Because I’ve never actually made a list of my favorite albums, numbered. This was pretty difficult to put together, but I enjoyed it, it was something to do with my free time. I’m no music reviewer, but I’ll try to give a brief description of each album, so bear with me.
I’ll do an EP list some other time.
10. Boris - Boris At Last - Feedbacker
Feedbacker is not an easy Boris album. At least it wasn’t for me at first. It was the first Boris album I heard after Pink, which was basically pretty straightforward rock. Feedbacker is one 43 minute long composition of drone doom. It’s just heavy, slow, crushing guitars and it’s an experience that just has to be heard.
9. Coil - Horse Rotorvator
Horse Rotorvator is Coil’s second album, featuring the band in their industrial stage rather than their later stages when they were making some dark ambient and drone type music. Horse Rotorvator is just brutal, rhythmic drumming and marching guitars, with that industrial vocal style which is both monotone and full of emotion at the same time.
8. Current 93 - All the Pretty Little Horses
Contrary to Current 93’s other albums, which are really heavy industrial/noise albums, or just intense guitars in general, this album is almost entirely acoustic guitar. Wikipedia describes it as “apocalyptic folk”, which fits it perfectly. David Tibet delivers the vocals perfectly, which follow a theme of “The Inmost Light”, or the soul.
7. maudlin of the Well - Bath
I was almost tempted to put this and its sister album Leaving Your Body Map together, but realized that even though they’re companion albums, I prefer Bath by far. As pretentious as it sounds, I’d have to label motW as avant-garde art rock. But that doesn’t even work, it just encompasses so many genres at once that it’s unbelievable. It opens with a nice ambient tune, following chugging guitars and guttural vocals in They Aren’t All Beautiful. Then you get nice little acoustic guitar interludes, and then loud pipe organ in The Ferryman. Truly a great album.
6. Foetus - Thaw
If I had to name my favorite composer, I wouldn’t name Holst, Stravinsky, or any of other classical composers I love. I’d say J.G. Thirlwell. If I recall correctly, Thirlwell once said in an interview that he doesn’t know how to play any instruments well, so he just writes songs and adds a bunch of effects to make his music sound cool. And he does that very well, Thaw is one hell of an album and almost impossible to put a genre to, other than maybe a very loose “industrial” album. Only about 40 minutes in length, this can turn from screaming over rapid drum machines in English Faggot/Nothing Man, into choirs chanting and singing like a gospel church in Hauss-On-Fah. As stupid as it sounds, it’s one of those albums you put on and you just walk around feeling like a badass.
5. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Strictly Personal
My first experience with Captain Beefheart was being recommended Trout Mask Replica, I was told that it was one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded. So I listened to TMR when I was 14 years old, expecting something in the vein of some old classic rock. Naturally, I was put off from any Beefheart for a long while after that. As of now, I’ve warmed up to TMR more, but it’s still such a difficult listen. After only listening to that, I was told to try some of his more conventional albums, so I listened to both Safe as Milk and Strictly Personal and found both of them to be much better to my liking. Strictly Personal is my favorite of the two; while it still has the experimentation of Beefheart’s band, it is much more easily digestible than TMR and I find it to be a much more enjoyable listen.
4. Spiritualized - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
This is one of those albums where the first track is great, but it throws you off because it sounds very different from the rest of the album. It opens very dreamy, floaty, spacey (get it?), and turns into a psychedelic rock album, while still retaining those elements. I Think I’m In Love is one of my favorite tracks of all time, and Cop Shoot Cop is one hell of a closer, clocking in at around 17 minutes.
3. The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions
This is a relatively new “release”, considering the official release was just last year. The actual recordings, however, took place in the heyday of The Beach Boys, when they were at the top of their game. They have plenty of other great albums - Sunflower, Pet Sounds, Surf’s Up, Holland, Friends, etc. - but this is by far my favorite. Everything great about The Beach Boys with some top notch production. If the only thing you’ve ever heard by them is their surf songs while you’re walking through California Adventure, this is the first thing you should listen to.
2. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
Black Sheep Boy opens up with a cover of the Tim Hardin song of the same name. The album is a sort of a concept album, yet it follows two different ideas. It has some songs that deal with the ’60s folk singer Tim Hardin’s heroin addiction, and it also talks of vocalist Will Sheff’s failed relationships. This isn’t some generic indie folk album about some guy crying over his feelings, though. It feels more real to me than that, more sincere. Take Hospice by The Antlers for example. While I do like that album, it tries really hard to just be sad, where as Black Sheep Boy actually is sad. Putting that aside though, the album itself also has great instrumentation, with organs, vibraphone, trumpet, and a whole string section.
1. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
This is it for me. The end-all, be-all of music. This is the album that you HAVE to listen to before you die, or your life will go unfulfilled. The album I can put on, lie down with headphones, and just listen to from start to finish, perfectly content with life. Sigur Ros’ sophomore album, Agaetis Byrjun (A good beginning), is an ethereal, dreamy post-rock album following the story of a human being, from conception to death. Now the lyrics are in Icelandic, and at some points in the album are a constructed nonsensical language, but just knowing that, you can get a sense of each stage by the feeling of each song. The track Ny Batteri, for example, is about the teenage years, depression, and contemplating suicide. The final track, Avalon, is about death and winding down life, ending on a sustained organ tone. Some interesting trivia about the album: the track Staralfur has palindromic violin parts, they’re played the same forwards and backwards. The closer Avalon is also a slightly different take of Staralfur, slowed down to a third the original speed.
Seriously. Listen to this album.