If you are a fan of Spoon, Wolf Parade, or Handsome Furs, you don’t need me to tell you to point your Spotify at the new above-amalgamating supergroup, Divine Fits. One thing with me and music: there are few things I love on the first listen. And I don’t love this, but I can tell it’s going to grow on me. In fact, I would say most of my favorite albums/artists are not things that particularly grabbed me at first. But the exceptions are fun to think about, so here is an evolving list which is perhaps an overlapping-with-but-not-the-same-as all time best list. A first listen loves list I’ll call “You Had Me at Track 1.” I’ll try to span different life stages from grade school to this year…roughly chronological. Links will work if you have a Spotify account (and why wouldn’t you?).

Talking Heads – Little Creatures. Not my favorite album, but my first. I had no frame of reference for Byrnian weirdness, and side 1 was all about the adrenaline burning off from that first “Hey!”, which had startled the shit out of me because the stereo was turned up super loud.

The Pixies – Doolittle. A friend and I were forbidden to go see The Cure, which would have been our first un-chaperoned concert. While willing to go to Billy Joel, no parent would go with us to The Cure. The Pixies, who we hadn’t heard of, were opening, and Doolittle had just come out, so we bought it to recreate the concert experience on my friend’s Very Loud stereo. It was that age where your musical taste is not informed by much other than chance (our other favorites, besides The Cure, were I think The Replacements, Dire Straits, and Yes). We were incredulous. Was this a comedy album? What was wrong with the singer? It was amazing, and again I had no frame of reference for this.

Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted. Too cliché for someone my age to go into.

Os Mutantes – Os Mutantes. Technically, this was Track 2. Because Track 1, “Panis et Circencis” is just kind of an introductory exercise in trippy orchestral psychopop, before true radical awesomeness of Os Mutantes kicks in with “A Minha Menina.” Fuzz!

Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle. By far the most lovable of the North Carolina bands.

Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out. Nothing I can say about this majestic tripod rock that hasn’t been said. Carrie Brownstein remains my favorite live guitarist ever – she is pure rock star.

Radiohead – OK Computer. This is an honorable mention: of course I had heard Radiohead before and of course I hated them. But by 0:33 (bass enters) into Airbag, it was clear there was a strange and awesome disturbance in the force. And it just got better, and better, and better.

k.d. lang – Hymns of the 49th Parallel. These are all gorgeous covers of songs by Canadia’s greatest songwriters: Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Jane Siberry. Bowled me over.

Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News. I loved this based on the title alone… didn’t even make it to Track 1. They don’t get charming until Track 3, the hook of which is familiar from mid-aughts advertising. .

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in People. Again, the first song was not Track 1 due to an accidental “shuffle.” It was “Almost Crimes.” Case closed.

The Decemberists – The Crane Wife. On paper, I should hate the Decemberists. The mytho-folkology thing, the “literary” lyrics, the tweed. Love’em.

Japandroids – Celebration Rock. The most recent addition to the list: I don’t have a well-formed opinion of these guys (only two of them!), but they hit a lot of 80s (Replacements) and 90s indie rock soft spots for someone my age, and I liked this album instantly (watch for an awesome you-thought-it-was-loud-already production trick at 3:00 in track 1) and loved it when it got to Younger Us. No idea how guys in their 20s can write such a great song about nostalgia.


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