The 10 greatest albums of all time according to me; Tim Hampshire.
Hot Water Music – “Caution”
In my opinion, this is their best release. This album was played in conjunction with a lot of backyard drinking sessions during the Australian summer of 2002/2003. Upon hearing this album, I’m reminded of living through a pretty bad 4 weeks of smoke haze in Melbourne caused by bushfires at the time – reminiscent of what most of South Eastern Australia is going through right now unfortunately.
Alexisonfire – “Crisis”
I almost chewed my fingernails to the bone waiting for this album to be released! There were great expectations placed on Alexisonfire to back up with something as brilliant as their previous release “Watch Out” and the anticipation felt by everyone who loved that album was palpable. Suffice to say, we weren’t disappointed! This is still a go-to album for me and it still carries itself well, 13 years after it was released.
Frenzal Rhomb – “Not So Tough Now”
This is an album that can be categorized as one of those “gateway” albums that everyone reflects upon as something that got them into punk music in the first place. Frenzal Rhomb played in my small town – Portland, Victoria, Australia – upon the release of this album in 1996 and as a quite impressionable 15 year old, I was totally hooked on this band, with both their live sound and this album completely blowing my mind. More about my local all-ages scene back in the mid 90’s later, but this album is in my opinion their best and an album that reminds me of a lot of good times as a teenager 20+ years ago!
Pennywise – “About Time”
This album changed everything for me. I’d heard a few songs from Pennywise prior to this release but I wasn’t truly a fan of their work until I’d heard this album in its entirety back in early 1996. At the time, we had just started to be exposed to these types of acts via the emerging all ages live music scene that was being established in my small coastal home town, and in the mid 90’s our only exposure to these international acts was either from Surf and Skateboarding videos (all VHS too) and from friends at high school who were exposed to these sounds by friends and relatives in Melbourne or Adelaide (major cities in Australia) who would then in turn play these bands to us. Portland still has a vibrant surfing and skateboarding scene and it was from watching surfing videos that we learnt of this band from across the Pacific Ocean. A friend of mine managed to get his hands on this album, brought it to school and made us listen to it, and from that point I was in love with it. I was able to dub it to cassette and it spent a lot of time in the tape player of my first car! I still have that dubbed cassette to this very day.
This band has had a more profound effect on me than any other band I’ve come across in the 25+ years that I’ve been engrossed in punk. Bodyjar have been around for so long that almost every band of Skatepunk i like, and Australian punk bands in general that have come after them, have taken inspiration from their sound and how they go about it generally. The first ever live show I went to in mid 1995, just prior to the release of this album, featured Bodyjar on the bill. They continued to visit Portland during the heyday of our town’s all ages music scene from 1996 til mid 1998 with support from local promoter Dave Barrett (who managed to also lure The Living End, Californian hardcore stalwarts Strife and the Swedish punk powerhouse Millencolin to our small town of 8000 in the days before the internet), which was massive for us local teenage punks because they were also touring nationally and overseas a lot and it meant a lot to us that they would still make time to come and play in Portland. Their album “Rimshot” must be considered as once of the greatest skatepunk albums of all time, worldwide. I consider it to be one of the greatest punk albums in general to ever come out of Australia and even 24 years after its release there isn’t a lot of releases that can be rated higher than this almost perfect work of art.
A Wilhelm Scream – “Career Suicide”
When this album was released in mid 2007 it came as a bit of a watershed moment for me. The world of punk was too far under the influence of the “emo” wave with bands like My Chemical Romance, Saosin, Finch etc. Emo wasn’t fucking Emo anymore (for context, go and listen to bands like Farside, Sensefield, The Get Up Kids and Texas Is The Reason – Bands classified by emotive sound & feel and not by how long their fringes were or how much black clothing they wore. That’s not what Emo is goddamnit!) and I was craving more technically proficient and fast punk to cleanse my punk palate. This album was released at the perfect time and I flogged the shit out of it. I’d heard Ruiner and Mute Print and at the time I thought to myself “this band’s next release is going to be an all time great” – and I was 100% correct. This album is solid from beginning to end, and I’m still pissed of that it wasn’t voted “best album of the year” by the Australian punk/hardcore punk radio program Short.Fast.Loud on Triple J radio in 2007. From memory I think it got dudded by “Horizons” from Parkway Drive. It’s a travesty still to this day.
