Top 12 Albums

So I since I got nominated for the top 12 albums thing I thought I’d make a post about it since this is a music blog after all. So here goes in no particular order, although three were no-brainers so make of that what you will. And I’ve decided against any of the double dipping some people have done putting two albums by an artist they like since this is a top 12 and you should have to pick a little. 

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David Bowie – Best of bowie

Cop out, ya, but hey I’m a huge Bowie fan and this album launched it for me. It’s hits so there isn’t much to say here except only a few songs don’t hold up anymore.

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Muse – Black Holes And Revelations

Although I probably have more favourite songs on Absolution and The Resistance, this album is the only one that I can actually play start to finish as the others have too many poorer tracks to beat it.  “Starlight” was the closest the band should’ve gotten to pop, with its mix of hard rock, synths and Matt’s vocals. Invincible is pretty and then its solo is perfection, one of my favourites. “Take A Bow” is electronica, hard rock and orchestra in one. “Supermassive Black Hole” is funky as all hell. “Soldier’s Poem” is an amazing acoustic break. I don’t know why I love the intro of “Assassin” so much, I’m not into metal at all, but I think this sort of almost parody level, metal is actually awesome, and the rest of the song is as deep and sonically crazy as any of their later work. “City Of Delusion” is Spanish rock mixed with Muse’s hard sound and it is intense, I love spanish music so this song is chocolate to me, “Hoodoo” is the slow version of this so same deal. “Knights Of Cydonia” is that song that’s so strange and unbelievably epic you can’t believe you love it, but it’s the B-movie of songs, totally corny and dumb but so much so it works, and it’s technically mind-blowing.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell

I just covered this album, so all I’ll say is A) recheck that, and B) this album is the reason I will always go see this band.

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Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Fruit

Most of the time I find new bands through bands I already know but sometimes I hear a sound so unique I have to keep hearing it, this is what happened when I first heard The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. When I heard “The Golden Age” in a Heineken commercial a few years back, I was hooked instantly, I quickly found out their song “Around The Bend” was in one of the early ipod touch ads and my interest started exploding. The weird retro-jazz-pop-many-genre-mashing sound was just so out there I could only get it in these 13 songs and binge listening ensued. Mette’s weird vocal style was entrancing, a high-pitched wail of english lyrics from a Danish woman with a slightly French accent, the weird sounds kept mounting and the weird audio fills made it even better. Songs like “The Sun Ain’t Shining No More,” “Lady Jesus,” “Bad Fever,” and “Push The Envelope” where danceable, sonically interesting and instrumentally just weird so I couldn’t stop. It also has that perfect debut feature to me of throwing a bunch of different songs in and having them all come out amazing and unique. Even the band’s two covers here are probably my favourite tracks, “Attack Of The Ghost Riders” (originally by The Raveonettes) is the brass version of hard rock and just has this weird dark quality to it that the brass gives it the original didn’t have, and “Inner City Pressure” sounds better than the Marvin Gaye original and that is monumental feat for a debut, the last “HYUG” always gives me a chill. Meeting the band after seeing them in concert has given this album a special place in my heart, especially since this all happened within a month of finding them.

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Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Supergroups, when done right, make some amazing music. The Them Crooked Vultures debut blew me away from the first listen. Much like with the Dead Weather music, it mashed up bands I already loved (Zep, Qotsa, and Foo’s/Nirvana) and made an album of them jamming, and boy did they click. Now while there are three songs here I never listen to, the fact that the eight I do are must listens to me every time I hear them negates that. The drums alone make this worth a listen, let alone the amazing bass, guitar and vocals. “New Fang” got me hooked with its amazing drum intro, and made this an album I wanted to play along to, and that connection has really boosted the album for me. Songs like “Bandoliers” and “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” had similar effects and just sounded so great I kept playing them. “Scumbag Blues” has and endless jam quality to it, and “Dead End Friends” is the closest thing to generality they get and it’s one of my favourites nonetheless. “Elephants” tricked me on first listen when it went from a slow riff-off to lick-racing to a heavy lyric driven song.

