Music is a huge part of my life. Not only did I grow up in and around music, but I also worked in the music industry. Fast forward 29 years… I’m still very much a part of the music industry and music in general is one of my greatest passions.
Since I’m doing a ton of posts focusing on my 30 Days Until 30 Countdown, I felt like it was really important to do a post focusing on the music that is important to me and the bands that have changed my life. I’m a firm believer in the power of music. Not only is it fun to listen to, it can reduce stress, anxiety, blood pressure and pain. It also helps improve your mood, sleep quality, mental alertness and memory.
There’s also something really cathartic about listening to certain songs and bands. At different points in our lives, we listen to different music and associate in to different events, emotions and periods of time. So, I thought it would be fun to share 30 different bands that changed my life in some way. Trust me, narrowing it down to 30 was almost impossible. I’m sure it’s going to totally stress me out when I realized I forgot one next week.
Life Changing Bands
NINE INCH NAILS
Pretty Hate Machine is one of the first records I remember listening to. Weird, right? Haha. I had some pretty hip family members. But in all seriousness, NIN is one of those bands that reminds me of my childhood, but still holds up today. Every single album put out resonates with me. Songs to check out:
- Head Like a Hole
- Terrible Lie
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how I feel about all things Andrew McMahon. His newest project, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is amazing. But it all started with Something Corporate. I remember blasting Leaving Through the Window through the speakers of my VW Jetta daily in high school. It’s one of those bands that I feel like hits me at the core. Honestly, one of my more emotional attachments. My all time favorite songs:
- Punk Rock Princess
- Drunk Girl
- Only Ashes
NEW FOUND GLORY
The first NFG album I heard was in 2002 – I think I was a freshman in high school. Sticks and Stones reminds me of going to Warped Tour with my friends. I remember going to Warped Tour in 2002 and being completely obsessed with their set. Fast Forward a few years (haha, a few), whenever we’re driving around town or on a road trip, we always turn New Found on. It’s just kind of a staple that’s easy to sing along with and always puts me in a good mood.
Fun fact: I remember my dad giving me So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes on cassette. I have no idea how old I was (obviously a little young to be listening to a song called All Outta Angst). I just remember thinking the album cover looked cool.
I found out about Acceptance because they toured with some of my other favorite bands: The Juliana Theory, Anberlin & Further Seems Forever. My favorite album, Phantoms came out the year I graduated high school. I remember seeing them on tour with The Academy Is…, Panic! at the Disco, and Hellogoodbye — literally wish they would all go on a reunion tour ASAP. Some of my favorite songs:
- Take Cover
- So Contagious
- In Too Far
There’s a reason so many people are obsessed with Brand New. They’re amazing. Their first album, Your Favorite Weapon really resonated with me as a teenager, because it focuses on the highs and lows of relationships and experiences during that time. I literally know the words to every sing song on Deja Entendu. If you’ve never listened to them, now is the time.
One of my all time, top 5 favorite bands of all time. AFI are hometown heroes, their song “The Days of the Phoenix” is about the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, CA, a local music venue they used to play at. Their album The Art of Drowning was one of the first hardcore albums I owned, opening me up to a ton of other awesome bands. Songs you have to listen to:
- Sacrifice Theory
- Malleus Maleficarum
- Three Reasons
- I Wanna Get A Mohawk (But Mom Won’t Let Me Get One)
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
Ever hear of “post-rock”? Post-rock is usually instrumental…I like to explain it to people as “rock without the singing”. I remember going to a coffee shop called Aroma’s Roasters when I was in high school and college and hearing Explosions in the Sky for the first time. There was a barista that worked there that literally changed my life with musical selections. He’d play awesome bands like Gatsby’s American Dream, Further Seems Forever, The Fall of Troy, Minus the Bear and Cursive. I would always ask him who he was playing — because obviously Shazam didn’t exist back then! One day he gave me a burnt cd that changed my life: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone. I wish I could remember what his name was and send him a telegram thanking him for being my musical spirit guide.
THE JULIANA THEORY
This pays homage to both The Juliana Theory and the band Zao. Brett Detar is magic. The Juliana Theory was an iconic Tooth & Nail band. Word on the street is that they’re working on some new music and touring again, which I’m SO excited about. Emotion Is Dead is an awesome pop rock album, with tons of catchy hooks that always puts me in a great mood!
