Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top 50 Favorite Albums

So, this is a pretty big shift from our last few topics. I'm not going for "Top 50 Albums Ever"...I'm not even going for the "Top 50" I own. Instead, this is a list of my "Top 50 Favorite Albums," defined here as the albums I couldn't live without. Now sure, some of these are indispensable to me because I think they're great--hence, Beatles, Who, etc.--but what's motivating my selections is not objective quality but rather totally, irresponsibly subjective love. To that end, this is my list. If anyone else wants to post a list as a separate entry, go for it: we can use the comments on this entry as a place to discuss these albums. But if you want to add a list here under the comments section, that's fine, too. The goal here--in addition to simply sharing--is to try and open a dia(b)logue about music we love and why it is we love it. I'll begin, in alphabetical order:

1. Aesop Rock / Labor Days
2. The Beatles / Revolver
3. Beck / Odelay
4. Beirut / Gulag Orkestar
5. The Black Keys / Rubber Factory
6. Blind Willie McTell / Atlanta Twelve String
7. Bob Dylan / The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
8. Bob Dylan / Highway 61 Revisited
9. Bruce Springsteen / Nebraska
10. Built to Spill / Keep It Like A Secret
11. The Clash / London Calling
12. Dead Kennedys / Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
13. Destroyer / Rubies
14. Elliott Smith / XO
15. Explosions in the Sky / The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
16. The Flaming Lips / Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
17. Fugazi / 13 Songs
18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor / F#A#[infinity]
19. Godspeed You! Black Emperor / Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
20. Jeff Buckley / Grace
21. Joanna Newsom / Ys
22. Joni Mitchell / Blue
23. Lauryn Hill / The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
24. The Magnetic Fields / 69 Love Songs
25. Modest Mouse / The Moon & Antarctica
26. Mogwai / Young Team
27. The Mountain Goats / Tallahassee
28. Neutral Milk Hotel / In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
29. Nick Drake / Bryter Layter
30. Nirvana / MTV Unplugged in New York
31. Pavement / Slanted and Enchanted
32. Pedro the Lion / It's Hard to Find a Friend
33. Pixies / Surfer Rosa
34. Pixies / Doolittle
35. Radiohead / The Bends
36. Radiohead / OK Computer
37. Rage Against the Machine / Rage Against the Machine
38. Ramones / Ramones
39. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals / Jacksonville City Nights
40. Sex Pistols / Never Mind the Bollocks
41. Sigur Ros / Agaetis Byrjun
42. Silverchair / Frogstomp
43. Slint / Spiderland
44. Smashing Pumpkins / Siamese Dream
45. Stone Temple Pilots / Core
46. Sufjan Stevens / Greetings from Michigan!
47. The Velvet Undergrond / The Velvet Underground & Nico
48. Weezer / Pinkerton
49. The Who / Who's Next
50. Wilco / Yankee Hotel Foxtrot


Gaston Monescu said...

Some questions:

1. I thought you hated The Who. Wha happened?
2. I thought your favorite Beatles album was "Let It Be." What happened there?
3. Why those two Bob Dylan albums?
4. What are the essential songs off of XO?
5. Give me an apologia for Unplugged in New York.

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

1. I do like to hate the Who, and I still think Tommy is phenomenally overrated, but I can't deny that "Who's Next" is pretty much awesome. I know you look to me for irrational and angry ranting, but every once in awhile, I am confronted with reality and even I have to bow down to it.
2. I do love "Let It Be," but "Revolver" is a better and more satisfying album.
3. Because those are the 2 Dylan albums I have been most taken in with. I'm hardly well-versed in Dylan, but of the 6 or 7 albums I've heard, I like those 2 best.
4. "Sweet Adeline," "Waltz #2," "Pitselah," "Independence Day," etc.
5. It shows us everything "Nevermind" shows us and then some. It's more emotionally moving. The covers are unbelievably awesome. I think it's the best portrait of what Nirvana were about, and it cuts through a bit of the posturing of the studio albums.

