Favorite Albums of All Time: 100-91


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141
240-231 190-181 140-131
230-221 180-171 130-121
220-211 170-161 120-111
210-201 160-151 110-101

 

100

Artist: Joy Division
Title:Unknown Pleasures
Year: 1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Disorder
  • New Dawn Fades
  • She’s Lost Control
  • Shadowplay
  • Interzone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Last year, although I think I’ve heard it in dribs & drabs going back to my college days

Thoughts: Before it was t-shirt, the cover of Unknown Pleasures contained one of the great albums of the Punk Rock era.  The album sounds like it could’ve been recorded by an indie band within the past decade, which is sign of either how far ahead of the time Joy Division was or how rock music has been frozen stylistically for some time

Bonus Sounds: Joy Division released only two albums and their follow-up from 1980, Closer, is also excellent.


99

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: Fulfillingness’ First Finale 
Year: 1974
Favorite Tracks:

  • Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman
  • You Haven’t Done Nothin’
  • It Ain’t No Use
  • They Won’t Go When I Go
  • Please Don’t Go

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: A somber and less-optimistic album for Stevie Wonder, both musically and lyrically, compared with its predecessors. A strong gospel influence runs through the album alongside funk, soul, and jazz improvisation.

Bonus Sounds:  There’s more Stevie Wonder to come in this countdown, but don’t sleep on Stevie’s early 70s albums Where I’m Coming From (1971) and Music of My Mind (1972).


98

Artist: RUN-DMC
Title: Raising Hell
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Peter Piper
  • It’s Tricky
  • Walk This Way
  • Raising Hell
  • Proud to be Black

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1986

Thoughts: This was the first rap album I ever owned and it’s still one of my favorites.  The funny thing is that I never heard of Aerosmith before their collaboration with RUN-DMC on “Walk this Way.”

Bonus Sounds: RUN-DMC’s eponymous debut album from 1983 is also a milestone of hip hop.


97

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Title: 100 Days, 100 Nights
Year:  2007
Favorite Tracks:

  • 100 Days, 100 Nights
  • Let Them Knock
  • Humble Me
  • Keep on Looking
  • Answer Me

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Early 2010s

Thoughts: Sharon Jones’ confident voice brings retro-soul sounds into the present.

Bonus Sounds: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings shined like a bright star in their brief career before Jones’ death in 2016.  Check out my thoughts on their discography here.


96

Artist: David Bowie
Title: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Year: 1972
Favorite Tracks:

  • Five Years
  • Moonage Daydream
  • Starman
  • Lady Stardust
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Suffragette City

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: This concept album offers a lot to chew on regarding  aliens, fictional rock stars, and impending doom.  Musically it’s a compilation of rock and roll styles bridging rockabilly to punk rock.  Another classic.

Bonus Sounds: There’s more Bowie to come although his discography is full of treasures.  Check out On Bowie by Rob Sheffield for a fan’s experience with Bowie’s music


95

Artist: Weezer
Title: Weezer
Year: 1994
Favorite Tracks:

  • My Name Is Jonas
  • The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
  • Buddy Holly
  • Undone – The Sweater Song
  • Say It Ain’t So
  • In the Garage
  • Only in Dreams

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1994

Thoughts: Weezer’s debut came toward the end of the peak of the alternative rock era and featured songs and lyrics that the nerds among us could relate to set to quasi-metal guitar riffs.  It still sounds fresh today.

Bonus Sounds: Weezer is notoriously hated for not being as good as they once were, but I’ve enjoyed listening to Pinkerton (1996), Weezer (Green Album) (2001), and Maladroit (2002).


94

Artist: St. Vincent
Title: St. Vincent
Year:  2014
Favorite Tracks:

  • Birth in Reverse
  • Huey Newton
  • Digital Witness
  • I Prefer Your Love
  • Severed Crossed Fingers

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2014

Thoughts: Annie Clark had released some great music prior to this eponymous album, but it really blue me away with it’s crunching guitars, catchy riffs, and esoteric lyrics.

Bonus Sounds: Actor (2009) and Strange Mercy (2011) are also excellent albums.


