So anyone 99 top albums...
... with one TBD title.
Reverse ranked (for great surprise factor)... with comments as I deem
they appear. (Commenting on all 100 would be ridiculous... but I
always enjoy writing (**english major nerd**)... so whatever.)
099. The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
...Just like the awkward coupling on the cover, this album is a
no-holds-barred, somewhat spontaneous masterpiece. It lays the
groundwork for their following albums, while also putting some of the
best songs into the NP repertoire.
098. The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
...Ignoring the lyrics, The Magic Numbers sound like perfect "I just
fell in love, let's sing a chorus!" music. Except for that taint of
sorrow in the lead singer's voice. The sing-a-long harmonies are
097. Ben Charest - [album]The Triplets of Belleville[/album]
...Highly Django Reinhardt-inspired, the soundtrack sounds like a
gypsy trip through naughty drugs. Amazingly, the track that is played
with a vacuum, a newspaper, and refrigerator in the movie was actually
played that way for the recording, too.
096. the danielson famile - Fetch the Compass Kids
...Daniel Johnson meets awkward religious ditties delivered in Daniel
Smith's trademark falsetto squeak. Always feels like it could fall
apart at any moment, yet doesn't.
095. The Arcade Fire - Funeral
...Rich and epic in tone this could have been a top-ten selection,
unfortunately sounding the same through much of the CD drops it.
094. Eagles of Death Metal - Peace Love Death Metal
...Good, ol' sexified rock n roll with pervy swagger. Ace.
093. mewithoutYou - A to B LIfe
...Frantic Fugazi-meets-Soul Coughing art rock. Their first album and
despite the low ranking on the top 100 provided the best mwY live
092. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
...Raw energy mixed with a pulse and fervor. Yet also manages to feel
like a dream-scape. So little becomes so much. Also provider of a
fantastic concert experience.
091. Woven Hand - Consider the Birds
...While David Eugene Edwards' solo project has never quite reached
the fervor of his old gig in 16 Horsepower, Woven Hand takes a more
textured approach to his stark vision.
090. Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
...I was hoping I had 100 albums I liked more than a Radiohead album,
but alas, one snuck its way on. Oh well, it is a really good album so
no complaints. Varied but flows.
089. the danielson famile - Tri-Danielson: Alpha
...Tri-Danielson: Alpha and Tri-Danielson: Omega were released within
a half-a-year of each other and are meant as companion albums. Still,
they are different albums so I couldn't put them on the same number.
As such, Omega became the odd man out and didn't make the list. Pity.
A very cyclical album. For reasons I won't explain.
088. Joy Electric - The White Songbook
...It is pretty audacious to name your album after the seminal The
Beatles album. But it was oddly prophetic as The White Songbook is by
far Joy Electrics best work. It is electronic, sung with a put-on
British accent... but dark, dense, and full of wholly-hella-catchy
087. Miighty Flashlight - Miighty Flashlight
...Loose, easy to move to, acoustic, and crazy are all adjectives that
would work with the first and only Miighty Flashlight album. Hard to
describe, but might appeal to fans of Joan of Arc/Make Believe and
086. Tantrum of the Muse - Modernmu$ick(2000!)
...Is it bad taste to include a local band on these lists? What if
they were nationally distributed? The album is poorly recorded, but
through the tape haze is an original vision that hints to Mike Patton
and Roadside Monument. Listen to: Eunuch (The Sinai Orgies),
085. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
...The break-out album for Case, despite releasing a number of
fantastic albums prior to it. Her voice is at top form on the album,
with it's perilous heavy-yet-light tone.
084. Pedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit
...As much as he's hated, David Bazan still manages to sound
distinctive. He is one of those people who has embraced himself to
make music and just lays it out there, flaws and all. As such, Winners
Never Quit is his most uneven album, and the one that travels the most
sonic ground. Yet it also has the best high points of any of his
083. Roadside Monument - Beside This Brief Hexagonal
...Specializing in making the discordant appealing, Roadside
definitely has that "If Sonic Youth were harder and more willing to
explore the contrast between loud and soft" mid-90s indie sound going
082. Cursive - Happy Hollow
...I thought they couldn't top The Ugly Organ but boy howdy was
I wrong. Anthem-esque ironly ladled discord that maximizes the catchy
pop factor songs need to survive.
