Summer of 1996, almost 20 years ago. I had spent the prior year deeply in love, not only with a girl but with Under The Table and Dreaming, the bands second album. Crash was released early in the summer and I intentionally didn’t purchase it because NO WAY could it be better than the album I already had and I couldn’t stand the thought of hearing a lesser album from what had quickly become my favorite band. Unbeknownst to me, one of my best friends from college, himself a massive DMB fan, had avoided the new album for the very same reason. Turns out, we were both way way wrong.

I purchased the album just before the fall semester was to begin, mostly because the summer had sucked so bad. My on-and-off girlfriend of the last year had finally broken it off for good at the start of the summer and I had not yet recovered from that heartbreak. Turns out, I wouldn’t come out of that funk for the majority of my junior year of college.

What got me through that year was this album. My roommate at the time had work-study every afternoon until 4 or 5pm. While I would sit in the dorm room every. single. day. listening to this album on repeat, he would be out working. When he returned after a long day, he would always hear this music first thing when walking in the room. Turns out, he didn’t kill me over this (but did contemplate destroying the CD and tossing it out the window).

I still regard this album as the best the band ever produced. It still had that organic sound of the first two albums, but the band had clearly grown during the time, tightening and adding complexity to the sound. Their future albums, at least one or two of which will end up on this list, often turned into overproduced or overwrought messes. Turns out, I can still return to this one and find my soul stirring, every. single. time.