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500 ratings celebration: my 50 favourite albums

Wanted to write a bit about my favourite albums, ended up putting a ridiculous amount of work in this list. I hope it makes for a somewhat interesting read. Anyway, yay for me reaching 500 ratings, on to the next 500!
Script for a Jester's Tear

[progressive rock] [neo-prog]

One of my favourite prog records. And that for a debut!

Favourite songs: ‘Chelsea Monday’, ‘Script For a Jester’s Tear’
The Seldom Seen Kid

[indie rock]

The most energetic record from this not-so energetic band, and also their best. Still, my favourite parts are when they take it easy and let Garvey’s voice do the work.

Favourite songs: ‘Mirrorball’, ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’
48Bark Psychosis


It’s too bad ‘Pendulum Man’ and especially ‘Fingerspit’ drag Hex down, because it’s pretty much flawless otherwise. Perfect album to listen to at night; I have fallen asleep to it a couple of times, and that’s not meant as an insult.

Favourite songs: ‘Absent Friend’, ‘Eyes & Smiles’, ‘Big Shot’

[post-rock] [post-metal]

Orchestral post-rock with touches of post-metal. Cool Scandinavian stuff.

Favourite songs: ‘Fra dypet under stenen’, ‘Et blekt lys lyder’
46Gang of Youths
Go Farther in Lightness

[alternative rock]

I used to like this more. It’s a bit overlong, and not every song is as interesting. Still, the album contains enough great songs to earn its place on this list.

Favourite songs: ‘Keep Me In The Open’, ‘Fear and Trembling’, ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’
45Sun Kil Moon


The first Kozelek record to appear on this list – with 4 records, he shares the honour of best represented artist with The National. About Benji: another intimate record from the man who shares, well basically everything he thinks about with his listeners. And apart from the annoying ‘Dogs’ and the to a lesser extent annoying ‘Richard Ramirez’, he succeeds in creating a beautiful, heartfelt album.

Favourite songs: ‘Micheline’, ‘I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same’

[alternative rock]

I feel a bit uneasy about Absolution, or Muse in general. They used to be my favourite band, and this used to be my favourite album, but I haven’t really listened to them in the last couple of years – the bombast wore out, and I went to explore other bands. I can’t bring myself to omit Muse from this list, however, so hereby a mercy-spot for Bellamy and companions.

Favourite songs: ‘Apocalypse Please’, ‘Sing for Absolution’, ‘Ruled by Secrecy’
Hopes & Fears

[pop rock]

Hopes & Fears is simply packed with hits.

Favourite songs: ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, ‘Bend & Break’, ‘Can’t Stop Now’

[progressive rock]

I’m not into death metal, so I can’t place Damnation within Opeth’s discography. I do know, however, that I really like this exploration into mellower sounds, especially the gorgeous opener that perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the record.

Favourite songs: ‘Windowpane’, ‘To Rid the Disease’, ‘Ending Credits’
A Moon Shaped Pool

[indie rock]

Although A Moon Shaped Pool starts awkwardly with the out-of-place ‘Burn the Witch’, it turns out to be one of Radiohead’s best offerings.

Favourite songs: ‘Ful Stop’, ‘Glass Eyes’, ‘True Love’
Aava Tuulen Maa


A Russian band, operating from Ukraine, singing in Finnish. Sounds logical. They make good music though.

Favourite songs: ‘Valveuni’, ‘Föhn’
39The War on Drugs
A Deeper Understanding

[indie rock] [shoegaze]

My introduction to the band, and I’m still convinced it’s more consistent than its predecessor. Listened to this so much when commuting during my first year of study.

Favourite songs: ‘You Don’t Have To Go’, ‘Pain’, ‘Thinking of a Place’
38Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree


I don’t really care about ‘Jesus Alone’ and ‘Anthrocene’, but the rest of the album is fantastic – especially the closing trio. Heart-breaking stuff.

Favourite songs: ‘I Need You’, ‘Skeleton Tree’, ‘Distant Sky’
OK Computer

[alternative rock]

Ground-breaking album etc. etc.. Sadly, I don’t think the second half lives up to the status of OK Computer as the best album of all time (and I’m not fond of ‘Airbag’ either). But let’s not be overly critical: OK Computer remains one of the best albums ever created, and that section from ‘Paranoid Andriod’ to ‘Karma Police’ is unbeatable.