Alright, if you’ve never heard of Refused, it’s time for a history lesson. One of the greatest things about punk rock music is it’s vision of the future. The best punk albums are the ones who give you a little glimpse into what could be and make you want to get off of your ass and make it happen. Refused is a Swedish band that got it’s start the early 90s. In 1998, they released The Shape of Punk to Come. After releasing it, the band broke up and it took almost almost a decade for the world to catch up. I like to look at their albums as creating a soundtrack that plays while you’re trying to figure your life out. Essentials:
- New Noise
- Liberation Frequency
- The Deadly Rhythm
- Pump the Brakes
The Bled is one of those bands that none of my “real world friends” know about. People in bands or the music industry all get it though. Their album Pass the Flask is one of my favorites of all time. Excellent for working out or when you’re on a road trip. Listen to these songs next:
- Red Wedding
- You Know Who’s Seatbelt (Also known as Dale Earnhardt’s Seatbelt)
- Ruth Buzzi Better Watch Her Back
- Last American Cowboy
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
System of a Down aka SOD is another one of those bands I started listening to because I had young, hip parents. I remember thinking the album cover of their self titled album was soo cool and edgy (it was 1998) and my sister and I were obsessed with the song Sugar. I’m extremely grateful for the amount of metal that was played during our carpool to Catholic School ever day.
I have a very emotional attachment to the band Mogwai. One of my best friends gave me their album Happy Songs for Happy People when I was going through a really hard time. I used to listen to it over and over and over again. In my car, in bed, while I was trying to work… it literally got me through some of the hardest years of my life. Sadly, my friend died a while ago. Every time I’m struggling, I turn it on and it really does help. I almost feel like my friend lives on in that album, especially my favorite song: I know You Are But What Am I?
Let’s take a 180! I don’t care what the haters say, I love Slipknot. I will always have a soft spot for nu metal. Also, because I’m a total nerd I live for the masks and theatrics. Their live shows are amazing. Literally, some of the greatest shows I’ve witnessed. Since this is my blog and I do what I want, here’s one of my favorite Slipknot videos:
Another Tooth & Nail gem, Anberlin and Acceptance have the same guitar player! I saw Anberlin for the first time when they played with Bayside (see below). After that, I would average a show a year. They were also one of my Warped Tour staples. I was infinitely bummed when I heard they broke up. If you’re looking for some catchy sing alongs, listen to these:
- Paperthin Hymn
- The Feel Good Drag
- Never take Friendship Personal
- Audrey, Start The Revolution!
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
Let me just start by saying Welcome Home is one the greatest songs of all time IMO. I could listen to it on repeat for hours. Technically I think Cohered is considered prog metal? But I think they incorporate a lot of progressive rock, pop, heavy metal, and post-hardcore into their music. Its strange that so many of my favorite albums came out in 2005. Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness is another one!
Ugh, my heart. Bayside might be my favorite band? I’m going to let that sink in for a second, but I feel good about it. Bayside fans call themselves a cult, which I’m a proud member of. I own all of their albums and will continue going to every possible show they have near me until they throw in the towel. One of the first shows I saw them play was with The Sleeping, I Am the Avalanche, Hit the Lights and Halifax. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen them live at this point, it never gets old. Some of my all time favorite Bayside songs:
- Devotion and Desire
- Tortures Of The Damned
- The Walking Wounded
Today Spotify reminded me how much I love Misery Signals because it popped up twice in my Time Capsule. I remember the first time I listened to Of Malice And The Magnum Heart I got that feeling where your skin kind of tingles because it feels like the music was just made for you. I’m pretty sure A Victim, A Target was my Myspace song for a long time (angsty, I know).
THE MARS VOLTA
When I was in high school I started working at a restaurant. I was way younger than everyone else who worked there, so I always felt pretty cool when they’d invite me to hang out after work. They all had super awesome taste in music too. I remember driving to work with one of my new friends and hearing the song Eriatarka and being really embarrassed to ask who it was. I’m pretty sure I got home after work and dialed up my AOL internet to find out how I could download Deloused in the Comatorium on Napster.
Fun fact: Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory started in the band Shai Hulud! It’s definitely not what you’d expect though. Shai Hulud is metalcore/hardcore while NFG is more pop punk/melodic hardcore (for anyone who wants a little more info on the genre breakdown haha). I actually didn’t know this until later in life. Back “in my day” we didn’t know what band members looked like because there wasn’t really social media outside of MySpace. So I had no clue that two of my favorite bands had the same vocalist! Granted they’ve had quite a few member changes. Chad was in the band from 1995–1998, 2004, and 2012-2013.
