Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Best Album Starters of My Arsenal

Opening songs may be the the most important of every album. While a lot of attention gets put on tracks numbered 3 and beyond, it's the premier track that sets the tune for the rest of the album. Since the invention of the CD and mp3, first tracks have been skipped over effortlessly for the most popular singles of the album. After plowing through the over 475 albums on my ipod, I lay before you my top ten (of my generation. You won't find any Beatles here). Here's to the forgotten first children, in no particular order.

Built to Spill - "The Plan" - Keep It Like A Secret
Probably one of the most powerful openers out there, it's major chords and driving drums set up probably one of the most powerful indie rock albums (in my opinion) of all time.

Field Music - "You're Not Supposed To" - Write Your Own History
What's a post without a Field Music reference? Although this isn't technically an LP (it's a compilation) the light harmonies and poppy refrain are quintessential Field Music.

Sugar - "The Act We Act" - Copper Blue
This is the oldest song on the list (As previously noted, I'm neglecting actual old stuff). Bob's Mould's first attempt after leaving punk is fantastic. Although "If I Can't Change Your Mind" dominated radio play, "The Act We Act" bridged Mould's evolution of genres.

The Bigger Lovers - "Half Richard's" - Honey In The Hive
These TRS favorites could actually have 3 on the list, but I'll spare you. Who knew a paternity test could sound so good?

Metric - "IOU" - Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
By far the shortest song title from the longest album name on the list, the switching beats and riffs make you curious what the rest of the album has to offer. A fantastic starter to this multidimensional debut album.

Ben Lee - "Cigarettes Will Kill You" - Breathing Tornadoes
Not only a song title, but also a public service announcement.

R.E.M. - "What's The Frequency Kenneth?" - Monster
Ok, ok. So this song was the first single off of The Greatest Rock Band of All Time's only all-electric album. What are you going to do? Mug me?

The Shins - "Kissing The Lipless" - Chutes Too Narrow
Let me map out the first minute of this song:
Yip! --> acoustic guitar/bored vocals --> BLAM!

Radiohead - "Airbag" - OK Computer
One of the greatest albums of all time (even though, as stated before, one Rockist doesn't agree) layed a new path for the band (and modern rock along with it). Ahhh Thom, you ARE back to save the universe.

The Hold Steady - "Stuck Between Stations" - Boys and Girls in America
Does this really need an explanation?

Honorable Mentions

Mates of State - "Ha Ha" - Team Boo
Beulah - "A Man Like Me" - Yoko
The Arcade Fire - "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" - Funeral
Beck - "Sexx Laws" - Midnite Vultures
Wilco - "Can't Stand It" - Summerteeth
The Futureheads - "Yes/No" - News And Tributes


Matt said...

Sugar's Copper Blue is a fantastic album all the way through. Thanks for the reminder!

Andrew said...

Hey guys, this is Andrew from DCist. Interesting idea for a post! The first ones that came to mind for me were "Phaser" by Superdrag, "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers, "Take the Long Way Round" by Teenage Fanclub, and "Me and Mia" by Ted Leo

Xaa said...

Awesome idea for a post. I followed the link from largehearted boy and was immediately intrigued. You are so right, first songs are so oft overlooked. When Pitchfork reviewed the Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible," the reviewer discussed the first track "Black Mirror" as the only "entry point" to the album. I think this is an excellent point, and true for most any true album throughout history: it is a piece of art, to be taken as a whole with only one entry point.

Some of my recent faves: "Quay Cur" by the Fiery Furnaces (Blueberry Boat), "Miracle Drug" by A.C. Newman (Slow Wonder), "It Was There That I Saw You" by ...Trail of Dead (Source Tags...), "Next Exit" by Interpol (Antics), "Mageetah" by My Morning Jacket (It Still Moves), and an old favorite (I couldn't resist) "Up the Beach" by Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking).

jade said...

i'd say "schizophrenia" by sonic youth off sister deserves a mention. or "teenage riot".

pete said...