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5.0 classic
Alexander Borodin Polovtsian Dances
Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
Our culture has taught us to believe that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Why, then, has a woman never written a record quite like - and quite as good as - Blood On The Tracks? Spurred on by his divorce, Dylan wrote the best album of his career with this. He may have a brave face on, attacking the ex brutally on "Idiot Wind" ('It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe'), but the wistful, metaphorical "Tangled Up In Blue" reveals right at the outset just how much it hurt him. That's nothing to the conclusion of "If You See Her, Say Hello", mind. 'If she's passin' back this way/I'm not that hard to find/Tell her she can look me up/If she's got the time....' Magical.
DJ Shadow Endtroducing...
Was DJ Shadow really a trip-hop artist? That's the question that seems to arise most when people look back on Endtroducing. Apparently trip-hop is a 'reductive term', or something - but then what term WOULDN'T be reductive describing this masterpiece? Woozy, dreamy melodies and gothic piano parts face off against some of the most brutally inventive drums in this or any genre. Tracks like "Stem/Long Stem" and "Building Steam With A Grain of Salt" seem to have absolutely no antecedant - all the more thrilling and disorientating when you consider that this album holds a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the first album ever created using nothing but samples. Neither hip-hop, electronica, or trip-hop can truly lay claim to this album - it stands alone in a league of its own.
Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP
He sucks unbelievable amounts of ass now (his retirement isn't a second too soon), but just 5 years ago, Eminem WAS pop music. It really was that simple. He dominated the industry. You could easily claim his direct attacks on N*Sync are the very reason for Justin Timberlake's sudden 180 turn of style; without him there'd have been no mainstream success for 50 Cent, or even Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, and Dre's "2001" wouldn't have reached such a huge audience. Happily, the first world-changing record of the 20th century just happened to be a life-changing one, too. I owe the course of my life, post-2000, to this record, and in that whole time, I've never got tired of it. "The Way I Am" still thrills; "Stan" still touches; "Kim" still terrifies. It's funny, scary, ugly, dirty, punchy, powerful, and, by hook or by crook, genuinely provocative and moving. In the year 3000, they'll probably still point to this as a masterpiece.
Eric B and Rakim Paid in Full
The very definition of a hip-hop classic. Rakim reinvented the art of rapping here, moving it away from simple rhymes and shouting toward something more relaxed and poetic. Not to mention that hip-hop's lasting obsession with money starts right here. Don't ignore Eric B's contribution, either - though his techniques here might now seem a little dated and simple, he ranks as one of the most influential DJs ever.
Fleetwood Mac Rumours
I'm sometimes tempted to call Blood On The Tracks the ultimate divorce album. Unfortunately, when Rumors exists, that simply isn't true. Propelled by not one, but TWO major break-ups within the group, Fleetwood Mac decided to lay their emotions bare on record. Hence the deranged "Second Hand News" (brutal self-deprecating honesty never sounded so much like denial, and denial never sounded so transparent), the absolutely withering "Dreams", the defiant, painful "Go Your Own Way", and the detatched "The Chain". Still, there was room for hope - "Songbird", "Don't Stop", and "You Make Lovin' Fun" were the group's real catharsis, forcing light to appear through the clouds. 18 millions of us became marital voyeurs, making Rumors one of the biggest albums of all time, and embedding these songs into public consciousness. Good job, then, that these songs are indestructible - not even Coors cover versions can dent their emotional power.
Georges Bizet Carmen
Henryk Gorecki Symphony No. 3, Op. 36
Jeff Buckley Grace
Grace doesn't seem like Ground Zero for Jeff Buckley any more, but if he hadn't died, it would have been, and that would have made Jeff one of the very few musicians to float into public view already perfect. Maybe Grace isn't perfect, but I recognize flaws in the album only in the way you find faults in a lover; somehow, they just serve to bring you closer together and make your love stronger. Reliant on covers? Only because two of the covers are better than the originals, and the other is one of the most hauntingly beautiful renditions of "Corpus Christi Carol" you'll ever hear. And now they've added "Forget Her" to the tracklist, it's even better. From the minute I first heard this, to all the times "Lover, You Should've Come Over" has reduced me to a quivering wreck, right up to now, Jeff Buckley has been my biggest musical hero.
Jeff Buckley Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition)
Who knew, when Jeff Buckley tragically drowned in 1997, that he had an album in the vaults that was even BETTER than Grace? Even more shockingly, it wasn't a progression from Grace, either - it predated it. The Legacy Edition of Live At Sin-E takes Jeff's best EP and extends it to around 3 hoursof music. The set's mainly comprised of covers, each of which is an improvement on the original - which means he bests Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in one fell swoop. No other live album in the world does more to give you a person's presence - listening to this album on headphones in the dark makes you feel like one of Sin-E's customers, watching this prodigal talent in bloom. Even the monologues are profoundly heart-warming. And the songs? Positively heartbreaking. Forget Grace - this is the purest distillation of Jeff's amazing gift available.
Jeff Buckley Grace (Legacy Edition)
You hardly need any more reasons why the first disc of this album is a classic - this remaster improves the fidelity, but doesn't mess with the winning formula, so everything you read in other reviews still applies. The bonus disc earns its stripes simply for offering us "Forget Her" - possibly Buckley's best song(!). But there's more to love on this disc. "Mama, You've Been On My Mind" and "The Other Woman" are beautiful, "Alligator Wine" is hilarious, "I Want Someone Badly" is charmingly naive, and the alternate version of "Eternal Life" is better than the album version. A great DVD, featuring interviews and all the Grace videos, completes a package I cannot possibly complain about.
Kraftwerk The Man-Machine
Here, the best band of all time unleash their true masterplan - to breathe life (and, thus, emotions) into machines. They sprang into life on the funky "The Robots", created a world all their own on the breathtaking "Metropolis" and "Spacelab", coldly, ironically dismissed the more base elements of human culture on superhit "The Model", embraced human technological achievement on the pastoral, lovely "Neon Lights", and the fusion they'd been longing for on possibly their most Teutonic moment, "The Man-Machine". Every track has a melody that manages to be both otherworldly and catchy as hell, a pulsating rhythm that was practially impossible not to at least nod your head to, and an atmospheric presence nobody can imitate. Kraftwerk's manifesto, both conceptually and musically, was finally complete. Every track is a mini-masterpiece; they added up to make one of the most thrillingly perfect musical experiences ever constructed.
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin [DVD]
This is the only DVD I own that I've given 5 stars, and the only Zeppelin release I've deemed worthy of full marks. Perhaps that should tell you enough about this fantastic package. Led Zeppelin were great live performers, no doubt, and that really is the answer as to how this is so much better than most of their full length albums. When the band play a below par song, here it's forgivable because of their sheer physical presence. There are mindless, wanky solos here, but they're bearable because it's fascinating to actually watch them play their instruments. I would actually rather sit and watch Jimmy's solo on Disc 1 here rather than listen to the middle section of "Heartbreaker" on Led Zeppelin II. And as for the version of "Moby Dick" included here? Absolutely stunning. The ultimate testament to Bonham's immense talents. The interviews, too, are at times just as compelling. Ttruly essential for every Zeppelin fan.
Leonard Cohen Songs of Love and Hate
Love Forever Changes
"1967. Nothing caught the strangeness of these days, or captured the combination of beauty and dread they contained, quite like Love's masterpiece Forever Changes." That's what the sleeve says, anyway - and it's spot on. Forever Changes is one of those rare albums that captures its time perfectly, and somehow becomes timeless. "Andmoreagain" and "Old Man" are utterly perfect love songs, the latter bettering Ray Davies in the nostalgic and homely stakes. "Alone Again Or" and "You Set The Scene" are totally technicolour, bursting into life like the best trip you've ever had. The rest strikes a fine balance between appreciating the beauty of the world while acknowledging the ever-present evil that threatens to destroy it. Surely what America in the 60s was all about, right? Forever Changes is musicians taking drugs making music to take drugs to; but hey, this still sounds awesome when you're straight. A masterpiece of uneasy listening.
Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible
Naming their third album The Holy Bible may well have been an ironic swipe at certain overly obsessive MSP fans, but one thing can't be denied - with this, they made an album genuinely worth worshipping. Sonically, it's post-punk with a rocket up its arse. Lyrically? For that, it's the best punk record ever, and by such a massive margin it's unbelievable. The Holy Bible's nihilistic, twisted characters spend 40 minutes tearing off boy's cocks, starving themselves to death, and revelling in their own fucked up little worlds. Crucially, the lyrics are always sympathetic to the protagonists, making this the most wierdly affecting experience ever set to roaring guitars, angular rhythms, and pulsating, strained, utterly convincing vocals. Make no mistake about it - even if Richey hadn't disappeared, The Holy Bible would still be one of the greatest artistic achievements of the modern era.
Mansun Six
People thought this was a DISAPPOINTMENT?!? Insanity. After ascending to the top of the charts with their debut, Attack of The Grey Lantern, out-selling Blur in the process, Mansun were set up for big things. And oh my God, did they ever deliver. Six is The Mars Volta at least 4 years early, with the happy addition of sleazy glam-rock to stop things getting as boring as TMV's music does. It could just as easily be one 60-minute long song as 60 one-minute long ones, and it's home to so many moments of pure inspiration it's silly. The lyrics namecheck Stanley Kubrick, Winnie The Pooh and Jesus. Classical music and Christmas carols gets sampled, but almost everything comes anchored with a great guitar hook. Radiohead could conceivably have gone in this direction after OK Computer. That's how good Six is.
Massive Attack Mezzanine
The originators of trip-hop had been on the back foot ever since releasing Blue Lines 7 years ago. They'd changed their name to Massive to avoid offending anyone over the Gulf war, which in itself caused conflict in the group. Moreover, both Portishead and DJ Shadow had taken their template and gone interstellar. Despite the success of Protection, it looked like they were in a crisis. Until Mezzanine, that is. Darker and more brooding than any of their previous work, Mezzanine hits an insiduous, atmospheric groove within seconds and stays there, only ever escalating in power. "Angel", "Risingson", "Teardrop", and "Inertia Creeps" surely rank amongst the finest openings to any album ever, while "Mezzanine" and "Group Four" are just as good. Finally, Massive Attack had added the Father to DJ Shadow's Son and Portishead's Holy Spirit, and completed the holy trinity of trip-hop.
My Bloody Valentine Loveless
The reputation Loveless has attained over the years is unbelievable; that is, unless you've heard it. Did it nearly bankrupt Creation? Yip. Did it completely tear up and re-write the rulebook of what guitars could actually do with a bit of imgination? Yup. Did it really kill an entire genre - shoegaze - because none of their contemporaries had even the faintest idea how to follow it? Well.....yeah, pretty much. Sonically, Loveless was an utter revolution - noise never sounded so beautiful, and drugs never sounded so holy. More than a handful of great bands, not least The Smashing Pumpkins and Spiritualized, would have sounded a lot different without the influence of Loveless.
Pixies Best of Pixies: Wave of Mutilation
As far as I'm concerned, Pixies were a pop band. Nah. They were THE pop band. It's clear as day here - aside from the likes of "Gigantic", "Velouria", "Winterlong", and "Here Comes Your Man", just observe the joyous melodicism that drives the hard rockers - "Debaser", "Alison", "Alec Eiffel"; even "Planet Of Sound" and "U-Mass" are hooky as hell. Although there's undoubtedly plenty of great Pixies songs that didn't make it onto this album, Wave of Mutilation almost renders every other album irrelevant for that pure reason. All pop bands should be judged by their greatest hits set, and this is the greatest of them all. Every song here is another blast of pure bliss; all of them have the power to transform me into a hyperactive 5-year old girl, jumping up and down on her parents' bed, singing into a hairbrush like there's nothing wrong in the world. A perfectly judged collection.
Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Public Enemy were so perfect it's hard to know what to say about them. What is at least clear, though, is that they were the best fucking hip-hop band of all time bar none, and that this is the best fucking hip-hop record of all time, bar none. Their vision of hip-hop as a black CNN hadn't quite found its feet with debut Yo! Bum Rush The Show, but, spurred on by the competition, they made their quantum leap with this. Classic from back to front, it was everything Public Enemy knew they could be and a whole lot more they never could have dreamed of. It remains a haven for hip-hop classics - "Bring the Noise", "She Watch Channel Zero?" (still the best rap-metal song ever), "Don't Believe The Hype", "Black Steel", "Night of The Living Baseheads", "Party For Your Right To Fight", "Rebel Without A Pause" - and an inspiration for anyone who wants to take a stand, make a statement. If you haven't heard this, you fail at music.
Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet
Having become the most vital band on the planet in the wake of It Takes A Nation Of Millions..., PE could only go one way - down. Professor Griff launched a spectacular attack on the Jewish, and the media labelled them as racists (the irony!) when lead single "Welcome To The Terrordome" dropped. Fear Of A Black Planet held off their descent though, and retrospect reveals it as a glorious last stand. More streamlined and overtly political than anything else they did, the themes of inter-racial relationships and racism in the media detonate like bombs, over and over again. They find time to write hip-hop's finest pro-women song in "Revolutionary Generation", too. That's the thing with Fear Of A Black Planet, see - it's angry, but there's genuine love and hope here, too. Or, as Chuck puts it, 'All I want is peace and love on this planet - ain't that how God planned it?' That's the reason why, in 2095, we'll STILL be twisting to this.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky "Pathétique" Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74
Radiohead Kid A
It seems odd now to look back on just how villified Radiohead became after the release of Kid A. The image of them as bitter, fame-hating doom merchants has endured to this day amongst those who don't really follow music. What makes that so confusing is that the bulk of Kid A actually sounds more similar to OK Computer than, say, Autechre. But hey, Kid A became a classic anyway, and rightfully so. Some of Radiohead's very best songs are here - "Idioteque", "Motion Picture Soundtrack", and "Everything In Its Right Place" being particularly notable.
Radiohead OK Computer
It's my favourite album ever. It has been since the day I heard it, too. Let's be honest - you might have to go back as far as Sgt. Peppers to find a record that's accumulated the level of critical acclaim this one has. Maybe it doesn't quite deserve all of that, but I'm far from the only one who thinks this is the best album of the 90s. It's a singular idea perfected - a view of the future as a sterile hell powered by soul-less technological advancement. Every song is brilliant - "Climing Up The Walls" terrifies, "Fitter Happier" creeps, "Lucky" swirls, "Electioneering" rocks, "No Surprises" sooth, and "Karma Police" is even capable of raising a laugh. And "Paranoid Android"? All of the above. Perfect.
Shpongle Nothing Lasts... But Nothing Is Lost
What's the plural of genius, anyway? Simon Posford and Raja Ram are that. Shpongle were, from 1998 to 2005, simply the best electronic act in the world, if not the best in any genre. And as if two unbelievable, mind-expanding albums weren't enough, they went and made Nothing Lasts - the best trance album ever, one of the best psychedelic albums ever, one of the the best progressive albums ever, shit, one of the best albums ever PERIOD. Every track is a little masterpiece; when added up and linked together superbly, they make one 60-odd minute odyssey into the minds of the most under-valued musicians of the turn of the century. So they did the only logical thing and split up. How the hell could they follow this? And so, with their mighty third album, Shpongle departed the world, having forever left their legend in the hearts of thousands of worshippers, and ensured that in the future, they'll mean just as much to thousands more.
Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life
Songs In The Key Of Life is probably the single greatest response to the statement 'All double albums suck'. While most of them do, it's almost incomprehensible that anyone wouldn't like this record. There's fusion instrumentals ("Contusion"), nods to jazz ("Sir Duke"), superior originals of songs that would later become major commercial hip-hop blockbusters ("Pastime Paradise" and "I Wish"), windswept balladry ("Knocks Me Off My Feet"), sheer joy ("Isn't She Lovely"), socio-politics ("Black Man"), skyscraping, cosmopolitan soul ("As"), even new-age fixations and attempts to sing in Spanish. Rather than being an album with enough classic material to make an even better single disc, this is a record with so much classic material you couldn't possibly get it all on one disc, lest you lose something vital. A masterpiece in every sense.
The Afghan Whigs Gentlemen
Greg Dulli is hardly the first person in the world to play the lothario. What sets him apart is just how fully rounded a character he presents. It's easy to write songs about using women for sex, but millions forget that womanizers are people too, with hearts and souls all their own. Gentlemen is Dulli's masterpiece for that very reason - it explores the emotional turmoil of a man who just can't help himself. Nothing is masked, and nothing is compromised - this is as much a record about laying a bleeding heart bare as Blood On The Tracks, except here, Dulli pulls off the masterful trick of inviting the listener to hate the protaganist while still feeling for him. It's packed with muscular tearjerkers, but Marcy Mays just about steals the show with "My Curse". Touching, provocative, haunting, sexy, and it still rocks - what's not to love about this maddeningly perfect record?
The Afghan Whigs Black Love
It remains one of the great mysteries in all popular music - just how the hell did The Afghan Whigs never enjoy the same levels of mainstream success as less accessible, less unique, less gifted contemporaries like Soundgarden and Nirvana did? Black Love is the sound of a band who belong at the top. Like its predecessor and spiritual companion, Gentlemen, it's a heady mix of Replacements-style post-punk, funk, and Motown. And like Gentlemen, it's one of the best records of the 90s. Black Love is the spirit of rock incarnate - Dulli swaggers, brags, gets drunk, and even signs pacts with the devil, before packing things off with one of the all-time great epic album closers in "Faded". The band are on top form, too - "My Enemy" and "Blame, Etc." being perhaps their two finest songs. It's the most fun a man can have with a guitar and an ego.
The Beatles Revolver
Millions of people hold Revolver up as the benchmark that all other popular music has to match up to. Who am I to argue? With the possible exception of Sgt. Peppers, no other album has been labelled as the best ever more than this. A sign of the dominance The Beatles have over popular music? Maybe, but to claim that is to ignore just what an utterly fucking mindblowing record Revolver is. "Eleanor Rigby", "For No One", "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Taxman", and so on, and so on. Here, they ditch all the things that made certain other latter-day Beatles albums such a chore and just settle down to the business of writing brilliant songs. While they're at it, they bring the soul, the rock, the pop, the baroque, the crooning, even the avant-garde electronica, and dress the songs up in such an exquisite sonic journey that Revolver becomes practically impossible not to like.
The Clash London Calling
Mathematically, London Calling is quite possibly the most perfect album ever. A heroic
blend of everything the band loved (reggae, politics, rock'n'roll, punk, surf), it moved The
Clash away from being the best punk band in the world, and made them the best band in the
world fullstop. It takes 10 tracks for the perfection to slip, and even then, other bands
wish they could write a "Death or Glory" or "Wrong 'Em Boyo". As for anyone else being able
to write "London Calling", "Lost In The Supermarket", "Train In Vain", "The Guns of
Brixton", "Spanish Bombs", or "Rudie Can't Fail"....forget it. Revolutionary, timeless, and
awe-inspiring, London Calling is everything an album should be.
The Smiths The Queen Is Dead
Clearly their best record, The Queen Is Dead remains one of the best ever documents of England, indie music, witty lyricism, early adulthood, and that rush of joy only a great song can provide. The title track is a rousing, rollicking powerhouse of a rock song, "Frankly Mr. Shankly" and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" are hilarious, and "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"'s reputation as one of Britain's greatest ever songs is completely deserved. Throughout, Morrissey is at his sharpest, delivering one-liners like a seasoned pro, and infusing the ballads with a genuinely moving sense of adolescent loneliness. Nobody involved would ever even come close to matching it. Not just for students, then.
The Zombies Odessey and Oracle
Odessey & Oracle was about as doomed as it's possible for a record to be. The band had already been dropped and split up by the time it was released, and it bombed on release. There's even a spelling mistake in the title. But somehow, it came back - two years after its release, "Time Of The Season" became the biggest hit The Zombies had ever had. And thus, people discovered that, somehow, they'd almost let a masterpiece slip through their hands. Odessey & Oracle's not-so-secret weapon comes from its tunes - each and every one a corker. Never has there been a record this melodic - no, not even Revolver, nor Pet Sounds. If ever you need to prove to somehow just what a magical time the 60s were for music, then know: one listen to this will convince anyone.
Weezer Pinkerton
No other album has got me through so many troubled times. Just been dumped? Pinkerton's there. Just made a twat of yourself trying to impress someone? Why, turn to Pinkerton. Bleeding to death? Well, it won't help much, but at least you'll have a great soundtrack to die to. It always feels odd acknowledging this as a 5-star album when my favourite band are The Afghan Whigs; the polar opposite of Weezer. But there you go. Pinkerton is the closest we can get to a decent therpay session for ten bucks.
