Tom Gellatly

Reviews 40
Approval 98%

Soundoffs 21
Album Ratings 383
Objectivity 55%

Last Active 11-12-14 7:32 am
Joined 02-05-11

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Most Overly Detailed Top 50 Albums List Ever
50 Oasis
(What's The Story?) Morning Glory

Oasis have always seemed to me to be a band more suited to ?greatest hits? style efforts than actual cohesive albums, and if I was allowing myself to include that kind of thing on this list, they?d be a lot higher up on it. As it stands, thought, Morning Glory has the band?s best three songs all in one place, and some other great tracks that showcase Noel Gallagher?s songwriting at its absolute best. So, a really good album, but not quite cohesive enough to claim more than spot number 50 here.
49Bohren & Der Club of Gore
Sunset Mission

As you?ll come to learn throughout this list, I?m a bit of a noir fanboy. Be it in films, music or games, I like my atmosphere to be murky and evocative, the kind of thing I could sip an espresso, or wander the night streets, to. This album is perfect for that kind of mood, with its tempo being so slow as to almost come to a standstill at points, and its amazing and hypnotic double bass lines evoking a stream of mental images ripped straight out of a 40s detective film. My only complaint here is that it does become a bit of a slog to actually concentrate on and listen through, due to the extended running time and repetitive nature, but as background, or thinking, music, it can?t be beaten.
48Susanne Sundfor
The Brothel

Another noiry, atmospheric pick here, I have Seth to thank for discovering this one. This is probably one of the most evocative albums of all time, with the cover art and the eerie reverb, let alone Sundfor?s incredibly strong voice and unusual instrumentation, all adding to the feel of being in a murky backstreet, slightly paranoid, but still enthralled nonetheless. The title track of this album would probably place in my top 20 songs of all time, but even aside from that, there are some wonderful tracks on here and, most importantly, one of the most perfectly judged flows of all the albums on this list. A real ?album?s album,? it?s let down slightly by a couple of weaker tracks.
47Massive Attack

Well, it had to be on here somewhere, didn?t it? This is the trip hop album that virtually no one dislikes, with a masterful grasp of the genre being displayed before it was even popular. With the unnerving buildups ? in particular in Inertia Creeps - and thick atmosphere of the whole album, Mezzanine is always a delight to listen to, and is one of the best genre- founding albums ever.
46 Thomas Dybdahl
That Great October Sound

I have TheVoxyn to thank for this one, and my debt to him is greater than it seems; if I hadn?t limited myself to one album per artist here, Dybdahl would have taken up three or four spots on the list. But this is my favourite release of his, if not his best; ?One Day You?ll Dance For Me, New York City? is arguably the more refined, subtle album, but TGOS has my favourite songs of his, and a lovely vibe that perfectly matches the title. Opener ?From Grace? is also one of my favourite songs ever, but the whole album rolls along effortlessly in a relaxing, comforting manner.

So we?re back to noir yet again. But Untrue is a different beast to the previous albums on here that have evoked scenes of 40s New York; here, Burial is aiming to capture the uncertain, unnerving feel of a late night journey home through the gritty London streets, and he does that so perfectly here in every way, that one can?t help but admire the album. And hey, any album that samples Metal Gear Solid and Christina Aguilera in the same song can?t be bad.
44 Mozart
Don Giovanni

I?ll preface this description with an annoying fact; classical music often goes over my head. Sure, I love a few select pieces (Claire De Lune would make my top 5 songs of all time) but I?m just not cultured, or intelligent, enough, to appreciate a lot of what makes so much of it amazing. Don Giovanni, however, is undoubtedly one of the finest operas, and/or pieces of classical music, that I?ve ever heard. Whilst I still haven?t read up on the story enough to understand it fully, the music here is just so gorgeous, and so evocative, that I feel like I know exactly the emotions that Mozart was getting across in the plot.
Soldier of Love

Yes, lol it up, but I love Sade. In particular, I adore this album. It?s her most recent release after a long hiatus, but it?s one of the best chillout albums I?ve ever heard. You could just put this on after a hard day, sit back with a nice hot drink, and forget about all your worries for 42 minutes. That idea is a cliché, but it really applies here, as songs like the title track, Skin and the unexpectedly incredible guitar parts in The Safest Place create an atmosphere that really makes the album feel like, well, the safest place in the world for a short time.
42Art Blakey

For those people that don?t really enjoy jazz, this, along with a certain other album that will be showing up much later on, is one of the most perfect introductions to the genre I could think of. It?s got a great balance between the relaxing side of jazz that people like, with some crazy soloing that those who were more interested in the musicianship could pick up on. The album rolls along at the perfect pace, never lingering on one idea for too long before moving on to another great sound.

