I've never listened to Hole. Courtney Love is a complicated and polarizing figure and for that reason I've never really had an interest in her music. I should've just listened. This is a monster of an album and grabbed me immediately with its punk and hardcore inspired grunge. It has memorable lyrics, great musicianship, all topped off with Courtney Love's incredible vocal delivery. Hole is supremely talented and after hearing this, much preferred to other grunge acts of the time. I'm glad I gave it a listen.
I really enjoyed this album. This is a solid jam/jazz/funk/acid rock offering with lots to dig in to especially if you're musically inclined. The record was joyful and playful and featured impressive musicianship. I especially enjoyed the use of the synth which in no way made the music sound dated (as synths can do). Great record to put on to get people dancing as well.
I listened to this album twice. The first time I quite enjoyed it but felt it was one of those albums that needs to be given more time to grow on me. The second listen opened up some of the melodies and rhythms and allowed me to pick apart some of the various styles and influences. Overall, I think that this album is criminally overlooked. We would do well to get outside of our Anglo-American concentration and see how what we are familiar with influences and has been influenced by what we are not familiar with.
Willie Nelson bucked the system and instead of putting out over produced Nashville drivel, made a simple, stripped down country record structured as a concept album. Red Headed Stranger is the story of a preacher who kills his wife and lover and explores themes of loss, guilt, and longing. It’s exactly what needed to be made at the time
Incredible album. It feels like the music is unfolding in real time not necessarily as a live show, but as an all encompassing experience. George Clinton's futuristic vision is pervasive and engaging. The personnel on this album are the very best at what they do. This might be the definitive funk album.
Not my usual listening, but was intrigued on how I could hear the seeds of punk, shoegaze, and new wave. The influence of the Doors as well as artists such as Bo Diddley were apparent.
This album is fearless. David Byrne is unafraid to toss in disco influences with rock influences and create something new but coherent. His frantic lyrics and singing add a sense of manic urgency to this album. This music is off-kilter, yet still finds a groove.
The Beatles and Elton John influence is apparent here. The Bee Gees are better known for their late '70s disco pop, but this album showcases their ability to craft lush pop centered around themes of loss and remembrance. Highlights for me are 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,' 'Trafalgar,' 'Don't Wanna Live Inside Myself,' and 'Walking Back to Waterloo.'
I'm very glad this album was included. Loretta Lynn's contribution to country music cannot be overstated. Her vocal performance is powerful and subtle. Female country singers are often noted for their powerful delivery, but Lynn showcases immense control and damn near perfect delivery (see 'I Really Don't Want to Know' for a masterclass in vocal delivery). The music itself is well crafted, and is more complex with its chord changes than one would think. It is designed to deliver the exact emotional resolution (or lack thereof) that the songwriter intends. In that, it excels.
There is so much potential in this music. Having said that, the lyrics are weak and trying too hard to be edgy. I can't help but compare this album with other music from the mid nineties that successfully capture feelings of isolation and sadness without becoming heavy handed. As for the music itself, I really enjoyed the first half of the album, but it just doesn't fulfill what it could be. By the second half of the album, it starts to fall flat. Guitar arpeggios are great, but not when they make up the entirety of the album.
I really enjoyed this album. This is a solid jam/jazz/funk/acid rock offering with lots to dig in to especially if you're musically inclined. The record was joyful and playful and featured impressive musicianship. I especially enjoyed the use of the synth which in no way made the music sound dated (as synths can do). Great record to put on to get people dancing as well.
Great blend of Brit pop and punk with The Beach Boys influence coming through. Overall, a warm album from a band who knows how to effectively switch up a song
Not my favorite Velvet Underground, but still a great album
Great mix of jazz, R&B, swing, and early rock and roll. This album is high energy until the very end. I have heard of Louis Prima before, but I'm glad to have become more familiar with his music. This album would have been very influential at this particular musical crossroads. Prima's embrace of the burgeoning rock and roll genre is a testament to his flexibility and openness.
The synth sounds a bit dated, but this album is a fusion masterpiece featuring acrobatic musicianship and great exploratory passages.
One of the greatest albums of all time. You can hear the seeds of experimentation which would explode the next year in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album represents a huge leap forward musically, and technologically as the Beatles began using the studio as an instrument in itself.
I have never listened to Blur before but enjoyed this album quite a bit. The range of influence that could be heard throughout was diverse and well incorporated. Overall, a great album
Incredible album! Cohesive, interesting, and boundary pushing. I can imagine how formative this must have been for experimental musicians. I'm very glad this has been put on my radar.
Loved it. I have been spoken derisively about synth heavy 80s albums in the past, but I'm growing to enjoy quite a bit of that style of music. Rio is well paced, and features interesting lyrics, amazing bass lines, and intriguing synth/keyboard work. I will definitely be returning to this album.
Great first half. I enjoy the more ballad like songs from this one. Simple music, great vocal delivery
Loved it. I have not waded much into goth-rock/new wave/post-punk but this was great. Though the instrumentation was simple, it was very effective. The music features a strong backbeat, prominent bass, horror motifs, and typical new wave/post-punk vocal delivery. The overall result is a driving, pulsing music that is instantly likable and even danceable.
I listened to this album twice. The first time I quite enjoyed it but felt it was one of those albums that needs to be given more time to grow on me. The second listen opened up some of the melodies and rhythms and allowed me to pick apart some of the various styles and influences. Overall, I think that this album is criminally overlooked. We would do well to get outside of our Anglo-American concentration and see how what we are familiar with influences and has been influenced by what we are not familiar with.
Gorgeous instrumentation and vocals. I have heard Baaba Maal mentioned by other musicians so it was great to actually be able to listen to him.
Beautiful. I listened to it twice. I will be returning to Elliott Smith quite a bit
Great album. I've always loved the title track as well as 'Vincent,' but listening to the album as a whole makes me wonder why Don McLean isn't known beyond a few songs. His songwriting and musicianship are great and his vocal range is impressive. He can be a bit on the nose for some things, but when he's great, he's truly great.
Better than expected. I’m not the biggest fan of metal, but hearing it with the symphony brings out those classically influenced qualities
Good hard rock. I grew up with quite a few of these songs. They’re not terribly innovative but there’s something to be said for their mastery of their style. Paul Rogers is an excellent vocalist
Great album, great songwriter. She’s influential as hell, there’s not much more I can say about her
Some good songs, but the album really starts to drag towards the end.
Solid album. This album was made during a period of tension within the band and escalating drug use. This album is more moody than joyful, and represents a change in direction for the band. Within a few years the rhythm section would be replaced.
Super interesting album. This self-named genre Deathpunk is way more thought out that than the punk label would suggest. The arrangement is complex and is able to keep the listeners attention through over 40 minutes of music. The lyrics and the name of the band are transgressive, but again, very interesting.
Incredible album. It feels like the music is unfolding in real time not necessarily as a live show, but as an all encompassing experience. George Clinton's futuristic vision is pervasive and engaging. The personnel on this album are the very best at what they do. This might be the definitive funk album.
A startlingly intimate and atmospheric album. Certain songs such as Deer Stop grabbed me immediately. Alison Goldfrapp's vocals are haunting and when they are altered the effect is electric.
I was familiar with Sandy Denny through her performance on Led Zeppelin IV, but this showcases her vocals in a new way. This album is very interesting in that it approaches folk rock from a undeniably British perspective. Great storytelling, and compelling music.
Great album. Really bridges the gap between new wave and Britpop. I will definitely be returning to this album
Solid album. Admittedly, I am not to familiar with most of Springsteen’s work. This album was full of great storytelling
Nothing terribly groundbreaking here. Fairly enjoyable, but it seems like an over-earnest rehashing of heartland rock. It's also hard to come to this album as a new listener in the wake of the allegations of sexual abuse. I feel like I've been primed to dislike anything Ryan Adams has put out. I will say that he definitely can write a good song and has a unique voice.
I can hear how this album influenced Nick Drake, Simon and Garfunkel, Led Zeppelin, etc. Great acoustic guitar playing, and great folk music.
I have seen this band live because a friend had an extra ticket. They were fine, but there wasn't much of their music that resonated with me. This album has some good tracks, but the second half really lags. I do enjoy the interesting synth worth though. It's a good album, just not something I'd willingly put on.
One of the greatest albums of the '90s and possibly ever. Nirvana expanded their dynamics on this album which gives it more texture and shows that the band was not simply content to rehash Nevermind. This album hints at their Beatles and Pixies influence while incorporating elements of punk and hardcore music. Kurt Cobain was a master songwriter and an avid student of music.
Not bad. Lots of interesting syncopation. The more I listen to it, the more I can hear the Smiths influence and British New Wave as a whole. It's not a straight rock album as it contains, punk, funk, and art music influences. The song structure here is varied with lots of good breaks. The rhythm section drives the whole band with moments of great syncopation and wonderful high hat work layered over a thumping bass.
Great album, accessible, positive, and instantly listenable.
Classic album. Neil Young's lead guitar shines through this album and makes what was already a supergroup even better. One of the greatest folk rock statements ever
Not my usual fare but I enjoyed it for what it was. It is un-categorizable in genre, but still feels unified.
Wow. Strange album but what an experiment in songwriting and genre bending. Will be listening to again
Some great moments in the first half, but it’s just a bit much for me. This album carries some of the worse impulses in 80s music and is quite dated. However, it’s an exemplary example of where pop music was at that time
Not much to say. This is one of the best Dylan albums which is about as high as I can praise it. This album features an electric first half and is the first of a three album trio which sees Dylan reinvent himself and write some of the greatest if not the greatest songs of all time.
A hidden gem. I had never heard of this band but after listening to this album, I can hear tinges of punk within an experimental framework. It's interesting to think about what was coming out in 1966, the Beatles' Revolver, the Beach Boy's Pet Sounds etc., and Black Monk Time sounds completely different. Truly incredible
Classic album. Huge leap in songwriting from his previous three albums featuring great melodies and driving instrumentation.
I liked it quite a bit. Julian Cope at times sounded like he was bringing in influences from the Smiths, Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground, and various new wave/post-punk artists. The album runs a bit long and would benefit from a pruning of sorts.
Not my favorite Doors album, but with Roadhouse Blues, Waiting for the Sun, Queen of the Highway, and Peace Frog, this is still a very strong album. As always, Ray Manzarek's keyboard work is incredible. I'm also a fan of Robbie Krieger's guitar work.
Fun album. Not every song is the best lyrically, but I think this is their best album
Really good. Great mix of funk, new wave/post punk with great Thatcher era lyrics. The use of horns within this post punk format gives the music a more optimistic sounding feel as opposed to other British post punk artists despite the lyrics that reflect economic and global strife.
I got a lot of a lot of Nick Drake vibes from this one. I can also see how they influenced the diy indie scene as well. Very well written and unusual songs with a thoughtful arrangement and instrumentation
Really good album. I've never listened to a Tribe Called Quest before, but have been trying to learn more about hip hop and its history. This album is accessible, and features a smooth flow, and beats full of jazz, funk, and rock idioms. This album does run a bit long though. However, I've listened to other albums that are way shorter but feel longer. I hope to listen to more of this group in the future. This album made me excited to delve more into hip hop.
I wasn't expecting to be as into this album as I am. It's so smooth, funky, and jazzy. The musicianship is fantastic and Sade's vocals are phenomenal as well. The drums and bass are locked in and are doing really interesting lines and rhythms in the background. This is a marvelously produced album and is sequenced and mixed very well. In retrospect, it makes total sense that I love this album as I love funk and jazz. I was expecting something more dated I think.
Really interesting. I personally loved the cinematic feel to this album
I listened to this album a couple of times and while I did enjoy it, there wasn’t anything in particular that stood out to me except Automatic and Skidmarks on My Heart.
I was quite familiar with this album. It has a very American barroom feel. The standouts were Tiny Dancer, Levon, and the title track. Some of the songs drag a bit
I’d been wanting to explore the Pixies for a while and this gave me the perfect excuse. Bossanova is phenomenal. The post punk, surf rock, and folk rock influence is obvious, and their own influence in later bands such as Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana is abundantly clear. So great I immediately started it over
I never really got into the strokes and now it feels a bit too late. This album was incredibly influential to the point where a lot of what came after sounds just like it. If I had heard this album first, perhaps my reaction would be different
Excellent album that brings together a who's who of Cuban musicians to create something truly wonderful. This album is at once listenable, danceable, and features some amazing musicianship and arrangement. This will going into my rotation.
I need to listen to a few more times as it's super layered. The flow is great of course, but there is so much going on in the background that deserves to be heard. There's a tinge of darkness and moodiness to this album that is really intriguing. An excellent addition to the mystique of the Wu Tang Clan
I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. This music was interesting for its refusal to stay within a hard rock/metal framework. The funk and hip hop influences reminded me of RHCP with better songwriting and arrangement. I see why this band is so influential. This is not something I would have sought out for myself, but I'm really glad I got to listen to it.
I really liked parts of it. Some of the synthesizer use definitely was ahead of its time and sounded almost contemporary. Unfortunately, with such heavy reliance on synthesizers to simulate brass and other instrumentation, the music sounds incredibly dated. The songwriting is of course great, but it's hard to be able to listen to this album without the synths getting in the way.
Classic. It does drag a bit and feels a bit bloated, but when it’s good, it’s truly great.
Brilliant album. One of my favorite things about Pink Floyd is that they let their songs breathe as it were. Each musical passage is allowed to be savored and developed in its own timing. David Gilmour is one of my favorite guitarists for his ability to craft melodies and solos that are exactly what the song needs. Furthermore, the lyrical makeup is at once specific to Sid Barrett’s mental breakdown, yet universalizing in some of its themes of exploitation, genius, longing, and sadness.
Not only does this album represent the best of Simon & Garfunkel, it also looks ahead to Paul Simon's later work in exploring Latin American and African music. As always, the harmonies are tight, and Simon's lyrics are among the best in the American songbook. On a personal note, Simon & Garfunkel always make me feel nostalgic in a way I can't quite put my finger on. One of the greatest duos of all time.
I've never listened to Hole. Courtney Love is a complicated and polarizing figure and for that reason I've never really had an interest in her music. I should've just listened. This is a monster of an album and grabbed me immediately with its punk and hardcore inspired grunge. It has memorable lyrics, great musicianship, all topped off with Courtney Love's incredible vocal delivery. Hole is supremely talented and after hearing this, much preferred to other grunge acts of the time. I'm glad I gave it a listen.
Incredible album. Like a great piece of classical music, this album was thematic, self-referential, and incorporated previous melodies and lyrics to create a sense that this album is meant to be listed to as a whole, as a piece of music rather than a collection of songs. The flows on this album are some of the best I've ever heard. Lauryn Hill is the clear standout, though Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel are also incredible. It's no wonder why this group is one of the most influential in hip hop.
Interesting mix of rockabilly, post-punk, a touch of reggae, new wave, folk, and hard rock. There's obvious influences from the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Police, and '70s commercial rock. I'm honestly not sure if I like it or if it's really boring. It's very proto college rock in a lot of ways. There's nothing here that's terribly innovative. The bass work however, is truly outstanding.
Perhaps I’m just rating it highly because I lived in the East Bay for so long, but this album seriously holds up after 17 years. A punk rock opera was genius then and is genius now
Fantastic mix of jazz, funk, soul, rock and hip hop. Q-Tip has a fantastic flow as well. The transitions are great and the use of samples is perfect
Great garage rock. Not my favorite personally, but I’m still a fan
The first half is really great. It drags a bit after that, but picks back up in the last two tracks. Sinead O'Connor's vocal delivery never fails to impress. She is recognizably Irish and infuses her music with little inflections, both musically and vocally, to that point. However, she is not mired in traditionalism and makes music that must have certainly sounded new and fresh when it debuted.
The range of influences in this album is impressive. I hear Beach Boys, Beatles, punk, African music (particularly Burundi), and glam rock. Adam and the Ants are clearly not overly concerned with mixing these influences or writing idiosyncratic songs, such as 'Jolly Roger,' yet there is a unity to this album that makes it all work. There's a lot to love here. The more I dive into New Wave, the more I'm convinced that it is one of the most forward thinking movements in popular music history.
I discovered this album about five years ago and I fell in love with it instantly. Dennis Wilson was a man in the midst of self-destruction in the wake of his abusive upbringing and the excesses of fame as a member of the Beach Boys. He was not known as a sensitive man, but for his drunken escapades which eventually culminated in his death by drowning. His voice was rapidly deteriorating which can be heard here and in subsequent live performances of this material. Here, Wilson is concerned with environmental devastation and love. In 'River Song' the opening track, he confronts the claustrophobia and smog of LA, opting instead to champion a cleaner, more natural environment. In the title track, 'Pacific Ocean Blue,' penned alongside cousin and bandmate Mike Love, Wilson laments the destruction of ocean wildlife. This is an album very close to my heart both for its lyrical and musical value, but also because it gives us an insight into the enigmatic and broken person that was Dennis Wilson.
This is my first time hearing Depeche Mode and I must say that I loved this album. It is brooding and driving with interesting instrumentation and song construction. There's an expansiveness to this music that I really enjoy. British New Wave is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
This is obviously a classic album and is absolutely stacked with hits. The production is incredible, and the arrangement has aged very well. However, I would be remiss not to mention that in light of the renewed allegations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, it's difficult to listen to this music as a non-involved listener. I can't say for certain what did or didn't happen, but the persistence of these allegations is troublesome to say the least.
Great funk/psychedelic record. The drum machine give the music a slower more driving rhythm. The instrumentation is phenomenal down to the multiple guitar parts, bass, and horns. Shuggie Otis' voice is light and smooth, a perfect complement to his music
This album was interesting for several reasons. Nico's deep and untrained voice has a way of cutting through the often lush instrumentation that lends it an air of mystery and sadness. This is truly an enigmatic album, songs written by men sung by a woman who nobody really seemed to know. I was a bit tired of it by the end, but I believe this album deserves a few more listens.
It was more funky than I expected which is a welcome shift from the plant pop groups that would dominate the late 90s. This music was at times, funny, sexual, and socially conscious. I can see why it's a celebrated album. It just doesn't do much for me personally, but I appreciate it for what it is. It does run a bit long and is a bit over produced for my taste
Minimalist and driving, this album creates a sparse electronic landscape that serves as the ominous backdrop for the oft altered vocals of Karin Dreijer (Fever Ray). This album is compelling and expansive and keeps its creative impulses in check as not to leave the tracks bloated. Simply put, I loved this album.
I have only really heard the song 'Aqualung' from Jethro Tull. I should have listened to more. This album is superb. It is driving and lyrically interesting with its explorations of religion, god, and the human condition. Ian Anderson's vocals are superb and the flute playing is not a mere novelty; it is phenomenal. Jethro Tull's dedication to traditional British folk music shows through the prog rock in a way that feels natural. I will definitely look for this album in vinyl
Enjoyable, great harmonies, but other than that, not very exciting. I don't think it deserved the critical panning it got upon its release, but It's not Crosby's best work. Again, perfectly enjoyable, very calming, just not terribly groundbreaking.
RHCP is not my favorite, but they are consistent and they can be a lot of fun. I'm not a big fan of some of the vocal choices that Anthony Kiedis makes, but I can't deny the talent of the rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith or the amazing guitar playing of John Frusciante. This album has some amazing songs, but I still prefer Californication to this.
This album is expansive and groundbreaking. Numan’s reliance on the synth does not take away from the humanity of this album and elevates synthesized music to a form on par with traditional rock instrumentation
I enjoyed this album quite a bit. It sits on the border of New Wave and Glam Rock and anticipates Goth Rock. Some of the songs were a little too drawn out but it was an easy listen. The album wasn’t overly reliant on synth and had a good balance with a strong backbeat
Fun album. I really enjoyed it at the beginning but it did run a bit long. It definitely has me interested in ska and the history of that music.
This is a top Led Zeppelin album for me. Going to Wales was probably the best thing the band could have done in that point in their career. Here they gain a healthy infusion of folk influence. Jimmy Page's open tuning experiments are some of the highlights of the album. I view this album as Led Zeppelin's Revolver, an album that paved the way for their apex, in this case, the self titled fourth album.
Enjoyable, but nothing terribly groundbreaking here. This band was the house band for Stax records and contributed to the Memphis soul sound. However, on their own, the music is just a bit too sterile for me. These players are tremendously talented and are great at what they do, but the music is just not as alive as I would like
Every once in a while an album comes along that challenges and expands the notion of what an album can be. This is one of those albums. It's political, soothing, and is just so expansive that it's beyond classification. I didn't listen to this album when it was topping the end of the year lists in 2016 and I really should have been. It deserved its place at the top.
I really enjoyed this album. I’m not terribly familiar with Yes but I’m glad I gave this a listen. There is a lot of jazz and classical influence and the album is structured into several mini-suites that challenge the rock form.
Great industrial sound. My biggest gripe is the mix. The vocals are way turned down and get drowned out by the music. Other than that, this is a very cathartic album. Trent Reznor is the best at what he does
Great mix of Brazilian, African, and soul/blues/R&B. This album is incredibly interesting rhythmically and the combination of the familiar (to western audiences) and the unfamiliar is very effective. The album remains exciting and fast paced from the first to the last song.
Interesting concept and thrilling to hear previously uncovered Woody Guthrie lyrics, but overall, this album runs a bit long and the modern heartland rock backing falls a bit flat after a while. Still a really cool album
It's pleasant, but sterile and overproduced. When I see a British band in the late '80s, I expect a bit of economic panic and some anger as well. This album seems exists in a world where Thatcher was never PM. It takes no risks whatsoever and sounds like an adult contemporary radio station. I can hear glimpses of the post-punk ethos in the vocal delivery, but the backing music washes it out and sanitizes it. A notable exception is 'The Night I heard Caruso Sing'
This album has an ethereal and expansive feel for the most part. While I enjoyed it, it started to drag very quickly. The use of electronic and orchestral elements was interesting. I feel like if this album had condensed itself a bit and tightened its focus it would've been a great album.
This songs are so well crafted that it's easy to see why they were so popular. ABBA knew how to right a compelling middle 8 as well. Modern pop music is incredibly indebted to ABBA. The instrumentation is lush and slick, and everything about the production is careful and intentional. Though this is not my favorite style of music, I can appreciate just how well done it is. Very enjoyable.
Wonderfully experimental while also very relaxing. This album is almost trancelike and is punctuated by moments that are funny, irreverent, and topical. The features on this album are excellent and diverse. The musicianship on this album is excellent, and the songwriting is eclectic with moments that remind me of stream of consciousness.
It’s rare to find an artist that is consistently making incredible and forward thinking music this far in their career. With David Bowie’s last album, he once again reinvents himself and comes back with an album that is musically interesting and lyrically mysterious. His death in the wake of this album release may have given context to the lyrics, but this album stands on its own.
This is probably one of the Stones' best and most coherent albums. The Stones' successfully weave rock, latin jazz, country, and delta blues together. Furthermore, this album is more lyrically mature than their earlier work, with meditations on drug use, love, and even a questionable take on slave owning.
Emmylou Harris is a titan of the Americana scene. Utilizing traditional instrumentation, a subtle western beat, and a gift for storytelling, she creates earnest, compelling music that is entirely her own. Like the outlaws of the 70s and 80s, Harris operates outside the Nashville formula, and borrows across genres.
This album is so ridiculously influential, it seems inconsequential to rate it. Patti Smith's debut is so many things at once. It is primal, messy, poetic, delicate, irreverent, rebellious, and beautiful all at once. This album is much indebted to earlier rock forms, but she manages to incorporate those forms into the mix in a new and exciting way. Often called the godmother of punk, Patti Smith to me seems like a natural successor to the Beat movement with her stream of consciousness lyrics and spoken word passages. Simply put, this album is essential and incredible.
After the success of Tommy, Pete Townsend embarked on another ambitious rock opera project titled Lifehouse. This project was eventually abandoned but some of the elements made their way onto Who's Next. This album is surely one of the Who's best. It is concise and coherent and features some of their greatest hits. Many of the lesser known songs come from Lifehouse and concern themselves with the relationship between music and its audience. This is truly a great album.
The last of his rock trilogy, Blonde on Blonde might be Bob Dylan's best album as well as his most sweeping and expansive. Backed by a host of studio musicians as well as members of his live band, Dylan delivers a wonderfully produced and arranged album that is stunningly cohesive. Dylan's storytelling and songwriting is also at its best on this album with a forward driving feel that carries the listener from one song to the next.
This album is so much more focused than some of the Stooges previous work largely thanks to David Bowie's production. Iggy Pop's vocals are acidic and pointed, and the guitar work is much more interesting, punchy, and tight while still retaining that messy garage/proto-punk feel that define the Stooges. This album is dark, raw, and it can be easily seen why it is considered one of the most influential albums in rock.
The more country influenced songs stand out more on this record. Rod Stewart can write and sing a perfectly find rock song, but the tone of his voice is well suited to more folk/county sounds where he can showcase his finesse as well as his power
This album manages to bring together a host of influences in a coherent and interesting way. I can hear Beatles, the Smiths, Joy Division, dance sounds and more in this album. The 'Madchester' scene of which the Stone Roses were a key player, was born of the indie dance scene fused with psychedelia and pop sounds. This movement found mainstream success but started to decline in the earlier nineties as Britpop and Grunge became favored.
An interesting album to be sure. The music is a combination of hardcore punk (which Bad Brains did not like to be called), reggae, and metal. Some songs also have a new wave tinge. The music itself features strong reggae inspired bass lines with guitar work that is slightly phased (in typical eighties fashion) that ranges from more punk inspired rhythms to virtuosic leads that sound more inspired by contemporary metal. The vocal delivery is similarly nuanced and ranges from growled phrases to a more straightforward delivery. Despite the range of influences and styles, this album is coherent and unique.