X Japan Art of Life
It's always a daunting task to write about a song as monolithic as the mighty "Art Of Life", but at least one thing I can say is that it's never a daunting task to actually listen to it. Given its length (28 minutes and 56 seconds to be precise), that's a pretty major achievement, to say the least. Travelling through beautiful melodies, duelling Iron Maiden-esque guitars, string passages straight out of film scores, and one utterly mind-blowing avant-garde piano solo, not one second is boring or contrived. In one song, X-Japan encapsulate everything that made them so vital so perfectly that they make all their other songs feel like footnotes to this masterpiece.

4.5 superb
Afrika Bambaataa and The Soulsonic Force Planet Rock
Fact: the first four songs on this compilation are essential to anybody interested in hip-hop or electro. ESSENTIAL. 1982's "Planet Rock" can lay claim to being rap's Year Zero - its infectious, space-age combination of Kraftwerk, Ennio Morricone, and better rapping than anybody had ever put on record before has been referenced again and again throughout rap history, and for good reason - it's one of the most significant songs of the 20th century. The three following - "Looking For The Perfect Beat", "Frantic Situation", and "Renegades of Funk" (later covered by RATM) are all as good. The remaining three tracks were new recordings for this album, and while they're not quite on the level of the first four songs, they're all good. In spite of the obviously 80s technology, this is timeless dance music, and one of the best party albums ever.
Alban Berg Violin Concerto
Alice in Chains Jar of Flies
Jar Of Flies is proof that, had Alice In Chains been an entirely acoustic outfit, they'd have been even better than they were. Certainly, this is their best record. "Rotten Apple" must surely be the greatest song of all time to include financial advice ("Hey na-na-nah, recommend you borrow...."), and its 7 minutes don't feel like enough. "Nutshell" is plain fantastic - perfectly judged and executed. "I Stay Away" is more of the same, with added strings, and even some distortion. The EP never quite hits the height of those 3 brilliant opening tracks again, but it doesn't slouch, either. It would have sounded like a different band were it not for Stayley's voice, but this sums up why AiC were so great better than any of their full-lengths.
Amos Lee Amos Lee
Antonin Dvorak Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, B. 178
Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons
A genuinely monumental, magnificent work that surely can not have sounded better in its time than it does now. Spring's "Allegro", Summer's stormy "Presto", Winter's "Allegro Non Molto", and both of Autumn's "Allegro" movements are the highlights, the first being among the most famous pieces of music ever composed. Music literalism abounds - see the high staccato strings in Winter, and the way they suggest a blizzard or hailstorm - which might arguably make this an early example of programme music; yet importance will always take a backseat to finesse, something The Four Seasons has in spades. If there is a finer piece of baroque music than the compositions here, than I've yet to hear it.
Arcade Fire Funeral
It's hard to remember the last time an indie album caused such a massive stir as Funeral. The wave of hype was unrelenting, and seemingly never-ending - most of England are only just starting to catch on NOW. I don't mind, though, because this album deserves all the love it gets. It can make you cry ("Crown of Love"), chant and sway like a religious lunatic ("Wake Up"), and it can even make you mosh like a crazy motherfucker to what is essentially a xylophone riff ("Power Out"). Through sheer diversity, talent, and finesse, they've managed to transcend their most obvious influences (Talking Heads, Pixies, Flaming Lips) already. That this album stands as probably the most acclaimed release of the new millenium really is no surprise. It's probably to early to accurately call this 'timeless', but, well....
Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
It's hard to escape the notion that British music has been building up to the release of this ever since The Strokes crashlanded and re-introduced post-punk to our musical lexicon. Arctic Monkeys have it all - the swagger, the tunes, the rhythms, the look; but then, so do Franz Ferdinand. What sets these guys apart is that their lyrical preoccupations owe far more to hip-hop (The Streets especially) than to rock's heritage. Hence gems like 'There's only music so that there's new ringtones', 'Get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook' and the alarmingly self-aware 'Anticipation has a habit to set you up for disappointment'. Sure, there's a buttload of hype around them. But they deserve it. There hasn't been a British band with this uncanny ability to sum up both the times we live in and the nature of what it is to be British, and be so absolutely hilarious with it, since Pulp.
Armonico Consort Naked Byrd
Astor Piazzolla Tango: Zero Hour
Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique
Belle and Sebastian Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Belle and Sebastian If You're Feeling Sinister
Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit
Maybe I'm in a minority here, but i think Belle & Sebastian have actually got better as time has gone on. If You're Feeling Sinister was a majestic set of songs, no doubt, but honestly, I feel they at least matched on Dear Catastrophe Waitress. This picks up where that left off - upbeat pop songs with the kind of lyrics only a British public schoolboy could write giving them the edge they so obviously have. Musically, this is arguably their best album yet - there's nothing as obviously catchy as the hook on "I'm A Cuckoo", but each of these songs contains at least 2 or 3 deeply memorable moments. And the songs? This is the band's most consistent offering yet. While previous albums were usually let down by a couple of tunes that bring the pace down, this has no such problem. Each of these 13 songs is a contendor to appear in my annual Top 50 Songs Of The Year list. A magical pop album, and there are too few albums we can say that about these days.
Bjork Post
The first of three masterpieces on the trot for Bjork. Post is a wonderful record, and although it's probably the worst of those three records (this, Homogenic, and Vespertine), it's home to the most immediate songs. And in "It's Oh So Quiet", "Hyperballad", and "Enjoy", quite possibly her best songs. "Hyperballad", in particular, is one of the most vulnerable, beautiful love songs ever. "Isobel" and "Possibly Maybe", too, would likely trouble a Bjork best-of. Although it's Bjork's third-best offering, it's among the best albums of the 90s.
Bjork Homogenic
Bjork Vespertine
Black Sabbath Paranoid
Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde
Essential. This is 1960s Dylan at his peak, possessed by so many ideas that these 14 songs don't quite seem enough to contain them. Just check out "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again" - millions of other songwriters would write 10 songs, or more, if presented with a flash of inspiration like that. Outside of that, there's the romantic and upbeat "I Want You", the tender "Just Like A Woman", the rousing "Sooner or Later (One of Us Must Know)", "Visions of Johanna", "4th Time Around", "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" - classics one and all. Blonde on Blonde isn't quite Dylan's finest moment, but if you aren't yet acquainted with the work of this phenomenal, mercurial talent, it is where your collection should start.
Bob Marley and The Wailers Legend
It does exactly what it says on the tin - collects the most famous, successful, and mostly, best songs by one of the crucial musical icons of all time. Every cut is life-affirming, sun-soaked genius, from the obvious likes of "Three Little Birds", "One Love", and "No Woman, Co Cry" to the slightly more unknown - "Waiting In Vain" is sweet, sensual, and seductive, while "Redemption Song" is the best Bob Dylan impression in musical history. The fact that this is the best-selling reggae album ever by quite some margin isn't a surprise - what's surprising is that it hasn't sold MORE. Any lesson in albums with shockingly accurate album names must surely start here.
Bob Marley and The Wailers Exodus
If there's a criticism of Legend, it's that it doesn't really flow the way an album should. It's a god amongst compilations, for sure, but it still fails to escape this most basic flaw of almost every compilation ever made. Which is where Exodus comes out on top as the most essential of Bob Marley records. It sounds like a Greatest Hits set in that the quality of the songs never waivers, and every song here could have been a hit, but it's an album in the truest sense. An album that boasts one of the best Side 2 stretches in history - "Jammin'", "Waiting In Vain", "Turn Your Lights Down Low", "Three Little Birds", "One Love (People Get Ready)" - five of the very best Marley songs. It boasts "Natural Mystic" and the title track, too - that's seven songs that rank somewhere around 'legendary'. An obvious pick for the best reggae album ever, sure, but a valid one.
Built to Spill Perfect from Now On
Burial Burial
Burial Untrue
Untrue committs the cardinal sin of a second album by sounding more or less exactly like the album before it. And yet, it remains impossible for me to criticize Burial for this because he's so brilliant at what he does. Untrue, much like Burial, is a gutteral, subdued, deeply human excursion into dubby production, grimy rhythms, and disembodied vocals. If anything, the vocals are foregrounded more this time, but otherwise it's much the same (even "Raver", noted by many reviewers as an anomoly in Burial's catalogue, fits in nicely). What makes that okay - a strength, even - is that nobody else has even come close to emulating this. Even if it lacks a defining moment like "Forgive", this is easily as good as the acclaimed debut, and you should need no more recommendation than that.
Burzum Hvis lyset tar oss
Butch Walker Sycamore Meadows
Charles Mingus The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Comus First Utterance
First Utterance isn't the only forgotten album to be uncovered by a major band as a key influence and brought to a whole new audience, but it may just be the best. Opeth are the band in question, of course, with both My Arms, Your Hearse and "The Baying of the Hounds" being references to songs here, and while this isn't a prog rock/death metal epic by any means, it's easy to see what Opeth took from here. The atmosphere is creepy as hell throughout, with the band putting folk music through a mangle that makes it sound like The Wicker Man's soundtrack amped up to 11. There's songs about rape, songs about murder, songs about pagan rituals, and it's all absolutely outstanding. An incredible album by any measure.
Counting Crows August And Everything After
Any songwriter who doesn't want to be Bob Dylan is probably doing something wrong. Any that come close to realising their dream are doing everything right. Enter Adam Duritz. He stated the intention upfront in "Mr. Jones", and then went on to do it. "Round Here", "Omaha", and the aforementioned "Mr. Jones" are as inspiring as they are joyful and melodic, and "Anna Begins" could have been on Blood on The Tracks. It's that good. As for the music? The driving, easy-on-the-ear Americana renders Duritz as something akin to Springsteen's natural heir. Counting Crows would go on to make more records; some good, one very good, none anywhere near this.
Curtis Mayfield Curtis
When Mayfield yelled 'Sisters! Niggers! Whiteys! Jews! Crackers! Don't worry! If there's a hell below, we're all gonna go!', he must have shocked the hell out of nearly everybody, let alone the Impressions fans who'd no doubt been hoping for more of the same. But then, if you're gonna kick off a solo career, you may as well do it the way Mayfield did. Setting the tone for much of the 70s, and giving Marvin Gaye a sound and agenda he'd steal wholesale for What's Goin' On, Curtis was a revolution in sound and spirit. Soul had never been so driven, so symphonic, so panoramic. "Move On Up" is worthy of the 4.5 mark alone - it's nearly 9 minutes long, and you just wish it'd go on for longer. Curtis isn't just soul music; it's music from the soul, for the soul.
Curtis Mayfield Superfly
Cynic Focus
One of the finest metal albums ever. Thanks to their frequent flirtations with jazz influences, Cynic are frequently lumped in Atheist, Gordion Knot and latter-day Death, yet even one listen to Focus is enough to demonstrate just how far beyond their peers this band was. The guitars are inventive, the fretless bass always outstanding, the songs themselves so good that it's easy to imagine them being covered, and impossible to imagine them being improved. Even the electronically manipulated vocals - an annoyance at first - eventually reveal themselves as a crucial part of the sound. It's a complex, technical record that displays a rare flair for songcraft, given the genre. Picking highlights would do a disservice to the album as a whole - needless to say, if you like metal, you need this.
Cynic Traced in Air
Damien Rice 9
Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
DJ Shadow The Private Press
It wasn't as revolutionary as Endtroducing, nor did it possess the same power to change perceptions and lives. But who cares? Endtroducing was a one-off. I know that, you know that, and DJ Shadow knows it. That's why there's such a concious effort to change style here. The '80s looms large over proceedings, as Shadow goes WAY back to the roots of the art form. "Walkie Talkie" announces as much, as Shadow finally admits what we all knew anyway - 'I'm a bad motherfucking DJ'. It's fun. It's loose. It's funky. It's still mindblowing. Still, let's not forget that Shadow is a master at tugging the heart-strings. When I die, "Blood On The Motorway" will be played at my funeral. The 5 seconds of silence will be observed as the ascent of my soul to a world where all music sounds like this.
Edward Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D
Elvis Costello My Aim Is True
It's worth owning just for "Alison". Honestly, "Alison" is one of the most perfect songs of all time - a soulful tale of love that could actually be about a murder, I could listen to it for hours on end. Luckily the rest is pretty damn good, too. Punky yet melodic, with further excursion into reggae and pop, Costello found himself at the forefront at the new wave after the release of this album. Although the centerpeice is a diamond of the highest rarity, every song surrounding it - particularly "Welcome To The Working Week", "Miracle Man", and "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes" - is a little gem.
Erykah Badu New Amerykah Pt. 1 (4th World War)
To be truthful, it wouldn't surprise me if this album got lost to history a little, and got dismissed as an experimental folly the same way Common's Electric Circus has been. Defiantly anti-mainstream, it's certainly the least accessible thing she's ever done, and perhaps the least accessible album ever associated with the Soulquarians. It takes time to click, for sure, but even from the first listen New Amerykah reveals its considerable depths and strengths, and invites the listener to invest the time needed to explore them. "Telephone" and "That Hump" are heartfelt and downbeat, "Twinkle" and "New Amerykah" furiously inventive, "Master Teacher" and "The Healer" as good as Afrocentricity gets in 2008. The sweet single "Honey" doesn't really fit, but it's good all the same. If another soul album comes out this year that's any better than this, 2008 will have been the best year for the genre in a generation - this album has quite simply grabbed me by the throat and it won't let go.
Explosions in the Sky The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
I've always loved Explosions In The Sky's take on post-rock. Not for them the explosive dynamic range of a Mogwai, the affected weirdness of a Sigur Ros, or the boring insistence on field recordings and 17-minute long tracks of a Godspeed. Explosions are straight-forward, clean, plain, and beautiful. Their songs swell rather than build, and blossom rather than explode. And there's something truly magical about that. "Your Hand in Mine", despite the absence of lyrics, stands as one of the most powerful love songs of this decade. The rest is just as gorgeous, if not quite as affecting (close, though). I find it hard to understand why anyone wouldn't like this.
Faith No More Angel Dust
Mike Patton has become one of modern music's most notorious cult figures, seemingly for little more than making at least three times as much music as everyone else, no matter how terrible most of it is (see also: Merzbow). Patton does at least have one thing going for him, though - he was part of the band that made Angel Dust. Hard rock generally doesn't have the greatest expressive range, but the depiction of sheer insanity here is incredible. Sure, it's helped by the fact that the band aren't even close to being on the same page (Patton and the keyboard player want to be spooky, the bassist and drummer want to be funky, and the guitarist just wants to make as much filthy noise as possible), but even so, songs like "Everything's Ruined", "Land Of Sunshine", and "Smaller And Smaller" are powerful, gritty, ugly snapshots of a mind (both collective and individual) being torn apart. Beautiful, in an insane sort of way.
Frank Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours
History remembers Sinatra as an arrogant, swaggering man, full of life and full of bravado. "My Way". "New York, New York". Even "Love & Marriage", later adopted as the theme for TV series Married With Children. In The Wee Small Hours destroys that notion. This is the sound of a man descending into depression, a man alone. His legendary voice is now underpinned not by masculinity, but by longing and sadness. His reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" is heartbreaking (the emotion invested into the opening couplet is stunning); opener "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning", written specifically for the album, even more so. The real high watermark, though, is the album's centerpoint. Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" sees him crying, wounded. Throughout, Riddle's sympathetic arrangements are brilliant. Serious fans of music can be split into two camps - those who own this album, and those who have a big fat gap in their collections.
Frank Turner England Keep My Bones
If this isn't the album of the year I will eat the hat of everybody that posts on this page.
Funkadelic Maggot Brain
The second half is some of the best funk you'll ever hear, but nobody really cares about that half of the album. The first track is where it's at, right? Not since Hendrix's version of Star Spangled Banner had a guitarist said so much in just one song - and Eddie Hazel may even have surpassed ol' Jimi here. On George Clinton's orders, for 5 minutes, he plays like his mother's just died, and then for the next 5, he plays like she's come back to life. Testament to Clinton's 'unorthodox' methods? Nah. It's testament to Hazel's talent, because he fucking NAILS it. To call it the best guitar solo of all time is almost to insult it - it's above and beyond the art form. When I got this album, it took me 2 whole weeks to get over that track. Imagine my delight when I found out that the rest of the album was almost as good.
Girls Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere
Guillemots Through the Windowpane
Gyorgy Ligeti Lux Aeterna
Hector Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
Iannis Xenakis Metastaseis
In Mourning Shrouded Divine
James Carr You Got My Mind Messed Up
Janelle Monae Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase
Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid
Jeff Buckley So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley
Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala
Johann Sebastian Bach Mass in B minor, BWV 232
Johannes Brahms Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 8
John Coltrane Giant Steps
As if being a part of the band that made Kind Of Blue wasn't enough, John Coltrane went on to be the nearest thing to Miles himself as far as jazz celebrities go, thanks in part to his debut, Giant Steps, recorded at the same time as Kind Of Blue. Of course, I could bore you by explaining how it served as a blueprint for the use of tetrachords in a jazz (or any) format, began to move jazz towards a solo-focused aesthetic, and demonstrated the unbelievable imporvisational skills of this band. Or, you could just listen to the title track or "Countdown" and see for yourself, while marvelling at how enjoyable Coltrane made the whole process. Center stage, though, goes to one of the most beautiful ballads of all time - the wonderful "Naima". The critical nod almost always goes to A Love Supreme, but this has always been my favourite.
Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Karlheinz Stockhausen Gesang der Junglinge
Kashiwa Daisuke Program Music I
Kate Bush Aerial
Did anyone really expect Kate Bush to produce a record in 2005 - a full 27 years after first bursting into our lives with "Wuthering Heights" - that may just end up defining her career? Well, yes, actually, and that's all the testament you'll need to both Kate's prodigal, undimmed talent, and the obsessiveness she inspires in her fanbase. Aerial is nothing less than a masterclass in individuality tempered with brilliance. Within, she sings along with birds, invites Rolf Harris to contribute vocals, writes a song 40 minutes in length, impersonates Elvis, and somehow still proves herself to be one of the most vital artists in the world. How many 47 year old mothers can say that they've left work for 12 years and returned right at the top of their game? Kate Bush can. And if that doesn't prove to you just how special this woman is, one listen to Aerial surely will.
Kate Bush Hounds of Love
Progressive rock surely wasn't concieved with sensuality and sex appeal in mind; nor with pure pop hooks. Then again, Kate Bush never was one to follow expectations. After all, after The Dreaming - the only Bush record that really does justify all the 'wierd bitch' jibes - how many people expected her to return with her most accessable, melodic, flat-out-amazing record yet? Bookended with her two greatest love songs (both of which approach love from entirely different angles, I might add), Hounds of Love is front-loaded with some of the 80s' most literate and enduring hits, only to segue into an alternately scary and beautiful song cycle about a girl drowning to death. This is Kate Bush at her most inspired and inspiring, as the record's recent acclaim from everyone from The Futureheads to Outkast should tell you.
Keith Jarrett The Köln Concert
Kosheen Resist
Whenever somebody tells me that a record label has picked completely the wrong singles from an album, I always smile knowingly and think of Resist. While "Hide U", "Catch", and "Suicide" may have been great drum'n'bass singles, this was in no way a drum'n'bass album. So all the dance heads who heard it told their friends it was crap, and all the trip-hoppers - who this SHOULD have been marketed to - totally missed out. Then again, maybe that's not the marketing department's fault - how anyone can think "Harder", "I Want It All", and "Hungry" are anything other than brilliant is beyond me. Resist is every great idea Lamb ever had condensed into 40 minutes, without a minute wasted. So, quietly, and without the deserved fanfare, Kosheen snuck out the millenium's first trip-hop masterpiece. And nobody noticed. Life's a bitch sometimes.
Kraftwerk Trans-Europe Express
After the ill-recieved Radioactivity, Kraftwerk must surely have known that their next album needed to be brilliant, lest the band become curious one-hit wonders, lost to time. So they went and made a brilliant album. Simple, really. Revisiting the transportation theme of Autobahn, Trans-Europa Express attempted to bridge the conceptualism of their earlier work with a new outlook - futuristic, robotic pop, showcased on the classic "Showroom Dummies". They even find time to pay tribute to Franz Schubert on, um, "Franz Schubert", and invent industrial music with "Metal On Metal". Trans-Europe Express isn't Kraftwerk's best album, but nothing else they did captures everything that made the band so great quite like this.
