill (1995)
I started listening to Alanis shortly after Jagged Little Pill (actually her third studio album) was released. "Ironic" got major airtime on TV and radio, so it was very hard to miss her. Jagged Little Pill is a wonderful feel-good rock album.
Alanis continued to release good albums for a while, and I got to see her live in Israel shortly after she released her MTV Unplugged live album. I saw her again 21 years later in Las Vegas during her "25 years of Jagged Little Pill" tour, but the last album of hers that I still listen to was So-Called Chaos from 2004.
Favorite song: "You Learn"
My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)
So much energy, so much anger, so much self deprecation, how could I not love it? Three Cheers is the album I turn to when I'm not really angry, but I feel like breaking things, and fast. It's one of these albums that you need to be in a very specific mood in order to enjoy them to their fullest.
Favorite song: "Hang 'Em High"
Misfits - Static Age (1978)
Do the popularity and influence of the Misfits make any sense? I'm not sure. A band that plays poppy, catchy punk rock about horror movies, rapes and murders, with a self-described violent vocalist that sounds suspiciously like Elvis Presley? What could possibly go right?
And yet, Misfits are still one of the greatest punk bands of all time. Despite the subject matter, their songs almost never fail to get you to sing along and join in on all the "whoa"s and "oh"s.
I love watching live shows of the band from its original run between 1977 and 1983. You'd be hard pressed to find another band with so much coordinated mayhem. There was one show where the crowd stormed the stage and formed a human pile on top of vocalist Glenn Danzig, who continued to sing from deep within.
Static Age was recorded in 1978 and supposed to be the band's debut album, but was only truly released in 1996. Many of the songs were released in various EPs, singles and countless bootlegs over the years, so they were highly popular with fans basically forever and despite the album's super-delayed release.
Favorite song: "In the Doorway"
Nerf Herder - American Cheese (2002)
Now there's a fun band for you. Nerd Herder has been playing catchy and enjoyable pop-punk since 1994. They're an easy choice for that 30-minute commute in your car.
American Cheese—their third album—brought a bit more polish, volume and melody to the sound they've established in its two predecessors. On the lyric side, it still featured Parry Gripp's geeky and amiable brand of self-deprecation, but showcased a bit more "range", making it more interesting.
Favorite song: "Mr. Spock"
NOFX - Heavy Petting Zoo (1996)
NOFX was the band that turned me into a punk with their fourth album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean (1992), but it's their sixth album that I like the most. Perhaps more subdued and melodic than their earlier work, it is easy to enjoy, and in my eyes was a turning point for the band from a lyrical perspective, and for the better.
Favorite song: "Freedom Like a Shopping Cart"
No Use for a Name - The Feel Good Record of the Year (2008)
In 2009, No Use for a Name came to Israel to perform two shows at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv. They arrived a couple of days early, just as Yotam Ben-Horin of Useless ID was celebrating his birthday by playing punk covers with friends at the Ozen Bar. Tony Sly (lead vocalist) and Rory Koff (drummer) made a surprise appearance, and it was really funny to see Tony Sly moshing with everybody.
NUFAN's early albums were a bit too hardcore for me, but the band eventually settled into a good mix of pop punk, skate punk and a touch of hardcore, and released some terrific albums. I find their last album, The Feel Good Record of the Year, to be their best, and true to its word.
Favorite song: "Sleeping Between Trucks"
I think I like "Sleeping Between Trucks" so much because it reminds me of myself, sleeping in the back seat of my rental car between two RVs in the far-side of a Walmart parking lot in Salida, Colorado, back in 2014.
Oasis - Definitely Maybe (1994)
Whereas I mostly scoured the Internet to find rare Smashing Pumpkins material, a couple of high-school friends and I looked everywhere for rare Oasis material. In the late '90s, there were many bootleg CD stores in Israel, and we frequently went looking for more Oasis stuff. The bootlegs really opened up a new world for music fans in Israel who could only find the official studio albums in stores, which hardly ever imported singles and other releases.