Favourite songs: ‘Let Down’, ‘Exit Music (For a Film)’
36Manchester Orchestra
I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

[indie rock] [emo]

Hits me hard at times, Andy Hull is a brilliant vocalist and lyricist.

Favourite songs: ‘Colly Strings’, ‘Where Have You Been?’, ‘Sleeper 1972’
35Sufjan Stevens

[indie rock] [indie folk] [other genres, idk]

Sufjan’s magnum opus (although Carrie & Lowell is not far off). And even if I tend to stop listening after ‘The Predatory Wasp’, by that time Illinois has already proven itself as one of the best albums of this century.

Favourite songs: ‘The Predatory Wasp’, ‘Casimir Pulaski Day’
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

[pop rock] [alternative rock]

Probably the ‘happiest’ album on this otherwise rather depressing list.

Favourite songs: ‘Viva La Vida’, ‘Death and All His Friends’, ‘Strawberry Swing’, ‘Violet Hill’
Soundtracks for the Blind

[post-rock] [experimental rock]

I’m a bit unsure what to think of Soundtracks for the Blind. On the one hand, there’s a lot of material that I don’t really enjoy having to sit through (the weirdest stuff, like ‘Hypogirl’ and ‘I Love You This Much’). On the other hand, the fucking majestic ‘Helpless Child’ alone warrants a placement on this list, and so do the other songs reaching the 10-minute mark. And those rare times when I do spin the whole album, even the weirder songs have their place; it all becomes part of the experience Swans have created.

Favourite songs: ‘Helpless Child’, ‘The Sound’, ‘Animus’
32Sun Kil Moon

[folk] [indie rock]

April revolves for me almost completely around ‘Lost Verses’, ‘Moorestown’ and ‘Tonight in Bilbao’. The other songs are sort of there for me to enjoy when I feel like listening to the album in whole, and they’re nice, but those three are on a whole different level. ‘Lost Verses’ is the warming, (almost?) upbeat opener to the album with an amazing instrumental coda, whereas the much shorter ‘Moorestown’ is a showcase of Kozelek’s trademark melancholy. ‘Tonight in Bilbao’, ultimately, is my favourite song of all time; ten minutes of unlevelled beauty. It’s incredible how Mark Kozelek can just pump out all these gorgeous songs.

Favourite songs: I just explained
31The National
High Violet

[indie rock]

The fact that this is only my fourth favourite National album (see further up the list for more) might tell you something about my love for the band. High Violet is probably their most energetic work. Highlights are the triumphant ‘England’ and ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, probably the most National National Song. The album is a tiny bit inconsistent though, with ‘Anyone’s Ghost’ as the most obvious offender. Also, I prefer the alternate version of ‘Terrible Love’ to the album version, but alas, you can’t have it all (or do you? again: see further up the list).

Favourite songs: ‘England’, ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’
30Ben Howard
I Forget Where We Were

[indie folk] [indie rock]

I Forget Where We Were might be the most consistent album on this list; every song (okay, maybe except ‘Evergreen’) could stand on its own and still make an impact. What’s even more impressive is that, despite this, the tracks flow really well into each other. Easily Howard’s best work.

Favourite songs: ‘All Is Now Harmed’, ‘Conrad’, ‘Time is Dancing’, ‘Rivers in Your Mouth’
29Have a Nice Life

[post-punk] [shoegaze] [other genres]

While not every song on here works for me (I still don’t understand ‘The Big Gloom’ and ‘I Don’t Love’) the highs are ridiculously high. Momentous album.

Favourite songs: ‘Hunter’, ‘Holy Fucking Shit: 40.000’
28Pearl Jam

[grunge] [alternative rock]

To me, Ten is the prototype rock album. From the raw energy of opener ‘Once’ to the amazing guitar work on ‘Alive’ and the best rock ballad ever ‘Black’, Pearl Jam show how it’s done. Too bad some of the songs on the songs in the second half (I’m looking at you, ‘Porch’, ‘Garden’ and ‘Deep’) fail to reach the incredibly high standard set in the first half, otherwise Ten would be an easy 5 out of 5.

