Music has played an important role in my life since I was a little kid. The most important role, I can assure. After irreversibly hurting my knees due to playing soccer incessantly (damn you, genes) I was left with no distractions after coming home from school. I wasn’t that much into video games either (except FIFA, of course) and being an ADHD kid I needed some kind of entertainment with immediate rewards. Then came music.
I was only 9 when I started watching videos on MTV and at the time I was very much into Britney Spears, Five, N’Sync and all sorts of pop music. Until I watched a Blink-182 video and it all changed from there. I got into “rock” music and I began collecting cd’s and tapes and spent entire afternoons listening to them over and over again.
There have been several albums that have changed my life. Music that has struck and shaken all my insides. Songs that have accompanied me through the toughest times. I could list dozens of albums. I consider myself an addict when it comes to music. I enjoy listening to it way more than I like performing or recording it. Music is my deity and I worship that deity everyday.
It was really, REALLY hard for me to pick only three albums that have changed my life as there would be several others in between the ones listed below. My criteria for picking these albums was looking back on my life since I discovered music and how these albums completely caught me off guard and changed my view, perspective and approach to music (all rock related) at different ages and stages of my life.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Billy Corgan is a tool. I needed to get that out of the way before anything. Not that I knew when I was only 11 years old, but now I do. Still, I love most of The Smashing Pumpkins’ work (1991-2000 era to be exact).
I wouldn’t listen to anything that wasn’t pop punk at the time. Blink-182 and Green Day were my absolute favorite bands of all time back then. Summer came and my family and I went on vacation to Acapulco 🏝
The Smashing Pumpkins had just broken up and released a greatest hits album. Before taking off we stopped by a record store and my oldest brother bought it. During these trips I would take my discman everywhere and put my headphones on and not talk to anyone. That was the picture of a perfect vacation for me.
My brother came to me and gave me the cd and said “quit that bullshit you’re listening to and get educated”. I remember watching the video for “The Everlasting Gaze” on MTV months before and thinking “geez, what a whiny voice this guy’s got”. But anyway, I did listen to my brother and I put that cd on during the 5-hour drive to Acapulco and I was just blown away to the point that when returning home, The Smashing Pumpkins were already my favorite band and I had only heard their Greatest Hits album.
As soon as I could I went to the record store once again to buy whatever they had from them and there it was, “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” a 28 track journey and the first album that changed my life. Again, I was 11 years old.
What I loved and still love the most about this album is the variety its got. Every song is different from the previous one. From a blissful piano intro, to a symphonic opus, to fuzzy, heavy and screamy songs, to soothing and beautiful ballads and epic long ass songs. It’s a true definition of Alternative Rock and how wide the spectrum of sounds can be. Not without its faults, of course. 5 or 6 tracks could have been easily left out as they are filler and non-memorable songs. Siamese Dream might be their magnum opus, but Mellon Collie showcased how far they could push their songwriting and its production is a bit more raw and less polished and honestly I like when albums are a bit rough around the edges.
This album has influenced me to the point that I consider myself an enemy of repetition. I never want to write the same song or album twice (or at least I’m trying) and I’m all in for variety. Such a diverse album like Mellon Collie taught me so and I’m still learning from it.
At The Drive-In – Relationship Of Command
To this day my favorite album of all time.
It was 2005 and I was 15 or 16 when I first heard it. I already knew The Mars Volta and I was very much into them. Frances The Mute had just been released and I was tripping at how good it was (is. Still tripping over it).
I was no stranger to post hardcore back then as I was big into Underoath, Alexisonfire and that kind of stuff. But I hadn’t discovered this gem up to that point.
I remember talking to a friend about how good this latest Mars Volta album was (Frances The Mute) and then came my friend’s older cool cousin with the sweet taste in music and he was like “yeah yeah, but have you heard At The Drive-In though?”, “you’re into music with screaming, aren’t you?”
There was this show called “120 Minutos” that aired after midnight on MTV every night (with all the good shit, actually) and I vaguely remembered an ATD-I video, it was One Armed Scissor, so their name ringed a bell for sure but I wasn’t aware they shared members with The Mars Volta. Later on that day I went to my friend’s cousin’s house and he played Invalid Litter Dept and after it finished I was like “What. The. Fuck. This is amazing”. Went home and listened to the whole album, two or three times in a row. Then I would listen to it everyday for a long long time.
There is not one song I can’t praise enough from this album and if I do it would turn this whole mess of an article into a bad attempt at reviewing an album. It changed me forever. It actually made me want to start a band and scream the fuck out of my lungs (and hey, here we are, 15 years later). It made me want to improve at playing guitar. I learned to play the whole album, both guitars. I was mesmerized by that guitar work.
Pattern Against User, Invalid Litter Dept., Enfilade and Cosmonaut, oh my god, those two songs. So damn good. Such a timeless record that sounds neither like old school post hardcore nor it sounds like “modern” post hardcore. It just stands there by itself. The muddy production adds a lot to it and the rawness of Cedric’s in-your-effing-face screams… I could keep writing on and on about this. It’s that good.
Capsule – Blue
It was really tough picking the third and last album that has changed my life. But I’m doing all this write up based on the first impression I had on these albums and boy I’ll never ever forget how I felt when listening to this.
This was released in 2008 I think but I got around to it in 2013. I was 23-24 and Joliette had been a band for two years by then. We had just released our debut album “Principia” and I was in Mexico City heading to a show to catch some great bands. I was in the car of the drummer of one of these bands and as soon as the drive begun, “Blue” started playing.
By then I was already very much into “mathy” music. But I wondered if there existed something so technically crazy and jaw dropping without losing emotion not for one second. And I found it. It’s Blue by Capsule.
After the first intro song came Cobalt Connection and I felt both my brain hemispheres conflicting and I just twisted my head like a dog that doesn’t understand something. There it was. The promised record that would definitely change my approach at songwriting (if you were wondering, I’m always trying to rip off Capsule, always).
It had it all. Uneven song structures, unpredictable changes and odd time signatures. Heavy sounding bass. All over the place but stupidly exact drumming. Incredibly melodic and complex guitar work and on top of that (not really since they’re kinda buried in the mix) emotionally charged vocals and a very energetic performance overall. The super raw production is the cherry on top of the cake as it is the soul of this album. How raw, how real it all sounds.
I can’t say there’s that much variety on this album musically speaking but damn, I swear you just can’t follow what’s going on in there all the time. I have listened to this hundreds of times and there’s always something new to take notice of.
There is no band like Capsule and quite possibly there won’t ever be. Somebody please tell them to come back.
Photo by Gary Go Photography
Joliette is a hardcore/screamo band from Puebla, México.