8. The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
I discovered this album through a great program called ourTunes. ourTunes was this software that allowed you to take advantage of the shared-music function of iTunes via the networks on college campuses. You could basically take any audio file that was listed in a user's iTunes software and download it to your own computer. It was like napster, but 100x faster since it operated over the school's network. So I downloaded this on a whim, and then, dang. It fucking blew my mind (and then I went out and bought the CD, thank you RIAA). The most vivid memory I have of listening to this album is coming back to Texas from Nashville on an airplane, sitting next to a Mexican wearing a cowboy hat. I got on the plane, turned on my Philips CD player, and just watched the landscape below me, soundtracked by Travis Morrison's voice.
However, I did not understand the magnitute of the album's centerpiece song, "The City," until I grew older.
As a teenager (19 or so), the concept of abject lonliness was a bit foreign to me, as I had always been surrounded by friends and family. This changed when I moved with my dad to Columbia, TN for the summer before my sophomore year of college (my mom remained in San Antonio to try to sell our house). As I sat in our apartment one night, I threw on Emergency & I and listened to "The City," and I began to understand. In the song, Morrison describes noticing things that he never has before, because his lover has left him, and because that person previously had made him so happy, he never saw just how lonely and full of despair the place where he is living actually is. As a transplant to an unfamiliar city, this expressed exactly how I felt as I stared out the windows of my apartment. I knew absolutely no one, and (alright, let's see if we can guess the theme here), I had come out of a relationship, and everything was just sad sack and depressing to me. When I heard this, I thought, "shit." It was the perfect song for me at that time.
As far as the rest of the album goes, it's flawless. Each song is brilliant and now, as being nearly 23, this album resonates even more with me. "Spiders in the Snow"? Fuck, does that not perfectly describe what life is for many, many of us after college? Emergency & I perfectly captures that mid-20's sentiment of "What do I do with my life?" It was with this album that I actually began to understand what many songwriters were getting at, because I was now living that life. The truth hits the hardest.