5 Albums That Shaped Dangermaker’s Adam Burnett

best albums

by Adam Burnett


To pick just five albums that have shaped you as an artist is no easy task, much harder than I expected, I have a running list of 30+ just off the top of my head. However, I realize that some albums you just really, really like as a fan, and others carry personal stories that signify important milestones in life whether you like it or not, and I’ve discovered I have a few of those. So in the spirit of abandoning all that is “cool”, “tastemaker” or meant to impress, here is a very honest attempt at five important albums in my life that have influenced me as an artist (plus a few honorable mentions)…


1. Vivaldi – Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons)
Not exactly an “album”, but bear with me… when I was very young in grade school, maybe 7, I remember the school music teacher came around to every classroom one day with a giant box full of beat up musical instruments. She showed us each one and explained what it was and attempted to play a little. I loved the trombone, but got stuck with a violin as we were short on violinists in the orchestra. Turns out I wasn’t half bad at it, and became first chair second violin within a couple years. Long story short, my first experiences as a musician were mostly classical, save some Beatles and Elvis 45s I inherited. I specifically remember playing the Winter movement in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at a recital, I’m sure it was squeaky and god awful, but I still love to hear it.


2. Metallica Kill ‘Em All (1983)
Then you reach that age (11?) where you hate the violin, and you hate everything and everyone, and you wear all black and just want to lock yourself in your room and make as much angry noise as possible. So your dad picks up on this and takes you to a pawn shop where you get your first crappy electric guitar, and you pick that up pretty quick too, as it’s really an easy switch from violin to guitar. There are quite a few albums that define this period in my life, but I have to be honest and point to Metallica’s first album as the one that I remember most. I can still listen to it today, it’s one of a few from that time that blazed a trail and held up well. An honorable mention is definitely Guns N Roses Appetite, and it was a tough decision which to pick here. Both really taught me to play rock guitar. I should also mention at this time a friend gave me a dubbed cassette of Bad Religion Suffer that I played to death, and I remember seeing The Clash on MTV for the first time, the beginning of a descent into Punk Rock and lyricists with tremendous depth… Meanwhile across town, dad is living in a one bedroom apartment, I’m going to LAUSD public schools which then were a very volatile mix of inner city kids, and I immediately identified with The Beastie Boys License to Ill, and Run DMC Raising Hell to name a few early hip-hop influencers on me.


3. Pearl Jam Ten (1991)
And then THIS thing comes along. Now I know, I know, you’re rolling your eyes and thinking “really?” but let me explain because this one really changed me and got really personal… I used to draw and scribble on school desks a lot, apparently so much that I got suspended once, I had probably drawn the Mettalica logo or something stupid. So the first week back to school I sit down in math class and there on my new desk reads “Why go home?” which is of course a Pearl Jam lyric. So I write back “Pearl Jam?” which starts a weeks long desk writing conversation with a mysterious girl I don’t know (Side note – years later I learned that our teacher knew all about this and couldn’t bear to make us stop, she thought it was great). Eventually we both nervously agree to meet at lunch one day, continue desk writing, start dating, become serious first loves, boyfriend & girlfriend, smoke pot, experiment, sneak into each other bedrooms, loose our virginity (to THIS Pearl Jam album), go to prom, and are inseparable for almost 4 years. All because of THIS album. True story. I should also mention I can’t bear to listen to it anymore, there’s too much association there. Anyone know Eddie Vedder? ‘Cause I owe him one…


4. The Verve Urban Hymns (1997)

When this Verve album came out it totally floored me, intro to Brit Pop aside. I was a truly confused, lost soul. I had no idea what I was really doing in life, majoring in three different things in college, working mind numbing jobs, going out every night and drinking too much. I wasn’t playing music at all, zero. All I could imagine looking forward to was leaving, traveling, just go somewhere else and be someone else. So after college a friend in the same boat as I saved some money and we traveled very humbly for 5-6 months with absolutely no plan. We went all over Europe and the UK, made it to northern Africa and Turkey, met loads of great people and had lots of new adventures and stories. And most importantly I figured out who I was, and that is, and has always been, a writer of some sort. I ended up in Florida with a girl I met in Italy, which put an abrupt flatline end to the travels (nothing like leaving town on a Greyhound), but I had enough experiences to write a thousand stories and songs. So eventually I made it back home to California and BS-ed my way into a few writing jobs, which eventually led me full-circle into songwriting. The reason this Verve album is here is that it served as a soundtrack to this whole soul-searching time for me, and when I finally did come back around and start writing songs in San Francisco this album was an early template for the days when I played mostly solo and acoustic. Dylan’s Highway 61and Blonde on Blonde are big honorable mentions here too, first time I think I really got what Dylan was all about…


5. Daft Punk Homework (1997)
Back in the 90’s I started hearing about raves, or undergrounds and parties as they were called back then. They were always mysterious, secretive, illegally organized and full of then new unheard of genre-bending electronic music. Everyone did drugs, dressed like cartoons and completely escaped and lost themselves in a type of music you couldn’t find anywhere but there. It was a little cultish really, in a way that only you felt like you understood, the type of thing that worried parents the way punk probably once had. I got invited to some parties and before long friends were also listening to “techno” and “garage house” and “hardcore acid trance”, and then someone’s DJing at a house party and the place goes NUTS, and you’re having the best time and you meet someone you might wind up marrying one day, and everyone LOVES it but you can’t BUY it anywhere except at these parties from the DJs. And then seemingly all of a sudden Daft Punk’s debut album comes out of nowhere and solidifies the groundwork for so much “modern” music yet to come…


*6. M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011)
Ok, can I maybe have one bonus?? If so it has to be M83’s beautiful Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which I want to mention here because it came out right around the time my father died in 2011. My band Dangermaker was in it’s infancy and sounding nothing much like M83, but many nights I spent dealing with my dad’s death listening to this album. New cathartic song ideas started to come out of me featuring a lot more big epic synths than ever before, and it’s partly this album’s fault, but it really led to an evolution in my current songwriting that is still changing our sound and pushing us forward…



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