Despite making, as Jay-Z famously called him out on, ?one hot album every ten year average,? when Nas did step it up, he really, really stepped it up. Illmatic is that rarest of things; an absolute staple of a genre, that manages to be completely relevant and enjoyable to this day at the same time. With genre classics such as The World Is Yours and N.Y. State of Mind, this is an essential hip-hop album that anybody who doesn?t think they like the genre just has to check out.
40Bonne 'Prince' Billy
I See A Darkness

This album confuses me; every single review I?ve seen has placed it in the top 10 or so albums of its decade, but very few people seem to have actually heard of it. Well thank God that Voxyn did recommend it, it?s absolutely worth all of the hyperbole; Will Oldham?s voice is one of the most perfectly suited to narrate the tales of American dreams gone awry since some other artists that will appear later one, and his lyrics and instrumentation are effortlessly heart-breaking but, at the same time, feel weirdly hopeful. And once again, the title track is one of the best songs of all time.
39Stevie Ray Vaughan
Texas Flood

I?ll say it now, SRV is, in my opinion, the greatest guitarist of all time. Whilst he was tragically taken from us too soon in a helicopter accident, his legacy as one of the all-time greats was ensured thanks to albums like this. Chock-full of future genre stalwarts, the guitar work on display here is, from the perspective of a guitarist, nothing less than astonishing. Whether it?s the insane technicality displayed at points in the title track and Pride & Joy, or the emotion that drips from the standout track Lenny, the work SRV left behind for the world to hear on Texas Flood makes it doubtful that, for me, anyone will ever overtake him as a guitarist. Well, maybe there?s been one recent contender, but more on that later.

This is another hip-hop album that would definitely appeal to people who don?t even like hip-hop; the lyrics are abstract and poetic, the instrumentation is concise and restrained, and the samples are nothing less than genius. The short track lengths mean that Madvillainy goes down more easily than the monster listens that some similar albums offer, and you?re left able to get a quick fix of awesomeness whenever you want, and with tracks like Shadows of Tomorrow, ALL CAPS and Rainbows, there is no shortage of awesome here.
37The National

The National are a band that were, for me, actually pretty hard to get into. When I first heard Boxer, I didn?t really ?get it;? the lyrics were mumbled and repeated phrases seemingly too often, and the instrumentation seemed a bit flat and uninspiring. After a few listens, though, all of these oblique parts of the album seemed to come together perfectly, and I fell in love. Matt Berninger?s depressing vocals are almost always laced with sardonic wit, and the music, the drumming in particular, is subtly brilliant when given time to shine. Also, everybody should listen to Apartment Story right now, that song is frigging incredible.
36 Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

Well, here is another album that sort of ?had to? be here. And there?s a reason that this receives such ludicrous amounts of praise from almost every corner of the music world; it?s damn good. We?ve all heard the positives of this release countless times before, so I?ll just focus on why I have it this ?low;? it really does drag at points. Sure, when I?m in the mood for it, it?s actually the greatest thing of all time, but I don?t often have 87 minutes (yes, 87) to set aside to focus on an album. Consequently, I often end up using this album as background music of a sort, but when I suck it up and give it the attention and time that it deserves, it?s every bit the masterpiece that so many claim it to be.
35 Sigur Ros
( )

Sigur Ros are a band that I?ve always felt that I should like a lot more than I actually do. Luckily, they do have one album that I love an appropriate amount, and it?s not, like it is for many others, 2005?s Takk. Instead, () is their most emotional release by far for me, and that?s what Sigur Ros are all about. With the gloriously upbeat first half of the album, they manage to put into music what so many before them have put into inferior words, and then with the emotional downturn of the second half, the album becomes a dark, convoluted beast that can alternately destroy and uplift the listener in equal measure. And I really can?t say that for Takk.
34Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Haters gonna hate, but this album really was worth the hype. Because it?s really, really damn good. MBDTF (lolDTF) sees Kanye bringing together every aspect of his schizophrenic career up to this point together, for one of the most insane ego-trips ever seen in public. But I?m inclined to let him off this time; songs like Dark Fantasy, Runaway, Blame Game and the absolutely awesome POWER show that West really can justify all of his self- promotion when he really puts his mind to it. And as the man himself says, this is the perfect theme music for everyone?s (least) favourite superhero.
Blade Runner Soundtrack

