What was the album that impacted you musically, of a genre you don’t really care about?

Today I got thinking hard about Fugazi “Repeater“. I have never really associated with punk rock music much. When I was young, impressionable, and full of anger it was Industrial that filled that void for me. Generally if I found myself drawn to punk it was the style with glib humor (Dead Milkmen, Dead Kennedy’s, The Clash, The Dammed). Surely never the post hardcore scene. This was the exception though. I bought a cassette of Fugazi Repeater when I was 15 and I played it until the tape wouldn’t play any more. Sometimes we find a record that transcends genre. Those that read this page (I’m making a big assumption that many people do) know the real focus is on new albums specifically in the dark genre. Today I want to step outside of both constraints and pose this question.

When thinking on this question, what checks the boxes for me? Because it is a big question. I hope one worth thinking about.

What was my criteria?

  1. Is it real? When I, a white boy from Velveeta Valley Clarkston hear gangsta rap can I comprehend or relate? Not really. However when I hear Biggie Smalls, do I know real from an image when i hear it? Maybe. That is what Iam MacKaye and Fugazi was to me. They truly embodied the concept of anti consumption punk rock. They didn’t just say Anarchy in the UK. They lived it. They would only do shows for $5 and lived the ideals they preached.
  2. Did it stand up? So I spun this album 3 times today after not thinking about it for a decade. It still stands up. The music embraces the spit and vinegar of The Stooges, while showing the complexity and expertise not associated with peers in this style. The lyrics were thought provoking and hit you on a different level today then they did the last time you listened. Like a great book. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy 7 times in my life. 14/17/24/29/32/36/41. Every single time it has held a new meaning and an new weight. That’s how i felt while spinning Repeater today.
  3. Did it change me? This aspect goes to impact. I have a lot of records in my top 30 albums in any genre. They all had a big influence on what music means to me. I do think with a good portion of them you could group together these 7, these 5, these three. Repeater is really outside the box for me. Yet it still told a story about who I was. About who I would become. About how I saw the world differently because I had opened my eyes to something I didn’t associate with my self concept. People are not just one thing. We are complex creatures made of a lot of parts. Sometimes the smallest parts have a lot to say about shaping the core of who we are.

So I am very curious as to what is the album that changed you, but is totally outside of the genres you usually listen to? Tell us in the comments below. I will choose the entry I like the best and send you a special prize and publish your answer in Sounds and Shadows.

16 Comments

  1. Visions of the Emerald Beyond by Mahavishnu Orchestra
    Jazz Fusion / New Age Virtuoso Funk (?)

    1. Is it real?
    Fuck yes it is. I turned on my local NPR station on the way back from work one night and the jazz program was on. What came out was several minutes of what you might imagine to be 70s musical cliches if you fed a bunch of Juliard grads a pile of meth and acid tabs, and had them improvise their best Parliament Funkadelic impressions simultaneously.
    A bass and keyboard hold steady on a breakneck riff sandwiched between an overdriven electric guitar arpeggiating improvised melodies trying to keep up with another screeching instrument holding impossible bends, because it revealed itself to be a violin coming out of a guitar amp pushed to its limits.
    And below, whipping the band to life with polyrhythms and fills previously unheard on this plane of existence, a drummer that seems too remarkable for that mere title.
    The band crescendos, ends on an improbably sweet note, and the host returns, mentioning the album reissue, the drummer being highlighted, and the name of the band, all of which I struggled to write down before I could forget.

    2. Did it stand up?
    Well, it’s a time capsule of a sound and musicianship that we will never likely see again. At least not in the effortless and counterintuitive ways it shifts from track to track, or section to section. Most everyone I know would be in for something unusual when putting this on. It sounds like the 70s cranked up to 11. So yes. While it may have just about every cliche from funky wah guitar, cascades
    of violins and horns, soft folksy vocals, acid drenched solos, and gentle flutes, you’d be hard pressed to find something quite like it outside of their discography. It’s always amazing and weird.

    3. Did it change me?
    Before this, I listened mostly to rock, metal, and occasionally blues.
    It single handedly made me sit up and notice drums. They are my biggest blind spot and weakness as a musician and music fan.
    It also opened me up to all the genres of jazz and funk, which I had never even considered I might enjoy.
    The songwriting also clearly demonstrated that the horizons are wide open in song writing. There is no set formula or structure. Anything can happen, anything could be juxtaposed, and it can all work. It did so in a way that modern experimental composers hadn’t, as the most prominent examples just seemed like absurd stunts. Visions of the Emerald Beyond did in fact show it was greener on the other side.

  2. It’s hard to pick just one. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where there was an established ecclectic range of music available. But I think one of the first albums in a genre I hadn’t listened to much that stood out to me was Tool’s Undertow. In fact I was just listening to this yesterday. When that album came out I would put it in my CD player on repeat and fall asleep to it. The heavy bass lines, the golden voice of Maynard, the absolute emotion that it put out. Anytime I need to escape into music, this is my go to album. It’s oddly soothing.

    1. Oh I played the crap out of this when it came out. I saw them on the second stage at Lalapalooza 2 for the first time in 1992. We were by the main stage and my buddy Tim grabbed me by the hair and dragged me over to stage two. KEN SOMETHING IS HAPPENING, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS! He was not wrong

      1. A band from the early 90’s. Seattle. Arlie Carstens is the brain behind it. Nothing really like the other Seattle 90’s bands. It has some shoegaze elements to it. I think that was my initial draw. I’m a sucker for pedals/ effects. A strange mix as I typically listen to old school Damned, Bauhaus, Christian Death,Xymox, Xmal….Then there’s my Nurse With Wound, Current 93, Throbbing Gristle,side. Mix in some Cocteau Twins & Slowdive. Topped off with Dischord!! The Juno album has some soundscapes that are amazing for long drives. I also resonated with some of the personal tragedy the lead endured. Such a departure from my “norm” but I still enjoy 99.9 % of it. I tried introducing this type of cross-pollination when I ran a little diy label early 2000’s. Let’s just say that type of genre melding didn’t work as planned. I could muse all day about why someone likes certain sounds over others, and the connection people have thru their common love of them. I don’t think I even know why, in the end?! 🖤

  3. This is a super difficult question for me because I listen to so many different kinds of music. There have probably been dozens of albums that broke me in to a new genre or sub-genre that I had not really been into prior to that.

    For techno, it was Orbital – In Sides. For industrial, it was Ministry – In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up. For post-punk, it was Fugazi – Margin Walker (although I had heard Repeater before that and hated it at first). But these are all styles that I regularly listen to now.

    So I think I have to go with one genre that I still don’t really get into much: hip hop. And for that, it was really the crossovers done with rock and metal bands that helped me to understand hip hop better. First it was the Aerosmith / RUN D.M.C. collaboration on “Walk This Way”, but the clincher was when Anthrax got together with Public Enemy for “Bring the Noise”. The album was Attack of the Killer B’s, but there was also the earlier I’m the Man EP, both released under Anthrax’s band name. I had the honor of seeing these two iconic bands play together live when they toured for this song. It was amazing.

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