Top Five Records That Changed Your Life Vol. 6 with Jim Gies
Jim runs a rad label out of Chicago called Hip Kid Records. Recently, he’s put out stuff for The Coltranes, the Notches demo - as well as helping with The Elsinores “Dreams of Youth”, and an LP for his own band Boilerman. I particularly like the full length by Baby Ghosts he just helped release. I was really glad he could get back to me about his top five.
These aren’t my top five records ever, just five that were influential to me, blah blah blah, you know the drill. Here’s five records:
1. Dillinger Four “Midwestern Songs of the Americas”
This wasn’t the first thing I ever heard by Dillinger Four, but it hit me the hardest. D4 would become, and remains, one of my favorite bands and it’s largely due to this album. They took the catchiness of pop punk and infused it with the urgency, thought, and raw energy that the genre so often sorely lacks. Reading the lyrics along while listening to “Shut Your Little Trap Inc” or “The Great American Going Out Of Business Sale” still gives me goose bumps. This album doesn’t have a single dud on it, all while retaining an eclectic palette. Whether it’s the bizarre yowling on “#51 Dick Butkus” or the straight up radio single quality chorus on “OKFMDOA” or any of the many moments in between, I’m on board for the whole ride. Plus, this album uses sound clips that actually add instead of detract! You don’t see that every day.
2. Tom Waits “Rain Dogs”
I’m no expert on the man, nor do I celebrate everything he’s ever done, but I’ll tell you what – this is one of the best albums I can think of in any genre. That’s kind of the thing: what genre does this records even fall under? There’s a blues tune, a polka, a rocking Springsteen style ballad. Some songs sound like carnival music, others like they belong on oldies radio. Yet, this album somehow manages to seem totally cohesive as one whole piece of work. Maybe it’s the intertwining lyrical themes, maybe it’s Tommy’s vocals (although they vary nearly as much as the music itself), or maybe it’s just the general creepy, dark moodiness of the whole affair. Either way, this album really made me appreciate records that work well as one solid piece rather than just a collection of songs.
3. At the Gates “Slaughter of the Soul”
I can’t even remember how I first got into this record. But, I do remember tuning my old guitar down to B and sitting in my parents’ basement, one in the morning, with the volume on my amp down so low it was barely audible and learning to play along with these songs. Something about how catchy this album is while being balancing heavy riffing and blazing speed hooked me right away and I haven’t looked back since. It also didn’t hurt that the lyrics seemed honest, real, and personal, rather than embracing Dungeons and Dragons style content (though I can definitely get down with that too). This was one of those albums that sort of reintroduced me to metal after punk took over my listening habits so heavily for a while. Also, have you heard that Slaughterlord cover they do? It’s seriously better than the original.
4. Darkthrone “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”
Yeah, I know, real original. Listen: Darkthrone wasn’t my entry into black metal. I got into Gorgoroth first and Mayhem and I think I even listened to a few more modern bands like Leviathan before diving into Darkthrone. But, this album is perfect in my mind and really influenced modern black metal in a way that few other albums have. This thing not only creates a mood that runs the length of the album, but it also is more eclectic than it seems at first glance. It’s got the fast blasting and the atmosphere that became the standard in black metal, but it also has stomping riffs, a truly eerie introduction, borderline mosh parts – there are a lot of influences here that are necessary to create something this unique. While this is largely due to the transitional nature of the album in the band’s chronology and they would write their first “true” black metal album next in their eyes with Under a Funeral Moon, that doesn’t change the fact that this album is an oft referenced, but unrepeatable masterpiece.
5. Anti-Flag “Underground Network”
”Dookie” by Green Day is the album that got me into music, but this record is the one I attribute most with getting me into punk. Is it cheesy? Yeah. Has it aged well? Not terribly, though I can still listen to it occasionally. But, Underground Network is not only responsible for me buying an Aus Rotten Fuck Nazi Sympathy 7” because of my fervent, obsessive liner note reading, it is also the first time I really encountered politics mixed so blatantly with music. I’m not just talking about the lyrics either – the liner notes were filled with stuff to read, applicable quotes, and plenty of resources to check out to further delve into the topics they were on about. Not only that, but I used to play through this record on guitar and bass on a very regular basis and I have to believe it influenced my playing, especially on the bass end. I’m not sure I’d be the same person I am without getting into Anti-Flag and, while they may not get the same amount of daily play, this entry into the world that would become so important to me has to make the list.