When you’re young, every emotion carries more weight. With nothing to compare things to, all bad news signals the end of the world and everything new is the greatest to exist. The music you hear at this age, then, elicits a response that seems to disappear in adulthood: pure obsession. Maybe we become un-phased. Maybe we’re taught to be more nonchalant about things as silly as pop culture. For whatever reason, the music you’re obsessed with hear around the age of 11-14 stays with you. Here, the ORANGE music staff remembers the artists and albums that changed us, and that we keep coming back to today.
Story by ORANGE Music Staff
Carys Anderson — Foo Fighters, “Foo Fighters”
While discovering Nirvana at age 13 opened me up to the world of alternative and punk rock, it was the debut album by that band’s drummer, Dave Grohl, that cemented my endless fascination with music. It blew my mind to think that one man could play every instrument on an album. It was my first brush with the do-it-yourself ethos that inspired me to play and that informs the music I’ve been spinning ever since. But it wasn’t just that “Foo Fighters” taught me anyone can make music. It’s the perfect culmination of Dave Grohl’s far-reaching musical influences. Many turn to alternative-era staples like “I’ll Stick Around” when looking back on Grohl’s first solo effort, but the idiosyncratic b-sides stuck out to me the most. I’ve played this record so much that it doesn’t blow my mind anymore, but I keep coming back to it for these deep cuts alone. Call it nostalgia, call it familiarity, but the circular motion of “Floaty”— a shoegaze-inspired number turned up to 11— and the droning, understated “X-Static” provide me a sense of comfort unmatched by other releases.“Weenie Beenie” and “Wattershed” reference old school punk rock, and the sarcastic “For All the Cows” perfects the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics that Nirvana made famous. And on album closer “Exhausted,” Grohl lets the melancholy simmer for six minutes, guitar pedals and noise interludes on full display. The Foos tend to shy away from such musical detours nowadays, but we’ll always have “Foo Fighters,” an album that still sounds fresh once you’ve gotten used to its surprises.
Gabrielle Sanchez — Vampire Weekend’s “Contra”
My first memory of this album includes my brother and I watching the music video for the song “Cousins” which showed on VH1 in the morning. The face paced, high-energy with glints of Koenig's humor video features the band members playing in an alleyway with the member switching spots and moving all over the place. It caught our attention, and we watched that video anytime we saw it on our TV screen. This album would then define my late-elementary into middle school experiences as my friends and I listened to and sang the songs off the album together. I vividly remember listening to “Giving Up the Gun” with friends on long bus rides to Dallas for field trips. It marked something new in my music taste, which was then defined by female punk singers such as Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne. “Contra” introduced me to the indie/alternative genre and continues to serve as a linkage between my friends and I, who also look very back on this album very fondly. I’ve been listening to this album for almost a decade now, and it still doesn't get old.
Angela Schiff — Placebo’s “Every You, Every Me”
My household was never particularly musical. I had some exposure to music radio on long car rides, but my home remained silent and the over-enthusiasm that fans had for certain musicians seemed foreign and disconcerting. Then, in 2008 I received a laptop. Soon after I discovered YouTube. Late one night, long after I should have been asleep, I came across a video that inspired within me a fanaticism that could only be felt by a young girl on the cusp of puberty. Placebo was performing their hit song "Every You, Every Me" live from MTV studios. I was charmed, shocked, and completely enamored with the nasally, harsh sound of Molko's voice. Placebo's music came to serve as a soundtrack for my adolescent years, on repeat through every high and low of my life, until I reached 17 and my feelings cooled. Now that I've moved past the obsessive fan stage of my life, I can still appreciate what their music did for me, though now I listen with a more discerning, critical ear.
Naomi Brady — The Jezabels’ “Prisoner”
My first real exposure to music, other than from the radio’s top 40 hits or my parents’ CD’s, came from looking up the soundtracks of movies and tv shows I enjoyed. One of the first real significant times I remember doing this, was after watching the entirety of the Australian teen Nickelodeon show ‘Dance Academy’ with my friends in middle school. The show revolved around a bunch of teen dancers, and (as a mediocre-at-best ballet student) I quickly became obsessed with the show, which as you can probably imagine featured a lot of dance numbers accompanied by cool Australian music. The Jezabels had their song ‘Easy To Love’ featured in a season finale, and I remember looking up and watching the music video afterwards and being mesmerized by the band’s unique drum patterns, and compelling emotional lyrics. The band isn’t really emo - they’re basically just an indie pop/rock band - but I remember feeling so seen by the slightly dark tones in ‘A Little Piece’, ‘Hurt Me’, and ‘Mace Spray’ that the time period that I listened to them (around 13-16) was basically the darkest my emo phase got. I don’t listen to them quite as much nowadays, but they’re still 100% my go to whenever I’m in my feelings, and I’d love to see them in concert sometime if they ever go back on tour.