Though the band has been quite forward about the influences, The Beatles' Revolver is very much present from the get go. The guitar is punchy, and the bass is acrobatic and front and center. There are a lot of new wave artists, but the Jam infuse it with a bit of mod flair and attitude that makes me hesitate to just lump this album in with post-punk. The drum work owes a lot (again as stated by the band) to Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, and drive the album forward without seeming out of place. It is a supremely well crafted and enjoyable album
Once again, the Pixies do not disappoint. Doolittle is such an influential album that there's not much more I can say about it. It is a wonderful blend of punk, surf rock, and new wave that would go on to influence bands like Radiohead and Nirvana. This album is more accessible than their debut, Surfer Rosa, but without compromising what made them great.
The singing in South Auctioneer really turned me off. The songwriting just isn't very good nor is the delivery. The music itself is fine, but there's nothing terribly groundbreaking or unique about it especially in 1999. I get the feeling that Death in Vegas take themselves too seriously and are really trying to sound dark and dangerous. Not even an appearance from Iggy Pop salvage this album (though non-coincidentally, the song on which he appears, Aisha, is the highlight of the album).
This album would be notable alone for the manner in which it was released. However, it also happens to be one of Radiohead's best and by extension, one of the best albums period. Radiohead are masters of crafting songs that ebb and flow in the most arresting ways. In Rainbows never feels rushed. It takes its time to simmer to properly develop its songs and itself as a whole. Radiohead is one of those bands where every single member is absolutely indispensable and contributes greatly to everything they do as a whole.
At first I was a bit disappointed this album wasn't more like Raw Power by the Stooges. However, by the second song, I began to really dig what I was hearing. Iggy Pop (and David Bowie) are taking an art rock and pop approach that utilizes burgeoning electronic sounds and folds them into a slower rock format features long songs that are more like mini suites. This album does feel more like a Bowie album more than anything but is extremely effective and engaging.
There are many excellent things about this album. The musicianship and production are clean and tight and the vocal delivery is energetic. I'm not terribly knowledgeable about salsa, but I was struck by the complexity of the harmonies and arrangement. Some of the bass work in particular was incredible. Overall, a great album that makes me want to learn about the various styles of Latin American music
Dusty Springfield's first album sees her stepping into a Blue-Eyed Soul style. Her performance is commanding and confident. I'm not terribly familiar with her work but I find it interesting that like the Beatles, we see the influence of Black music on an English artist. Her voice on 'Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa' is soaring and was the first track to really click for me. Though some of the song choices are confusing to me, her studio recordings are energetic and exciting.
I think about this album as almost a companion of sorts to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Curtis Mayfield employs driving ponderous soul/R&B to explore social issues surrounding the cycle of poverty and drug use. He takes an extremely critical approach of drug dealing which is somewhat at odds with the message of the film. The music itself is tight and gives the lyrics room to land. Overall it is incredibly effective and engaging.
I enjoyed it initially, but to be honest, it did drag on quite a bit. The beats were very interesting and I'm sure this sounded very groundbreaking at the time, but the synth hasn't aged as well. The lyrics were interesting and clearly shaped by Thatcherism.
There’s a level to which this album is endearing, but after a while it becomes just hard to follow despite the fact that the songs are short, simple, and catchy. I’m impressed with the sheer scale of this album and it was clearly a labor of love but at almost three hours, it feels self-indulgent
Jimi’s final album released during his lifetime is a sprawling work that incorporates some of his more grandiose tendencies into a more cohesive album. Jimi’s guitar work is groundbreaking as always and still sounds fresh today. He was and is a huge impact on players including myself
I’m intrigued by this album. It combines 80s elements of power pop, folk music, country music, and new wave. It is more conventional than most new wave artists and can be quite symphonic.
An explosive album with phenomenal vocals from Janis Joplin. My biggest gripe is that it was not produced or mixed well.
Brilliant record. I have had this band recommended to me for years, but tried to listen to them before my tastes had expanded. This album was wonderfully written, arranged, and produced and fearlessly explores and transcends genre. My favorite tracks were Halfway Home, Golden Age, and DLZ.
It's hard to imagine what modern music would sound like without this album. Bowie and Brian Eno create an album with a satisfying rock front half, and a ethereal, dreamlike, and somewhat menacing back half. The experimental and ambient elements here are crucial to the development of post-punk. I remember when I first heard Blackstar, I thought that it was coming out of nowhere because I had not explored this period of Bowie. This album has given much such a deeper appreciation of this artist and of the history of music in general.
I'm not a big fan of Aerosmith. There were better bands doing what they were doing and they've just never resonated with me. This album does not change my opinion. There are catchy riffs, some good hits, and decent vocal delivery, but even though this album is less than 40 minutes, it gets boring by the end.
I really enjoyed this album. James Taylor's more soulful and bluesy songs made me realize just what a versatile vocal he is. I've always known him more as a folk singer/songwriter, but this album truly showed off his range. I'm only giving it four starts because there's nothing that's terribly new or groundbreaking on this album, but it is executed to perfection.
Jimi Hendrix's impact on the genre cannot be overstated. With his virtuosic playing, his onstage persona, and his experimentalism, he is the archetype for the rockstar. His debut opens with the career defining Purple Haze with its punchy opening riff and eastern influenced solo. Hendrix was not educated in music and this gave him the freedom to try things that others would not. Not every experiment was successful, and his lyrics often leave a lot to be desired, but his successes and innovation put him in the top tier of musicians and songwriters.
Though it’s only a few songs, this album takes its time to properly build each song without overstaying its welcome. One of my favorite things is Neil Young’s strange lead guitar lines and solos. He uses interesting rhythms and accidentals in his playing that give his solos a frantic yet earnest feeling that really suits this music.
This album has been difficult for me to get into. It's more sparse than I'm used to and despite the familiar rhythms (which have appeared in western music since) the melodies remain a bit out of reach. I'm sure that says more about me than the music itself, but maybe it'll click eventually
Amazing album that introduces some of Pink Floyd’s most enduring songs. The impact of WWII in Great Britain is explored in the beginning of this album as it develops the story of Pink, a rock star who builds a wall of separation between the world and himself. This album is indulgent, strange, and dark. Nevertheless, it is incredible in its scope both lyrically and musically
These guys were clearly listening to everyone at the time. The Beatles, Beach Boys, and Rolling Stones influence is clear. However, the Electric Prunes are clearly doing their own thing and doing it very well. Their music is varied, psychedelic, and dark. They are also experimenting with sounds and instrumentation in a way that still sounds interesting over 50 years later
I love Shoegaze, and in that realm, My Bloody Valentine reign supreme. This album is thoughtful, melodic, driving, messy, ethereal, and every other superlative. This is music on its own terms, willing to borrow from what came before, yet also willing to push the envelope forward in a new and exciting way.
A masterclass in songwriting, arrangement, and production. Dolly Parton expresses a naiveté that is endearing and allows her to inhabit an almost childlike space of wonder and unrequited love. The musicianship on this album is tight. For me, the bass really shines in an album that is a joy to listen to from start to finish.
Psychedelic soul is a super interesting genre and something I have not explored with the Temptations. There are experiments that don’t quite work, like a cover of ‘I heard it Through the Grapevine’ but there are some really great sounds on this album. ‘Runaway Child, Running Wild’ is a standout for me and a great jam. Of course this is still a Temptations record and so we still get those lush harmonies for which the group is known
The alt rock album of the 90s. The musicianship on this album is incredible. I’m particularly a big fan of the lead guitar lines and Jimmy Chamberlin’s drumming. Furthermore, Billy Corgan has a gift for melody that cuts through the albums heaviest moments
A solid rock opera. It reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' as it deals with themes of British class and identity especially in the wake of the wars. The instrumentation was simple but effective. I was not aware that the Kinks made any more conceptual work and I was pleasantly surprised to find a textured album full of social commentary.
This album features better songwriting than his debut and much more interesting arrangements. Songs like ‘little wing’ and ‘bold as love’ illustrate this well.
While this album had its moments, it was not my favorite effort by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Certain sounds were very dated and though I enjoyed the garage rock feel, there are much better examples out there
This album is a microcosm of the history of punk to 1979. There are more traditional punk songs, as well as songs that are clearly incorporating post-punk and new wave sounds. I found this album to be accessible and interesting while providing that sonic link from punk to what it evolved into. The musicianship was much better than a typical British punk band while retaining the lyrical force that typifies that music.
Another watershed jazz album. Brubeck's playing is complex and experiments with time signatures of various more 'exotic' influences. This coupled with Paul Desmond's acrobatic saxophone playing make this album groundbreaking and approachable.
Super interesting especially given their history as a band that arise from the ashes of Joy Division. The band is embracing electronic sounds influenced by club music yet can’t shake their new wave roots and the result is wonderfully moody and danceable music. This album has a great sense of space and doesn’t feel too cluttered; every layer is able to be heard clearly
Good hardcore punk. Punk is definitely not my go-to genre, but hardcore is my favorite sub genre. This is messy, angry, and driving, everything you want from a hardcore record.
Great production. It’s obvious that Kanye West has had a large hand in the production of this album. Jay-Z is really at his best here. The flow is good, the lyrics are punchy and memorable, and he’s still trying to establish his place at the top. Essentially, he still has to work for it. The only drawback of this album might be its length. The standout track for me was the Kanye West produced ‘Takeover’
Fantastic album. Herbie Hancock is a fusion pioneer and this album is an excellent yet accessible foray into jazz funk fusion. The songs are very well constructed and build gradually and naturally. The musicianship is top notch of course and driven by Hancock’s playing of the Fender Rhodes electric piano. The improv breaks are impressive as well. This album is an absolute genre bending classic.
Possibly the greatest album of the 1980s. This sprawling record is expansive, unsettling, ponderous, noisy, and driving. Sonic Youth. This album has had an immeasurable influence on grunge, indie, DIY, etc. which continues to this day.
One of their best. I grew up listening to earlier Motown, but this record is right up there with 'What's Going On' in terms of social awareness. I wasn't aware that the Temptations made records such as this, but I'm very glad it's been brought to my attention. The music itself is funky, soulful, and has an excellent grove. All in all, a great record.
Nice short doo wop album. This album, down to the title, is crafted to appeal to teenagers of the time. Nevertheless, the harmonies are crisp and precise. It is immediately clear that their influence was immense. The Everly Brothers influenced the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon and Garfunkel and I'm sure many others.
I have never listened to a Prince album, just isolated tracks. This album has a bit of everything from funk, jazz, rock, blues, and electronic influences. Prince is a phenomenal musician and guitar player and I’m excited to dig into his discography more
Willie Nelson bucked the system and instead of putting out over produced Nashville drivel, made a simple, stripped down country record structured as a concept album. Red Headed Stranger is the story of a preacher who kills his wife and lover and explores themes of loss, guilt, and longing. It’s exactly what needed to be made at the time
It has its decent moments and overall is a well produced album, but doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be. I enjoy the more new wave moments, but some of the drum machines and synth date the album and take away from the wonderful vocal and bass performances. Having said that, I’m glad to have been exposed to a-ha beyond ‘Take on Me’
It’s good. It’s not terribly unique or groundbreaking though. Having said that, I do enjoy French electronica. It’s was a good listen
I enjoyed this more than I was expecting. There are a lot of genres packed into this album spanning funk, ska, and some metal and new wave influences. The lyrics reflect a punk ethic and the music is energetic and joyous
There’s a lot to this album and I definitely need to listen to it again. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the nose, but the music itself is very interesting. It is darker and more filled out than U2’s previous work.
This is probably the greatest jazz album of all time. It is also the best statement of cool jazz. The addition of John Coltrane makes this album also one of the greatest jazz collaborations to exist.
Great skate punk/hardcore album. This album is not terribly groundbreaking, but it’s tons of fun and enjoyable all the way through.
I enjoyed the lyrical themes of this album quite a bit. It’s a very interesting slice of the post Thatcher/Reagan era told from the perspective of people who are still with the aftermath. Manic Street Preachers are the leaders of the Welsh music movement in the 90s and are a very important band. The music itself is brooding, stark and industrial at times, and punchy.
Incredible. This album is gritty and unique. The subject matter and the very style of the music itself match perfectly. Even without the lyrics, this album would still sound like the dejected of New York.
Otis Redding had such an expressive voice. It was versatile, acrobatic, yet had a persistent grit to it. However, on songs like 'I've Been Loving You Too Long,' his voice smooths out revealing its delicacy. His songs are buoyant with a lilting beat and a robust horn section. He simply inhabits the music in a way that only the best soul/R&B artists do.
From this debut one would think Kanye arrived on the scene fully formed. The samples are great, the beats are innovative as hell, and his production is absolute perfection. His fearlessness to incorporate so many disparate elements into hip hop truly set him apart from his contemporaries. He’s truly a cut above
You know how sometimes you listen to music you loved when you were younger and it just doesn’t sound as good? This is not one of those albums. If anything, I can better appreciate just has lush and layered this album is. It’s goddamned anthemic. Noel Gallagher’s songwriting is absolutely at its peak here. Oasis have never been the flashiest or boundary pushing band, but one thing they are is absolutely unique. No one sounds quite like them. There is not a single bad song on this album.
Very impressive and idiosyncratic art rock album. You can hear The Beach Boys influence and pop songwriting elements that would be incorporated into much of Paul McCartney’s early to mid 80s output. This band has both a pop sensibility and an avant garde sensibility that blend quite well on this album.
I’m not a huge metal fan but I really enjoyed Judas Priest. Rob Halford’s vocal delivery is fantastic and the music is driving yet still has a clarity to it. This album was released over a decade after Judas Priest formed and heralds the coming of thrash metal.
A good case can be made that punk has its origins in the late 1960s garage rock scene in Detroit which includes the Stooges and MC5. MC5 is what you get when people with counterculture sympathetic beliefs get angry and aggressive. The music is messy, distorted, and frenetic. Along with the purposefully provocative lyrics and stage show, MC5 is clearly a herald of the nascent punk scene
My partner is from the Detroit metro area and grew up not too far from where Kid Rock is from. Despite what he says in his music, he grew up well off. This album is full of empty posturing; he wants so badly to be able to claim a backstory like Eminem's but it's just not the case. Stylistically, kid rock isn’t doing anything new, but he’s definitely doing it worse. His flow is decent, but is often undercut by awful rhymes and cheesy metal interludes. He’s trying to be too much at once, a rags to riches rapper who actually grew up relatively affluent and a southernish redneck from the north who needs auto tune to get through a straight country song. His use of profanity is gratuitous beyond what is necessary and one wonders if his sexual prowess is a fraction of how he portrays it. This music is clearly designed to appeal to disaffected white people but comes off as disingenuous and unnecessarily confrontational. This is music that absolutely no one needed. At best, it's someone trying, and not succeeding at genre fusion, at the worst, it's a cynical ploy to sell records to white people who think they're hard.
The advent of doom metal. Black Sabbath adds minor scale melodics to a blues rock structure to create something new and ominous in this 1970 release. It's interesting to think about his album in context with other releases around that time. Truly nothing sounded like this. The longer experimental pieces (there are only five songs) are surprising digestible and must have been mind blowing at the time.
It wasn’t as good as ‘Pills n Thrills n Bellyaches’ but this album was useful to hear that blend of New Wave and electronic influences which became the Madchester sound. This album is heavily influenced by the talking heads, the smiths, and Lazyitis was very reminiscent of the Beatles’ Ticket to Ride. Overall a nice coherent transition album.
Great funky Afrobeat with a pan-African message. Very enjoyable and danceable. The production is very 90s but works well with the music.
A modern classic. The Flaming Lips take an unusual storyline (really only apparent in the first few songs) and explore themes of mortality and love. The music is dreamlike and uses both analog and digital instrumentation to create a lush backdrop.
Perhaps the first rock concept album. This album finds the Kinks taking on a softer sound and more socially observant lyrical focus. 1966 was a banner year for rock albums but I think this album compares favorably and contrasts well to the heavy hitters of that year, mainly Pet Sounds and Revolver
Very interesting mix. The music itself seems to be more Latin American inspired but the lyrics are sung in many languages including Spanish French and English. The music is infectious and very danceable. My Spanish isn’t as good as it used to be so I don’t understand as much as I like, but from what I’ve read, the lyrics have an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist
Terrific album both lyrically and musically. Janelle Monae manages to cross genre effortlessly without it being jarring or intrusive. She also subverts traditional pop and R&B chord progressions and allows there to be unresolved tension in her music to reflect the lyrical themes. Overall, a super impressive album all around.
This energetic show features heavy Chubby Checkers and Isley Brothers influences along with 1950's soul and R&B in general. Sam Cooke's delivery is incredibly charismatic. One of the great joys of this performance is just how much fun Cooke and his audience are having. It sounds like an absolute frenzy. Cooke's voice seemingly does not tire. It is truly a remarkable performance.
I first heard this album in high school and I just did not get it. This listen through went way better. The concept is interesting and seems to support what Pete Townsend has expressed in interviews about how he feels about the capitalist nature of his success despite his socially liberal political views. This album is self satirizing and earnest at the same time and is quintessentially The Who. The flow from song to song is great and nothing is misplaced
A good example of the emerging country/folk/rock inflected Laurel Canyon sound. This album was pleasant enough, but nothing about it really sticks with me. If anything, it's an interesting look into the careers of Neil Young and Stephen Stills before they became famous in their own right.
It’s pleasant enough and has some interesting chord changes, but it’s fairly bland. It’s almost as if this is an over westernized and sanitized Samba. The backing band sometimes sounds like it’s straight out of the 50s which is jarring considering what what going on musically in 1967. I’m a fan of Astrud Gilberto but this is just not produced the way it should have been. The jazz flute is great though.
As a guitarist who discovered the blues early on, I recognize this album;s role in bringing the blues to a wider US and UK audience in the early '60s. Muddy Water's influence on artists such as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and countless others cannot be overstated. His was the definitive statement of the Chicago Blues (by way of Mississippi). His music is buoyant, joyous, and super accessible.
The White Stripes are absolutely a back to basics rock band. This album features fairly simple songs with good riffs, memorable songwriting, and great delivery from both Jack and Meg White. But at the end of the day, the White Stripes sound like the White Stripes. They show that back to basics doesn't mean rehashing everything that went before, but doing something new with the fundamentals. Jack White's DIY ethic is important because it democratizes music, something that the rise of home recording has only expanded upon.
It’s a bit dated in some of its sounds, but for me this album is brilliant. Yes utilizes interesting rhythms, chord changes, and melodies to create music that stands apart especially in 1971. The jazz, blues, and classical influences are apparent and woven well into the music. The musicianship is phenomenal and the occasional suite like song structures further attest to this band’s ambition.
Very much in the Britpop vein from the drum sounds to the chord changes. I can also hear a fair bit of Neil Young and Radiohead influence as well. This album features memorable melodies as would be expected and some interesting instrumental bits. The last song with its period of silence was a bit annoying but overall, a good album and great exploration into the influence of Britpop
Lauryn Hill is insanely talented. She can sing, and she has one of the greatest flows in the game. Her songwriting is textured and deals with more complexity than her contemporaries. This album shows Hill navigating her life, love, the expectations of others, and her own strength to define who she is for herself. This album has already become a modern classic and it’s easy to see why.
This album has some really great moments especially where Billy Gibbons’ slide guitar playing takes over. It’s a solid rock album.
Intricately layered and beautifully produced. This album was incredibly influential when it came out and it holds up very well. These songs are so well written and constructed that it almost sounds less complex than it actually is. It is one of those albums which rewards multiple listens due to the amount of stuff going on in each song.
Aretha Franklin is perhaps the greatest singer in American popular music. Not only is she supremely talented, having superhuman control, dynamic, and range, she is one of the most expressive and ecstatic singers to ever record. Her studio records are brimming with energy as though she may burst out of the speakers at any time. This record is her Atlantic debut and leads with the career defining ‘Respect’. Her vocal performance throughout is exquisite and intimate
Decent metal, good riffs, grooves, and drumming. I enjoyed this album more than I’ve enjoyed most metal albums. The chord changes are more interesting and throw some seventh chords in there too which gives an almost Hendrix like quality to some of the phrasing. Jailbait was completely unnecessary.
Possibly the Doors finest and most coherent album. LA Woman is very blues driven and features some of Ray Manzarek’s best work on keys. The band as a whole plays very well on this album and Jim Morrison’s vocal delivery is energetic as always.
The greatest album of the 90s. This album not only represented a huge leap forward for Radiohead, but a huge leap forward for popular music in general. OK Computer saw Radiohead incorporating electronic sounds and effects while talking about themes of alienation and the rise of technology. The songs are incredibly well crafted and show such intentionality that it's hard to believe that Radiohead would continue to evolve beyond this album. It's as close to a perfect album as you can get.
Excellent pop music. The first half is very Michael Jackson influenced, especially his earlier work. The second half is a bit slower and contemplative sounding. Overall, this album is very heavy on 80s pop motifs with a bit of contemporary hip hop influence thrown in (though non-obtrusively). The lyrics are deliberately dense which I really like as it allows the music to create a mood around a song to get an emotional meaning across that's not as dependent on the musical content. This is not my usual genre but I found it well executed and enjoyable.
A great combination of beat and melody. This album takes French House a step further. The beats and resonant, solid, and occasionally glitchy while the melodies are memorable. Essentially, this album doesn't sacrifice musicality for the sake of the beat. It is one of the best electronic albums ever and still sounds fresh.
Great opening track. This album incredibly unique in its scope. Rock operas had been a thing for over a decade, but this album feels more like a rock musical with the way it's arranged. It's a fine distinction but I think it holds. I became a bit bored with the middle bit, but it certainly had some very bombastic and interesting moments.
Good blue eyed soul. Dusty Springfield gives some classic performances on this record that highlight her incredible voice. I find the influence of black music very interesting especially when one thinks about how it is repackaged for popular consumption.
Johnny Cash comes out swinging with a raucous album of outlaw country. Where ‘Live at Folsom Prison’ took a more contemplative tone, this album was high energy throughout. An absolutely exhilarating show
Interesting proto-trip-hop like album. It is perfectly good music, but didn't sway me one way or the other. The layering in some of the songs is quite fantastic though.
A manifesto of weird. This album is awesome. It is a combination of punk, surf, emerging new wave, and a lot of guts. This album could easily fall off the edge of the cliff into the inane, but it just stays in that sweet spot of weird and genius. The arrangement is perfect with driving bass and drums and guitar and synth lines that are instantly memorable and clear. The vocal delivery is occasionally silly, occasionally earnest, and occasionally feels like a street preacher trying to save your soul.
Elvis Costello crosses so many genres here you’d think it wouldn’t work. Not only does it work, it works in such a way that creates a sound that is unique to Elvis Costello. I can hear a strong Beatles influence as well as elements of reggae, punk, laurel canyon folk, and new wave. Elvis Costello’s vocal delivery is energetic and unique as well
I was in college when this music dominated the indie scene and as such, it has a nostalgic feeling for me when I hear it’s driving and contemplative melodies. In retrospect, I can see how much of this indie alternative musics sounds the same. Nevertheless, Deerhunter does that style very well.
This album was ok. The lyrics were really hit or miss. Lenny Kravitz is a good musician, but I think he tried to do too much on this one. His perspective however is really great. He is unapologetically black and isn’t afraid to infuse that into his music which borrows from funk, R&B, and a lot of Beatles.
Though a bit heavy handed at times, Meat is Murder is a classic album. Johnny Marr’s clean jangly guitar and Morrissey’s vocals and unique melodies come together seamlessly to create some of the most identifiable music of the post punk/new wave era. This is not my favorite Smiths album, but it is still top notch.
This album is dark, dreary, yet has a quality to it that makes it sound very much alive. The beats are driving and prominent, and the slight echo gives a sense of space and atmosphere. The Cure are incredibly influential and it is apparent on their second album just how important they are
This classic album from Alanis Morissette features a heavy backdrop of anger and angst which is channeled into post-grunge. This album is powerful and demands to be heard. Though I don't think this album is as successful as some of its contemporaries, it is extremely important in the history of popular music and is incredibly influential.
This album really spans the range of the Smashing Pumpkins. Here we see the band at their heaviest, softest, and most reflective. The two hour run time is a bit much, but this is such an essential album for this band and for the 90s that it doesn’t matter.
Ethereal and atmospheric. I enjoyed this album but it is not something I would choose to listen to. Having said that, I’m glad I gave it a listen and hope to return to it as there were a lot of elements that I really liked
Campy and ambitious, this album is the pinnacle of 70s rock excess. The vocal arrangements are genius and the meticulous and uncompromising layering of music stands apart. Brian May is one of my favorite guitarists and his Dixieland jazz layered solo in ‘Good Company’ is one of his best with the guitar simulating an entire brass section including a sliding trombone. Of course, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the climax of this album. That song is iconic on its own, but within the context of the album it becomes even greater. I adore this album
Deceptively 70s rock until it isn't anymore. Songs like 'On Some Faraway Beach' sound almost as if they could've been written by Arcade Fire or Neutral Milk Hotel. Though not as experimental and ambient as Eno's later work, this album challenges the notion of what popular music is.
Elvis embraces his country and soul side on this album. This album is very well produced but doesn’t quite capture the authenticity and energy of earlier soul albums. There are certainly some gems on this album and it is a great album by all accounts, but after the experimentation on the late 60s, this album sounds a bit behind
The Stones most coherent album. This album is widely regarded one of the greatest rock albums of all time and I agree to an extent. This album distills rock down into its necessary elements and delivers it in a soul/blues/country package. The songwriting is tight as well. I just am not seeing much experimentation here or with the Stones in general.
I’m Your Man represents a return to form for Leonard Cohen. The album has a sultry late night feel but is brighter than his previous work. It’s obvious why Tom Waits thinks so highly of this album. My only qualm is the synthesizer based production which grounds the music in a recognizably 80s sound and takes me out of the timelessness of Cohen’s music. Obviously it’s a brilliant album nonetheless
A year after Hendrix's death, this album brims with his influence. A combination of funk, acid rock, experimental music, and psychedelia, Maggot Brain is both accessible and transgressive in a way that only George Clinton can be. The musicianship on this album is unimpeachable.
The Fall were incredibly prolific and I’m not familiar with the rest of their work. This album is a perfectly fine new wave/post-punk album. I enjoyed the driving guitars and the unique vocal delivery but don’t really see what sets this album apart from earlier new wave bands, especially in the early nineties.