Yes, more noir. Blade Runner is one of my favourite films of all time, and one of the key reasons for that is the incredible soundtrack. Blade Runner Blues in particular is probably the best musical summation of a film that?s ever been committed to CD, and the whole soundtrack features 80s synthy goodness, with a pleasingly large side helping of cheesy jazz that errs just on the right side of AWESOME. This might be one of the weakest picks on my list objectively, but the mental association I have with the film it complements means that I absolutely love this album whenever I put it on.
32Damien Rice

When deciding between this and Rice?s other great release, 9, I ran into a bit of trouble. 9 features some of my favourite Rice tracks in isolation (and Dogs, one of my favourite songs of all time) but O is, ultimately, the stronger album as a whole. It displays a surprising amount of variety for the limitations of the genre, and Rice?s vocals and lyrics are touching and emotional, even within the context of his crowded field. Older Chests in particular is one of the most touching songs I?ve ever heard, but the whole album is really an emotional journey.
31Arcade Fire

Look everybody, it?s everyone?s generic favourite indie album! Well, there?s a reason for that; Funeral is by far Arcade Fire?s best album and it really is one of the best in its genre. From the gorgeous opening chimes of first track Neighbourhood #1 to the final wails of In The Backseat, Funeral is a really, really intense ride emotionally that runs the gamut between complete despair and the hopeful joyousness of the amazing Wake Up. I?m sure everybody has heard this album by now, but those that have been conscientiously objecting to the hipster-dom which listening to this entails really need to finally give it a chance to live up to the hype. Which it does. This isn?t my favourite indie album (that?s still to come) but it is, arguably, the quintessential one.
Nothing Lasts... But Nothing Is Lost

Ahhh, Shpongle. I actually only listened to this album, and consequently the rest of the band?s awesome discography, because I loved the cover art for this so much. Luckily, the album completely blew me away on first listen, and I was hooked from then on. Arguments could be made for the band?s most recent, or first albums, being better musically, but this one will always hold a special place in my heart as I remember what a crazy experience it was on my first listen. Sure, I was ?doing it wrong? by not doing drugs and consequently being sober whenever I listen to this band and album, but judging by the mindfuck that it proves to be even then, I?m not sure that my brain could take any more craziness than this album already offers.
Perdition City

What a surprise, yet another noiry album. This is the daddy of all Ulver albums for me, regardless of how good Blood Inside and Shadows of The Sun were. From literally the first two seconds of Lost In Moments to the death throes Nowhere/Catastrophe, Perdition City offers up a world that really does fulfil the promise of the pretentious sounding ?soundtrack to an interior film? claim that the band themselves offer. When my parents finally stop being insane and overprotective and I?m allowed to go walking around our town at night, this album might well be the only one I listen to when doing so for a very long time.
28Arctic Monkeys
Whatever People Say I Am....

This debut album from the internet-indebted Sheffield locals has gotten its fair share of 'overrated!' shouts since its release half a decade ago. Admittedly, the Monkeys' sound evolved on their next 3 albums, becoming a bit denser musically and a lot more abstract lyrically, which was great. But this is what they're really all about. The arrangements are tight and intense, and the band don't let the fact that they'd only been playing their instruments for two years at the time of the album's release hinder them in any way. Every song has incredible lyrics, almost every song has a gasp- worthy riff, breakdown or drum part, and the album ends on A Certain Romance. It might be pretty simple compared to their successive three releases, but WPSIATWIN sees the Arctic Monkeys at the (unfortunately premature) peak of their genius.
The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV

It might be cheating to include both albums in one slot (which I'm doing here), but they really are best when taken as a whole. I?m still not quite sure that Thrice deserve the enormous amount of praise that they receive in hardcore circles, but with these two releases they really showed that they could retain their post-hardcore roots whilst mixing up their sound with some great genre experiments. The Water EP here is my personal favourite, and it really does live up to the atmosphere that its name brings to mind, sounding just like a tranquil, deep sea dive should. There?s a lot of other great material here to admire, though, and whilst a few tracks are admittedly a bit dull, there are so many of them that you can forgive the occasional misfire.
26She and Him
Volume One

I?m a real sucker for the warm, harmonious pop of the 60s, and I?m also a real sucker for anything even remotely involving Zooey Deschanel. So it seemed like a match made in heaven when I heard about her joint project with M. Ward, She & Him, which married those two obsessions of mine in a hopefully-awesome matrimony. But hot actresses have made terrible albums before (hi, Scarlett Johansson) so I wasn?t convinced. Luckily, She & Him are great. Nothing revolutionary at all, but great. Volume One sees Deschanel?s surprisingly lovely voice and lyrics complemented by M Ward?s restrained but excellent instrumentation, and the whole album really feels like a labour of love. It might do literally nothing new, but it?s such a triumph of style, with enough real lyrical and musical substance to carry it, that I can?t help but love it.
25Steve Reich
Music For 18 Musicians

