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09.29.17 2017 3/4 The Good, The Bad, The Rad07.28.17 Radical 67-2017
02.04.17 Ambiance12.19.16 2016: A Year in Review
12.15.16 2016 is...10.03.16 2016 3/4
03.31.16 Sputnik PSA PART II 12.16.15 2015: A Year in Review
05.16.15 Ed's top 100 albums part 203.15.15 Ed's top 100 albums part 1
12.25.14 2014 A Year In Review 12.14.13 2013 A Radical Year
03.25.13 10 Best Cowboy Bebop Episodes

Ed's top 100 albums part 2

After quiet some time, I bring you the second part of my overly long and boring list of my favorite albums. I fear it's somewhat more predictable than the first part, but I hope you still get something out of it.
50Paul Dempsey
Everything Is True

# 50 Paul Dempsey is one of the most overlooked songwriters in the alternative scene in my opinion. His only solo album “Everything is True” stands as a testament to that statement. The album is filled with highlights really; Dempsey has a very pleasing voice and is an accomplished songwriter, storyteller and guitarist. There is nothing really outstanding about this album, aside from the fact how mind-bogglingly great every song is executed.

Best Songs: Bats, Bird in a Basement, Out of the Airlock, Take us to your Leader, Ramona was a Waitress
49Matthew Good
Hospital Music

# 49 “Everything is True” is a very moody, melancholic album. “Hospital music” is downright depressing. It’s abundantly clear that Matthew Good was in a very dark place when he wrote this album. (He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and developed an addiction to pharmaceuticals) But the simple fact, that he’s spilling his guts out on this album is not the only reason that it works so well, although it’s a huge factor. “Hospital Music” also marked a departure from Matthew Goods previous alt-rock sound. Although he’s not straying too far from his roots and some of the songs could stem from his “Matthew Good Band” days, he doesn’t pigeonhole himself into the early 2000s alt-rock aesthetic like he used to on previous album. This new found sense of experimentations lets his qualities as songwriter really shine.

Best Songs: Champions of Nothing, 99% of us is Failure, Born Losers, The Boy Come Home, Moon over Marin
48The Strokes
Is This It

# 48 Remember the first part of this list? Probably not. Anyway, when I talked about Telvisions magnum opus “Marquee Moon”, I made the remark that Julian Casablancas is a lesser version of Tom Verlaine. I still believe that this 100% true. The thing is I don’t care. Although the album was already a few years old back then, it was one of the albums me and my friends and I used to jam day in day out when we were still going to school. Today it just takes my back to those lazy days that never seemed to end. While the album is not as good as everyone said back then, I also still think it’s a very good album even without nostalgia. The production is refreshingly lo-fi, the guitars are brimming with energy, the songs are catchy as fuck and while Casablancas is mostly a Verlaine impersonator, at least he still gave a fuck in 2001.

Best Songs: The Modern Age, Soma, Barely Legal, Laste Nite, Hard to explain
47Solar Fields

# 47 Solar Fields is one of the most consistently great electronic producers out there, from his fabulous “Mirrors-Edge” Soundtrack, to numerous intrinsically crafted LPs the guy just churns out music like nobodys business. Sadly he’s one of the more overlooked artists, even when compared to other electronica-darlings like Bonobo or Baths. “Movements” is probably his most ambitious and expansive work to this date and definitely my favorite. Like many of his other works “Movements” sounds very spacey and Solar Fields manages to invoke the feeling of floating through a vast empty space like nobody else.

Best Songs: Sol, Feelings, Circles of Motion, Das Bungalow, Breeze
46The Cure

# 46 The Cure are one of the very few really good bands my dad got me into, which is why I definitely hold some amount of nostalgia for this album. However, unlike “Is this it” “Disintegration” is legitimately on of the best albums off all time. The Cure’s magnum opus is a crowning achievement to an already stellar career. Emotional and personal but never sappy or cringey, complex and challenging but never grading or self-indulgent, The Cure managed to strike a perfect balance between their pop sensibilities, their goth roots and their new-wave influences. The one-two punch of “Lullaby” and “Fascination Street” represents a band at their absolute creative peak, the songs are brimming with details, melodies and hooks and the Robert Smith’s heartbreaking lyrics.

Best Songs: Fascination Street, Plainsong, Lullaby, Pictures of You
In Return

# 45 Yep. Go read my review if you want to know more about it. I’m not too comfortable with putting albums from 2014 on this list, but I’m convinced that this won’t go anywhere in my personal rating.