Some of Bob Marley’s most well known songs are in this album. Aside from that, this album is a joy to listen to. The music is purposeful, catchy, and driving. Marley’s lyrics span religion, politics, sex, and love
This album is so ridiculously ahead of its time. It honestly blew me away. The music builds gradually allowing the listener to hear the layers of distorted and electronic music. The vocal delivery seems punk and spoken word influenced.
I'm not a fan of Aerosmith at their best, and I'm certainly not a fan of this. This album is well executed and well mixed, but it's just not very good. I don't want to hear aging rock stars sing about their sexual exploits before going into pure cheese with the closing track. The music is just ok. If you want good hard rock, there are so many better and more genre defining options. The energy is there, the musicianship is fine, but there's just nothing memorable or groundbreaking about this. But I also like ambient noise so what the hell do I know.
The harmonies are incredible of course. The production is slick and a bit sterile and lacks the touch and soul that Brian Wilson and Phil Spector had. Nevertheless, this album is quite enjoyable and was a huge hit during its time and has given us memorable songs such as 'Monday, Monday,' and 'California Dreamin.' This album is doing something a bit different which in 1966 is saying a whole hell of a lot.
This album has moments of straight techno which melt into new wave and atmospheric rock. At times, the album is danceable and at others, ponderous. The way that the music constructs and deconstructs is interesting and adds to the simmering quality of some of the tracks. Overall, really enjoyable if a touch too long
PJ Harvey’s debut album does not sound like a typical debut album. She comes across as confident and in control of her artistic vision. The music is textured and utilizes changes in dynamic very well. The sound is mature and stands out amongst the mountain of alternative music that came out in the early 90s.
I have never listened to a full Bestie Boys album before. I was surprised to find it full of jazz, funk, and rock idioms. Their blending of genre is seamless and shows where hip hop will go in 15-20 years later with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar. I was surprised and impressed. I'm still not the biggest fan of their vocal delivery style, and their flow is a bit rudimentary.
I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. The lead vocals were powerful and enjoyed the black centric lyrics that are damn near absent from alternative metal. However, I just didn’t find much to this album that was terribly innovative musically especially in 1999
Ray Charles delivers an excellent vocal performance. However, in the wake of what was happening in jazz at the time, his big band backed vocals sound a little dated. His piano playing is bluesy and is often subtle. Overall, a wonderfully coherent album if not a bit samey.
This album sees Neil Young grappling with the urge to settle down into a quiet place with someone he loves. The impulse is universal and it leads to a richly textured folk country album that includes some of Young’s most enduring songs.
Solid west coast rap. The rhythm section on this album really stands out with classic soul and funk lines. Overall this album is very well balanced. My biggest issue is the portrayal of women in this album though Yo-Yo’s inclusion is a good counterbalance to his misogyny. Ice Cube’s flow is good with moments that break out of contemporary patterns and anticipate the more creative rapping to come
PJ Harvey does not disappoint with a more delicate and wavering voice which communicates the disillusionment that is found throughout this album. The music is more atmospheric with jangly new wave inspired guitars which further build the sense of disillusionment and distrust
A striking meditation on god, love, and death. Leonard Cohen has always had tension throughout his work, but this album sees the tension unresolved and left to us, the listener. His voice and the subtle instrumentation command attention and leave the listener with a profound sense of loss.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but this album was truly great. Elements of Britpop meet influences such as the Beatles, Radiohead etc. to form a lush textured album that is familiar and new at the same time. I find rock albums from this time tend to sound a lot like each other but this album stands out. I loved the instrumentation as well
I really liked it at the beginning, but it does start to drag. I found the lyrics playful which made me want to listen in, but the album just got so repetitive that I had to break it into chunks to listen to it. There was a lot of upbeat slightly electronic inspired rock music in 2007 and this effort is better than most, but overall, I didn't find it to be earth-shatteringly good
Though not as coherent as ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ Oasis’ debut is energetic and full of memorable songs. This band came on the scene knowing exactly who they were. Their sound is developed and their delivery is spot on
I remember System of a Down from when I was in middle school and high school. I was not allowed to listen to them. I was extremely pleasantly surprised to find a very interesting album with interesting melodies and guitar lines. It kept my attention the whole time and this is a genre I never listen to by choice.
This is the best example of Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound' production technique. Though it was incredibly influential, this technique can muddy the background quite a bit. Playing the studio like an instrument was new in the early sixties and would truly come to fruition in the hand of Brian Wilson and the Beatles several years later.
The music was strong. The instrumentation was expansive giving the album a symphonic feel. There was also a strong sense of melody and whimsy. I only know John Cale through his work his work with the Velvet Underground but though this was very different, this art pop stands very well on its own.
I’m not too familiar with Cat Stevens, but I found this album to be very pleasant. Stevens’ brand of folk is fairly typical of the time being driven by piano and guitar. He has an impeccable sense of melody but for me, this music just doesn’t push the boundaries.
Elliott Smith with a backing band has a very Beatles-esque sound. The song writing is great, the musicianship and instrumentation is great, and the production is perfect. Instant classic
Swampy bayou rockabilly in the hands of a few men from the Bay Area translates incredibly well. John Fogerty’s voice has the perfect amount of grit and expressiveness and seems made for this type of music.
Almost like The Who meets the Kinks with a touch of new wave.
One of the greatest rock debut albums of the 70s, Boston’s self titled album delivers on tight suite like rock. Tom Scholz was a home recoding pioneer and many effects and techniques were developed by Scholz and became industry standard for a time. The vocals are powerful and the instrumentation is sweeping, classically influenced, and carefully orchestrated. I might call this baroque rock instead of power pop.
This is the best shoe gaze album of all time. It is atmospheric, occasionally discordant, and beautifully layered. This album is almost like looking at something through frosted glass and gives me a nostalgic sense for something I’ve never experienced. It is absolutely breathtaking
Wonderful album with great instrumentation. There an anthemic quality to this album that characterizes a lot of Britpop, but there’s a lot of art rock influence here also. I definitely hear the influences of Bowie and the Smiths.
Highway 61 Revisited is a contender for Bob Dylan's greatest, and that is saying a lot. This is Dylan's first 'rock' album as it were, with Bringing it All Back Home having an acoustic half. The album is tinged with blues and country and runs the gamut from straightforward to experimental songs. Of course, this album is famous for what might be the greatest song ever recorded, 'Like a Rolling Stone.' The album is sprawling and far reaching in a way that only the greatest novels are.
This is a watershed album. It is remarkably coherent and engaging from beginning to end. The Cure’s goth edged post-punk is unique and influential. This album gave rise to some of the most enduring music of the last 30 years
Another album at the intersection of R&B and Soul. There's a wide range of influences on this album including some Bossa Nova, and county/western. Though Solomon Burke has a great voice, I understand why he was overshadowed by others in the Soul/R&B scene. He's not as explosive as James Brown, or Sam Cooke (live). His instrumentation is more sparse and calls to mind a more '50s style of instrumentation.
Not as good as other psychedelic albums of the era. In fact, I get the feeling that by the time Iron Butterfly made this album, psychedelic music was just another aesthetic that could be employed. There is nothing terribly original about this music. The singer sounds like he’s doing an Elvis impersonation the whole time, and the title track is 17 minutes of self indulgent noodling.
This album blew me out of the water. Nina Simone's voice and delivery demands attention. It is textured, deep (contralto), and arresting. Everything about this album is striking down to the socially conscious lyrics. This is one of those albums that make me understand the simple power the human voice can have.
This album is a socially conscious blend of soul and cool jazz that at times seems to predict the eventual rise of rap with Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken delivery. This album is somewhat conversational which lends a sense of intimacy that makes its message effective
Stereolab is very hard to categorize. They simultaneously anticipate sounds that would dominate in the following years, yet do so by using sounds from the past across all genres. This album contains sounds that would become popular a decade later and sounds that are familiar and well worn. However, the only drawback to this album is its length.
This was a pretty fun album. The use of samples was interesting and I generally enjoy the Beastie Boys’ style of hip hop. The only downside to this album was some of the lyrics that felt like forced rhymes and the delivery itself which is dated.
Yes is one of the few bands who can pull off an 18 minute song. This album is lush, very well constructed and contains moments which sound surprisingly contemporary. With its use of unusual rhythms and jazz fusion like melodic lines, this album pushes hard on what it means to be a ‘progressive rock’ band. At points this album sounds like contemporary indie folk before dropping into a fusion groove. The harmonies give a CSN vibe within a completely new format. Simply put, this album shouldn’t work, but it just does
This album is responsible for much of the trend towards roots rock and Americana beginning in the 1970s and as such its influence can be felt in contemporary music as well. To top it off, this album contains a couple of songs that were co-written with Bob Dylan thus lending some additional folk credence to what is already a genre defining album.
Though not as explosive as their previous album, Celebrity Skin shoes that Hole was one of best rock bands of the late 1990s. Courtney Love’s vocals are as amazing as ever and the music is solid.
Sarah Vaughan has one of the most beautiful and versatile voices I have ever heard. This album is perfect down to the vocals, the accompaniment, and her natural humor. I absolutely adore this artist and this album.
It’s hard not to think of this album as a Wu Tang Clan album with its cinematic interludes and mafioso centric themes. RZA’s production is phenomenal and Raekwon’s vocal performance with its dynamic flow and shifting rhythms make this album stand out and place it in the upper echelons of 90s east coast rap. I loved this album.
There’s quite a lot going on here. I hear orchestral pop, folk rock, country, electronics, Britpop, and jazz but it doesn’t exactly sound like a blend. It sounds like a jumble of musical references that don’t really create something new. The songwriting is a bit lazy with quite a few lines sounding like they were written to preserve a rhyme. It’s not offensive, but it’s just trying sound more forward thinking than it actually is.
Bitches Brew gets a lot of acclaim, but this transition album sees the advent of fusion. Here we can see the development from modal jazz forms to include more blues, funk, and even some rock elements. This album is also more accessible.
Great mambo album clearly meant to get people dancing. The orchestration is tight and the singing is clear and jaunty. It owes a lot to earlier big band records. In a way, it is both groundbreaking and looking to the past through its fusion of Latin rhythms into big band jazz of previous years
Amazing as always. Aretha Franklin had one of the most powerful voices in popular music. Lady Soul contains two of her greatest hits, but is enjoyable and explosive throughout. Her level of vocal control is remarkable and she never over or under sings. The musical backing is well arranged and highlights her voice well.
A seminal record which helped launch the new school style, Run-D.M.C. features drum machines, more aggressive delivery (relatively), and emphasizes the DJ alongside the MC. With rock and funk tinges, this album is more coherent and intentional than a lot of old school records. The only drawback for me is just how dated it sounds
Not my thing. The music is mediocre though it is well arranged and performed. I’m not a fan of shock rock because it’s transgressive simply for the effect. There’s not really anything of substance behind it and it’s not really saying anything profound. It’s gimmicky
As much as I appreciate how experimental and influential this album is. For me it didn’t click. I enjoy all of the elements that make up this album, however they did not mesh together well. While some transitions were interesting, others were quite jarring. I appreciate the incorporation of a diverse set of instruments, however, it did come across as a bit amateurish.
Buck Owens was a pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound and this album is a phenomenal example of it. Buck Owens is extremely expressive and melancholic which makes his music very effective. This album is essential for anyone who wants to understand the history of popular music.
Great album with interesting rhythms and topical lyrics. This album was also hugely influential on later bands and is considered to be one of the greatest albums of the 70s. I found the mix of post-punk, funk, and dub to be particularly compelling
Ironically, after Eric Clapton's departure and his subsequent replacement with Jeff Beck, the Yardbirds sound trended toward the blues inflected and more psychadelic/experimental. The vocals are great, the bass is forward and melodic, and Jeff Beck's guitar playing is phenomenal. I prefer Jeff Beck to Clapton on most cases and in 'Jeff's Boogie,' you can hear him experimenting with harmonics and a virtuosity that would characterize his later more jazz/fusion influenced work.
The first few songs have a bit of a Grateful Dead meets David Bowie feel before the prog/art rock really takes hold. Brian Eno’s contribution is immense and hints at his ambient music aspirations. Frankly this album absolutely blew me away. The suite like nature of the album plays best as a whole and the genre fluidity works very well for them. This album is way ahead of its time and parts of it sound like it could have been released by contemporary independent artists.
This was an incredibly enjoyable album. The beats were strong and I could hear influences ranging from Latin music to funk and nineties R&B. Common is also a very gifted lyricist and rapper. My only complaint is the 77 minutes runtime.
The backing music is ponderous at times and weaves wonderfully through jazz and R&B motifs. This albums suffers from its length the most. If this album cut a few songs, it would flow so much better. Because the backing is just there to support a singer, it just isn’t enough to keep interest for too long despite how skillful it is. There are some really great songs her though.
First of all, I’m not the biggest fan of metal. It’s not something I listened to growing up but as my palate expands I’m giving it another go. Having said that, I loved this album. It was cohesive, cinematic, and the musicianship was incredible. James Hetfield’s vocal delivery is supercharged and clear, Cliff Burton’s baselines are acrobatic and driving, Lars Ulrich’s drumming is precise and full of momentum, and Kirk Hammett’s lead guitar is melodic and virtuosic without being muddy. This album is cohesive and exciting despite its 54 minute running time.
Driving, sexual, anthemic. This album is obviously in the upper echelons of popular music. Prince was a musical chameleon and this album reflects his best. His musicianship is understated despite the fact that his guitar playing is some of the best. He always did what was best for the song at hand.
For me, Guns and Roses stand above other guitar driven bands in the 80s. The musicianship is better, the songwriting is better, and overall they are much better at avoiding some of the hair metal cliches that would not age well. While this album contains some filler, it also contains some of the best known rock songs of all time. It is gritty while maintaining a sensitive undertone and that vulnerability and confidence set it apart from your run of the mill 80s rock albums.
Enjoyable album but not a genre I’m very familiar with.
First of all, the lyrics are a bit too horny on this one. The speaking in tongues bit is also weird and unnecessary. Furthermore, the music on this album isn’t groundbreaking in any way. It’s really just bluesed up folk guitar with a few superficial jazz elements. Again, nothing terribly influential
Great album. Blur's struggle with genre and identity resulted in a sprawling album that goes beyond Britpop. Though the Britpop style still shines through at various points, this album is more fluid and incorporate more aggression and emotion than their previous work. The punk influence and emerging indie rock influence can be clearly heard.
A masterpiece of an album. Paul Simon is one of the greatest American songwriters and this album showcases his lyrical talent brilliantly. Of course, the delivery is sublime. Though their working relationship was fraught, Simon and Garfunkel are two of the most gifted singers and seem to fall in a complex yet natural harmony that still electrifies. Once again, here we have an album that manages to stand out in 1966, a year full of transformative music.
Good house music with some late 80s hip hop influence. This album is optimistic and bouncy. However, it just doesn’t do much for me. I did enjoy it though, it’s just not something I would choose to listen to.
Chuck D’s lyrics are insightful and hit at the root of social issues with surgical precision. His critiques of the effects of advertising and mass media on the black community still ring true over thirty years later. There is some filler on this album but overall, it’s accessible and instructive
One of the greatest comeback albums of all time. Johnny Cash did not shy away from the uncomfortable and wasn’t afraid to share his spotlight with those cast out by society. This set showcases Cash’s empathy, skill as a live performer, and ability to connect with an audience. June Carter’s appearance is another highlight.
Great use of samples especially of Lomax collected blues music. The music is upbeat and driving which prevents the album from dragging which is necessary for an album that is about an hour long. I enjoy the use of blues/RnB samples with an electronic and string overlay. It adds a different depth of emotion to an already emotional genre. The strings particularly add an expansiveness with a tinge of melancholy.
I liked it more than I was expecting to. The industrial edge was really cool though the synth horns did date the album a bit. The first half was definitely stronger than the first. It was like listening to proto-Rammstein
Pleasant, non offensive but not terribly groundbreaking in any way. I did enjoy it though
This album is sweeping and lively. It features some of Dylan’s best and most confessional vocals (though Dylan himself would say otherwise). The music itself is textured and warm lending a nostalgic folk rock feel to the album. In the aftermath of the singer songwriter phenomenon on the late sixties early seventies, this album shows that Dylan was still very much his own force, and simply a cut above the rest
The album didn’t grab me at first. However, once it got going I began to enjoy it more. Elvis Costello’s mix of rock, pop, punk, and a bit of jazz makes his music stand out. His use of melody is very interesting and he is clearly not afraid to genre hop. There is some filler on this album, but when it’s good, it’s really good
This album really impressed me. I would even hesitate to call it post-punk due to the wide musical scope this album encompasses. It is clearly influenced by 60s garage rock and the Doors, has a driving post punk feel, and is backed by well placed string arrangements. This synthesis of influences is not limited to a backward looking focus. There are melodic moments that wouldn’t be out of place on a 2000s indie record as well.
This album sits on the edge between Britpop and 2000s indie rock. The music is enjoyable and driving even if it’s not the most innovative thing I’ve ever heard. The melodies are memorable and remind me a bit of Oasis. The vocals have a Mick Jagger like swagger to them that really suits the music.
This album exists in the space between enjoyability and innovation. First of all, the album is very accessible and has a great groove. The bass lines stand out to me the most aside from the trumpet and flugelhorn. This music is infused with a healthy dose of soul making this album a sort of fusion more than straight jazz. This album still features Miles Davis like passages and modal jazz chord changes that appeal to jazz snobs. Overall a great album.
The incredible thing about this album is the fact that you cannot tell that these songs were originally country songs. I'm not sure if it's intended, but this album is a testament to the fact that genre is something to be transcended. People often define their musical tastes by genre, and this album subverts that assumption completely. As someone who enjoys country music, jazz, and R&B, this album is a celebration of music period. This album is very deserving of the praise it gets.
The music is the most interesting thing about this album. Though it is pretty typical 90s driving guitar, bass, and drums, the use of piano throughout and the new wave style bass lines help to open it up and lend a sense of expansiveness. Like a lot of other reviewers, the lyrics are by far my least favorite part. They come off as obsessive and faux edgy making it very difficult to sympathize with the singer. Overall, the album is fine and perfectly enjoyable. I just wish the lyrics were better.
This album is very 80s by which I mean heavy on the synthesizer and drum machines in a very particular way. Having said that, I enjoyed this album more than I expected to. Tina Turner is a powerhouse of a vocalist and this album showcases her emotional range as well. ‘I can’t stand the rain’ is the standout track for me.
This is my current favorite album. Sufjan Stevens is a master of weaving history, emotion, place, and music together into an unassailable whole. His instrumentation is expansive enough to accompany his diversity in lyrical content and his use of melody rank him among the best. This album means a lot to me personally, but it’s the cinematic, suite-like, textured, ambitious whole that brings me back.
Ice T is not afraid to go beyond genre and reclaim rock and rolls black roots. This attitude and openness elevate this album and makes it stand out among early 90s gangster rap. He raps clearly and though he’s not the most acrobatic rapper, everything fits together well.
This album is messy, the musicianship is lacking, and it’s perfect for what it is. The Sex Pistols were marketed specifically to appeal to the nascent punk scene but they brought their own brand of sneer and anti-establishment politics to the mix. While it may be doubtful that Johnny Rotten and co. were actual anarchists, there is something to their critique of a pre Thatcher Britain that is genuine and angry
This is probably the Rolling Stones' best album. It is certainly one of their most consistent. For me at least, their catalog is a full of filler with moments of genius. However, this album stand out because it is enjoyable throughout while preserving what makes the Rolling Stones great, their origin as a blues band. This album has grit, flirts with a country tinge sound, and is bookended by two of the greatest songs in rock n roll history. This release of this album was marred by the Altamont tragedy, and as such, is often written about as heralding the death of the 60s. However, this album stands outside the time in which it was released and is one of the greatest rock records ever made.
Early new wave sound still very much influenced by punk. I heard a lot of the Kinks in this album. I enjoyed the strange lyrical content and the playfulness with rhythms. Overall not a bad album. I can definitely see how this links to later new wave and post punk sounds
Simultaneously avant- grade yet accessible. This album sounds both old and new with its driving repetitive rhythms and virtuosity. This album runs a bit long, but it is interesting enough to be worth sitting through. I can hear the influence of this band in other artists that followed up through the present day.
This is a strikingly good debut album. While the ideas are not as well developed as on later releases, this album showcases the imagery that would hit its zenith on ‘Infected.’ The synth pop is infectious and avoids much of the trappings that leave much of 80s pop sounding dated.
This album defies genre. It opens with new wave, and progresses through tinges of punk, hardcore, and even crosses over into power ballad territory. This album has been immensely influential and it is rightfully seen as one of the greatest albums of the 80s
This an exceptional album. The first half has a dense orchestrated feel that feels expansive in a way that Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ feels. The latter half is primarily experimental instrumental driven by Brian Eno. The album communicates a sense of Cold War uncertainty yet stands on its own.
The best album of 1966 and a contender for best album of the 60s outright. Brian Wilson took a break from touring after a panic attack and decided that he wanted to take the Beach Boys' sound in a more experimental and introspective direction. He built upon Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' with his own unique orchestrations and ended up with one of the lushest and best produced albums of all time. Here Wilson is at his creative apex both melodically and harmonically. The tone of the album is melancholic and full of longing. The melodies are acrobatic and delicate, and the harmonies are full of depth.
An exceptionally produced and delivered album. Kanye West’s contribution gives this album a sense of optimism and takes Common’s work into new territory. This album exudes warmth and reminded me of What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, both in feel and by the album cover itself. The album only suffers because it is not innovative. It is however, Common’s most cohesive.
I’m usually a fan of diy indie music but this album just fell a bit flat for me. Maybe I just need to give it a few more listens. I enjoyed the first few songs which seemed to have a haziness to them that I found interesting. The entire middle of the album ran together for me but I did enjoy the last couple of songs.
This album is damn near perfect. It has tight vocal harmonies, amazing musicianship, and is a masterclass in melody. Stylistically, this album covers everything from bossa nova, to jazz, and pop. Similarly, the arrangement is top notch and the album is very produced.
This is not my favorite Funkadelic album, but that being said, this album is still pretty great. It opens strong and features call backs to earlier songs and lyrically expands the George Clinton universe a bit more. This album is joyous and lighter than Maggot Brain yet still has some absolutely phenomenal bass lines and arrangements.
An expansive and unusual album. The beginning is rather dirgelike before taking off into a horn filled modal jazz like middle section. This album is tinged with pastoral British folk passages undergirded by experimental lyrics and instrumentation. It’s honestly rather brilliant.
A quintessential hip hop album of the mid 90s. This album is such a great encapsulation of east coast rap with its swing beats and its elements of jazz and world music. My only criticism is some of the misogyny in the lyrics though compared to some contemporaries, this album is pretty tame. The flow is acrobatic and the lyrics are clear and often socially conscious.
This album is musically interesting. It’s somewhat of a transitional album that combines Joni Mitchell’s folk sensibilities with a jazz foundation. The result is an album that still sounds undeniably like Joni Mitchell but manages to push her sound forward. The lyrics paint real life with profundity and Mitchell’s voice is the perfect carrier for those words.
Very San Francisco. Elements of folk, psychadelia, bluegrass, flamenco, and classical music come together with fantasy-esque lyrics to create a surreal album that transcends classification. Lead singer Sal Valentinto's vocals echo Dylan in tone and delivery, but are unique in their own way. This album deserves several listens at the least.
Throw genre out the door because it has no place on this record. Perhaps we could call it noise punk; it certainly fits the punk ethos. This album conjures feelings of disconnection and seems to be a gross parody of music and society. However, for whatever reason, it really appeals to me and I throughly enjoyed this album.
This album came off the heels of Eric Clapton's departure from the Yardbirds due to his disatisfaction with their pop heavy sound. This band and album acted as an incubator for Clapton before he went on to have a hugely successful career with Cream, Blind Faith, and as a solo act. The music is standard and Clapton is clearly the stand out, especially with his vocal debut on a cover of Robert Johnson's Ramblin' on My Mind.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this album. It seems to have predicted the rise of early 2000s alternative rock and I even heard the seeds of pop punk in there as well.
I am a big fan of Celtic punk and the Pogues are largely responsible for popularizing it. This album is at times angry, political, and endearingly reflective. Shane MacGowan’s distinctive delivery can be heard in later bands such as Flogging Molly, and serves to highlight his influence. The music itself is brilliant. Combining punk forms with traditional Irish instrumentation is a unique and effective hybrid and one that allows for the expression of a cultural identity within a popular genre.
After the maximalism of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West released the minimalist Yeezus. The album opens with a jarring synth which sets the stage for the aggressive confrontational lyrics. This may not be my favorite Kanye album, but it’s definitely the last great album he released
This album was part of the garage rock revival movement in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs combine fuzzy rock elements with art punk to form an exciting driving music that features the extraordinary vocals of Karen O. A lot of the elements here can be heard in later indie rock music yet it still sounds fresh to me despite being over 20 years old.
This album is expansive in a way that I wasn’t expecting from an 80s post punk/alternative band. The melodies were well developed and memorable as well. This album provided the groundwork for the shoegaze movement as well, which I’m a huge fan of. The guitars are over distorted and fuzzy but the vocals are clear. Though this album can be characterized as noise rock, it’s strong melodic tendencies elevate it to something else entirely.
It started off strong but by the middle had started to blend into itself. It’s fairly standard new wave folky stuff with an interesting guitar sound that is almost flamenco like at times. The lyrics felt a bit forced at times as well.
Blonde came out of the CBGB scene in New York City and as such this album reflects the pop rock and nascent New Wave influences of that time. This album is packed full of memorable songs driven by Debbie Harry’s powerful voice. The guitar and synth are both memorable and the melodies are great.
It was promising after the first track but there’s no sense of variation in dynamic. It remains a testosterone driven rave scene album which is great if you’re at a rave. There’s not much of substance here which is fine for what it is. It’s fun, driving, and clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I liked it. The synth is obviously very dated, but the melodies are interesting. The lyrics are very politics and reflect the time during Reagan’s ascension during the Cold War and as such are pessimistic. I certainly see why this album is worth listening to, but it is so rooted in its own time that it’s hard to see its universality.
