Sunday, April 30, 2006

#6 The Who's Tommy

It's a boy, Mrs. Walker. It's a boy.

It's hard for me to now admit that this album is way down here at #6. It topped my albums list for a solid 8 or so years of my life. I first really got into it in eighth grade which was 98. Now its 2007 and it has fallen from grace to #6. Needless to say, it's still a brilliant, amazing gem of an album.

Any person who knows me understands that I am the biggest Who fan they will pump in under the age of 30. This album is the reason I am that huge Who fan. It was the springboard for my love. There is no album that engrossed so many years of my life. Not even the next five would have ever gotten the same amount of overall listening time. Even if you counted all the times I listened to select songs on the rest of the top five, it wouldn't compare to the amount of time I listened to this great album. I had tapes of it for my car, vinyl records (my parents and now my own copy) and I had it burnt many many times and purchased it once on cd (lost in Greece.) Regardless, if I had the chance, I would have had this album on every possible medium. I'm not going to break down the tracks or talk about lyrics for this guy. In fact, this is going to be the shortest post. There is a religious event that happens anytime I listen to this album. And of all the albums on the list, this is the one that speaks the best for itself rather than me for it.

So kick back, pop it on, light a candle, turn out the lights and zone out for a good 79 minutes. Tommy will take you on an amazing journey that will change your musical perspective.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

#7 Beck's Odelay

This one's for you pop.

Beck transcended all types of pop music with Odelay. He blends rock, hip-hop, folk, country, and various other genres to form a style all his own. This was probably the third cd I actually owned back in 1996. Not sure if I had more at this point, but regardless, it was still an early developmental stage in my love for music. Odelay began my love affair with Beck. I liked "Loser" before that, but didn't have Mellow Gold for a while. It's hard to describe the feeling one gets when listening to this album. Unlike any other Beck album, I feel like I get transported to a different country that doesn't exist where this is there world music. Every other album has a realistic feel to it (maybe minus Stereopathetic Soul Manure) but Odelay takes on a skin and flesh I've never heard of before. I think this new sound that Beck was emitting was because he recorded the album with The Dust Brothers (except "Ramshackle" which was with a band called Bong Load). The album is a party album with some ridiculously clever and sometimes absurd lyrics. This is Beck's style though. Absurdity in a sea of structure and sound. This is why Odelay is so important. It was out in 96 among rock albums that seemed to be totally different than this. Regardless, I can't even think of other albums this ahead of its time in the 90s.

From the starting riff of "Devil's Haircut" with it's catchy bass line and drowned out drums, you know where this album is going to take you. It's one of Beck's finest singles and definitely my favorite first track for a Beck album.

"Hotwax" takes you on another journey in sound that mixes a lot of random things that come at you at all directions. Slide guitar, moog, and God knows what else, Beck channels the Eno style of bringing ridiculous sound sources and getting instruments to sound like nothing they ever thought they could to a new level of awesome.

"Lord Only Knows" screams in your face immediately and sounds like an updated version of a song that would have appeared on One Foot in the Grave. With it's folky/country feel imbedded in the Dust Brother production, it brings the country music feel of this new world music that we are hearing from Beck on Odelay.

"The New Polution" is one of the best hit songs of the 90's and has one of my personal favorite dance beats backing it up. If you don't start to move your body to this jam, you have problems. "Where It's At" also takes on this turn of great dance song with its two turntables and a microphone approach to rockin'.

All the sogns on this album deserve dissection, but I don't have too much time on my hands. So here is a quick rundown of the key tracks that deserve it. "Jackass" is the poignant turn on the album with its moody feel and lyrics. One of my personal fav Beck tracks. "Ramshackle" is the somewhat depressing, yetr beautiful end to an altogether insane album that careens out of control and lands right in the lap of a beautiful simple song much in the vein of what Beck's Sea Change and Mutations would feel like.