Best Songs: Always this Late, Kusanagi, Bloom, Koto, It’s Only
44Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

# 44 To be honest, I wasn’t completely on the whole QOTSA thing prior to the release of this album. To me they always sounded like a watered down version of Kyuss who refused to just let go of their stoner roots and develop their own sound. On “… Like Clockwork” Josh Homme and company decided to finally do just that. While the stoner influences are still apparent (My God is the Sun, Smooth Sailing) the band finally managed to step out of the looming shadow of their predecessors. Josh Homme deserves a lot of credit for the way he pushed his songwriting abilities and his (limited) vocal chops to deliver engaging track after engaging track. The best thing about this album is how goddam consistent it really is. There are no filler tracks on this album and the last two songs are the best thing Homme has written in his life.

Best Track: I Appear Missing (!!), … Like Clockwork, Fairweather Friends, I Sat by the Ocean
43Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here

# 43 This album really needs no further introduction, as it’s one of the most beloved albums of all time. Title track “Wish you were here” is probably the most gut-wrenching song Pink Floyd ever wrote and proves that they are not limited to high minded, complex symphonic rock, but can also get very straightforward and emotional. The epic guitar orgy that is “Shine on you Crazy diamond” manages to be thoroughly engaging despite clocking in just under 25 minutes overall runtime. The odd man out is probably “Have a Cigar” which is merely a very good pink Floyd song, not an amazing one. Still, this album is rightfully regarded as a timeless classic. I don’t think I need to convince anyone here.

Best Songs: Shine on you Crazy Diamond, Wish you were here
42Kate Bush
Hounds of Love

# 42 I’m amazed how fresh and modern “Hounds of Love” sounds today, especially since Pop from the 80s has a tendency to age terribly. Kate Bush was miles ahead of her contemporaries in 85 and in many ways this album is still ahead of the curve. Think about it…. synths were still a pretty new thing back in 85 and that is why a lot of the pop from this day sound like misguided experiments today. Listen to this album again. Not once did I cringe at a cheesy synth line. Every song on this album is carefully polished jewel. Kate Bush is not only on the top of her game as a songwriter, but also as a performer/vocalist. Her delivery is quiet theatrical, (a few people call it melodramatic) her voice is very emotive and she doesn’t hold back anything. From big sweeping pop songs (Big Sky), to experimental songs (Waking the Witch) she’s always captivating and entertaining.

Best Tracks: The Big Sky, Running up that Hill, Cloudbusting, Waking the Witch, Hello Earth
41Tim Hecker
Harmony in Ultraviolet

# 41 Tim Hecker brand of ambient is really something unique, something to be treasured. Most ambient artists try to unravel big, atmospheric soundscapes and they usually try this by using very slow build ups and gigantic songs. Hecker has some kind of magic touch and can create similar effects without taking 10 minutes to build to them. His best work is “Harmony in Ultraviolet”. Read Jared Pontons review if you didn’t already.

Best Tracks: Dungeoneering, Blood Rainbow/Rainbow Blood, Chimeras
40Stars of the Lid
The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid

# 40 Similarly to the album above, I find it difficult to exactly explain what it is about “Stars of the Lid” that just grabs me. All I can say is, nearly every song they ever released gives me that incredible feeling of drowning in the atmospheric soundscape they created. Every song progresses so effortlessly and evokes memories and feelings without ever forcing them upon you, the album works perfectly as background noise for studying or reading, but just as well when you just close your eyes and lose yourself in it.

Best Tracks: - This is meant to be heard as an album.
39Rory Gallagher
Rory Gallagher

# 39 I wrote a review on this one, so I’m not going to repeat myself that much. (Review is way too long as is) While I’m maybe not as crazy about this as I was, when I wrote the review, I still think this album needs to be checked by everyone who ever liked a guitar in any song. Gallagher is a wizard and the songwriting on here is top notch as well.

Best Tracks: Laundromat, I Fall Apart, Sinner Boy

# 38 Buckethead is one of the strangest enigmas in history of music. A discography spanning over 200 releases can be really frustrating and tbh I think Buckethead lost a lot of his appeal since he started to churn out albums on a weekly basis. Nowadays most of his albums are very raw sketches which are kept afloat by his sheer technical prowess which is up there with the very best in the world. Back in 1998 he put way more care and refinement into the creation of his offerings. “Colma” which he dedicated to his cancer-diagnosed mother, is by far his best work in my opinion. Buckethead focused on creating pleasant and emotionally touching songs by using his technical prowess as a tool at his disposal, rather than the sole focus of his songs. That’s not to say that the guitar work on this album is simplistic . But instead of making songs to show off his skill at the instrument he used his skill to create amazing songs.

