Ten Perfect Albums
I got a text from my mom this morning telling me that she loved yesterday’s blog post about Bono. First of all, this should prove once and for all that I do come from somewhere. Secondly, thanks ma! It’s nice to know that my writing is still capable of bringing joy to my target audience…of retired Jewish women. Sigh.
Does Mark Lanegan write some of the most depressing music ever? I’m finally listening to my copy of Whiskey For The Holy Ghost that I bought off some guy who was liquidating his record collection in Valley Village over a year ago, and its sort of bumming me out.
I know I’m late to the hater party, but I’m just now learning about how the goofy mouthbreather from Animal Collective pictured above got in trouble on the Internet for trying to con $25,000 out of his fans to book a trip to Africa so he could be a part of some festival. The guy decided to reward his fans with “pledge gifts,” but part of the $25,000 he wanted to raise was for production and manufacturing of those pledge gifts. So, in effect, the guy was asking fans to the fund the gifts he intended to give them for funding his vacation. Hilarious!
If you haven’t already noticed, I’m stalling because I can’t think of a good top ten idea. I’m sitting in bed looking at myself in the mirror wondering what the hell I can write about. I thought maybe writing the first ten things I notice when I look at myself in the mirror, but fuck, this page is already so narcissistic. Okay, I’ve got it. I’ll praise people other than myself for once. I’m going to write about ten records that I can always listen to from start to finish, that I can fall in love with again each time I hear it, that has never disappointed me in any way. I’m talking about ten perfect albums. Maybe not the ten best albums ever, but ten perfect albums nonetheless.
Ten Perfect Albums
10. Nina Nastasia – The Blackened Air – It’s slow moving, dark, and stunning. Plus, her voice is as beautiful as they come. When you combine all those elements together it makes for a masterpiece. I’ve often stated that the backing band on this album is amazing. Plain and simple, The Blackened Air is the album I dream of creating myself, only my voice isn’t so high and pretty like Nina’s.
09. The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle – I was just listening to this record when I got home from work and with each passing track I remembered how unbelievable it is. There is no weak track out of twelve, and at thirty-five minutes its a breeze. Whereas albums tend to drag as they progress, the trio of “Hung Up On A Dream,” “Changes” and “I Want Her, She Wants Me” as you transition from side A to B presents three of the best songs on the album.
08. Hum – You’d Prefer An Astronaut – When I first purchased this album as a high schooler in 1998 I really only liked the first two songs on the album, “Little Dipper” and “The Pod.” I thought “Stars” was too mainstream radio rock and the songs after it were boring. Now I think of it as one of the most complete, wonderful albums to come out of the ’90s Alternative movement. Somewhere on the Internet there is a hilarious video of the band performing live in Howard Stern’s old studio with their full-on Orange and Hiwatt stacks, and you can tell how pissed off everyone is by the deafening noise. That video helped me finally get over my anti-“Stars” bias, thus ensuring I’d forever consider this album perfect from start to finish.
07. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country – Keep on Chooglin’, indeed. You could pretty much substitute any of CCR, Green River or Cosmo’s Factory here, as I think most people who enjoy the band have their own favorite album. This one happens to be mine. It was the first one I heard, it was the first one I owned, it’s still the first one I reach for on my shelf, and it’s the only one I think is flawless. But then again, if you’re a Green River dude you could probably say the same thing about that one. God bless Fogerty.
06. Spiritualized – Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space – From Kate Radley’s opening statement to the final strains of “Cop Shoot Cop” there is not a single dull moment on this album. Even “The Individual” and “No God Only religion” serve a purpose as brain-scrambling white noise freakouts separating heavier, headier numbers. And seriously, “Cop Shoot Cop” is the most captivating seventeen minute song you’ll ever hear. Not a second wasted. I love this record.
05. Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground – Where would any of those modern slow-and-pretty minimalist bands be without this record? Nowhere. Hell, it’s easily one of the ten most influential albums of the 20th century. Go ask Yo La Tengo what they’d be doing with their lives if they hadn’t heard this album, and Ira would probably look at you and shrug his shoulders. I could see him saying something like, “Banker, lawyer, doctor?” but I don’t know if he’s witty enough.
04. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks – I’ve written about this one a lot on the blog going all the way back to 2005 (see!), when guest writer Ian wrote his list of the best albums I introduced him to, this was on the list. Dude was 23 years old when it was recorded. Do you remember what you were doing at 23? Because I can guarantee you weren’t recording one of the greatest folk/jazz/rock albums of all time. Unless your name is Bob Dylan or something, in which case you need to get a life, dude. You’re reading this website? Come on.
03. Talk Talk – Spirit Of Eden – Light some candles, pop some downers and tell me this masterpiece isn’t God’s holy light shining directly down upon you. If you’ve never read Phil Brown’s testimonial about working on this album it’s a must-find. Mark Hollis is nearly a Jesus-like figure to me. If you haven’t heard his solo record, you are missing a very important part of your music collection. It’s probably the quietest thing I’ve ever heard recorded. You can hear the electronic noise from the cables running all over the studio it’s so quiet.
02. Slint – Spiderland – Duh, what kid coming of age and stumbling onto Slint wouldn’t inevitably treat this album like it was the holy grail. I’ll never forget being 18 years old and listening to this for the first time and having my mind utterly blown. And to think, before this I was your typical Alternative rock kid. If you want to pinpoint the moment I began my descent into the horrible elitist prick I am today, stepping out onto Church Street in Burlington Vermont on a cool early-spring afternoon and popping this into my discman would be it.
01. Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Love And Hate – Nothing in my life has moved more more than this album. Period. Not earthquakes, not heartbreak, not a car driving from one place to another really, really fast. Nothing. I’m about to go to a party where one of Nicci’s friends — who has served as L. Cohen back-up singer before — will be in attendance, and I intend to pick every last detail out of her brain regarding her experiences. I cannot deny that Songs Of Leonard Cohen might contain the man’s best song(s). Seriously, from first note to last note, this is the most perfect record I have ever heard.
Ordinarily I’d post an MP3 from each of these albums, but I don’t have the CDs or my portable hard drive anywhere near me, so instead you’ll get something completely different! Nothing!
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