1. Hot Snakes - "If Credit's What Matters I'll Take Credit" - Automatic Midnight - This is maybe my favorite opening of any album ever. Rick Froberg goes all out on this one, just tearing his voice to shreds, and the subharmonic organ-pedal bass is beyond punishing. It's already 16 years old, but as far as I'm concerned this is the sound of punk rock in the new millennium and beyond. Downstroke warlords forever.
2. the Stooges - "Fun House" - Fun House - Not only is Fun House my favorite record of all time, I believe it is the single greatest artifact produced by the human race throughout all of our existence as a living species on planet Earth.
3. Fugazi - "Recap Modotti" - End Hits - Fugazi, to me, is the template for how a rock band should operate. From their perpetual musical reinvention, work ethic, politics, and even their occasional preachiness, they've always been a band that I've admired. This track is a mellow (especially by Fugazi's standards) deep cut with vocals by bassist Joe Lally.
4. Minutemen - "One Reporter's Opinion" - Double Nickels on the Dime - There is nothing unintentional about the Minutemen, and I love that. They represent total commitment to an ideal. Everything from the band's name, to the guitar/bass sounds, the song lengths, and of course the lyrics support their governing ideology. Bassist Mike Watt wrote this song about himself, inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses, for D. Boon to sing about Mike Watt. Let's leave it at that.
5. The Party of Helicopters - "Cover Me" - Please Believe It - If my buddy Tanner Young hadn't put this song on all his high-school mix CDs, I'd have no idea who Jamie Stillman is, probably wouldn't know anything about EarthQuaker Devices, and I definitely wouldn't be putting together an EQD employee playlist. So, thanks, guys.
6. Craw - "Is it Safe?" - Bodies For Strontium 90 - Cleveland Ohio's Craw is one of the most creative, ambitious, and under appreciated hardcore bands to come out of the Midwest in the 90s. This is a weird one.
7. Unwound - "Corpse Pose" - Repetition - Unwound has this underdog, slacker sort of charm that sets them apart from the rest of the so-called "noise rock" pack. They're tuneful yet dissonant, with a lopsided rhythm section and disaffected, but hooky arrangements that don't sound quite like anyone else. This is the closest thing they had to a hit song.
8. Brainiac - "PU55YFOOT1N'" - Hissing Prigs in Static Couture - That a band like Brainiac came out of Dayton, Ohio is entirely baffling to me. How music exists that sounds this broken, angry, and sinisterly playful blows my mind. Still the #1 reason people buy Realistic MG-1 synthesizers.
9. Brian Eno - "Baby's on Fire" - Here Come the Warm Jets - A rare bit of minimalism on an Eno pop record. Just a steady hi-hat and gobs of beautiful Robert Fripp guitar heroism.
10. Devo - "Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA" - Duty Now for the Future - Devo's magnum opus. I feel that as a citizen of Akron, Ohio, its my civic duty to spread the word that there's more to Devo than "Whip It." Devo wore many hats - or Energy Domes, if you will - scathing satirists, concerned citizens, workmanlike automatons, rock deconstructionists, pop icons, and more.