It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite Beatles album – without, of course, selecting the greatest hits CD’s, which is kind of like cheating – because they had three distinct eras of style over their ten year career. I tend to lean towards the later years, the more mature sounding, ready-to-break-up Beatles. Abbey Road, which was supposed to be their last album, is my second favorite and will forever remind me of eating pizza and playing cribbage in Seattle.
Once there was a way, to get back homeward/Once there was a way, to get back home – “Golden Slumbers”
The first thing to know about Billy Bragg is that he’s very British. Very. This CD is a collection of all his B-sides from throughout his years as 1980 Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan, and it brings together a lot of alternate mixes and covers, running the gamut from topics like girls, “football,” politics, etc. Reaching was my first taste of Bragg, and still holds as my favorite of his albums, even though it’s not quite an album in the traditional sense.
You’re a dedicated swallower of fascism! – “Accident Waiting to Happen”
Like I had mentioned before with The Strokes, The White Stripes were part of that “new rock” invasion that assaulted us around 2002-3. However, unlike the former (who aped their sound from the 70’s), The White Stripes actually had an original sound that brought to mind, well, real “rock.” And even though Meg White has been trashed by critics for her “poor drumming,” I still think the band is hugely talented, and I’ll take Jack White over any other preening rock star any day.
Well its 1 2 3 4/Take the elevator at the hotel yorba/I’ll be glad to see you later/All they got inside is vacancy – “Hotel Yorba”
Ani is more of Kerrie’s deal, but I’ll fully admit that she is wildly talented and that I enjoy listening to many of her albums, this one especially. Little Plastic Castles, like many of my “favorites” from an artist, was the first one I had ever listened to. Other albums have more powerful and better individual songs, but this one fits together more and becomes a better overall album, and “Swan Dive” is the absolute best female-angst song ever written.
‘Cuz i don’t care if they eat me alive/I’ve got better things to do than survive – “Swan Dive”
Thanks, Doug, for Ween, the most unpredictable group in rock today. Every style can be touched on, and Chocolate and Cheese has all of them, from tender ballad (“Baby Bitch”) to country (“Drifter in the Dark”), sexy Prince-esque tribute (“Freedom of ’76”) to Spanish-western epic (“Buenos Tardes Amigo”). It’s really the variety that first turned me on to the band, and then it was the talent that they did it with that stuck with me. And, of course, if I didn’t admit to liking them, Doug would have had a fit.
Baby, baby, baby, Bitch/I’m better now, please fuck off – “Baby Bitch”
Modest Mouse’s first full length album has great individual songs, but has never held up with me as their best overall album. Of course, I still love it, and it’s because of the individual songs. The band certainly doesn’t get this long winded anymore, and that’s part of why I like it – every song sounds like it was hand crafted in a very different time. It’s haunting throughout, as if it was written to be played when the world ends.
Gotta go to work/Gotta go to work/Gotta get a job – “Custom Concern”
Yup, another newer one, and the band that could change the face of party rock for years to come. They’re fun, they’ve got an original sound, and they’re Scottish, so they’ve got a few things going for them. These four are the band poised to take the torch from Modest Mouse as the “hot new underground thing,” a torch that I’m not sure any underground band wants to begin with. “Take Me Out” was even featured in Madden 2005 – but even with the overexposure, I still love the album.
I’m just a crosshair/Just a shot away from you – “Take Me Out”
When Woodie Guthrie died, he left behind numerous poems and lyrics behind, full albums worth, and with these in hand, Nora Guthrie, Woodie’s daughter, approached Billy Bragg with the idea of putting them to music, an idea that led to a collaboration, of sorts, between Woodie, Bragg, and Wilco, rather than a simple tribute. As is mentioned in the liner notes, this was done for a “new generation of songwriters who until now had only glimpsed (Guthrie) fleetingly, over the shoulder of Bob Dylan or somewhere in the distance of a Bruce Springsteen song.”
There ain’t nobody that can sing like me/Way over yonder in the minor key – “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key”
Braid, one of the emo heavies, back in the day, is the epitome of the faster, chaotic “emo” sound that was much friendlier than the “brooding, my girlfriend left me” emo that I was really into. This, their first widely known full length (they had another prior to this that was marginal at best) set the bar for the sound right off the bat and was in constant rotation on my KSSU radio show in 1997.
I can feel you smiling/But you’re too far to see/And June is here, June is here/But she’s laughing without me – “My Baby Smokes”
Another B-sides collection makes the list with Building Nothing Out Of Something, though these songs actually fit together well, making it sound like an actual album, and not a random smattering of leftover songs. BNOOS was the first Modest Mouse album I ever got into after Lonesome Crowded West, and was, in fact, what made me a Modest Mouse fan (much to the chagrin of Kerrie, who I had given shit to about Modest Mouse at an earlier time.)
Broke a promise cause my car broke down/Such a classic excuse it should be bronze by now – “Broke”