Here?s an odd one. Steve Reich is the famous musical innovator, whose experiments in rhythm, sound effects and texture have led to him being revered by many a music fan, myself included. In Music For 18 Musicians, the premise is, essentially, 18 musicians play a note repeatedly, and independently of each other, for the duration of each track. The timings offset each other, and the combination of all of these notes being played at once makes a sound that intrigued Reich. And with good reason; this is one of the most original, hypnotic albums I?ve ever heard. It really sounds like how driving down a motorway at night feels, and it?s the perfect album for travelling while looking out of the window or, and I mean this in a good way, getting to sleep. Sadly, the album is a bit too repetitive to stomach all in one go, but it?s excellent when I just want to zone out to something. The ideas in this album were picked up by another modern artist who will be making an appearance at some point later on this list?
24My Chemical Romance
The Black Parade

This might be a pretty controversial pick. And I can see why; other than this album, I hate MCR. Helena, I?m Not Okay and all of their other hits sound horrendous to my ears, and Gerard Way?s vocals on every other album of theirs I?ve heard are just whiny, generic and annoying, and the music is typical pop-punk. But on this album, they did something very, very right. Switching out pop punk for classic rock, they released a concept album of startling lyrical and musical maturity which I was just as surprised by as I was impressed. Songs like the title track, Disenchanted and Famous Last Words are genuine classics of our generation, mixing the typical anthemic choruses with intricate music, great solos and some surprisingly wonderful vocal moments. I?ll confess that I?m almost a little ashamed on having such a band on my list at all, let alone moderately high up, but this, along with one other album of a similar ilk which is yet to come, is one of the few albums that I listened to relentlessly when I was first getting into music, and which I still enjoy now.

Well, Opeth had to make an appearance somewhere. I?ll get flamed a fair bit for this, I guess, but Watershed really is everything I want from Opeth. It has the seriousness and the metal side of their previous albums, but it introduces a sense of *gasp* humour to the band?s sound, which, after hearing the final product, really does seem like it was the missing ingredient that Opeth needed. Because they weren?t taking themselves as seriously as they used to, we got crazy outros of downtuning guitars, creepy processed laughter, funky keyboard sections and a genuine desire to experiment with their tried and tested formula. And, for me at least, it completely paid off. Watershed is by far the most interesting album in the band?s discography, and whilst I can see how some of the experiments might have put people off, they all succeeded resoundingly for me.
22John Coltrane
A Love Supreme

I know it?s one of the ?obvious choices? in terms of jazz, but A Love Supreme has garnered so much praise and acclaim since its release that it?s easy to forget just how good it genuinely is. The three (or more recently, four) part masterpiece shows Coltrane at his best, but also showcases some of his more experimental moments. It?s much freer sounding and flowing than his previous work, but that suits the music and genre incredibly well as the album flows effortlessly by. I remember on my first listen, by the time I?d reached the ubiquitous chanting in the first track, I knew that this album was gonna be riding high in my listening habits for a very long time.
21Joanna Newsom
Have One On Me

Whilst this is one of the most recent albums on my list, it fully deserves to be this high up. It?s not often that one sees a triple album released in today?s musical climate, and it?s even less often that one sees such an album justify its extended running time. Thankfully, Have One On Me more than does so. It?s such a sprawling release that it took me literally six or seven listens to get my bearings, and then everything started to fall into place. Newsom is on her career best form in terms of lyricism here, with tracks like Good Intentions Paving Company and In California demonstrating an ability for tonguetwistingly brilliant depictions of people and situations that would almost make Joni Mitchell blush. The music is vastly improved and expanded here compared to her previous efforts, too, but Newsom and her harp still remain firmly in the centre of attention. And frankly, I wouldn?t have it any other way.
Hotel Dusk OST

I?m hoping that this will be a pretty surprising pick. And I can also see how it could seem like a completely ridiculous one. I mean, a DS game soundtrack as my 20th favourite album, EVER? Well, yeah, it is, and it really deserves it. Not only is Hotel Dusk in my top 5 games of all time, the music is so perfectly suited to the hard-boiled, neo-noir stylings of the game itself that it really is the ultimate noir album and, luckily for those of you who are getting bored of such albums cropping up on here (ie, everyone who reads this far) it?s also the last noir album on my list. Serenity, in particular, is the most perfect summation of the entire noir movement into sound of all time for me, conjuring up images of men in trenchcoats, shady murder scenes, plot twists, cigarette smoke and damsels in distress much more effectively than any other ?proper? music I?ve heard ever has. And for that, I?ll always love it.
19Dixie Chicks
Taking the Long Way

