My First Album

I bought my first two albums, Beck's Odelay and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' Let's Face It, both on CD, when I was about 11 or 12. Yeah, I'm younger than Jason and Mark.

I played 'em on a big ol' Sony boombox, which I actually brought on a family road trip that summer because I didn't have a Walkman yet. That fucker needed about eight C batteries and took up all the footroom in the backseat of my parents' station wagon, but I plugged my headphones in and rocked Let's Face It on repeat for the whole 9-hour trip to Cape Cod.

I insisted for about a year that the Bosstones were the greatest band of all time, and wore out the CD within a few months. The Bosstones were also the headliners at my first concert, the Y100 Halloween Bash at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia back in 1999 (if you grew up in the Philly area, you're now expected to exhale sadly and reminisce about the brilliance of Y100). Let's Face It has been long absent from my enormous music collection, so I downloaded it just two days ago to see how much I remembered, and to try to understand what my pre-pubescent self loved so much about it.

Turns out I can can still sing along with almost the entire album, but I'm just not capable of judging it objectively. It's too important to me, and it's informed my tastes ever since. I can trace my love of vintage soul back to the Bosstones' horn section, my power-pop obsession to their anthemic choruses and harmonies, and my easy acceptance of unconventional singers (Joanna Newsom, Antony, David Bielanko, John Darnielle) back to Dicky Barrett's growly, result-of-20-years-of-cigarettes-and-booze vocals.

Even though I'm a super annoying music snob these days, at the time I didn't really get Beck; I thought he was kind of weird and noisy and not nearly catchy enough. The only song I really liked off Odelay was "Where It's At," and even that didn't get as much play as my least favorite song on Let's Face It. In the years since, of course, I've come to see Beck as a genius, but it wasn't until Midnite Vultures that he really started to make sense to me.

Let's Face It isn't a cool album. It's got no cachet, it's got no cred, and it was part of a fad (the "third wave" of ska) that died out nearly a decade ago. But it means a lot to me, and I know I'll never let it disappear from my collection again.

For Gizmodo's week-long Listening Test (a tribute to all things audio), each writer will be sharing his/her first album. In other words, there will be many more to come.