Best Songs: Whitewash, For Mom, Big Sur Moon, Machete, Sanctum
Achtung Baby

# 37 U2 would be highly regarded by everyone if they just called it quits after this album. And I refuse to change my opinion on the work they did when they reached their peak by their behavior and mostly sub-par output after this album. “Achtung Baby” is a fantastic album. Not only did the band completely redefine their sound, they also did so without losing their identity which is something only very few bands managed to pull off. In my opinion enigmatic guitarist and producer The Edge is the man responsible for pushing the band to new heights. If you compare this album to “The Joshua Tree” you’ll find that the usage of the guitar is the thing that has really changed. Gone are (for the most part) the warm, shimmering guitar melodies, The Edge traded them in for noticeably heavier and almost industrial sounding wah-wah riffs. It works like a charm.

Best Songs: The Fly, One, Zoo Station, Mysterious Ways, Ultra Violet, Acrobat
Kill the Moonlight

# 36 Spoons approach to creating rock music is distinctly minimalistic. Brett Daniels and company are masters of stripping down every song to it’s very core without taking away anything that’s necessary for the song to succeed. Most of the time the songs actually revolve around a very simple rhythm or melody, but I never got the feeling that they are simplistic. Technically a band that doesn’t feature any outstanding musicians, Spoon somehow always create songs that just hit the sweet spot. “Kill the Moonlight” is the album where they really found their bare-bones sound which is held together by Brett Daniels confident vocals. Some people may argue that Ga x5 is the album that features their best songs, but for me “Kill the Moonlight” is their peak.

Best Songs: Vittorio E. (!!!), Small Stakes, Back to life, Stay Don’t Go

# 35 Even though this is for all intents and purposes a very accessible album, it took my 2 years to fully appreciate the retro charm and delicate songwriting that made “Kaputt” such a glorious success. This album is a thing of beauty in the best sense of the word. The instrumentation is so lush and the whole album is charmingly unafraid to wear its 80s soft rock/smooth jazz influence on its sleeve, without sounding derivative at all. Frontman Dan Bejar is one of those favorite singers of mine who can’t really sing at all, but he makes up for it with his silly yet loveable accent and his endearing swagger. Just, do yourself a favor and catch up without this album if you missed out on it in 2011.

Best Songs: Suicide Demo for Karen Walker, Blue Eyes, Savage Night at the Opera, Kaputt, Chinatown
34Captain Beyond
Captain Beyond

# 34 Riffs galore. Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt (previously on Iron Butterfly) is the main reason this album is amazing. Don’t get me wrong every member of “Captain Beyond” pulls his weight, especially Ex-Deep Purple member Rod Evans as the vocalist. But what ultimately catapults this album into the higher echelon of prog-rock is the fact that Larry Reinhardt busts out memorable riff after memorable riff. “Captain Beyond” is one of the most accessible progressive albums you’ll ever find and every song is worthwhile in its own right.

Best Songs: Myopic Void, Dancing Madly Backwards, Mesmerization Eclipse, I can’t feel nothing (Part 1 and 2)
33Johnny Cash
At Folsom Prison

# 33 One of the most iconic musicians of the last century, Johnny Cash has literally done it all. Over the course of almost 50 active years as a songwriter he amassed a giant discography, fanbase and critical acknowledgments. If you get into his music, you first instinct may be to ask: Why? Cash is not a great guitar-player. He’s good a nice baritone but his range is very much limited. Many of his songs are incredibly simplistic and stomp along at basically the same pace. But to reduce Cash to pure technicalities would completely miss the point. Cash is a charismatic storyteller with an incredible eye for detail and he’s got a way with words like very few people.. “Folsom Prison” stands out in his discography because of the excellent tracklist and Cashs impassionate delivery, also it features the definite verison of the “Jackson” duet with Joan Carter who just completely blew it out of the park on that night.

Best Songs: Jackson, Folsom Prison Blues, 25 Minutes to Go
32Kendrick Lamar
good kid, m.A.A.d city

# 32 I hope Lambs just won’t click on this list at all. What’s left to say about this album that has been debated to death on the interwebs. A comprehensive look into the trials and tribulations of young Kendrick lamar, in many ways another very personal record which for me shines brightest in it’s more quiet moments when Kendrick displays his ability to weave a distinct atmosphere out of minute details. (“Me and my niggas four deep in a white toyota, a quarter tank of gas, one pistol and orange soda”) Supported by a plethora of different producers (Pharell, Just Blaze) and guest rappers (Drake, Jay Rock) Kendrick manages to be the star 100% of the time, profiting from the help of his peers without ever getting outclassed.

