Before I found my chi in the realm of independent music, I was your typical DMB fan. One day, as I was rocking out to "#41," a friend of mine slipped me Pavement's Wowee Zowee, and I have never been the same. "Rattled by the Rush" was my first kiss, and "Kennel District" was the soundtrack of my drive to school. Listening to Wowee Zowee evokes a feeling that is heavy, nerve-wracking and yet simultaneously hopeful. No one can doubt the power of Stephen Malkmus' richly constructed mosaic of '90s rock, which would set the standard for independent music.
The Dismemberment Plan
The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified
You know what rules about the Dismemberment Plan? Everything. Well, except for their first album, which sucks. But who could imagine a better sophomore effort than 1997's ... Is Terrified? On this album, Travis Morrison's incomparable wit merges with the band's trademark spastic play, creating fun for the whole family. The standout track is unequivocally "The Ice of Boston," Morrison's bittersweet tale of a lonely New Year's Eve. Regrettably, Terrified does not reach the sonic heights of the Plan's final two albums. But any album that suggests going down the Amazon in a red brick boat wearing a light pink push-up bra is worth a spin.
Shockingly enough, I owned an actual record player as a kid. Not so shockingly, we only had one record to play on it. That record just happened to be a collection of Smokey Robinson classics. So, in addition to the oldies station and my mother's many renditions of "Blowin' in the Wind," Smokey pretty much raised me -- in a musical sense. A man that even Bob Dylan called "America's greatest living poet," Robinson soothed and pained my childhood soul -- and subsequent versions of it -- with hits like "Tears of a Clown" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me." A part of me is forever in debt to you, Mr. Robinson.