Top 25 Absolute Favorite Albums
08/19/2010 1 Comment
If you are a die hard music fan like me and if you are reading this, then you probably are, naming your top 25 favorite albums of all time is no easy task. Hell, it’s hard enough to narrow it down to 100 or 50, but 25 is a whole other beast. Now, I use the term “absolute” because there are numerous LPs that I consider favorites and I love them, but these ditties are really special to me; I’m talking heavy rotation, play track by track, till you wear em’ out. THIS IS NOT A LIST OF THE ‘GREATEST’ ALBUMS OF ALL TIME, SO DON’T COMMENT, THAT THIS IS BS, MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN POST! BUT, BY ALL MEANS SHARE YOUR FAVES IF YOU LIKE. Here they are from 25 to 1.
25) Tender Prey (1988)- Nick Cave- Mute (“Watching Alice”)
- Cave and his Bad Seeds unleash some of the darkest, deepest, and sometimes creepiest ballads and Rock jams to come out of the 80s by far.
24) Either/Or (1997)- Elliott Smith- Kill Rock Stars (“Between the Bars”)
- Smith delivers a truly unique and highly distinctive sound for himself on this record, perfecting all of his previous efforts and never matching the same quality on future offerings (at least in my opinion). His vocals are soothing to the ears and I really dig the simple percussion and oft acoustic guitar strumming.
23) Neon Bible (2007)- Arcade Fire- Merge (“Intervention”)
- Epic, gigantic, orchestral number after number, few popular “indie” groups can boast such quality recordings.
22) Microcastle (2008)- Deerhunter- Kranky (“Twilight At Carbon Lake”)
- Deerhunter take their ambiance and chill it down a couple of notches, instead, strengthening their pop elements and ultimately creating a mind blowing experience from start to finish.
21) Strawberry Jam (2007)- Animal Collective- Domino (“Peacebone”)
- Bonefish! This is the first AC LP I really got into. The pop hooks are stronger than ever (well up until this point) and yet the group still retains their experimental and certianly bizarre mystique.
20) Songs About Fucking (1987)- Big Black- Touch and Go (“Fish Fry”)
- Sure, the songs may be about fucking and chucking and killing and what have you, but clearly, there’s no fucking around here. The album showcases the band’s knack for producing walls of in your face, relentless noise that sounds soothing to my ears. Definitely Albini’s best work to date.
19) Psychocandy (1985)- Jesus and Mary Chain- Reprise- (“The Hardest Walk”)
- Insane noise pop- probably the definition of noise pop. Beach Boys harmonies drenched in “unbearable” noise- a modern masterpiece.
18) The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)- The Kinks- Reprise (“Do You Remember Walter?”)
- You think you know The Kinks? If you haven’t heard VG then you know nothing. Here, we have an extremely “British” record, featuring some of these bad boys’ greatest, catchiest numbers. In many ways, this LP is proof that The Kinks were one of the most mature groups to originiate out of the British Invasion-with themes of adolescence lost and dreams of happiness shattered by the weight of the world.
17) Revolver (1966)- The Beatles- Capital (“Here, There, and Everywhere”)
- What else can be said?! That’s what I thought………. perhaps first album that truly abandoned the “Yeah Yeah Yeah” era for good.
16) Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)- Velvet Underground- Polydor (“Sunday Morning”)
- I first heard this when I was thirteen and within just a few seconds of “Sunday Morning” I knew I was listening to something special. This was before I had seen all the Greatest Albums lists it vastly appears on. For an album that deals with S & M, Heroin, and unrequited love, there’s an affectionate side to the Velvets that makes this old favorite timeless.
15) Rage Against the Machine (1992)- Rage Against the Machine- Epic (“Know Your Enemy”)
- I have pretty much ruined my CD from playing it over and over and over again. I’d say each Rage album has lasting playable quality to it, but not nearly as much as this first LP. The opener, “Bombtrack” should be studied as easily one of the greatest examples of a band displaying all of their distinctive attributes (guerrila politics, quick rhymes, and flawless guitar riffs) in a matter of seconds. Rage’s debut stands as one of the greatest manifestos of the 20th Century.
14) Darkside of the Moon (1973)- Pink Floyd- Capital (“Time”)
- This album evokes various memories for me and like a good friend is always there when I need it. Just a great record to throw in and just chill out for about an hour. No matter how big this LP or Floyd has become, it still holds a very personal feel to it for I’m sure not just me, but all Floyd fans. For a while, this was my favorite album, for about ahhh let’s say- 6.5 years… Admittedly, I don’t like this as much as I used to, well obviously. But still, this is probably the first album to truly change my life- musically, philisophically, spiritually, and in every other way. The simplicity and timing of the music is key- you don’t have to sync it with OZ to be mesmerized by it’s magic.
13) Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994)- Weezer- Geffen/DGC (“Only In Dreams”)
- If you have not heard this album because you think Weezer sucks, there’s a good chance you have only heard post Blue Album/Pinkerton Weezer (or you simply don’t like them!). Well, do yourself a favor and let go of the prejudice- I am not a big fan of any of their later recordings, but I love this album and distinugish from the rest of the group’s discography. Every track here is a hit (not in the charting sense of the word)- a blow to my catchy-surf poppy- jangly guitar desiring bones. Is it mainstream? Of course. Is it commmercial? You bet. Is it passionate songwriting? Without a doubt. So, isn’t that the most important ingrediant? I feel like Weezer is being Weezer naturally here, a naturally popular band. Alas, it seems we never ever heard that same band again, instead, from here on, it is like Weezer trying to be Weezer.
12) The Mollusk (1997)- Ween- Elektra (“It’s Gonna Be (Alright)
- Before hearing this ditty, I was already a big fan of the humorously bizarre, Experimental Rock duo. However, it is on this record that they became one of my favorite bands. This is Ween at their finest; perhaps their only great, great album? (at least in their opinion). As always, we hear adventerous, psychedlic tunes from all sorts of genres/styles, and yet this time around there is a real unifiedalbum feel to it, rather than a collection of cool, wacky songs. “It’s Gonna Be (Alright)” stradles the line between silly Ween number and serious, sentimental AM Pop single; some folks may prefer a clear artistic intention, but the group’s ambiguity is what makes the music brilliant.
11) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009)- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- Slumberland- (“Come Saturday)
- One of my first impressions of this band/album was damn, I feel like I’m at a Junior High dance in the mid 80s, I’m standing in the dark corner and these guys are playing on stage, playing the same kind of song over and over again. Only difference? It’s fucking amazing. Now, with most bands that have similar sounding songs, it doesn’t quite work. With the Pains, this is totally not the case. You hear one of their ballads and you immediately think, “this is my new favorite band!” The pop hooks are that powerful. With Summery pop melodies and 60s vocals being smashed together with unflinching noise, I second several music critics’ comparison to the seminal Jesus and Mary Chain, except one thing, they are much better.
10) Alice and Friends (2009)- Box Elders- Goner (“Atlantis”)
- I saw the Box Elders live opening for Jay Reatard quite some time ago and experienced something that has never been duplicated: Without ever hearing them before or even having knowledge of their existence, just mere notes into their performance I was hooked. Who were these guys? Well, not too long after that show I picked up this record and discovered a unique and entertaining “Cave Pop/Hippie Punk” trio with superb energy and affection for their incredibly catchy and endearing songs. What really stands out about the BE is their knack for intriguing subject matter i.e. songs about walking “One Foot in Front of the Other,” the apocalypse “2012,” ” loving dead people “Necro,” and so on. They may fall under the “Garage” label, but they stand out far more than most bands of that variety. On this album the band approaches the material in a delicately innocent manner, without losing their badass Rock and Roll edge.
9) I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (2005)- Bright Eyes- Saddle Creek (“Road to Joy”)
- For me, this is the only Bright Eyes record that hits home, perhaps too close to home. I hate being that guy that only digs their biggest release, but for whatever reason, no other BE album has hit me as hard. This is definitely a work that strikes an emotional chord for me. You can enjoy it when you’re really down, cause clearly Conor is in most of the songs, and it will bring you right up. Or you can toss it on when you’re a happy camper and shout along to the triumphant anti-war declarations such as, “So when you’re asked to fight a war thats over nothin’ its best to join the side thats gonna win. No one’s sure how all of this got started but we’re gonna make ‘em God damn certain how its gonna end.”
8) Doolittle (1989)- Pixies- 4AD/Elektra (“Wave of Mutilation”)
- The Pixies take their raw Husker Du like sound and inject more traditional pop songwriting creating a beautifully sounding, but horrifying mess. Lyrically the album is pretty ugly with tunes about the spinning and slicing of eyeballs “Debaser,” suicide “Wave of Mutilation,” and bizarre bibical imagery “Gouge Away.” “Hits” like “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” prove the band can reach a wider audience without compromising their sound. I’ve seen this album live in it’s entirety and that was one of the best concerts I have ever experienced. This album exemplifies the “loud quiet loud” dynamic better than any Pixies recording. If you haven’t given this some ear time, than you have some serious homework to attend to.
7) You Turn Me On (1992)- Beat Happening- K/Sub Pop (“Teenage Caveman”)
- Beat Happening retain their passion over musicianship attitude and use quality studio production to strengthen this fine aesthetic. The songs sound better than ever and there is very little to no dead areas. Both Calvin and Heather perfect their vocals here; deep baritone, but not exhausting to the ears and light, almost innocent-girl group singing, respectively. This offering is BH’s strongest work as an all together album experience.