This album steps away from the folk revival aesthetic while sounding unmistakably like Simon & Garfunkel. Bookends centers thematically around a cycle of life exploring themes such as youth, old age, and insecurity. The album is grounded thematically by the Bookend Theme which quite literally bookends side one. The sound montages further set this album apart as a conceptual work, but it is still undergirded by Paul Simon's distinctive lyrics and the lush vocal harmonies for which Simon & Garfunkel became famous.
I enjoyed this album quite a bit. The samples and beats were classic east coast hip hop with the jazzy feel and the vocal delivery was very intentional and methodical. Though this album was long, I was able to get through it without any fatigue
This was the first Tom Waits album to do well. It captures the feel of a smoky jazz club with its live audience. Waits is a natural performer and certainly knows how to work a crowd. As always, his lyrics find themselves with the overlooked of society and the music is loose but well arranged. He has a unique ability to capture the profundity in the profane and this album hints at his best work yet to come.
John Lennon’s second album is portrait of a man who is at a crossroads and is trying to figure out who he is. This inner turmoil is also reflected in the shifts in genre from the placid and occasionally lush (classic Phil Spector production), to the more country/rockabilly, and rock and roll influences tracks. Lennon is contemplative, remorseful, and angry all in a 40 minute span. He ends and starts the album with no answers to the deeper questions but with the knowledge that love and humanity are the heart of the answer.
I really wanted to like it more than I did. I enjoy the music and I think it's well arranged. It's a great example of 2000s British indie rock/dream pop. However, the vocal delivery just doesn't do it for me. It's not that I don't like the style, it just seems to be someone trying to do Morrissey and Thom Yorke at the same time. It comes off as a bit too on the nose. I can't shake the feeling that this band is trying too hard to be the next Radiohead while sounding a bit like the Smiths.
This album is incredibly important and for that it gets credit. However, this album is also quite uneven. It oscillates between rap, funk, electronica, and even outright easy listening in ‘You Are.’ I’m a fan of range on an album, but here it can be jarring. The bass work in this album is phenomenal and the singing is great though some of the harmonies fall flat. I’m a fan of the synth here as well as dated as it is. Lyrically this album has moments of social criticism and it’s there where it has its greatest moments. The best track by far is of course ‘The Message.’
Morrissey’s first solo album strikes a different tone from his work with the Smiths. He has an incredible gift for melody and his voice and delivery style are iconic. There are some truly incredibly songs on this album. One song that I found challenging was ‘Bengali in Platforms.’ I know this song is controversial, and while I see how this song could be seen as darkly ironic, the use of the word ‘belong’ is a bit troublesome to me.
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Joan Armatrading before. Her music is a seamless mix of funk, country, and folk that is lush and driving. Her voice is versatile and her songs are well written.
What a delightfully strange album. It’s part ode and part send up of English life with a psychedelic twist. The album spans genres though it is mostly whimsical folky psychedelic music punctuated by bluesy heavier tracks. I can hear shades of David Bowie in this album and believe that it must have been an influence on him.
This album really took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a wonderfully layered and atmospheric album. I like when albums take their time to build and allow each layer to be savored. The sounds of wind and the ocean really added to the effect. The use of the driving Motorik beat, typical of Krautrock, kept the songs moving. The more contemplative tracks are punctuated by high energy tracks which read more like proto-punk while still featuring the droning synth in the background and the Motorik beat.
Physics Graffiti is a sprawling album that contains some of Led Zeppelin’s most straightforward hard rock songs as well as some of their most exploratory and experimental such as Ten Years Gone and Kashmir. There is also a good deal of slower folky and bluesy songs that round this album out as a full representation of Zeppelin’s range. It runs a bit long but it’s well done.
Possibly the best Talking Heads album. David Byrne is at his songwriting peak here blending his surreal lyrics that satirize society with his unique blend of funk, world beat, and new wave. This album is fearless and in being so, sounds like nothing but the Talking Heads. This album is a tremendous achievement and though it was released at the top of the decade, may be the best album of the 80s
Another incredible album by Marvin Gaye. This album takes us through his divorce and the wide ranging emotions that come with that. He oscillates from expressing anger, reconciliation, sadness, defensiveness and finally acceptance. His vocals are tortured and magnificent. I loved the use of thematic grounding around the phrase ‘When did you stop loving me, when did I stop loving you.’ It’s gives the album a sense of unity to persist through the roller coaster of sheer emotion
This album is what would happen if the fifties were resurrected as zombies and given instruments. This mix of rockabilly, surf, goth rock, and punk is really fascinating though it doesn’t particularly appeal to me personally. Fifties rock and punk don’t seem at first glance like they would compliment each other, but due to the simplistic chord structures, they are natural compliments.
Interesting to be sure. The grooves are very open and spacious with lots of room for the variety of sounds and textures to inhabit. This allows the music (and language of the lyrics) to be incredibly varied while still being intelligible as a coherent album. That being said, there's nothing in this album that feels cutting edge to me though the album is pleasant to listen to. I am biased of course and think that what we call 'world music' should be refined quite a bit to reflect that there is not just one dominant form of music with other minority categories.
This album reflects a transitory period where Kraftwerk was blending electronic influences and coming out of their Krautrock origins. This album is atmospheric and melodic. Though it is not as fully realized as their later work. It documents early experimentation and for that reason alone it belongs in this list.
Transformer is a huge departure from Lou Reed’s work with the Velvet Underground. While it still focuses on the transgressive elements of New York City, this album is driven by a very camp aesthetic that reminds me of the Kinks more experimental work. Perhaps this can be explained by its British production and recording. David Bowie’s production lends a glam rock feel, but there are jazzy American elements here as well that ground it as definable Lou Reed.
This album is a mix of everything happening in rock in the mid 90s. I hear aspects of grunge, pop, garage, and Britpop. It oscillates quite a bit. I hear shades of early Radiohead, some Nirvana like melodic lines, and the seeds of what sounds like pop punk. It’s perfectly fine, but I’ve heard these genres done better though the mixing is interesting.
I really enjoyed this album. Bobby Womack’s voice is so versatile and can be as smooth or gritty as he needs. I was also very impressed with how fluidly he goes between and mixes genres. I was surprised to hear slide guitars in one song. His mix of soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, and even country is energetic and incredibly well done.
This one was a new one for me. I enjoyed much of the lead guitar playing. Neil Young has a very distinct lead style that incorporates blues and jazz motifs with unusual rhythms. Some songs here miss the mark while others show Neil Young pushing himself into new territory.
This is a symphonic pop masterpiece. Harry Nilsson employs techniques from Brian Wilson, the Beatles, and Phil Spector to create an idiosyncratic album that is occasionally silly, and always well produced and arranged. The lush orchestration complements the close harmonies perfectly to create something that has commercial appeal yet pushes the genre forward.
This album has been a top five album for me for quite a while. Though I’m more partial to the 2011 release made with the original 1967 tapes, this release is more fleshed out and features lyrics that were never recorded by The Beach Boys. I won’t rehash the history of this album, but it was intended as The Beach Boys’ follow up to Pet Sounds. I firmly believe that if this album had been completed and released, it would have eclipsed Sgt. Pepper in its influence. Just its mystery alone, along with bootlegs cobbled together by fans as speculative releases gave credence to this album’s supposed genius. And genius is exactly what I would call this album. It is a kaleidoscope of Americana with ponderous and abstract lyrics by the great poet Van Dyke Parks told through Brian Wilson’s incredible and complex songwriting. Themes arise and are revisited and inverted to thread the album together to culminate in the emotional release of Good Vibrations in what is perhaps the most satisfying ending to an album ever. Surfs Up remains my favorite pop song and this album is always in heavy rotation.
Written and recorded by Dave Grohl in the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s death, this debut album is a strong start to what would become one of the best known alternative rock acts of the 90s and 2000s. The first half is its strongest, and is clearly reminiscent of Nirvana, Grohl’s previous band. The melodies are strong and some moments remind me of the Beatles and Oasis. Overall I’m not a huge fan of the Foo Fighters, but I appreciate this album for what it is and what it allowed Dave Grohl to do.
This album was influential to the point where it was preserved by the Library of Congress which is ironic considering its anti-establishment message. First of all, much of the messaging here has aged poorly. The misogyny, homophobia, and toxic masculinity are not necessary to the central message of this album and take away from in in retrospect. Some of these beats are incredible while others feel stuck in the 80s. I enjoyed the use of samples some of which are some of the best sample work I’ve ever heard. This album feels like it’s in between styles and on the cusp of developing a more complex flow pattern while still having a foot firmly in straight 80s style delivery. Caveats aside, this album is one of hops hop’s statement records and with good reason. Here we see the emergence of g-funk and gangsta rap.
This album is immaculately constructed. The way the music builds and complements itself is masterful. Each instrument is clear and the whole is spacious and atmospheric. The production is crisp though it sounds a bit dated. Overall, I really enjoyed this album though a lot of it sounds similar.
There’s not much here. The music is fairly standard late 90s rock. It’s unimaginative, especially when you consider how much innovative music came out of the late 90s. There is an excessive amount of noodling much of it repetitive and not terribly constructive. It sounds fine but it just doesn’t seem to belong on this list
This music is executed very well. John Martyn is exceptionally musically literate and manages to bring together folk, jazz, and soul into one coherent whole. Incredibly, his playing and song structures reflect an incredibly nuanced understanding of his music works such that it doesn’t sound like he’s just adding jazz flourishes for color, he understands what he’s doing and why it works. The vocal delivery is reminiscent of Nick Drake and overall this music is identifiable at the outset as part of the British folk movement
It is a disservice to the Clash to label them as a punk band. They incorporate elements of garage, ska, rockabilly, and emergent new wave sounds that would influence the next generation. Their lyrics are insightful and socially conscious which creates a sprawling whole taking the listener across various sonic landscapes
It took a minute for me to get into it, but I ended up enjoying the mix of punk and folk that characterizes this music. The lyrics were a bit hit or miss. I’m really not a fan of the self loathing/self pitying man singing about women not wanting to be with him while sounding like an entitled creep the whole time.
DJ Shadow never raps a single line but is one of the most consequential hip hop producers ever. He builds long contemplative beats featuring unusual instrumentation with virtually everything being sampled. This album, typically regarded as his best might best be described as trip hop though I hear some industrial sounds that would later be incorporated into hip hop. DJ Shadow is a master of layering and composition. He strips other music for parts and when he’s finished, the whole is certainly greater than the sum.
It took me a minute to get into, but once I did I really enjoyed. I get some Jim Morrison vibes from the lead singer. The music itself is a hypnotizing pulsating blend of new wave and synth pop. Though the use of synth and echo dates the album a bit, it comes together very well. The arrangement is careful and deliberate and creates a sense of suspension and release throughout.
It's perfectly decent house music with its driving four on the floor beat. I'm much more apt to like French house, but this album is fine. I'm sure it's great for dancing but I didn't find anything here that really stood out to me. Some of its sounds are dated which is to be expected.
This album is a wonderfully cohesive mix of post-punk/new wave with a healthy dose of 60s garage rock in the style of MC5, rockabilly, and surf rock. The mixture of these more diy genres fits in well with the Fall’s post-punk ethos. Despite the genres involved, the production is very slick and precise. I was disappointed by some of the Fall’s later work, but this album captures their essence at its peak and I understand now why they’re important.
I read an article talking about how classic rock radio does a disservice to artists by condensing varied careers into just a couple of signature songs that get played. Thin Lizzy was used as the prime example and after listening to this album, that article was spot on. Thin Lizzy is known for their hard rock two guitar harmony, but their music incorporates elements form soul, jazz, blues, and of course Irish traditional music. Phil Lynott is an incredible frontman and his lyrics explore the trials of the working class, something with which he was very familiar. To top it off, these guys are just phenomenal players. I’ve grown quite disillusioned by classic rock as I’ve gotten older, but Thin Lizzy shows that despite its tired superiority complex, classic rock is often seen as classic for a reason.
Hüsker Dü’s later work is straight alternative rock. It is highly layered both musically and vocally and is very melodic. I read that they are the main link between more simplistic and driving hardcore punk and the melodic college rock that would dominate in the 90s. I think this is the best way to describe the later part of their career. Though their hardcore roots are present, I can hear tinges of Barenaked Ladies and Hootie and the Blowfish here that point towards what would become college rock.
I enjoyed this album from start to finish. This neo-psychedelic post-punk record is intensely layered and melodic. It has a frenetic energy to it that borders on the claustrophobic creating a simmering and explosive record.
This is perhaps the greatest hard rock album of all time. It shows Led Zeppelin at their most accessible and their best in terms of songwriting and arrangement. Many of these songs are still radio mainstays and their influence on the genre cannot be overstated.
I was surprised by his much I enjoyed this album. George Michael had a hell of a voice and his level of vocal control is very well developed. The music itself was fairly basic late 80s early 90s pop, but his voice is able to give a huge depth of emotion and energy to the songs. It’s four stars on the voice alone.
One of the greatest albums ever made. From beginning to end this album is a sweeping symphonic journey exploring life, death, and madness. Pink Floyd were always keen to experiment, and this album sees them going beyond to use the studio itself as an instrument in a way that no one had before. Pink Floyd is known for their long songs that blend into each other and this is no exception. Songs are allowed to build naturally and it is clear that this album was not made for radio success, though it is still in heavy rotation on classic rock stations
Funeral is a watershed indie rock album that shaped the genre for the next two decades. It incorporates elements of baroque and symphonic pop into contemporary indie rock to yield an uncommonly lush and melodic album. Lyrically, the album is ultimately hopeful at a very polarizing time in the wake of the invasion of Iraq
Another groundbreaking album and modal jazz classic. This album in four movement takes a more avant garde approach to the form with its experimental rhythms and improvisation. Though less melodic than his work on Kind of Blue, this album is very listenable and has a lot to offer the casual jazz listener. This is one of those albums that rewards multiple listens.
Fairly decent trip hopish pop. There were some really interesting sounds here that I hear in later Radiohead and Röyksopp, but the delivery is often so bland that it just doesn’t stand out to me.
This album was full of energy. The arrangement was great and the fusion of African and western music was seamless and done in such a way that highlights the African influence in western popular music. Ginger Baker was a great addition to this as well.
Nick Drake is absolutely captivating. His voice commands attention and his songwriting is wistful, melancholic, and deeply moving. His short career, lack of a public persona, and tragically short life lend an air of mystery to him. He was not appreciated in this time but has ascended to the upper echelons of British folk. I’ve been listening to him for quite a while now and he still sounds as crisp and relevant as ever.
The production on this album is fantastic. Ice Cube has one of the greatest flows of all time and his aggressive delivery punctuates the political and confrontational lyrics. This album is not easily pigeonholed. It contains elements of funk and jazz while using samples in a way that reminds me of some modern day artists like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar.
Syd Barrett’s talent is apparent. He has a talent for contracting whimsical unsettling songs with unusual melodies and chord changes. His lyrics are ruminating and surreal with a touch of childlike naïveté. Some of these songs are simply better constructed than others and makes me wonder how these recording sessions went. This album can be seen as a contraction of his work with Pink Floyd, but it often veers into darker territory where the psychedelic whimsical facade falls to reveal the extreme anguish and mental illness beneath. The music has tinges of proto punk and some musical elements would sound at home in modern indie rock.
The influence of Joy Division is strong here. This album is a look at the Cure before they embraced a more upbeat New Wave style. Pornography is driving, dense, and foreboding. Robert Smiths languid delivery and depressing lyrics add to the oppressive mood of this album. The musicianship is subdued but almost like a wall of droning looping sounds.
I had heard of Living Colour but had never listened to them. Their brand of socially conscious funk metal fused with R&B and soul is certainly interesting. The music is punchy and was a lot of fun to listen to. The biggest issue for me was just how dated a lot of it sounded. It was quite enjoyable though.
A deeply unsettling album characterized by Eminem’s aggressive, yet self aware lyrics. Despite its unsavory moments, of which there are many, this album is a cohesive statement on fame, notoriety, and the insanity that comes with it. Eminem knows his violence towards women is wrong, he knows his homophobia is misplaced, yet he persists in it continuing a self destructive cycle consumed by fame. Say what you will about the violence and misogyny in his content, Eminem’s sound is distinctly his own.
One of my favorite things about Daft Punk is their desire to break their songs down to reveal their structure to give us an insight to their process. They are also keen to share their influences within their work as shown by ‘Teachers.’ This lends their music a sense of approachability and enthusiasm. Homework is Daft Punk’s first major label record and was one of the first wide reaching French house records. The music is driving, playful, and minimalist in parts.
Good New Orleans swamp rockabilly played by folks who grew up in the suburban Bay Area. John Fogerty is a powerhouse vocalist and a fantastic guitar player. These songs are tight, well written, and a lot of fun to listen to. Most of these songs can be found on greatest hits compilations which really goes to show how great this album is. Creedence is accessible and commercial without the psychedelic rock trappings that alienated listeners in the late 60s and 70s. They are one of those bands who found a way to innovate within the genres that came before and carve out a unique sound that is solely their own.
This is very much not my thing. This overt satanism was the stuff of nightmares in the fundamentalist church I grew up in in the 90s. Of course the satanism is an aesthetic choice and one that works well for them. This album is akin to hearing thrash metal being born in all of its galloping glory out of the British metal new wave. Apparently the genre black metal was named after this album. I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting and honestly, the satanism still feels dangerous to my ex fundamentalist mind. It’s exciting.
It took a few songs but I got into it eventually. The clarity on this album is impressive given the quality of other Profi punk records. There’s a lot to like about this album. The melodies are catchy, and the musicianship is better than I was expecting based on what I had read. The singing is a bit flat sometimes but is overall good. This album sounds ahead of its time and clearly influenced the New York punk scene that would emerge.
This album was surprising. I was expecting more straight bossa nova, but this album expertly incorporates aspects of Brazilian music into mor popular western forms to create something lush, beautiful, and something that knows exactly what it is. I read that Caetano Veloso thought this album was poorly executed, but I strongly disagree.
Kid A is one of the most important album of the last 30 years. It was however, not made in a vacuum. Radiohead had long been influenced by electronic artists such as Aphex Twin, and sought to explore what music could be if one looked outside of conventional instrumentation and song structure. The result was this watershed album which managed to show Radiohead at their most electronic and experimental, while remaining deeply human.
The Eagles debut album opens with the iconic ‘Take it East’ and features other well known tracks that showcase the band’s unique laid back country rock sound infused with Laurel Canyon contemplation. Unfortunately, the album suffers because that sound is not fully developed throughout and sees the Eagles writing a lot of filler material that doesn’t really sound like them.
Not my favorite new wave/pop album. Some things were executed well such as the songs ‘Guilt’ and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’, but overall, I found that this album was not as engaging as other new wave music from this time period. However, this album does represent a triumphant return for Marianne Faithful after 12 years without an album and bouts of drug abuse and homelessness so something should be said for that.
I know Steely Dan is one of the most influential bands of the 1970s but I’ve never actually sat down to listen to an album of theirs. I was impressed. This album features a great blend of jazz and rock with interesting lyrics. The musicianship is top notch and the songwriting was very tight. I was blown away by some of the guitar work and with the complexity of the music in general. There were a few songs that didn’t resonate with me, but overall, this is a phenomenal debut
This was a remarkably smooth album. This neo-soul record had tinges of contemporary R&B, funk, and a lot of jazz. The influence of Marvin Gaye especially could be felt. I also heard some Michael Jackson-esque vocal delivery patterns. Overall Maxwell very successfully brought these elements together in a sharp departure from the hip hop centric R&B of the mid 90s.
This album has moments of where everything seems to line up and the instrumentals and vocals complement each other well. However, when mixing a timeless style like soul, and a very dated synth sound, it’s bound to be jarring when listened to 35 years after its release. The lyrics occasionally express economic anxieties that were prevalent at the time especially in the UK, but there’s such a disjunction between the music and words being sung that it doesn’t quite have the same effect as a new wave album for example that expresses the same sentiment. Overall, not bad, not great, but an interesting clash of styles.
This album has so much potential but ultimately suffers in its execution. I’m a big fan of chamber/symphonic pop but was disappointed with this album. First of all, the lyrics are melodramatic to the point of being over earnest drivel. The vocal delivery is somewhere between Jim Morrison and Frank Sinatra which is a cool sound, but paired with the often obsessive lyrics of unreturned love, they come off as incredibly cheesy. All meaning here feels forced and for me it just doesn’t work. It gets a three for the musical execution and the grandiosity of its vision, but it is closer to a 2.5
Aerosmith is a solid hard/blues rock band. Their music is tight and clear. However the lyrics are really not the best and they don’t really bring anything to the table in terms of innovation. They are just simply ok. They seem perfectly content with cruising in the shadow of better hard rock bands.
Pretty good debut. There were some great tracks but also some very dated tracks that firmly place this record in the 80s with the over use of echo. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but with a genre like country, you expect more of a timeless quality to it. I really like Steve Earle and this album clearly shows his songwriting prowess.
This album really straddles the line between punk, hard rock, while incorporating elements of art rock and psychedelia into a palatable and exciting package. There’s a sense of danger and sneer to this music which is appealing. These songs are interesting enough musically but accessible enough to be at home in a pub or a college dorm room.
This album is notable because it features the Hammond organ and creates a link between jazz and soul music that Jimmy Smith is known for. Other than that link, this album does not really push any boundaries. It's a solid jazz album, and features interesting organ and saxophone improvisations.
Super smooth album. I enjoyed the fusion of jazz and R&B. Where some albums incorporate jazz elements, this one goes a bit further and quotes entire passages featuring walking basslines to draw the connection between earlier and contemporary music forms. The singing was fantastic and it suited the music well. My biggest complaint is the length of the album.
This is a solid album that expresses sentiments of love and social awareness all mixed in musical package that is very carefully constructed and produced. Stevie Wonder’s emotional range is vast and his vocals are practically perfect. The biggest drawback are some of the lyrics which are a bit too on the nose and verge into the saccharine.
This album is a great mix of New Wave and pop. I was truly expecting to dislike this album but it was catchy enough to keep my attention. The music is firmly within the pop traditions and oscillates between how much new wave is thrown in. There are moments that are pure power pop and moments where the post punk/new wave influence is apparent. Some of the arrangements on this album predict the rise of boy/girl bands in the 90s and really contextualized for me where that music came from.
This was an excellent album of what I would call Americana today. The Band incorporates elements of traditional American music including bluegrass and blues in a popular song format to create memorable songs, many of which have become standards.
A lot of the music I really love is influenced by this style of music. I can hear early Vampire Weekend in this down to the tone of the guitar and the lines played (I think the mixolydian mode is used quite a bit in both). Overall, I found this album to be enjoyable and accessible and it helped me to connect Afrobeat as played by western musicians with how it’s played by Africans. Both forms are similar and involve borrowing from the traditions of the other.
Steely Dan’s masterpiece is a complex album of accessible jazz rock that features prominent bass lines, jazz chord changes, funk rhythms, and virtuosic playing. This album is incredible tight, yet features some fantastic exploration. The guitar work alone would place this album at a 5, but it’s the combination with the bass, keys, drums, and brass that makes this one of the greatest albums of all time. It may sound self-indulgent to some, but this album manages to push popular forward in a more musically literate direction while maintaining its commercial viability
Mark Knopfler is one of the greatest guitar players. His style is known for its highly melodic and virtuosic lines, but his rhythm playing is also complex. Every note he plays is perfectly and intentionally placed. His is never sloppy and despite the highly orchestrated nature of his songwriting, it retains emotion. This album’s greatest downfall is the dated production. Furthermore, the use of a slur on ‘Money for Nothing,’ tongue in cheek though it was, is jarring and took me out of the song. Nevertheless, the album as a whole is fantastic.
This album is so far ahead of its time that’s listening to it now still sounds fresh. Though I wouldn’t classify this as ambient, this music is certainly less harsh than some of Aphex Twin’s subsequent work. The influence this music has had across genres is staggering; it’s clear that Aphex Twin influenced Radiohead and inspired their Kid A era move to more electronic based music.
This isn’t my favorite Leonard Cohen album, but it’s nice to hear him with a more stripped down sound. As great as his songwriting is, it’s hard for me to get into his 80s sound due to the extremely dated synth and drum sounds. This album however is acoustic and sparse, having been produced by the same producer that produced much of Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel’s mid 60s output. Though this is just his second album, Leonard Cohen’s thoughtful songwriting shines through.
This is such an strange yet earnest album. The orchestration is beautiful and expertly oscillates through moments of beauty, strangeness, and dread. Simply put, it is an avant-garde masterpiece. The use of traditional orchestration within an experimental folk framework packaged as an album of popular music manages create something that stands out among the experimental and progressive music of the 70s and that says an awful lot.
This album sees a recently returned Elvis back in the studio after a stint in the army. From his first album, this album is clearly an improvement. His voice is more assured and it is better developed. His rendition of 'Fever' particularly showcases his delicacy and control. Elvis is just not an album artist though and this album contains a lot of filler though the production is clean.
This album is a great mix of honky tonk, doo-wop, and a healthy dose of the Bakersfield Sound. KD Lang is strongly influenced by Patsy Cline to the point where she uses her producer on this album. Overall this album reads like a love letter to KD Lang’s heroes and it works incredibly well; her voice can be forceful and delicate and suits the music perfectly.
This album is a wonderfully produced college rock/alternative rock statement piece. The signature arpeggiated guitars and Michael Stipe’s distinctive voice are at the forefront here. Stipe’s lyrics are insightful, sarcastic, funny, and rank among some of the best. REM is certainly influenced by new wave, but I wouldn’t group them in with that genre. They really do have a unique sound that can be heard in later alternative bands especially within grunge.