081. Jem - Finally Woken
...Heavenly indie-pop, heavy on the rising, spine-tingling choruses
and cutesy backing vocals. Some of the best songs of the niche are on
this album, which is saying something.
080. Slapp Happy/Henry Cow - Desperate Straights
...bands Slapp Happy and Henry Cow joined together for this faux-freak-folk-cum-
Renaissance-Fair oddity. The nice musical turns
and fun humor displayed on the opening track will allow the listener
to know right away if this is a band down their ally.
079. The Residents - Meet the Residents
...A defaced Beatles cover is an appropriate introduction to The
Residents' first full length album. Also appropriate is the opening
track, a barely decipherable cover of a Nancy Sinatra classic, Boots.
Twisted, random, and goes by all too quickly as tracks bleed into and
from each other.
078. The White Stripes - De Stijl
...Ah, so The White Stripes rank after all! Well... welll.... welllll.
Their second album is still raw, but shows adult refinements that are
a break from the normal blues-influenced-garage-rock that the White
Stripes specialize in.
077. Man Man - The Man In A Blue Turban With A Face
...Ah, Man Man. Owners of the greatest live show known to man. They
are wizards at hinting at Tom Waits and Frank Zappa comparisons,
without every actually allowing anyone to firmly pin it on them.
076. Dear Ephesus - The Consolation of Pianissimo
...One of those bands where it feels like each instrument is doing
something totally different from each other, yet it comes together to
form this cohesive whole that makes this great wall of sound. Of their
two albums, this one is chock full of great songs, while the other
feels like a cohesive album.
075. Danielson - Ships
...For their most recent album Daniel Smith decided to drop the
"Famile" from their name. The result is their most accessible album.
I'll let minds greater than mine decide whether that is a good thing
074. Ninety Pound Wuss - Short Hand Operation
...Sloppy speed-punk-rock, shouted with conviction. Vocals usually hit
that perfect point where they stand in sharp contrast to the music. It
actually becomes quite compelling. The variety in the songs keeps
things from feeling redundant (a common curse of the genre).
073. Viva Voce - Get Yr Blood Sucked Out
...Sweet rock-centric sunny ditties. Feels sweet without feeling
gimmicky. Definitely has that "It's summer and I'm driving with my
significant other" feel to it.
072. Zao - (Self-Titled)
...(Self-Titled) is Zao at their most experimental. The breaks from
their distinct metalcore are frequent and unexpected... while feeling
perfectly natural and naturally perfect. The kind of album that is
hard to pick specific songs from since the whole scope of the album is
important for each song, but...
071. The Evens - The Evens
...At various points in life I enjoyed Fugazi. But I never considered
them the amazing ground breaking band that most do. The Evens, a side
project of the front-man, manages to be super compelling by stripping
down the sound and adding an alluring female voice to counter-point
070. Johnny Cash - American IV
...I remember the day Johnny Cash died I went into work, bright and
early, and brought my copy of this album. We (my boss and I) stuck in
the bonus DVD which featured the music video for Hurt and it was...
extremely sad and touching at the same time. Especially having read
his excellent autobiography.
069. Lengsel - Solace
...Frantic, bleak black metal. It is an album meant to be played so
loud your ears ring, so loud everything becomes almost indecipherable.
068. Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss
...The delivery is what makes Mike Doughty distinct. It is a kind of
stream-of-consciousness poetry slam... only without really being
poetry. And being really catchy.
067. Midlake - Trials of Van Occupanther
...Mellow-but-driven and softly fried rock. Has an epic feel, despite
the musical simplicity.
066. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
...Overblown orchestrated indie preciousness. Sweet.
065. The Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request
...The Stones' attempt at psychedelia is actually really awesome. It
is sloppy, disjointed, and much cooler than their other material.
064. Royal - My Dear
...Loud guitar art-rock that takes definite cues from Sonic Youth. As
a friend once told me, they are masters at going from extremely loud
to super quiet. Oh yeah, plus a female vocalist. (The dude in the band
would later go on to form Serena Maneesh).
063. Sonic Youth - Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star
...This is a criminally overlooked album in the Sonic Youth catalog.
Still, not the most beginner-friendly Sonic Youth album.
062. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
...This is Wilco's chill smooth rock album. It is their most focused
061. The Residents - Eskimo
...Eskimo is a landmark recording. It is essentially The Residents
telling different stories about Eskimos using nothing more than
environmental sounds. It is totally audacious, but it works.