Favourite songs: ‘Black’, ‘Alive’, ‘Jeremy’
27Sigur Ros
Agætis byrjun


However beautiful Sigur Rós later albums are, they feel like actual albums made by an actual human band. Ágætis Byrjun is different. Somehow, it seems to me like they just sort of stumbled upon these otherworldly sounds, that there wasn’t some thoughtful musical process behind it. It’s a unique masterpiece.

Favourite Songs: ‘Ágætis Byrjun’, ‘Svefn-g-englar’, ‘Viðrar vel til loftárása’, ‘Starálfur’
26Frightened Rabbit
The Midnight Organ Fight

[indie folk] [indie rock] [indie pop] [definitely indie]

Probably the best album about heartbreak ever, with fantastic lyrics I know by heart completely.

R.I.P. Scott Hutchinson, ‘Floating in the Forth’ is devastating now…

Favourite songs: ‘Poke’, ‘The Modern Leper’, ‘Floating in the Forth’
25Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven


If I remember correctly, Lift Your Skinny Fists was my introduction to post-rock. As expected with an album as immense like Lift Your Skinny Fists and an unexperienced listener like me, it only slowly grew on me over the course of a couple of years. Now I consider it to be one of the finest albums I know. (I still could have done, however, with half of ‘Static’ and maybe some of the first minutes of the closer.)

Favourite songs: ‘Sleep’, ‘Storm’
24Red House Painters
Red House Painters

[slowcore] [indie folk]

Like all Mark Kozelek albums, Red House Painters (also known as Rollercoaster) is maybe a bit too long, but that’s part of the charm. ‘Mistress [Piano Version]’, ‘Take Me Out’ and especially the two songs mentioned below are heart-wrenching.

Favourite songs: ‘Strawberry Hill’, ‘Katy Song’
23Porcupine Tree

[progressive rock] [progressive metal]

My Porcupine Tree phase has been gone for a while now. But even though I don’t dig them as much as I used to, Deadwing is still the best modern progressive rock album I know.

Favourite songs: ‘Deadwing’, ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’, ‘The Start of Something Beautiful’


I already explained that Lift Yr. Skinny Fists was my introduction to post-rock, but Kaiho was the album that truly won me over for the genre. Here, Kauan drop all their metal aspects and create a post-rock album with ambient and sometimes classical leanings. Highlight ‘Siiville Nousu’ is a testament to the album’s quality, with its hypnotizing piano intro and stunning ending.

Favourite songs: ‘Siiville Nousu’, ‘Lahja’, ‘Lapsenmuisto’,
21The Cure

[gothic rock] [post-punk]

As dark as music gets. Look no further than opener ‘One Hundred Years’, with its miserable guitar lines and the just as miserable opening line “it doesn’t matter if we all die”. Creating a brooding and claustrophobic atmosphere, The Cure manage to captivate from the beginning to the (very) chaotic and disruptive ending.

Favourite songs: ‘One Hundred Years’, ‘The Figurehead’, ‘Cold’, ‘The Hanging Garden’
20Porcupine Tree

[progressive rock] [psychedelic rock]

Signify forms a transition between Porcupine Trees earlier psychedelic work and their later progressive rock/metal outings. Maybe because of that, it’s also their best album. Oh, and ‘Dark Matter’ has the best guitar solo ever.

Favourite songs: ‘Dark Matter’, ‘Idiot Prayer’, ‘Waiting Phase One’
Not to Disappear

[dream pop] [indie rock]

Such an underrated record! It’s an easy analogy, but I think the artwork accurately represents what this album sounds like: bleak and rainy. On Not To Disappear, Daughter drown the listener in moody, sometimes post-rocky soundscapes, coupled with Elena Tonra’s almost monotone delivery. If that sounds to slow for you, check out the groovy alt-rocker ‘No Care’ and the best song of the album, ‘Fossa’, in which the band really let go and create a beautiful instrumental climax.

Favourite songs: ‘Fossa’, ‘New Ways’, ‘Doing the Right Thing’, ‘Mothers’

[progressive rock] [pop rock] [live album]

I originally planned on putting Supertramp’s Crime of the Century on this list, since that is actually a studio album. I decided against it, because I haven’t actually listened to Crime that much, whereas Paris is probably the album I have heard in my life the most. I have so many fond memories of listening to this in the car with my parents. Nostalgia aside, this is a strong live album on which Supertramp play all their best work. Especially disk 2 is strong.

