If you have a Facebook account then you’ve probably seen that trend going around where people post 12 albums that are important to them. So I’m gonna do that. But I’m also going to talk about the albums a bit because I think listing artist and album names with no context doesn’t help for people who might be curious. I’ve also given examples off each album.

1. Mr Bungle - Mr Bungle
Squeeze Me Macaroni by Mr. Bungle on Grooveshark
Mr Bungle has been extremely influential to me as a musician as they were the first band I heard who would mix disparate styles all together to create their weird brand of genre-hopping music. This album, produced by another hero of mine, John Zorn, is amazing. Everything the members have gone on to do after the break up of Mr Bungle has been equally as amazing. One of the most important albums to me.

Gorillaz - Demon Days
November Has Come by Gorillaz on Grooveshark
Gorillaz was one of my first ‘musical crushes’. When I first heard this album I fell in love and listened to nothing but it. At one point you would’ve been able to name a track number and I could tell you the name, length, featured artists, sing all the lyrics, tell you the backstory of the song, and everything else. I was obsessed. That obsession has subsided, but I still listen to this album for its amazing production values and vibes in the music.

Smash Mouth - Fush Yu Mang
Flo by Smashmouth on Grooveshark
Fush Yu Mang was Smash Mouth’s first album, yes the Smash Mouth, we’re talking about the All Star guys. Their first album was all ska punk songs with the lead singer yelling about beer, parties, and girls. I’m a sucker for a good ska punk album as most of my high school years were spent listening to it.
Fun Fact: Astro Lounge, Smash Mouth’s second album, was the first CD I ever bought (or actually, was bought for me by my mom’s boyfriend at the time)

The Cinematic Orchestra - Horizon
Horizon (feat. Niara Scarlett) by The Cinematic Orchestra on Grooveshark
A change of pace, The Cinematic Orchestra plays an amazing mix of downtempo electronic music mixed with live jazz players and singers. I discovered this band after Gorillaz’s first album introduced me to downtempo music which I fell in love with. (You can’t always listen to high energy punk, right?) This album exemplifies The Cinematic Orchestra’s music perfectly with the mix of live instrumentation and electronic production and has always been my go-to for calm yet still interesting music.

NOFX - Punk In Drublic
Linoleum by NOFX on Grooveshark
NOFX has been on my iPod for …I don’t even know how long. Another artist that has lasted through the years since my ska and punk days. It was tough to pick one album from these guys to list, but I finally settled on this classic. Every song on this album is great, it’s one of those albums you can listen to and not hear a single bad song. The thing that makes NOFX so interesting is that they actually write interesting songs. If you look past the distorted guitars, punk beats, and strained vocals, you’ll hear genuinely musical melodies and chords, not just 3 chords and out-of-tune yelling. Transcribe some NOFX some time and you might be surprised at how nice it sounds.

James Carter - Heaven On Earth
Diminishing by James Carter & John Medeski with Christian McBride, Adam Rogers & Joey Baron on Grooveshark
This album is actually a more recent acquisition, I got it about 3 years ago but it is so good that I had to include it on the list. A collaboration between some of my favourite jazz musicians:
James Carter, my all time favourite sax player
John Medeski, organ shredding grooving beast of a musician
Christian McBride, legend in modern bass, rips it apart.
Joey Baron, frequent John Zorn collaborator, I love his playing
Adam Rogers, admittedly I’m least familiar with Rogers, but his playing on this album is amazing
This album is full of amazing grooves, virtuosic playing, and quite a few times where the band gets heavy and weird. I can listen to this album over and over and always find some new thing I’ve never heard before, and every track is amazing.

Rammstein - Reise Reise
Mein Teil by Rammstein on Grooveshark
I’ve been listening to Rammstein for so long that I couldn’t tell you how I first heard them, I don’t even remember… A lot of people only know them for their song Du Hast, but Rammstein is actually a killer industrial metal band with some amazing albums under their belt. This album was one of the first I heard of theirs and it is superb. They also are a big influence on me in the fact that they were the first band I heard that would have a quiet section of a song followed by a sudden explosion of sound, something I use quite a bit in my own music now.

The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde
Passing Me By by The Pharcyde on Grooveshark
This is the best hip-hop album ever recorded and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. The Pharcyde’s debut album is full of production borrowing from classic soul, jazz, and funk albums, and is covered in amazing rapping that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There isn’t a bad track on this album and I can’t listen to any of them without grooving. I keep coming back to this one and I always love it.