060. The Violet Burning - Drop-Dead
...Fuzzy rock. The sort of thing that is more than the sum of its
parts. Some of the most epic live shows I've seen.
059. Queens of the Stone Age - Rated-R
...Nicotine... xtc... alcohol... and, oh yeah, marijuana. First track
definitely sets the stage...
058. Steve Reich - The Desert Music
...Master of minimalism. My first introduction.
057. Vince Guardaldi - [album]A Charlie Brown Christmas[/album]
...This is about the only thing that will get me in the Christmas
spirit anymore. I tend toward scrooge-ing. Great piano-focused jazz.
056. Big Boi (OutKast) - Speakerboxxx
...Everyone focused on "Shake It" from the Andre3000 joint when the
double album released, but it is Speakerboxxx which features the best
tracks... and there are a lot of them.
055. Neko Case - Blacklisted
...A bit more country than her following album, but not as country as
her preceding few, Blacklisted finds a happy middle ground.
054. [album]Miniatures: A Sequence of 51 Tiny Masterpieces[/album]
...Various artist comps are rarely material for lists like this,
however for this an exception must be made. Tracks are exclusive, and
features some of the craziest music set to tape. (Well, The Residents
are featured, after all).
053. Melt-Banana - Cell-Scapes
...They went from a Locust-esque approach of just pounding short songs
out to this... an album of songs of normal length. And they're
good... ultra-high-octane... with their crazy Japanese vocalist.
Sounds just about perfect.
052. Soul Coughing - El Oso
...I'm rollin', I'm rollin', oooooh yeahhh.
051. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
...This was a seminal album in my life. Opened my eyes to a lot of
things. Even better yet, I totally bought the album blind: never heard
of them before, didn't know the controversy surrounding it. Fell in
050. Thurston Moore - Psychic Hearts
...Stepping out from Sonic Youth and Thurston, unsurprisingly, doesn't
sound much different (this time around.) Some killer guitar-oriented
049. 16 Horsepower - Secret South
...Purchased only because I was so surprised to see it at Circuit
City, this was my introduction to the bad. Gothic Americana with hints
of Nick Cave.
048. The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
...From its dense opening, you know WL/WH is going to be a trip. (What
kind of trip might depend on your drug of choice). Of course, all
Velvet Underground stuff is more-or-less essential, though this one
gets the nod for the macabre second track.
047. Daniel Amos - Fearful Symmetry
...There are stronger DA albums, but this one features a track, "Strong Points, Weak Points" that
might make a top-ten songs of all time list. (Not that I'd be inclined
to make such a list...) The rest of the album works as a nice
supplement without ever rising to that level.
046. The Violet Burning - Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
...Just a good ol' alterna-rock album. One of those where the guitar
tones are perfect and the songs are catchy as hell.
045. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
...The best, most varied collection of songs this band has assembled.
Doesn't flow quite as well as Mass Romantic, but the strength of the
tracks trumps that. Though, it doesn't hurt that I saw them live right
before this album released.
044. Brother Danielson - Brother : Son
...This was, sadly, my very first Danielson-related album. I really
should have been all over Daniel Smith before this. But alas, I picked
his "solo" joint before everything else. It is solo in name only...
everything else is pure Famile.
043. Renaldo and The Loaf - Songs for Swinging Larvae
...Residents worship at its best. It streamlines The Residents' sound
into something smooth-yet-unpredictable. Way out of print, sadly.
042. Blanche - If We Can't Trust the Doctors
...Blanche has a comfortable, faux-alt-country feel to it, heavily
rooted in upper-class 1800s aura. Yet all of that, while more-or-less
feels accurate, hardly informs a reader what they sound like. Pity.
Good male/female vocals. Strong, catchy songs.
041. The Beatles - The White Album
...The Beatles most intriguing album, The White Album feels more like
a haphazard collection of songs. The other Beatles albums I have flow
really well... this one? Not so much. Still, hard to deny the strength
of the songs.
040. Wilco - Being There
...This is the album where suddenly alt-indie-America realized Jeff
Tweedy wasn't entirely country. Not that that is a bad realization.
The transition is rough around the edges, and has flow issues similar
to The White Album, but lots of marvelous songs.
039. Sufjan Stevens - Michigan
...This is the album that started it all for me. It hadn't been released for too long when I stumbled upon it at our local indie music store and picked it up. It didn't take long for me to realize I had heard nothing like this before and found myself mightily impressed.
