My first cassette was some Beach Boys album (hey, I was ten, what the hell did I know), followed closely by the <i>Batman</i> soundtrack. I at one time also owned an M.C. Hammer tape. It's important to expose the secrets beneath my floorboards, if only so I see how far I've come in my music appreciation. But god damn if those aren't embarrassing.
The first album I ever listened to and really savored was my brother's copy of <i>Automatic for the People</i>. The musical version of my first kiss, to me it always will be R.E.M.'s finest.
I didn't become uber-conscious of music until high school, which I'm sure is not a unique experience. During these years, grunge was in full swing and I dug it all: Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, STP, Screaming Trees; side projects like Temple of the Dog and Mad Season; even Candlebox. Mudhoney was sh!t and everyone knew it, but the only other grunge band I never really got into was those kings of angst themselves, Nirvana. Soundgarden, along with non-grunge Smashing Pumpkins, were my favorites of the era.
After grunge died out I clung to traditional country-rock standards like The BoDeans and John Mellencamp. Safety Rock. Not until Radiohead's <i>Kid A</i> did I discover the dirty, progressive side of the music industry. I was arriving late, finding favorite new "indie" bands that had been on thousands of MySpace pages before then, but I was finally at the edge of a burgeoning new rock.
Most of my favorite music is nestled inside those stations there on the left. Wilco to Sufjan Stevens, Mogwai to the Decemberists I like just about anything if it's aesthetically pushing the bounds of music ("aesthetically" added to weed out the Yoko Ono's of the world). Happy exploring.