Sunday, May 23, 2010

Desert Island Essentials: More Music

If you click here, you can read the first ten albums that I said I couldn't live without. Now, I'm going to take a look at some more albums that I can't possibly live without.

Radiohead - The Bends
One of the most important albums of the nineties, this is one I frequently revisit after forgetting about for a couple years. I always forget how emotional, intense, cryptic, beautiful and epic each song seems to be. From the opening salvo of Planet Telex to the ominous sing-along Street Spirit, every single track is a winner. Consistently excellent, this is my favourite album from Radiohead.

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
At work, we used to listen to Shine on You Crazy Diamond over and over again, air-guitaring and air-saxophoning every time, having a fantastic time. From there, it segues into the classic triple-hit of Welcome to the Machine, Have a Cigar and the title track. What Floyd learned on the past few albums, plus the anger, and the technical virtuosity, make this an amazing album.

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III
Often overlooked in favour of IV or Houses of the Holy, I like this one best because it features some of the slower more folksy songs from Zep's catalogue. That's not to say that it doesn't have moments of face-melting like the opening thunder of Immigrant Song, or the blistering Since I've Been Loving You. More sonically varied than any other album they put out, this is the greatest rock n roll band at their best.

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love
I liked all their previous albums. I love this album. I think it's because it's a concept album, that tells a bizarre prog-rock Victorian story that doesn't really make a lick of sense. But it's like every instrument they could get their hands on was used, and every studio trick. This is prog-rock, but it's very coherent, musically speaking. Always listenable.

Sublime - Sublime (eponymous album)
Great times, great grooves, great summer music. Sublime's previous albums are good, but again, just like other bands, they nail it with this exceedingly awesome disc. It's like Sublime refined and tested, and perfected.

Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
I thought of going with Parachutes, their first album, but it doesn't have the staying power that this one does. Every song is so pop-perfect, like it was created by a time of scientists for maximum popularity. That polish and sheen on every track makes this so good, the title track being the best of all.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Take a Break
This is the hilarious punk supergroup's album of covers by black people, and it represents every single member's most shining moment sonically. Everybody is playing at a masterful level, and Spike's vocals are some of the best singing I've ever heard. He does serious justice to every single artist, from Lionel Richie to Stevie Wonder to Aretha Franklin. That's how good this is.

Paul Simon - Graceland
My first exposure to world music. If one can forget the cultural appropriation and all that Los Lobos crap, one can hear Simon's experimentation and pop skills at their finest. He really uses those African rhythms and makes them his own (hence the qualms of appropriation, but this isn't the venue for that discussion)

Thrice - Vheissu
I said it before, but again, it's like the band finally comes together after a couple good discs, and then produces a masterpiece. Every - single - track - on this album is crushing, epic, beautiful, dense, and always amazing. This is the band I've seen most live in my life, and I will always go see them live, no matter what.

Alice in Chains - Dirt
A lot of people say this is a depressing record, about addiction and despair. It never depresses me. In fact, this album always gives me energy. It's like Layne Staley is singing to me, saying "better yourself, or else you'll face this dirt" and every time, I look forward. This is the most positive downer album ever. I love every track, its grinding neverending guitar, Layne's piercing and soulful screams, and the bizarre moments of drug induced haziness. This is a fantastic record, and should be more highly regarded. Especially since this album is better than the entire Nirvana catalogue. There I said it.

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