1. Violent Femmes, “American Music”
This band will forever sum up my teenage years. I grew up in Milwaukee, and one of my best friends had Brian Ritchie (bass player for the Femmes) as an uncle. The Violent Femmes were the permanent soundtrack to my youth and the hometown “rock stars” I looked up to.
2. Weezer, “No One Else”
This is my favorite song off of one of my favorite albums of all time. It was one of the first albums I got on Compact Disc, and it provided an important revelation that clean-cut, normal-looking guys could make rock and roll music.
3. Frank Black, “Thalassocracy”
As this playlist will definitely confirm, I’m a child of the ’90s. I’ll buy and love anything that has Frank Black’s name on it. This song remains one of my favorites of his solo material.
4. Guided by Voices, “Motor Away”
Short, catchy, and perfectly lo-fi. Alien Lanes was a very important record to me as I got interested in home recording. Wish I knew how many times I’ve listened to this album. Has to be in the thousands.
5. The Breeders, “Doe”
Pod didn’t leave my car for an entire winter. I will never get sick of hearing Kim Deal’s voice.
6. Rocket From the Crypt, “Human Torch”
In high school, I heard a RFTC song in my car on the independent college radio station in Milwaukee. As soon as the song finished and the DJ said the name of the band, I drove straight to a record store and bought every album that had their name. The State of Art Is On Fire was my introduction to all things RFTC, and I still listen to everything they’ve done to this day.
7. Superchunk, “Swallow That”
When a friend turned me onto Superchunk, I felt as though I had found the missing link I was searching for my whole teenage life. I was into punk but I wasn’t exactly… “punk,” you know? Their album On the Mouth changed my life and set me on the path I follow today: make aggressive music, but sing about personal topics and be yourself.
8. Sparklehorse, “Pig”
Mark Linkous was the reason I got interested into how things “sounded.” This track is a perfect example why he was the king of sonics.
9. Grandaddy, “A.M. 180”
This playlist is what I listened to in my teenage years, but it is safe to say that all of these bands are still in heavy rotation as I’m in my 30s. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t listen to Jason Lytle, and this song was my introduction.
10. Ramones, “Beat on the Brat”
I don’t need to tell you why The Ramones are the most important band in the world. But I can tell you that I have a Ramones 8x10 promo photo still hanging in my bedroom at my parents’ house.
11. Supergrass, “Caught by the Fuzz”
Of the Britpop revival bands, Supergrass was my favorite. This song is singlehandedly the reason why.
12. Nirvana, “Drain You”
Again, I was a kid growing up in the ’90s. Nirvana goes on the playlist by default.
13. Jawbreaker, “Fireman”
A friend in high school had Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and claimed it was their best. I liked it, but for some reason, Dear You was the album that made Jawbreaker click for me. Of course, I revisited the earlier albums and saw the brilliance in all of them, but this track was where I became a fan of Blake’s storytelling.
14. Beulah, “Disco: The Secretary Blues”
I worked at a coffee stand one summer at this music festival in Milwaukee called Summerfest. I carpooled with a guy who played Beulah for me in the car. I became a fan immediately and bought the record that weekend.
15. The Apples in Stereo, “About Your Fame”
I loved this song the first time I heard it, and I still love it today. I wanted to end the playlist on a slower, introspective pop jam, and Robert Schneider can always deliver that.