6) King of the Beach (2010)- Wavves- Fat Possum (“Post-Acid”)
- Before hearing this fantastic Summer Twenty Ten companion, I liked and admired Wavves, but they weren’t a favorite of mine particularly. Often when a lo-fi/noise band makes the leap to a cleaner production sounding record I start to cringe. As with Beat Happening, this is not the case with King. The production brings out the best in Wavves and only makes the songs that much catchier and more intriuging. I really dig the various, sometimes experimental, styles Wavves throw in: fast surf pop- “King of the Beach,” psychedelic- “Linus Spacehead,” the neo psychedelia a la Animal Collective- “Mickey Mouse,” 90s pop punk- “Post-Acid,” and dance pop/electronica- “Convertible Balloon.” The variety on this record really makes it stand out from similar artists like say Best Coast, whom I am a fan of, but have songs that all sound alike, it seems. And at the same time, Wavves has their own distinctive side to them. Two factors really make this LP exceptional and a rarity. 1) There are few songs that aren’t totally kick ass! and the ones that are “ok” are actually quite good and worthy of numerous listens, just not in the same league as their counterparts. Most albums have at leas their fair share of truly weak songs. 2) This major change in sound is such a surprising treat to Wavves fans and makes this release all the more memorable and notable.
5) Gay Singles (2010)- Hunx and His Punx- True Panther Sounds (“Cruisin”)
- Not too many days go by without me hoppin and boppin around to my favorite Gay Singles! No, you don’t have to actually be of the peter puffing persuasion to enjoy this compilation, you just have to be open minded and willing to hear the most flaming music in the world! If you’re a fan of 60s girl groups, Old School Rock and Roll, The Ramones, Nobunny, etc I think you will really dig this shit. Here, we have some of the catchiest love songs my ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Hunx aka Seth Bogart is a fabulous student of Malt Shop Memories and that’s all it really is. Classic Rock and Roll, youthful, love numbers, but with a queer touch to it and the ocassional sweaty, vulgar comment or two. Not to mention a real bad ass garage sounding percussion; overall the production is extremely pleasing to 60s audio freaks, such as myself. Hunx has more balls than all the pussy mainstreamers combined and in many ways he is one of most charismatic frontmen in all of modern music. So GET BENT!
4) Invisible Girl (2009)- King Khan & BBQ Show- In the Red (“Anala”)
- Doooo ba ba ba dooo aahhh yeah! Doo Wop till ya drop! Throw in some songs about being a lonely boy and loving your baby round the clock and you’ve got a masterpiece. Being a huge fan of the KK BBQ before hearing this, I was initially not as enthusiastic as I thought it would be. But not too long after it grew heavily on me and has since become my favorite KK BBQ album and one of my favorite albums of all time. Their first two LPs were good and fun, but had too much disparity in amazing tunes and average suckers. With this record there is never a dull moment and plenty of variety. From the unsavory “Tastebuds” to the sensitive “Third Ave,” KK BBQ are the masters of reinterpreting old genres/eras of music and then some.
3) Blood Visions (2006)- Jay Reatard- In the Red (“My Shadow”)
- What haven’t I said about this man and his great musical contributions. You know how I feel. Look it up! Definitely Jay’s best studio album. His Let It Bloom (2005)if you will.
2) Matador Singles ’08 (2008)- Jay Reatard- Matador (“See/Saw”)
- Like we don’t talk about this fucking guy enough on this blog and this (not so) boring fuck gets two albums on the list! Absolutely, Jay, the pop master, as I have called him, unleashes thirteen killer singles with better production than ever before. The pop hooks are stronger here than anywhere else and his Garage Punk Rockin style is not totally obliterated either. This is vintage Reatard, still too good for the naysayers. For most that do hear this, they acknowledge how simple, yet astonishing Jay’s songwriting is. I bet Angry Angels Singles ’10 sounds sweet in Heaven.
1) Los Valientes Del Mundo Neuvo (2007)- Black Lips- Vice (“Sea of Blasphemy”)
- “This is going to be the best live record of all time,” announces Jared Swilley in “Stranger.” Funny thing is, Mr. Swilley probably didn’t realize how accurate his declaration was. Most of y’all will disagree with me here, but I’m sure we can all agree this is the best Black Lips record (probably of all time, but who knows?). This guerrila pop classic captures everything essential to the Black Lips chaotic craft: Drunkem sing alongs, amateur caterwoul hollers, fast and noisy Rockers, and all the jostling craziness of a Black Lips show. This set includes most of the Lips pre-Vice, classic material. Live albums should make you feel like you are sonically at the scene of the crime or at least want to be within the musical tornado; I would give my left nut to shake dirty hands with the Mexican, finger poppin prostitute and be amidst the bedlam in Tiajauna with the baddest Rock and Roll band of our time.