Overall, this is another one of those albums that formed the way I listen to music. Fun, silly, and smart all at once, Beck's Odelay is a treasure of my youth that has lasting power in the grand scheme of my favorite music.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

#8 The Clash's London Calling

The greatest punk rock band and the greatest punk rock album of all time. That's right. The Clash and 1979's London Calling changed the way that punk rock operated and the way the public heard it. Not only was it a punk album, but it was a genre confused album with sounds of reggae, rockabilly, lounge jazz, ska, and 60s style pop among many other sounds. It really will blow the listener away with its raw power and constantly changing sound from song to song. Joe Strummer and Co. tear through 19 songs of sheer greatness in possibly the most important album of the late 70s and early 80s (UK release was Dec. 79 and US release was shortly after in 80.)

Anyone who has listened to this album knows why its so great. You don't need to be a punk rocker to love it. Many people who harsh on punk rock because there are so many rip-off and crappy punk bands should NOT disregard this album (I'm looking at you, Simon.) This isn't really a punk album as much as it is a Clash album. And the Clash wasn't a punk rock band anymore after they released London Calling. If anyone listened to Sandinista! and Combat Rock, you would know they were Clash albums. Listening to their debut or Give Em Enough Rope know that they sound more like what 70s punk was all about. This is why London Calling is great. It's the first truely unique Clash recording.

"London Calling" is a song the mission statement for the album (obviously) because in the late 70s, punk rock was HUGE in Britain. It was the new Mod scene that took over the youth. Songs like "Hateful", "The Guns of Brixton" and "Clampdown" were the doctrine of punk rockers of that time. They embody the political atmosphere and attitudes of the punks.

Songs like "Jimmy Jazz", "Lost in a Supermarket" and "Revolution Rock" are the perfect staples of new sounds for the Clash. With reggae and jazzy sounds including horns, exotic instruments and tones that were more clear and polished then the usual harsh guitars made the album much more dynamic and mature. "Rudie Can't Fail" is their ska experiment and ska bands to this day live by this song (and I live by this song as well... and I'm not a ska kid in the least.)

My first experience with the Clash was their compilation entitled "Story of the Clash" which had some of the songs from this album. Things like "Train in Vain", the titular track, "Guns of Brixton" and "Spanish Bombs" were on there. When they finally reissued them in 2000, I picked up my copy of this and was floored. I never thought there would be songs like "The Right Profile" or "Four Horseman" on a Clash record. I loved the Clash, but once I heard this album, I worshiped them. It was odd because I remember seeing Punk kids loving the Clash and when I listen to this album I was thinking "I have nothing in common with these kids. Why do they love this even though it sounds so different and dynamic than most punk stuff." Then it hit me... how can you not love this album? If you love music, be it punk, rock, prog, whatever... you have to love the songs on this album. London Calling is just that essential to any music lovers collection.

Friday, April 21, 2006

#9 The Velvet Underground and Nico

Peel Slowly and See...

You really thought I wouldn't have this on hear? Especially since my dead radio show was named after the little text on the album? Interestingly enough, this has fallen from grace. Not by much, but this used to sit at #5. Times change, I guess, but that doesn't mean the famous Velvet Underground and Nico banana album has lost any of its candor. The thing that makes VU and Nico so good is its groundbreaking sound, intense style and its interesting twist on what pop music could be. In 1967, songs like "Venus in Furs" and "Heroin" with their dynamic avante-garde sound and risque lyrics were so groundbreaking, the album was a flop. No one could handle the new sound that music had taken on through the Cale/Reed combo that drives the band to its ultimate greatness. Nico, as much as she isn't necessary on this album, adds an amazing darkness to the album. Songs like "I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Femme Fatale" are so dark and beautiful, its hard to grasp sometimes. Regardless of this, the sheer sound the group built with violas, out tune guitars, simple drum beats and distortion were things that not many bands were tinkering with at the time. The door was open wide when the listener would peel it away, and we did see the future of music.

