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brittany kemp's life story explained via albums/open letter to fiona apple

let me be honest with you: some of these albums really didn't mean a lot to me and some did. as I expressed earlier, it's a shame I wasn't born in 1911, an absolute shame, in this perspective.

1988- Viva Hate- Morrissey
I really do not care for him anymore but there was a time in high school when I was suckled onto this album. I'd get it out from the Millcreek library, scratched and all, and listen to it while I did my homework. taught me the use of the word "maudlin." why does Urban Outfitters always email me? I'm more of a Stephin Merritt girl these days; my sadness is more American.

1989- Full Moon Fever- Tom Petty

my dad and my mom. I was listening to this and learning to walk at this point in time.

a lot of good albums came out this year! it was hard to choose!

1990- I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got- Sinead O'Connor

  • because this isn't true
  • "Nothing Compares 2 U" has this penchant for popping up at weird moments.
  • Sinead was bald and tore up a picture of the Pope on SNL.
  • Madonna did the same thing with a photo of Joey Buddafucco.

sometimes I have a moment where I think "I'm gonna die alone!" and this song plays.

1991- Achtung Baby- U2

I loved this album so much. U2 was the first band I ever fell in love with. I knew everything about them and got all their albums (yes) and this was like, besides the Joshua Tree, the prime rib of that collection. Bono at his cockiest and funnest and DARE I SAY IT sexiest.

this song is perfect. "did you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?" makes you forgive the fact he named himself BO-NO.

1992- Little Earthquakes- Tori Amos

Tori at her rawest, most organic, least nuts. such a beautiful, powerful, heartfelt album. "Silent All These Years" or "Me and a Gun." I remember having the worst cramps of my life to this album; I remember buying it and thinking "is that a penis?" on the back of the album. and is it? I will never know.
just watch this performance. I don't think I truly understood this song until yesterday:

I got something to say but nothing comes. YES I KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF ME YOU NEVER SHUT UP.

1993- Exile in Guyville- Liz Phair

it's safe to say I would not be introduced to this raunchy gem of an album for years. and rightfully so. "I will be your blowjob queen." want to pretend you are a slutty, angsty biology major at Brown University in the early 1990s with short hair? here is your album. for the duration of this album and before she decided to go off on her own strange path, Liz Phair was a force of smirking nature. honestly: what a great concept this album was. a response to the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, song by song, from a woman's POV.

I want all that stupid old shit: like letters and sodas.

1994- Grace- Jeff Buckley

it was a draw between this and Portishead's Dummy (which is actually another one of my favorite albums and invented trip-hop or popularized it basically and inspired Kanye etc). but I have to stay true to my heart here. I love this album with a love unmatched. it's just so immaculate: there are few dry patches here. few moments I don't move with my whole body into some different zone- "Grace" sounds like a last plea for redemption, "Last Goodbye" is all the bitterness of watching your lover leave for the last time ("kiss me out of desire and not consolation"), "Lover You Should've Come Over" is OH MY GOD THIS IS MY FAVORITE ALBUM OF ALL TIME

oh Jeff :(

1995- Jagged Little Pill- Alanis Morrissette

I can say, without feigning, I remember the place this album had in my life. my sister had it; it was all over the radio. and I would hear "Ironic" and think it was about vaccuums. it just spawned hit after hit after hit. it was awesome, that way. Alanis will never match up to that again, we know, but at least she had this. I mean who hasn't thought about doing "You Oughta Know" drunk at karaoke? Liz Lemon moment!


Dave Coulier! ewwww!

1996- TIDAL- Fiona Apple

she was so young! and she made SUCH an impossibly brilliant soulful heartbreaking beautiful glorious album. this is probably her weakest link, but damn. oh new Fiona album you can't get here soon enough! honestly, if you're ever feeling somewhat sad but mostly thoughtful on a February Friday afternoon and live in apartment in the city please put this album on. "Criminal" is the only song I've ever done at karaoke. why? because I've been a bad bad girl. love you Fiona; I am sorry I can't be more coherent when talking about how wonderful you are. tears form. it's sad.

I am sorry for all the angry females on this list thus far. the 1990s were PERFECT for that.

1997- Either/Or- Elliott Smith

probably his ultimate album, which is arguable. take Simon and Garfunkel and make them bleak, but leave one last ray of hope in there. the weak smile of someone that has been kicked too long and you have dear Elliott, who was probably the most talented singer-songwriter flying under the radar in the 1990s. his later stuff gets more devastating; XO was also a feat though.

Elliott meant a lot to me; he still does. no list of the best albums of my lifespan would be complete without him!

of course I speak for a lot of depressed people.

1998- Ray of Light- Madonna

short of the 1980s, I think this is probably the best Madonna album out there. this was right around when she turned 40 and had a kid and was dating the Spanish guy. I remember this vividly because I was fascinated by Madonna. mostly because my dad hated her as he hated everyone. or still does. late 1990s Madonna though, like this and "Beautiful Stranger." !!!!! so good. I'd like to see her live at some point; tour again Madonna tour again!!!!! you aren't human anymore you're a machine!