038. Picky Picnic - Picnic Land
...Does The Residents better than The Residents do themselves? Maybe. Zany would be a key descriptor here, and one that doesn't really apply to The Residents. Still, goofy vocals and off-kilter music make a killer combination. Only ever released on cassette, so I have a download, two long mp3s simply titled "side A" and "side B".
037. Eagles of Death Metal - Death By Sexy
...A lot like their first album, except better. Nothing much more to say.
036. Sonic Youth - A Thousand Leaves
...A happy middle ground album for Sonic Youth that partakes in some sounds and ideas from multiple eras of their discography. Most of their albums do not take middle ground, but here it happens quite successfully.
035. The Residents - Gingerbread Man
...This is the album where The Residents embrace the comparisons to twisted nursery rhymes by making a whole album out of the always dark Gingerbread Man story. The Gingerbread Man motif is repeated regularly, giving the album a classical feel.
034. The Noisettes - What's The Time Mr. Wolf
...I love this album. It is one of the rare albums where every single track is amazing. I can just put it on and let it go. Great to drive to.
033. Andrew Bird - Weather Systems
...Still Bird's best, Weather Systems is more stripped down than the albums that follow, but displays some genius song composition. Lame song titles, but thankfully we don't listen to those...
032. Gomez - How We Operate
...This is another one of those albums where the final result is much better than my words can accurately convey. But they are summer songs with a tinge of sadness. The big selling point is how they turn their songs around in a natural, but essential, way to keep each song interesting during its duration.
031. Extol - Burial
...Christian Death Metal from Sweden! Woopie! A heavily nostalgic album for me, although I'd like to think that there is value here beyond nostalgia.
030. The Residents - Animal Lover
...Every Residents album on this list is at least 15 years old... with the exception of this one. With this album they made a perfect combination of that old sound (creepy nursery rhyme feel) with their new sound (very electronic based). It'll make you say "That is like nothing I've heard before" and at the same time "Wow, that is beautiful!". Solid all the way through.
029. Sonic Youth - Dirty
...The main "popular" Sonic Youth album that I consider a favorite, Dirty is where their faux-grunge-pop phase hits its peak. It is an uneven album, but lots of gems to be unearthed. Also holds the distinction of being my first Sonic Youth album.
028. Emmylou Harris - Wrecking Ball
...Emmylou Harris is an angel among swine. Her voice is one of the few that will outshine Neko Case, and she writes better songs to boot. More of her stuff would probably make my list, except I've made the mistake of only acquiring a handful of her albums.
027. Pattern is Movement - Stowaway
...I was expecting something bad (as I always do when I recieve albums to review when I've never heard of the band before), but got something... amazing. A highly technical band that could (wrongly) get thrown in the math rock department, they have a finely tunes ear for contrast. Almost classical vocals top the frenzzied gallop of the music. Unfortunately, it cannot hold up to the test of a live show... too jittery, too precice to be pulled off.
026. The Denver Gentlemen - Introducing...
...The Denver Gentlemen have spawned such groups as 16 Horsepower and Devotchka. This sounds like a more cabaret precursor to Man Man than anything.
025. Comus - First Utterance
...Originally released in the early 70s, First Utterance is one of those CDs that will probably be going in and out of print for a long time. The most recent re-release (2006) is apparently out of print already. Still it is a groundbreaking album for psychedelic oddity.
024. mewithoutYou - Catch For Us the Foxes
...I have commented several times on albums that feel like collections of songs vs albums that flow and become special as a whole. This is the former... a collection of really good songs.
023. 16 Horsepower - Folklore
...More laidback instrumentally (though not in intensity), Folklore has a much starker feel to it than their other material. Just a good listen for most moods (which is not nessesarily true of their other material).
022. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
...I did not hear Crazy before I bought the album... and I bought the album about a half a year after everyone else had stopped buzzing about it. But I was knocked on my ass by how solid each and every track is on this monster. Love it.
021. System of a Down - Mesmerize
...This, the first of two companion albums, was initially my favorite due. However, time has shown the other one to rise to the top. Still, there are a ton of fantastic tracks on this.
020. Steve Reich - Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint
...The Different Trains side of this is the stunning melding of horror and minimalistic phasing and counterpoint. The soundclips are taken from interviews about Jews being taken to death camps. It is a somber listen, but ultimately amazing.
