Top 10 albums released since May 1985

Aaron and I spent much of the month of January mulling over music from our past and the present. What album and songs had the most influence on us growing up? How could we compare some of our favorite artists of today with those that filled our stereos as teenagers?

I believe that it’s nearly impossible to create a perfect list of albums that one considers the “best of the best” since their birthdate. But, since this post has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month, I figured it was time to be bold and share my list with the world. So, with no further ado, here are my favorite albums that have come into being alongside me:

The Format –Β Interventions and Lullabies EP

Local artists + west coast sound = heart stolen. I fell in love with The Format as I started college and saw them perform several times. The lyrics coupled with the quirky voice of lead singer Nate Ruess cemented The Format was one of the most formative musical influences as I transitioned into adulthood.

Gnarles Barkley – St. Elsewhere

This album is a cornucopia of surprise. A shift from dark to playful to plain weird over the course of five minutes. And the beats. The beats.

Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill

Jagged Little Pill was the first CD I purchased from Sam Goody’s (RIP Sam Goody’s). Not only did I nearly melt this album from listening to it so often, it was the first time I realized the power of an angry women. I oughta know.

Lost in the Trees – Past Life

Lost In The Trees was such a brilliant, captivating group of talent. It was crushing to see them end their run last year. But, the treasures they left behind are vast. It was difficult to select only one of their albums for this list. You can’t go wrong with any. This album in three words: haunting; raw; unearthing.

Dave Matthews Band – Before These Crowded Streets

I couldn’t possibly have a top 10 albums list without my boy Dave on it! Back in the days of AOL Instant Messenger, my AIM handle was “davegroupie101”. Others may argue that Under the Table and Dreaming is the group’s best album, but Before These Crowded Streets had the most impact on me. Trying to pick ONE song from this album to highlight was a daunting task. “Halloween”? Easily one of the best crank it up to 11 in the car and scream along with it songs. “Crush”? Yes, it’s time to take our clothes off together. While this clip of “Spoon” doesn’t feature Alanis Morissette like the album, this last track is both captivating and heartbreaking.

Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Where did Mumford and Sons come from so quickly? Again, another album that top-to-bottom has not a clunker. Besides their incredible gift of musical performance, I think the songwriting of Mumford and Songs makes them vastly superior to the rest of the fleet. From “Awake My Soul” – In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. And where you invest your love, you invest your life. Simple. Poignant.

Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

Another musical influence from recent life: Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn have fused their geniuses together to create sounds that strike every inch of your body. And, they are from Durham! Similar to Mumford, the detail to words is so powerful and not to be glossed over.

TLC –Β CrazySexyCool

How could I not include T-Box, Left-Eye, and Chilli? This trio rocked my world as a young girl, particularly through this music video. Did I understand everything they were trying to convey in this song and overall album? Not quite. At least, not at that time. Again, this was a whole new way for me to see women embracing their voices, their sexuality, their power. And, it certainly made me avoid chasing waterfalls (at least, I would like to think it did).

The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low

Not that one ever wishes ill on a couple, but if everyone who ended their relationship made music like this, it may seem like a semi-reasonable request. Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp unpack their chaos and hurt on this album. It’s all about change. And, is that a bad thing? The album leaves you with no clear answer.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

I know the critics will point to Blood Sugar Sex Magick as THE RHCP album to make most top album lists. For me, Californication was the hook. As a young thing, I gravitated towards more pop style but began to seek out songs with edge: “Scar Tissue” was the gateway song for me on this album. This album brought me funk, incredible guitar/drum/bass playing, and Anthony Kiedis looking…well, hot.

Alright friends: what albums would be on your top ten list since you have been born into this world?


  1. Awesome post! I am with you on Alanis Morissette, RHCP and Dave Matthews Band. I have a couple decades on you, but here’s my top 10 since 1985 (excluding the ones we both like):

    The Smiths – The Queen is Dead (86)
    U2 – Joshua Tree (87)
    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (91)
    Ani Difranco – Out of Range (94)
    Weezer – Pinkerton (96)
    Arcade Fire – Funeral (04)
    Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites (05)
    Arctic Monkeys – Whatever You Say I Am (06)
    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (06)
    The xx – The xx (09)

    For me, these have stood the test of time.


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