Best Songs: Money Trees, The Art of Peer Pressure, Sing about Me…, Sherane, Swimming Pools
31Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

# 31 Godspeed You! Black Emperor is the quintessential post-rock band. They are both a blessing and a curse to the whole genre. On the one hand, their hugely ambitious, painstakingly crafted 20-minute long epics pushed the genre to heights that nobody really thought possible. Some of their songs, particular the 4 pieces on this album, stand among the very best the genre has to offer and one could argue that they pretty much set such a high standard that nobody in the genre could hope to achieve. With that we come to the part that makes GYBE also a curse to post-rock. Oh-so-many bands in this genre are just a tired rip-off, with their equally pretentious Band/Song names and their sadly less equally satisfying quest to find the perfect way to build up to a giant climax. Still this album is worth it. 80 Minutes of total and utter bliss.

Best Song: Storm
30Frightened Rabbit
The Winter of Mixed Drinks

# 30 Nobody likes this album like I do. Not even Scott Hutchinson himself is particularly fond of this album, saying that it’s pretty much just a lesser echo of “Midnight Organ Fight”. I respectfully disagree. I never connected with the other albums of them like it did connect with this album. Maybe it just came at the right time in my life, I don’t really know. I don’t want to overanalyze it, because I fear that I may somewhere down the line discover that this record really isn’t as great as I make it out to be.

Best Songs: Things, The Loneliness & The Scream, Skip the Youth, Foot Shoother, Living in Colour, The Wrestle
29The National

# 29 Back to a less controversial album with The Nationals “Alligator”. Everybody loves this album for the same reasons I do. The weird, sometimes funny stories of an (not so) ordinary man wrapped in the understated yet brilliant compositions the band came up with. (Almost) Always subtle and delicate, the album probably won’t stand out much to you when you listen to it first. At least it didn’t to me. I chalked it up as another good indie-rock album which didn’t really do anything special. Then I discovered that fragments of songs and melodies popped up in my conscious weaks after listening to the album. I went back to it and discovered that I almost passed up on such a marvelous, almost perfect album. Every song is so layered, packed with genius interplays between the instruments and held together by Berningers soothing, downtrodden voice.

Best Songs: Secret Meeting, Karen, All the Wine, Abel, The Geese of Beverly Road, Mr. November

# 28 Another 2014 record that charts pretty high on my all-time favorite list. But again, I’m convinced that my love for this album won’t fade away anytime soon. Jakob are one of the (few) bands in post-rock which neither tries to be GYBE nor Explosions in the Sky, but instead are content to do their own thing. It’s not like they are reinventing the wheel, infact most of the songs on this record are pretty straightforward post-rock songs which are for the most part a bit heavier than most songs in the genre. But Jakob managed to somehow carve out their very own niche in a genre that is already a niche genre. The outstanding drumming is one of the things that really set them apart, but ultimately it comes down to the tremendous attention to even the most minute details in their sound, which makes every song unique and satisfying.

Best Songs: Sines, Darkness, Magna Charta, Emergent, Blind them with Science
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

# 27 Everytime I listen to this album, I’m amazed at how perfect it is. There is no wasted moment on this LP. From the jittery opening beat of “Lisztomenia” to the tightly controlled eruption that is “Armistice”, Phoenix managed to trim everything that was unnecessary on their previous albums and just delivered hit after hit on this album. The only time they stray from the indie-pop formular which they perfected on this album is “Love like a Sunset” which is a strange, upbeat take at post-rock and works better than you’d expect. Even 6 years after this release, the songs sound just as fresh and infectious as they did when I heard them the first time. One of the best “good-times” records ever, without any missteps whatsoever.

Best Songs: Listzomenia, 1901, Love like a Sunset, Rome, Countdown, Armistice
26Popol Vuh
Hosianna Mantra

# 26 I don’t know what these dudes were on, but I definitely want some of that. Listening to this album is as much of a journey into your own mind, as it is into outer space. Popol Vuh defy any genre tags and to some extent even description. From the weird-dissonant piano lick of “Ah!” over the subdued, whiny, almost ghostly guitar on “Kyrie” to the uplifting, joyful “Ave Maria” mastermind Florian Ficke takes you on a journey that is both strange and beautiful. Their other stuff is highly recommended as well if you’re into some weird experiments, but this spiritual journey is the definitve highpoint in their discography.

