1. Smashing Pumpkins-Siamese Dream My birth into music and everything it means to me started with "Siamese Dream". Before I bought this on cassette (remember those) I had never heard anything like it before. It was moody, spacy, melodic, emotional, otherworldly and epic all at the same time. My favorites before that album were Aerosmith and Gangsta rap. My taste have never been the same since! Favorite track: Mayonaise 2. Fiona Apple-Tidal Before "Tidal" I was into just guitar rock. The only female artist I had started to get into was Jewel and I had crossed the bridge into Tori Amos yet. I had heard "Shadowboxer" on MTV and I wasn't blown away but something intrigued me about it. It was a groovy, jazzy style I never heard in any my music and Fiona sang with a conviction I had never heard vocally before. It was also the first time I felt the power of a piano in a pop song. After that I saw the c.d. in the store I couldn't stop being drawn to the cover. Something about Fiona intrigued me and after I picked it up and put it back a dozen times I finally gave in and bought it. Needless to say, I loved it. It evokes more internal soul than almost anything since. This c.d. opened the floodgates to female artist as well as the piano which has been my favorite instrument ever since! Favorite Track: Never Is A Promise 3. New Radicals-Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too I used to hate pop. I rebelled against what I thought was pop until I became obnoxious to everyone around me. "Maybe You've been Brainwashed Too" slapped me in the face, told me to lighten up and made me respect what a good pop album could do. It took every pop contrivance, mixed into a blender, multiplied the pop soul times 1,000,000,000, added psychotic almost non sensible lyrics that may or not have been dealing ironically with evils of commercialism and all the doo doo doos, heys, and whoos you can shake a stick at. Not only did this c.d. convince me to spend the most amount of cash on any one c.d. ever, it did it twice. I bought both of Greg Alexanders solo c.d.s for $40 each. I even bought Danielle Brisebois c.d., who was also a contributor to the group for about the same price. After the New Radicals I opened myself up to artist without prejudice and eventually found myself enjoying c.d.s from everyone to Christina Aguilera to Mandy Moore to Justin Timberlake to more recently Kelly Clarkson and even Hanson! It also influenced me to discover groups like Junior Senior and Scissor Sisters. Favorite Track: I Hope I Didn't Just Give Away The Ending 4. South FM-Drama Kids SouthFM is my favorite band to come out since the Smashing Pumpkins but that's not what the influence is. South FM was the start of my finding bands that I wasn't exposed to on radio or MTV. Bands that were real discoveries. It wasn't the first band I had found through the internet but it was the first band to start my obsession of finding that hidden gem in music. I was on a lot of forums at the time and had Kazaa to download whatever I wanted at the time. One girl, who I still remember her name after all this time gave me tons of good suggestions. I worked at Best Buy at the time so I found the South Fm c.d. and payed a really cheap price for it. It was worth a LOT more! I LOVED it! I savored discovering and buying that next hidden underground band! I've been scouring and an addict ever since. Honestly, SouthFMs second and last c.d. is a lot better but "DRama Kids" was the influential one. Favorite Track: Driving 5. Anberlin-Never Take Friendship Personal While solid and gracing one of the most pure sounding and amazing vocalist in rock, Anberlins "Never Take Friendship Personal" didn't break the mold for a rock c.d.. I would argue their c.d. "Cities" came closer to attempting that and arguably succeeded but this one came first. What this c.d. did for me was once again eliminate my prejudice through great music. I always hated Christian rock. I had friends who were into and I wanted to be open minded to it but all the stuff I tried was the most generic pile of emotionless trash I ever heard. Anberlin changed that. It had a fierceness and passion I had never heard in Christian rock before and I could feel it without being beat over the head with blatantly obvious lyrics. It made me think about faith rather than ignore the topic altogether outside my own opinions. This c.d. opened the doors for some of the best bands of heard in the last three years with groups like Mae, Relient K (later stuff), Waking Ashland and Switchfoot! Favorite Track: Feel Good Drag I know that was long but I'm passionate about this sort of thing. It would be great to hear you guys do the same! Please share! Peace!