I have mixed feelings about Van Halen. First of all, their music is very dated and firmly rooted in the 80s synth and hair metal aesthetic. Second, their lyrics are at worst crude, and at best, unimaginative. However, their musicianship is tight, acrobatic, and expressive although it doesn’t show much variation. As a guitarist, I understand why they are important, but I find their melodies lacking. EVH is incredibly technically gifted, but his style doesn’t resonant with me as much as the style of other less technical more melodic guitarists. To me, Van Halen is less about solid song writing and more about showmanship.
The production on this album is incredible. The vocals are clear and sound very close and intimate. The music itself is beautiful both melodically and harmonically. Chord structures are intricate and the songs themselves are suite like in their changes. In terms of genre, this album infuses jazz, classical, and western folk into Brazilian music to create something truly unique. This album pays tribute to earlier musical forms (like Bossa Nova) and weaves them into more contemporary styles to create a truly unique piece of baroque pop with tinges of psychedelia.
This album is a less a coherent musical statement and more of a document. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band reached across generational lines to unite some of the greatest bluegrass and country players and singers. This album is a celebration of an unbroken chain of American folk music and introduced a new generation to this music stewarded by the then contemporary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. This album is joyous, and just by the sheer amount of legends included (Doc Watson, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Earl Scruggs to name a few) contains so many incredible moments that it is impossible gauge the significance of this album.
Nick Drake’s music is expressive, beautiful, and ponderous with a tinge of melancholy. His debut album confirms that his unique style and songwriting ability was already well developed by the time he committed theses songs to tape. This album contains some of my favorite Nick Drake songs and I enjoyed every second of it. I discovered Nick Drake about a decade ago and believe he was one of the greatest if not the greatest English folk talents.
This album is firmly rooted in the sounds of its time, but is startlingly contemporary. It pulls indiscriminately from 80s pop, 70s piano ballads, and even progressive rock. Songs like ‘Waking the Witch’ sound as though bits of Pink Floyd’s The Wall were brought into a pop format. The album is a masterclass in pop production, arrangement, and experimentalism. It’s incredibly musically interesting and Kate Bush herself is woven throughout in a sort of now you see her, now you don’t fashion.
The use of of Oppenheimer in the final track in his quote of the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’ to bookend an album that opens with voiceovers from the India/Pakistan nuclear situation was chilling and really underscored Nitin Sawhney’s exploration of British/Asian identity and its inherent tensions. The music itself is really engaging downtempo drum and bass that incorporates elements of Indian music throughout in various degrees. Sawhney is incredibly musically literate and this translates to an album full of various motifs across genre contextualized together over the hypnotic beat. Several songs lose the eat completely and play out within more of a jazz format, but those tracks work well to break up the more electronically driven elements.
One of the great things about the 1001 album project is discovering music that influenced the music you know. This album is a watershed protopunk album that uses humor and genuine musical chops to push the genre forward. While the music is fairly simple, the Dictators’ use of rhythmic changes, vocal harmonies, and great guitar playing betray their garage rock/protopunk aesthetic and show them to be very musically literate. The closing track is a satire of the car/girl centric superficial pop of the sixties, but is done with a sense of earnestness that lets the listener know that while they acknowledge the lyrical superficiality, at the end of the day, The Dictators are paying tribute to the music that made them.
There are some interesting moments on this album that incorporate jazz elements, but on the whole, this album is not doing anything new. It’s neither the best country rock statement of the late 60s nor the best jam/psychedelic record. Having said that, this record is perfectly pleasant to listen to, but lacks the ingenuity that would place it higher.
I enjoyed this album more than I expected. I didn’t realize how large of a role Peter Tosh had played in the Wailers as Bob Marley has become almost a mythic figure. The music was tight and had a great funky groove that took me right through the album. I didn’t care much for the title track, but the rest of the album was engaging and a lot of fun to listen to.
Pete Townsend states that this album did not influence Tommy, but I’m very skeptical. Not only that, but the storyline here shares a lot with Pink Floyd’s the Wall which came out 12 years after SF Sorrow. This album seems right place right time but doesn’t seem to have the influence that Sgt. Pepper or Tommy have. After listening to it, I really am not sure why. This album is musically very interesting and combines psychedelia with proto punk, possibly proto metal, and various experimental soundscapes. Sonically, this album pushes the limits to the point where the Pretty Things had to mime the album during a live performance because it was too complex to recreate live. I’ll keep thinking about this album for a while.
After touring, Damon Albarn became increasingly influenced by the shift in 60s songwriting which is exemplified in the Beatles and the Kinks. These influences are reflected in this album which manages to incorporate a dizzying array of sounds ranging from experimental 60s rock, to more punk like and electronic sounds. The lyrical content similarly treads the familiar ground of disaffected middle class life. What I love about this album is it’s undeniably British aesthetic and its folding of so many styles into something cohesive and new.
This album is rooted and folk and Americana idioms but placed within a grandiose new wave format. The instrumentation combines banjo, and strings, with highly orchestrated and bombastic horns. It reminds me of a more nuanced Spector like wall of sound punctuated by new wave style drums and bass.
This is a solid old school album. The title track anticipates Run DMC and the rise of new school to the point where I assumed this was a new school album before I did some reading. This album ranges from more minimalist moments that are more electronic driven to some really great funk/rock inspired moments which incorporate more instrumentation. I would say that this album sits between hip hop at the cusp of old school/new school and electronica. My biggest critique is that this album sounds very dated now. However, songs like 'Go Go Pop' would sound at home in a 90s club and as a whole, I can see how this album would be very influential in hip hop at a critical time in its development.
This album is another entry in the rock star fall from grace concept album/rock opera catalogue. David Bowie draws on a variety of influences including his contemporaries as well as 1950s rock and roll to create something of a proto-punk/glam rock masterpiece. This album stands out within Bowie's catalogue which certainly says a lot. Bowie incorporates strains of metal (still in its infancy), pop, and jazz as well which shows that this album was at the forefront of musical development at that time. For me, this album is in my top 25 and possible in my top 10.
Tusk is the result of obsessive behavior in the studio, a deep desire not to make Rumours 2, having access to the Beach Boy’s aborted Smile sessions, and a healthy interest in new wave/post-punk. Largely driven by Lindsay Buckingham, this sprawling album really does cover it all. Some songs have a more new wave like frenetic pop energy, while others are more thoughtful meandering songs that make up some of the best of Fleetwood Mac’s catalogue. This album has some undeniably gorgeous moments but I do think it suffers some from the grandiosity of Buckingham’s vision and need for control. Overall, I think I still have to give it a full five stars because while it’s not perfect, it is still a deeply textured and beautiful album.
This is much more accessible than Teenage Daydream while still remaining recognizably Sonic Youth. The layered alternating guitar is front and center and musique concrète is used throughout which lends the album an experimental feel. The studio techniques used in the recording of this album were also similarly experimental and often led to issues getting final takes. The lyrical content often centers the experience of women in American society and issues a challenge to the expectations. This is best exemplified in 'Kook Thing,' a dialogue between Kim Gordon and Public Enemy's Chuck D.
Listening to the album now really changes how it sits on the palate. Many of these songs are written about the collapse of her relationship, a relationship that would later rekindle and turn into a tumultuous marriage. Songs like 'Rehab' sting a bit now given her untimely death due to alcohol use. However, this album portrays a strong, self-possessed woman who refuses to get buried in her emotions and chooses to face them head on. Her use of soul, R&B, jazz, and a little ska in the beat conjure an image of bygone glamor that highlights her big emotions, and in a way undermines the seriousness of her pain. She was insanely talented and I wish we could've heard more from her.
I absolutely adore this album. Somewhere between a jam band, musique concrète, and ambient, Can managed to make music that still sounds strikingly modern. I can hear their influence in Radiohead, especially in the OK Computer era. This album goes in and out of coherence somewhat ominously at times in their more experimental songs. They deconstruct song forms and in doing so completely blow open the door for what music can be.
This is the best album from one of the most influential bands of all time. The Smiths are the quintessential indie rock/British post-punk band. This album shows the Smiths at their most mature. Morrissey manages to deliver his message in a way that doesn’t come off as heavy handed as he did in ‘Meat is Murder.’ The songs themselves are crisp, melodic, and impeccably arranged. Johnny Marr’s jangly guitar is simply iconic and is textured wonderfully with the bass and drums to leave songs that feel filled out despite still communicating a sense of alienation.
The whole record is a progressive soul masterpiece. Issac Hayes’ soundtrack is a slick mix of soul, funk and rock that conveys a wide range of moods. Hayes masterfully creates and resolved tension and weaves tense passages together to create the perfect backdrop for a blaxploitation film. Hayes is a skillful arranger and of course a great singer. The biggest drawback is the length, but seeing that this is a movie soundtrack, one cannot expect a popular music style album.
This album was pleasant but didn’t particularly do anything for me. I enjoy KD Lang’s voice and I enjoyed the fact that she freely explores various genres, but nothing stood out to me at all about this album.
This album is a cult classic that has a wide ranging influence that spans post-punk, hardcore, and britpop. The music itself is driving and minimalist, but unlike other British punk bands of the time, Wire is not anti-musicianship. They use their music in a way that is more in the spirit of their proto-punk predecessors and embrace the experimentally. The album is a short 36 minutes long though it is made up of 21 songs. Many songs are short impressions that link together to drive the disconnected bits forward as the album progresses. It is this experimentation with form that set Wire apart from their contemporaries who were more concerned with being perceived as anti-establishment and anti-rock and roll. It can be argued that Wire is bucking the British punk attitude and aesthetic perhaps making them the most punk of them all. Having said all that, calling them a punk band feels like a disservice. They occasionally have an almost Beatles/Byrds like guitar sound with layered vocal harmonies that betray their punk credentials. The acrobatic bass imparts a new wave/post-punk feel at times that would be at home on a Smiths record. Overall, I find that this album sounds at home in just about any decade.
This album was a solid 80s pop and new wave album. I noticed tinges of country in the backbeat in several places. The production by Thomas Dolby, is incredibly layered and brings out the idiosyncrasies in the songwriting.
It sits on the margins of folk and country/western. The instrumentation drives the music forward, and the vocal delivery seems to take cues from country singers rather than the contemporary folk scene. Neil's voice is the focal point, and is well controlled and powerful when it needs to be.
The National have a way of turning every song into something layered and anthemic. The musicianship and instrumentation on this album is top notch. The vocal delivery is languid and intentional and when paired with backing vocals, is something really special. The biggest drawback of this album is the lack of variety. However, the album is very consistent and enjoyable throughout
This album has a lot going for it. Of course, this album is solid alternative rock. Jane’s Addiction is largely responsible for brining alternative rock into the mainstream but what we hear is something more complex. We get sounds from earlier glam and underground rock moving forward through and past hair metal. The band also has its experimental moments and incorporate elements of jazz and a lot of funk. I would’ve liked to have heard this album when it came out because I’m sure it sounded new at the time and we didn’t have some of the more cringeworthy aspects of alternative at the time. It’s truly a great album though.
I can immediately see why this album is viewed with the reverence that it is. The jazz inflected occasionally hazy beats form the backdrop for energetic and innovative bars. The insults on this album are some of the best I’ve heard. This album oscillates between dated new school beats and beats that predict trip hop and jazz influenced hip hop. This album suffers from its own indulgence in parts, and ultimately ends up bloated. Some strategic cutting would have yielded a perfect album.
This was supposed to be Simon and Garfunkel’s return after their iconic Central Park concert. Garfunkel ended up leaving the project and Simon finished it as a solo album. Maybe it’s because it was supposed to be a Simon and Garfunkel album, but much of this album (but not all) features a stripped back sound anchored by Paul Simon’s voice. The result is a startlingly raw and introspective album that hangs on Simon’s every word. Some songs, like ‘Cars are Cars’ give us a preview of Simon’s work to come on 1986’s Graceland, his next album, but I think this album shines best through its more contemplative moments. The coda from Phillip Glass on the closing track is a great touch as well.
This album shows Beck trying to make sense of a breakup by dropping the sarcasm and experimentation in favor of a more stripped down and earnest approach. For the most part, I would say that it works very well. Beck’s voice is almost languid, as though the emotion makes it difficult to sing. The instrumentation is simple but effective as acoustic guitar and strings usually are in conveying sadness. The album is a bit too long.
I have mixed feelings about this album. It is incredibly ambitious and features a wide range of genres including jazz, soul, new wave, and even rap. The lyrics reflect economic anxiety and are very pro working class. However, I’m not convinced that the mix of genres succeeds. The more jazzy moments work well, even if they’re not terribly innovative, but other moments are jarring and seem to be thrown in just for variety’s sake.
The answer to the question ‘Can Prince really do it all?’ is answered with a resounding yes. This album shows Prince at his best across several genres including, soul, funk, pop, hip hop, and even moments that sound like alternative rock. Despite this albums 80 minute running time, it never feels taxing on the listener and is a testament to Prince’s ability to capture and audience.
Interesting mix of house, jangle pop, and the Madchester scene. Overall the album was enjoyable if not a tad too long.
This album might be the pinnacle of New York rap and is a solid 5. Biggie’s beats are jazz inspired and his laconic flow enables him to deliver lines of violence and self loathing in an incredibly nonchalant way. Biggie’s mental struggles were really striking to me and I think his ability to bring those to the forefront complicates his image. I am left with a sense of not knowing what to believe about him and that only adds to his legend. I found the simulated sex gratuitous, but overall, this is an essential album.
This is a formative album for me personally as it was the push that got me to get into independent music. Aside from my personal attachment to this album and band, it is excellent musically. This album takes influences from the Beach Boys, the British folk revival, and others to create a textured soundscape that evokes a certain timelessness. The songs on this album sound like they could have been written yesterday or 50 years ago. They draw upon pastoralism while discussing modern themes of belonging and one's role in the world. Furthermore, this album is immediately accessible due to Robin Pecknold's giftedness with melody.
The Bestie Boys have a penchant for putting together some of the best beats and samples. Their rapping style features a fairly simple flow, but their combative back and forth delivery has become a signature of the genre. Paul's Boutique features a more mature sound than Licensed to Ill and despite its 53 minute length, flows so well that it never becomes unwelcome. This is understandably incredibly critically acclaimed and is one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.
This album is possible the best entry in the British alt-rock/garage revival period of the mid 2000s. The bass is driving and the guitar is punchy. Overall there is a lot of post-punk influence in this album. The production and arrangement are phenomenal. One of my favorite qualities in music is when a song is allowed to build and scale back in a way that almost renders it suite-like. This album is full of that dynamic shift which makes the emotional payoff so much more potent. I think if I had been exposed to this music when it came out it would resonate more, but I can recognize that this album truly belongs on this list.
This album is written from the perspective of Eminem’s violent Alter-ego Slim Shady. The listener is taken into the depth’s of Shady’s mindset to the point where reality is blurred. Songs that talk about abusing his ex-wife Kim make it impossible to find where Shady ends and Marshall Mathers begins. We get a look into a life of poverty and the anger that comes with that. It’s clear that Shady is out for blood and he wants to put the world in its place and he’s not totally wrong for feeling that way.
This album is a seminal post punk record that has been cited by many musicians as influential. This album goes beyond its post punk pedigree and anticipates grunge and alternative rock while incorporating electronic sounds. The fact that Killing Joke was released in 1980 is astonishing given how it sounds like it was released within in the last 30 years. All in all this Album was incredibly ahead of its time.
Led Zeppelin's first album is not only one of the greatest debuts of all time, but a perfect statement of what to expect from the band in the future. Through songs like 'Dazed and Confused,' 'Black Mountain Side,' 'Communication Breakdown,' and 'Your Time is Gonna Come,' the band showed that they were capable of longer ponderous exploratory songs, songs that experimented with eastern motifs, songs that exemplified hard rock, and songs that incorporated strains of Americana and traditional instrumentation. It's an incredibly enjoyable, varied, but cohesive album from one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Not only is this album full of hits, it features McCartney's songwriting at its apex post Beatles. The front half of the album is anchored by the title track and the heavier 'Jet' and 'Let me Roll It,' while the back half progresses to longer more suite like songs ending with the fantastic 'Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five' which references motifs from earlier tracks on side 1. This ties the album together and leaves the listener feeling as though they have listened to a whole work rather than just a collection of singles, which this album very much is.
This album sounds like it could be a grower. It’s a bit of folktronica with moments of 70s singer/songwriter thrown in. This reminds me a lot of later Radiohead in some of the sounds in the beats. Overall, I really enjoyed this album and found it very accessible. Jane Weaver is clearly influenced by the sounds of the 90s in northern England but brings a folk sensibility that tempers the electronic side of things to end up with a well balanced and thoughtful mix.
Grizzly Bear clearly are very musically literate. This album can be characterized as psychedelic folk rock with electronic touches and moments that would be at home on a British alternative album from the 2000s. CSN like harmonies can be found throughout and the rhythms are varied and interesting. Grizzly Bear is a legendary band in indie circles but their music is accessible and their influences can be easily gleaned in listening.
This album sees Tupac expand his lyrical content to the philosophical. This is not to say that Tupac leaves behind the g-funk, but to say that he looks at the violence with a sense of maturity that seems to conclude that the lifestyle is part of him, and is glorified, but that he can look at it critically and understand how desensitized to it he has become. He muses on the devastating consequences of poverty and being exposed to so much death and chillingly discusses his own death. There's a tension here between the lure and necessity of life on the streets and the desire for things to be better. In the closing track, Tupac seems to recognize that something is wrong here, and the death is too much.
This album is so sweeping in its scope that it's difficult to say for sure what exactly it is. Björk clearly spent her time in the UK well and absorbed the nuances of the electronica scene. She isn't content to stick within a specific genre and reaches to jazz, experimental pop, and world music to form this album. I think it works very well for the most part. Some of the sounds on the first half of the album are cheesy, but the last half of the album becomes more ponderous and expansive. Her experimentations are danceable and that guarantees her a spot in the clubs and gives something for the serious listener to chew on.
After listening to a fair amount of Brazilian music through this project, I feel as though this album is able to further incorporate it into popular music, this time with a more electronic downtempo base. The result works very well and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Unfortunately, the music does tend to slip into the background and the album itself is a touch too long.
This album surprised me with how thoughtful it was. The music was for more interesting than other British punk and the lyrics were better than expected. I hear moments on this album that would later be brought to fruition by the Clash the next year on 'London Calling.' The Adverts were definitely on to something here and managed to make good punk that was true to its roots while looking forward to post-punk.
Mingus is one of the greatest bandleaders in jazz. This album is a multi part song cycle that borrows from jazz, classical, Latin, and African music. It is at times more accessible and more abstract at others. Structured loosely as a ballet, this album remineded me somewhat of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. This is one of those pieces of music that transcends genre and will stand as a work of genius.
This is probably Adele’s best album. Emotionally it charts a journey from anger in the wake of a break up to the sheer sense of loss in the closing track. 21 incorporates a lot of gospel, R&B, and even some country influences to create something that goes beyond the standard powerhouse vocal album.
REM’s debut album raises the question, are they a jangle pop band, a post punk band, or an alternative rock band. The answer is yes. REM deftly explore and blur genre later becoming the forefront of the alternative music scene as it was gaining popularity. Their influence is profound and this, their debut album, shows that they arrived on the scene with a unique and fully formed sound. The influences here range from the Beatles to the Smiths and are woven into something melodic and unique.
For me, Rubber Soul marks where the Beatles really enter their period of experimentation and innovation. They had hinted at it in earlier releases, but this is where they commit. Released just a few months after Help, Rubber Soul sees the group toying with the conventional pop format and introducing eastern instrumentation (Norwegian Wood) and ideas into their music. What really makes the Beatles stand out is when they incorporate something new into their work, it doesn't feel like it's there to just reference something, but it becomes part of the work and feels in place.
This was a short tight album that combined soul, rock, and pop. It was cohesive and better than I expected it to be. However, as well executed as this album was, it didn’t bring anything new to the table especially in 1967.
There's a great line in Wayne's World 2 that says, "Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide." That really sums up this album. It's well recorded suburban 70s rock. It is completely inoffensive and safe. There's nothing new here and that's ok. Frampton is a great guitar player, and his band is tight and sounds great especially for playing live. Some of these songs are in heavy rotation on classic rock radio (you know the ones) and overall this album is pleasant. It was insanely successful and obviously fulfilled some market at the time and remains in interesting insight into what was popular in 1976.
This album is packed with singles and listens like a greatest hits compilation. Hysteria is Def Leopard’s finest album and the last in a series produced by Mutt Lange. The album is cohesive, and meticulously arranged. However at the end of the day it is a hair metal/pop album from a band who is trying to sound American despite their origins in Sheffield. As such, Hysteria is an over earnest, cheesy affair which is not self aware enough to be great.
Amy Winehouse's debut album showcases her explosive voice within a jazz/R&B framework. The lyrical content is bleak, but the music itself is well produced and arranged, and Amy's voice of course, can do anything. Her voice is not as controlled as it is on 'Back to Black,' but is still incredibly powerful. My biggest complaint is that she makes some vocal choices that detract from the song. She over-pronounces certain syllables to sound a certain way, but it doesn't always fit. However, that is a small complaint when faced with her incredible talent.
Dr. John's first album is a feast of New Orleans rock and psychedelia. He leans into his namesake's legend as a voodoo doctor to create a persona that is mesmerizing and menacing. The music itself is slow burning, and simmers like a pot of gumbo to develop and deliver something that sits at a musical crossroads and dares you to classify it. Dr. John found himself in legal trouble and fled to Los Angeles from New Orleans. Apparently, his storied hometown followed him there because he put together a group of New Orleans session musicians and took on the Dr. John moniker. I'm a big fan of New Orleans music and lore and this album manages to weave it all together without becoming yet another forgettable 60s psychedelic album.
Green Day's third album and major label debut is probably the most fundamental pop/punk album. The album is tight, short, and retains its energy to the last rather tongue in cheek track. Green Day is often the subject of debate when it comes to true punk, but that is not really the point here. This band has an incredible sense of melody and their influences are too broad to pigeonhole them into either pop or punk. 'dookie' takes us through themes of boredom and loneliness that typify the 90s suburban experience. Green Day seeks to break out of that existence, as best seen in 'Welcome to Paradise,' a song about the band finding refuge in the gritty warehouse art/music scene in Oakland, a scene that has largely been priced out with the rise of the tech industry. The music itself draws from hardcore, garage rock, surf rock, and pop to create something that is instantly identifiable as Green Day.
'Automatic for the People' is perhaps R.E.M.'s greatest in a long and impressive catalog. This collection of songs is more sparse than previous offerings, and is often more subdued. The string arrangements by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones are exquisite, and give Michael Stipe's vocals and lyrics an edge that highlights their despair and humor. Because this album is so sparse, there is an expansiveness that allows the listener to hear every single thing that is going on. This lends the album an intimacy that few albums achieve. This album became instantly one of my favorites upon the first listen.
This album is very influential and is considered one of the most important hard rock/heavy metal albums of all time. That hard rock label doesn’t quite do this album a service as it contains jazz rhythms, acrobatic almost funk like bass, and guitar that utilizes scales and modes outside the minor pentatonic. It’s thoughtfully crafted and is a lot of fun to listen to.
This album by Gillian Welch is a meandering contemplative blend of folk and bluegrass. The music itself it rather sparse which draws attention to and highlights the vocals. The album is pervaded with a sense of melancholic reflection that leaves the listener feeling the weight of the lyrics. There is an earnestness to this album which really draws me and I have found myself re-listening to it.
This is a film soundtrack so the music is there to set a mood and frame the action. Essentially, this is music that is designed to accompany something as well as be listened to on its own. Perhaps it's because of this that this album doesn't really stand out to me in any way. The music is pleasant, and I enjoyed it, but there was nothing in particular that grabbed me.
More mellow than 'Da Capo' with thoughtful acoustic instrumentation and a healthy dose of brass and piano. The delivery has been subdued and the lyrics are more dark. This album expresses skepticism of the counterculture scene, realizing that unbridled positivity won't fix real problems. The music is more expansive, building on that introspection.
Muse can’t decide if they want to be Radiohead, Coldplay, British alternative from a few years earlier, a grunge band, or a wannabe metal band. This identity crisis leaves Muse sounding like they’re constantly trying to reference something instead of incorporating their influences into their own sound. The obvious Thom Yorke imitation vocals really place this into a lower category for me.
This is an incredibly expansive album. Joni Mitchell employs various genres, instruments, and rhythms to create a kaleidoscope of sounds that remains coherent. She was beginning to explore sounds outside folk, and incorporated a fair amount of jazz into what would turn out to be an avant garde masterpiece. The back half of the album in particular resonated with me. I am fairly new to Joni Mitchell but I am already firmly convinced of her genius.
This is one of those albums that is so incredibly influential and important that music that followed would undoubtedly taken a different turn had it not been released. 'Unknown Pleasures' is a post-punk statement piece and remains probably the best known album from that genre. The music itself is ominous and driving. The use of echo gives the impression that the band is playing in an empty warehouse, further adding ambience to the loneliness and isolation expressed in Ian Curtis' lyrics. Ian Curtis' delivery reminds me of Jim Morrison including the charisma. The vocals here become a steward of isolation, guiding the listener through dark soundscapes. The closing track is phenomenal and drives home the separation and detachment the album so skillfully conveys.
Afrocentric socially conscious and positive hip hop is always a good thing. This album's message seems to be twofold. First is the overriding message of unity amongst all disenfranchised people. Though the focus is certainly on Black folks, there is a line that indicates that anyone, including white folks, can join the fight. Secondly, the more radical message that passive resistance won't work and that violence may be necessary to overthrow the powers that be. This album portrays an organized resistance that has no place for vigilantes, in stark contrast to the gangsta rap that was prevalent at this time. The real drawback of this album is its simplistic delivery. The instrumentation is mostly live and has a great groove for the most part. The album also suffers from its length. A more tight and concise album probably would have placed this album into the upper echelons of hip hop. As it stands, it is a really fantastic artifact of its time and its message is still potent.
This album sounds like proto Black Sabbath with a bit of Cream and Jimi Hendrix mixed in. It is widely considered to be an important hard rock and early heavy metal album. To me, it sounds rough and unfinished. The guitar playing is sloppy and the guitarist is clearly listening to Hendrix but is unable to execute the style well. Regardless, the album is interesting because it is a transition work even if it’s execution leaves a lot to be desired.