93

Artist: The Halluci Nation
Title:We Are the Halluci Nation
Year: 2016
Favorite Tracks:

  • R.E.D.
  • The Virus
  • Sila
  • Maima Koopi
  • How I Feel

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2016

Thoughts: The Halluci Nation, originally known as A Tribe Called Red, mix indigenous pow wow music with hip hop beats. This concept album is strong social justice statement on the effects of colonization on aboriginal peoples.

Bonus Sounds: A Tribe Called Red (2012), Nation II Nation (2013), and One More Saturday Night (2021) are also excellent collections


92

Artist: The B‐52’s
Title:The B‐52’s
Year:1979
Favorite Tracks:

  • Planet Claire
  • 52 Girls
  • Dance This Mess Around
  • Rock Lobster

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 1990s

Thoughts: I first listened to this album after The B-52s more commercial success with Cosmic Thing and it was mindblowing just how weird it was.  But it’s brilliantly weird.

Bonus Sounds: The B-52s’ follow-up album Wild Planet (1980) and of course, Cosmic Thing (1989), are also classic albums.


91

Artist: The Operators 
TitleCitizens Band
Year:2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Bottle
  • Rock City
  • Running Late
  • The Tarpit
  • The Old Man Doesn’t Like It
  • Xxer
  • Parasite Rex
  • Victoria

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2002

Thoughts: This is another of my more obscure choices.  The members of the Operators were friends of a friend who participated in musical collective called Handstand Command based in Somerville, MA.  In fact, I was on an adult kickball team with one of The Operators. Anyway, I really loved this melodic postpunk collection and wish I’d picked up another one of their albums while I’d had the chance.

Bonus Sounds: I got nothin’!

Album Review: Daddy’s Home by St. Vincent


Album: Daddy’s Home
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: May 14, 2021
Label: Loma Vista Recording
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Down and Out Downtown”
  • “The Melting of the Sun”
  • “Somebody Like Me”
  • “My Baby Wants a Baby”
  • “…At the Holiday Party”

Thoughts:

Annie Clark, who performs as St. Vincent, is something of a chameleon, changing her personal appearance and musical style from album to album.  This has lead to fascinating career with the highpoint of her 2014 album St. Vincent which I really loved, but also 2017’s Masseduction, which I really did not. On Daddy’s Home, the glam rock and pop noise of the past have been replaced by a soul and funk sound joined together thematically around the idea of New York City in the 1970s.  The album title is inspired by Clark’s actual father’s release from prison after serving time for a decade for stock manipulation, but Clark suggests this is more metaphorical than biographical.  To me, this album feels like a return to form for St. Vincent, which means it’s something new and experimental.

Rating: ***

Album Review: The Center Won’t Hold by Sleater Kinney


Album: The Center Won’t Hold
Artist: Sleater Kinney
Release Date: August 16, 2019
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hurry on Home
  • Bad Dance
  • The Dog/The Body

Thoughts:

This is a new sound for the band, one that incorporates electronic instruments and an industrial music sound to its raging guitar riffs. The producer is Annie Clark of St. Vincent and her stamp on the sound is clear, although not overwhelming.  It’s not without controversy as drummer Janet Weiss announced her departure from the band over the change in direction.

The lyrics touch on the politics of being women continuing to perform as they age, defying the expectations that women in the public eye always be young and beautiful.  Similarly, these songs are steeped in the experiences being women and identifying as queer in the Trump Era even if the lyrics aren’t always explicit on that point as they are on the album’s finale “Broken.”

An experienced band and a big name producer bring with it a lot of expectations.  I’m not sure if The Center Won’t Hold lives up to those expectations, but its worth listening on its own terms.

Rating: ***

Album Review: MASSEDUCTION by St. Vincent


AlbumMASSEDUCTION
ArtistSt. Vincent
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts: I’m a longtime St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) fan and have written about her on this blog many times, so I was eager to hear her fifth album.  Sadly, it’s a disappointment.  Supposedly this album is her attempt to move to a more pop-oriented sound, so naturally that would be alienating to a long-time fan.  But I don’t think it even succeeds as a pop album as there are no catchy hooks and the grim lyrics sound maudlin over the kitschy sound. St. Vincent’s music may be inaccessible to many, but this is the first time that I find it to be dull.  I can’t help but feel that there’s a message in the cover of the album where St. Vincent is mooning her audience.
Rating: **

2014 Year in Review: Favorite albums


I’ve never attempted to make a list of favorite albums, primarily due to economic reasons I’ve never been able to listen to enough albums to make a fair judgment.  But now we live in the age of the cloud and I subscribe to Rdio and have the opportunity to listen to a lot more albums than ever before.  So, I’m going to give this a go, but I’m still not going to make a top ten, just eight favorites.

