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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
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
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
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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