Best Songs: Ah!, Kyrie, Hosianna Mantra, Ave Maria
25The War on Drugs
Slave Ambient

# 25 This album is better than “Lost in the Dream” guys. If you haven’t checked it out and like “Lost in the Dream” please do yourself a favor and change that as soon as possible. “Slave Ambient” is deeply rooted in Americana and has been described to me as sounding like “Springsteen if all of his songs were played under water”. What my friend was getting at were the shoegazy synths and fuzzy guitar walls which are all over this album and give it a huge sound. Compared to “Lost in the Dream” this album is way more upbeat, frontman Granduciel was not fighting depression the way he did when writing “Lost in the Dream”. Instead of the incredibly melancholic tone on “Lost in the Dream” we are treated with a more adventurous sounding record, Granduciel and company definitely sound like they are longing for something, but they are not in despair. Baby Missiles beats Red Eyes too. Just sayin.

Best Songs: Come to the City, Baby Missiles, I Was There, Your Love was calling my name, Best Night
23Patti Smith

# 23 What a Legend this woman is. What a fucking legend this album is. “Horses” is a punk record in the truest sense of the word. Not because it closely sticks to the tropes of the genre, infact most of the genre tropes were not even developed in 1972 and Horses doesn’t fulfill much of them. But the album was a giant middle finger to expectations and conventions at the time, and lacked any sort of (“womenly”) restraint or respect. Patti Smith takes the listener along for a crazy ride and makes up for her admittedly limited skills as a vocalist with her irresistible energy and charisma. Filled with memorable lyrics, sharp instrumentation and frankly unforgettable songs, “Horses” deserves every bit of praise that has been lumped at it since its release.

Best Songs: Gloria, Birdland, Break it Up, Horses, My Generation
22There Will Be Fireworks
The Dark, Dark Bright

# 22 I once again have to acknowledge the accomplishments of my Betters and redirect you to Jared Pontons review a second time on this list. Reading it is essential. Stop reading this list. (if anyone acutally bothered to read this list)
There will be Fireworks created something magical on this record and highly doubt that they will ever be able to capture raw emotion like they did on this album. Their lead vocalist delivers some outstandingly moving performances and is in full control of every song, whether it is the bustling thunderstorm that is “River” or the subdued gentle “Roots”. The band fuses traditional indie-rock songs with a healthy dose of post rock; especially the second half of the album is full of the soft-loud dynamics that you’ll find in a post rock song, without ever just rehashing the tropes of the genre. A deeply moving record that may even rise in my personal ranking as the years go by.

Best Songs: River, Roots, Here is Where, South Street, Elder and Oak
21Neil Young
After the Gold Rush

# 21 Another one of those legendary singers who can’t really sing, Neil Young easily outshines his limited skill as a vocalist with his incredible skill as both a wordsmith and a songwriter. “After the Gold Rush” is (in my opinion) his most coherent and moving album. Most of the arrangements on this album are pretty sparse, a piano here, an acoustic guitar here, sometimes a little bit of percussion, sometimes a single horn. On paper that doesn’t seem like a really great idea if you have such a frail, nasally voice like Neil Young. But title track “After the Gold Rush” reveals, that Young shines brightest when he’s given room to breathe and achieves an incredible intimate and personal atmosphere.

Best Songs: Tell me Why, After the Gold Rush, Don’t let it get you down, Southern Man
20Tetsu Inoue
Ambiant Otaku

# 20 Shoutout to Keyblade for recommending me this incredible album. This is the album that finally opened my ears to ambient. Even before I fell in love with Stars of the Lid, I fell in love with this album. The mastermind behind this album, Tetsu Inoue is virtually unknown and vanished of the face of the internet a few years ago, since he suddenly stopped putting out music. Being a Japanese ambient producer with a tendency to develop 15 minute long spacey-soundscapes may not be the best route to fame after all. This is a shame, because this album is frankly amazing. Inoue patiently develops his drones and synths and lets them work off each other, while the songs gently glide along, while the listener gets drawn in deeper and deeper into the mysterious, otherworldly place that the songs seem to hint at. A timeless classic that does not sound dated one bit, even 20 years after it’s release.

Best Songs: Magnetic Field, Holy Dance, Karmic Light
19Lucio Battisti
Anima latina

# 19 Okay this is the last time I’ll plug my own review, I promise. I simply have nothing to add to all the stuff I already wrote; it would be redundant to repeat it.