019. Battles - Mirrored
...I always love it when the wierd intersects with really catchy, and Battles succeds to do that with their first full length album. Despite the lack of vocals as anything more than another instrument, there is a heart and pulse to this album that a lot of lyricless albums fail to have.
018. Make Believe - Of Course
...This is the best album from the Kinsella brothers. Tehcnical, cockeyed, interesting tone... it is just amazing.
017. The Danielson Famile - Tell Another Joke At The Ol Choppin' Block
...More Daniel Smith wizzardy.
016. Havalina Rail Co. - Russian Lullabies
...A chilly album that sounds like Russia must feel most of the time. An unheard masterpiece (that is, incidentally, being offered for free as a download on their website. PM me for a link if interested.)
015. Sufjan Stevens - Enjoy Your Rabbit
...This is the Sufjan Stevens album that sounds nothing like Sufjan Stevens, at least sonically. It is essentially an electronic classical composition that takes cues from Steve Reich and Philip Glass, while also blazing its own trails.
014. System of a Down - Hypnotize
...I can just put this album on and be set for a 40-some minute drive.
013. St. Vincent - Marry Me
...Marry Me? I'd marry her in a heartbeat. Great voice, writes fantastic songs that never get old, and doesn't mind injecting some dangerous sounds into the mix.
012. Sonic Youth - Murray Street
...This was my first Sonic Youth album, and thus holds a special place in my heart. It is much more mellow and straight forward than most of their stuff, but the songs are strong and the tones perfect.
011. Tantrum of the Muse - The Heart is a Two Headed Sperm
...Almost travels into the hardcore realm, but is creative and focused enough to sidestep the genre. A dark album, with lyrics that would make most parents blink, TotM captured something special with this one.
010. The Residents - Duck Stab
...My first Residents album, and such a sweet introduction, too. This is the epitome of their twisted nursery rhyme comparrison.
009. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
...Such a fantastic album. One of the strongest first-five tracks on about any album I own. Really surprised me, too... I wasn't expecting anything great. And the succeed it with a fairly major tweak to their sound and tone.
008. mewithoutYou - Brother, Sister
...Thier most recent (but still too old, release a new one guys!) is a masterpiece. Unlike Catch For Us the Foxes the album doesn't have a hundred standout tracks, but as an album it has a marvelous flow that just feels right. It also features a folkier tone than prior albums.
007. Man Man - Rabbit Habits
...YES, yes... this just came out this year. Kind of hasty to be putting it this high on a top-100 favorites list (or even on the list at all). Yet i did it. So sue me. It is a great album and the fullfillment of what the other albums hinted at.
006. Soulwax - Nite Versions
...This album is an electronic treasure. The flow... untouchable. The music... strong enough to get stuck in my head, which is unheard of for an electronic album like this.
005. Sixpence None the Richer - Sixpence None the Richer
...When alterna-pop albums are really dark, you know it is good. This one feels mierd in misery (singles aside), and the album is better for it.The few bright spots are a welcome break from, from, everything else... but you wouldn't trade everything else for more bright spots. It is the perfect balance.
004. The Residents - Fingerprince
...While not as solid as Duck Stab, or some other albums, this is the one that best displays who the band is. Dark, but innocent despite the darkness.
003. Guigou Chenevier & Sophie Jausserand - A L'Abri Des Micro-Climats
...Only available on impossible to find vinyl or as a download via blogs, this is what would happen if The Residents were french, more song oriented, and used a lot of horns. Impeccable. My mind is blown every time I listen to it.
002. Sonic Youth - NYC Ghosts & Flowers
...To me, this is the epitome of what Sonic Youth has done. It rides the line between being extremely experiemental, while at the same time still utilizing their fantastic sense for writing a good catchy melody. The lyrics are often spoken like poetry which gives everything else a laidback feeling, even when chaos is going on.
001. The Fiery Furnaces - Rehearsing My Choir
...For a lot of a bands, getting your grandmother to do vocals would be a huge distraction. Imaging Bono's grandma doing an entire album with him, for example. Yet The Fiery Furnaces make an interesting brand of music, the sort where the quakey rasp of an elderly lady narrarating fits right in. Her voice ties the otherwise spastic and unpredictable Fiery Furnaces together giving the album a vision their other albums lack.
Unsurprisingly, I did comment on all of them... and Amazon now officially will start blocking us from leeching their images.