I know I did a track by track breakdown for OK Computer, but that is really tough for me to do with this album. It's not because I don't like the songs as much... that's just absurd. I just feel that these songs are really hard to describe to anyone without hearing them. The thing I love about VU and Nico is thinking about it in context with other things released in 1967. It might be I'm lazy as well, but when it comes to this album, it's just really hard for me to transcribe it. Another thing that makes this album so great is the fact that when I first listened to it, I really had no idea what to make of it. I had to listen to it a lot over and over again before I finally appreciated it for what it is. And this is what I love about music. It can be like Weezer and be just another great fun album or it can be like The Who and have some depth and rock out and ber silly at the same time, or it can be like VU and Nico and be a form of beautiful artwork that is listened to and appreciated for different reasons than other artists. That is why the Velvet Underground are important and thats why VU and Nico is a landmark and on this list.

Monday, April 17, 2006

#10- Radiohead's OK Computer

The year was 1997. The band was Radiohead. The album was OK Computer. Let's face it. This album is flawless. From start to finish, from every nook and cranny is filled with sonic gems that make it easily the greatest album of the late 90s. Produced by Nigel Godrich and Radiohead went into two unconventional places to record the album and this brought about some awesome elements of sound and using the new spaces to find and define the sound of the album. One of the locations was a mansion owned by actress Jane Seymour and they used various rooms to record seperate songs (my personal favorite of these being the drum track for "Exit Music (For A Film)" was recorded in a room filled with Teddy Bears!)

On to the songs. We all love them all and we enjoy trying to figure out what order of songs from our favorite to our least favorite. Yet, let's be honest, that is nearly impossible. Every song is awesome in its own right and every song is essential to the overall feel of the album.

"Airbag" seems to be the mission statement of the album with all the types of moods and sounds embodied in the four minute track about a car crash experience Thom York had. It clamours with all types of sounds from intense drum beats, sleigh bells and jangly guitars.

"Paranoid Android" is the bands epic and to the untrained ear, would easily seem like the best song and that everything after it seem not as amazing. It surely is breathtaking with its Floydian structure and ethereal and somewhat otherworldly feel. The "rain down" section has a chorus of voices that will shoot a sonic arrow deep into your spine.

"Subterranean Homesick Alien" proves that Radiohead isn't giving up on track two. For me, the finest song on the album, the song has some of the sickest guitar tones that give it an Alein feeling. The song surges back and forth from the clamour of the chorus and the simplicity of the verses that make it a strong song overall and one of my favorites of any song ever written.

"Exit Music (For a Film)" is one of the best melancholoy songs you'll ever hear. One of my favorite chord progressions to play on guitar, the song builds from a quiet Thom and Acoustic guitar into an explosion of fuzzed out bass, intense drumming and swelling of screaming vocals. Definitely a high point on the album.

"Let Down" gets harshed on by a lot of people as being their least favorite. This strikes me as bewildering. For all of the naysayers, it was not originally going to be used on the album. It was recorded live in a ballroom which you can tell by its echoey sound. They plopped it on the album because it was said to sound perfect after "Exit Music" and that it is. The song is beautiful.

"Karma Police" is one of the best singles of the 90s. Another fun song to play on guitar, this song is hard for me to express my love of it. It's kind of a release from the first few songs because although it has dark tones and such, it seems to be a sort of low-ground and midpoint on the album (actually, the mid point is the next track, but this is somewhat the calm before the storm again although it ends with a ridiculous tape loop feedback that sends us back into the maelstrom.) When ranking, this usually ends up near the bottom of the list of fav songs (GASP) but again, lets be honest, its still better than a LOT of songs out there.

"Fitter Happier" is NOT sung by Stephen Hawking. Yet it is not a throw away track like many people feel. Just listen to the things that are being said about society by that computer: "favours for favours, fond but not in love, charity standing orders, on sundays ring road supermarket." Regardless, this marks the second half of the album (which I believe gets overshadowed way to often.)