Best Songs: Anima Latina, La Nouva America, Abbracciala Abbraciali Abbraciati, Due Mondi, Machina del Tempo
18Dire Straits
Love Over Gold

# 18 Mark Knopfer is rightfully held in high regard as one of the most classy and tasteful rock-guitarists of all time. Sometimes I still feel like the Dire Straits are a tiny bit overlooked. Sure, you could argue that some of their stuff, maybe especially on this album, hasn’t aged as well as one might like. Sure, Knopflers songwriting is a bit on the cheesy side sometimes. Sure, the 80s Yamaha-keyboard lines do underpin that fact. But tbh I couldn’t care less, maybe Knopfler got carried away here and there, but it’s never because he’s going for the cheap shots. It’s never forced or phony. And then there are the guitar solos. The last five minutes of “Telegraph Road” are such a testament what one guy who’s exceptional at his instrument can achieve; it blows me away every time I listen to it.

Best Songs: Telegraph Road, Private Investigations, Love over Gold, It never rains
The Man-Machine

# 17 The founding fathers of electronic music Kraftwerk developed the eerie bleepy-de-bloop sound they had pioneered on “Autobahn” and “Trans-European-Express” and delivered their sharpest, tightest and ultimately best album in 1978. When everybody was still wondering what happened on “Autobahn”, the Robots from Germany were already pushing themselves to new heights. Gone are (for the most part) the meandering slow burners like “Europe-Endless” or “Autobahn” which still hinted at their Kraut-Rock roots. “The Man Machine” focuses on much more immediate and somewhat narrower song structures and rhythms that immediately find their way into your ear and refuse to get out of your head. While the electronic antics may sound somewhat dated today, the catchiness and downright class of the songs remained intact and is just as awe-inspiring as it was, when it came out.

Best Songs: The Man Machine, Neon Lights, The Robots, Spacelab
16Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV

# 16 This one another of those albums that is so well known and beloved, that talking about it is pretty much pointless. Do you really need another guy telling you about “Stairway to Heaven” and it being one of the greatest moments in music? Didn’t think so.

Best Songs: When the Levee Breaks, Stairway to motherfucking Heaven, Black Dock, Going to California
15David Bowie
Station to Station

# 15 When he was recording “Station to Station” David Bowie had become completely disillusioned with being a famous rockstar and was almost completely burned out from touring and keeping up his multiple personas (Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust etc.). He stated multiple times that has next to no memories of the recording sessions because he was so incredibly high all the time, but members of his studio band confirmed that he would go one for 24 hours straight without granting anyone a pause. His mad quest for perfection definitely paid off on “Station to Station”. Every song is incredibly varied and detailed in its instrumentation. Bowie takes a lot of the somewhat tired clichés of classic rock and puts a completely new spin on them and his vocal performance is arguably the best in his whole carrier.

Best Songs: Station to Station, Golden Years, TVC15, Stay
14Jethro Tull

# 14 Maryyyy…. Seriously that song.
Jethro Tull have always been one of the quintessential prog-rock bands and Ian Anderson is a stalwart of the rock-scene in general. “Aqualung” is the album that catapulted into the public-eye and rightfully so. It features everything that made Jethro Tull one of the most recognizable and unique bands on the planet. Andersons trademark flute solos, Martin Barres incredibly punchy and by progressive standards catchy guitar as well as their disregard for expectations and conventions. While many prog-bands of the 60s and 70s loved to experiment and sometimes even go overboard with it, Jethro Tull (while never a conventional band) never once sacrificed a good song for the sake of a 4 minute guitar (or flute) solo or something like that. Andersons songwriting is sharp as a knife (not only on this album) and his lyrics for the most part tell thought provoking stories.

Best Songs: Cross Eyed Mary, Aqualung, Mother Goose, My God, Locomotive Breath
13Stars of the Lid
And Their Refinement Of The Decline

# 13 Yeah. Those guys again. I feel the same way about this album then I do about the other album by them on this list, but I love a bit more. While “The tired Sounds…” features some very long and stretched out ambient pieces, “The Refinment of their Decline” shortens (most) of the songs considerably, so it’s a bit more varied. I probably could listen to those two albums back to back for days without ever getting tired of them. They just possess that quality to take me to another place. I sure hope the two guys behind the moniker are not done with this project.