Gaston Monescu said...

1. Which albums didn't quite make the cut?

2. Which bands/artists do you like but they don't have ALBUMS strong enough to show up here?

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

1. Excellent questions. I'm in a hurry, but I'll jot down what I can (and maybe add more later). Albums that didn't quite make the cut:

Andrew Bird / Mysterious Production
Radiohead / Kid A
Pixies / Come On, Pilgrim
Soundgarden / Superunknown
Nirvana / Nevermind
Beastie Boys / Ill Communication
MONO / Red Flag...
...there are more...

2. Bands I love but no great albums (yet):

M. Ward (this killed me)
Fleet Foxes
Bon Iver
Leadbelly (I know a great one is out there, but I haven't found it yet)
Junior Kimbaugh
The White Stripes
Pearl Jam (Ten? Vs.?)

3. What bands do you love that just aren't great (or even that good)? For me, the bands that come to mind is The Gloria Record and (to a lesser extent) The Black Heart Procession. Your thoughts?

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

I realize now this list is disingenuous in a few ways:

1. Too much punk. I wish I liked punk more, but if I'm honest with myself, a few of these records don't do it for me the way I know they should. To name the ones that nag at my conscience, Ramones / Ramones and (to a lesser extent) The Clash / London Calling. I do love that Clash record, but I don't know it like the back of my hand...which I should, if I'm going to include it on a list like this. The Ramones record I want to love, but in the end, I would rather listen to late '70s / early '80s stuff like the (awesome) Dead Kennedys.

2. Lauryn Hill. I know this is one of the more interesting picks on my list, and I think that's why I let it slip through the trimming stages. If I'm honest, I haven't really listened to this in awhile, and although I remember loving it, I can't say for certain that it deserves a spot here over some of my also-rans.

3. I'm posturing--just a bit--with my Beatles selection. I love "Let It Be" most, and even though I know in my head it's less good (and less essential) than "Revolver," I would rather listen to it.

Whew. That felt good to get off my chest. For the record, I'll list my almost-made-its, in no particular order (and off the top of my head):

1. Andrew Bird / A.B. & the Mysterious Production of Eggs
2. Radiohead / Kid A
3. Pixies / Come On, Pilgrim
4. M. Ward / Post-War
5. Pearl Jam / Ten
6. MONO / Flag Fluttered...
7. Beck / Mutations
8. Damien Jurado / Rehearsals for Departure
9. The White Stripes / Elephant
10. Eluvium / Copia

Gaston Monescu said...

30 other albums I listened to alot (and really liked) that didn't show up on the list. This is one way of getting at your question about one hit bands or the detritus material:

1. Poor Old Lu - Sin
another Christian rock fave from the early 90s.
2. Rose Blossom Punch - Ephemere
3. Bloomsday - The Day the Colors Died
I think this album is the one most analagous to your Gloria album
4. Anathallo - Floating World
I LOVED this album two years ago. The new album has exposed all of this one's fight.
5. Ben Folds Five - Self-titled
6. Bonnie Prince Billie and Matt Sweeney - Superwolf
7. Counting Crows - Recovering the Satellites
8. Doug Gillard - Salamander
9. Doves - Last Broadcast
How is this not on your list?
10. Headphones - Headphones
11. Jealous Sound - Kill them with Kindness
12. Love - Forever Changes
13. The Mars Volta - DeLoused in the Comatorium
14. Mates of State - Team Boo
15. Minus the Bear - Menos El Oso
16. Black Eyed Sceva - Way Before the Flood
17. Morphine - Cure for Pain
18. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
19. Red House Painters - Songs for a Blue Guitar
20. Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway
21. Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
22. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cold Roses
23. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
24. Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
25. Smoking Popes - Born to Quit
26. Starflyer 59 - Old
27. Third Eye Blind - Blue
28. Denison Witmer - Safe Away
29. The Verve - Urban Hymns
30. X - Los Angeles