As we took in the sound of Gabe Witcher’s bow dancing across the strings of his violin and Greg Garrison’s carefully chosen plunks of the bass chords, I was overwhelmed again by Punch Brothers’ debut album, “Punch.” When I reviewed the album at the time of its 2008 release, I spent six weeks obsessing over it before putting it aside for three months. The music is absorbing, and I needed a beat away from its introspective content.
I had wanted to play this album for my boyfriend since we began dating two years ago; he’s an audiophile and a classical music fan. I knew this album would sound fantastic on his speakers, and I suspected the composition, which takes cues from classical music and jazz, would grab his attention.
After the recording ended, I noted that my interest in attending Alabama Symphony Orchestra performances–particularly the masterworks series–was likely influenced by this album, and most certainly by its primary composer, Chris Thile. Before meeting Put, I attended a handful of ASO special events. But I had never been to what I thought of as a “proper” symphony performance. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I wanted to find out. (Put took me to hear the ASO perform one of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies during our first few months dating. I’ve been hooked.)
In other words, “Punch” was a game changer for me. But it certainly isn’t the only album that holds that distinction. Caedmon’s Call’s “40 Acres” was the first album to make me realize sometimes the best songs aren’t on the radio. It took a while for it to click, but “Abbey Road” was the album that kickstarted my Beatles fan-dom. I don’t know what made me hear the album differently than the first five or six times I played it, but once it made sense, I couldn’t get enough.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I know I’m not alone. I want to know: Which albums have been game changers for you?
Today’s subject line comes from Punch Brothers’ “Blind Leaving the Blind: Third Movement.”