You only get to make a first impression once, right? Well, these album openers definitely made the right impressions on our KSJSers.
The first song on an album has the unique opportunity to blow you away or draw you in with something that you’ve never heard before; whether it be a sick beat, groovin’ bass line, or epic guitar riff, these songs have that exciting feeling that makes you come back for more.
1. “I Was Just a Kid” by Nothing But Thieves
Right off the bat, this song comes in hot with a dark, powerful, sporadic guitar riff, which gives you a sense that this song is going to get angry. There is a brief interlude which is kind of apprehensive, with a flute in the background to give it a creepy vibe, but after this the song lets loose. The guitar rips and the singer belts out the main line, and it honestly doesn’t let up from there. This song is so intense and so full of emotion in a way that really shows you what the band is capable of and what you will hear later on in the album. -Evan Mendoza
2. “All In” by Flying Lotus
My first favorite artist when I started getting into different genres of music was Flying Lotus. His album, ‘Until the Quiet Comes,’ actually helped me get through some difficult times in my life. The first song off the album, “All In,” gives off a very mellow vibe and makes me feel as if I was about to fall asleep. As you continue listening, it’s as if you were in different stages of sleep. The beginning of the album is where it lulls you to sleep, the middle is where you feel as if you are dreaming, and the end is where you’re about to wake up from the dream. The album as a whole is beautiful and the first song, “All In,” sets it up perfectly. –Kevin Luong
3. “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional
I’m feeling moderately nostalgic and emo right now, so let’s take it back to when I was 16 years old and first discovered Dashboard Confessional. I had picked up the album, ‘A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar’ at Rasputin because my cooler older cousin had recommended them to me. (And also, quite honestly, this bad boy was in the clearance section and I couldn’t turn down such a good deal.)
I had recently gotten my driver’s license, and this was one of the first CDs I vibed to while cruising around suburbia in the 15-year-old Camry my dear grandfather had gifted me. And this opening track left my jaw on the slightly worn carpeted floor of that steadfast automobile. Really though, the guitar line at the start, the quick drums, the vocal jump in the chorus, the delectably overdramatic jumping-the-gate imagery in the drawn-out bridge that is easily one of my favorite bridges of all time… It perfectly sets the stage for all the romance and emotions to come.
While the album itself sometimes screams 2003 (there’s a song titled, “If You Can’t Leave It Be, Might As Well Make It Bleed”), it holds a special place in my heart, and “Hands Down” will always be timeless to me. Now enjoy this endearingly cheesy YouTube lyric video because for some reason the original endearingly cheesy video has been pulled down. -K-3PO
4. “Homesick” by Catfish and the Bottlemen
This is my absolute favorite band and favorite album from them. This album, ‘The Balcony,’ actually just turned five on September 15th. The song it starts with is a type of soft rock opener called “Homesick.” It starts with a soft instrument crescendo and leads into the chorus lines speaking about how they had been treated in their past relationship. Their whole discography talks about love in several ways and really shows all the different experiences they faced with it.
When I first listened to this album I hadn’t even had my first kiss, but as it ages with me I understand it more and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Their indie rock sounds and album art is really what attracted me to them and now the first song on their first album is something I will listen to for many more years to come.
“I got misled, mistook, discard
Anything that I said
See I’m not the type to call you up drunk
But I’ve got some lies to tell”
-Ruth Noemi Aguilar
5. “Place to Start” by Mike Shinoda
Last year, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park dropped his solo album titled ‘Post Traumatic’ which came months after lead singer Chester Bennington tragically passed away in 2017. This album just goes over his grieving process while at the same time trying to pick up the pieces and continue to live his life.
His first song is slow all the way throughout which starts off with a consistent electronic bass drum beat. However, this song should be known for its lyrics and how they were written by Shinoda. This phrase struck a chord with me: “Pointing fingers at villains but I’m the villain myself? Or am I out of conviction with no wind in the sail? Too focused on the end and simply ready to fail.”
I felt this song was directly aimed at me because I still struggle with anxiety and depression. I have had family relatives pass away tragically and I think that grief never goes away. However, the message of this song is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That process may take two weeks or two years but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will be happy again. –Derrick Ow
6. “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone
You can find dozens of renditions of this song now, from the scene in Hocus Pocus to Nina Simone’s version on this album, but this being the very first song in the album (‘I Put A Spell On You,’ 1965) makes it that much better to listen to. The vocals portrayed in this song can make it simple to open the mind of someone who doesn’t really listen to jazz and show them what not only the sounds of the music but also the sound of the artist’s voice can do. It is also a great song to add onto your spooky playlist for this season! When people think of jazz they automatically picture a male with a saxophone, but Nina Simone shows us what else jazz can truly be. Once you hear this song it makes you crave and yearn to hear the rest of the entire album. Because if song #1 is that good, just imagine what the rest of the album has in store. -Leslie Garcia Gutierrez
7. “Amerika” by Young the Giant
This song is so solid. It starts off with quiet xylophone and leads into a great bass and drum line, with the final pieces being an acoustic guitar and echoing vocals to create a whole and rhythmic sound. I really love this song because it gives you a little of everything that you are going to see from Young the Giant: interesting vocal arrangements, cool acoustic instruments, and an all around full and interesting sound. -Evan Mendoza
8. “Outside” by Kero Kero Bonito
Kero Kero Bonito has to be my current favorite band. Compared to their previous work, Intro Bonito and Bonito Generation, Time ‘n’ Place is a complete departure from the sound they’re known for. When you first listen to “Outside,” you notice it’s a dream pop song with the guitars riffing in the background and no signs of sugary pop lyrics to be found. The song consists of Sarah, the lead singer, literally talking about rain and its many attributes. “Outside” perfectly sets up the album and its somewhat dark themes (the album was apparently made during a difficult time in the band members’ lives). If I were to be honest, I prefer the sound of Time ‘n’ Place compared to the sugary pop music they’ve made in the past (although I like that, too)! –Kevin Luong
What are your favorite opening tracks? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to tune in to 90.5 FM for the latest in underground music!