Best Songs: Articulate Silences (Pt. 1-2), Even if your never Awake, The Daughter of the Quiet Minds, Another Ballad for Heavy Lids, Humectez la Mouture, The Mouthchew
12The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt

# 12 Widely recognized as his best album, “The Wild Hunt” took everything that people loved about his debut and amped it up a notch. The guitar playing is a bit more varied and catchy, the vocals are even more emotive and the songs are written a bit tighter and with more care. Basically he perfected the sound he found on “Shallow Grave” and went ahead and perfected it. There is nothing new or groundbreaking about this sound, it’s just a guy and his guitar for the most part, playing some folksy tunes. But the Tallest man on Earth proves that you can put your own spin on something that has been mostly explored. Folk is a very simple genre and it’s basically impossible to create something completely out of the box with looming giants like Dylan and Young in the background who basically have done it all. But you still can fascinate people, if you’re capable of writing great songs.

Best Songs: King of Spain, The Wild Hunt, Kids on the Run, You’re going Back, Thousand Ways
11The Roots

# 11 I can’t exactly put my finger on why I like “Undun” so much more than the other albums by the Roots. Blackthought has always been a genius wordsmith and storyteller, but never once has he (and his giant supporting cast) grabbed me like this. The darker twist on the retro-soul production the band discovered on their previous album “How I Got Over” definitely has something to do with my affection towards this album. I just love how it sounds. The story told, while nothing new, is also fascinating, especially in its execution. While I feel they could have been even more coherent with their backwards-storytelling approach, it’s still a fairly unique and take at a concept album. It also helps that every individual song is very, very good. Go through the lyrics and try to find lazy rhymes or stupid lines. They are very, very rare.

Best Songs: Make My, One time, The Otherside, I Remember, Tip the Scale, Stomp
Total Life Forever

I know that this album does not belong in the top 10 best albums of all time by any other measure than my personal enjoyment. What makes this album so much better than your run of the mill indie-rock album with a slightly nasal vocalist? For starters the instrumentation is so unbelievably lush and beautiful, that I’m still in awe to this day. The band took their math-rocky sound from their first album and basically just slowed everything down, without changing much of the aesthetic, the result is simply gorgeous. Secondly Foals have one of the best rhythm sections in the genre. Both their drummer and bassist are way more than the supporting cast on many of their songs, and they do more than just provide a very basic structure. This allows the band to be way more adventurous than most indie-rock acts out there. Also, Yannis Philippakis is a born front man and very good songwriter even though he’s not the most gifted vocalists.

Best Songs: Black Gold, Spanish Sahara, Blue Blood
9Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago

# 9 I barely listen to it anymore. In keeping with the tradition of sputnik, I also have a favorite album that I don’t seek out that often anymore. Back when this came out and I was an angsty teenager this became such a big part of my life, I can’t even believe it now. I used to leave social-events earlier, so I could listen to this on my way home, because I just couldn’t wait to return to Justin Vernons hut in the woods. It’s probably because the vocal delivery is so heart-wrenching and the lyrics are so vague and general, that I could project all the weird feelings I had back then onto this album. That Vernon has an undeniable ear for good melodies and masterfully crafts the wintery, cold atmosphere also helps. While I don’t come back to this very often and I don’t feel the same way I did back then, it’s not like don’t enjoy this record immensely when I listen to it.

Best Songs: Flume, Skinny Love (fuck that Birdy cover, srsly), Lump Sum, For Emma, Re: Stacks, Wolves

# 8 Rightfully considered a cornerstone of progressive-rock, Camels sophomore record is one of those albums that just get better with every listen. The guitar work on this album is incredibly well done, but so is the whole instrumentation really. Every song leads into the next and the whole album feels very cohesive. The complex and experimental instrumentation is never done for the sake of it, instead it all comes together to form some of the best prog-rock songs that will ever grace your ears.
The way the band is able to rapidly shift around gears between subdued almost folksy interludes and mind-numbingly fast and ferocious guitar-rock is very impressive, especially because the whole album sounds so cohesive.

Best Songs: Freefall, Nimrodel/Procession/White Rider, Earthrise, Encounter/Smiles for you /Lady Fantasy
7Pink Floyd

# 7 Another classic of the prog-rock genre, “Animals” is very well known on the one hand (simply because it’s by Pink Floyd) but on the other hand it’s also overlooked, just because it came after “Wish you were Here”, “Dark Side of the Moon” and before “The Wall”. Somehow it ended up being the least talked about album of the bunch (not as much on music sites like RYM or sputnik, but definitely in the eye of the general public). Maybe it’s the scathing, almost painfully cynical social commentary that put some people off.
I’d argue that from a songwriting standpoint, this is Pink Floyds most accomplished, consistent and ultimately important album. Never again (or before) have the lyrics by Roger Waters been so on-point, never again (or before) has a Pink Floyd been so consistently amazing without devolving into self-indulgence and experimentation for experimentations sake. In many ways I consider this album to be perfect.

