My Favourite Albums

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Abr 3 2011, 7h16

I'm gonna keep this in alphabetical order for my own sake, and only one album per artist which makes things a bit more difficult. I realise there's not enough modern music on here so I'll make another journal later to address that. Some of the album covers are stupidly big and I'll try to fix that up later too.


Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)



This one edges out Neon Bible and The Suburbs for me. Great album with some real standout songs, "Wake Up" being the obvious choice, or "Rebellion (Lies)". The vocals (and production in general) aren't as polished as they'd be on the subsequent releases but it fits perfectly.


At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command (2000)



I heard 'One Armed Scissor' and didn't listen to this again for months, but I'm glad I came back to it because it became one of my favourites. There's a manic energy to just about every song, but plenty of variety at the same time. It's been in regular rotation since 2005 or 2006. Even the bonus tracks rule.


The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)



Extremely difficult for me to narrow it down to one for the Beatles because I love everything after and including Rubber Soul. Along with Louis Armstrong it's the first music I can recall from when I was a kid. But it would be a shootout between Revolver and this, and this would win by the narrowest of margins. The second half of the album/second side of the record would seem half-assed in lesser hands, with just snippets of songs combined into a medley but it works beautifully here.
Really cool three part vocal harmonies on songs like Sun King and Because. There's also a pretty interesting contrast in the song-writing styles as the group were growing apart, but that's more obvious on the White Album.


Björk - Homogenic (1997)



I dismissed Bjork for so long, but this album just fascinates me. The contrast of the natural strings sound with the harsh electronic beats. It's just about a perfect album in my opinion. Aside from this album, I really love Vespertine (and Vespertine Live), as well as Post. Medulla is pretty interesting too.


Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks (1975)



Dylan was another one I dismissed as a kid because of the vocals. I always thought he was a great songwriter but I felt that other people did better things with his songs than he did. Thankfully I bought Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde and this album all at once and my opinion changed.

This to me is pretty much the pinnacle of songwriting. One of the most emotional albums I've ever heard and the first four songs in particular just grab you. Musically it's very simple, the production is modest but the lyrics are top notch. It pretty much covers every feeling you could experience as a relationship falls apart. I'd place this just head of Highway 61 Revisited.


Charles Mingus - The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)



I'm a relative newcomer to jazz but everything about this album is amazing, even down to the liner notes. Mingus seemed like a pretty complex character and that's reflected here. This music is "alive" - full of gradual tempo changes and just dynamic, intense music. The horns make sounds I've never really heard before, almost like they mimic a human voice. There are occasional breaks of flamenco style acoustic guitar. It's broken up into four tracks on the album but meant to be heard as one continous piece, partially written as a ballet.

The music is laid down by an eleven piece band, and there's additional overdubs (which wasn't all that common in jazz in this era), so the sound is more expansive than your average quartet etc. Mingus Ah Um is also a great album but for me this is clearly superior.


Converge - Jane Doe (2001)



This one is unlike anything else in this list and is by far the most aggressive album here. It's an unbelieveably intense 45 minutes of music and is my 'go-to' heavy album these days. I can sit with a lyrics booklet in front of me and still barely understand a single word of the very harsh vocals, but none of that is important to me in regards to this album. Music is supposed to be emotive and this is just unrelenting anger.


David Bowie - Low (1977)



I find Bowie to be the most fascinating figure in popular culture. There was his constant reinvention of image and style, and his remarkable knack for just making it work. This is his late 70s foray into electronic music, working with Brian Eno. The second half of this is particularly interesting for me. Produced by Tony Visconti, there's alot of interesting things done in the studio that resulted in this sound. Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station are my other favourites, and Heroes is brilliant as well, but this is my favourite work of Bowie's.


Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)



This is another one I've had for a lot of years. This appeals to me for a lot of reasons. I think the songwriting is great, pretty accessible but lyrically a bit more full on than your average pop music. Also the way it was recorded was on fairly modest equipment and it was a sound I could emulate. If only I could write songs this good. As with Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Bjork's Homogenic, the first four songs are amazing and really draw you in.

It was recorded on either 4 track or 8 track recorders, so even though there were real confines on the instrumentation that works in its favour here.


Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)



Kind of polarising but this is one of my absolute favourites now, which I only discovered last year. Sprout and the Bean was used on a tourism ad campaign in Australia years ago but I had no idea who sung it. I heard Joanna sampled on the Root's 'Right On' and went and bought her triple album 'Have One On Me', which is absolutely incredible as well.

This one is a bit easier to digest as an album, clocking in at 55 minutes as opposed to two hours. The songwriting is excellent and there's some really clever use of language. The orchestration is brilliant too and it was all recorded onto tape as opposed to the modern day norm of digital recording. 'Emily' and 'Only Skin' are seriously just about the best things ever.
It can be a bit difficult on the first few listens and the average song length of 11 or so minutes can daunting depending on what you listen to but it's well worth the effort.


John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1964)



Coltrane is maybe the most impressive musician I've come across, and this quartet is ridiculously talented. The album is Coltrane's musical offering to God and you don't need to be religious to appreciate the spirituality and sincerity of the music here. The drumming is insane and there's some mind blowing piano playing as well. The material he released after this is a bit too out there for me to comprehend but this is absolutely essential. 'Giant Steps' and 'Blue Train' are also brilliant.


