As much as I am a music lover, I went through a drought of listening to new music. That was in high school where I did all my classic rock research, yet didn't listen to a lot of popular music minus a few old stand bys (STP, Beck.) Once I graduated in 2002, I looked for some new music to spice up my life as a college student. I also wanted to host a college radio station and knew that without newer music, my show would suck. Anyway, I went to my local record store, Tunes, and decided to by some albums I had read about in Rolling Stone. One of these new buzz bands at the time was Interpol. I had heard nothing by them, but decided for some reason to believe what they had to say. I bought their debut, Turn On The Bright Lights, with no audio knowledge of what they sounded like. Even the bands they were being compared to were news to me. Needless to say, the fact it is on this list just goes to show you that it severly impacted in all the best ways the way I look at music.
For someone coming out of researching music like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, The Who and more of the same classic rock ilk, this was mind shatteringly different. And I liked it. It lead to me just buying records without listening to them or even knowing the band. It was a fruitful listen. I still remember it's first run through in my mother's car stereo. It was blasting and it was a fantastic first listen. In time, I started to appreciate albums for what they were rather than just singles or varying songs. This would later turn into my love for vinyl where you have less control over skipping songs like on CD's. This was probably one of those albums where I started appreciating new music and new albums as an art. Comparisons aside to Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, Interpol knows how to write a damn fine tune.
The album got heavy rotation on my radio show. "Untitled" was even a contender for opening theme music for my show, but for the first half of my tenure on La Salle University's radio program, I opted for no theme music. Regardless, every show was probably showcasing another cut from the album. I had just loved the record so much that I needed to constantly play it. Then shortly after, I had made my first trip to the Trocedero theater to see them play. I know, this is crazy, but Interpol was my first small venue concert. It was truly a great event. Seeing a band I just recently started listening to and a band who just recently started producing records in such a small place was phenomenal. That concert experience alone got me into finding even more music. Thanks to that show, I saw The Raveonettes live for the first time and immediately was a follower.
The album has such a great atmosphere to it. Kind of dreary yet with shards of pop riffs and quality musicianship that sheds light on the haze. "Obstacle 1" is one of those songs that just has a structural integrity to it that I can't not ever get sick of it. The drumming alone is inspired and interesting in how it changes. It's a passionate song that is brilliant live. "NYC" and "Stella" are the old classics now. Songs like "Leif Erikson" and "Roland" will stay personal favorites as they just rock on levels that go beyond explaining.
I guess what it boils down to is that Turn On the Bright Lights may be the first record of the Oughts that really had any kind of impact on my musical listening. It shaped the way my radio show went, it made me more aware of new and underground music and it made me discover older bands that they took influences from and spread the ark of my musical loving even further into the spectrum of variety. For this, it will always remain important to me as a great album.
1. The Who - Tommy
2. Beck - Odelay
3. Television - Marquee Moon
4. Weezer - Pinkerton
5. Brian Eno - Before & After Science
6. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
7. The Beatles - Rubber Soul
8. Grand Funk Railroad - Closer to Home
9. Foo Fighters - The Colour & The Shape
10. Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
11. Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
Up Next: King Crimson's In The Court of the Crimson King