If you’re interested in more of the best albums of 2014, check out the lists compiled by my friends Erik and Jon.

The albums are arranged alphabetically by artist. I’ve included a sample song from each album, but check out SoundCloud, YouTube, or the artists’ websites for more.  I’ve also included an Rdio playlist of all eight albums below.

Aphex TwinSyro 

The first album by Richard James released under the Aphex Twin moniker is a sonic wave of electronic noise and melody.

Clap! Clap! – Tayi Bebba

A project of Italian alian producer C. Crisci, Clap! Clap! creates dance music by combining electronic sounds with samples of traditional African music.  While not the first  effort to make this combination of sounds, Tayi Bebba is remarkably unique.

Ex HexRips

Following up on the great supergroup project of Wild Flag, Mary Timony is back with another band that plays just straight-up great rock & roll.  I haven’t fallen in love with an album this quickly in a long time.

FM BelfastBrighter Days

An electronic-pop band from Iceland plays on all of my weakness.  This music reminds me of the 1980s, but done right.

Moon HoochThis is Cave Music

Moon Hooch is an all-sax band.  Cave music is apparently saxophones playing swinging dancetunes that feel like acoustic EDM.

St. Vincent

Annie Clark’s eponymous album is on all the best-of lists of this year, so I don’t need to say more than if you haven’t listened to it, check it out now.

 3rdEyeGirlPLECTRUMELECTRUM

Prince released two albums this fall, and this is the better of the two, a collaboration with a new all-woman band of guitar player Donna Grantis, drummer Hannah Ford and  bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen.  Prince responds well when challenged by working with other great artists, and this album has more of a rock vibe than I’ve heard from Prince in some time.

Ana Tijoux – Vengo

French-Chilean hip-hop MC blends Latin beats, R&B, and consciousness-raising lyrics.

 

http://www.rdio.com/people/Othemts/playlists/12376150/Favorite_Albums_of_2014/

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Week: “Digital Witness” by St. Vincent


I’m a hipster for St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, and thus excited by the release of her recent eponymous album.  “Digital Witness” is one of the most striking tracks off that album with its funky horns (or synths disguised as horns) and get-up-and-dance-at-a-funeral groove.

Take a listen & see.

The video will freak you out.  I think St. Vincent has usurped Bjork for the artist who frightens  me in the best way.

More commentary on this song via Stereogum and Pitchfork.

What are you listening to this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Ten Favorite Songs of 2011


The project continues with my favorite songs of 2011.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I originally covered 2011 with a Year in Review post.

Bite of My Soul – The Fleshtones

T

Cruel – St. Vincent

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Eleven –  Thao & Mirah

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Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

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No Banker Left Behind –  Ry Cooder

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Romance – Wild Flag

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Santa Fe – Beirut 

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Shake It Out – Florence + The Machine 

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Up Up Up – The Givers

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We Are Young – fun. feat. Janelle Monáe

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And three songs from 2011 worth an honorable mention:

Bizness –  tUnE-yArDs

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Midnight City–  M83

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Turn It On – Waines 

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Ten Favorite Songs of 2009


The project continues with my favorite songs of 2009.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

2009 is the first time I made a list of favorite songs at the end of the year, so we can look back and see what songs stood the test of time, and what songs I’ve learned of in the intervening years.

The End is Near – The Fiery Furnaces

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Home – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

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Inspiration Information – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

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People Got a Lot of Nerve – Neko Case

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The Rake’s Song – The Decemberists

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Sabali  – Amadou & Mariam

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Stillness is the Move – The Dirty Projectors

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The Strangers – St. Vincent

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Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear

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Wavin’ Flag  – K’naan

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And here are four additional songs from 2009 that I thought worthy of an honorable mention:

Bonkers – Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden

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I and Love and You – Avett Brothers

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My Girls – Animal Collective

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1901 – Phoenix

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What were your favorite songs of the last year of the last decade?