Krzysztof Penderecki St. Luke Passion
Lauryn Hill The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
The 90s is unlikely to be remembered as a hotbed for great soul records, to put it lightly. Still, there was The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill - massive commercially, it was also a fucking brilliant album. Not once does it descend into oversentimentality, or feel like Lauryn's attempting something beyond her talents. Which is pretty good going, considering the album's diversions into rap, reggae, rock, and sky-scraping ballads Of the singles, "Ex Factor" is one of the most gut-wrenchingly beautiful songs of any decade or any genre, and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" is that rarest of beasts - a timeless party record. The rest of the album sees Lauryn spitting venomous put-downs Wyclef's way and opening up her bleeding, defiant heart all over the record. It's gritty, vital, and awe-inspiring. No wonder she still hasn't made a proper sequel - how do you follow something like this?
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin's discography fascinates me. I'm almost tempted to label them a singles band, so utterly inconsistent are albums like Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of The Holy. Yet, at the heart of their catalogue stands Physical Graffiti, one of rock's most notorious double albums. By rights, it should be a bloated, wasteful, irritating mess. But, somehow, it's their best album by a big, big margin - and also their most consistent. Barely a second is wasted across a breathtaking 90 minutes that takes in the Eastern-tinged, career-defining "Kashmir", the sweet, tender "Ten Years Gone", the nimble, funky "Trampled Underfoot", the epic blues jam "In My Time Of Dying", the crushing "The Wanton Song", and 10 other examples of just how awesome Zeppelin could be at their glorious peak.
Leonard Cohen Songs of Leonard Cohen
Little Scream The Golden Record
Ludwig van Beethoven "Pastoral" Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Manic Street Preachers Everything Must Go
Responding to a death is always tricky. But what about when you've just released one of the best albums of all time, and the guy who basically wrote the whole thing dies? What about if he's universally the most repsected and loved member of the group? And what if, to add to all the confusion, you don't even know if he's actually dead? That's where the Manics found themselves before writing Everything Must Go. Nicky Wire, assumin the mantle of primary lyricist, now had to respond to the death of his best friend. We can't speak personally of course, but we do have Everything Must Go to go by, and it's a perfect statement. Before your eyes, the Manics evolved - punk was out, stadium anthems were in. It proved to be the album that catapulted into the mainstream. Events since have shown that they probably don't really belong there, but that doesn't take away from the mastery of Everything Must Go.
Martin Grech Open Heart Zoo
Among the most stunning debut albums I've ever heard. Martin Grech came to the world's attention when the spectral piano ballad "Open Heart Zoo" found its way into a Lexus commercial, an exposure which earned him many, many comparisons to Radiohead. It's true, Ok Computer is a touchstone throughout Open Heart Zoo, but this is far from a Xerox. Grech moves from punishing industrial ("Dali"), to beautiful, almost Abba-esque ballads ("Only One Listening"), to futuristic, mechanical rock ("Here It Comes"), all while covering most bases between, and the end result is absolutely excellent. The man himself remains an outstanding talent to this day, but this is his masterpiece. It's likely to remain that way, too.
Metallica Master of Puppets
The most famous thrash metal album ever wasn't even meant to be a thrash metal album at all. The band's aim was to move beyond the genre completely, introducing a level of intelligence and compositional technique unheard of in thrash metal (or almost ANY metal at that point), without sacrificing any of their sheer brute force. They did so perfectly. Ironic, then, that the album's primary theme is being controlled, whether by addiction ("Master Of Puppets"), mental illness ("Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"), or religion ("Leper Messiah") - with this album, Metallica made themselves masters of their own destiny. So it's a shame that, 20 years on, they haven't even come close to topping it. Though, to be fair, not many other bands have either.
Michael Nyman The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Love
Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime
Morphine Cure for Pain
It would be tempting to dismiss Morphine's template - 2-string slide bass, saxophone, and drums - as a gimmick, were it not for the fact that they were one of the most mind-fuckingly awesome groups of the 90s. Cure For Pain is Exhibit A - "Buena", "All Wrong", and "Mary Won't You Call My Name" are dark, sexy, and sleek, where "I'm Free Now", "Candy", "Cure For Pain", and "In Spite Of Me" are all possessed of a genuinely touching whiskey-drenched vulnerability. Their ability to switch between those two modes with ease, do both as well as each other, and underpin everything with some wonderful songwriting, makes them the next best thing to The Afghan Whigs. And you won't hear me give many higher compliments than that.
Muse Black Holes & Revelations
Inarguably the best Muse album yet. The band have truly taken flight here, leaving behind the scream-along powerhouses of yesteryear and producing something much more measured, mature, and enduring. There are almost too many highlights - "Supermassive Black Hole" is a fantastic single, "Maps Of The Problematique" is a loose-limbed Depeche Mode tribute that would be one of their best songs, "City of Delusion" has the most stunning arrangement of 2006, and "Knights of Cydonia" is simply the rock song of the year. The attention to detail, the newly-located dance element, the Ennio Morricone trumpets, the grandeur, the ambition, the unseen hidden depths, and yes, the pretension....everything works. I knew they'd continue to get better, but frankly, I'm shocked they had this in them. Muse really excelled themselves on this one.
Naked City Naked City
Quite frankly, I reckon people have only labelled this as jazz because free-punk-jazz-prog-metal-comedy-noise-core isn't as catchy. Yeah, Naked City's an insane, weird listen; everything you've heard is true. But what people don't focus on is how catchy it can be, too - aside from the cover of the James Bond theme (obviously), "The Sicilian Clan" is deceptively insiduous, while, amidts all the chaos, there's a gorgeous ballad to rival even Coltrane's "Naima" in the mighty "Chinatown". Don't be fooled by the 26 tracks, either - 9 of them are over in under 50 seconds, most included in a spastic frenzy that stretches from "Igneous Ejaculation" to "Speedball". Swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, while never feeling anything less than cohesive (in a fucked-up way, of course); few musical experiences are as provocative, powerful, disorientating, and potentially life-changing as Naked City.
Nas Illmatic
In 2001, we finally reached a point in hip-hop history where nobody needed to say anything about Illmatic any more. The two biggest releases of that year? Jay-Z's "The Blueprint", and Nas' "Stillmatic". The year's most notorious feud? Yup, Jay-Z and Nas. The fact that Nas chose to name his 'comeback' after his genre-(re)defining debut speaks volumes on its own, but just check out how Jay-Z chooses to insult Nas. "Four albums in ten years nigga? I can divide/That's one every let's say two, two of them shits was due/One was - NAHHH, the other was "Illmatic"/That's a one hot album every ten year average." Not even Jay-Z, one of the music industry's most egotistical figures, was man enough to take on the legacy of Illmatic. Enough said.
Neil Young After the Gold Rush
Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
NoMeansNo Wrong
PUNK. AS. F*CK. Seriously, if you could throw all the ingredients you need to create the perfect punk band into a pot, NoMeansNo would probably pop out after you're done boiling. Awesome, manly basslines, excursions into dirty, manly jazz, intricate, manly (well, kinda) guitar lines, and near-psychedelic invention, all locked into an endless, furious groove. All that, and songs called "Big Dick" and "Brainless Wonder". On "The Tower", they prove they can play straight up rock-n-roll with the best of them, too, and "Rags And Bones" boasts one of the most addictive riffs in punk history. Refused would later improve on this blueprint, but they needed NoMeansNo to lay the foundations for them first, and Wrong is the album where they absolutely nailed it.
Nujabes Modal Soul
The fact that Nujabes is yet to make massive waves in the music world has everything to do with the fact that his unfortunate position - that of being a Japanese hip-hop artist that isn't called DJ Krush - and nothing to do with the music. Were this record (or its predecessor) heard by more, it'd likely be hailed as the arrival to a major new talent. Smooth jazz, breezy pop melodies, effortless rapping, and subtle touches of atmospherics combine to make this a record that brings hip-hop full-circle; that is, the technological and musical innovation of the 00s welded to the party vibes and good times of the 80s (well, the mainstream end of the 80s, anyway), with thr worldview and aesthetic of Native Tongues thrown in for good measure. Nujabes may well be a star in waiting - for now, though, he's just the most undervalued, creative, enjoyable figure in leftfield hip-hop.
Opeth Still Life
Opeth had been steadily getting better and better since they formed in 1990, and they'd hinted at genuine greatness on more than a few occasions. Still, it must have been tempting for some to think that My Arms, Your Hearse would be their peak. Little did they know. Still Life has made Opeth's first three albums redundant for all but the hardcore fans, which, given how good they are, is some achievement. It's thanks to Still Life that Opeth are now the world's biggest extreme metal band, not to mention one of the biggest cult bands of any genre. "White Cluster", "The Moor", and "Benighted" were giant leaps, one and all - they didn't just walk through the door of legendary status, they broke it off the hinges. "Face Of Melinda", meanwhile, remains their finest hour (or 6 minutes, at least). Here was an idea driven to such perfection that the band needed to radically change their style to beat it.
Opeth Damnation
Alarm bells were surely ringing when Opeth's planned double-album was removed of its 'soft' side on release. Was it really that bad that they didn't even want us to hear it? Little did we know Damnation would be another masterpiece. With the aid of Steven Wilson, Opeth took a totally expected quantum leap into atmospheric prog rock. The songs here don't even bear much resemblance to previous ballads like "Benighted" and "Harvest" - they may as well be the work of an entirely different band. There are passing resemblances to Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, and Porcupine Tree, but really, this is totally its own work, which is truly remarkable, given that here, the band are stripped of the light/shade dynamic that made the band so many fans in the first place. Perfect in almost every way, Damnation is proof positive that Opeth are one of the most vital, consistent, brilliant bands of our generation. Someday, all prog might sound like this. If only.
Orphans of Cush White Noize
Otis Redding Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
A two-word definition of soul, if you please. 'Otis Redding'? Good answer. 'Otis Blue'? Even better. More then being a stunning document of just how potent soul music can be, Otis Blue is also one of a handful of albums that, surely, everyone in the Western world with fully functioning ears would love if they heard it. How can you hate on an album that has the original version of "Respect", stunning readings of the Sam Cooke classics "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Shake", Smokey Robinson's effervescent "My Girl", and a version of The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" that makes the original look like a non-event? Sure, it's easy to dismiss the album as having too many cover versions, but to do that would be idiotic - every cover here either matches or beats the original. In fact, the wealth of songwriters who contributed to this make it the single greatest introduction to soul music in the world. Now dig that.
Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd's sales figures have been astronomical that they've been responsible for not one, but two of the biggest selling albums ever. As such, their entire output sometimes seems to be dominated by Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall. That's a shame, because there's a wealth of great material to be found once you look beyond those two monoliths; but none more great than Wish You Were Here. An elegy to their founder member Syd Barrett, masquerading as a meditation on the effects of fame. The two-part (eleven-part?) "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is the most absorbing and moving of their lengthier composition, "Welcome To The Machine" is executed with all the menace present in the subject's subtext, and "Wish You Were Here" is probably their most simple, most beautiful ballad. As conceptually and musically tight as Pink Floyd ever were, Wish You Were Here just wins out as their finest accomplishment.
Pink Floyd The Wall
Hard to imagine now, maybe, but when The Wall was released, it was basically Pink Floyd's Kid A, effectively if not sonically. Hardcore fans decried the creative control taken by Roger Waters, bemoaned the co-opting of disco guitars on "Another Brick In The Wall", hated the fact that the longest song was only 7 minutes in length, and so on. Where had their beloved prog gone? Still, this was the power of Pink Floyd - depending on how you look at it, The Wall could be viewed as the culmination of what they'd always been about. There's a reason they survived punk and, say, The Rolling Stones didn't. Alienation, self-hatred, heroes made of anti-social degenerates; was this really THAT far from, say, Joy Division? The Wall is awash with genius. Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, Queensryche, and any other rock band that attempted gloomy, arty introspection in the 80s and 90s wouldn't exist without this monolithic, glorious last stand.
Portishead Dummy
Massive Attack were onto something new, and everybody knew it. Just what the hell was it, anyway? It took Portishead to tell us. Boiling trip-hop right down to its essence and removing everything it didn't need, it could be put in the dictionary as a definition of the genre. Tellingly, the stamp of Dummy is on both Endtroducing and Mezzanine. They had a real unique secret weapon in Adrian Utley, too - his guitar work is inventive and thrilling, and the perfect counterpoint to Beth Gibbon's perfect voice. It's not the best trip-hop record ever, but it did tell everybody else exactly what they needed to do to beat it. Few did.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, Op. 49
Queens of the Stone Age Songs for the Deaf
Radiohead The Bends
Let's be honest - Pablo Honey could have been the work of any bunch of early 90s chancers. Anybody claiming that Radiohead's next album would make them one of the best bands in the world would likely have been committed. But still, that's exactly what happened. The Bends was The Joshua Tree for the disaffected post-grunge generation - stuffed with anthems, equally brilliant in the stadium or the bedroom, and an oddly religious, transcendant experience. "Street Spirit" and "Fake Plastic Trees" remain every bit as hypnotic now as they were in '95, and the twisted guitar theatrics of "Just" and "My Iron Lung" are still as thrilling as rock music gets. The remaining strong points - "Black Star", "The Bends", "High & Dry", "Bulletproof" - are so good you barely notice that the album contains two absolute stinkers in "Bones" and "Sulk", and one blast of mediocrity in "Planet Telex". Suddenly, the Blur-Oasis axis of power was under serious threat of looking very lightweight. That The Bends would later be revealed as a transitional album, rather than the band's masterpiece, is all the more extraordinary.
Refused The Shape of Punk to Come
When punk was concieved, it's unlikely the progentiors envisioned it being mixed seamlessly with electronica and jazz. Just how well it works, and how surprising that is to most people, is a testament to just how flexible the art form becomes in the hands of the greats. Refused, then - one of the greats. The tragedy of The Shape of Punk To Come is that the title hasn't yet proved itself true. Then again, could any other band replicate this? Most bands find it hard enough to write a 7-minute punk song, let alone one as masterful as "Worms Of The Sense/Faculties Of The Skull". A lot of bands are lucky to come with one devastatingly catchy riff an album, but here, Refused reel them off like lines from a play - the killer scene being, of course, "New Noise". Even if this isn't the shape of punk to come, they do provide the two best reviews of the album themselves within - it's a classic that's yet to go out of style, and Refused Are Fuckin' Awesome.
Rufus Wainwright Want Two
Undoubtedly Rufus Wainwright's defining statement as an artist, Want Two is almost embarrassingly good - when you even come out of a reading of "Agnus Dei" smelling of roses, you know you're on fire. Rufus's trademark lightness of touch and his pop sensibility help him excel on songs like "The One You Love", "Little Sister", The Art Teacher", and "Crumb By Crumb" - outstanding pop songs one and all - but it's in the album's quiet center that the album defines itself. "Memphis Skyline" is a hushed, elegiac tribute to Jeff Buckley that skims the surface of all sorts of emotions, while the waltz-time acoustic number "Gay Messiah" is a hilarious slab of innuendo that might rank as Rufus' most confrontational moment in some quarters. Brilliant stuff all round.
S. Sharma, B. Kabra, and H. Chaurasia Call of the Valley
Scrawl Velvet Hammer
The word 'heartbreaking' is thrown around an awful lot in musical circles, usually in reference to things that are actually very pretty. Well correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't heartbreak a violent, nasty, destructive thing? That's why this album remains the finest document of heartbreak I've ever heard. Velvet Hammer is raw, dark, confrontational, bruised, enraged, powerful, and in its own twisted way, beautiful. It's the aural equivalent of flying into a drunken, passionate rage at the height of your emotional turmoil. It'll take you a while to dig beneath the surface, to understand the power and the hurt beneath the anger, but once you do, you'll be endlessly rewarded. A fantastic, criminally overlooked album.
Shpongle Tales of the Inexpressible
Shpongle Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland
Snoop Dogg Doggystyle
In 2006, Snoop Dogg is a cuddly rent-a-pimp who, if Starsky & Hutch is anything to go by, is actually a better actor than musician. In '93, though, he was the biggest rapper in the world. The fact that this was released while Snoop was up on a murder charge must have made it seem all the more real, yet, over a decade later, it's still great - the best G-funk album of them all, in fact. Sure, things can get misogynistic and materialistic, but man, these beats are AWESOME. Unlike a lot of records that it influenced, it's a lot of fun, too - "Ain't No Fun" has the worst lyrics on the album, but the chorus is an unabashed singalong. Snoop has been reminding people that he made this album ever since, and Dr. Dre's 2001 referenced it even more than it did his own The Chronic. How many mainstream rap records have this longevity? 13 years later, we're still screamin' 187 on a motherfuckin' cop.
Steinski What Does It All Mean?
Teenage Fanclub Grand Prix
Television Marquee Moon
The NME, usually, isn't even fit to wank onto, but occasionally, it's funny. Example? 'The Strokes are to Television what Oasis are to The Beatles.' It's all the more funny because it's true. But there's so much more to Marquee Moon than that. It's epic without being overblown, arty without sacrificing impact, and hugely influential without being dated. Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd's pyrotechnics here mean they remain one of the most undervalued guitar duos of all time - their fluid, interlocking playing never quite knows whether it should be jazz, punk, or prog rock. Not to mention, this was the first post-punk record....yet punk hadn't even happened when most of Marquee Moon was written. Work that one out. The CBGBs crowd was responsible for a lot of great records, but none as great as this.
The Beatles Rubber Soul
Help! may have been a great pop record, but it didn't show what The Beatles were capable of. Good job, then, that they followed it with Rubber Soul - their Giant Leap Forward. Inspired by The Byrds and Bob Dylan, "Norwegian Wood" and "Nowhere Man" saw them dipping their toes into psychedelia for the first time, while "In My Life" made the last 3 years of Beatles material look silly. Everything was more complex, more powerful, more intelligent than it had ever been before. With all their achievements before this, they'd proved they were great. With Rubber Soul, they proved they were the best. They were, of course, far from done.
The Beautiful South Carry On Up The Charts
The Decemberists Picaresque
The Decemberists had been there or there abouts since their debut - obviously capable of writing great songs, they'd struck upon an instantly recognizable sound immediately. Surely a classic was in them somewhere? Yes it was - Picaresque. One of 2005's very best records, it's an obvious progression from 2003's disappointing Her Majesty, but it was a major improvement, packed with great songs. Their debt to Neutral Milk Hotel is still obvious, but here, they've produced a record that can rival In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Seriously. The stars aligned perfectly for Colin Meloy's boys here, with "The Infanta", "Eli, The Barrow Boy", "Sixteen Military Wives", "The Sporting Life", and "The Engine Driver" all being worthy of consideration for the best indie-pop song ever. The next question, then - where do they go from here?
The Decemberists The Hazards of Love
What must have been going through The Decemberists' heads as they came up with the idea for The Hazards of Love? Colin Meloy tried to put it in a clear and simple light - 'theres an odd bond between the music of the British folk revival and classic metal, a natural connection between, like, Fairport Convention and Black Sabbath,' and sure enough that rings true. But surely there's more to it than that - this is an album of such diversity, passion, grandeur, and vision that only a band determined to grab the world by the scruff of its neck could have made it. And as a demonstration of exactly why The Decemberists are one of the best bands in the world, it's a spectacular success. I will put this in no uncertain terms: The Hazards of Love is clearly the band's best album, and it will be a disgrace if it doesn't at least see them earning Album of the Year accolades. On this showing, they surely deserve the kind of reputation and success that Arcade Fire, The Shins, and Vampire Weekend have found. A top, top album.
The Dresden Dolls The Dresden Dolls
The Magic Numbers The Magic Numbers
Love can be completely irrational. Example in point: me and The Magic Numbers. Can I justify why I feel so deeply for this record? Hell no. But for me, this is the one of the best albums released in the 00s, and as such, one of the best ever. Seriously. Like all the greatest love stories, this makes me feel like a child again, living life without a care in the world. Like The Pixies, if all their songs sounded like "Winterlong", "Velouria", and "Gigantic". "Forever Lost", "Love's A Game", "Hymn For Her", "Morning's Eleven", and "Love Me Like You" are all totally flawless to these ears, and I'd only sacrifice "Try" if forced to. I don't expect anybody to feel the same way, and to be honest I've given up recommending this album to people because I know there's a good chance that I like this more than any other sentient being who isn't actually a member of this band. But hey. I fall in love a little every time I hear this so whatever.
The Mothers of Invention We're Only in It for the Money
Zappa's best album, plain and simple. This weird, caustic, hilarious diatribe on everything that was wrong with psychedelia is inspired from start to finish, even down to the fact that amidst the chaos and the jokes, there's some flat-out brilliant songs - "What's The Ugliest Part of Your Body?" and "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" are the best of the bunch. But it's the in-jokes, the relentless silliness, and the genuine bitterness underpinning most of this that makes it both one of the best records of the '60s, and one of the greatest concept albums ever. It was an important stepping stone in the history of sampling in popular music, too.
