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My name’s Sal Mastrocola, songwriter for No Nets. We just released our new album, Bright Light. Check it out wherever you listen to music.
Music was my first love, born out of pre-teen boredom. My parents were strict with my media time – 30 minutes of television per week. But I had a little Coby stereo in my room, and that meant there were no time restrictions on music. I’d steal Disney cassette tapes from my sister’s room, strap scotch tape over the write protection tab, and bootleg NOFX, Blink 182, and MxPx CDs I borrowed from friends. I became obsessed not just with the music, but with the packaging and experience of the album. Sometimes I’d even design my own, hand-drawing artwork and scribbling lyrics onto dot matrix printer paper.
The albums mentioned here don’t go all the way back to those early days, but many have been with me since my teen years.
Against Me! – Reinventing Axl Rose
This has been my favorite band since I was 15. My friend gave me a mix CD that had “The Politics of Starving” and “Jamaican Me Crazy” on it, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. The next day I rode my skateboard to Sam Goody and spent $17.99 or some crazy amount on the CD and it’s been one of my go-to’s ever since.
Saves the Day – Stay What You Are
This was a big album in my personal musical taste development, one I discovered at the crux of my transition from almost exclusively listening to punk music to broadening my horizons to pop and beyond. It’s absolutely perfect. My dream is to record an album with Rob Schnapf.
Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill
There is no album that sounds better. There is no album with more songwriting perfection so densely packed in. Every second holds innumerable treasures, every passage of every song has so much to dissect and appreciate. This album is dripping with the grit that was present in his earliest recordings, but realized in a loud, layered, and lush way. RIP Elliott.
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
Revisiting this album is a visceral experience. When the first chords of “The New Year” come crashing in, it’s as if I’m mainlining all the excitement, confusion, hope, and sadness I felt as a 17-year-old on the verge of leaving my home for college, just peeking out onto the cusp of early adulthood. It’s an album that layers a complex array of emotion into every nook and cranny of its 11 tracks. The artwork and packaging is so perfect – I did a woodcut of its iconic cover in my senior art class – I’m sure it’s still buried in my parents’ attic somewhere.
Which records inspired you to become a musician? Let us know and you can be featured in a future column. Email [email protected] for more info.