Oh no I di?int. But no, your eyes don?t deceive you, I freaking love the Dixie Chicks. Whilst their 2002 effort Home could also easily have placed this high, its successor Taking the Long Way just edges it out for me. From the first vocal melody of the first track, this album shows that the Dixie Chicks really are the master of pleasing, lightweight pop songs that don?t get boring after repeated listens. It?s also chock-full of surprising and wonderful moments; when the harmonies first kick in during Easy Silence, when John Mayer takes a brilliant guitar solo spot in Baby Hold On, and when you realise that the closing track I Hope is an awesome gospel track, rather than a country one. I know that nobody will be checking this album out despite my high placement of it, but I?d ask that before people troll me, they at least realise that this is more than just a crappy country cash-in album. That shit?s reserved for Taylor Swift.
18Norah Jones
Feels Like Home

Okay, I promise that the incredibly unmanly picks will stop for a while after this. But, once again, on this album Norah Jones completely eschews the notion that she?s nothing more than a pretty face, with a pretty voice, with some generic and pretty songs. 2002?s Come Away With Me was a good album that might have justified some listeners? apathy to Jones? music, but on Feels Like Home she really matures the musical side of things, to the point where it?s a legitimately brilliant record. Her voice is, obviously, the main focus here, and it is wonderfully warm, soothing and comforting. But the music on Feels Like Home is more than just an afterthought; whether it?s Humble Me?s gorgeous acoustic backing, Don?t Miss You At All?s jazzy cool, Sunrise?s double bass relaxation, or really any of the instrumentation to be heard on this album, it?s always understated, but it?s always good. Jones? career did take a bit of a nosedive after this, but at least she churned out one genuine masterpiece before succumbing to the mainstream.
17Porcupine Tree
Fear of a Blank Planet

Choosing my favourite Porcupine Tree album is actually the hardest time I ever have when selecting my favourite record from a certain artist. Normally it?s a clear cut win for one album over the others, or at least I can decide after some deliberation, but with Porcupine Tree it?s nigh-on impossible to do so. So bear in mind, Lightbulb Sun or Deadwing could easily be up here as well. But whilst Fear of a Blank Planet isn?t the band?s most perfect album, it?s their most consistently enjoyable, and their most endearing. The title track is an underrated beast of a song, Anesthetize is their greatest epic, and the closing one two punch is legendary. There may only be six songs to enjoy on here, but being concise is far better than needlessly fattening an album out. Steven Wilson knows this better than anyone, and so the entirety of the 50 minute running time of FOABP is used to its absolute fullest. Sure, some moments aren?t quite up to scratch, such as the painful second half of Way Out Of Here, but FOABP manages to combine both the ?new PT? with some amazing newer-still elements, which were sorely lacking from The Incident, and which we might not ever hear again. Which is a crying shame, because FOABP is nothing less than amazing.
The Moon is a Dead World

I?m not really a fan of harsh vocals. Sure, I like Opeth and some Devin Townsend etc, but that?s a case of me listening to them in spite of their harsh vocals, rather than because I enjoy them. Gospel are the only band with which it?s a different story entirely. With The Moon Is A Dead World, the band released probably the most urgent, apocalyptic sounding album that I?ve ever heard; every single second feels like the band are playing their hearts out in a race against time to save the universe, and judging by the vocals you really would believe that their lives depended on it. Tracks like A Golden Dawn, with its ludicrously intense climax, or What Means of Witchery?s sheer insanity, show that Gospel are one of the most underappreciated acts not only of the last decade, but also of all time. I can?t recommend this album enough, and remember, if you don?t like harsh vocals, I didn?t until I heard this. Admittedly, this is still the only time when I really enjoy them, but what an enjoyable listen it always is.
15Tosca Tango Orchestra
Waking Life OST

Yes, another OST is riding high up on my list. Waking Life is my favourite film of all time, and, once again, a large reason that I love it so much is the soundtrack. For those that haven?t heard much about it, Waking Life is all about lucid dreaming and other such interesting, abstract stuff, and so it would appear to be an odd choice for director Richard Linklater to choose, well, a tango orchestra to provide the music for the film. But it works bizarrely well; the aching beauty of the strings and the crashing dissonance that the piano occasionally provides serves up an atmosphere quite unlike anything other than the feeling of dreaming. The final track of the album, which plays during the final scene of the film, is absolutely the most desperate sounding song I?ve ever heard, and the whole album is full of perfectly judged emotions and feelings, which any music fan would and should enjoy, regardless of whether they?ve seen the film or not.
Half These Songs Are About You