The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die
From the ages 12 through 16, I was an absolute 2Pac fanatic. So much so, that I routinely dismissed Biggie as inferior. And, in ways, he is - he's not as enthralling a personality as 2Pac, his voice is slightly inferior, his records rarely have a message in the way Pac's best moments did. But the bottom line is simple - 2Pac never made an album that can even TOUCH Ready To Die. This isn't just better than any individual Pac moment, it's the defining moment of gangsta rap, and arguably, of post-1990 rap in general. Welding Wu-Tang aesthetics to G-funk, it's practically perfect. "Juicy", "Big Poppa", and "One More Chance" were all hits, and "Things Done Changed", "Machine-Gun Funk", "The What", and "Ready To Die" SHOULD have been. A dark, coherent worldview articulated with a storyteller's panache; even Randy Newman called this one of the best records ever made.
The Pogues If I Should Fall from Grace with God
Really, the fact that it includes "Fairytale of New York" should be enough to justify its rating. It's one of the lone things that makes Christmas bearable. But there's so much more to If I Should Fall From Grace With God than that. The title track might be the definitive Pogues song - an upbeat tale of redemption with undertones of war and religion. "Fiesta" is surely the tune everyone conjures up when they think of carnivals, whether they know it or not, and "Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six" remains one of the most thrilling protest songs of all time; a beautiful elegy that burns down the fuse before exploding into life, Shane McGowan spewing with rage as he sings those immortal lines - 'And the filth got promotion, but they're still doing time/For being Irish in the wrong place and at the wrong time.' If you know and love a Pogues song, you'll probably find it here.
The Pogues Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Rum, Sodomy, & The Lash is The Pogues undiluted, at the height of their immense powers. Producer Elvis Costello must take some credit - his assessment that he needed "to capture them in their dilapidated glory before some more professional producer fucked them up" was spot-on. Still, what really made it the album it was was Shane McGowan's lyricism - now so potent (see " A Pair Of Brown Eyes") that he could be genuinely considered amongst the best of the decade, if not all time. The band also displayed an uncanny ability to make other people's songs their own - "Jesse James", "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", "I'm A Man You Don't Meet Every Day". Rowdy, rollicking, intelligent, and endlessly enjoyable - Rum, Sodomy, & The Lash may not be the most accessible thing The Pogues ever did, but it's the album that proves their greatness best.
The Replacements Let It Be
The Stooges Fun House
The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico
Yadda yadda influence. Yadda yadda pioneering. Yadda yadda Warhol. Let's cut the bullshit, shall we? Even if everyone who heard this back in '67 DID go out and form their own band, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that The Velvet Underground & Nico is a fantastic record that retains the power to shock, disturb, uplift, and change nearly 40 years on. Even in all that time, how many artists have even attempted - let alone succeeded - to write a song like "Venus In Furs" or "Heroin"? Even the more straightforward likes of "Waiting For The Man", "I'll Be Your Mirror", and "Sunday Morning" remain almost unparalleled. TVU&N is the glorious sound of two prodigious, forward-thinking talents (Lou Reed and John Cale) chomping at the bit, desperate to be heard. No wonder it remains so everpresent in the rock music of the 00s.
Tom Waits Rain Dogs
There's several good reasons why Tom Waits has been such a persistent cult hero for so many years. Rain Dogs explains them all. His voice may well be so gravelly you could park your car on it, but it's also perfect for telling stories - no matter what he's saying, you feel trapped inside a glamourous 50s gangster B-movie. He still sounds like no-one else (perhaps Kaiser's Orchestra aside) both musically and vocally. About four Tom Waits albums could have gone here, but Rain Dogs just edges it - it's street-smart, groovy, funky, and occasionally pretty funny ("Cemetery Polka"'s vaguely psychedelic surrealism always raises a chuckle for me), not to mention the fact that it boasts the mighty trifecta of "Downtown Train", "Time", and "Hang Down Your Head" - three beautiful pop songs soaked in whiskey and tobacco, every one a certified Waits classic.
Tom Waits Alice
Tomba Disturbed
Tori Amos Little Earthquakes
Some people seem to think of Tori Amos as easy listening. Those people can either fuck right off, or open their ears. Little Earthquakes spawned a female singer-songwriter movement that pervaded the entire 90s simply by being one of the most emotionally harrowing listens in all of singer-songwriter-land. What other album gives you such an intoxicating mix of Catholic guilt, betrayal, redemption, love, hate, beauty, bitterness, and sex? What other album provides an a capella song that ranks amongst the heaviest compositions of all time? What other album dares to call out a former lover by taunting 'Boy, you best hope I bleed real soon.....how's that thought for ya?' If all that counts as easy listening for you, you're clearly twisted. One of the albums that genuinely defined the musical course of the 90s, it only took Tori until Boys For Pele to realise that she had no chance of bettering this.
Tori Amos Crucify
Van Halen Van Halen
By 1978, rock music had been shaken to its foundations by the punk movement and the quite accurate assertion that rock had become too overblown, too fancy, too theatrical, and in a lot of ways, too boring. It was desperately in need of a band who could restore the glamour, sex, and balls to rock without caving to punk's simplicity or politics. Enter Van Halen - a band who were, on their debut, achingly close to rock perfection. During the stunning 1-2-3-4 punch of "Runnin' With The Devil", "Eruption", "You Really Got Me", and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", they dragged rock back into the limelight with a swaggering sex appeal, great songs, and a guitar player who simply turned the idea of what a rock guitar could sound like on its head. The rest of the album, particularly the vastly overlooked "Little Dreamer", followed suit without slipping in quality. This remains one of the most essential and exciting documents of classic rock available.
Van Morrison Astral Weeks
God damn. How does a white guy - not just that, but an Irish one, for Christ's sake! - get so much soul? Anyway, Astral Weeks is the obvious Van Morrison pick, but it's that way for a reason - this is a fantastic record. Like all of Van's best songs, the 8 tracks here succeed because they're intense on a spiritual level, and relaxing, harmonious, and comforting on a physical one. It's a combination that never fails to hit you, but like a certain Mr. Marley said, when it does, you feel no pain. "Sweet Thing", "The Way That Young Lovers Do", "Cyprus Avenue"....food for the soul, pure and simple. Astral Weeks is dynamite. And no, I don't know why.
Van Morrison Moondance
Though Astral Weeks usually gets the nod from critics, my heart's always gonna lie with Moondance. Has an album ever opened with three songs as utterly brilliant as "And It Stoned Me", "Moondance", and "Crazy Love"? Well, yeah, but not many. Then later on, you've got "Into The Mystic" and "Brand New Day" to look forward to. More structured and direct than its predecessor, it somehow feels just as loose and free. This is Van Morrison's 6th Symphony; like Beethoven's equivalent, it's fixated on the power of nature, but rather than merely sitting in awe, it finds spirituality and redemption in the most basic of things. The pinnacle of Van The Man's career, and maybe, of non-American soul in general.
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Yndi Halda Enjoy Eternal Bliss EP
Yndi Halda Enjoy Eternal Bliss
Honestly? The best post-rock album I've ever heard. I know, I know....Godspeed and Tortoise and Slint and this lot are just young chancers and the innovators deserve the credit and whatnot. All of that acknowledged, there hasn't been a post-rock album that's hit me this hard, this instantly since the very first one I heard. That was Sigur Ros' (), way back in 2003, and I expect this to age much better than that. Even if you could quite rightly criticize Yndi Halda for not innovating and pushing the genre forward, the cold fact is that they do it so well that such a criticism is irrelevant. "Dash & Blast" is gorgeous throughout, and the inevitable climax is breathtaking. "We Flood Empty Lakes" is, if anything, better. I can't recommend this highly enough - you'd have to be incredibly jaded about the genre to not enjoy this.

4.0 excellent
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Source Tags & Codes
The only ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead album worth bothering with? I won't pretend to have heard them all, but from what I do know, that's the simple truth. "It Was There That I Saw You", "Invocation", "Another Morning Stoner", and "Source Tags & Codes" are all stunners, and even if the rest can occasionally feel like the band are making noise for the sake of it, it works, and the record remains a joy to listen to throughout. This album fits neatly into the lineage of epic, noisy blasts that somehow sound both dirty and heavenly, and while it's not a record that can beat Loveless or the best Sonic Youth moments on its own terms, the comparison doesn't shame them, and that is enough for me to declare this one of the finest rock records of the 21st century so far.
2 Many DJs As Heard On Radio Soulwax, Part 2
The premise here is simple - take 2 DJs, give them free reign to sample everything in their collection, and let them run riot. And the guys from Soulwax certainly do that. You'll laugh, your jaw will drop....you may even cry as your favourite song gets welded to something you hate. Who knows. But, to these ears, there are highlights everywhere - Dolly Parton's unlikely meeting with Royksopp stands out, yet Skee-Lo vs. The Breeders is equally excellent, as is Peaches and Basement Jaxx pounding away over the top of the Peter Gunn Theme. It's perhaps throwaway and a little silly, but I'll be damned if it ain't the most fun a DJ can have without taking his clothes off.
2Pac Greatest Hits
Actress Splazsh
Adam F Kaos: The Anti-Acoustic Warfare
Agalloch Ashes Against the Grain
Agalloch Marrow of the Spirit
It's nice that, for once, I can step out of line with the rest of the staff by liking an album MORE than they do. This is a stunning album; for the third time in a row, Agalloch have followed up a genre classic with a records that's just a little bit better.
Aim Cold Water Music
Alice in Chains Dirt
Amadou and Mariam Welcome to Mali
Arcade Fire Neon Bible
I don't what was more exasperating - the people who expected Arcade Fire to release a terrible second album and drift into obscurity, or the ones who expected them to top Funeral. Pessimism or fantasy; I can't say either is my bag. I expected a damn good album, and that's what I got. Not that Neon Bible is without its surprises - "My Body Is A Cage" sends more chills up the spine than even "Crown of Love", and "No Cars Go" is transformed from an average EP filler into killer material. "Black Mirror", "Intervention", and "Ocean of Noise" provide other highlights, and "(antichrist television blues)" shows that they can even be playful when the mood takes them. It's not up to the standard of their debut, but it's broader in scope, bigger in sound, and more consistent. Simply put, it feels like another bold step toward a thrilling career.
Arcade Fire The Suburbs
Arcangelo Corelli 12 Concerti Grossi, Op.6
Arcturus The Sham Mirrors
Aretha Franklin I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Arnold Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4
Art Blakey Moanin'
Asian Dub Foundation Community Music
Labelling Asian Dub Foundation is always going to be reductive. Are they ethnic electronica? Are they world music's only true punks? The Asian Rage Against The Machine? The British Public Enemy? All of the above, and more.

Wildly ambitious, furiously intelligent, and perfectly realized, this is a world ahead of the monotone RAFI's Revenge, and is Asian Dub Foundation's defining statement. From the 1984-referencing powerhouse "Memory War", to the stark "Colour Line", to the celebratory "New Way, New Life", to the cocky "Rebel Warrior", everything on the record is right on point, as they tackle the political staples (racism, police brutality, war), and reveal themselves as the only band with the balls to write about Britain's immigration 'crisis' in an intelligent manner.

They'd go on to write better individual songs ("Fortress Europe", "1000 Mirrors"), but they never again sounded as vital as they did here.
Bad Brains Bad Brains
Bark Psychosis Hex
Basement Jaxx The Singles
I haven't properly explored Basement Jaxx's studio albums, but they are quite simply a great singles band, something that shines through in this collection. From the ever-fresh "Romeo", to the cheeky "Oh My Gosh", to the carnival atmosphere of "Bingo Bango", there are some cracking tunes here, no doubt. The quality does slide occasionally (particularly on the last two tracks), and "Where's Your Head At" may now annoy you if you had to suffer through hearing it every ten minutes when it was released, but the album does its job and more regardless. Across just three studio albums, the Jaxx have amassed enough true quality to make this a near-essential document for a fan of dance music.
Belle and Sebastian Dog on Wheels
Ever doubted the influence that Arthur Lee had on Stuart Murdoch? One listen to this should set you straight. The magnificent "Dog on Wheels" is quite simply the greatest Forever Changes out-take you'll ever hear - the vaguely Hispanic rhythm, the dark chord voicings, the trumpet break halfway through, it's "A House Is Not A Motel" for the 90s. That song, one of the band's finest, is followed by another of the finest. The version of "The State I Am In" here is just simply better than the one on Tigermilk. The pretty "String Bean Jean" and the breezy "Belle & Sebastian" round off a great little package. This is the first of a handful of excellent EPs from Belle & Sebastian, and is basically essential for a fan of the band.
Beulah When Your Heartstrings Break
I hate to use the word 'adorable' in an album review, but that's about the only word that really comes to mind with this album. While the lyrics here are often downbeat and introspective, the music is so technicolour. It's hard to believe this album was made as late as 1999 - it sounds like peak-era psychedelia, both in the sunny, wide-eyed mood, and the incorporation of all sorts of bells and whistles into their sound. It's almost impossible not to like an album as joyous as this; personally, I'm crazy for this sort of stuff, and When Your Heartstrings Break is clearly going to be an album I return to a lot. My discovery of Elephant 6 is effecively in its infancy (I think this is only the third album on the label I've heard), but this makes me very excited about hearing more. This is just great pop music.
Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot
Bill Withers Just As I Am
Organic, funky, folky, soulful, and an absolute monument of soul music. Much of this material will be familiar to all but the most ignorant listener - "Everybody's Talkin'" has been covered by basically everybody, "Let It Be" is a Beatles cover, and "Ain't No Sunshine" is possibly Withers' most famous original song (competing with "Just The Two Of Us" and "Lovely Day"). Even "Grandma's Hands" was sampled on Blackstreet's "No Diggity". Steven Stills and Booker T Jones support, but Withers makes sure he's truly the star by crafting an album that, at its best, is as intimate and personal as the likes of Pink Moon. "Hope She'll Be Happier" is the understated peak, though it's hard to pick favourites on an album as complete as this. The only slip comes with "Everybody's Talkin'", which is given a funky treatment to bring it in line with the rest of the album. Here, it doesn't work. Elsewhere, however, Withers displays a sound that 35 years later remains all his own. A remarkable album.
Bill Withers Bill Withers' Greatest Hits
You're bound to know most of this compilation - "Just The Two Of Us" and "Grandma's Hands" you'll undoubtedly know from their sampling on major 90s hip-hop hits, and "Ain't No Sunshine", "Lean On Me", and "Lovely Day" you'll be familiar with if you've ever listened to an oldies radio station (and probably even if you haven't). What's remarkable is that this material - most of which sold by the bucketload, three songs even managing over 1,000,000 sales - isn't blunted by familiarity. The music of Bill Withers still occupies a place slightly distinct from any of his contemporaries; its lexicon is drawn from folk, funk, soul, and radio-friendly acoustic rock, without really belonging to any of those genres. He's a less sexed-up Prince, or a just-plain-better Luther Vandross, if you want comparisons. Straight soul ballads like "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean On Me" sit happily with the slightly darker, more driven likes of "Use Me" and "Who is He, What Is He To You?", and the upbeat, melodic bliss of the Stevie Wonder-esque "Lovely Day" and "Just The Two Of Us", not to mention the jazzy "I Want To Spend The Night". A perfect introduction to this oddly under-rated artist.
Bjork Biophilia
Black Tape for a Blue Girl Remnants of a Deeper Purity
Blackalicious Blazing Arrow
Blonde Redhead 23
Blondie Parallel Lines
Blue Sky Black Death Late Night Cinema
Bob Marley and The Wailers Catch A Fire
Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
Bon Iver Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Boredoms Vision Creation Newsun
Boris Boris At Last -Feedbacker-
Boston Boston
Brian Eno Ambient 1: Music For Airports
Brian Eno and David Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Bright Eyes Cassadaga
Brother Ali The Undisputed Truth
Controversial opinion, maybe, but I think Brother Ali is the finest talent on the Rhymesayers label right now - and if he's not, he's well on his way. The Undisputed Truth, Ali's much-delayed second album, is a stomping, soulful mission statement - right off the bat, "Whatcha Got"'s infectious riff introduces one of the finest rap brag tracks I've heard in years, before the album goes on to tackle Ali's recent divorce, his deeply-held Muslim faith, and his anti-government politics. "Truth Is" dips into reggae, "Whatcha Got" sports a classic rock riff better than most AC/DC songs, "Letter From The Government" is soulful and reflective, and throughout, Ali is consistently awesome on the mic. It's rare to find a hip-hop album - hell, ANY album - that's as committed, spiritual, personal, and profound as this, and we should cherish it.
Bruce Springsteen Nebraska
Buck 65 Talkin' Honky Blues
Buck 65 Situation
Carole King Tapestry
Cerberus Shoal The Land We All Believe In
Circle Jerks Group Sex
Cocteau Twins Treasure
Common Electric Circus
Common Like Water for Chocolate
Common One Day It'll All Make Sense
Converge Jane Doe
Creedence Clearwater Revival Cosmo's Factory
Creedence Clearwater Revival Green River
Cryptopsy None So Vile
CunninLynguists Dirty Acres
CunninLynguists Oneirology
Current 93 Thunder Perfect Mind
Cursive The Ugly Organ
This isn't perfect by any means - "Staying Alive" goes on for too long, the "Herald! Frankenstein" skit is just irritating, and occasionally the songs seem a little too heavy and clumsy where they'd be better served being nimble and graceful (see "A Gentleman Caller" and "Bloody Murderer" - both are good songs, but the execution alone stops them from being great). But "Art is Hard", "The Recluse", "Some Red Handed Sleight Of Hand", and "Sierra" sit right up there among the best songs of the decade so far. And, to their credit, they have a fantastic, pretty unique sound. In fact, I feel bad listening to "The Recluse" and "Art Is Hard" without sunglasses on. They're that cool. 4 stars almost seems a little low, but the fact that I only ever really listen to the album in bits and pieces holds it back. Still, for those bits and pieces, at least, I'm in thrall to Cursive. Domestica might be more consistent, but the highlights here make this easily the better album.
D'Angelo Brown Sugar
Dadawah Peace and Love
Deep as the ocean. Peace and Love feels like reggae's answer to Hot Buttered Soul - four lengthy tracks that force you to sit back, relax, and get sucked into the grooves. It's hypnotic. It's not just that spell the album casts that makes it so special, though; it's the mood it conjures. The album title alone should be enough of a clue about the lyrical content, as should the song titles "Seventy-Two Nations" and "Zion Land" - it's all world peace, one love, spirituality, one nation under a groove, unbridled positivity. And yet, it's an unmistakably dark album - the way this record tells you to feel, and the way it actually makes you feel, are at odds with each other. The two albums that comes to mind as doing something similar are Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On and Divine Styler's Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light, although this isn't quite as profoundly weird as either. It's in the droning, almost tribal nature of it, the slight elements of dub production that creep through from time to time, the insistent percussion, the low-slung, almost nervous basslines....it has the effect of making the positivity sound a little hopeless and defeated. It all adds up to one of the best very reggae albums I've heard, one that's simultaneously absorbing, addictive, and mysterious.
Darq E Freaker Cherryade
Fucking SICK instrumental grime from the guy that produced "Next Hype". "Queen of Hoxton" is one of the year's biggest bangers.
David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Death (MI) ...For the Whole World to See
Death From Above You're a Woman, I'm a Machine
Deftones White Pony
Deltron 3030 Deltron 3030
Depeche Mode Violator
Depeche Mode Playing The Angel
Whoa. Who expected this? Popular concensus holds that Depeche Mode peaked in 1991 with Violator, while many fans point to the likes of Songs of Faith & Devotion. Me? I point to this. Whatever I was expecting when I got this, I certainly wasn't expecting as album that would be on a par with Violator, let alone one that would narrowly top it. It's just crammed with great songs - "A Pain That I'm Used To", "John The Revelator", "The Sinner In Me", the "Enjoy The Silence" sequel "Precious", "The Darkest Star"....this was possibly the best shock of 2005 for me. I can't recommend this highly enough to DM fans.
Devendra Banhart Cripple Crow
Dinosaur Jr. Beyond
Disillusion Back to Times of Splendor
Though often compared to Opeth (mostly by people who've never heard clean passages combined with extreme metal anywhere else), Disillusion are a different beast entirely. The vocals are less technically impressive but slightly more emotionally expressive, the acoustic passages are more based in a folk heritage than a blues ones, the contrast between different sections is handled in a much more subtle way, there's more keyboards, and a lot of the melodies offered up by their lead guitarist boast a strong Indian influence. Comparisons aside, though, this is a fantastic album with some excellent guitar parts and more good ideas stuffed into single songs than a lot of metal bands manage over the course of an album. Honestly, this really is as good as people say - it's well on its way to becoming a genre classic, and it deserves it.