The thing about Oasis is that their B-Side game is very strong. Their best work was kept off their studio albums, and most of these B-Sides were sung by Noel rather than Liam.
If you ever listened to Oasis' early demos, you'd know that many songs that went on to be released on their second, third and even fourth album were actually written even before Definitely Maybe—their first album—was released. Noel himself even said that they put their best songs on their first album, their second best songs on their second album, and so on.
I would have chosen The Masterplan—a B-Side compilation—as their best album, but it's against the rules of this page. I'll stick with Definitely Maybe, which changed Rock 'n Roll forever.
Favorite song: "Slide Away"
Operation Ivy - Energy (1989)
Seeing as how Energy is Operation Ivy's only studio album, it's a bit silly to list it as my "favorite Operation Ivy album", but I couldn't leave it out because not only is it a great album, its importance in the history of punk music cannot be overstated. Operation Ivy managed to fuse political hardcore with melodic ska-punk, an impressive feat, and they wielded tremendous influence in the East Bay area of San Francisco, helping to create punk bands that went on to worldwide success, such as Green Day.
Favorite song: "Knowledge"
Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)
When Radiohead released OK Computer, I wasn't ready yet. I liked their first two albums (especially their second), and had no idea what the hell was going on in OK Computer and couldn't yet accept a version of Rock that wasn't guitar-driven.
It took me a while, but eventually I came around and grew to appreciate the brilliance of this album. It's the perfect ASMR album, and a great example of what I call "the transitional album": an album where the band departs from its usual sound in favor of something new, but these albums often showcase a surprisingly pleasing blend of old-and-new that post-transition albums lack.
Favorite song: "Subterranean Homesick Alien"
Ramones - Ramones (1976)
You probably can't be a punk without also being at least somewhat of a Ramones fan. I used to listen to them a lot more than I do now. When I was 18 and started studying in Tel Aviv University, I met Shay Landa, who was the first punk I've known other than myself. He introduced me to the local punk scene, of whose existence I was completely unaware, and for years we would go to many punk shows together. Back then he also played in a punk band called MSD. Shay was a big Ramones fan, and it was he who got me to listen to them a lot more. I also had this thing where I used to combine my friends' first and last names into one word, so I started calling him "Shlanda". With a simple toupée he would actually look very similar to Joey Ramone, and one day he decided to don that toupée, pick up an accordion, and play Ramones songs on it. He started calling himself "Shlanda Ramone" and even opened for various bands as such. At each of his shows, before he would get on the stage, I would climb on stage, take the microphone, and improvise an introduction for him.
Like every cringey fanboy, when I first visited New York City, one of my first stops was the corner of 53rd and 3rd.
My vinyl collection includes several tribute albums for the Ramones' self-titled debut. A lot of punk bands tried to recreate the album's iconic cover photo.
Favorite song: "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue"
Reel Big Fish - Cheer Up! (2002)
I still remember the day I first listened to Cheer Up! It had just been released, and although I'd never heard any Reel Big Fish albums before that, I knew of the band. I returned home early from University one day because I was feeling terribly sick, and laying in bed sad and agonized I decided to give it a try and see if its title bears truth. It didn't take long for it to succeed.
Cheer Up! is tons of fun, highly effective ska-punk (and yes, I'm aware this is a weird characterization), that manages to blend well with what I know by now as Reel Big Fish's characteristic occasional anger.
Favorite song: "Drunk Again"
I suppose it's kinda weird that my favorite song off the album is perhaps the most depressive one. It's just one of those songs that immediately manages to captivate your attention. The lead vocals on the track are actually provided by band trumpeter Scott Klopfenstein, who gives an emotional performance and an absolutely perfect crescendo.
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993)
I used to be very into the Smashing Pumpkins during my high school years and before I really got into punk. I vaguely remember writing an essay about them for school too. Of course, I still listen to them (the "original them") quite a bit, but nothing like back then.