A lot of people might only have heard of Nizlopi because of their brief fame due to the JCB Song. A lot of people hate that song. Whilst I?d have to completely disagree with those people (when you learn the tragic backstory the JCB Song becomes one of the most uplifting tunes imaginable) Nizlopi are still so much more than just that one ?novelty single.? Half These Songs Are About You showcases singer Luke Concannon?s rich, gorgeous voice and equally lovely lyrics, and bassist John Parker supplies the album with evocative double bass grooves and textures. Songs such as Faith, Girls and Freedom show that Nizlopi really are one of the best bands of all time when it comes to ?softer? music, and even when they get all fired up for tracks such as Fine Story and Call It Up, there?s still always a bittersweet emotional edge to proceedings that makes this such a wonderful album. You might not have heard of them before now, but you really should change that right away.
In Rainbows

I?ll get it out of the way first; Kid A is, in my mind, objectively Radiohead?s greatest album, and one of the greatest albums of all time. But whilst Kid A is the album I?d placer much higher in a ?best albums? list, this is a list of my favourite albums. As such, In Rainbows is the Radiohead album that suits it best, for the key reason that I enjoy it more. The opening drums of 15 Step are one of my favourite sounds in music, because I know that if I?m hearing them I?m about to hear another near-perfect forty minutes of brilliance. In Rainbows is not only one of the warmest, most cohesive albums on this list, it also offers up some brilliant individual tracks, even outside of the context of the album. Jigsaw Falling Into Place is the perfect mini-epic, Weird Fish/Arpeggi is an increasingly unsettling journey that goes from hypnotic to disturbing, and All I Need features Radiohead?s most post-rocky moment yet. All in all, In Rainbows is the perfect combination of a cohesive album with great standout tracks, and some brilliant refinements whilst retaining a sense of fun that Kid A sorely lacked.
12Green Day
American Idiot

I?m not entirely sure whether I love American Idiot whenever I listen to it nowadays because I?m actually enjoying it, or because I?m so grateful for what it did for me. I like to think it?s both, but its influence on my listening habits is the greatest any album has ever had on me. Before American Idiot, I listened to basically exclusively pop. After American Idiot came a massive influx of new, exciting music which I wouldn?t have tried otherwise. Nonetheless, it is a magnificent album, and it?s what I?d say was Green Day?s only classic. Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming in particular can rival far more ?serious? bands in terms of musical sensibility, and when Green Day revert to their punkier roots on tracks such as Letterbomb and St Jimmy, they do so with far more aplomb than they ever had done in their career up to, and after, that point. American Idiot might well have been the perfect gateway album for me, but it?s still a consistently brilliant album in its own right that fully deserves its place up here.
11Pearl Jam

Ten manages to do that rarest of things in music; epitomise an entire movement, namely the grunge influx of the early 90s, but also remain relevant in today?s music world when considered outside of its legacy. Ten is, if anything, more akin to classic rock and blues acts than it is to Alice in Chains or Nirvana, but it?s for that reason that it?s so much more interesting than those rivals. Eddie Vedder?s ?golden baritone? is also a crucial factor in setting Ten apart from the pack, as he delivers his excellent lyrics with the kind of emotion that most other singers could only dream of. Ten is really just a great amalgamation of a lot of my favourite genres and styles, and, considering the fact that it has one of the best songs ever in Black, it really comes together to make something truly great.
10Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago

There?s just something intangibly brilliant about this album, which means that people either seem to place it in their top albums ever or call it out as overrated. When I first heard it, I was very much in the latter camp, and I was actually kind of disappointed that an album held in such high regard by people whose taste I trust did so little for me. But that was because I had it playing on my laptop while I mindlessly browsed the internet. A few days later I tried it again while walking through the park, feeling depressed, as it started to rain. As comically sad a picture as that paints, this was the perfect soundtrack for it, and every song on the album suddenly clicked. From the achingly beautiful chorus of opener Flume, to the monolithic, towering Re: Stacks closing the album out in the best way possible, For Emma is a truly significant achievement, and while it?s ?only? 10th on my list, it might well be the best album of our generation.
9Sufjan Stevens