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Florence + The Machine – Lungs

This album hit a similar note to the Asteroids Galaxy Tour album, but in different way. The first time I heard “Dog Days Are Over” it was over for me, harps, and this siren call, and then the tribal drumming, it had it all and that bridge is probably one of the top moments in for the last decade. Oh ya the rest of the album was unbelievable too. With washes of harps and amazing drum mixing, songs like “Rabbit Heart””Between Two Lungs” and “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” soar before you even throw in Florence Welch’s incredible vocals. But “Howl” gives me goosebumps, from the opening piano chords that just have been toned perfectly, an amazing vocal line and that string line in its chorus that mesmerizes me to this day. “Kiss With A Fist” knocked me over when I found there was a garage rock song on here too, the band knows how to be gritty when they want to and it sounds superb. “Girl With One Eye” is a superb blues song with some intense vocal work, every staccato note is piercing and that drop into “CRRRYY” is as shaking as Welch’s cut-off, just a brilliant song. “Drumming Song” goes a completely different direction with a tribal/religious feel to it, and its dark feel is just hypnotizing, the vocal track is as hefty as it gets. “Cosmic Love” is a dreamy, spaced out fantasy soundscape, that paints a picture with sound. “Hurricane Drunk” is the last heavy harp song, and its groove is infectious, its texture and sound fantastical, and that bridge has an actual fairy tale quality to it. “You’ve Got The Love” closes it all with an honestly spoken song whose every chord sounds as sweet as honey. If there was ever a one of everything album to near perfection, this one gets closest.

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Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack

Weird choice, yes, but holy crap this album kicks ass. Opening on the Sex Bob-Omb (Beck written and cast played) intro track this album roars through the door in flames. Throwing in a bunch of indie tracks like the song the character was named after “Scott Pilgrim” by Plumtree, “I Heard Ramona Sing” and Broken Social Scene’s amazing “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl” it’s a mosaic of music. “By Your Side” by Beachwood Sparks is the perfect mellow song and “Sleazy Bed Track” by the Bluetones jumps between mellow and dreamy distortion. There’s the intense chaos of the Black Lips “O Katrina” and Blood Red Shoes’ “It’s Getting Boring By The Sea.” Also because why not, they also threw in “Under My Thumb” and “Teenage Dream” by T. Rex to make it all the better. But the original tracks were surprisingly not awful. Admittedly the Crash and The Boys tracks are more humourous than anything, but in that since they work. The Sex Bob-Omb tracks are pretty catchy and the overfuzzed sound is actually really awesome, I wish a whole album of just them existed to be honest. But the show-stopper here is the Metric track they made for the film, “Black Sheep” this song is the reason I bought the album and it is still probably my favourite track by them, I go ballistic when they play it live. Add in the 8bit version of “Threshold” and if you include the Bass Battle track from the score album this album is the perfect indie/garage movie soundtrack.

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Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes – Up From Below

I thought “Home” was this cool one-hit-wonder thing, from a cool sounding band but there wasn’t anything to it, but this album is gold. It’s film score/desert/pop magic, it sounds amazing (sonically), its simple at its core but complex in the quantity of detail here.  After seeing the band on the basis of “Home” I needed to get my hands on this. “40 Day Dream” is a dreamy chanter led by Ebert’s wizardy vocals. “Janglin” is a dreamy campfire song whose chorus is an explosion of euphoria, and the mixing is intense, especially on the whispered bridge. “Up From Below” has this open feel to it, that keeps it driving and every high note rings with serene beauty. “Carries On” starts off a little slow, but when that organ drops in you start to feel it, the delicate piano, the strings and when the song kicks into its chorus it hits euphoria again. “Home” is sing-a-long perfection, and the vocals on that bridge kill me. “Desert Song” was the song that put elevated this album for me, the sound of the wind and guitar at the start are so tight, it blows me away and when it falls into its chorus it explodes into a wall of sonic magic that’s so layered and dense I really couldn’t tell you what all the instrumentation is there. “Black Water” has more piano chanty feel and its vocal texture is gripping. “Come In Please” and “Simplest Love” have softer tones that make them just as interesting. “Kisses Over Babylon” is the best Ennio Morricone tribute I have ever heard. “Brother” sounds like new Bob Marley.”Om Nashi Me” sounds like magic to me, the wash of trumpet, drums and chimes just make this song beautiful and mesmerizing and I can’t get over how it sounds. This amazing album made their folk only departure for their last two albums basically put me off of them, it was kind of crushing.

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The Beatles – The White Album 

While Abbey Road and Let It Be come close, The White Album (cause really, there’s no way they intentionally named their ninth album after themselves) is my favourite Beatles record. In the summer of 2008 I had music changed for me completely when my friend Charles and I discovered a treasure trove of cds in a house he’d moved into, a classic rock gold mine and when I started listening to the Beatles stuff, as corny and as much as everyone says it, it changed music for me. Doing what most artists do on the best debuts (like Florence and Asteroids) they through themes to the wind and make an album that just takes a bunch of great songs that aren’t necessarily similar and tosses them together, and its amazing, almost every song is some of the band’s finest work. Songs like “Back In The USSR” and “Blackbird are classics and other like “Dear Prudence” and “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” are just perfect songs. The bands worst songs are on here too, like “Revolution 9”, “Wild Honey Pies” and “Bungalow Bill” but on a 30 freaking song album, they really don’t ruin it. The album feels like walking through a story book and even songs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” hold special places in my heart. “Helter Skelter” my favourite of the album, is the Beatles take on the then budding early metal scene, “Sexy Sadie” is an amazing bar chanty and “Yer Blues” is blues magic. The band covers multiple genres, is self-referential, adding to their mythos, which made me love them more and they show that they weren’t just a band that could make amazing songs, they were great musicians and music lovers.