1999- WHEN THE PAWN- Fiona Apple

this is my favorite album by her. of course I had to include it. can you even say that title? thbbbbft. PUT THE NEW ALBUM OUT FIONA I'VE BEEN WAITING SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.


Y2K! pause/break WE ENTER THE 2000s

2000- Heartbreaker- Ryan Adams

oh hey fake boyfriend:

I stole your sense of style at some point. sorry. (I wrote about this album a really long time ago. it reminds me of how much I liked the first girl I ever liked and how that really sucked and how profound that whole sentence was).

2001- Rock Steady- No Doubt

there was NO way I was leaving No Doubt off this list. I am sorry. this album is probably my least favorite but the reason I chose it was because of the whole anticipation-of. I had to watch TRL to see No Doubt pimp out their new album and talk about how much they loved Outkast. who doesn't love Outkast? also No Doubt's tweets about their new album are so adorable. they deserve a <3.

I can't believe that was 10 years ago. dang.

2002- Turn on the Bright Lights- Interpol

this was right around the time I got into music for reals. I can't remember when I first heard Interpol; I think it was RIGHT before middle school ended. I had an internet radio player and they came up one day and I, who was a devotee of top 40 and a burgeoning lover of alternative music, was like "I kind of like this!" got a lot more into Interpol in high school. all my friends were fans etc. also: another band that won't be as good as they were before. they certainly don't change much, you know? I'm seeing them in Portland (Oregon) in a few weeks.


2003- Hail to the Thief- Radiohead

remember I got this album the day 9th grade ended. rode to the mall and got it at FYE. there was a huge plastic map inside of it. map? I played it with all kinds of excitement because this was during my Radiohead phase. then I was like WUT DID I JUST BUY because I secretly never liked this album. "Sail to the Moon" and "There There" were good though. "There There" is kind of hot. am I weird for thinking that? people have told me this is an album you need to grow to love but I wouldn't ever take it to my LOST island with me. seriously, I'd leave this shit at home.

2004- Anniemal- Annie

pure pop perfection. waiting for Annie is worth waiting for. "Heartbeat," "Chewing Gum," "Me Plus One." it's not even a guilty pleasure. she's a genius, seriously. it's a shame she's not better known here in the States- the girl can't make a bad move.

I'm going to do a cheap thing and cop from Pitchfork now, but read this:

The track itself narrates a party, drinks with friends, and the thrill of a first encounter-- all that many people want from a night out. It communicates a love for music, friendship, and connection, and celebrates the moments when all three merge perfectly. The track's rhythm is obviously supposed to mirror the song's title, and that could have been cloying or heavy-handed, but when that rhythm quickens and doubles its pace as Annie catches the eye of and moves to the beat with another partygoer, it becomes a deceptively simple and surprisingly beautiful articulation of basic human need, beautifully encapsulating every element of human excitement-- guilt, nerves, excitement, hope. The culture of life.


2005- The Best Party Ever- The Boy Least Likely To

Jof Owen brings me back to my childhood. imaginary friends, stuffed animals, lots of strange sadness. "Be Gentle With Me" made me cry the first time I heard it. I sort of played that song to death, afterwards. but can you blame me? I don't want to talk about this anymore!

silly rabbit girls are for humans!


2006- "Ys"- Joanna Newsom

I feel like being THAT much more pretentious. seriously, though. the place some Joanna Newsom songs hold in my mind. it would be either this album or The Greatest by Chan Marshall, whose hair I have been trying to copy for years. but somedays I remember laying in my bed in my dorm, while my roommate (the non-crazy one) shuffled in and out. and listening to the lyrics of "Emily" and missing everyone and everything.

she's so wonderful live.

2007- The Reminder- Feist

just because I was obsessed with that album that year. see: my

2008- Youth Novels- Lykke Li

my Lykke! how could I not! lots of Spectator-ing went down to this album, whether my cohorts ever realized it or not, I stayed in the office blasting this while working on my section. oh you unhappy days.

2009- Actor- St. Vincent

because, now, this album is a part of me. AGHHHHH. I wrote Annie in a drunken daze last year and was like "are you referencing Anne Sexton in your lyrics?" but she never wrote back to me. if I move to New York, I want to see her on the subway, I want to accost her and ask her to get coffee with me.


she won't get coffee with me, I bet. I'd pay too, Annie, you know.

by the way: the best people are named Annie!

p.s. here it's night time, all the time. bird outside the kitchen, fighting his reflection....

2010- I already wrote about that!



to be continued


  1. little earthquakes is an excellent album. in re: morrissey, i was just listening to bona drag yesterday and it's great.

    you are much more compelling in your desire to WRITE things than i am.

  2. && i still don't know what maudlin means


  4. not bleak enough! maudlin means very sad. I DOUBT IT'S THE ACTUAL NAME OF A STREET MOZ

    oh man Little Earthquakes is so good. even the title track is good!

  5. yes morrissey for the win

    and as for Radiohead There There, was a song that I had to listen to about 300 times before I truly started to like it. Now I love it too.

  6. also andrew the only thing i want to do with my life is write if i don't write i die

  7. it's like DMX always said RYE OR DIE



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