Dr. Dre 2001
dredg El Cielo
Duffy Rockferry
El-P I'll Sleep When You're Dead
El-P Cancer 4 Cure
Elliott Smith Either/Or
Elliott Smith From a Basement on the Hill
Elvis Costello This Year's Model
Eminem The Slim Shady LP
Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch!
Estradasphere Palace Of Mirrors
Evol Intent Era of Diversion
It's rare enough that any artist takes on this kind of doom-and-gloom theme, with this kind of sonic range, and succeeds - much rarer in the notoriously inconsistent realm of drum'n'bass albums. Really, we should be happy enough that an album this good has come from this genre, and that it doesn't just feel like a bunch of singles tacked together. That only sums up why Era of Diversion is such a great album in the short-term, though. Perhaps people might want some kind of answer or some kind of salvation from any artist who wants to speak about the climate we live in and the difficulties we face every day, but then, surely one of the defining features of our times is that those answers and distractions aren't forthcoming? That's just one of the reasons why Evol Intent have so neatly summed things up with this record, and one of the reasons why this is bound to become a future underground touchstone.
Fiona Apple When the Pawn...
Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
Four Tet Rounds
Frank Turner Love, Ire & Song
Frank Zappa Hot Rats
Franz Ferdinand Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Gabriel Faure Pavane, Op. 50
Gal Costa Gal Costa
Gang of Four Entertainment!
Giacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly
Giuseppe Verdi Otello
Goldfrapp Seventh Tree
It'd probably be a disservice to both the genre and this album to describe Seventh Tree as a folk record, yet that's roughly the territory in which we're operating. While there certainly are electronic flourishes still, they feel like a secondary concern, because the atmosphere is designed to feel so close, so down-home. Even on the tracks where the acoustic guitars aren't at the forefront, they're still a crucial part of the lasting impression these songs leave. From a woman who only two years ago was promoting her album by simulating masturbation with a theremin, it's a complete revelation. Each song here is beautiful, tender, and home to hidden depths and a lyrical richness you'd have never imagined could exist in a Goldfrapp song. "A&E" and "Happiness" are great pop songs with surprisingly dark hearts, while "Eat Yourself" is simply a fantastic piece of work. "Caravan Girl" and "Cologne Cerrone Houdini" move things into more upbeat/epic territory, but the atmosphere is never broken. A great album on every level.
Gospel The Moon Is a Dead World
Grouper Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
Guillaume Dufay Motets
Guillemots From the Cliffs
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber Mystery Sonatas
Her Name Is Calla The Quiet Lamb
Hole Celebrity Skin
Hole Live Through This
Hum Downward Is Heavenward
Igor Stravinsky Le Sacre du Printemps
Igor Stravinsky L'Oiseau de feu
Immortal Technique Revolutionary Volume 2
There are a lot of obvious things you can throw at Immortal Technique - too many of his rhymes are simple similies, his natural flow isn't all that great, he spends too much time on his soapbox, "Obnoxious" flat out sucks - but it remains true that no other rapper has got so big with such a fiercly angry political lookout and such a determination to stay away from any kind of major label interest. Revolutionary Vol. 2, which is a definite leap forward from its predecessor, is easily compared to Dead Prez, yet it's almost like somebody's turned the volume up: the lack of major label pressure and censorship here means that Tech can go as far as he likes. That backfires occasionally (the aforrmentioned "Obnoxious", which is nothing more than Tech showing off at how far he can push the boundaries of taste), but also allows for a record that is absorbing, uncompromising, and convincing from start to finish. The peaks come at either end of the record - "The Point Of No Return" and "You Never Know" are two of the best hip-hop songs of the new millenium, the latter featuring a dense, guitar-heavy arrangement so heartbreaking you barely notice when Tech starts rapping.
In Mourning The Weight of Oceans
Incubus Morning View
Arguments usually ensue when people are asked to name Incubus' best album. But for me, there's no doubt at all that this is it. It's very much a continuation of Make Yourself, of that there's no doubt, yet the material here is much stronger. "Nice To Know You", "Wish You Were Here", and "Echo" all better anything they'd previously recorded, while most of the rest ("Warning", "Mexico", "Just A Phase", "Aqueous Transmission", "Are You In") is as fresh and windswept as the beach at sunrise. Despite the heavier numbers, the album's overall mood means that it hangs together better than anything else they did. A joyous record that sounds every bit as good today as it did when it was released.
Jaco Pastorius Jaco Pastorius
James Brown In the Jungle Groove
Jay-Z The Blueprint
When this was acclaimed as the first truly great hip-hop record of the 21st century, I was perplexed. What's so special about it? Yet, 5 years on, and I still give this regular spins. Guess the critics were right, and my original 3-star review was entirely wrong. Although "Girls Girls Girls" is still one of the most heinously bad songs I've ever heard, the rest forms a solid, impressive, enjoyable album. "Renagades", "Song Cry", "Izzo HOVA", "Takeover", and "Heart of The City" are all great songs, no matter how you cut it. The Blueprint flies in the face of the typical 'blueprint' for a mainstream hip-hop record by refusing to be dominated by its own singles, or gangster cliche. A damn good album, in every sense.
Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk
It's kinda hard to know exactly what to rate this. For a Jeff Buckley fan it's absolutely essential - "The Sky Is A Landfill", the soulful and tender "Everybody Here Wants You", the holy "Opened Once", the portentous "Nightmares By The Sea", "Morning Theft", and "Vancouver" are all fantastic, with "Opened Once" in particular being one of his very best recordings (that chord progression might be one of the finest ever conjured across six strings). The first disc, as a separate entity, is worthy of a 4.5 rating. Yet, the second disc does let the side down a little. There's still pleasure to be had here - "Satisfied Mind", for instance - but its inconsistencies dilute the gene pool a little. I guess that means Sketches might just be the most vital 4-star album ever made.
Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow
There's simply no denying the highlights here. "White Rabbit" is absolutely incredible, its stoned ramble, mariarchi rhythms, slippery melody, and steadily building tension making it quite possibly the finest thing the psychedelic era produced. "Somebody To Love", the other famous track here, is just a flat-out great pop song - it even managed to survive a load of parachuting babies when Boogie Pimps covered it a few years ago, so you KNOW it's good. They're definitely the peaks for me, but there's lots to enjoy about the "She Has Funny Cars", "My Best Friend", "3/5 of a Miles in 10 Seconds", and the pastoral guitar solo "Embryonic Journey". At times, it feels like Jefferson Airplane are mocking the bands around them by adopting their styles seamlessly without sounding like pastiches, and often improving them - "She Has Funny Cars" sounds like The Doors gone good before moving into the band's own territory, "My Best Friend" sound more like The Beatles than half of the songs The Beatles wrote themselves, "How Do You Feel" has shades of The Byrds, and so on. If there's a weak spot, it's the slightly boring "Today", which sounds like Love's "Andmoreagain" without the same level of inspiration, but everything else is easy to love. No doubt, this is one of of my very favourite albums of the 1960s.
Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star Club, Hamburg
Johann Pachelbel Canon and Gigue in D
Johannes Brahms Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 87
John Coltrane A Love Supreme
Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison
Johnny Cash Johnny Cash With His Hot And Blue Guitar
Kanye West Late Registration
Kanye West The College Dropout
Karol Szymanowski Symphony No.3, Song of the Night
Kate Bush 50 Words for Snow
Kidcrash Jokes
Killer Mike R.A.P. Music
Kinesis Handshakes For Bullets
One of the most over-looked albums of the '00s. Kinesis, here, positioned themselves as something the UK were desperate for, and still are - a punk band who had the tunes to go mainstream, but were still aware and convincing in their politics. Observe "Billboard Beauty"'s take on sexism, "...And They Obey"'s furious state-of-the-world thrash, and the pure nihilism of "Everything Destroys Itself". Kinesis clearly felt they were born into "A Generation Devoid Of Inspiration", but they provided a brilliant antidote. That they split up just one album later was a real shame.
King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King
Kings of Leon Only By The Night
Kraftwerk Computer World
Can you really call a record 'dated' when it's as wildly influential as Computer World? Listening to it initially is a disorientating experience, especially when compared to their earlier output, simply because you can't help but feel you've heard all this before. But then it sinks in, and you realize that the only reason this is so imitated is because it's so brilliant. Kraftwerk's sense of humour had been located, giving us the addictive, self-deprecating "Pocket Calculator" and "Home Computer". Their melodic instinct was on fine form, too - "Computer Love" was epic and beautiful enough to be stolen wholesale by Coldplay on "Talk", not to mention that it was a song about cybersex written a good 15 years before the internet was available in most people's homes. Computer World was the last great Kraftwerk album, and probably the one that best displays that the 80s simply wouldn't have happened without them.
Kraftwerk Autobahn
Popular music is always being pushed and pulled in new directions - new subgenres and movements spring up with alarming regularity. Yet, seismic shifts in how people concieve contemporary music are few and far between. Off the top of my head, I can basically think of Revolver, and this. Before Autobahn, electronic music was the realm of either the avant-garde (Stockhausen et al) or the novelty (Popcorn, Switched On bach, and such). After Autobahn? A brave new world was revealed, and modern music dawned. The title track was practically a symphony delivered via electronic means; the rest wasn't as revelatory, but came close. It's basically impossible to think of post-70s music without the incalculable influence of this record. It hasn't really dated, either.
Kraftwerk Minimum-Maximum
It improves on some of their classic tracks (most impressively on "The Robots"; I'd rather listen to this version of "Autobahn" too), doesn't mess with what made the band so great, it's well recorded and mixed, offers up some surprises ("Dentaku", the Japanese version of "Pocket Calculator"), and it makes you appreciate their more obscure moments more than you probably did before ("Planet of Visions", "Music Non Stop"). What more, really, could you ask for from a live album?
Krzysztof Penderecki Matrix 5
'Classical music' and 'greatest hits' are two phrases that rarely mix well. And yet, that's effectively what Matrix 5 is - a Penderecki greatest hits set, covering work from the first, more atonal half of his career. "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima", by far his most famous piece, is included, and it's a doozy - easily among the greatest symphonic works of the 20th century. It does stand out, but the rest, particularly "Anaklasis" and "The Dream of Jacob", is fascinating - the blend of timbres, tonalities, and instrumentation makes this both a great gateway album for anybody unfamiliar with avant-garde music, and an album that you'll return to time and again for inspiration and enjoyment.
Lana Del Rey Born to Die
Lee Moses Time and Place
Lee Perry and the Upsetters Super Ape
Leftfield Leftism
Leo Delibes Lakme
Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke Duality
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor, Op. 27
Lupe Fiasco Food & Liquor
Mansun Attack of the Grey Lantern
Manu Dibango Soul Makossa
This is the coolest shit I've heard in a very long time. It's almost how I imagined funk before I actually heard any - entirely free, loose, snappy, and upbeat. Pure. There's a jazz edge here too, but not a massively noticeable one once you look past the instrumentation. In fact, regardless of the chronology, if anything I hear more dub in this, in the way that the rhythm is always king as the snippets of melody and improvisation rise and fall around it. For that reason, it's aged remarkably well.
"Soul Makossa" is sometimes credited as one of the first disco records, which is....interesting, I suppose. I'm not sure I agree too much, although it's worth noting that the song did reach the Billboard top 40, a creditable achievement for an African recording music in Africa. If you want further historical importance, compare the track to Michael Jackson's "Gotta Be Startin' Something" (and by extension Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music"), which takes the refrain and coverts it from Duala into Swahili, in much the same way that Las Ketchup converted "Rapper's Delight" into Spanish on "The Ketchup Song".
Massive Attack Blue Lines
Even if there is one genuine duffer here ("Hymn of the Big Wheel"), most of this album is not only hugely important to the development of British hip-hop and dance in general, it's also hugely great. Two moments in particular remain near-unsurpassed - "Safe From Harm" is awesome, and "Unfinished Sympathy" is simply one of the 10, maybe 5, best songs of the 1990s. The rest is dubby, narcotic, laid-back, and hugely enjoyable. It's not the best Massive album, as some might have you believe, but it's indispensable to fans of the genre or the band.
Massive Attack Protection
Massive Attack Collected
Masta Ace A Long Hot Summer
Matana Roberts COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres
Maurice Ravel Boléro
Mayhem De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
Mazzy Star So Tonight That I Might See
Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell
Metallica Ride the Lightning
mewithoutYou Brother, Sister
Miles Davis In a Silent Way
This is, to this day, still the only Miles Davis album I actually enjoy. Both pieces work equally well as background music or as a focused listening experience, thanks to the almost funky groove the players settle into, and a few very catchy ostinato riffs that appear out of the mix from time to time. Miles always surrounded himself with great musicians, of course, and here's no different - I won't pretend to be familiar with either Herbie Hancock or Wayne Shorter, but they both impress me here. Chick Corea, on the other hand, is frequently out of this world, and though I've certainly heard better from John McLaughlin, he's not slouching here either.
Million Dead A Song to Ruin
Modest Mussorgsky A Night on Bald Mountain
Mogwai Happy Songs for Happy People
Mogwai Mr. Beast
Well, Mogwai have certainly changed. If your love of the band stems from your appreciation of their slow, subtle build-ups to a climax that's about 9 minutes down the line, you're likely to dismiss this as a 'sell-out' record, or something equally ridiculous. Something of a return to the style they'd shown on "Ten Rapid", the compilation of early Mogwai singles, and possibly even a nod to Pelican's style, Mr. Beast showcases a Mogwai that are lot more concise, tight, and noisy. Consequently it stands as highlight in their catalogue - Mogwai have become all the more gripping for having dropped their cerebral affectations. There's still beautiful moments, but some songs ("Glasgow Mega-Snake") just rock like a mother. This record even gave them their first top UK 40 single EVER with "Friend Of The Night". And it was well deserved. This will, in all likelihood, remain in the top 10 of 2006 right until the year's end.
Mono Hymn to the Immortal Wind
Mos Def The Ecstatic
My Bloody Valentine You Made Me Realise
Nas STILLmatic
Nobody expected this to be good. Nas has fallen off so hard by this point that when Jay-Z called him out on "Takeover", it was no more than kicking a man while he's down. Who could have known that Nas would use that feud as a springboard for a career revival of epic proportions? "Ether" bettered Jay-Z on every level, "Got Urself A Gun" was brilliant, and the amazing "One Mic" was simply the song of his career. Even the lesser tracks - "Rewind", "Every Ghetto", "Smokin'" - displayed an desire and invention that had been sorely missing in the 2 albums prior to this. This album not only made it okay to like Nas again, it reinstated him as probably the most technically gifted and naturally talented rapper of all time. Honest to God, this is nearly the match of Illmatic, and it's among the best rap albums of the decade so far.
Nas Greatest Hits
Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Nick Drake Pink Moon
It's not Nick Drake's best offering - that award goes to his debut Five Leaves Left. Still, Pink Moon stands out simply by virtue of how stark it is - partly due to the budget available after the poor sales of his first two records, this album is largely just acoustic guitar and voice, with occasional piano. It's desolate and bleak, for sure - as pure atmosphere goes it's a formidable statement of an album. But, for me, the songs themselves don't quite stack up quite as well as they might. I'm nitpicking, though, as one tends to when presented with an album that boasts such an incredible reputation. This is great stuff and it comes highly recommended. The title track, "Road", and "Things Behind The Sun" are the standouts.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade
Nina Simone Wild is the Wind
Nina Simone Pastel Blues
Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral
Nirvana In Utero
I spent roughly 5 years of my life under the impression that Nirvana sucked, and it was all Nevermind's fault. In Utero taught me the error of my ways, which begs the question - just how can a band make two albums so different from each other back to back? Nevermind was whiny, insipid, uninspired drivel. In Utero is a work of near-genius. Is Steve Albini really that good?! Whatever. Aside from beginning and ending with two of the band's best songs (ignoring the bonus track), In Utero boasts "Heart-Shaped Box", too - a contendor for best song of the 90s. Even the definite low-point, the dreary "Rape Me", isn't that bad - certainly better than the majority of their previous songs. For one album only, Nirvana kicked ass. HARD.
Nujabes Metaphorical Music
Nurse With Wound Homotopy To Marie
Oasis (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
Oasis Stop the Clocks
Olivier Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps, I/22
Opeth Blackwater Park
Their previous outing, Still Life, had proven that they were worthy of every accolade anyone could possibly throw at them. People knew it, too. No surprise, then, that Blackwater Park is almost executed with a swagger and a smirk - here is a band that knows just how damn good they are, and want everyone else to know too. Not often can you say that a multi-layered, multi-faceted song touching the 10-minute mark actually sounds effortless, but there's at least 3 examples here, the awesome "Bleak" being the pick of the bunch. The metal community reckons this is a modern masterpiece. They're probably right. It did, after all, convince an awful lot of people that everything Opeth touches turns to gold. They've yet to prove us wrong on that count.
Opeth My Arms, Your Hearse
Opeth Watershed
The criticism that has been leveled at Opeth most frequently throughout their existence has been their lack of progression - the quiet/loud dynamic that makes the band what they are has been largely unchanged since My Arms Your Hearse, arguably earlier, and the massive departure that was Damnation doesn't change the fact that a lot of people reckon Opeth have just made the same album five or six times. Well, if you're one of those critics, then this is the sound of Opeth responding to you. Understandably, given the personnel changes, Watershed sees the band moving outside their comfort zone just enough to make their formula fresh, without going so far as to alienate any of the hundreds of thousands who still love them. There's tone clusters, nods to math-rock and the more fiddly end of prog, metal passages that are heavier than ever before, more keyboards, more "Windowpane"-esque guitar solos. Even on "Coil", the band forgo their typical epic album openers for a short, acoustic number with added female vocals. And yet, for all the changes, this is still the same Opeth - just one that's refreshed, reinvigorated, and audibly looking to the future. Watershed has put to bed the relative disappointment of Deliverance and Ghost Reveries, and in being arguably the band's most accomplished album, it happily suggests that there is still more classics to come in the Opeth catalogue. Simply put, this is exactly the album I was hoping to hear from Mikael and the boys in 2008. Excellent stuff.
Organized Konfusion Organized Konfusion
Paris The Devil Made Me Do It
Parliament Mothership Connection
Patti Smith Horses
Patti Smith and Kevin Shields The Coral Sea
Pearl Jam Ten
Pearl Jam rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003)
Pepe Deluxe Queen of the Wave
Pharoahe Monch Desire
Pinch Underwater Dancehall
Pixies Doolittle
I'm in a curious position when it comes to Pixies. I genuinely consider them one of the greatest bands of both their genre and time, and indeed one of the best ever, but I don't think they ever made a truly classic record. For me, they were a singles band. Still, Doolittle, while not quite a timeless 5-star classic, is a great album, and probably the band's best. It has its share of filler ("Mr. Grieves", "Silver", "Crackity Jones"), but when it hits it's basically perfect. "Debaser", "Tame", "Here Comes Your Man", "Monkey Gone To Heaven", "La La Love You", and "Gouge Away" are all wonderful 3-minute bursts of heavenly pop-rock, which despite their better rockier numbers ("U-Mass" et al) is what they always did best. I'd still recommend Wave Of Mutilation over this, but if you like what you've heard from these guys, this is essential.
Pixies Bossanova
Bossanova gets overlooked a lot by most people, but for me, this is the Pixies studio album of choice for me. The pop songs - "Velouria", Talking Heads homage "Dig For Fire" - are absolutely joyous, and some of the best songs the band ever wrote. "Alison" might be the bands' definitive song, showing as it does almost every facet of the band in one song. The rest throws up some shocks, each of them welcome - the Surftones cover "Cecilia Ann" is brilliant, "Rock Music" is one of the most fierce things the band ever did, and "Havalina", "Is She Weird?", and "The Happening" provide further highlights. There's not much to choose between this and Doolittle, but this is just a little more consistent.
PJ Harvey Rid of Me
PJ Harvey White Chalk
PJ Harvey Let England Shake
Porcupine Tree In Absentia
Portal (Cynic) Portal
Portishead Roseland NYC Live
Portishead Third
Portishead could probably have got away with just making a Xerox of Dummy; after all, that's probably what people were expecting, and it probably would have been eaten up a mainstream audience. That's not what they've done though; instead, they've offered up a 21st century update of Silver Apples, with a folk influence lifted from Beth Gibbon's extra-curricular excursions with Rustin Man. Its course takes it through territory that is alternatively heavier, lighter, more organic, more electronic, more futuristic, more pastoral, more abstract, and more direct than anything attempted by Portishead before, and anything attempted before by any trip-hop artist not named Tricky. "We Carry On", "Nylon Smile", "Hunter", "Machine GUn", and "Magic Doors" could all end up as cult classics. Frankly, it's a shockingly good album.
