"FIRSTS: a mixtape" by Edie Adams
My first encounter with a heart-stopping debut album was in 7th grade. My dad handed me a crumpled paper bag as I crawled into his beat-up car one day after school and said, “Here, check this out. Just something I picked up for you today that I thought you’d like.” I reached into the bag and pulled out a copy of The Strokes “Is This It.” Because the record had been out for a few years, the album cover wasn’t the salacious glove-on-ass artwork that everyone remembers, but rather a mess of teal and gold swirls. I was confused and, frankly, unimpressed. “Thanks,” I said not quite enthusiastically enough. My dad frowned. I could tell that he was disappointed by my reaction, so I decided to go for a walk later that night and give the record a good listen.
Over the course of the evening, I listened to the album from start to finish three times on a loop. I feel like most moments that change the course of your life hit you long after the moment has passed. But as I listened to “Is This It” that night as a 12 year old, I knew that I experiencing a life-changing album. Every moment of the record was breathtaking, from the clipped, crisp drums on “The Modern Age” to the wild, raucous abandon of “Take It Or Leave It.” After years of listening to saccharine Top 40, “Is This It” was a revelation.
When I was considering how to structure this playlist, I wanted to pay homage to amazing first records like “Is This It.” Records that pluck at your heartstrings and make you feel dizzy. Records that worm their way into your brains and keep wiggling and prying long after you press pause. Records that you can return to hundreds of times and they always feel like a breath of fresh air.
This mixtape is a collection of my favorite songs from spectacular debut albums. And as my first record for Rad Lab, I sure hope this one’s a hit.
1. Kanye West “Jesus Walks”
2. M.I.A. “Galang”
3. Beastie Boys “Brass Monkey”
4. The B-52s “Rock Lobster”
5. Whitney Houston “How Will I Know”
6. Madonna “Borderline”
7. The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed”
8. The Smiths “This Charming Man”
9. Vampire Weekend “A Punk”
10. The Strokes “Soma”
11. The Ramones “Judy Is A Punk”
12. MGMT “Time To Pretend”
13. Joy Division “Disorder”
14. Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”
15. The Cars “My Best Friend’s Girl”
16. Boston “More Than A Feeling”
17. The Pretenders “Brass In Pocket”
18. Fiona Apple “Criminal”
19. Elvis Costello “Alison”
20. Weezer “Say It Ain’t So”
21. The Killers “All These Things That I’ve Done”
22. Arcade Fire “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
23. Jeff Buckley “Hallelujah”
24. The Velvet Underground “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
(album art by Winona Bechtle)