Thrice – “The Artist In The Ambulance”
Thrice were on a roll prior to the release of this album, and there weren’t many people expecting the follow up release to “The Illusion of Safety” to sound the way that it did. The band has polarized a lot of people over the journey by the way that their sound and song structure can vary so much from album to album – and it was no exception when they release this album. Although every album released by Thrice since this album was unleashed has brought criticism and often confusion regarding the overall sound and message that the band is portraying (due to the difference and added complexity often added from the release prior), this album has never had a bad word spoken about it. Considering that Thrice are SO well known for journeying far from the sound forged by them when they put out a new release – the fact that this album was their greatest leap regarding a different sound and perspective from the previous release (The Illusion of Safety) and the fact that it’s still on so many people’s favourite album list is kind of confusing to me. In my opinion it’s the greatest album ever released in the first decade of the 21st century.
Ten Foot Pole – “Rev”
Although this album was released in 1994, I didn’t get my first taste of this band until the end of 1995 when a friend put on a surfing video at my house. The video was a part of the series of movies compiled by Australian film-maker Tom Bonython – Hawaii Nine #. The chapter containing 3 tracks from this album was Hawaii Nine-5 and whilst at the time most of my friends were more excited about the Powderfinger tracks also featured in the film, I was completely transfixed by the speed, intensity of the guitar and the powerful voice of Scott Radinsky radiating from my TV. The next day I ordered this album from the small record store in town. It took 4 very fucking long months until it arrived and I still have that very same CD, although I’ve had to change the jewel case twice now. Granted, it doesn’t hold up quite as well as some of the other albums mentioned in this list…but it is the oldest album in the list and in my opinion the impact that this band had, combined with Radinsky’s vocals, can hardly be matched by any punk band from the 90’s.
Jimmy Eat World – “Clarity”
This album can be considered a bit unlucky not to be my all-time favourite album. My younger sister was the one who first put me into this band after the release of “Clarity” back in 1999. There isn’t another album that I’ve heard that has such beautiful and well written vocal harmonies. The band backed this up 100% when I watched them play a lot of these songs live in early 2001 (at The Punters Club in Melbourne – my favourite venue of all time!) just prior to the release of “Bleed American” and their subsequent rise into mainstream music. There are still parts of this album that surprise me even after listening to it for 20 years. This album is so very technical and is comprised of so many different layers but combined with the brilliant lead vocals from Jim Adkins and the vocal harmonies of Tom Linton it oozes a kind of simplicity that makes everything come together. If there’s ever an album that could be described as the perfect Emo album then this is it.
Strung Out – “Twisted By Design”
I first heard this album not long after it’s release in 1998 and I can remember my first listen so vividly. My girlfriend at the time had purchased the CD and we listened to it as we took the train to visit her Dad in Melbourne. Once we arrived I think we listened to it another 4-5 times that night. I went and bought the CD from Missing Link Records in Melbourne the very next morning. The relationship with the girl only lasted a few more months but the relationship I’ve had with this album has lasted to this very day. Strung Out are my favourite band and they have been since I first heard this album. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them play live countless times in many different places in Australia and overseas, but the highlight came when they played this album in full as part of their tour of Australia with Pears in 2016 at a show only an hour long drive from my house. International punk bands of this magnitude hadn’t been this close to Portland since the glory days of the late 90’s so it was very exciting. Unfortunately there was only 30 people there and half of them were from my home town – but Strung Out played like there was 3000 people watching them and it was an awe inspiring experience. I’m my opinion this is by far the greatest melodic punk album ever written, and whilst I love everything the band has ever put out, this is still Strung Out’s best album.