This is, for me, the king of all indie albums. And to be honest, it beats most other albums of any genre. It?s the most ambitious record I?ve ever seen attempted by a solo artist, with the song titles alone proving the Stevens is setting himself a loftier goal than any singer-songwriter has done before him. What?s most endearing about Illinois, then, is that Stevens not only pulls off everything he attempts, he does it with a joyfulness and enthusiasm that puts most other artists to shame. And the album?s instrumentation is also astonishingly varied and skilled for being done, essentially, by just one guy. Illinois is really the ultimate triumph of style, and Stevens manages to combine amazingly poetic lyrics with amazingly complex and compelling music to create something that is more than the, already considerable, sum of its parts.
8Miles Davis
Kind of Blue

So here it is, arguably the most popular jazz album of all time. It also happens to be my favourite. Kind of Blue manages to combine the relaxing vibe and chilled out soloing of more amateurish jazz, with incredible musicianship from every single person involved that makes it perfect both as background music and an intense musical study. Davis? chops alone are more than worth the price of admission, and he?s backed up by the closest thing jazz has seen to an ensemble cast, all of whom play their part enthusiastically and masterfully. All of this results in an album that never, ever, gets old, and I?ve studied for many a test, passed many a long train journey, and enjoyed many a good cup of coffee with Kind of Blue present. For the comfort it now gives me alone, incredible musicianship aside, I?m eternally grateful to, and in awe of, the album.
...And Justice For All

All but one (Kill ?Em All) of Metallica?s albums could easily place fairly highly in this list. They were the band that got me into heavy music, and I still love their albums more than almost every single other heavy bands? that I?ve heard since. To me, ?And Justice For All was the absolute pinnacle of their evolution. Master of Puppets is often cited as their masterpiece, but the songwriting on AFJA is just so much more ambitious, so much more? progressive, that I can?t help but feel that those who place Puppets above it are only doing it for nostalgia?s sake. The title track of AJFA alone shows complexity unrivalled in Metallica?s music until Death Magnetic two decades later, with its many twists, turns and tempo changes staying on the right side of technical wankery, unlike the bands they would help to get me into. The album also has Hetfield?s best lyrics and vocals for me, with his tales of corruption and 1984-esque governments being a little clichéd, but surprisingly cleverly penned. It also has some of the best Metallica tracks of all time; Blackened, the title track, One and Dyer?s Eve could all quite comfortably qualify for being amongst my top ten tracks of the band?s entire career. For all of these reasons, AJFA really is the best Metallica album to me, and I fail to see how anybody could think otherwise.
6The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt

So, a 2010 album is already this high up in my all-time favourites. It?s testament to Kristian Matsson, AKA The Tallest Man On Earth?s, latest full album that upon my first listen, I knew immediately that I was listening to something that would go down in the annals of not only my memory, but also in music history, as being a true masterpiece. And the astonishing thing is, it literally doesn?t ever lose any of its appeal, even after the several dozen listens which I?ve given it to date. It combines the cohesiveness of lyrical themes and musical styles that I look for in my favourite albums with the incredible fact that every single song could be labelled as a ?standout track.? In most of these descriptions, I?ve listed some of my favourite tracks from each album, but that would be pointless here; they genuinely do all quality. I will say, though, that King of Spain in particular is one of the most carefree and ebullient songs of all time, but every song is perfect for a certain mood. With The Wild Hunt, Matsson really earns the title that he uses on stage, and proves himself to be undoubtedly the best folk artist since? well, we?ll get to that guy later. For now, though, The Tallest Man on Earth might be our generation?s best pure songwriter for quite a while to come.
5Bruce Springsteen
Born To Run

With Born To Run, Springsteen released his magum opus, the album that he seemed to have been put on this earth to make. It was supposedly a long, long time in the making, but by God was it worth it. Thunder Road, the opening track, set standards impossibly high for not only the rest of the album to follow, but also for the rest of rock music; Thunder Road is, in my opinion, the best rock song of all time. It?s testament to Springsteen?s ability, then, that he does actually manage to follow the best opener of all time with a string of worthy contenders for his own best rock song of all time; the title track is now deservedly legendary, Jungleland is one of the best epics ever written, Backstreets captured the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of youths at the time, and then there?s Meeting Across The River. Probably one of the 20 or so ?perfect? songs I?ve ever heard, Meeting Across The River sees Springsteen managing to do in three minutes and a couple of hundred words, what countless other artists haven?t achieved with multiple albums and reams of lyric sheets. Born To Run?s only failing is its quality; nothing Springsteen can do now could ever follow it for me, and it really does remain the pinnacle of his career, and almost all of rock music.
4Bob Dylan
Blood on the Tracks