Favourite songs: ‘Fool’s Overture’, ‘School’, ‘Crime of the Century’
In the Absence of Truth

[post metal]

Bet your weren’t expecting an ISIS album! But (spoiler) there’s more to come later on this list…

Anyway, ISIS blew me away with their post-metal sound. In the Absence of Truth is probably their most accessible album, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing. Highlights are the bookends and ‘Dulcinea’, and I also really like how the interlude ‘All Out of Time, All Into Space’ erupts into ‘Holy Tears’.

Favourite songs: ‘Dulcinea’, ‘Garden of Light’
Turn on the Bright Lights


Another close company on my daily travels to study some years ago, I still hold this album in very high esteem (obviously). ‘Leif Erikson’ used to be my favourite song of all music.

Favourite songs: ‘Leif Erikson’, ‘Hands Away’
15Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle
Perils from the Sea

[electronic] [folk]

It’s strange that an electronic collaboration album should be my favourite Mark Kozelek album, but here we are. Jimmy Lavalle’s electronic beats and pulses provide the perfect background for Marks stories about an illegal immigrant (‘Gustavo’), the tragic loss of his neighbour (‘He Always Felt Like Dancing’) or the meaning of life in general (‘Somehow the Wonder of Life Always Prevails’). In my book, Perils From the Sea is the ultimate showcase of Mark’s storytelling.

Favourite songs: ‘Gustavo’, ‘You Missed My Heart’, ‘He Always Felt Like Dancing’
14Anna von Hausswolff
Dead Magic

[neoclassical darkwave, according to RYM]

Anna von Hausswolff’s hard-to-categorize Dead Magic is one of the most captivating albums I know. Armed with a pipe organ and an earth-shattering voice, Anna manages to keep the listener on the edge of his seat, from the slowly unfolding opener and the terrifying ‘The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra’, to mid-album epic ‘Ugly and Vengeful’, to a pipe-organ show-off and the beautiful, drawn-out closer.

Favourite songs: ‘The Truth, the Glow, the Fall’, ‘The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra’

[dream pop] [shoegaze]

Slowdive’s self-titled comeback album was my gateway into dream pop. And believe me, I’ve tried, but I don’t think their other albums come close to the brilliance of this record. It’s so smooth; every song flows perfectly, it all just fits.

Favourite songs: ‘Slomo’, ‘Sugar for the Pill’
Automatic for the People

[alternative rock] [pop rock]

Automatic For the People is another album I’ve grown up with. But whereas I used to regard this as ‘just’ a very good album, in the last one or two years I have come to see it as what it really is: a flawless classic.

Favourite songs: ‘Drive’, ‘Sweetness Follows’, ‘Nightswimming’
11Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada


GY!BE at their most succinct. The climax of BBFIII is unreal, 11:54 to 12:04 are the best ten seconds in music.
…and I left it at that.

Favourite songs: both
10Brand New
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

[emo] [alternative rock]

This used to be my favourite album (thanks Sputnik), but it has grown off me a bit. Still amazing music though, and when I’m in the mood the songs hit as hard as they used to.

Favourite songs: ‘Degausser’, ‘You Won’t Know’, ‘Limousine (MS Rebridge)’, ‘Jesus Christ’
9Dead Can Dance
Within the Realm of a Dying Sun

[neoclassical darkwave]

Dead Can Dance’s classic Within the Realm of a Dying Sun is split up into two halves, divided between vocalists Brendan Parry and Lisa Gerrard, the first four songs more representing the gothic side of the band and the last four songs showcasing their world music influences.

However much I love Brandan’s side, Gerrard steals the show, making her way through haunting rhythms, strings, bells and whatnot, showing off the full range of her voice. (I really used to think ‘Persephone’ was sung by another woman, because it’s in such a low register – what a voice). A dark, otherworldly masterpiece.

Favourite songs: ‘Summoning of the Muse’, ‘Cantara’, ‘Persephone (The Gathering of Flowers)’
8American Football
American Football

[emo] [indie rock]

Somehow, it feels like I’ve always known this album – as if I discovered this ten years ago, not two years. And it makes me nostalgic for a time of my life I’m still living in, or something. I don’t know. Anyways, melancholic vocals and twinkly guitars for the win. I could listen to ‘Stay Home’ forever, and, according to my, I’m on the right track since I’ve already listened to it over 100 times.