This album is probably Public Enemy’s best and confronts how they are portrayed in media while making a larger statement on the Black experience in America. Chuck D’s lyrics are insightful and are an incisive criticism on American society and media. His delivery is methodical and deliberate, the perfect complement to Flavor Flav’s more energetic rapid fire style. The only thing about this album that wore on me was its length. Perhaps I just need to listen to it again, but unlike some other albums that run over an hour, I definitely noticed it.
This album was an early glam rock statement piece. It features crunchy grooves and was a lot of fun to listen to. Marc Bolan has a very unique sound which makes T Rex instantly recognizable in their post folk glam form. This album influenced everyone Bowie, to the Cure and that reason alone gets it a 5 of 5. But simply put, it’s just a phenomenal album
This album is energetic and has a strong punk ethos. The music itself I would classify primarily as post-punk. However, the Pretenders are experts at knowing exactly when to lean into the more pop and new wave elements giving way to an album that retains its musical integrity while remaining commercially viable. It’s certainly a delicate like to walk and they do it very well.
Here we see the emergence of the controversial Thin White Duke, a figure that expresses a sort of romanticism while being devoid of any real emotion himself. This album feels similarly. Bowie is still exploring funk and soul influences (note the cover of ‘Wild is the Wind’), but there a simmering quality to these songs that foreshadow the Berlin trilogy of albums that would be forthcoming. Like the Thin White Duke, Bowie is expressing something, but has not come to fruition yet. Bowie has stated that the period in which this album was recorded was the darkest, and by his expressive lyrics and subdued delivery, we can see this album as Bowie crying for help without being able to fully form the words.
Interestingly enough, the biggest hit from this album is probably the one that fits the least. This album is replete with experimentation in the studio coming off the heels of the Beatles’ Revolver. Dylan’s influence is ever present and the cover of his song, ‘My Back Pages’ was a highlight for me. The country rock tinges, which later would be explored more in depth for the Byrds, stood out for me as well. Overall, this album did a great job in combining space rock psychedelic experimentation with the raga folk sound that made them famous
This album was a bit difficult to find, and even when I found it on Youtube, the track listing did not match the European or American releases. Nevertheless, I believe I got enough of the album to give it a rating. I am not familiar at all with Raï music, but after some reading, it seems as though it has a social justice element to it and addresses themes of colonization and disease. The music itself takes a western song structure form, but the vocal delivery is very unique and one I really like. The use of western instruments such as the sweeping punctuated strings along with Algerian instruments is really interesting and makes for listening that sounds familiar and new at the same time. It's always good to challenge your assumptions about what music should be and this album certainly does that for me.
Much like their fellow New Yorkers the Beastie Boys, Fun Lovin' Criminals are trying to infuse hip hop with rock, funk, and jazz rhythms. If anything, this album proves how difficult that can be to de well and just how good the Beastie Boys were. This album has some decent moments, and the instrumentation is pretty great for the most part. The rapping itself is really uneven. There are some good flows, but it just doesn't work in a cohesive way. The cover of 'We Have all the Time in the World' was particularly confusing.
This is a high concept album that delivers on all fronts. Kendrick's bars embody the best of west coast hip hop and pays homage to the gangsta rappers who came before while embracing an introspectiveness that adds a certain degree of gravity to everything he says. The album is a series of stories from Kendrick's like that document his struggle to stay 'good' in the midst of a violent life stuck in survival mode. The album ends by circling back to the initial phone call which starts the album off, a statement of the cyclical nature of these stories. The music itself is phenomenal. That west coast synth sound, orchestrated strings, and trap hi-hats are all present here and are used perfectly. Kendrick is a student of hip hop, and the fact that he got to work with some of the greatest for this album shows that he is already on his way to becoming one of the greats.
Though not as as good as ‘Aja’, this album is still a fantastic entry in Steely Dan’s catalog. It is a interesting mix of jazz, funk, and even a bit of country rock as well. They are keen absorbers of influences and genres and are able to reformulate them into something that sounds uniquely like Steely Dan.
This a landmark album. The mix of ambient music, psychedelic rock, and more electronic sounds sounded like something I could expect to be released by an experimental indie band today. For this to have been released 49 years ago and still sound as relevant as it does is incredible. Can was clearly extremely ahead of their time.
This album is almost great. It features a mix of house, dub, rock, ambient, and experimental electronic music. Most of this is executed very well. However, there are moments on some of the more experimental pieces which don't quite work. It's as if they heard Aphex Twin and tried to do what he did without actually putting the time in to learn how. The elements are there, but the arrangement is not. Luckily, these moments are few and far between. Nevertheless, this band cannot be said to have picked a lane and stayed in it and their willingness to try something new makes this an album that is great in the background, but is also rewarded with a closer listening.
Illmatic is a contender for the greatest rap album of all time, the greatest debut album of all time, and overall, just one of the greatest albums of all time. Nas has one of the greatest flows in the game and his complex structure featuring internal rhymes make this album a rhythmic treat for the ears. His lyrics are thoughtful and he is an absolute wordsmith, playing with language in a way that only the very best writers can. His beats are lush jazz based east coast beats that represent the very best of New York hip hop. I find myself favoring east coast rap from the '90s and this is certainly amongst the cream of that crop.
This was an interesting album for sure. However, its execution varied throughout. The first few songs were enjoyable; the covers were not nearly as bad as some reviewers were making them out to be. The album did drag towards the middle to the end though and for a short 40 minute album to feel like a drag is not a good sign. This album still gets three stars because it is doing something interesting and fusing two very different styles of music. Though western/Indian music had been incorporated before, it was always from a western artist. Here we see the flip side, an Indian artist incorporating western music into Indian music.
This is Paul Simon’s first solo album to get a wide release. In it we can hear his embrace of world music that would come to characterize his solo career. This album is a tight collection of folk and has some of his greatest hits. Overall, it’s a fantastic album and showed that he was a capable musician and singer outside Simon and Garfunkel.
This was a solid country rock psychedelic album. Skip Spence certainly has an ear for creating a darker atmosphere. It’s a shame his career was so short lived, he was clearly doing something that added to the psychedelia genre, once that feels bloated even as early as 1969. The back half of the album was more experimental and reminded me of 90s alternative and indie type music, certainly ahead of its time.
Rush is undoubtedly one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time and this might be their best album. The musicianship on this album is insane. While Neil Peart is known as one of the greatest drummers of all time, Alex Lifeson’s idiosyncratic guitar lines and Geddy Lee’s piercing voice and acrobatic bass lines complete the package. Rush carved out a very distinct sound and this album proclaims that from the opening of Tom Sawyer to the very end.
Aladdin Sane frames itself as a straight rock record, but upon a closer listen, it shows itself to be much more. Flashes of experimentalism alongside nods to 50s rock, and straight glam rock show a more forward thinking side. The lyrics detailing excess seem to continue the Ziggy Stardust story, as though the line between Bowie and Ziggy had become blurred.
My journey with Brazilian music has really decentered how I think about western music vs. 'world music.' When taken with the history of Brazilian music, 'Roots' actually fits in rather well. It's an album of a primarily western genre (metal) that subverts the genre to serve as the medium to carry a message that elevates their heritage and in this case, the heritage of the indigenous Xavante who feature prominently on this album. The music itself is a great nu-metal, groove-metal, death-metal fusion that never looses its pull. The lyrics celebrate the self, one's roots if you will, and of course remark on the political and social structure of Brazil. The only drawback is the length.
This album was a great jazz, funk, R&B mix. The Crusaders are tight and some of that guitar playing was amongst the best I’ve heard in that genre and the rhythm section was incredible. The music itself had a great groove and incorporated enough jazz motifs and key changes to keep it interesting enough for both jazz fans and funk/soul fans
This album deftly oscillates between post-punk, Britpop, British alternative, and even grunge. The Manic Street Preacher’s command of song structure shines through on this album, the first following the disappearance of Richey Edwards. The result is a punchy engaging coherent album that reflects the best of what was happening musically in the rock scene. The lyrics are intelligent and the anthemic quality gives this album a sense of triumph and grandiosity.
In opposition to the free love, utopian psychedelic scene that permeated rock culture at the time, the Doors' eponymous debut album shows us the dark, seedy, and dangerous undertones of the culture. Jim Morrison is almost shamanic, his commanding voice gives life to the sexual, menacing, and transgressive themes throughout this album. This album is full of hits and seems like a victory lap taken at the onset of their career. The music can be grounded bar band blues rock or straight psychedelic tracks featuring the keyboards of the incomparable Ray Manzarek. It is really the last track, 'The End,' that makes the statement of who the Doors are. It is a meandering pulsing track that weaves through Oedipal mythology and ends with death. Whether it is the death of ego or something more sinister, is left up to us to decide.
This one was a bit of a head scratcher for me. This album had interesting moments, but when placed within the history of jazz fusion and ambient music I feel like there are much better and more influential examples from this time period. It wasn’t unpleasant though and I’m certainly glad to have heard it.
The Who are one of the few bands who deserve to have a live album on this list. Unfortunately, this album was recorded before Who’s Next came out and thus is missing some key tracks that would become staples of The Who’s live performances. Nevertheless I was impressed with the guitar work which was more lead driven than Pete Townshend plays in the studio. John Entwistle’s bass work was phenomenal as always and was probably my favorite part.
Fats Domino was playing rock n roll before anyone knew what rock n roll was and he said as much. He is a pioneer of the genre who did not get the respect he deserved though he was well respected by his contemporaries such as Elvis. This album is great as a piece of history, though it is clearly dated at this point. It's a bridge between the black R&B of the 1940s and early 1950 and rock n roll as a popular genre
This album is a less noisy and more accessible than Sonic Youth’s prior work and less accessible than Daydream Nation, which would be released the next year. This album is simmering post-punk that is experimental and only slightly polished. In this case, it’s a good thing and shows just how precocious Sonic Youth were when playing and arranging sound.
This is probably Cream’s best album. Half of it can be found on a greatest hits compilation. This album is primarily blues rock tinged with psychedelia. Unlike a lot of bands of the time, Cream does not let the psychedelic overrun the album and those elements are used tastefully and never at the expense of the blues core. The musicianship is of course top notch. With Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce having jazz backgrounds and Eric Clapton having a deep blues background, the quality of the music and arrangement takes priority. Luckily, both Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton have great voices which blend well. It’s almost unfair how good this band is. This album suffers only from the fact that it does contain some filler, though the short length of the album makes even that much more palatable.
Springsteen has said that he wanted this album to sound like Orbison singing Dylan produced by Spector. I would say he achieved that rather well. This album is dense, contemplative, and effectively sets a scenes. Unlike other heartland rock artists, Springsteen is interested in going beyond appearances and finds the meaning and significance in middle American experiences. Like the best artists he finds profundity and beauty in the mundane and is effective at getting it across.
I’m not too familiar with Randy Newman and didn’t know what to expect. This album was a biting satire that sent up American exceptionalism and even flirted with the absurd. I’m also quite partial to Los Angeles orchestral pop so this album appealed to me musically as well. Overall this was a perfect album for me.
Rufus Wainwright is a fantastic singer and writer, but this album falls a bit short. His vision is grandiose, campy, and incredibly theatrical. I'm a huge fan of baroque pop and music that incorporates classical instrumentation. However, despite some truly gorgeous moments, I found myself just wanting more from this album. It seems as though he took some great ideas, but didn't see them through as well as he could. Wainwright has a great ear for melody and makes great use of the half step in his vocal lines, and I just wanted more of those interesting, classical inspired musical motifs.
This album is hugely influential is stands as a landmark proto-punk album. Though the instrumentation is simplistic and reminiscent of garage rock, this album leans into its more experimental side producing an enduring art rock statement. The lyrics satirize rock culture and often verge into the delightfully absurd. The self awareness of this album is refreshing and makes its one of the most consequential pieces of 70s experimental rock.
Controversy aside, musically this is a culmination of Paul Simon’s musical meanderings during his solo career. He had flirted with exploring non western music throughout his career and he achieved that vision most fully in this album. The instrumentation is superb and the use of South African musicians and singers lends this album a bit of legitimacy in the face of the controversy of its creation during the cultural embargo. The lyrics (aside from ‘Under African Skies’) are contemplative and explore themes of self and finding one’s place in a larger world. This is truly one of the greatest albums of all time.
This album represents a transition period in Brian Eno’s career at the crossroads between his earlier rock music and later ambient and experimental music. The result is one of the most important and influentials albums of the 1970s. This album uses quite a bit of repeating patterns and slowly builds on that. The use of electronic sounds is never intrusive and does not take date the album. The result is something that is absurdly beautiful and groundbreaking. I loved every second of it.
This album gives us a more stripped down Nick Cave with the focus clearly on the voice. The album in contemplative and centers around themes of relationships, spirituality, and the loss of both. There is a rawness that makes listening to this album somewhat of a voyeuristic experience. The lyrics are repetitive and obsessive (Black Hair), reflecting the disordered thinking that occurs in the wake of an ended relationship. It is uncomfortable at times to listen to, but it's real, and that is no small feat. The biggest drawback is its length, but it feels appropriate for the ruminating nature of this album.
What’s striking about this album is the fact that it is clearly a blues album and clearly a Malian album fusing to form desert blues. The instrumentation was really interesting and everything just fit together really well. This album feels familiar and unfamiliar at the same time in a way that is wonderfully tantalizing. The groove is great, and the guitar playing is novel.
This is not an album that I would have chosen to listen to if not for this list. I enjoy industrial music, and the symphonic aspects mixed with the growled French made for a very ominous and engaging sound. Occasionally the guitar tone came off more hair metal than anything, but I found that more humorous than anything.
I’m a huge fan of Tom Waits’ work around the more experimental Swordfish Trombones/Rain Dogs era. This album shows his before he began to self produce more experimental dark cabaret music that explores the darker side of the human experience. Heart attack and Vine definitely has the seeds of that layer work and features Waits’ incisive songwriting. Some of his musical ideas hinted at what was to come but ultimately were not successful. I still really enjoyed this look into the career of an artist I really admire.
This is probably Clapton’s best album. The first half is good blues rock and the second half goes into more deliberate folk influenced rock. The influence of the Band is clear and I think overall it is this influence that makes this album so great. Clapton is at his core, a blues guitarist and anything that gets him to expand his horizons results in something more interesting.
Released a year after the Beatles’ break up, this album shows just how much songwriting George Harrison was doing. His music oscillates between the more guitar driven and even jam based stuff and the more contemplative Dylan and country influences music. Harrison focuses much of his lyrics on his faith and one can’t help but feel his sincere devotion to it. Production wise, this might be Phil Spector’s finest work. The songs feel big and inhabited by a lush and full instrumentation. This is a triple album and is exceptionally long. The final few tracks are more jam based and being to tax the listener a bit. However, this album is just too good, especially in the wake of a career as a Beatle, not to give it five stars.
After they told the world they didn’t play on their own albums, they took more creative control for their third release. It plays as a poor imitation of the Beatles who were weeks away from releasing Sgt. Pepper. While music in 1967 was pushing boundaries of musicianship, lyrical content, genre, and form, the Monkees were making bland music for a TV show about a fictional band. Obviously this album was more successful than it had any business being, and its production is slick, but it's just not good.
This was a decent prog rock album that featured some great musicianship and sprawling suite like songs. Supertramp often features more theatrical pop like song elements that are punctuated by hard hitting prog rock guitar lines and exploratory passages that lend the songs an arresting quality that rewards close listening. This style of writing works well for them and though it is not as good as Pink Floyd or Yes! at their prime, it still resonates.
This album has all the hallmarks of a really interesting and important piece of music. It exists between and across genres, features expanded and interesting instrumentation, and features rhythmic changes throughout. This jazz/funk rock album should be an easy five star. However, despite some really great moments, the album suffers severely from its own bloat. Longer tracks turn into jam sessions that frankly don't really go anywhere interesting. The guitar playing is messy which does not contrast well to the prepared sections. If this album would have shaved off about 1/3 of its length and focused on the tight rhythm section, then it would have been an easy five star album.
It was fine. It’s very strange to hear the crowd go wild for what was a very lackluster performance. Cheap Trick are not the most technically proficient nor the most creative group but apparently being an American band in Japan will get you an over enthusiastic response. The one positive thing I got from this album is an interesting use of melody especially over such straightforward chords and rhythms.
On paper this seems like something I’d really enjoy. However, this album is over earnest to the point of being creepy. Having said that, there are some really gorgeous moments on this album, but it’s trying to be too much. It doesn’t execute its lyrics well and coupled with some very dated musical motifs comes off as overwrought pseudo intellectual drivel.
This album came out in 1978 at the advent of new wave which is where I would mostly place this album. It clearly takes a lot from punk but has a great sense of melody that smooths it out a bit. The lyrics focus on disillusion and center in voyeuristic objects giving added significance to the cover art. This album was hugely influential on new wave music and ranks among Costello’s best.
This is probably one of Elvis Costello's more accessible albums. Released a year after 'This Year's Model,' this album sees Costello playing a more pop like New Wave that features a more complex chord structure and better developed melodies. At points, the music is almost anthemic in what sounds like a precursor to Britpop. Costello's lyrics are more politically charged but are less angry than his previous two releases. As always, Costello is a wordsmith, and employs double entendre and wordplay.
Pearl Jam's debut fits well into their Seattle grunge landscape, but more so than other bands of that scene, Pearl Jam pay homage to their classic rock influences and aren't afraid to throw a 70s inspired guitar solo in the mix. Pearl Jam rock hard, but are not adverse to more exploratory and deliberate work as heard on the final track. This sets them above other more cookie cutter alternative acts that would follow. Eddie Vedder's voice and delivery have been imitated by an entire generation of lesser frontmen, but here, he sounds raw, explosive, and controlled. The lyrics are personal and overall, it is a very enjoyable album.
This album was more interesting than I expected. Though the disco groove was present, the music itself was more mature and the lyrics dealt with Cold War issues the dissolution of relationships, which was reflected in the band itself.
This was a straightforward blues rock album. Nothing about it was groundbreaking or pushed the genre forward in anyway. This album was released in 1971 meaning that in fact, it was treading ground that had previously be broken by earlier blues and hard rock album such as the first three Led Zeppelin albums and plenty of Rolling Stones albums.
Kate Bush is weird. Having said that, I absolutely adore this album. Her songs are mini suites with lessons in contrast, layering, and idiosyncrasy. He unusual lyrics and placement of vocal lines border on baroque and she is a master of building and releasing tension. Her interesting use of typical new wave instrumentation leads to interesting sounds that remind of some contemporary artists such as St. Vincent. Overall, this album is a experimental pop masterpiece and even if her seminal ‘Hounds of Love’ is better developed, ‘The Dreaming’ is still a phenomenal album.
I’ve listened to enough psychedelia at this point that I’ve grown quite tired of it. However, this album manages to bring an earnestness that doesn’t get lost in the weirdness for weirdness’s sake. Donovan employs fairly basic folk/blues/psychedelic instrumentation including some eastern sounds but he manages to center his voice at all times which grounds the album. Though the lyrics are at times a bit overkill replete with vaguely druggish and new age imagery, the overall effect is pleasant and enjoyable.
Belle and Sebastian’s first album was the result of being chosen to produce by a music business class at Stow College in Glasgow. Written in the wake of Stuart Murdoch’s chronic fatigue syndrome onset, the songs are focused on the stories of ‘normal people’ told in a very personal and incisive way. The music itself is deceptively simple, but is incredibly layered.
This album expertly creates changing landscapes of sound that take the listener from disco clubs, to speakeasies, and notably inside a film. The transitions are done smoothly and the scope of the album has a larger than life cinematic feels. The sampling is top notch as well. This is certainly one of the most engaging electronic albums I’ve ever listened to.
This album sounds like what I would have expected the Doors to sound like if they had been a post punk band. Nick Caves delivery and prominence reminded me of the charisma of Jim Morrison, and the lyrics highlighting darker aspects of life. The music is takes most of its influence from punk, but channels it into something more powerful and arresting.
Not my thing at all. Rap metal doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, but it seems like every artist who tries it is accomplished at neither. I will say that some of these songs have decent hooks but overall, everything tends to run together, in the end it doesn’t even matter.
If I had to choose between Kid A or Amnesiac, I’d likely choose Kid A. Having said that, this companion album is good enough to be the pinnacle of any other band’s career. The presence of Pyramid Song alone is enough to eat it 5 stars, but Radiohead being Radiohead is not content with just that. This album, from the opening percussion of Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box to the languid Dixieland jazz of the closing track, covers an insane amount of sonic ground just like its predecessor
Van Halen’s debut is probably their best. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing is inspired and the songwriting is decent. The vocals are crisp and the harmonies are well developed. I used to listen to 80s hard rock and metal quite a bit. Though this style of music is not my favorite, it always comes off as over-produced, I enjoyed this album.
This is probably my favorite Rolling Stones Album. In stark contrast to their previous more psychedelic release, this album has much more of an edge and feels a bit more dangerous. The music itself is influenced by American country and blues and aside from some misfires, fits well into those genres. The issue that I usually have with The Rolling Stones is that their albums contain a lot of filler, but this was more listenable as a whole.
This album is more than your run of the milk 80s pop album. It is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac at times while able to draw on a wide range of influences such as gospel, club, and blues music. George Michael’s sex positive message is also interesting given the AIDS crisis at the time. Overall a very enjoyable and interesting album.
Closer is possibly the most important post punk album of all time. Released a couple months after the death of Ian Curtis, Closer marks the end of one of the most influential bands of all time. Ian Curtis’s voice evokes a sort of gothic Jim Morrison when lends gravitas and charisma to his lyrics. The music itself is driving and very spacious. Each part feels larger than life giving the listener the sense that they are hearing something important.
This style of music is not my thing. To me it feels and over-produced and sanitized version of R&B. The singing of course is phenomenal, and there are a few interesting chord changes here and there, but overall, this music does not resonate with me at all.
Ella Fitzgerald is the greatest jazz vocalist. Gershwin also happens to be my favorite composer so this album (or box set) was quite a treat. While it is over 3 hours long, it was absolutely wonderful. This is one of those bodies of work that should be preserved for future generations
The Pixies debut studio album is known best for ‘Where is my Mind’ but the album as a whole shows the Pixies as a fully formed alternative rock juggernaut. The distinctive drums, experimental recording technique and their penchant for memorable melodies place this album into the category of groundbreaking hit very accessible.
Aftermath shows a much more mature Rolling Stones who have found their sound and are moving beyond their roots as a straight blues band. The songwriting is better, the playing is tighter, the music is more exploratory, and the album is incredibly cohesive. Even their long jams are better structured and more interesting.
It took me a moment to get into this album, but once I did, it really started to come alive. The music is grandiose if a bit simple, but it is extremely effective. My favorite moments are when the 80s inspired electronic elements and simple driving drumbeat take over turning what could easily be categorized as bland 21st century alternative rock into something a bit more baroque and intriguing. There are some interesting melodies here but the real strength of this album is its cohesiveness and thematic unity. The last third of the album is absolutely stunning. I will need to listen to it again and hopefully the rest will click as well.
This album is a strong mix of alternative rock, pop, and dance music. Despite its almost hourlong length, I found this album to be very enjoyable and it captures my attention throughout. I’m sure the Argumente can be made that this album dilutes the emergent alternative rock genre with commercial pop trappings but I think that is the wrong way to think about it. Commercialism is important for all of the popular genres and this album strikes a very clean balance.
I’m a bit confused on why this album was chosen for this list. The songs are perfectly pleasant, but Phil Spector’s wall of sound production has much better examples. Here it sounds like the songs themselves come second to the production and it comes off as sterile, almost factory produced whereas Phil Spector’s early work was more explosive and interesting.
Rage Against the Machine truly lice up to their name. These songs are rap metal critiques of society especially the social and racial history of the United States. Unlike other rap metal artists, the vocal delivery isn’t overwrought but simple and concise in order to made the point. I get tinges of Beastie Boys in the vocals as well. Overall I found this to be an enjoyable and effective album.
Beyond Bob Marley, I’m not too familiar with reggae. This album however felt very familiar. Beside the classic reggae beat, Burning Spear incorporated a lot of soul and almost Motown like motifs. The music had a great groove and was a lot of fun to listen to. The lyrics confront a colonial legacy and elaborate on Rastafarian beliefs. Burning Spear want the listener to know who they are, what they stand for, and what they believe.
This was a good punk album with some 50s undertones. The music was crisp and well produced. Overall, the album can almost be seen as a quintessential late 70s British punk albums. It’s not experimental like the Clash, but it does its genre very well.
This album sees Queen emerge out of their hard rock beginnings and step towards their unique sound. Though some tracks are still very much steeped in 70s rock, they begin to introduce new sounds gleaned from a wide array of genres including vaudeville, opera, rockabilly, and skiffle. The result is a the suite like theatrical music that would define Queen’s sound. It is a huge step forward from them, and shows their willingness to experiment and try something that at the time, they were unsure was going to sell records.
Well, I have a lot to say about this album. In the spirit of being charitable, I will say that the music itself is an interesting journey through various subgenres of metal including thrash, death, and speed metal while also experimenting with alternative and rap metal. Slipknot clearly know their genre well. I don't care for the lyrics. There is a lack of self-awareness that is present in other metal artists like Venom's 'Black Metal' album. It's over earnest, overwrought and seems like it's trying to be edgy for edge's sake. There is a way to express alienation, dissatisfaction with society, and overall anger, but this seems to go beyond expression into glorification. Also, the mixing on this album is atrocious. There is a lot going on musically with all of the various layers, but it come out muddled in the mix.
I’m a little confused on why this album is ok this list. There was a lot of innovative music at this time and this is fairly basic blues rock. It’s essentially revitalizing a genre without adding anything new to the conversation. The music is pleasant enough, but given its context, just doesn’t seem that important.