Prince Purple Rain
Prince Sign o' the Times
Prolyphic & Reanimator The Ugly Truth
Prometheus Robot-O-Chan
Public Enemy Power to the People and the Beats
Queensryche Operation: Mindcrime
R.E.M. Automatic for the People
R.E.M. In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003
Radiohead I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings
Radiohead The Astoria London Live (DVD)
Radiohead In Rainbows
Radiohead The Best Of
Rage Against The Machine Rage Against The Machine
The only Rage Against The Machine record worth bothering with, for my money. As good as the highlights on their other records are, this is the only album they recorded which is superb front to back. There are minor slips ("Township Rebellion" and "Settle For Nothing" usually get skipped), but for at least 7 of the tracks, Rage sound absolutely unbeatable. Zach De La Rocha and Tom Morello both dominate the album in their own way; while Rocha provides the anger and the fire, it's Morello that sets this apart from so many other albums of its kind. Inspired equally by Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Terminator X, he became an instant guitar hero, his style imitated on some level by dozens of guitarists in the years to come. This is one of the all-time classic debut albums, and a cornerstone of 90s rock (and arguably rock in general). It's almost enough to make a kind soul forgive all the other rap-metal acts that followed in the footsteps of this and Faith No More's The Real Thing. Powerful, unhinged, driven, and above all else, angry - even if its politics are occasionally highly questionable. this is an album all but the staunchest haters of rock and rap should love.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk Bright Moments
Given the quality blackspots of live albums and double albums, one could be forgiven for thinking that Bright Moments is over-rated, and that The Inflated Tear is really were it's at as far as Rahsaan Roland Kirk goes. But nah. Bright Moments is the one that does it for me. It's fun, swingin' (see "Second Line Jump"), and just has plain better tunes (see "You'll Never Get To Heaven" and the gorgeous "Prelude To A Kiss"). It has some great segues, too - "Clickety Clack" is a poem musing on black music's fate, while "Talk (Bright Moments)" invites the audience to share the most special moments in their lives. Jazz is not exactly short of great live albums, but even so, this stands out.
Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on "Greensleeves"
Randy Newman The Randy Newman Songbook, Volume 1
Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin'
Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication
Refused Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent
This isn't the maddening genre blend that the band perfected on The Shape Of Punk To Come, but you can tell they're getting there, because they're already blending metal and punk in a way that sounds little like either grunge or metalcore. The first three tracks are all outstanding blasts of frenzy, with unforgettable punk soundbites throughout ('Swallow the poison/Swallow every word!', 'I'd rather be dead than alive by your tradition!', and so on) - any of these songs could have made it onto Shape, and that's very high praise coming from me. "Return To The Closet" is a step down in tempo, but not necessarily in quality, and "Life Support Addiction" is as frenetic as the band ever got. Really, I could go on. This is just a classic punk album in every sense - it's a short, sharp, intelligent, furious jolt to the system every time. I rank this right up there amongst the best rock albums of all time, I really do - the lyrics, the drumming (check "The Slayer"!), the riffs, the song structures, everything about it just clicks time and time again, the way it only does for the best of bands.
Remarc Sound Murderer
Pummeling, fractured jungle. Major props to Remarc for putting this compilation together the way he has - most of the compilations I've heard (not just from jungle, but from any dance genre, particularly the UK ones) suffer from tunnel vision, but Remarc is happy to embrace diversity and allow plenty of different elements of his music and his personality right through the album. Sometimes, it even happens within one track - "Meridian" is the best example of that. Yet elsewhere there's little jokes thrown around, like the melody from "If I Were A Rich Man" on "Sound Murderer", or there's nods to other genres like the pop vocals on the absolutely massive "Thunderclap" or the G-funk synth line on "Menace". As an album it plays out about as well as it possibly could. It's hard to picture how any fan of drum'n'bass, in any of its forms, wouldn't like this, if not outright love it. On any level that the genre might appeal, be it cerebral or physical, Sound Murderer brings the goods - it's heavy, complex, and unprententious, smart enough for the critics and relentless enough for the raves. It's not quite as unhinged as the jungle I like the most, but that's the only bad word I have to say on this album. In every other respect, it's excellent.
Renegade Soundwave Soundclash
Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde
Richard Wagner Die Walkure
Riverside Second Life Syndrome
Riverside Out of Myself
Rome Flowers From Exile
Royksopp Melody A.M.
Sadly Melody AM was resigned to the status of 'cult classic', when really it could so easily have been remembered as an out-and-out classic. Still, the album's legacy aside, this is quality stuff. Chilled without being boring, intelligent without being obtuse, and catchy without being redundant, it's no wonder this caused such a stir in the dance world back in 2001. Quite simply, an album like this makes you realise just how flawed a lot of the competition is. "So Easy", "Eple", "Sparks", "Poor Leno", "Remind Me", and "Royksopp's Night Out" are all still worthy of heavy rotation. Beautiful stuff; the only disappointment is that they couldn't capitalize on what they started here.
Scott Matthews Passing Stranger
Recommending this one is easy - Scott Matthews is a singer-songwriter who has a beautiful voice, takes influences from Led Zeppelin and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Tim Buckley and Van Morrison, and writes dignified, worldly ballads.


And yet, Matthews holds up against Buckley. That's the shocking thing. "Elusive", in particular, stands up to anything on Grace, and as such was probably the best single of 2006. Elsewhere, Matthews spends 18 tracks displaying a frightening natural gift just coming into bloom. Give him some experience and a bigger record collection, and let's see where he ends up. Scott Matthews might just become the singer-songwriter that defines his genre in the '00s.
Scott Walker Tilt
Scott Walker Scott 4
Sergei Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata, Op. 19
Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
It's funny, this album seems to get bashed by more of the people I speak to about music than any other. It's pre-fab, it's badly produced, it relies on shock value too much, it's dated badly, they can't play their instruments, the songs just aren't good. Or so I'm always told. I don't hear any of that, though. Believe me, I've listened to this record enough to have dug beneath any shock value, and even after all that, all I hear is a bunch of powerful, well-written rock'n'roll songs performed by a band that, even coming from 'false' origins, obviously believed in what they were doing. The only thing here I find to be bland is "Pretty Vacant". The rest, including the lesser known tracks (a couple of which are fantastic), still thrills me. Any idea of revolution or upheaval tied to this record is missing the point; Never Mind The Bollocks is the soundtrack to rebelling for absolutely no reason at all, raging against forces you don't understand and would never want to, all because you want to. And sometimes, that means more than the most political song ever could.
Shpongle The God Particle
Shuggie Otis Inspiration Information
Sigh Hangman's Hymn
Silver Apples Silver Apples
Sleater-Kinney Dig Me Out
Slint Spiderland
Sly and The Family Stone There's A Riot Goin' On
Sol.Illaquists Of Sound No More Heroes
Sole and the Skyrider Band Plastique
Solomon Burke Don't Give Up On Me
Sonic Youth Dirty
After moving into more mainstream territory with Goo, the Youth aligned themselves more strongly with the rock music surrounding them (at least as far as the mainstream was concerned) than they ever had before. Dirty was Sonic Youth flirting with the idea of being megastars, and it worked for them. "100%" is one of the all-time great albums openers - swaggering, confident, and as catchy as AIDS. "Sugar Kane" repeats the trick to slightly less impressive effect, yet it remains one of the best rock songs of 1992. "Swimsuit Issue" and "Drunken Butterfly" rank as two of Kim Gordon's best songs, and "Wish Fulfilment" is gorgeous. "Youth Against Fascism" even introduces Ian McKaye into the mix, and overall the album presents a more directly political Sonic Youth than any of their other albums, before or since, have. While not quite as good as Goo, Dirty remains a vital document for all Sonic Youth fans, and a great rock album for everyone else.
Sonic Youth Goo
Maybe I'm nuts, but for me this is Sonic Youth's best album. It's certainly their best balance of tunes and noise. "Dirty Boots" stands right alongside "100%" and "Teen Age Riot" as a perfect SY album opener, and the rest of the first half of the album is basically perfect. "Tunic (Song For Karen)" might be Kim Gordon's best song, "Mote" is a thrilling explosion of noise, "Kool Thing" is sexy as hell, and "My Friend Goo" is playful, catchy, and funny. The second half doesn't quite keep up the 5-star standard, but it's still excellent. I'd recommend that any SY collection should start here.
Soundgarden Superunknown
Stateless Stateless
Been patiently waiting for the new Portishead album for the past 10 years? Been wishing a band would come along who would make the wait easier and/or irrelevant? The wait is over! Stateless may be nomially a rock band, but their stock sound - soulful vocals, gentle melodies, sadness, scratching, movie-score sweep, subtly intricate drumming - isn't too far removed from what we'd like to see on the third Portishead album. "Down Here", "Prism #1", "Crash", and "Bloodstream" are absolute stunners, with much of the remainder similarly impressive. Stateless blend Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Portishead, and Coldplay with finesse and confidence. It's thrilling, if melancholy, stuff. Debut of the year?
Stateless Matilda
Stereolab Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Stevie Wonder Innervisions
Sufjan Stevens All Delighted People
Supersilent 6
Susanne Sundfor The Silicone Veil
Swans The Seer
System of a Down Mezmerize
Talking Heads Remain in Light
Telstar Ponies Voices for the New Music
Terry Callier What Color is Love?
The Afghan Whigs Congregation
The Afghan Whigs Unbreakable: A Retrospective
The Beach Boys Pet Sounds
The Beatles Love
The Boo Radleys Giant Steps
The Chemical Brothers Surrender
The Congos Heart of the Congos
The Detroit Cobras Life Love, and Leaving
The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Gaslight Anthem The '59 Sound
The Gaslight Anthem American Slang
The Gaslight Anthem Handwritten
The Haxan Cloak The Haxan Cloak
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland
The Kinks Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
The Pentangle Basket of Light
The Roots Game Theory
So it all comes out now - the reason The Tipping Point was so mediocre is because it was a contract filler for a label they hated. Now they're being backed by Jay-Z, a man smart enough to give them free reign to do what they like. And lo, The Roots suddenly have a point to prove. And prove it they do. This might just be the finest Roots album yet - a cohesive, powerful, forward-thinking record that displays in full, for perhaps the first time, the potential force that a 'rock' band this gifted playing hip-hop could be, because this is the first record on which they're unrestrained by the pressures of label expectation. The Public Enemy-quoting "False Media", "Atonement", "In The Music", and "Babies" are all stunning. At times, the songs flow together so well that you're almost reminded of the first 20 minutes of Dark Side Of The Moon. Another record like this and their status as one of the top 10 hip-hop acts of all time will be unquestionable.
The Roots Things Fall Apart
The Roots Rising Down
When Game Theory came out, I declared that if the band released another album of that quality their status as one of the top ten hip-hop acts of all time would be unquestionable. Here's the album I was asking for. Every bit as forward-thinking as Game Theory, but with a decidedly old-school bent to large chunks of the music, it sees the group aiming to recreate the kind of socio-political posse cuts common throughout hip-hop's golden age. Malik B, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Dice Raw, Common, Jazzy Jeff, and Styles P appear on a frankly stunning guestlist, while Black Thought's reduced presence means his rhymes are more carefully formed. More crucially, though, this album just outright fucking rocks - even "Rising Down", a song underpinned by the kind of guitar arpeggios you might more expect to find on a Radiohead song, feels as heavy as Sabbath. It's only a couple of slower, less impressive tracks toward the record's conclusion ("The Show", "Rising Up") that stop this from clearly being the band's best album. Now let's consider that statement; how many other rap acts have peaked on their seventh and eight studio outings? The Roots are a special band, and this is a special album.
The Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
The Stooges Raw Power
The Tallest Man on Earth The Wild Hunt
The Tallest Man on Earth There's No Leaving Now
The Twilight Singers She Loves You
The Twilight Singers Blackberry Belle
The Twilight Singers Dynamite Steps
The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground's catalogue seems divided in half - two albums with John Cale, two albums without. And for me, there's a nice pattern, because in both halves, the first of the two albums is about a million times better than the follow-up. So this blows Loaded out of the water, quite easily. It might not quite be as good as TVU&N, but it's still a brilliant album. It's also their most hushed, relaxed outing - highlights "Candy Says", "Jesus", and the mighty "Pale Blue Eyes" being the perfect soundtrack to the "Sunday Morning" they'd sung about two years earlier.
Thrice The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II
Thrice The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV
Thy Catafalque Roka Hasa Radio
Thy Catafalque Rengeteg
Tim Buckley Starsailor
TLC CrazySexyCool
Tom Waits Bad As Me
Tool Lateralus
Tori Amos Under the Pink
Tori Amos From the Choirgirl Hotel
Tori Amos Boys for Pele
Tori Amos Winter
Tricky Maxinquaye
U2 The Best Of 1980-1990
U2 were a singles band. That, in my mind, isn't even a debatable point. None of their albums managed to be good throughout. This, however, is awesome. Just the first side is worth the price and more - "New Year's Day", "Pride", "With or Without You", "Where The Streets Have No Name", "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" are all amongst the best songs of the '80s. If "One" and the singles from All That You Can't Leave Behind were here, it'd be the only U2 album you'd ever need.
Ulver Nattens Madrigal
Ulver Shadows of the Sun
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend
For their third album, Bedouin Soundclash have toned down the reggae approach of their first two efforts and instead diversified themselves by incorporating a string quartet into their template. It works for them - while the vocals, melodies, and basslines remain exactly the same as they were on their previous high watermark, Sounding A Mosaic, the addition of the strings allows their pure pop instincts to stand alone. It's both more inventive and more instant than anything they've done before, and while it lacks a stand-out like "When The Night Feels My Song", this is almost certainly their best album yet.

....wait, this ISN'T a Bedouin Soundclash album? Far out.
Van Morrison The Best Of Van Morrison Vol 1
Various Artists (Classical) OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music 1948-1980
Vex'd Degenerate
Violent Femmes Violent Femmes
William Bell The Soul of a Bell
Wire Pink Flag
Yonlu A Society In Which No Tear is Shed...
Younger Brother A Flock of Bleeps
A little known musical fact: absolutely everything Simon Posford touches turns to gold. One of the king of psytrance's more accomplished/overlooked projects, Younger Brother might be best summarized as the most musical of Posford's projects, for various reasons. While it boasts his trademark flair for combining music from a wide range of cultures and genres, it's more subdued and measured than each of the various other projects bearing his name, which means that he and Benji Vaughn (of Prometheus) can expand on the ideas they present with greater freedom, leading to extended instrumental solos and more nuanced electronic manipulation. The overall effect is less dazzling than Shpongle's Nothing Lasts....But Nothing Is Lost - which remains his masterpiece - but A Flock of Bleeps is still a fantastic piece of work. What's more, it manages a perfect balance between the expansive acid trip of Are You Shpongled? and the musical utopia of his more recent work. It's gorgeous stuff, for sure. Unconditionally recommended.

3.5 great
2Pac Me Against the World
2Pac All Eyez on Me
2Pac The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
7 Year Bitch ¡Viva Zapata!
A Tribe Called Quest The Low End Theory
Simply put, Abba Gold is stuffed with pure pop glee. "Waterloo" is perhaps the highlight of the upbeat dance numbers, but it has stiff competition - "Take A Chance On Me", "Mamma Mia", "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", and "Money, Money, Money" are all more than capable of filling a dancefloor with both nostalgic mums and ironic indie kids who desperately want to hide the fact that their love for the music actually isn't ironic at all. It's not all happiness and joy, though - they hit unexpected heights on "The Winner Takes It All" though - a stunning lyric and an atmospheric production make this perhaps the band's most enduring song. Certainly their best.
There's surprises in store for those who didn't realise how talented the BB contingent really were, too. The guitar playing on "Chiquitita" is genuinely lovely, and the song has an almost medieval feel to it. The opening riff on "Voulez Vouz" is verging on Bowie-esque. And people tend to forget dark some of the music to "Gimme!" really is, particularly the intro, which could be co-opted for a gothic power ballad. The rest sounds not unlike Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds.
ABBA - the best singles band of all time? A highly contentious point, obviously. But ABBA Gold proves that they've got credentials as good as anyone.
Absu Absu
Actress R.I.P
Adorable Against Perfection
Aesop Rock None Shall Pass
AFI Sing the Sorrow
Agalloch The Mantle
Agalloch The White
Air Moon Safari
AJJ Can't Maintain
AJJ Knife Man
Akala Doublethink
Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill
Alcest Souvenirs d'un autre monde
Alcest Écailles de Lune
Alcest Les Voyages de l'Âme
Alice in Chains MTV Unplugged
Alicia Keys Songs in A Minor
All the Empires of the World ...Will Be Laid To Waste
Amadou and Mariam Folila
American Music Club California
Amon Duul II Yeti
Originally released as a double vinyl album, Yeti is a monolith that sits right at the heart of the Krautrock movement. Its reputation - according to various sources, it's the most undervalued record of the 1970s, the best Krautrock album ever, and a timeless psychedelic masterpiece - isn't quite deserved, but that doesn't stop this being a very, very good album that stands as one of the defining pieces of its genre. It's grouped into a set of composed pieces ("Soap Shop Rock" through "Pale Gallery") and improvisations (the 18-minute title track onward). The opening track, the 4-part, near 14-minute long "Soap Shop Rock", is probably the finest Krautrock song ever recorded. "Sandoz In The Rain" isn't far behind - many, including AMG, credit this as the birth of space-rock, and it certainly set a tone for Kraftwerk's post-Autobahn work if nothing else. Great stuff.
Amon Tobin Permutation
Amos Lee Last Days at the Lodge
Amos Lee Mission Bell
Amy Macdonald A Curious Thing
Amy Winehouse Back to Black
Anais Mitchell Hadestown
Anathallo Floating World
I really, really enjoyed this one. Anathallo's music places them firmly in the folk revival, somewhere between Stfu Stevens and Espers; it's ethereal, vaguely psychedelic, and certainly kalaidoscopic. The range of this band is startling, just as Sufjan is at his best. There's accordions, flutes, horns, all sorts all over this album. Yet, crucially, they've got solid songs. That's not just to say that they're good, but also that they're easy to grasp. As much as I love Espers, trying to get into them can sometimes be like trying to build a tower of water. Floating World succeeds because it's not as distant or twee as its contemporaries - it's a set of good, idiosyncractic pop songs, and it's all the better for it. The final 3 or 4 songs are the highlights.
Andy Stott Passed Me By
Andy Stott Luxury Problems
Angelo Badalamenti Twin Peaks
Ani DiFranco Dilate
Ani DiFranco Not a Pretty Girl
Anthrax Among the Living
Antony and the Johnsons I Am A Bird Now
Antony and the Johnsons The Crying Light
Aphex Twin Richard D. James Album
Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II
Arctic Monkeys Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys
Arctic Monkeys Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?
Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare
Arctic Monkeys Suck It and See
Aretha Franklin Lady Soul
Art Brut Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Art Brut It's a Bit Complicated
Arvo Part Tabula Rasa
Asian Dub Foundation Enemy Of The Enemy
Perhaps due to the departure of MC Deeder, previously the group's lead vocalist, Enemy of The Enemy isn't quite the album that Community Music is. Still, this is a cracking record, home to at least 2 songs that are among the finest of this decade so far. "Fortress Europe" is an electrorock powerhouse, and it's easily the catchiest thing this band have ever done. "1000 Mirrors" trumps it, though, by being the most tender thing this band has done and probably ever will do. Sinaed O'Conner guests on vocals to tell the story of Zoora Shah, the rape victim who murdered one of her attackers. ADF's unflinching depiction of the failings in certain sections of Britain's Asian communities has always been one of their strengths, and that reaches its peak here. Elsewhere, "La Haine" and "Blowback" provide more highlights. There's a shift toward more trivial subject matter here though, as evidenced by "2 Face", a song that seems entirely out of step with everything else this band has done. A strong album, but it feels like the start of a decline for the band.
Asian Dub Foundation A History of Now
Astor Piazzolla and Gary Burton The New Tango
Astral Projection Trust in Trance
At the Drive-In Relationship of Command
At the Drive-In Vaya
Atmosphere You Can't Imagine How Much Fun...
It may not have the greatest shelf-life, and it may be lumbered with the bullshit tag of 'emo-rap' (seriously, what?), but Atmosphere managed one of the better rap records of 2005 with this. As usual, his raps are simultaneously clever and powerful, and the beats are good, occasionally excellent. The album undoubtedly peaks on the fantastic "Pour Me Another" (one of the top ten rap tracks of '05 for my money), "Smart Went Crazy", and "Angelface", which might be Slug's best-ever performance.