Wow, 1975 was a great year. Not only was the greatest rock album of all time released, but we saw the greatest folk album of all time come out as well. Here he is, the daddy of all singer-songwriters. The debate over Dylan?s best album is a fair one; Freewheelin?, Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home and Desire could all qualify, but it was when I heard Blood On The Tracks that Dylan really, really clicked for me like I?d always hoped that he would. It?s the greatest break up album of all time, but it also features some of Dylan?s best music to go along with his predictably perfect lyrics. Simple Twist Of Fate is a fantastic, mellow meditation on a missed opportunity, Idiot Wind is one of the most damning numbers I?ve ever heard, and If You See Her Say Hello has one of the most relatable lines in music ever (?She might think that I?ve forgotten her, don?t tell her it isn?t so?) and genuinely every moment on the album is perfectly judged, and perfectly executed. For the many that don?t understand the love that Dylan gets from all corners, I was like you before I heard this album. It really did change my outlook on music after I heard it, and it?s only really been bettered for me by, well, four other albums.
3John Mayer

Okay, how to explain myself here? John Mayer is renowned for being one of the biggest douchebags in music, and I?ve seen countless people swear off of his music because of his activities in the press involving certain actresses. But those people are missing out on one of the best singers and songwriters of our generation, and who I?d say was also undoubtedly the best guitarist since SRV. On Continuum, Mayer abandoned the bubblegum pop of his earlier work which was, admittedly, not anything to write home about, in favour of the bluesy stylings which he?d hinted at for so long. And thank God that he did; after two solid releases, Continuum saw Mayer finally making the album that we all knew he had in him; refined, perfected, restrained and, most pleasingly of all, genuinely bluesy. There?s so much to admire on Continuum that it?s easy to forget that it?s an album made by, well, John Mayer, writer of Your Body Is A Wonderland. Every solo here is magical and expertly judged, every drumbeat or bassline used to perfectly complement Mayer?s guitar parts, and even the lyrics are pretty darn good. For his next album, Battle Studies, Mayer reflected on the fact that when recording Continuum, he?d been a perfectionist, redoing everything until it was just right. Whilst Battle Studies is a great album too, and feels much freer than Continuum, this perfectionist side really seems to have been the thing that Mayer needed to go from ?pretty good? to ?best in his class.? And with Continuum, he?s gone pretty much unbeaten ever since.
2Dave Matthews Band
Before These Crowded Streets

And at number 2 is another band that seems to be almost universally hated by supposedly ?hardcore? music fans. Well, once again I despair for the elite of our beloved art form, as they?re missing out on probably the best band, overall, I?ve ever listened to. Dave Matthews Band might be famous for the cheery Ants Marching and sappy Crash Into Me (both of which are actually great anyway, but I digress) but with Before These Crowded Streets, they shocked the world by following 1996?s joyous ?Crash? with one of the darkest albums ever released by a popular band. On Before These Crowded Streets, Matthews deals with themes as diverse as the plight of the Red Indians, to Jesus dying on the cross, to oral sex. Yes, there?s always going to be a ?bit of mischief? when it comes to DMB, but on BTCS they ditch their happier side almost entirely in favour of dark, complex lyrics backed by equally dark and complex music. Odd time signatures abound, and there are some almost horror-movie-esque moments to be in disturbing tracks like Halloween and The Stone. But in spite of all of this despair, BTCS has an underlying and redeeming sense of hope to be found in all of the songs, which makes it a truly redemptive, emotional listen every time. It?s a fairly well documented fact that DMB are almost always better live than in studio, prone to extended soloing as all of the band members are, but on BTCS they have put together eleven tracks which all stand up to live versions as they are, and which all perfectly complement each other to make BTCS the second most perfectly judged, perfectly flowing and perfectly enjoyable album I?ve ever heard.

And so here we are, my favourite album of all time. To be honest, there?s not really much I can say to justify Lateralus? brilliance here without resorting to an essay running for several thousand words, so I?ll just say that it?s by far the most intense, emotional, deep and pretentious album I?ve ever heard. Yes, I just listed pretentious as a plus point, but with Tool, you really can forgive them when they churn out albums as good as this and the almost equally brilliant Aenima. The title track on here is also my second favourite song of all time, which is a nice bonus. For a more in depth summary of why I think this is the best album ever, I?ve reviewed it at length here: But to be honest, those who?ve heard it and loved it like I have will know exactly what I mean without it needing to be put into words. All hail Tool, they deserve it. P.S. NEW ALBUM PLEASE.
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