"Electioneering" is suprisingly Johnny Greenwood's least favorite song! I read that and was like "whaa?" This song contains some furious cowbell, but hearing the guitar player harsh on the song which also contains some furious guitar licks breaks my heart. Easily my second fav on the album, the song just straight up rocks out from start to finish. This is the most rocking you'll get on this album and for many albums to come from Radiohead.

"Climbing Up the Walls" seems to be the underdog fav on the album. Whenever this song comes on, I go... "oh shit! I forgot about this! YES!" It feels very Brian Eno-ey with sounds emenating from instruments that seem unatural.

"No Surprises" is sweet catharsis. After the insanity of the last three tracks, we get grounded on earth for a second and roll some 8mm home movies. Not really, but as Stev has pointed out many times, this music is perfect for that.

"Lucky" brings the feel of the album back in another personal fave. Probably the next most rocking song on the album with another amazing chord progression behind it. This one is damn fun to play and sing along with and the guitars sound so good and come out of the dense fog that the mid section songs made with the ridiculous sounds that they were eminating.

"The Tourist" is another one that gets harshed on, but it pretty much ties the entire album together perfectly. "Hey man, slow down" basically makes us try to slow down the world that the rest of the album has said is too fast paced and too hectic and mind numbingly Orwellian. The super slow pacing of the song and chord progression helps the listener ease into reality only to be ready for the fast paced world. It's a great song to end the album and perfection.

OK Computer is basically our generations Dark Side of the Moon. There are easy to point out correlations (guitar driven songs with progressive elements and dark overtones about existence.) It's a landmark album if there ever was one. I want lots of commenting from the peanut gallery with your thoughts on the album. It was a late find for me, surprisingly, because at the time it came out, I loved "Paranoid Android" (mainly the video and song) but I was listening to lots of Floyd then. I shut myself off from most new music around this point and for a good three years listening to Floyd, the Who and muich more classic rock. So rediscovering this album was kind of like Dr. Ryan Carey discovering Link to the Past late in the game. We know its amazing and I know it tops most of your lists, but I'll say it again that this top 10 is more of an amalgamation of my #1 album. It doesn't matter the order really, these are simply all the best.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Entering the Top 10....

So I've been doing this for quite some time. I like it. I get to listen to these albums and do a quicky write up. But here is the deal. Things are getting nutty round here. So from now until #1, these albums are getting their own post with in-depth study and song breakdowns and a little factoid here or there that I feel like doing. This is going to be enriching for me since these ten albums are basically all #1. They each add a certain element of my life and personality. You know what albums are coming already... or do you? There aren't too many huge changes, except for the shuffling of order on a few and a new guy to the top 5. That's that for now.

Here is an update on my life. So I noticed the last post before this was about my trip to NYC with Bro. G and Maximum Carnage. SO here is a quicky life update.

Things are good and bad. Life is back on track more or less. My internship ended up being really shady by not giving me substantial work so I had to stop, but im gonna get the credits I need to graduate. I'm kind of getting semi-emotional/Ray Porecca Nostalgic now that there is onyl two weeks left. I definitely feel like I've met some amazing people in the past two weeks and that I am never going to make better connections. If you are one of these people, prepare for me to be up your ass to hang out and enjoy as much of this before the experiment called College Education comes to a close. I've written some cool short stories for Grauke that once they get their revisions done and back, I will post them on this old bloggaroo. Things are kind of lame in the life of love, but experiments are being set up. Who knows what can happen. I feel like I have to just go all out in order to be where I'd like to be with the female species, which really isn't much, but its nice to have a lady to be interested. It stimulates the mind in ways that being single and stagnant don't allow. I've been listening to a lot of angry music lately, but I'm not sufficiently angry. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne is amazing (new remastered version with bonus tracks is out) and I want to read the book that the title is based on. The new Built to Spill is also great. The song "Traces" is awesome. As far as movies go, I got some Hartley DVDs recently and they are great flicks (three shorts and his first feature film.)

Thats about it. Starting Tomorrow, revealing #10 on this albums list.