The Smashing Pumpkins were a great band for a computer nerd too. Billy Corgan recorded so much material with the band, material that he handed out to friends (who later shared it on the Internet) or directly uploaded it to the Internet himself. It was common to share these "rare" recordings on IRC in those days, if I remember correctly. I still have a huge directory of thousands upon thousands of recordings of Smashing Pumpkins songs. And I also bought a lot of their CDs too, including quite a few singles, which wasn't something I liked to spend money on.
While every Smashing Pumpkins album before Zeitgeist was great (yes, even Machina), and although Mellon Collie still remains an impressive accomplishment, Siamese Dream remains their best work in my opinion.
Favorite song: "Mayonaise"
Steve Vai - Sex & Religion (1993)
Instrumental work was never my cup of tea, but I did somehow manage to get into Steve Vai. Can't really remember how. Really there's no need to try and justify listening to one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
I think I like Sex & Religion the most because it's Vai's only album to actually feature lead vocals.
Favorite song: "In My Dreams With You"
Strike Anywhere - Exit English (2003)
Ishay Berger from Useless ID introduced me to this album when I used to frequent the "Third Ear" in Tel Aviv, where he worked. He actually introduced me to quite a few bands back in those days. I remember that the first thing I told him while listening to Exit English on the store's headphones was that it really reminded me of Man Alive's Open Surgery, and he agreed. I also mentioned as such to Jon Shkedi from Man Alive later and he agreed too, but now I have no idea what I was talking about.
Anyway, this album is probably the best example for how melodic hardcore punk can be. While Thomas Barnett shouts virtually every line on the record, it's never too in-your-ear. This is a thrilling album filled with socially and politically-charged anger.
Favorite song: "We Amplify/Blaze"
Therapy? - Troublegum (1994)
I mentioned Troublegum in an earlier rant as one of my early favorites in my teenage years. I think it makes sense that the only metal band I like would be Therapy?, as they do seem to have been fairly influenced by punk rock.
Their best work (an impressive seven albums) was all released during the '90s, and I felt like they lost touch a bit since the start of the millennium, but I admit I haven't listened to much of their work from that period.
Troublegum was the band's fourth album, but the first to have a significant amount of songs released as singles. It was perhaps their most melodic work to date, coming after three albums that are still described today as "noise rock."
Favorite song: "Screamager"
Tyler Gregory - Before the Black Powder Strikes (2012)
A criminally under-appreciated country musician from Lawrence, Kansas, Tyler Gregory combines his Tom Waits-like voice with his proficient playing of the guitar, banjo, and other old style instruments.
Gregory writes songs about the simple country life; appreciating the beauty of nature; travel, and more. I particularly love listening to his music while driving down the roads of small town America.
Before the Black Powder Strikes was available on his website, which doesn't seem to be online, but he does have a public Facebook page. It was followed two years later by Roots Below, a very good album as well.
Favorite song: "Carry Me Home"
Useless ID - State Is Burning (2016)
Useless ID are probably Israel's most senior (and successful) punk band. In the first decade of the 21st century, I have seen them live many times, and often had the privilege of meeting and speaking with Ishay Berger and Yotam Ben-Horin.
It's rare for a long-running band to top the popularity of their earlier work, but with their eighth studio album, Useless ID did. Hard, fast, angry, energetic, while no less catchy than their albums from their Kung Fu Records era. It is one of few albums I can easily listen to on repeat.
Favorite song: "Land of Idiocracy"
Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album) (1994)
Weezer has been releasing more albums than one can really listen to recently. Their output is impressive, and almost matches the incredible output of rock bands in the '60s and '70s.
The band's album are often hit and miss. What more, their hits are mega hits and their misses are not even in the ballpark. Many bands fail to surpass the brilliance of their debut albums, possibly because their debuts bring something new and exciting that subsequent albums can no longer give.
The Blue Album remains a fan favorite and still holds up almost 30 years later. It starts high, keeps its rhythm for the first nine songs, and slows down considerably for the last. Every song is a winner.
Favorite song: "Undone – The Sweater Song"