Snarky Puppy - groundUP
Binky by Snarky Puppy on Grooveshark
Snarky Puppy completely redefined what music can sound like when I first heard them. They have the ability to mix grooves, instrumental mastery, catchy melodies, and complex musicality into everything they do. Think you can’t groove in 7/4? Listen to some Snarky Puppy. I think these guys were the reason I really pushed myself into trying to make 'weird’ music still sound accessible. Snarky Puppy has it all, amazing band. This album in particular has nothing but good songs on it. Tell Your Friends is a close second, if not equal, to this record.
Plus this song in particular has, to date, the greatest synth line I’ve herad in a song. Happens around the 5:20 mark if you’re waiting for it. And the grooves at the end, oh my loins!

Naked City - Grand Guignol
Speed Freaks by Naked City on Grooveshark
Naked City, a multi-genre group put together by John Zorn to 'test the limits of a standard rock band’ is absolutely amazing. They’re like Mr Bungle on steroids, intentionally putting as many disparate styles of music together in each song as they can. On this album they experimented with miniature hardcore pieces, usually under a minute in length as Zorn was interested in hardcore punk and grindcore at the time. The album is a whirlwind of noise and musical freakouts. This album is another huge influence on a lot of the heavier music I write and play and Naked City in general is a big inspiration for the more experimental things I’m involved in.

Wayne Shorter - Adam’s Apple
Adam’s Apple by Wayne Shorter on Grooveshark
Adam’s Apple is a great album by Wayne Shorter, I remember hearing his music growing up before I even knew what jazz was. Years later I would find this album and recognize the music from my youth. This album is full of great pieces, I’ve played songs like Footprints I don’t know how many times. Great music that is simple and complex at the same time and played with such musical virtuosity. Plus Herbie Hancock on piano makes it that much better.

Gustav Holst - The Planets
Mars, the Bringer of War by Gustav Holst on Grooveshark
Not so much an 'album’ as it is a suite (which is basically just the classical music version of an album, right?) Holst’s The Planets is ridiculously amazing. My personal favourite, and one of my favourite pieces of music in general is Mars, The Bringer of War. The word 'epic’ gets thrown around a lot these days for the smallest things, but this piece of music is one that can truly be described as 'epic’. Each piece in this suite is great though, I remember playing Jupiter years ago with the West Vancouver Youth Band. The large scale grandeur of the music in this suite is a sound I strive to achieve any time I’m writing for larger groups of musicians.

It’s only supposed to be 12 albums, but I had to include this last one:

Weird Al Yankovic - Poodle Hat
Angry White Boy Polka by “Weird Al” Yankovic on Grooveshark
Weird Al is a musical genius. This is a fact. Not just for the funny mostly-food-based parodies he is known for, but for his playing, arrangements, and versatility. When I was growing up and first got into music Weird Al was my favourite artist because of the humour. I grew up and got into 'serious’ music and didn’t listen to much Weird Al until a couple years ago when I came across a song from this album that made me realize how talented Weird Al truly is: Genius In France. The song is a parody in the style of Frank Zappa (who we can all agree was a bonafide musical genius), and if there wasn’t Weird Al’s voice on the song, you’d swear it’s an unreleased Zappa song. That’s not easy music to emulate, there’s a lot of stuff in Zappa’s music, so I started listening more seriously to Weird Al’s music and realized that there’s a lot of impressive stuff in there. The polka medley on this album (which I performed as a drama class lipsync years ago in high school) is arranged so perfectly, each song moves into the next one smoothly, and there’s so many things in the background that you don’t notice right away that are amazing, little horn fills, harmonies, virtuosic playing by the entire band.

So that’s the music that continues to inspire me after years of listening to it.
Honorable mention goes to:
Darcy James Argue - Infernal Machines
Amazing experimental big band “jazz” that explores brand new textures for a big band.
Frank Zappa - Hot Rats
Frank Zappa. Enough said.
Fantomas - Suspended Animation
Unbelievably good weird experimental cartoon metal. Almost made it into the main 12.
Kneebody - You Can Have Your Moment
Awesome weird modern jazz full of effects and grooves.
Snot - Snot
Outstanding punk/funk/metal band that released one album before their singer was killed in a car accident. Another album that almost made the main 12 list.