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William Huster

A Small Time CTO Near You

An Album for Each Year (2023)

I love lists. So here’s a list albums, one for each year of my life. This exercise was inspired by a blog post by the CTO of Amazon, Dr. Werner Vogels.

The rules are simple, Select “a favorite album for every year of your life”. The challenge had two restrictions:

  1. Only one album per year
  2. No repeat artists

I’m probably profiling myself pretty heavily by sharing this list, but who cares! I won’t go through them all, but I have a meaningful memory attached to each of these albums. My 2023 album of choice is a particularly weird and delightful one: “One Wayne G” by Mac Demarco. This album is actually an archive of musical sketches and experiments. The songs are not really complete or cohesive, but they have Mac’s signature style and are all pleasant to listen to. The titles of the songs are mostly just dates, like “20221102.” I found this really inspirational. I ended up doing a few similar musical experiments this year because of this album. Titling song sketches with a date is liberating, because it relieves the pressure of trying to make a complete song.

One of my favorite songs on the album actually does have a title: Proud, True Toyota. It’s hilarious and speaks to me, because I too own a proud, true, Toyota Tundra. The song is ridiculous, and it’s also ridiculous that I live in Washington DC and own an old pickup truck! It’s honestly not very smart or convenient, but it makes me happy.

Finally, the album will also always reminds me of my mom who passed away this year. I was playing the album through my bluetooth speakers at home with her in May, around Mother’s day. That was just a few weeks before she died on June 7.

1987: The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
1988: The Pixies, Surfer Rosa
1989: Kate Bush, The Sensual World
1990: Depeche Mode, Violator
1991: Nirvana, Nevermind
1992: Weird Al Yankovic, Off the Deep End
1993: Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
1994: Pink Floyd, Division Bell
1995: Björk, Post
1996: Barenaked Ladies, Born on a Pirate Ship
1997: Radiohead, OK Computer
1998: Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
1999: Eiffel 65, Europop
2000: Enya, A Day Without Rain
2001: The Strokes, Is This It
2002: Coldplay, Clocks
2003: Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
2004: The Killers, Hot Fuss
2005: Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
2006: Hot Chip, The Warning
2007: Bright Eyes, Cassadaga
2008: Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
2009: Grizzly Bear, Veckatimest
2010: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
2011: Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz
2012: Grimes, Visions
2013: Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe
2014: St Vincent, St Vincent
2015: Tame Impala, Currents
2016: David Bowie, Blackstar
2017: Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
2018: Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
2019: Aldous Harding, Designer
2020: Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher
2021: Khruangbin, Mordechai
2022: Mighty Brother, Azimuth
2023: Mac Demarco, One Wayne G