by Evan Egerer
Ranking things on lists is ridiculously fun. That being said, choosing just 5 albums or artists that have shaped me turned out to be frustrating to no end. Life has been full of not just albums and artists, but hundreds of small musical moments and songs that have influenced and changed me as a musician and artist. So here’s my disclaimer: as you’re reading this, know that I’m probably kicking myself for leaving something off of the list.
#5: Chris Cornell
From Temple of the Dog to Soundgarden to Audioslave to his solo work, Chris Cornell has a special touch that has pushed me constantly. The bridge of “ ” gives me this indescribable buzzing feeling in my chest every time I hear it, and I’ve probably watched the music video for “Cochise” over 100 times. The great thing about his work is that he’s created over 25 years of incredible music that hasn’t lost its touch. Heck, I’ve even written songs with his voice in mind, only to be disappointed that I couldn’t quite hit the insane vocal range that he’s known for.
#4: Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
Alright, here’s the oddball on this list. I’m definitely a rocker when it’s all said and done, but I do listen to a lot of different genres. This album is one where I don’t skip a track, and it’s kept me company on a LOT of long winter drives. With tracks like “Father and Son” and “Where Do the Children Play?” this album is one that defines classic folk music for me. Cat Stevens’ voice has so much authenticity behind it, making this album one that reminds me that it’s okay to just go a bit softer and communicate rather than show off. Also, I’m an acoustic artist, so there was bound to be an acoustic album somewhere on this list, right?
#3: Rival Sons
I was going to just pick one of their albums, but in the end they keep the good stuff coming too much for me to narrow it down. Every time I ask myself where the soul is in today’s rock and roll, these guys show me. From Jay Buchanan’s intensity and swagger to Scott Holiday’s slide guitar and gut busting riffs, you can’t go wrong with this band. Oh, and their rhythm section is killer, too. I would never call these guys a revival of the 70’s. They’re a reminder of the feelings behind rock’s roots and what made it such an unstoppable force in the first place. It’s those exact feelings that makes them such a huge influence for me. When I heard them for the first time, I ran and got my guitar and started writing new music.
#2: Pearl Jam – Ten (1991)
They’re considered a grunge band, but there is WAY more going on here (and I don’t say that to bash grunge – I really do love it). When it comes to things influencing me, it always comes down to heart, and this album is jam packed with it. The lyrics are powerful, the riffs are unforgettable, and, of course, the genuine emotion in Eddie Vedder’s voice is the icing on the cake. The guitar solo in “Alive” is one of my all-time favorites, and it always gives me a hand when I need reminders of how to not let a longer song section get boring. I also almost crashed my car once when “Black” came on the radio and I completely went into this trance-like state (don’t tell my wife about that). I’m trying not to bore everyone with a track-by-track description here, so I’ll have to cut myself off.
#1: Needtobreathe – Live from the Woods (2015)
Maybe listing a live album is cheating, but this one is absolutely one of the best live albums I’ve ever listened to. I listen to this and I get pumped up, ready to put on a show. You can almost hear Bear Rineheart dancing in some sections, and holy cow can those boys play guitar! You don’t pick it up on their studio albums quite as much, but these guys have got the blues – just listen to the intro to “Washed by the Water” here. It floors me. It was actually a huge influence on my own song, “Sinner.” When I need to know how to get out there and perform or when I just want some of the best music ever, I go for this album.
(this is not the live album version)
- Led Zeppelin – III
- Metallica – Black Album and all albums before
- Tool – 10,000 Days