Favourite songs: ‘Stay Home’, ‘Never Meant’ (obviously)
7The Cure

[gothic rock] [post punk] [dream pop]

After 20 seconds, at the moment when the crushing orchestral sounds of ‘Plainsong’ kick in, you know you’re in for a magical experience. Most songs on Disintegration are brilliantly built up, with drums, guitar and/or keyboard lines and Robert Smith’s vocals joining in one after another, the songs only slowly unravelling and then winding down in the same way they have been constructed. Another masterpiece from The Cure.

Favourite songs: ‘Plainsong’, ‘Fascination Street’, ‘Swimming the Same Deep Water As You’, ‘Homesick’, ‘Pictures of You’


Panopticon has only slowly crept upon me in the last two years, even though ‘So Did We’ immediately blew me away. Especially during the last couple of months I’ve come to appreciate how well this album flows; how it is basically one grandiose composition, ebbing and flowing throughout, but never losing its sense of purpose and steadily working towards its climaxes. And man, those climaxes really do the trick – the word ‘epic’ was invented for music like this. How can you not start headbanging during ‘Grinning Mouths’’ magnificent ending?

Favourite songs: ‘So Did We’, ‘Grinning Mouths’
A Rush of Blood to the Head

[alternative rock] [pop rock]

I could go all nostalgia tour here, explaining that A Rush of Blood to the Head was the album that got me into music etc. etc.. But that would be a disservice to A Rush of Blood, since I genuinely think this is one of the best albums ever.

Favourite songs: ‘Clocks’, ‘Politik’
4The National

[indie rock] [post-punk]

Ah, we’ve arrived at my four favourite albums, which were really hard to rank. Looking at Alligator’s tracklist, I’m not sure why it ended up as the number four – the only song I’m not fond of is ‘Abel’. Maybe it’s because Alligator feels a bit more like a collection of songs rather than a coherent album, in contrast to later albums from The National. But in that case, it’s still a damn fine collection of songs, maybe the best collection of songs I know. And that’s worth a lot.

Favourite songs: ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’, ‘Mr. November’, ‘The Geese of Beverly Road’, ‘Secret Meeting’
3Sigur Ros
( )


Amidst the overbearing presence of The National, we have this one other album from this one other band. Sigur Rós’ ( ) deserves to be here, because it’s the best post-rock album ever made. The first half of the album (the first parenthesis) is warm and optimistic, contrasting the darker and colder second half. Both parentheses manage to create a beautiful atmosphere, which makes for a wonderful listen.

Favourite songs: ‘Untitled #3’, ‘Untitled #7’, ‘Untitled #8’
2The National
Trouble Will Find Me

[indie rock]

I feel like I’m betraying Trouble Will Find Me’s second half by not putting this at #1. That five song stretch after the overrated ‘Graceless’ (overrated, as in, it’s only really great) is just flawless. The dramatic self-pity of ‘Slipped’ and ‘Pink Rabbits’, the honesty of ‘I Need My Girl’, the acceptance of ‘Hard to Find’ – it’s all done so well. And the same applies to the beautifully subdued ‘Humiliation’, my favourite National song.

Oh, and the first half is pretty great too.

Favourite songs: ‘Humiliation’, ‘Pink Rabbits’, ‘Hard to Find’, ‘Slipped’
1The National

[indie rock] [post-punk]

What makes Boxer my favourite album of all time? And what’s so special about this one band that I decided to put the ridiculous amount of three albums of theirs in my top four?

There’s just something about their songs. How you can still discover hidden vocal melodies or vague guitar lines after fifty listens; how they can sound gentle (‘Green Gloves’) but also triumphant (‘Guest Room’). It’s the incredibly tight drumming of ‘Squalor Victoria’, it’s the trumpets of ‘Fake Empire’, it’s Matt Berninger’s voice and lyrics – sometimes seemingly freely associating but still making a lot of sense. Boxer has all of this in spades; in my opinion, it’s the ultimate representation of this one very special band.

Favourite songs: ‘Fake Empire’, ‘Slow Show’, ‘Brainy’
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