Atmosphere When Life Gives You Lemons...
Augie March Strange Bird
Auktyon Юла
Avant-folk that achieves its weirdness simply be being absolutely all over the place. Take them minute-by-minute and there's nothing all that odd about what they do, but the breadth of their influences and their aims is seriously impressive. Some parts have a Comus-esque creepiness to them, some parts have Kaizer's Orchestra's lunatic sense of humour and appreciation of the absurd, some of it is stoic and driving in a way that's reminiscent of Woven Hand, and some of it sounds like they're trying to play jazz. I don't speak Russian, so naturally I can't understand a word of the lyrics, but I find it hard to imagine that they deal with anything serious, and if they do, I'm glad I can't understand them. Better to treat .;0 for what it seems at first - utterly bonkers, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Avril Lavigne Under My Skin
A giant leap forward from her debut, Under My Skin establishes Lavigne as the next major figure (at least as far as commercial weight goes) in the realm of female singer-songwriters. Sure, "Sk8er Boi" and the like placed Lavigne in the same vague lineage as Sum 41, Busted, and Blink-12, but the material here bears more in common with artists like Suzanne Vega, Alanis Morrisette, and Jewel, except it's more fond of employing walls of distorted guitars for dramatic effect. "My Happy Ending" and "Nobody's Home" may not quite be on the level of female singer-songwriter classics like "Luka" and "Fast Car", but they aim for it and get close enough to be admired. They're very good songs. Much of the rest follows that pattern, with only "He Wasn't" harking back to the sound of Let Go. Lavigne's youth still shines through everything still, marking this as something slightly different from the pack. A surprisingly good album, all things considered.
Azari & III Azari & III
Bad Brains Rock For Light
Bad Religion Against the Grain
Badly Drawn Boy The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Balaclavas Roman Holiday
Barren Earth Curse of the Red River
Basement Jaxx Remedy
Bassnectar Timestretch
Battles Mirrored
It's hard to place any music I've heard that sounds much like this. "Tonto" sounds like Comus with electronics. The awesome (instrumental?) "Leyendecker" has a lead line that could easily have been on a New Jack Swing track circa-1991. Other tracks carry vague reminders of Can ("Bad Trails"), Estradasphere ("Rainbow"), The Knife (the pitch-shifting on the vocals of "Leyendecker" and the glammy "Atlas"), and Einsturzende Neubauten ("Tij"), and it's tempting to compare a few of the more noodling bits here to Slint, maybe even Television at a stretch, but these are about the only reference points I can find. And I'm reaching.

The band seem to have an instinctive knack for knowing how to contrast ideas to stop any one thing becoming boring or laboured, but also an idea of restraint when it comes to jamming too many ideas into one song (which must have been tempting). Their experience, and sense of humor, means that this record doesn't become the mess it could have been, and stays within the realms of enjoyment. In fact, it's the more straight-forward, more dance-inspired tracks - "Race Out", "Leyendecker", "Atlas" - that really shine through here. Although it drags occassionally - and that's really my only major criticism here - this is infectious, fun, occasionally beautiful stuff that refuses to sit still stylistically.
Beastie Boys Ill Communication
Beastie Boys Check Your Head
Bedouin Soundclash Sounding A Mosaic
Bedrich Smetana Piano Trio in G minor
Belle and Sebastian Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Belle and Sebastian 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds Of Light
Bernard Herrmann Psycho
Beth Orton Trailer Park
Between the Buried and Me Colors
Between the Buried and Me The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues
Biffy Clyro Puzzle
Bilal 1st Born Second
Bilal Airtight's Revenge
Bill Callahan Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Bill Evans Waltz for Debby
Bjork Debut
Bjork Greatest Hits
Black Flag Damaged
Black Milk Tronic
Black Milk Album Of The Year
Black Sabbath Black Sabbath
Black Star Black Star
Blackfield Blackfield
Bloc Party Silent Alarm
Bloc Party Intimacy
A definite step in the right direction after A Weekend in the City, Intimacy sees Bloc Party at their most experimental musically, yet their most personal lyrically. Highlights include fizzing opener "Ares", which boasts a drum beat ripped straight from The Chemical Brothers and a riff ripped straight from the middle of an Eddie Van Halen solo, "One Month Off"'s menacing chorus ('I can be as cruel as you/Fighting fire with firewood'), first single "Mercury", and the tender and delicate "Biko", which recalls Post-era Bjork. The song that will really keep you coming back to this album, though, is "Zephyrus". Through the album's most electronically centered music, Okereke sings his most affecting lyrics yet - 'Maybe I'm ashamed of the things I put you through/Maybe I'm ashamed of the man I was for you/And all you said, in your quietest voice/Was I needed you as much as they do'. Romantic, Orff-esque choral stabs and harsh drums intervene, but nothing can stop this from being the band's most incredible ballad yet. As a whole, this album just keeps growing and growing - it may yet prove to be even better than Silent Alarm.
Blue Sky Black Death NOIR
Blur Parklife
Boards of Canada The Campfire Headphase
Bob Dylan The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin'
Bob Dylan Love and Theft
Bob Dylan The Essential Bob Dylan
Bob James One
Bob Marley and The Wailers Natty Dread
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy I See a Darkness
Boogie Down Productions By All Means Necessary
Boredoms Super Ae
Boris New Album
Botch We Are the Romans
Boxcutter Arecibo Message
Braille & Symbolyc One Cloud Nineteen
Bran Van 3000 Glee
Brand New Deja Entendu
Brian Eno Here Come the Warm Jets
Brian Setzer Orchestra Wolfgang's Big Night Out
Britney Spears Greatest Hits: My Prerogative
Broder Daniel Forever
Broken Social Scene Broken Social Scene
Brother Ali Us
Bruce Springsteen Born to Run
Born To Run was the album when Springsteen ceased to be a promising songwriter, and became an artist that countless other musicians wished they were. Home to a big heart, big ambitions, a big sound, and big tunes, it's stuffed front to back with all-American anthems about getting out of the gutter and making it big. Which, of course, is precisely what Springsteen did after its release. Yeah, the title track and "Thunder Road" get all the plaudits, and both are indeed amongst the best rock songs ever, but don't sleep on "10th Avenue Freeze Out", "Night", and "Jungleland" either.
Bruce Springsteen The Rising
Bruce Springsteen Wrecking Ball
Buck 65 20 Odd Years
Burial Kindred
Burzum Belus
Butch Walker This Is Me... Justified And Stripped
Butch Walker Leavin' the Game on Luckie Street
Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady
Cafe Tacuba Re
Calexico Garden Ruin
Camera Obscura My Maudlin Career
Camille Saint-Saens Danse macabre, Op.40
Can Tago Mago
Cap'n Jazz Analphabetapolothology
Like many bands of the era and genre, Cap'n Jazz have attempted (well, succeeded, really) to render every other one of their releases irrelevant by cramming their entire recorded output onto one album. Because that's so obviously the point of Analphabetapolothology, it's harsh to criticize it for being a little overblown and difficult to listen to. Still, it's two discs worth of material, and naturally, it's a little inconsistent. Disc 1 is much better than Disc 2, it must be said, although the latter does recover a little for the last 5 or 6 tracks. You're unlikely to make it through the whole lot in one sitting unless this is your favourite music in the world, but as a compendium of one of the more under-rated rock bands of the mid-to-late '90s, this is more than enough.
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band Lick My Decals Off, Baby
Carbon Based Lifeforms Interloper
Cardiacs A Little Man and a House...
Carl Orff Carmina Burana
Cassetteboy Festive Christmas
Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman
Cecil Taylor One Too Many Salty Swift And Not Goodbye
Cecile Louise Stephanie Chaminade Flute Concertino, op. 107
Cee Lo Green The Lady Killer
Chancha Via Circuito Rio Arriba
Charles Bradley No Time For Dreaming
Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um
Christian Marclay Records (1981-1989)
Christina Aguilera Back to Basics
Christina Aguilera Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits
Chuck Berry The Great Twenty-Eight
Chuck Berry The Best of Chuck Berry
Ciccone Youth The Whitey Album
Circle Takes the Square As the Roots Undo
City of Caterpillar City of Caterpillar
Clams Casino Instrumental Mixtape 2
Clark Totems Flare
Clark Iradelphic
Claude Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, L. 86
Claude Debussy La mer (The Sea), L. 109
Claude Debussy Nocturnes, L. 91
Clipse Hell Hath No Fury
Clipse's debut displayed an MC duo that wasn't too remarkable, but displayed a lot of potential. What made it a remarkable record was that the producers (notably The Neptunes on the one-heard-never-forgetten "Grindin'") were willing to take risks. The same applies to the producers here - while you'd have to stretch to call it experimental, it's certainly an unusual record. What holds it back is that, for the first 9 tracks, the producers fail to provide a single hook. Clipse themselves make up for this by upping their game considerably and providing the hooks themselves through sheer ability. So far, so above average, but the final three tracks are all astounding. "Trill"'s beat is insane, "Chinese New Year" is even MORE out there, and "Nightmares" boasts a guest appearance from the fantastic Bilal. If there's a bigger talent in neo-soul, I'd love to hear it. It's this triple-whammy that makes this a worthy outside contendor for the rap album of the year, though it has, admittedly, been a weak year.
CMX Talvikuningas
Cocteau Twins Heaven or Las Vegas
Coldplay Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
Coldplay Mylo Xyloto
Colin Newman A-Z
It has all the skeletal, creepy darkness of Joy Division, but it's tied to faster tempi and more frantic performances. I like it a hell of a lot, actually - to just consider this an addendum to Wire's back catalogue would be to do it a great dis-service, because it's a seriously great record in its own right.
Colin Stetson New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges
Comets on Fire Avatar
Common Be
Common Resurrection
Company Flow Funcrusher Plus
Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle, Vol. 1
Crippled Black Phoenix A Love of Shared Disasters
Cryptopsy Once Was Not
CunninLynguists Strange Journey Vol. 1
Cursive Happy Hollow
Happy Hollow is the first Cursive album that runs exactly how you expect it to. Responding to the criticism levelled at their earlier records, they've taken the consistency of Domestica, the sound of The Ugly Organ, and completely avoided the repetition and laziness that dogged everything they released before that. So is this their best album yet? Just about. The biggest criticism we can level here is that there are no songs on the level of the four that dominated The Ugly Organ ("Big Bang" comes damn close, though). Still, there's nothing here that's bad, either, and that makes this the first Cursive record that stands up for itself front to back. You can't help but suspect that they're growing up all the time - the addition of horns and a dramaticism borrowed from The Paper Chase proves that - and that their next record will be even better; even so, this is a great record from a band that, at this point, we might legitimately call 'special'.
Cursive Mama, I'm Swollen
Cyndi Lauper Shes So Unusual
D'Angelo Voodoo
Daft Punk Discovery
Daitro / Sed Non Satiata Split
DangerDoom The Mouse And The Mask
Daniel Bjarnason Processions
Dark Time Sunshine Vessel
Dark Tranquillity Character
Dark Tranquillity Fiction
Dave Swain I'm Not Here, I'm Never Here
David Ackles American Gothic
David Bowie Outside
In part a sequel to Diamond Dogs, in part a sequel to the famous Berlin trilogy, 1.Outside saw Bowie re-unite with Brian Eno and carve a concept album. Just what the concept is is hard to put into words here, but it revolves a futuristic dystopia where murder has become a form of art amongst certain underground factions. The liner notes (which are fanastic) are a series of diary entries and police reports which shed light on the dark underworld this album builds. The concept, to be fair, is so complex that it doesn't come across too much in the music, which dips heavily into NIN-esque industrial andthe more esoteric, chilled side of drum'n'bass, stopping off occasionally at trip-hop, glam, house, and pop. It's a blend that's surprisingly passionate and direct for such a literary, intellectual project. "Hallo Spaceboy" (which became a major hit when re-worked by Pet Shop Boys, and re-introduces the character of Major Tom), "Strangers When We Meet", "I Have Not Been To Oxford Town", and "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" are all superb. 19 tracks is too much, it's true - 76 minutes is a long time to spend listening to an album. Still, for whatever combination of factors (one suspects the desire to one-up The Downward Spiral fired Bowie and Eno up for this), this is by far Bowie's best performance both as a singer and a songwriter in the 90s, and it ranks as one of his best ever albums.
David Bowie Best of Bowie
David Gilmour On An Island
David Sylvian Secrets of the Beehive
De Lucia, McLaughlin, Di Meola Friday Night In San Francisco
Dead Can Dance Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
Dead Can Dance Anastasis
Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist
Death Symbolic
Death Cab for Cutie Transatlanticism
Death Grips Exmilitary
Death Grips The Money Store
Deftones Around the Fur
Deftones Saturday Night Wrist
Deftones Diamond Eyes
Delorean Subiza
Dels Gob
Demdike Stare Forest Of Evil
Dennis Brown Visions of Dennis Brown
Derrick May Innovator
Descendents Milo Goes to College
Destiny's Child #1’s
Devendra Banhart Rejoicing in the Hands
Diamanda Galas The Singer
Dionysos La mecanique du coeur
Divine Styler Spiral Walls Containing Autumns Of Light
Dizzee Rascal Boy In Da Corner
DJ Shadow Preemptive Strike
DJ Shadow Live! In Tune and On Time
DJ Shadow The Less You Know, the Better
Donnie The Colored Section
Donovan Sunshine Superman
Dr. Dre The Chronic
Dream Theater Train of Thought
In Train of Thought, Dream Theater have made possibly their most intelligent move yet. Unlike most of the band's other outings, which boil down to fairly derivative prog rock, this album is, at its core, a catchy, driving metal album in the vein of Metallica's self-titled. And that means that you don't need to be a Dream Theater fan to love this record. Brilliant! "As I Am", "This Dying Soul", and "Endless Sacrifice" are all knockouts, lifting willy-nilly from Slipknot, Pantera, and Metallica, and then dressing it up in the ludicrous instrumental wankery their fans love. It's thrilling stuff. The rest of the album doesn't quite reach those heights, but it's still good stuff. This is where every newcomer should start.
dredg Catch Without Arms
dredg The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
Drive Like Jehu Yank Crime
Drive-by Truckers Southern Rock Opera
Durrty Goodz Axiom
Easy Star All Stars Dub Side of the Moon
Eddie Hazel Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs
Edge of Sanity Crimson
Edvard Grieg Peer Gynt, Op. 23
Eisley The Valley
El Michels Affair Enter the 37th Chamber
Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Elbow Build A Rocket Boys!
Electric Wizard Dopethrone
Elliott Smith XO
Elliott Smith Figure 8
Elliott Smith Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith Roman Candle
Eluvium Copia
EMA Past Life Martyred Saints
Emilie Autumn Opheliac
Eminem Recovery
Ennio Morricone The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
EPMD Strictly Business
Eric B and Rakim Follow the Leader
Erik Satie Je te veux (I Want You)
Erykah Badu Mama's Gun
Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
Espers II
Although quite clearly a folk album, the songs Espers write are so ethereal, so distant, that they may as well be a new age group. That in itself is both their biggest flaw and their greatest strength - while it instantly moves them apart from the neo-folk pack, it also means that this really is a difficult album to fully grasp. Nothing here seems solid or real - it's like listening to smoke, as weird a metaphor as that is. So while this is an astonishingly beautiful album at times, it's also a frustrating one. You know those drug trips people have where they keep chasing a bunny and can never catch it? That's what this album is.
Etta James At Last!
Eva Cassidy Songbird
Everything But the Girl Walking Wounded
Everything But the Girl Idlewild
Explosions in the Sky All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone
Explosions in the Sky Friday Night Lights
Explosions in the Sky Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Failure Fantastic Planet
The last great grunge album? Failure's Fantastic Planet is a song cycle based on grunge's best friend, heroin, and sonically it's Nirvana's In Utero re-tooled for the Pink Floyd fans. It's spacey, depressive, it's got guitars that sound like buildings falling down, and in its last third, it's got some of the best songs the grunge era produced. "The Nurse Who Loved Me", in particular, is just ridiculously good, and special praise must also be reserved for "Stuck on You" and "Another Space Song". Each song, though, is meticulously put together, with attention to detail in even the most hidden places. Even though the sound here is instantly recognizable and the sources of it obvious, nothing else from the era sounded quite like this.
Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking
Fairport Convention Liege & Lief
Faith No More The Real Thing
FaltyDL You Stand Uncertain
Fat Freddy's Drop Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW
Fats Domino This is Fats
Fela Kuti Expensive Shit
Fields of the Nephilim Elizium
Fiona Apple Tidal
Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
Fleetwood Mac Tusk
Flying Lotus Cosmogramma
Foo Fighters Wasting Light
Four Tet There is Love in You
Frank Ocean Nostalgia, Ultra.
Frank Ocean channel ORANGE
Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin' Lovers!
Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand
Arty, stand-off cool meets pop smarts. It a formula that so much of the best British pop - Roxy Music, David Bowie, Buzzcocks, XTC, even Pet Shop Boys - thrives on. And in their own way, Franz Ferdinand were merely doing the same as Oasis had ten years earlier, they were just going off the beaten path. But just like Definitely Maybe, Franz Ferdinand was somehow both new and old - everything here was instantly familiar to anyone with a grasp on pop history, but it sounded fresh because it treated those sources with serious admiration and respect, as if they were still cutting-edge. So no wonder this was huge in England. "Take Me Out" is likely to go down as the defining anthem of the post-punk revival, perhaps even of the decade as a whole, and 8 of the 11 tracks were good enough to be considered potential singles. The fact that it's so cool actually counts against it - Franz are held back from greatness by their inability to emotionally commit to a song - but you'd certainly have reason to argue that this deserves a notable place in history.
Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better
Galina Ustvolskaya Concerto for Piano, String Orchestra and Timpani
Game Theory Tinkers to Evers to Chance
Gazpacho Night
Gazpacho Tick Tock
Gazpacho March of Ghosts
Gene Clark No Other
George Frideric Handel Messiah
George Gershwin Porgy and Bess
Georgia Anne Muldrow Umsindo
Georgia Anne Muldrow Kings Ballad
Ghostface Killah Supreme Clientele
Ghostlimb Bearing & Distance
Giant Sand Chore of Enchantment
Gil Scott-Heron Pieces of a Man
Gil Scott-Heron I'm New Here
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson Winter In America
Giles Corey Giles Corey
Girls Album
Girls Aloud What Will The Neighbours Say?
Girls' Generation Girls' Generation (JP Release)
Giuseppe Verdi Missa da Requiem
Glenn Branca The Ascension
Goldfrapp Head First
Goldfrapp have lost their ability to shock; we all knew that this record would be a return to synths, because rapid about-faces in style is just what Goldfrapp do. Good job, then, that this actually has an awful lot in common with Seventh Tree; the songwriting and mood is almost identical, it's just dressed up in sparklier clothes. It looks like Alison has found her niche across these two albums with this brand of plaintive, resigned melancholy - "Shiny and Warm" is the only single weak moment across the two albums, which is an incredible turnaround from their first three deeply inconsistent records. It's not as good as Seventh Tree, but there's no shame in that; it's still a cut above their first three albums, and it's still liable to trouble many a year-end list.
Gorillaz Demon Days
Gotye Making Mirrors
Gravious Wormsign
Great Lake Swimmers Ongiara
Great Lake Swimmers Lost Channels
Great Lake Swimmers New Wild Everywhere
Grimes Visions
Group Bombino Guitars from Agadez, Vol. 2
Grouper A I A
Fuck's sake Grouper, if you're going to name an album after me, at least spell it right.
Guillemots Walk the River
Gyorgy Ligeti Atmospheres
GZA Liquid Swords
H.E.R.R. Vondel's Lucifer - First Movement
Hadouken! Music For An Accelerated Culture
Hako Yamasaki Tsunawatari
Hallucinogen Twisted
Harris, Ronstadt, and Parton Trio
Have a Nice Life Deathconsciousness
Haven Between the Senses
Heaven and Hell The Devil You Know
Herbie Hancock Head Hunters
Hildegard von Bingen Antiphons
Holy Other With U
Hot Cross Cryonics
How to Dress Well Love Remains
Husker Du New Day Rising
iamamiwhoami Kin
Iannis Xenakis Pithoprakta
Iannis Xenakis Eonta
Ice Cube The Predator
Ice Cube AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
In Mourning Monolith
Incubus Make Yourself
Incubus' giant leap forward. Before this, they were good alright, but they were also immature, inconsistent, and yet to truly find their sound. Make Yourself is the album that made them perhaps the ultimate proof that 21st century mainstream rock need not constantly revert to stereotype. Most of what's here sounds little like anyone else, and it's hard to imagine many bands writing songs as simultaneously accessible and enduring as "Drive" and "Pardon Me". Yet the album isn't dominated by its singles - "Privilege", "The Warmth", "Clean", "Stellar", and "I Miss You", though occasionally weighed down by Boyd's clunky lyrics, are all massively enjoyable. While they'd refine and better this with Morning View, Make Yourself remains a great album, and as essential purchase for fans of unashamedly melodic rock.