FURTHER SEEMS FOREVER
Like Dashboard Confessional? Then you’ll love Further Seems Forever! Their OG singer was Chris Carrabba, who left the band to start Dashboard. Another random crossover: FSF drummer also played with Shai Hulud! Crazy, right!? The Moon is Down is so f’ing catchy. I’m holding out for another reunion tour soon. Maybe with The Juliana Theory???
Alright back to my roots. A lot of times people give me shit for liking hardcore + pop punk + djent + prog metal + etc, etc. I don’t understand why it’s so “unacceptable” to like different genres. Just because I listen to metal doesn’t mean I can’t listen to a little Beyonce or Fall Out Boy when I’m in the mood. Meshuggah is like, the holy grail of Swedish Metal. I’d go as far as to say they’re one of the most important rock/metal bands of all time. I could talk all day about how iconic and innovative they are and probably bore you to death with information. Instead… listen to these songs:
- Dancers to a Discordant System
- In Death – Is Death
- Future Breed Machine
Since we’re talking metal, let’s venture over to France and discuss Gojira. The first time I saw Gojira, they were opening for Lamb of God. Then again when they came to America with Behemoth & Job for a Cowboy. It’s kind of hard to “classify” them because they combine death metal, groove metal & progressive metal. I think this is technically considered “technical death metal” — end of my nerd rant. If you ever have the chance to see them live, don’t pass it up. Their fans are insane and they put on an awesome show.
Bad Religion is another one of those bands from my youth that I didn’t really realize how cool they were until I got a little older, and recognized the perks of growing up around music. They are one of those bands that I feel like stays relevant, no matter what year it is. They’re one of the most influential American punk rock bands and have some of the most intelligent, witty & interesting lyrics and harmonies of any band I’ve ever listened to. To start:
- American Jesus
- I Want to Conquer the World
- Punk Rock Song
At the risk of sounding cliche, I have to include Metallica. Not only did I grow up listening to them, going to their shows and running around the house to Master of Puppets, they’re one of the best and most iconic metal bands ever. I mean, there’s a reason they’ve sold over 58 million albums in the US. Watch this video and enjoy the cool 90s hairstyles.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Rage Against the Machine is literally the most INSANE concert I’ve ever been to. The year was 2007, the event was Rock the Bells. I had just watched Wu-Tang and Public Enemy. As soon as Rage came out, people were clinging on the rafters & speakers. The show was out on a pier and you could feel the ground roll and shake as people jumped up and down. I’ve never seen a crowd more pumped and filled with emotion. Regardless of your political affiliation, RATM is extremely significant in rock history. A few of my faves:
- Killing In The Name
- Bullet In The Head
- Bulls On Parade
- Bomb track
Every time I listen to the Blue Album I’m transported back to my sophomore year of high school, driving out to the beach with my friends. We had some older friends who could actually drive and Weezer was our soundtrack. It’s rare that you find an album that you can listen to in it’s entirety and not want to skip a song. Fast forward “a few years”, I’m equally as obsessed with the White Album.
I’m currently humming Say Anything as I write this. Ugh, the feels. Chroma is sooooo good. So catchy. I wish I could transport myself to Warped Tour 2005 (see 2005 coming back again) with Fall Out Boy, Relient K, My Chem, Something Corporat and Cartel. Swoon.
I get so much shit for loving In Flames, but I don’t care. They’re SO GOOD! Another Swedish metal band… apparently I have a thing for Sweden and the year 2005. They’re one of the bands who founded the Swedish melodic death metal scene. I was a little late to the party, but my favorite album, Whoracle (umm love the name) is actually from 1997. They have 12 albums… so there’s really no shortage of In Flames to help kickstart your day. I’m just patiently waiting for album 13 and their next American Tour.
Last but not least, the beautiful music that is Thrice. The Artist In The Ambulance has been part of the soundtrack of my life for over 14 years. I know the record like the back of my hand. If you’re not a Thrice fan or haven’t hear them, PLEASE listen to these songs:
- Stare At The Sun
- The Earth Will Shake
- Image Of The Invisible
- All That’s Left
There are soo many other awesome bands, I’ll have to keep this list going! Who are some of your all-time favorite bands?