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The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards

One of favourite bands, the Kills, QOTSA, Racounteurs, mash-up of The Dead Weather. Their second album Sea Of Cowards is unbelievable, from it’s amazing sound, perfect lyrics and unbelievable instrumentation. The opener “Blue Blood Blues” has my personal favourite lyric of “Check your lips at the door women, and shake your hips like battleships, ya all the white girls trip when I, sing at sunday service,” and grooves endlessly. The whole album is just one amazing riff or groove after another with songs like “Hustle and Cuss,” “No Horse” and “I Can’t Hear You.” The bass work is like chocolate to my ears, I crave more every time I hear it, Fertita’s key work is sublime and his guitar work puts him on the level of both Jack and his QOTSA bandmate Joshua Homme. Alison Mosshart sings with more soul and grit than I ever though possible for one singer. “Jawbreaker” sounds technically impossible for its analogue playing on keyboards, and “Old Mary” is a dark demonic passage to end on. “I’m Mad” takes something that seems repetitive but explodes into an intense second half on a bridge you don’t want to end. “Die By The Drop” has a heavy but infectious chorus that will get you headbanging with your earbuds on.

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The Who – Live At Leeds (Deluxe Edition)

Now this is a strange pick for me for two reasons, I tend to dislike most live albums as their is generally worse audio and some of the live spirit is lost without any visual component, and I usually don’t insist on deluxe editions of albums as they are usually just extra versions of songs already there or tracks that weren’t really worth the extra money. But Live At Leeds did something amazing with their second disc, they did all of Tommy, their concept album, live, and it is still my preferred version of that album since it sounds so much grittier than the studio version and the jam outs are much better. A 16 minute jam from “My Generation” that goes all over the place, an amazing version of “Magic Bus,” their version of “Shakin’ All Over,” even the banter is amazing. This album is why I love The Who, they are way more talented than most give them credit for and it shows here.

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The White Stripes – Elephant

Elephant was probably that album that really changed me in high school. I heard “Seven Nation Army” on tv and was hooked in seconds, within a day I’d listened through the album dozens of times and went out and bought it. An album that started what any one who knows me well would say is a deep obsession with Jack White. Few albums to me are perfect even Leeds or especially The White Album don’t run from start to close without me feeling a need to skip a song or two but this album is perfect to me. The all-natural approach fits perfectly, the blend of gritty with amazing technicality and hi-fi sound on lo-fi instrumentation makes it all the better, especially on songs like “Black Math” and “Girl You Have No Faith In Medicine.” The opening of “There’s No Home For You Here” is one of the few songs that have this profound “Music Moment” effects on me, and it almost doubles it near the end as well, goosebumps every time.

Even Meg’s track is amazing, “In The Cold, Cold, Night” is one of my favourite songs ever. But the album reaches its top album status because of its second half, after its amazing slow section, with my favourite song by the band, “Ball And Biscuit,” a gritty blues song that manages to make three solos seem necessary, Jack White is one of the few who can make their guitar into a voice rather than a novelty and this song proves it. “Hardest Button To Button” is a mastery of simplicity and its music video is in my top five. “The Air Near My Fingers” mixes the gritty sound with the lighter side of Jack and it comes off as even more amazing, and the track showcases the genuine feel all of the singing on the album have, it feels like this isn’t some fake musician storytelling bs. The perfect closing comes on “It’s True That We Love One Another,” a cheeky, acoustic song by the band, that takes the call-and-response style and makes a cute little song that’s as funny as it is delightful. This album changed music for me which I didn’t think was possible twice, and it even was directly responsible for a band I started in high school.

Honourable Mentions:

Cults by Cults, …Like Clockwork by Queens Of The Stone Age, Disraeli Gears by Cream, Embryonic by The Flaming Lips (my go-to study album right now), You Could Have It So Much Better by Franz Ferdinand, American Idiot by Green Day, Back To Bedlam by James Blunt, Eye To The Telescope by KT Tunstall, The Fame Monster(Deluxe) by Lady Gaga (comes with The Fame so it’s an album of mostly singles), Come Of Age by The Vaccines, Wolfmother by Wolfmother,  and London Calling by The Clash (Spanish Bombs and Death or Glory for life).

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