Jason Birchmeier

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Born and raised in rural mid-Michigan, editor/writer Jason Birchmeier moved to Ann Arbor in 1996 to study at the University of Michigan. He majored in marketing there and planned on pursuing a career…
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Born and raised in rural mid-Michigan, editor/writer Jason Birchmeier moved to Ann Arbor in 1996 to study at the University of Michigan. He majored in marketing there and planned on pursuing a career in business; he also volunteered as a journalist at the student-run newspaper at UM, The Michigan Daily, and freelanced for the music division of All Media Guide (i.e., All Music Guide), whose home office was located only a few blocks from the central campus of UM and whose staff included Daily alumni. Upon graduation in 2000, Birchmeier accepted an offer to join the editorial staff of All Music Guide. Experiencing firsthand the company's growth several times over, as well as the explosion of the Internet and the rise of the digital music marketplace, Birchmeier enjoyed his time with AMG immensely, working at the home office for nearly a decade.

Born on February 27, 1977, Birchmeier grew up amid creeks and corn, the oldest child in a German Catholic family of six, residing on an 80-acre farm in rural Shiawassee County. His great-grandfather had founded the family-run farm in the late 1800s on the shores of the Misteguay Creek, and future generations of the family built houses on plots of the property. Like many young Michigan men in his generation, Birchmeier's father (born 1957) was an auto worker. From age 18 until his retirement, he would commute to Flint to work a United Auto Workers (UAW) job at a General Motors factory. This afforded the family a solidly middle-class lifestyle, one which included an early adoption of satellite television following the 1981 founding of United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB).

It was on satellite television where Birchmeier discovered MTV in its early days, back when the channel played videos around the clock. Entertained by what he saw on MTV, Birchmeier became an avid consumer of popular music. The earliest tapes he can remember having back then include Quiet Riot's Metal Health, Duran Duran's Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down, ZZ Top's Eliminator, Van Halen's 1984, Kiss' Animalize, Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry, the Footloose soundtrack, and Prince's Purple Rain -- all of which fall into the 1983-1984 time frame. It also wasn't long before Birchmeier discovered rap music, first the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill (1986) and then LL Cool J's Bigger and Deffer (1987).

Birchmeier proceeded to delve deeper into rap, thanks in part to Yo! MTV Raps. Kid 'N Play's 2 Hype (1988) and Digital Underground's Sex Packets (1990) were favorites, though Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton (1989), and 2 Live Crew's As Nasty as They Wanna Be (1989) were particularly revelatory. Birchmeier also delved deeper into heavy metal, as Def Leppard's Hysteria (1987) and Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction (1987) gave way to Entombed's Left Hand Path (1990) and Carcass' Necroticism (1991). These interests were then accompanied by one in alternative rock once Nirvana's Nevermind (1991) and Pearl Jam's Ten (1991) opened the floodgates. By the time of high-school graduation in spring 1995, Birchmeier was most heavily into Sonic Youth, Neil Young, and Black Flag, the latter a result of having been greatly influenced by Henry Rollins' memoir Get in the Van (1994).

Birchmeier's college years, from fall 1995 until spring 2000, were an exciting time to be young, hopeful, and driven to succeed, for the dot-com boom was creating legions of new companies, jobs, and wealth. These were also exciting years to be a consumer of music, as the alt-rock boom of the early '90s was succeeded by a bountiful independent rock scene and a thrilling electronica movement. While a student at the University of Michigan, Birchmeier worked for both All Media Guide and Borders Group, Inc., the latter also based in Ann Arbor. He was employed as a freelance writer at AMG, writing at home in his free time, and was also employed as a multimedia merchandising intern at the Borders home office, where he analyzed week-to-week sales data and assisted with the launch of Borders.com. When Birchmeier graduated in 2000, he went to work at the AMG office full-time, brought aboard as a copyeditor.

Birchmeier's musical interests expanded greatly with each passing year, thanks in large part to his experiences at AMG, where music was listened to on headphones; written about; that writing in turn edited; published in books and on the Internet; and discussed in the hallways -- it was a relentless stream of listening, writing, and editing, with never enough time in one day or enough days in one week to take it all in. Over the years, Birchmeier worked in one capacity or another with a who's who of AMG luminaries, enjoying the ride as the company grew in size and as its renown spread across the Internet. It was enjoyable work; in fact, it wasn't so much work as it was a lifestyle which fortunately doubled as a career.

Sentimental Favorites

AC/DC - Let There Be Rock
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
Black Flag - Live '84
Bob Dylan - Nashville Skyline
Carl Craig - More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art
The Cure - Disintegration
Def Leppard - Hysteria
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
The Doors - The Doors
Emmylou Harris - Elite Hotel
Entombed - Left Hand Path
Gang Starr - Daily Operation
George Strait - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
Ghostface Killah - Ironman
The Grateful Dead - American Beauty
The Grunge Years
Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction
Helium - The Dirt of Luck
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
Jeff Mills - Live at the Liquid Room, Tokyo
Joni Mitchell - Blue
Juanes - Un Día Normal
Julieta Venegas - Bueninvento
Luomo - Vocal City
Maria Rita - Maria Rita
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
Metallica - Kill 'Em All
Megadeth - Peace Sells
Michael Mayer - Immer
Moodymann - Silent Introduction
Nas - Illmatic
Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power
Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted
Pearl Jam - Ten
Pink Floyd - Animals
Pixies - Doolittle
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me
Plastikman - Consumed
Prince - Purple Rain
Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction
Rodney Crowell - Diamonds & Dirt
Rosanne Cash - Seven Year Ache
Shakira - Dónde Están los Ladrones?
Slayer - Reign in Blood
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle
Soda Stereo - Signos
Sonic Youth - Sister
Steely Dan - Aja
Steve Earle - Guitar Town
Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
Suba - São Paulo Confessions
Suede - Suede
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Tool - Lateralus
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
Tribalistas - Tribalistas
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory
Triple R - Friends
Waylon Jennings - Honky Tonk Heroes
Willie Nelson - Stardust