Best Songs: All of them
6Pink Floyd
The Dark Side of the Moon

# 6 Why did I put “Dark Side of the Moon” above “Animals” then, when I just said that I think that “Animals” is their most accomplished album. Well, this is a list of pure Subjectivity and so I’m entitled to like this a tiny bit more, even though I don’t consider it to be a “better” record. Pink Floyds almost orchestral take at rock music sounds makes “Dark Side of the Moon” sound larger than life in all the right ways. The highs on this album are just a bit higher than on “Animals” even though “Dark Side of the Moon” has one or two tracks who are not up the incredibly high Standard (On the Run). Pink Floyd kept just enough of their crazy experimental Syd Barret days and molded it into more coherent and beautiful songs. Many better writers have wrote essays about the greatness of this album, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Best Songs: Time, Us and Them, Any Color you like, Brain Damage, Eclipse

# 5 I already talked a lot about these guys, and this list is far too long as is, so I’ll keep it short. “Solace” is even better than “Sines”. It’s pretty similar in sound, although the drumming takes more of a central role on “Solace” which is good, because the drummer is amazing. This is one the albums that I can come back to in any mood and at any time and I’ll always enjoy.

Best Songs: Malachite, Oran Mor, Saint, Everything all of the Time, Pneumonic
4Talking Heads
Remain in Light

# 4 David Byrnes magnum opus is a genre defying piece of work. To be honest at times I listen to this album and I don’t even know how this whole thing works. Tribal polyrhythms, completely random sounds, nervous guitar licks, glitchy synths, David Byrnes trademark weird vocals that bounce around between singing and talking… that is just a description on things that occur on the opening song. Even the most straightforward song “Once in a lifetime” has some of those seemingly random elements thrown in for good measure. While it all seems random at first, you’d be amiss if you think that Byrne and company just thrown everything into one pot and hoped that it worked. (If they really did, than they are the luckiest motherfuckers alive) With every subsequent listen the seemingly random elements begin to form a coherent whole. The songs are weird, because David Byrne is weirded out by the world around him. And who isn’t from time to time? They are only seemingly random, but in fact the Talkin
3The National

# 3 While “Alligator” was still a little rough around the edges and “High Violet” is arguably a bit to subdued and deliberate, “Boxer” hits every sweet spot there is. From the gentle piano lick on “Fake Empire” that opens the album to the almost defeated last strumming of the guitar on closer “Gopsel” there is not a single moment where Matt Berninger and company don’t impress. Every song is filled with incredibly subtle and gorgeous melodies. The instrumentation is lush and the vocals while downtrodden and deep are never hopeless or dull. Lyrically “Boxer” doesn’t stand out from their back catalogue it’s very good as usual, but I’d argue that “Alligator” hits harder at places. But the songs are so incredibly well written and executed that “Boxer” easily transcends its predecessor.

Best Songs: Fake Empire, Mistaken for Strangers, Green Gloves, Slow Show, Start A War, Apartment Story, Gospel
The Joshua Tree

# 2 Okay. I know how this looks to you. Two U2 albums… really? “The Joshua Tree” is the album that sparked my love for music. It’s the first “real” album I owned. And if not for this album, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t have gotten into music the way I ultimately did. Even when I listen to it today, I don’t think this album needs much defending to be honest. From the breathtaking organ opening of “Where the streets have no name” (courtesy of Brian Eno) to the incredibly moving and sad “Mothers of the Disappeared” I love every second of this album (okay maybe I don’t exactly love “With or Without you” but I blame my radio station for that). Bono is on the top of his game both as a songwriter and as a vocalist and he really delivers on every song. “Where the streets have no name” is my favorite song of all time and it probably won’t change for the rest of my life.

Best Songs: Where the Streets have no name, Bullet the Blue Sky, Running to Stand still, In God’s Country, One Tree
1David Bowie
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust...

# 1 There we are folks. My favorite album of all time. It’s Bowie. Big surprise. “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…” really is a perfect record. Bowie took everything about rock music and just pushed it one step further. He added classical instrumentation to rock-music in a way that nobody before him did in this effortless and frankly genius way. Every song on this album is a marvel in itself and while the “concept” of the alien Ziggy stardust only loosely connects them, the sound of the album is very cohesive overall. Bowie is not the best singer you’ll ever hear in your life, but in my opinion he’s the most charismatic and entertaining frontman to ever grace music. If you haven’t listend to this album for whatever reason, you need to catch up.

Best Songs: Five years, Soul Love, Moonage Daydream, It Ain’t Easy, Lady Stardust, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City
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