#1 Alkaline Trio - Good Mourning (Vagrant, 2003)
I bought this album in the summer of 2003. I had just graduated from high school and was getting ready to start my first year of college. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but the first song by them I heard was either “Jaked On Green Beer,” “Crawl,” or “Queen Of Pain,” all of which I heard on cheap punk compilations I used to buy all the time. I was at a store and saw Good Mourning. Having enjoyed those first few songs, I decided to buy it. I listened to it over and over, learning every word to every song. I collected their other albums and enjoyed them all, but none of them hit me in quite the same way as Good Mourning.
Good Mourning is a pop punk masterpiece. From the opening track, "This Could Be Love," to the penultimate "If We Never Go Inside," the album is full of energy. Guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano trade vocal duties as they bang out poppy 3-chord punk while new-comer Derek Grant more than adequately takes over drumming duties from former Smoking Popes drummer Mike Felumlee, who filled when previous drummer Glenn Porter left the band. There is obvious influence from The Misfits throughout the album, not limited to the line "I'd say we've had enough, put Walk Among Us on and turn it up" from "We've Had Enough." The album continues Alkaline Trio's love of using pop punk melodies to support some dark lyrics on several songs ("Step one, slit my throat, step two play in my blood," "you told me that you missed me but you meant with the grill and hood, you'd kill me if you could," "I wanted you to know, it's you that were thinking of as we quietly died in the snow"). Not ever song is dark, though, it's just one of the things they do very well. Better than any other band I listen to, I think. The album closes with the beautifully acoustic "Blue In The Face."
I stopped listening to Alkaline Trio for a while. But then when I saw their live set at this summer’s Warped Tour, I remembered why I had loved them in the first place. I pulled out my old copy of Good Mourning and relived that summer. I was a teenager, struggling to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. I bought the album at a store where I had just had my first real job interview and I was nervous and terrified and the album helped me deal with that. Now, 7 years later, the album still brings back all the emotional highs and lows of that time of my life.
When I originally began crafting this list, Good Mourning was one of the first two to be listed, along with the #2 album, Gaslight Anthem’s The ‘59 Sound. That album was meant to be in the #1 spot, but as I listened to Good Mourning more and more, I realized that my life would be more or less the same if I had never heard The ‘59 Sound. By contrast, I doubt my life would be the same if I had never picked up Good Mourning.