The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)



Rising out of the ashes of At the Drive-In in 2001, The Mars Volta released this album in 2003. This is another one I've had for alot of years and although I don't listen to it as much anymore, it's a very interesting cohesive concept album which takes influences from all over the place (latin, jazz, progressive rock, punk, electronic/ambient music). It also features guitar playing from John Frusciante and bass from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Frusciante would go on to work with them extensively in the future. Their following album, 'Frances the Mute', is brilliant as well. The drummer, Jon Theodore, is also completely amazing. Kind of like a modern day John Bonham - just raw power.


Miles Davis - In A Silent Way (1968)



Another master of stylistic reinvention. These are some of Miles' first steps into jazz fusion, but this is nowhere near as chaotic or busy as Bitches Brew. It's a repetitive and hypnotic listen, with an amazing line up of musicians. It's notable for the use of electric instruments, such as the Fender Rhodes and electric guitar. This is equal with Kind of Blue as my favourite from Miles, just ahead of Bitches Brew, A Tribute to Jack Johnson and Sketches of Spain.


Mos Def - Black On Both Sides (1999)



My favourite hip hop album. Lyrically it's ridiculously good and covers alot of ground. There is a remarkable amount of depth and intelligence to them and at times the listener is directly addressed, which is an interesting method.
The production is solid - it's kind of a continuation, evolution and expansion of the Native Tongues sound of the early 90s but there are so many surprises (a brief old school hardcore punk section, a mostly spoken word intro to the album, a song about the importance of water!).
There aren't too many guest appearances and this one pretty much singlehandedly reignited my interest in hip hop when I discovered it. 'The Ecstatic' is a great album as well, as is Black Star's self titled album which he made with Talib Kweli.


Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)



Very awesome and very brief folk album. It's not quite perfect but it's damn close. It's remarkable how much he can get out of such simple arrangements - just guitar and vocals for the most part, with a piano melody on the title track. It makes for great late night/rainy day listening. It's also pretty depressing (as is alot of Elliott Smith's work), especially when you consider they died so young.
Like alot of albums, this became more popular after the artist's death and is highly regarded these days by a wide variety of musicians/bands.


Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)



Flawless prog rock album, edging out Dark Side of the Moon for me. It's interesting from any angle - lyrically, musically, production-wise, or in terms of the album's concept. Fascinating listening.


Radiohead - Kid A (2000)




Very cool to hear the stylistic shift between OK Computer and this. My favourite Radiohead song is 'Pyramid Song' but overall this is my favourite of their albums (although some others come close). It's a dense, thick wall of electronic sound but its reputation for being inaccessible is off the mark I think. It just takes a few listens, especially for people unfamiliar with electronic music.


Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come (1998)



Another of the more aggressive albums on the list, from a now defunct Swedish hardcore band. It borrows the title from Ornette Coleman - it's pretty political, and fuses punk rock with elements of jazz and electronic music. Like At the Drive-In, they disbanded shortly after the release of their best work.


The Roots - Game Theory (2006)



My favourite of the three Roots albums I own. I listen to How I Got Over more often but I feel this is their most consistent offering and I wish more hip hop artists used live instruments.


Sarah Blasko - What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have (2006)



Aussie singer-songwriter, now based in the UK. I love her voice and this is an excellent album. It reminds me of Radiohead and Bjork but it's not as "weird". The Overture & The Underscore is quality as well but this feels a bit more consistent.


Thrice - Vheissu (2005)



Massively important band for me and put me on to so much good music. I think this is their most impressive release of a remarkably consistent discography. It's a huge sonic leap from their previous work. It's more atmospheric, the heavier parts are markedly different to what they'd done before, the lyrics are solid as always and some of the outros to the songs are real highlights. Musically, when the band ventures away from 4/4 it always feels natural and right - it doesn't feel forced which isn't always the case.

I bought this when it was released in 2005, and it took me a few listens to really understand and appreciate what was happening. It was even more difficult because alot of the bands that influenced their shift in style I wasn't familiar with or listening to at the time.


A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (1991)



My second favourite hip hop album, pretty much on par with 'Midnight Marauders'. Love the samples, love the minimal jazzy vibe and the interplay between the rappers. De La Soul are of a similar breed, and this style of hip hop is even more notable when you compare it with what was happening in West Coast hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s, with synth-heavy, funky beats.

Comentários

  • rwitte

    Not a bad journal. The first half is well argued. As the piece comes to a close, the descriptions become more abbreviated and less interesting, as if you were tiring. You might have been better off doing this in two parts, so you could take a rest. Thanks for an enjoyable read.

    Abr 3 2011, 16h55
  • chrisjon89

    Thanks for the feedback. And you're absolutely right. I didn't realise how long it would take. I'll go back and fix up a few of the later ones.

    Abr 4 2011, 9h24
  • Champ_yo

    i don't listen to most of the artists, but thats a great article and i would definitely check some of them.A lot of different music too. good work

    Abr 6 2011, 21h13
  • martingyoung01

    yeah props for the descriptions. makes me want to listen to some of them.

    Abr 12 2011, 1h48
  • jimmy28aus

    Excellent JOB! Makes me wanna investigate!

    Mai 17 2011, 13h24
  • MarvellousG

    I've been making a top 50 albums list over the last few weeks and it's almost ready, and practically every single album here makes an appearance on mine. Awesome stuff.

    Jun 11 2011, 13h54
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