This album was relaxing and very nice to listen to, but I’m not hearing much in the way of pushing the genre forward. Gilberto’s father was instrumental in blending Brazilian music and jazz together but I’m not getting much in the way of anything new from this album. I’m stilling giving it three stars because I enjoyed it.
This is probably Clapton’s best and most cohesive work. This album more or less is a concept album about Eric Clapton’s infatuation with George Harrison’s then wife which culminates in the penultimate track, the title track, where he expresses his love directly to her. The music itself is a tight country infused blues rock. Some of Clapton’s best guitar playing is found here as well.
This is a compilation of the Hives’ first two albums. The music comes out of the garage rock revival scene and is clearly influenced by the British alternative scene, Britpop, and most obviously punk. The album is tight and exciting but doesn’t really stand out to me as pushing the boundary. It was quite enjoyable though even if the first track sounds a bit too much like the Blur’s Song 2
This album is gorgeous. Beth Orton’s voice is incredibly versatile and can break through anything making the listener hang onto every word. She is known as a folktronica artist, but I found this album to be solidly in the folk category except for a few songs on the back half of the album. I can see how this influences later artists in the 2000s and 2010s when folktronica really came into its own.
Ryan Adams is a hell of a songwriter. He has clearly studied the work of the great country songwriters as well as Bob Dylan. His ability to tell a story is perhaps unrivaled in 2000s alternative country. The music itself isn’t terribly groundbreaking, but it highlights the vocals and allows them to do what they do best.
CSN’s debut has plenty of hits and features the gorgeous three part harmony the group was known for. Apart from the well known songs, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the rest. Granted, it’s hard to compete with Suite Judy Blue Eyes, Long Time Gone, and Wooden Ships, but the filler tracks were lacking. Based on the strength of the opener alone this album deserves a few stars.
Not my favorite CCR record, but it does have my favorite track of theirs, ‘Born on the Bayou.’ This album would benefit from a little focus. It gets a little too noodly in parts and makes the album seem longer than it actually is. Having said that, John Fogerty’s vocals and guitar playing are incredible. I grew up listening to this band so it’s hard for me to give them anything less than a four.
It took a bit for me to get into this album, but I really enjoyed it once I did. The music is best categorized as progressive house but frequently incorporates techno elements such as the four on the floor bass drum. There are some dub influences in here as well. The result is a great dance music that has a great sense of tension building and knowing when to drop the beat.
This was a pretty good acid house album. Not really my style as far as electronic music goes, but I enjoyed it more towards the end. I find this genre a bit too busy for my taste and am more drawn towards the minimalistic genres of electronica.
Goddamn he was good. James Brown's influence on soul, R&B, and the development of funk is well known, but it really has to be heard to be believed. Brown knew exactly what to do to get his audience to react exactly as he wanted them to. His band is tight and he is the consumate showman.
This was on the poppier side of post-punk. It is also very much of its time in that it liberally uses 80 synth and other sounds. This kind of takes me out of it a bit. Other post punk bands are also of their times of course, but there is a timelessness to an artist like the Smiths that is lacking here. The album is quite cohesive though and borrows a fair bit from Afrobeat as well.
This album was quite a journey. It is dense, layered, and extremely musically literate. At times I could hear the Beatles, the Beach Boys, rockabilly, prog, and quite a bit of glam rock. I disagree heavily with the Rolling Stone review that states that this album is soulless. I found this album to be full of passion; it is obviously very lovingly written and arranged. I was a bit worried about the length, but after listening to it, I feel like this album is so cohesive without being repetitive that it plays more like a symphony.
I know this is considered the essential drum and bass album, but two hours is just too long. At its best, the album is fantastic, highly layered, and frenzied, but it just goes on for too long.
This is a very interesting post punk album. While retaining the ethos of post punk, it contains a lot of blues rock elements that especially remind me of The Rolling Stones in vocal delivery. The music itself is fantastic and seems to predict some 2000s and 2010s sounds that we would later hear in British alternative and indie rock. It’s an incredibly contemporary album.
It's a little strange to me that evermore is on this list when Folklore is not. I listened to this album when it came out and felt it didn't measure up to the predecessor of five months. However, after giving it another listening, I'm really relishing the spaciousness of this album. The string arrangements are gorgeous and the instrumentation really allows the songs to breathe, simmer, and build. I think this is some of Taylor Swift's finest songwriting as well. This list of collaborators, the National's Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, and Matt Berninger, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and Haim are a real who's who of modern indie music and lends credibility to Swift's more stripped down folk inspired pop. I really enjoyed this album from start to finish and am glad that I listened to it again.
Bonnie Raif’s comeback album is a laidback rock album with strong undercurrents of blues and Americana. The songwriting is strong and the music itself is very of its time, smooth with hints of grit.
This is a phenomenal Riot Grrrl/punk/new wave album. I can hear influences from 50s rock and roll, the punk/post punk movements of the 70s and 80s and the DIY/garage rock movement as well. The songwriting is concise, and the arrangement is wonderful. Le Tigre uses both electronic and traditional rock instrumentation to create something that sounds explosive yet controlled. This is feminist music with a purpose and it kicks ass
The Roots are an extremely musically literate band combining elements of rock, R&B, rap, and funk to make music that lives across and between genres. Black Thought is a phenomenal lyricist and rapper featuring socially conscious lyrics and a really smooth and engaging flow. While this isn’t my favorite hip hop album, it’s still pretty great.
This was a lush well orchestrated album that reminded me of The Beach Boys with English folk revival and experimental folk like the Kink’s ‘Village Green Preservation Society.’ The biggest issue for me was the length and the fact that the album sounded a bit dated. In its greatest moments, it was absolutely gorgeous.
This was a lush well orchestrated album that reminded me of The Beach Boys with English folk revival and experimental folk like the Kink’s ‘Village Green Preservation Society.’ The biggest issue for me was the length and the fact that the album sounded a bit dated. In its greatest moments, it was absolutely gorgeous.
Young Americans sees David Bowie leave glam rock behind and fully embrace funk and soul. This album is explosive and fun, showing Bowie at a transitionary period before he fully launched his experimental phase with the Berlin trilogy. John Lennon’s contributions are noteworthy, but Bowie’s chameleon like nature is what makes this album great.
This album is a strange fusion of blues, punk, and a bit of 50s rock. It is distinctly anti-establishment and is deliberately messy giving it a diy garage sound. The vocal delivery oscillates between a more straightforward punk delivery and almost a parody of Elvis like delivery. Overall, it is a strange and effective album.
This is a jazzy, tango like electronica album with Argentinian and European musicians. The beats are very subtle and fuse French and Argentinian instrumentation well. There is a lot going on in the background as well with interesting melodies and chord changes.
This album is a very well produced. It’s a bit more pop like than their first album but there’s a maturity that really shines through. The songs are crisp and the beats are almost laconic in how they trudge forward. Overall a very good listen.
This album is a bit ambient, a bit house, a bit trance… there were moments I really enjoyed and moments that effectively were background music. Overall, it was an enjoyable if not non intrusive listen.
This is slightly edgy trip hop. The lyrics seem like they’re trying a bit too hard but the music is pretty ok. It’s nothing groundbreaking and not the best example of the genre, but it’s listenable and I enjoyed it.
I think is this Elvis Costello’s apex in terms of experimentation. The album is dense, highly melodic and dabbles in unusual melodies and chord changes. It seems influenced by the early 20th century American songbook yet it also looks forward to college rock.
This album departs from the traditional Motown format and uses sexuality as a form of healing. Marvin Gaye’s own sexuality was stunted by the abuse suffered at the hands of his father and this album represents him working through that and finding salvation in it in a way. The music is a great blend of funk and smooth sensual soul which pioneered the slow jam.
This album is a compelling mixture of country, folk, and experimental. Bonnie Prince Billy’s warbly voice calls to mind the ‘high lonesome sound’ of Appalachian music within a indie framework. The compelling lyrics and minimalistic music draw the listener in to something that feels strikingly intimate.
This album is a soul exploration that covers social issues, love, infidelity etc. Isaac Hayes employs a style that is is part preaching, part storytelling, and part singing. He weaves his way through the four tracks acting both as a guide and the vessel through which the songs are received. This style lends a feeling of intimacy, and almost feels participatory.
An interesting album especially as it features Sonnly Rollins alongside Thelonius Monk. Monk's style is experimental and makes good use of accidentals while still holding to a recognizable jazz format. A great hard bop album with very interesting changes. I see why a mentorship under Monk was a bit like being stuck in a crucible. The result is undeniable though
Grandiose and symphonic, this album takes a maximalist approach to its production (self produced of course). The result is an exceptionally lush album replete with strings, synth, guitars, and other various instrumentation. Lyrically, this album explores the idea of America especially from the view from outside.
Phenomenal dual singing style. Ira Louvin's high over Charles Louvin's low shows them to be masters of the form. The mandolin breaks are fantastic as well. Overall, this is traditional country played best.
Rumours is possibly the greatest pop album of all time. From the moment the album begins to the moment it ends, the listener is treated to some of the greatest melodies in the popular music canon. The musicianship is phenomenal especially Lindsay Buckingham‘s guitar work. Lyrically, this album is famously written in the midst of infidelity and the disintegration of relationships. The result is a tumultuous album full of longing and regret. It is absolutely masterful in every way.
I enjoyed this album. It is classified as bigbeat and the influence of earlier beat driven electronica (like techno or acid house) can be heard. This album fit comfortably into the background, but moments throughout fully captures my attention. Simply put this album has a very infectious groove.
Another album that defies classification. It contains elements of punk, new wave, symphonic pop, and experimental music. Lyrically, the album is dark and brooding which pairs well with the power pop underpinnings. Nothing about this album is straightforward. It is challenging but incredibly rewarding.
I enjoyed this much more than I expected to. The music incorporated elements of soul, funk, R&B, as well as some more latin flavored genres to create something that had a great groove that held throughout while exploring more unusual rhythms and melodies. I was only familiar with 'Wishing Well,' but I found the rest of the album to be just as memorable.
While this album certainly has it moments (it peaks with the first track), it ultimately suffers under its own weight. Despite the interesting mix of britpop, alternative rock, and psychedelia, the running time makes the album sound very much the same. The Verve are masteries of melody and orchestration, but in the year that saw the release of OK Computer, it falls a bit flat.
Paranoid is possibly the most important metal/hard rock album of all time. From the beginning of ‘War Pigs’ to the end of ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ the listener is treated to music that feels ready to burst out. The songs are carefully structured but the virtuosic elements feel loose and wild. All in all this album feels untamed, fiery, and genre defining.
B.B. King did not choose his last name, but it sure as hell chose him. His live performance is a masterclass in showmanship. His musicianship is absolutely unassailable and not a single note is misplaced. King's guitar playing stands above the rest for its precision and the sheer amount of emotionality in every line. When B.B. King is playing, the audience hangs on every phrase. We are lucky that this album was put to tape.
There's a lot of grief for me now listening to this album. It was like a lightening bolt that turned me on to what hip hop could be and shaped how I listened to music at a crucial point in my life. With Kanye's recent antics, including doubling down on antisemitism, blaming black people for remaining slaves, and refusing treatment for his mental health issues, listening to his music now is complicated. This album sees Kanye exercising his most maximalist impulses. He is like a mad scientist overseeing the various production elements. He also has the ability to get career defining performances out of his collaborators. Nikki Minaj's verse on 'Monster' is still probably her best work to date. The way this album flows together and explores the role of a black man in a white dominated society is incredible and unrepeatable. This album is the apex in a very interesting and groundbreaking career. An as addendum, today, December 1, 2022, I finished listening to this album only to find out that Kanye had gone on the Alex Jones show to say that the Israeli government was sabotaging his custody battle, to say that he was tired of people calling nazis evil, and then he said that he liked hitler. This will be the last time I listen to anything by this man. It’s a damn shame.
This album is a bit more sparse and personal than the previous album ’Innervisions.’ That is not to say that it is minimalist by any stretch of the imagination, but there is some restraint in this album’s production. Nevertheless, like much of Stevie Wonder’s 70s output, these songs don’t miss.
ZZ Top embraces MTV and churns out music with a hi-hat driven straight forward danceable beat. I honestly don’t mind the danceable blues aspect of this album. What really irks me is the absolute sameness of the album. If you’ve heard a couple of songs you could be forgiven for wondering if you’ve got a few songs on repeat. The hits are good and the rest feels like variations on those. The musicianship is fine, the shuffling guitar is a great representation of Texas blues, but unfortunately the whole package just doesn’t do much for me.
SZA’s CTRL has an ethereal nature to it, almost like as if the listener is hearing it through a haze. The music itself exists somewhere between triphop, R&B and neo-soul. Overall, the album is a chronicle of the love life of a twenty something woman of color and seems to wrestle with themes of identity as she is approaching 30. Overall, this album feels like listening to a dream or a memory. None of the individual elements feel groundbreaking, but taken together, this album is unique and engaging.
This was an enjoyable alt country album. I enjoyed the instrumentation and vocals. It was varied in parts, with some songs having more rockabilly influence than others, but the sheer length of the album really weighed it down. There wasn't really a bad song, but it did start to sound the same after a while.
This album really fills out that period right before Britpop came into its own. This Liverpool band is closer to Merseybeat and 60s garage rock than to its contemporaries in the Madchester scene. This acoustic driven indie pop is highly melodic and memorable beyond the hit, 'There She Goes.' The alternative ethos is still here, but the music is more rootsy and thought out.
Gorillaz’ debut album was a vehicle for Damon Albarn to break out of his Britpop legacy and embrace whatever he wanted. As such this album contains elements of trip hop, hip hop, psychedelia, and more all thrown together. The result is an idiosyncratic album that simultaneously feels groundbreaking and familiar at the same time. The disguise of Gorillaz allowed this music to break out of genre altogether. The album suffers due to its length and its unevenness, but is still a landmark album making a very important point about the music industry.
The title track is one of the most potent and iconic songs of the 1980s. The album as a whole is an unusual mix of new wave/blue eyes soul that while interesting is very rooted in its time. Unfortunately much of this album lacks the timelessness of its title track
I didn’t know what to expect from this album but it certainly delivered. It is a good mix of old school style progressive hip hop with a sex positive and community minded message baked in. Overall, the album was incredibly forward thinking while paying homage to the music that came before it. Missy Elliott is clearly a student of the genre and her love for it can be felt throughout the record.
I’m not sure whether to classify this album as a classical, symphonic rock, or progressive rock album. Several classics snippets are played straight while other songs are fusions of style. Having said that, this album is a bit over ambitious and I’m not sure it totally succeeds at what it’s trying to do whatever that is. It’s not great as a classical album but does have some really great progressive jazz moments. I’ll give it a four for sheer uniqueness.
This album is a phenomenal work of post punk with a gothic country feel. The songs have a simmering quality with a driving Bakersfield beat slowed down which creates almost a menacing quality that persists throughout. This music is highly influential and has been cited by Jack White as a major influence as can be heard in the garage revival of the early 2000s.
This album can best be described as expansive. The music is a lush soundscape that sounds massive. The songs take time to develop but pay off in huge emotional crescendos. The chord structures are simple, but the melodies are anthemic and the effect is very elevating. In terms of genre, there's a bit of folk, a bit of country, and it is undergirded by an almost 70s style beat. Vocally, the singer reminds me of a more refined Bob Dylan. Overall, this is an incredible album that truly feels like a unified piece of music.
I didn’t care for the first track, but as the album progressed it grew on me. The synth soundscape was layered well and though it does come off as dated, still sounds good. The lyrics were transgressive and interesting giving the album a feel that very much lived up to its title. Overall, I believe this album very much succeeded at what it set out to do.
Buddy Holly is a legend at this point, but he can be found in his music which features great guitar playing, great songwriting, and a distinctive and oft impersonated vocal style. He could sing slow songs or add a bit of grit to sing songs like 'That'll be the Day.' He was an unconventional rock star; we was clean cut and wore glasses. However, he standardized rock's two guitar, bass and drums lineup and wrote some of rock's most enduring standards.
The 80s production was not great, but John Lee Hooker’s blues phrasing comes through nonetheless. Overall, this was not a terribly strong album, and seems to be buoyed by its collaborative nature, but it’s a very interesting artifact of its time, when blues was in the midst of a revival.
Tori Amos’ debut is incredible. It is symphonic, melodic, and experimental. Her musical instincts are spot on and it creates an album that is confessional, surreal, and intimate. I hear a lot of influence from Kate Bush, another phenomenal songwriter who wasn’t afraid to takes risks. Tori Amos’ sound itself had become very influential and can be heard in similarly phenomenal artists like Fiona Apple.
I like Billy Bragg’s willingness to take on Thatcher era politics and be so unabashedly pro-union and pro-working class. The tone of this album seems to oscillate between politics and sad country-ish songs about lost love. The music itself is simple but I think his lyrics are worth highlighting because of their conversational storytelling with a moral message nature. If anything, this album is an I portent document if the anxieties of Billy Bragg’s Britain.
A wonderful send up of contemporary American values especially repressive '50s social roles, this album uses the language of doo-wop and contemporary sixties music to make its point. Despite the satirical nature of this album, there is an earnestness in its musicality that manages to sound familiar yet manages to introduce musical concepts into the lexicon of popular music. Jazz changes and suite like song structures set this album apart from the rest of the 1966 crop. The last few songs descend into pure experimentalism that is not for everyone, but it certainly challenged what people though music could be.
This album is a thoughtful funk/soul exploration of American social issues particularly poverty and racial tension. It is a worthy entry into this particular brand of conscious funk but unlike other albums like Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Goin’ On,’ this album doesn’t stand out as much. That’s not to take away from this album; I found it incredibly insightful and the music had a great groove, but it didn’t resonate with me as much as other examples of this genre.
I’m glad this album was included but it really draws attention to the fact that Indian music is not well represented on this list. The album itself clearly has taken its direction from western music and has a bit of a classic 60s movie soundtrack sound with some really lovely Bollywood and Indian Classical motifs front and center. I wish I knew enough to really be able to understand this better.
This is one of those landmark albums that is absolutely not to be missed. Wilco creates a vast sonic landscape as they transition fully out of alt country into art rock. The results are expansive and stunning. They influences incorporated into the sound are diverse spanning from Television, John Cale, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys just to name a few. This album should be listened to in its entirety and ideally more than once.
Bill Evans played piano on Kind of Blue and his own work pushes that cool modal jazz style even further. Evans is a master of chord voicings and interesting chord progressions that seem to meander and fall back into a groove. The bass playing is exceptional, and much more virtuosic.
Solid thrash metal album. I find Dave Mustaine a bit obnoxious, but I can't argue with the consistency and musicianship of this album. It starts strong with Holy Wars ... the Punishment Due, and the closer, Rust in Peace ... Polaris is simply phenomenal. There's no room for filler on this album and I even listened to the demo tracks on the remaster. Great album.
I knew the hits but really enjoyed the rest of the album. The modal jazz inspired Incident at Neshabar was particularly good. Carlos Santana of course is a phenomenal guitarist bringing the Dorian mode to the masses. It would be easy to pigeonhole this as Latin rock, but to do so would be to miss some of really interesting and subtle things that are going on.
This album grabbed me immediately. It seems to reject both punk and rock while embracing a musicality that prizes unusual rhythms and a sparse minimal melodies, proto math rock essentially. This is the type of album that cannot simply be left on in the background, but demands active listening. There were moments which sound like OK, Computer, and some which sound almost like grunge. Overall, it was a very compelling album that I can imagine was incredibly influential.
Instead of rerecording his demos with the E Street Band as he originally intended, Bruce Springsteen decided to release them as he recorded them. The result is a startlingly intimate and somber album that tells the stories of ordinary people, outsiders, and criminals with no future. Springsteen's voice is cloaked in reverb and the lonesome harmonica further adds to the expansive hopelessness. This album stands out among Springsteen's extensive catalogue and is a testament to his ability as a storyteller and songwriter able to capture the pathos of the disaffected.
This album has some genuinely great musicianship and some great arranging but it feels a little gimmicky to me despite how earnest the production and performance is. It does however give a very concise statement of 70s instrumental R&B.
This is a tight hardcore album with fairly simple music but very effective delivery. Every track is a bundle of angry energy that delivers exactly what it intends to. It’s not always pretty, but it is one of the most succinct and most important statements of hardcore.
The point Brian Eno was making with this album was that there should be a genre that could be played as background music, but that would still benefit from closer listening if the listener so chose. This first of his series of four Ambient titled albums is probably his most significant achievement in that genre. It is relaxing yet strikingly beautiful. Brian Eno struck the perfect balance to create something that did not create a demand on the listener while providing something substantial to the development of popular music.
Muddy Water’s first album after leaving Chess Records is a return to form. The album features joyous Chicago blues with a generous supporting group of musicians. Muddy’s voice is energetic and he sounds like he’s having a great time.
John Prine was quite simply, one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. He had the ability to tell the stories of others with striking empathy and humor. Whether it was from the perspective of the lonely old in 'Hello in There,' the story of a Vietnam War veteran who came home with a heroin habit in 'Sam Stone', or from the perspective of an older woman who never got to live the life she dreamed of in 'Angel From Montgomery', John Prine could be trusted to tell that story faithfully. His songs became instant classics and his loss will be felt for a long time.
This is the Eagles strongest album both musically and thematically. Here we see the Eagles tire of their notoriously drug fueled life and start to see the cracks in the illusory California dream. What was once a haven becomes a prison and elements of their old life start to break down around them as they find themselves replaced by newer artists, the drugs begin to become unsatisfying, and romantic relationships come to an end. The ending track widens the view to show that it was always a dream; California remains a colonized place and no matter how much it's dressed up, the dark truth remains. Joe Walsh's guitar work is a shot in the arm here and helps solidify the Eagles' hard rock bona fides. There is still a tinge of country rock, but the new heavier sound juxtaposed against the softer songs serves to highlight the tumultuousness of confronting the illusion of California.
The first album in this series, 'Speakerboxxx' is the stronger of the two. It is more unified in its funk influence but does wade into industrial hip hop in a way that reminded me of Death Grips. Andre 3000's 'The Love Below' is more experimental and covers more personal topics. It takes a lot of jazz influence and infuses that with psychedelia to create something that feels a bit more thoughtful but uneven. The largest drawback of this series is its length of over two hours. However, this is some of the most groundbreaking hip hop I've ever heard and it's hard to think of what I would personally cut. Overall, Speakerboxxx may be the strongest, but there's something about the imperfect The Love Below that I really enjoyed.
This album is very important to the history of hip hop and as such it is an essential listen. It comes during the New School period and heralds the golden age of hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s. The biggest drawback is how dated it sounds. Nevertheless, the style is explosive, almost combative and unafraid to mix with rock.
Radiohead so easily could have been a forgettable grunge band forever consigned to the early 90s. However, on their second album, they infused their music with a more consistent theme of alienation, a good amount of jazz, and a huge dose of arena rock. The result is Radiohead's first great leap forward, The Bends. This was the first Radiohead album to resonate with me. From the frenetic back and forth of 'Just' to the beautiful and haunting 'Fake Plastic Trees' to the driving closer 'Fade Out (Street Spirit),' this album virtually rewrote what rock music could be. This album would be the apex of most band's careers, but for Radiohead, it is only the first stepping stone to something greater.
Damaged is a quintessential hardcore album and one of the most influential punk albums of all time. The music is noisy, messy, and invigorating. The lyrics are at times funny, angry, anti-authoritarian, and surprisingly empathetic such as the track 'Life of Pain.' Black Flag is a conscientious standard bearer and this album is truly phenomenal.
This album is an instant classic. Much of it has a sort of dreamlike quality that feels akin to listening to music in a pleasantly altered state (which seems to be how some of the songs were written). Though not every song works in sequence, Kacey Musgraves adeptly wades through various genres which revolving around a country dreampop core where she really shines. The songs are tender, thoughtful, and though they can be a little on the nose, they are endearing enough for that not to be a drawback. The sound at its best is expansive and reminds of the Laurel Canyon sound.
I truly don’t know how to feel about this record. It is transgressive in a way that seems to veer into almost rape like fantasy that left a bad taste in my mouth. Yet there is something undeniable about the talent on this album. The alien like persona allows the artist to go places he normally wouldn’t be able to and there’s something to be said for that level of creativity.
Its clear that the Killers were heavily influenced by the Strokes and British alternative in general. I can also hear a bit of new wave and some britpop thrown in, but if I didn't know better, I would say that this band from Las Vegas was an early 2000s British alternative rock band. Overall, the album is catchy, features memorable songs, and has great melodies. However, I'm not hearing much that is groundbreaking. Having said that, it's impossible to escape the influence of this album and its songs, Mr. Brightside in particular, are modern classics.
Bad was largely responsible for defining the sound of pop in the late 80s. Following up Thriller is a seemingly impossible task, and I don't think this album fully succeeds there, but overall, it does about as well as could be reasonably expected. This album plays half like greatest hits and half filler. Some songs, like the closer 'Leave Me Alone' are decent, but 'Liberian Girl' falls flat to me. Of course, this album sounds very dated. Having said that, because this album is decade defining, I don't think that's a bad thing here.
Aside from Breakdown and American Girl, this was a rather unremarkable album. It doesn’t quite know what it wants to be yet. It has tinges of Beatles, country rock, with flashes of Tom Perry’s signature brand of heartland rock. It is always interesting to see where great artists started out from, but this is not a great debut.
Metallica’s thrash roots are still very much apparent, but this is a more thoughtful, complex, and experimental album. The uses of interesting time signature, arpeggios, and the suite like string structure all attest to Metallica’s desire to move beyond their music of the early and mid 80s. It is a resounding success.
The Talking Heads’ first album with Brian Eno as producer is new wave masterpiece. The pop elements certainly date this album, but are not intrusive or cloying. You can definitely hear the seeds of their sound that would be defined in Remain in Light and Speaking in Tongues. David Byrne’s lyrics are hyper focused to the point of near absurdity but I absolutely love them. Honestly, I’ll give a 5 to most Talking Heads albums, but they truly deserve it.
