This week's "Albums That Changed My Life" contributor is Maura Weaver of Mixtapes!
Today marks the release of the band's debut full-length "Even On The Worst Nights", which is available now through No Sleep Records. If you are a fan of melodic punk-rock, this album is definitely for you!
Green Day - Dookie
It's really tough for me to write about just a few albums that changed my life, but if I had to choose one, "Dookie" would definitely be it. It actually wasn't the album that got me into Green Day--that one goes to "American Idiot" (yes, I'm pretty young)--but it was the album that got me into music. I first saw the music video for "American Idiot" when I was about twelve, and shortly after became seriously obsessed. I had been listening to "alternative music" for a couple years, but I had never been exposed to anything that was punk-sounding at all, and when I got into Green Day it was like a personal explosion. I loved American Idiot, but when I found "Dookie" I felt really changed for good. There was just something about Green Day circa-1994 that got to me--the urgency of the recordings, the way they looked and sounded like they didn't care, the way Billie Joe really couldn't sing, the background era that seemed to hide behind the tunes just waiting to be discovered. I wanted to be everything that Green Day was. In the small suburban town I grew up in, it made me feel more important. It got me into other bands that went on to be my favorites, like Operation Ivy and Minor Threat. I picked up a guitar because of it and during this quick transition also seemed to decide that playing in a touring band was what I wanted to do and was the only thing I could ever do. I still feel this way, in all aspects..
I was a little later on the Set Your Goals hype (I believe got into them about a year after "Mutiny!" came out), but when I first heard "Mutiny!" I completely fell in love with it. I think I was about fifteen and really not stoked on anything my friends were into at the time--I was going to a bunch of scene metalcore and jock hardcore shows because that's what was cool in Cincinnati but I didn't much feel welcome there. "Mutiny!" was one of the first albums "happening" at the time that I actually liked at all, I think. But I really loved it, and looking back I think it kept me going to shows at all. Set Your Goals was such a breath of fresh air when I had been surrounding myself with bands that were all about hate. They wanted to keep things positive, but sincerely. They wanted to learn from all the unhealthy shit that surrounded them and be better. They were fast and they weren't singing about ex-girlfriends, they were singing about guitars. It was just something that was so easy for me to love. I was done hearing about how girls sucked or ruled because they were hot. Songs like that just never stuck with me. I was a nerd who didn't have friends because I was straight edge and a girl and really got by on "six nickel wound strings that saved me again sounds dumb but I really have to pay thanks to this album for making me feel welcome somewhere when I was younger, if only at Set Your Goals shows...
Kid Dynamite - S/T
Throughout my high school experience, I feel like I really let myself go. I was going crazy because all my friends started popping pills and going to rehab and I lost most of them, and then I threw all the rest of my efforts into long relationships and was putting off the things I needed to get done and then, even worse, the things I wanted to do. I feel like a lot of this I could really attribute to the fact that I let people take advantage of me all the time because I was just "nice." It was caused by self-hatred but in turn made me hate myself more for letting it happen. By the time Ryan and I started Mixtapes and even past the point I had let relationships in my life become super destructive. I won't go into details, but it ended up turning into the worst thing I've ever been through. This album really pulled me through this point in my life. Obviously the music is great, but the lyrics were really what got me. Most of the themes in the album seem to be centered on this feeling of pushing past people holding you down, including yourself. At the time, I was listening to this one and "Shorter, Faster, Louder" every day and the songs really created a place for me where I liked myself and felt okay and like I could be strong enough to make any change in my life. And still, after the change, the songs helped me--with few constants in my life it was one of the only things I knew would always be good and true. The music was moving--perfectly fast as hell and pummeling yet poetic all at once. Besides helping me through my lowest point, I feel like Jason Shevchuk's lyrical style influenced my writing in Mixtapes as well. I wanted my rage to sound as poignant as his. I guess the process of cutting all of the bullshit from my life probably helped with my writing too. Anyway, listen to "Fuckuturn" and you will understand.
I wasn't sure how I felt about the Hold Steady the first time I listened to them. They sounded like a rock band, and Craig Finn was talking like Kermit the Frog, but they were singing about Dillinger Four and Youth of Today. It seemed sort of absurd to me at the time, and I never usually listened to anything so rock 'n roll. But there was something in the lyrics that made me listen twice, and I can't describe how the music magically seemed to make sense, but it did. It was rocking, yes, but there was nothing polished about it. It was dirty and you couldn't go a minute without feeling pumped by the heart in it. The lyrics were all stories of forgotten people--druggy-types and drop outs and late night waitresses all meandering through the dark looking for the cheapest thing to keep them high, literally and figuratively, written by Finn as characters with names. Boys and girls putting on a show for each other, "crushing one another with colossal expectations." I guess every person in wealthy culture has probably felt this way at some point or another--bored and misplaced by our society's definition of success--but no one has written the feeling like Finn. It's all satire which makes it all seem to hit a little harder. But it's the way he romanticizes it that makes it so good to listen to. Despite the sadness in his characters' stories, there is hope in the way he makes it so beautiful. I guess at least if everyone around us is so high they can't see and smashed somewhere in a gutter, a good song might come out of it. And then we can listen to it and know that the point isn't that there's an answer, it's that there's a story to tell. I'm not quite sure how this directly influenced Mixtapes and I know I haven't written anything about the actual album at all, but I don't really have anything else to say. This band just really changed the way I think about my writing.