This album is an homage to 60s British pop. Its production is lush and full keeping in the spirit of the time. There are moments that seem almost Beatlesesque, moments that pay tribute to spaghetti westerns, and other moments that take inspiration from surf rock. Overall the album is incredibly well done and was clearly a labor of love for the Last Shadow Puppets
This album contains a lot of indie rock/pop hallmarks including clean guitar with reverb, minimalist arrangement, prominent bass, and simple driving rhythms. What really ruins this album is the entirely lackluster vocal performances. It’s almost as if they couldn’t be bothered to fully pronounce anything. It seems to be going for languid and flowing, instead it comes off as lazy. The female vocals are sang with a faux soul affectation that simply does not work; she is not a competent enough vocalist to make it work. The lyrics are occasionally cliche and some of the rhyme schemes are awkward and lack the proper number of syllables to make certain lines work. It is jarring and really took me out of the music. On paper I should really like this band, but the vocals and lyrics are too irritating to enjoy the rather nice and spacious music.
This album broke Gene Clark and he never recovered. Listening to it now knowing the effect it had on his career is very strange. It is an incredibly earnest album. Clark put his heart and soul into this album and it shows. It also happens to be fantastic. This album flits between country, folk, rock, and gospel. The production by Thomas Jefferson Kaye, inspired by Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, is lush and driving. The songs are anthemic, engaging, and overall, just gorgeous. I feel like this album could easily become one of my favorites if I were to listen to it a few more times.
This album is full of social commentary with a specific concentration on class differences in the UK. The music itself is dark, brooding, and often symphonic with a strong sense of melody. It was realized during the apex of Britpop and as such shows some of its hallmarks with its distinctly British outlook and sound. However, there is quite a strong new wave/post-punk influence here, and its more experimental moments shift the record into what would we better labeled as art pop. I liked this album a lot and need to give it another listen to gather my full thoughts.
This album is a more conventional hard rock/grunge/alternative album when compared to their contemporaries. The music is guitar driven with a decent amount of wah thrown in giving an almost dark psychedelic feel. Lyrically this is a dark album. It deals heavily with addiction, particularly to heroin, and also discusses inner turmoil, death, and losing one’s mind. This is an incredible consistent album and is widely regarded as Alice In Chains’ best.
This may be Bruce Springsteen’s most energetic album. It is chock full of singles including the title track, ‘I’m On Fire’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’ for starters. Once again we see Springsteen positioning himself as an Everyman, the voice of America’s disaffected working class. This is a good role for him and he does it very well. What’s really striking is his genuine love and affection for down and out small town America reflected in songs like ‘My Hometown.’ There is a melancholy to these songs that conjure images of closed factories and dilapidated neighborhoods making his lyrics all the more potent. The biggest drawback of this album is the dated production and instrumentals. However, they too are relics of their time just like the America that Springsteen immortalizes in song. Rather fitting then isn’t it.
Joan Baez's debut is strong, especially given her age and the conditions of recording. The largest drawback is that these are all cover songs, though excellently interpreted. Her guitar playing is lush and expansive, and her voice is singular. She sings with such force and conviction that she inhabits these songs and their stories.
This is an incredibly energetic and engaging album that tackles social issues with focus in poverty and the gap between the rich and the poor. Musically, this is just great driving punk with an eye forward to hardcore. Interestingly enough I hear in the music, especially the rhythm section, the seeds of what would later become thrash metal, another Bay Area subgenre. Though some of the language is objectionable, this album was really helpful in understanding the progression of the Bay Area music scene after the psychedelic hangover had long worn off.
This album is unclassifiable. The music is driving, repetitive in parts, industrial, claustrophobic, and punctuated by beautiful moments of reprieve before plunging back into the darkness. The use of analog synths lends a sense of familiarity to some sounds, I certainly heard tinges of Pink Floyd's Richard Wright in parts, but this also contributes to the albums disorienting nature. Beth Gibbons' vocals are delicate and sail above the churning music below. It feels fragile, dangerous, and absurdly beautiful.
Fela Kuti lived a very interesting life. This album got him into quite a lot of trouble with the Nigerian authorities and may be the reason his mother was murdered and his commune destroyed. Aside from its critique of the Nigerian government, this album features strong funk and jazz elements wrapped together with traditional Nigerian music. The result is a heady Afrobeat which is heavy on the funk rhythms.
This album is an absolute experience. It has everything from a gospel choir, Britpop like melodies, and shoegaze like sonic explorations all wrapped up in driving space rock. The album expertly incorporates other artists such as Elvis in the opener and John Prine in the closer. I honestly am so blown away by this album that I don't quite know how to talk about it yet. It is symphonic, beautiful, uplifting, gut wrenching, and just insanely impressive. The amount of work that it must have taken to make this work is staggering. And it does work too.
This album really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Little Simz flow was phenomenal and her lyrics confronting social issues were some of the best I’ve heard. The music itself had such a great groove that once I started listening, I was in the album until the end.
For Dylan to wander his way through most of the 70s trying figure out who he was only to come back with this album feels like Jesus emerging from 40 days in the desert and being tempted by the devil. It is dark, brooding and gritty. It’s almost as if he somehow knew that he would almost die shortly after this album was recorded. My only complaint is some of the overly echoey vocal effects. Other than that, this album ranks among Dylan’s very best and that is about the highest compliment I can give it.
Better than I expected. Slipknot are well versed in the various styles of metal and employ them throughout so that it becomes impossible to pigeonhole them as nu metal or groove metal. There’s a lot of black metal influences as well as some punk, hardcore, and thrash metal thrown in for good measure. The subject matter of the album, very critical of the United States at a time when the economy was collapsing, fits the punk ethos well and certainly deserves the darker edge that the black metal influence lends it.
If anyone thinks that the Allman Brothers Band is just a southern rock band, this album will certainly disabuse then if that notion. This album is mostly large sections of improvisation that go far beyond Duane Allman’s signature slide guitar sound. They incorporate classical motifs, Christmas songs even, and long exploratory passages that owe more to jazz than rock. The band is tight, and is able to come back to the main section seamlessly. It is a masterclass in musicianship and is essential listening for any guitarist. However, for general listening, I feel like this album may lose the focus of many due to the lining stretches of improvisation.
Norah Jones is one of the best examples of the movement in the early 2000’s towards a jazz flavored soft pop. The music is smooth, has some pretty safe chord changes (though they are satisfying), and has a very pleasant sense of melody. Jones’ voice is the highlight of the record. She is a technically gifted singer and her voice is very warm. Overall a pleasant listen if not a bit bland.
Some people don’t think that politics belongs in music. I’m not one of the people and neither is Tracy Chapman. This album explores themes of economic anxiety, domestic violence, poverty in America, lack of hope, and racism. In short it is an album of the Reagan era laying bare the true impacts of neoliberal economic policy on the people. Her voice seems almost unsure at times, not in what she’s singing, but in a way that mirrors and emphasizes the uncertainty of the times. It’s a very powerful effect. The music itself is folk derives but with some college rock tendencies.
This album does not miss. I was hooked from the moment that guitar kicked in. Nile Rogers’ is all over this record. Though this album is clearly a dance record, the musicality and production are top notch. It walks a fine line between commercially viable and artistic integrity and succeeds in both counts.
This might be the best live album every put to tape. Jerry Lee Lewis puts on a hedonistic raucous show that reignited his career after the public fallout after learning about his marriage to his 13 year old first cousin (once removed). The music on this album is so intentionally haphazard, it's almost proto-punk and Jerry Lee Lewis has an attitude to match.
This album represents a transition between bebop and cool jazz in the late 40s and early 50s. As always, Miles Davis, a master of phrasing and dynamics, is one of the drivers of this change. The music certainly contains elements of both styles ranging from the high energy, virtuosic bebop, to the slower understated cool jazz. This album looks forward to the 1959 releases of Davis' Kind of Blue, and Dave Brubeck's Time Out.
This album is recorded so well that it feels like the listener is surrounded by the singers. The vocals are warm, inviting, and most importantly, incredibly well done. The singers in Ladysmith Black Mambazo show on this album that they are not merely background singers for western artists, but are serious artists in their own right. The gospel like melodies make this album accessible to western ears, but for me, the honesty and beauty in the voices resonate with me, even if I cannot understand most of what is being sung. That emotional connection without understanding is what makes this album great.
This album was my first proper electronic music album alongside Aphex Twin when I first began exploring the genre. The downtempo trip hop beats are expansive, hypnotizing, and very spacious. There’s enough room to hear every little detail and the music is soundscape like in its depth. Listening to it today reminds me why and how electronic music began to click for me thus opening a wider array of music.
I understand that Pantera is influential, but I was not impressed with this album. Its mix of thrash metal with some hardcore elements is not original. Its more straightforward moments felt like a Metallica cover band. I will say that was production was clean and the mix wasn’t muddy, however, it seems like the band is more interested in conveying an attitude rather than anything of substance.
This is a landmark West Coast Rap album that features phenomenal funk/soul samples and beats with a little Latin flavor. For me the music is solid. The delivery gets a bit stale after a while though. I found some of the lyrics a bit lazy and the homophobic lyrics in the opening track was jarring an unnecessary. I understand the historic context, but it just doesn't hold up. Overall, the album is solid even if it's not my favorite.
This album is not merely a collection of songs about murder. It is an exploration of the psychology, morality, and aftermath of murder. As such, it doesn't attempt to romanticize the material. It portrays murder and the thought process leading up to it as it is, deprived, shocking, and frighteningly tangible. In the world of this album, murder is just around the corner and no one can be trusted. The music itself is driving, grinding, jarring, and in certain moments, beautiful. This gives the album a sense that it is creating and inhabiting a darker world parallel to ours. Nick Cave's vocal delivery is almost deadpan at times, deepening the shock of his character's nonchalance about murder, and more passionate and aggressive at other times. Some of his lyrics seem to be in place just to make a rhyme work, but overall, develop this world and its personalities very convincingly. This is a disturbing album, but it is deeply engaging and interesting.
Another great country/folk album. Ramblin' Jack Elliot has simple yet earnest style. On this album, we are treated to a feature by Wood Guthrie himself, a mentor of Elliot. Jack Elliot himself went on to have a massive influence on artists such as Bob Dylan, and Woody's son, Arlo Guthrie. Jack Elliot is a living line directly to Woody himself.
This album really shines when it leans into the more experimental songs such as 'I See You' and 'Eight Miles High.' The Byrds use eastern inspired melodic passages well and can play the more blues inspired pieces well. I enjoyed their cover of 'Wild Mountain Thyme' but was a bit perplexed by the inclusion of 'Mr. Spaceman,' a song which offers nothing lyrically or musically. Overall, it is a good album if a bit uneven.
With a hip hop album from this time period, there are bound to be more than a few incredibly dated moments. This album is no exception. It is however, a very fun album that samples prodigiously from funk and soul records giving Digital Underground a very tangible connection to the music they are descended from. Lyrically, this album is all over the place. I laughed out loud at several points, and found the sex packets song cycle a bit out of place interesting though it was. I suppose that's why this album is on this list; it is a fascinating slice of hip hop history.
Here we see Taylor Swift emerge completely as a pop star. This album is such a turning point in her career though it was obvious to anyone paying attention that he sights were turned to pop. The electro synth sound of the early 2010's is strong here of course, wrapping the listener in a gauzy array of sounds with strong echoey 80s beats. Swift borrows freely from the sounds of her pop contemporaries (who had been in the pop scene longer) including Katy Perry and Carlie Rae Jepsen. Amazingly, despite her genre shifting, Swift always sounds like herself. Her sense of melody including the intervals she uses are unique to her for the most part, or at least she's employed them persistently enough that they are squarely hers. The back half of the album is weaker than the first, but it's such an easy listen that I'm not sure it matters.
Bob Marley's first album without Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer is a powerful socially conscious album that tackles themes of poverty and finding joy, brotherhood, and love in dire situations. Musically, the album is fairly standard Marley, fun, driving, and groovy.
This album was a great listen. The genre is listed as punk, but that doesn't begin to cover it. There are new wave, psychedelic, and hard rock elements of this album that emphasize that punk was already turning into something more exploratory with more musicality. X-Ray Spex also predict the Riot Grrrl movement that would later emerge in the 1990s.
In light of Stevie Wonder’s opus, it’s amazing to think that he started in the Motown factory line style version of music production. Stevie’s sprawling album covers just about every thing from love, to fatherhood, and to social issues of the time. Musically this album is a journey through soul, funk, R&B, and elements of jazz including fusion. It is incredible that an album of commercial music trusts its audience enough to throw in rhythmic changes, exploratory modal passages, and boasts a running time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. There is not a single misplaced note on this album.
This is the last album Billie Holiday released before her death. Her voice has lost some of its higher end and the years of abuse have clearly caught up to her. What we get is an extremely raw and emotional performance. Though not as great as her previous work, this album still displays the remarkable talent that was Billie Holiday.
I found this album to be rather bland. There are some interesting moments, but it is largely forgettable. I found it drifting into the background quite a bit which is not necessarily a bad thing, but nothing about it really stood out to be. It works as atmospheric music, but there are much better examples of that as well.
Dinosaur Jr. is the perfect example of the saying ‘you have to know the rules before you break them.’ They clearly have a lot of respect for the classic rock that can before them and incorporate a lot of the most virtuosic and melodic elements from that. However, they also have an experimental streak and incorporate the ethic of garage and punk rock to create something that is musically chaotic, but controlled. Because of the melodic and noise rock aspects, they bridge the gap connecting punk/alternative to the more commercially friendly college rock that was emerging.
This album continues T. Rex’s lush glam rock approach. The lyrics are occasionally psychedelic and oblique but the music itself is much more. T. Rex employs a sound that is well filled out, uses many instruments, and has a full sense of harmony. This power pop includes a lot of sounds from the Beatles but also has a wiry electric frenetic feel that pushes the genre forward. T. Rex’s influence on artists such as Bowie and Queen would be immense and the seeds of that can be heard here.
This album is sweeping in an almost cinematic way. However, there’s something here that feels forced. Scott Walker’s voice is lovely and the orchestration is scaled down compared to his past work, but it is still just too much and takes itself too seriously. This is reflected in the lyrics as well.
I wasn’t impressed with the first couple of tracks, but the album did grow on me a bit. There’s nothing groundbreaking here. It is well made melodic Britpop and nothing more complete with Beatlesesque moments, occasional orchestration, and emotionally satisfying anthemic moments. The closing track is phenomenal though and ends the album on a melancholy and unresolved note.
Not sure how to classify this album. It is definitely pop forward, but has some substantial jazz and lounge music influences baked in as well. It is pleasant which cloaks its sexually charged slightly masochistic and deferential vocals in a strange and disorienting veneer. The cover of Iron Man is probably the weirdest thing on this album. Even weirder still, it works.
This album wake a fine line between being over reliant on nostalgia and employing it perfectly. I’d say that Richard Hawley expertly weaves sounds from the 40s onwards into an extremely well produced and consistent album. The sound feels warm, lush, and lived in and the various genres blend into each other in such a way that it recalls everything at once this creating something unique.
This album is one of the most important works of post rock. It experiments with sounds and musical textures in an almost meditative intentional way that allows songs to build, simmer, and dissolve in their own timing. The instrumentation and genre hopping feel like this is almost like a musical laboratory.
This is a great jazz album that is very influenced by the Big Band Tradition. Though this album isn’t covering any new territory, it is incredibly well executed and features some excellent mastery of instrumentation. The tone and timbre that the musicians are able to achieve is full of emotion and control.
Putting the thought of Ayn Rand to a 20 minute song cycle is a step in the wrong direction. It’s a good thing the music is good. However, this album is bloated despite its 40 minute runtime. 2112 comes off very preachy and I don’t believe that Neil Peart was a great philosophical mind. The musicianship is excellent of course but that’s not enough to rescue this album from its worst impulses.
This album sees the Pet Shop Boys embracing Neil Tennant’s homosexuality. The result is one of their most consistent and cohesive albums. The mix of synth pop and club music is driving, danceable, yet provides a fitting medium for Tennant’s vocals. Despite the running time, I found that this album didn’t drag on unlike some of their other work. The highlight for me was the final track, a fantastic cover of the Village People’s ‘Go West.’
Lou Reed's Berlin was critically panned and reviled upon its release. The album takes its cue from the track 'Berlin' on Lou Reed's first solo album and expands the story of the couple the song portrays. What follows is a shocking and tragic story of addiction, prostitution, abuse, suicide, and ultimately ambivalence. Mirroring his own disintegrating relationship, Berlin plunges to the depths of despair and anguish and leaves us struggling to find meaning in the pieces left behind. Musically, it is austere, full of a feeling of impending doom, and leaves us with the song 'Sad Song' sung in a major key further disorienting the listener. It is oppressive and brilliant, and I'm not quite sure how to feel about it yet.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut is a high energy hit filled record that ends in one of the most famous songs of all time. Their guitar approach is steeped in the hard rock greats while being infused with country inspired licks reflecting their southern heritage. The playing is tight and the vocal delivery is fantastic.
Today! Is where we really begin to see Brian Wilson’s production and songwriting style ramp up to its experimental apex which would come on 1966-1967. Having stepped down from touring after a panic attack en route to Houston, Brian Wilson began spending more time in the studio. The result is a wall of sound style production with more introspective songwriting tinged with melancholy. The results are undeniable.
Lots of Chuck Berry influence (some doo wop and soul as well) in the Rolling Stones' first album. Though most of this album is covers, they are clearly students of the blues. Where the Beatles are polished (and writing their own songs) the Rolling Stones are loose and more interested in getting across a certain attitude. Once again, we see English students influenced by Black American music which is pretty great considering the racial tensions in the US at the time.
This album begins with straight electric blues and shifts over the course of the album to for Malinese influenced music. In a very real way, this album represents a full circle moment; here we see an African influenced American genre turn into something new in the hands of Africans. It truly revitalizes the blues in a way that is very difficult to do. The result is astounding. The title of the album alludes to the fact that Songhoy Blues is a band in exile, and may be making some of the truest blues music out there.
A contender for the best album of all time. The Beatles had quit touring, and on the heels of their experimental success with 'Revolver,' and in response to 'Pet Sounds,' they decided to up the ante. What they produced was a sprawling concept album with the conceit that it was from a fictitious band. The opus of this album, 'A Day in the Life,' is similarly a contender for best rock song ever. This album sees the Beatles fully embrace the full experimental potential of the studio in a way that is still astounding. Though these sounds can easily be created now, the leap in creativity and studio mastery has seldom if ever been topped.
My god, this album is phenomenal. The music is tight and exploratory and features sounds and textures that I hear in progressive rap. Side 1 of the album is more upbeat and feels more soul/R&B flavored. Side 2 takes a darker and more introspective turn, especially in the ironically named 'Sunshine (Go Away Today).' This music features interesting melodic intervals, incredible guitar work, and overall more funk and jazz influenced music. Overall, not being too familiar with the Isley Brothers' post 50s/60s work, I was blown away. They managed to do something that sounded and still sounds fresh, listenable, yet musically interesting. The really interesting thing is that it's almost as if they were influenced by their own music in previous decades.
This album has a great sense of rhythm and really great bass lines. However, the rap portions really take me out of it. This mix of hip hop and trip hop doesn’t really quite work and it all starts to blend together after a while. However, the music itself is a great representation of trip hop.
After ‘Astral Weeks’ Van Morrison returns with a more straightforward that plays less like an experimental record. This album is very folk centric though of course it still dabbles in jazz phrasing and instrumentation. The musicianship and songwriting are top notch and the album as a whole was incredibly enjoyable. It’s definitely on my list to listen to again soon.
The Verve are at an interesting crossroads on this album. Do they lean into the more experimental alternative side, or stay on the more melodic Britpop side. They tried to go both ways. The result is a very uneven album and one that is just too noisy at times. When they slow down and let the songs develop and the music meander, then they sound much more coherent. There is a way to blend melodic sensibilities with more experimental music (see Radiohead’s the Bends released the same year), but they do not succeed at doing that. Additionally, the runtime is too long. Having said all that, I do find that this album has some very beautiful moments.
This album is much more upbeat than 'In the Wee Small Hours.' Sinatra is more expressive and playful with these songs. I enjoyed this album more and felt that it was more dynamic than the previous entry.
Kate Bush is one of my favorite pop artists from the 80s. She takes the form and subverts it by incorporating experimental sounds and textures and weaving sonically interesting through-lines along with her lyrics which are focused on this album, on women's sexuality. Though this album is not as well developed and constructed as Hounds of Love or The Dreaming, it was still a fantastic listen.
This album features sweeping acoustic guitars which give it a sense of space and openness. The songwriting is excellent and the vocal delivery can be as gentle or as powerful as is needed. Tim Buckley incorporates a wide variety of influences including eastern music. This album is powerful and thoughtful and will certainly benefit from repeated listenings
This album was likely the best of 2020. Recorded mostly at Fiona Apple’s home in Los Angeles, it has a raw organic quality to it. The use of found sounds lends an almost dada like ramshackle foundation from which the music can find its basis. This produces a set of sounds that seem to appear spontaneously without the trappings of a studio production.
One of the most interesting things about this album is the fact that Jackson sings about issues that seemingly have not changed in over 30 years. The audio of gunshots at a playground were especially and most tragically all too familiar. Other reviewers have criticized this album for being too preachy, but I think everyone no matter what their income level, especially those with a platform, have every right to confront injustice where they see it. Furthermore, Jackson went against the wishes of her label to make the album she wanted. Musically, this album is an absolute clinic in well crafted pop music. It is a bit dated, but it expertly weaves late 80s pop with synth and new Jack swing to create something unique that doesn’t feel as long as it is.
With the horns I was really expecting this album to skew towards ska but that was not the case. This album is primarily a new wave album with a massive soul influence. The instrumentation stood out to me the most along with the strong sense of melody. Overall I enjoyed this album and appreciate its unique qualities and the space it occupies in the history of post-punk/new wave.
I grew up listening to Queen; they were my first CD and to this day they occupy a very special place. Their fearlessness in occupying the space between glam, opera, dance, and hard rock is inspiring. This lesser known album is the first to really sound like Queen. The layered vocals and instrumentation are present here and hint at what's to come. The music itself is very prog/art rock and doesn't lean heavily on commercial viability. That's another reason to love this album; it is taking a risk. During the mid-70s, releasing an album that focuses more on fantasy themes and art music than pop sensibility would have been career suicide. Thankfully, this was not the case here. Though this album has very niche appeal, it is a fundamental step in the realization of Queen's potential, and it is one I find very compelling.
I enjoyed this more western ballad based approach. However, there is not much variety between songs though they are executed very well.
Possibly the advent of punk. This record is high energy, lofi, and messy as hell. The Sonics are oft-cited as influences by the White Stripes, Mudhoney, and Nirvana. Their overdriven and distorted sound lends to an air of rebellion in an age of over produced popular music. These guys are great musicians and seem like they just wanted to play rock on their terms. The 50s rock and R&B influence is apparent especially with the R&B style saxophone solos.
This album is a contender for the greatest hip hop album of all time, and is easily one of the best albums period. Wu Tang Clan grapple with social issues and who they’re trying to be for themselves and the future throughout this album. Their vision is something greater than what they see around them, and this album provides a glimpse into the early thoughts of the greatest rap collective. The music defines east coast rap, and the dynamic flows and free associated lyrics are now hallmarks of hip hop. You simply can’t listen to hip hop today without hearing Wu Tang’s influence.
This album might be Michael Jackson at his funkiest. The bass on this album is absolutely perfect, especially on side 1 which has more of a groove accentuated by the disco influence. Side 2 loses some steam, but remains enjoyable. 'Off the Wall' is packed with hits; I knew more of these songs than I thought I did. This album represents the turning point for his adult career as it was the first recorded with Epic and with Quincy Jones as producer. Perhaps most incredibly, Jackson's next two albums were 'Thriller' and 'Bad' released over the next nine years making 'Off the Wall' the first of a decade of unassailable Michael Jackson albums produced by Quincy Jones.
This album is more accompanied than Nick Drake's other two albums, especially when contrasted to Pink Moon. Drake intended it to evoke Pet Sounds, and even had some Beach Boys session musicians play in addition to part of the Fairport Convention and the Velvet Underground's John Cale. The result is an incredibly lush album that captures the cream of the crop of British folk. Nick Drake's guitar playing is absurdly precise and always retains a striking clarity even against the backdrop of strings and horns. His lyrics turn their focus to the drudgery of city life and even the music feels more full and cosmopolitan. The outlook is still bleak.
Tom Greenhalgh's quote, "pretty soon the difference between the three chords of country and the three chords of punk became blurred," really just sum this album up. The affinity between punk and country really does make sense and the Mekons bring it to life with swagger and confidence. What really struck me about this album is how contemporary it sounds. Freak Folk really came into its own in the late 90s and 2000s and remains a huge influence on contemporary music. This album predates that by almost 15 years. The experimental art collective style works well for the Mekons and brings an element of subversion to traditional instrumentation. Overall, a fantastic listen!
Anyone would be forgiven for thinking that they were hearing the same few songs over and over again. Motörhead songs all seem to have the same driving drums and galloping guitar. Even the vocal melodies seem to repeat and blend into each other. Furthermore, the quality of the live recording was not the best and the mix was rather muddy.
I listened to this album when I was first getting into hip hop and was really struck by the maximalist production, the socially conscious lyrics, and Lupe's instantly identifiable flow. For the most part, this album holds up. Some of the music and mid-2000s synth sound a bit dated now, but for the most part, I enjoy the diversity of music that Lupe incorporates. The last track really drags the album down, especially after Kick, Push II. As far as I'm concerned, the album should have ended there.
This album is simply one of the greatest albums of all time. Marvin Gaye explores themes of racism, war, poverty etc. and does it all with a striking sense of empathy. The vocals are melodies are top notch and the music is soothing yet has an air of movement and restlessness that underscores the severity of the social issues. This album is always in heavy rotation for me.
This album is not something I ever would have been exposed to save for this project. I don't know enough about this style of music to say much about it, but I did enjoy the gentle driving beats and Nusrat Feteh Ali Khan's voice, which I read had the ability to withstand hours of uninterrupted singing.