Incubus Enjoy Incubus
Incubus Light Grenades
Infected Mushroom Vicious Delicious
Infected Mushroom have been ahead of the psytrance game for nearly 10 years now, and Vicious Delicious has got more chance of seeing them break out to a wider fanbase than any of their previous albums. The band's continued progression has seen them arrive at a sound that's more organic and diverse than anything they've attempted previously, with hip-hop, flamenco, electropop, new age, and various world musics all cropping up intermittently. It's their appreciation of metal that shines through most, though - almost every track boasts a wailing guitar solo or a thrash riff somewhere, making it their most accessible work yet for the uninitiated. The only strikes against Vicious Delicious are its slightly bloated length and the vocals on "Forgive Me". Otherwise, a contender for the the best dance record of 2007.
Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights
Interpol Antics
Interpol Our Love to Admire
Iron Maiden Dance of Death
After a woeful 90s, few expected Iron Maiden to return to form in the 00s. Yet that's exactly what happened. Dickinson's return gave the band a new purpose, their compositional flair, energy, and gloriously camp power all returning. That latter-day resurgence peaked on Dance Of Death. Maiden are occasionally guilty of taking on other bands at their own game and not playing to their own strengths, but that's not the case here at all. This is pure Maiden gold; "Rainmaker", "Pashcendale", "No More Lies", and "Dance Of Death" all ranking among the best Maiden songs ever. Am I weird for thinking that this is Iron Maiden's best album?
Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden Edward the Great
Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan Ballad Of The Broken Seas
Jack Off Jill Clear Hearts Grey Flowers
Jack White Blunderbuss
Jaga Jazzist What We Must
Jam City Classical Curves
James Blackshaw Litany of Echoes
James Brown The Payback
Jamie Woon Mirrorwriting
Jeff Buckley Live à L'Olympia
Jeff Buckley The Grace EPs
Jeff Wayne The War of the Worlds
Jenny Hval Viscera
Jens Lekman I Know What Love Isn't
Jeru the Damaja The Sun Rises in the East
Jesu Silver
Jesu Ascension
Jill Scott The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3
Jimi Tenor and Kabu Kabu 4th Dimension
Jimmy Cliff The Harder They Come
Joan of Arc Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain...
Johann Johannsson Fordlandia
John Coltrane My Favorite Things
John Coltrane Ascension
John Coltrane Coltrane (Prestige, 1957)
Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Now I Got Worry
Joni Mitchell Court and Spark
Joni Mitchell Blue
Josh Ritter The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Joy Division Closer
Joy Division Permanent
Julia Holter Ekstasis
Julianna Barwick The Magic Place
June Tabor & Oysterband Ragged Kingdom
Juno A Future Lived in Past Tense
Consderiably more ambitious and meandering than their debut, A Future Lived In Past Tense represents both a step forward and a step back for Juno. On the plus side, the highlights on here are astonishing - "Up Through The Night" is simply one of the most beautiful things ever written by a rock band, and "Covered With Hair" might be their best straight-forward song. The band's deftness of touch and attention to detail is obvious throughout, and when this album is good it's very good. The negatives, though, stop this from being a better album than This Is the Way It Goes and Goes and Goes. This album has a tendency to meander, to take far too long to get a conclusion that's too underwhelming in the circumstances - see "Things Gone and Things Still Here" and "The French Letter". Still, a great album from an under-appreciated outfit.
Juno This Is the Way It Goes and Goes and Goes
Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds
Kaizers Orchestra Ompa Til Du Dor
Kaki King Until We Felt Red
Kanon Wakeshima Shinshoku Dolce
Kanye West Late Orchestration
Karlheinz Stockhausen Kontakte
Karlheinz Stockhausen Hymnen
Karol Szymanowski Stabat mater
Kate Bush The Kick Inside
Killa Sista From Far East
An impressively authentic statement; the only reason you'd be able to tell that this is so recent in a blind test is the production values, which are clean and modern enoguth to distance its from the genre's innovators. Otherwise, this could easily have come out of Jamaica in the late '70s - which seems a pretty ridiculous thing to say about an all-female Japanese band in 2009, but it's true none the less. I'd even go as far as to say - with the caveat that I'm not expert - that "Kunoichi" is one of the best dub tracks I've heard, and the arrival of its sweeping sawtooth synth is a moment fit to match anything I've heard in reggae.

"Attack Dub" and especially "Counter Attack" are pretty goofy - both run off the same original, and truthfully, it's just not very good. That aside, this is a top notch record.
Kimbra Vows
Kings of Leon Because Of The Times
Simply put, it's their giant leap forward. After two albums of vaguely annoying, mumbled southern rock, Because of the Times sees the band's sonic template explode into life - evidently the band have been listening to a lot of early U2, Interpol, Neil Young, Pixies, and possibly even The Afghan Whigs, because those are the touchstones for this impressively ambitious album. "On Call" and "Knocked Up" are gorgeous, the latter a sprawling, gentle number that instantly tells you how much the band have moved on. Elsewhere, the songs sound like every note, every sound has been meticulously considered. The only downer is that Caleb still cannot sing to save his life, a weakness thrown into sharper relief by the band's new-found musicial aptitude. But if you can overlook that, you'll find that Because of the Times is one of the most welcome shocks of the year.
Kitty Ha Ha, I'm Sorry
Klashnekoff The Sagas of Klashnekoff
Klaxons Myths of the Near Future
Konono No 1 Assume Crash Position
Kraftwerk Radio-Activity
Kraftwerk Kraftwerk
Krzysztof Komeda Astigmatic
Kvelertak Kvelertak
Kyuss Blues for the Red Sun
Lacquer Overloaded
Lady Gaga The Fame Monster
Lamas of the Nyingmapa Monastery of Dehr Tibetan Ritual Music Chanted and Played by Lamas a
My voyage into Tibetan music so far consists of a few YouTube videos, Nonesuch Explorer's
Tibetan Buddhism: Tantras of Gyütö - Sangwa Düpa, and this - but for what it's worth,
this is the best material I've heard yet. I wonder whether it's just a result of the sheer
numbers involved in this recording (in terms of vocalists, instrumental performers, and
instruments), or because it's ritual music specifically, but this is much more absorbing and
involving than the plainchant-esque meditative drones that makes up most of what I've heard
so far - there's a real sense of movement about this that makes a big difference to the
listening experience. Great stuff, highly recommended.
Lana Del Rey Paradise
Latyrx The Album
Laura Veirs Year Of Meteors
Laura Veirs Saltbreakers
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin III
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin Early Days/Latter Days
Led Zeppelin Best Of, Vol. 2: Latter Days
Lee Fields and the Expressions My World
Liars Liars
Lifesavas Spirit in Stone
Lil Wayne Tha Carter III
Linda Ronstadt Heart Like a Wheel
Lisa Germano Geek The Girl
Liz Phair Exile In Guyville
LL Cool J Radio
LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions Rattlesnakes
Lou Ragland He Says Understand Each Other
Luc Ferrari Presque rien
Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92
Ludwig van Beethoven Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (Für Elise)
Luigi Boccherini String Quintet in E major, op. 11
M.I.A. Kala
It's like Arular with somebody painting in the gaps - everything here is so much more rich, inventive, and technicolour than on its predecessor. Needless to say, this is a MASSIVE improvement. "Bamboo Banga" is a great crunk track disguised in electro clothing, and a natural continuation from the likes of "Galang" and "Pull Up The People". But she expands elsewhere to great effect; "Jimmy" is absolutely stunning, with epic faux-Indian strings tied to ska guitar and electronic swirls, and M.I.A. actually singing for once. It's easily the best thing she's even put her name to. Much of the remainder sounds like Adam & The Ants coming live from the jungle - it's tribal, but furiously idiosyncractic. Not once does it descend into neanderthal simplicity (as Arular did) or cliche. The only clunker is "20 Dollar", on which she attempts to weave a needless, ill-judged cover of "Where Is My Mind?" by Pixies into the mix. All the plaudits you heard aimed at Arular, whether they were true or not, apply here threefold. Great stuff.
Machine Head Through the Ashes of Empires
Machito and His Orchestra Kenya (Afro Jazz Cuban)
Before I heard this, I just figured the world of Afro-Cuban jazz was a mystery to me, but my first reaction about Kenya was to be impressed by how familiar it all sounded. I'm not sure why, exactly - it could well be that a lot of this has been sampled by other people, or used in TV shows and films, or whether its formula has simply been copied so much that I've heard all the ingredients seperately, rearranged into something else. Most likely, it's a combination of all three. Whatever it is, though, it transforms an album that might otherwise sound too exotic into something very accessible. rIt's also very enjoyable. It doesn't deviate an awful lot from the pattern of ground bass, skittering bongos, and brass-heavy orchestration, but it doesn't really need to. Not much jazz - at least, not much critically acclaimed jazz - is as openly fun as this.
Madvillain Madvillainy
Manic Street Preachers Forever Delayed
Manic Street Preachers Gold Against The Soul
Manic Street Preachers Generation Terrorists
Realistically, this album was never going to sell the 20 million copies its creators said it would. Even so, it's a damn good album, ruined only slightly by the bloated length. The glam rock aesthetic and politically aware consciousness make for an album that's fun without being disposable, and intellectual without disappearing up its own backside. "Slash N' Burn", "Little Baby Nothing", and of course "Motorcycle Emptiness" are all fantastic songs, but the album does tail off at point - two versions of "Repeat" is slightly un-necessary, and some of the songs towards the "Damn Dog"/"Crucifix Kiss" end of things are utterly unmemorable. Still, trimmed down to 12 songs, this would have been one of the very finest debuts of the 90s, and for that alone it's worth owning.
Manic Street Preachers Send Away The Tigers
Considering that they were once the most urgent, vital force in British music, it was especially difficult for us fans to watch the Manics become stadium giants and lose not just their fury, but also a good chunk of their intelligence and political intentions. They were still pumping out good songs fairly regularly, but the albums were hard to swallow. It was hard to see how they'd reclaim lost ground on that front - any attempt to revisit earlier glories would be obvious and likely disastrous (Know Your Enemy), and there was limited potential in reinvention (Lifeblood). But, third time lucky, they've done it. It's hard to explain what's so right about Send Away The Tigers, but it just feels like the passion and the urgency is back. As such it's easily their most solid album in 11 years, and a signpost that actually, they probably do have a future that's not based around endless re-runs of Everything Must Go.

In short:

Manic Street Preachers Journal For Plague Lovers
Manu Chao Clandestino
Mapuche Sanctity
Mariah Carey Butterfly
Mark Hollis Mark Hollis
Mark Ronson Version
Martin Grech March of the Lonely
Martin Grech Unholy
Marvin Gaye Let's Get It On
Massive Attack Splitting the Atom
Massive Attack Heligoland
Mastodon The Hunter
Maxwell BLACKsummers'night (2009)
Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell
Megadeth Rust in Peace
Mercury Rev Deserter's Songs
Meshuggah obZen
Metaform Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Metallica Metallica
With the overblown, often ridiculous ....And Justice For All, Metallica had backed themselves into a corner. Surely the band knew that they couldn't keep getting more complex, esoteric, and humorless forever? Metallica proved to be a brave, but smart move. In abondoning their established sound, and risking alienating all their fans, they somehow landed in the arms of 30 million people, willing to embrace them and make them the biggest band on the planet. The ballads didn't hurt - "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" both finding favour with an audience rasied on power ballads. Yet, these two aren't representative of the album, which was ultimately a follow-up to Appetite For Destruction and Back In Black to many, in that it was a hard rock record for people who didn't ordinarily like that kind of thing. Bob Rock's production sheen and Metallica's new-found sense of melody ensured that the hooky, heavy "Sad But True", "Enter Sandman", "Of Wolf And Man", and "Wherever I May Roam" ended up being loved by millions, and became reference points for any number of artists that followed. Not Metallica's best, perhaps, but still a solid, enjoyable hard rock record. And really, should the legacy of Metallica's first four albums ruin your enjoyment of this one?
Metallica Death Magnetic
mewithoutYou It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright!
There's been so much crap said about this already, and such a wide range of vastly different opinions, that I'd probably be excited to hear it even if I didn't already love this band. The original reports suggest that they've completely sold out and starting writing Christian camp songs to sing on your acoustic guitar by the fire? Awesome! The hardcore fans get all indignant and start throwing personal insults back? Even better!
I can sort of see where that first opinion comes from, in fairness - It's All Crazy! is a lot less self-obsessed and downbeat than anything they've done before, markedly so in contrast to a track like "Wolf Am I (And Shadow)". It's also more subdued and more content with itself, and many of the songs introduce orchestral instruments - the influence of psychedelia, particularly Sgt. Peppers, is all over this, especially in the last two tracks. Perhaps that's a little disappointing to hear for some, and it's hard to deny that this doesn't quite scale the heights of Brother, Sister, but people need to get over it. They're still a great band and this is still a great album.

Major props too, for being a band known for Christian imagery, and having the guts/intelligence/desire to write a joyous acoustic finale called "Allah! Allah! Allah!". Maybe if more of the religious people I knew were as spiritual as these guys can be I'd be a religious man myself. Something to consider.
mewithoutYou Ten Stories
Michael Prophet Consciousness
A pretty damn slick reggae album, with an impressively subtle sense of diversity about it, too. Check how "The Gates of Zion" captures the dank atmospherics of dub without actually sounding like it at all, or how the melodic arc in the chorus of "Conscious Man"'s carries a hint of "I Don't Wanna Talk About It" (of Crazy Horse, Rod Stewart, and Everything But the Girl fame) about it, or even how odd the organ sounds on "The Wise Shall Be Wiser". These are minor touches, sure, but they are there and they contribute much to the album's playability and longevity.
For the most part, though, this is solid, smooth roots reggae. Prophet's voice is pretty distinctive - there's a slight quiver to it unlike any other Jamaican singer I've heard - but it's the songs you'll remember most about Consciousness. If reggae was a more popular genre around this neck of the woods (or at least a more commercially lucrative one), you'd say that each track here could have been a single. It's hard to know how else to praise an album like this - it doesn't do anything unusual or unexpected, really, it's just seriously good at doing the basics.
Miguel de Molina El embrujo de su voz
Mikhail Glinka Ruslan and Lyudmila
Miles Davis Jack Johnson
Ministry Psalm 69
Minus the Bear Highly Refined Pirates
The stupid song titles, album names, and even band name might give you the inclination to believe that Minus The Bear are, at best, a throwaway experiment, and at worst, a joke. Neither is true. In actual fact, Minus The Bear are an occasionally fiddly, fairly complex indie band clearly in thrall to Television. What's remarkable is the sense of melody and passion that runs through everything here. Truth be told, you might say there's something for everyone on here - melody, pop songs, rock riffs, strong melodies, musical intelligence, humor, the lot. It might not be impossible not to enjoy this record, but it's close.
Minus the Bear Planet of Ice
Missy Elliott Miss E… So Addictive
Mobb Deep The Infamous
Modest Mouse The Lonesome Crowded West
Mogwai Come On Die Young
Mogwai Rock Action
Mogwai Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)
Mogwai Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Morphine Yes
Morphine The Night
Morphine At Your Service
Morrissey You Are the Quarry
Morrissey Your Arsenal
Morton Feldman Piano and String Quartet
Mos Def Black on Both Sides
Muddy Waters At Newport 1960
Mum Finally We Are No One
Murcof Martes
Muse Absolution
The video for "Stockholm Syndrome", this album's first single, highlighted everything we already knew about Muse up to this point. The song was fantastic, but the video was lazy and boring. To wit; we all knew they had potential, and lots of it, but somehow they'd always managed to hold themselves back from being truly great. It was with this album, though, that this began to change. The singles were, as usual, all brilliant - it was here, though, that Muse began to make themselves into an albums band for the first time. Tracks like "Apocalypse Please", "Falling Away With You", and "Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist" thrillingly suggested that the pieces were finally falling into place for them, both musically and conceptually. This was the album that confirmed Muse's ability and showed that they'd finally found their own voice, though it's certainly not their best. That would be the follow-up.
Muse Origin of Symmetry
My Bloody Valentine Tremolo
My Chemical Romance The Black Parade
N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo
N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton
Nas The Lost Tapes
Nas Life Is Good
Neil Young Harvest
Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Nero Welcome Reality
Nevermore Dreaming Neon Black
Nevermore Dead Heart In A Dead World
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds No More Shall We Part
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Henry's Dream
Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Nico Muhly Mothertongue
Nicola Roberts Cinderella's Eyes
Nightwish Century Child
Nightwish Over The Hills And Far Away
Nightwish Dark Passion Play
Nina Simone High Priestess of Soul
Nina Simone Little Girl Blue
Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York
Nitin Sawhney Prophesy
Nobuo Uematsu FFVII: Advent Children OST
NOFX The Decline
NOISIA Split The Atom
NoMeansNo The Worldhood of the World (As Such)
Northern Portrait Criminal Art Lovers
Northern Portrait The Fallen Aristocracy
Nosaj Thing Drift
Nujabes Spiritual State
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Devotional & Love Songs
Oasis Definitely Maybe
Oasis Don't Believe the Truth
Okkervil River The Stage Names
Country-inflected indie pop with some really good melodies and the odd knockout lyric. At just 9 tracks, this is easily punching its weight and more - it's a neat little album where not a minute is wasted. The first three tracks are all great fun, as is "You Can't Hold The Hand Of A Rock'n'Roll Man". I know nothing about this band at all, but what can I say? I'm impressed. Albums like this are the reason I like checking out things I've never even heard of on a whim.
Oliver Nelson The Blues and the Abstract Truth
Only A Mother Feral Chickens
oOoOO Untitled
Opeth Ghost Reveries
Orange Juice You Can't Hide Your Love Forever
Organized Konfusion Stress: The Extinction Agenda
Ornette Coleman The Shape of Jazz to Come
Otis Redding The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
OutKast Stankonia
OutKast Aquemini
P.O.S Never Better
The first great rap record of 2009. Never Better takes a while to get going, with POS' much-vaunted punk influence occasionally seeing him spoil his hooks or construct beats out of little more than drumrolls, and at first glance the record seems like a tentative experiment rather than a natural synthesis. But then it all falls into place - from "Been Afraid" onward, the record kills. Even on the first half of the album, the likes of "Drumroll" and "Saivon Glover" - the great tracks - resonate much more than the slightly underwhelming likes of "Let it Rattle". It's not a classic by any means, and it's surely not going to be remembered as the best rap record of the year, but to say that is only to acknowledge the impressive praise it's generating already. Never Better might be something of a mixed bag, but it's one that offers up way more treats than duds, and one so gripping at times that it demands the listener return to it. Points deducted/added for name-dropping Fugazi and referencing The Stooges as per your preference.
PainKiller Guts of a Virgin
Panic! at the Disco Pretty. Odd.
Pantera Vulgar Display of Power
Paul Oakenfold Tranceport
There are a couple of slightly weak points here (Binary Finary's "1998" is the biggest offender), but the good tracks are outstanding. Dream Traveler's "Time" and Three N One's remix of Energy 52's "Cafe Del Mar" are the pick of the bunch (you'll probably have heard the latter before, providing you've been within 50 feet of a club in the past 17 years), but there are cracking moments all over - Sasha's remix of GusGus' "Purple" is one of the most windswept dance tracks out there, Lost Tribe's "Gamemaster" is a ridiclously precise and focused no-bullshit dancefloor slayer, and so on. It really isn't hard to see why this has gained the reputation it has as one of trance's greatest DJ sets - as a manifesto (and it was rendered as such by its success) it's brilliant.
Paul Simon Graceland
Paul Weller Stanley Road
Pearl Jam Vitalogy
Pearl Jam Backspacer
Pearl Jam Greatest Hits
Pelican The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon...
Pendulum Hold Your Colour
Drum'n'bass, as a general rule, is a genre that's always been popular and attracted a lot of attention amongst those between the ages of 16 and 25. Still, it's also a genre in which most of the artists are entirely faceless. I know a lot of people who regularly go to drum'n'bass club nights, and yet can't name more than 2 or 3 D&B artists. They just know the songs. So, in a lot of ways, Hold Your Colour is an album that's been threatening to happen for a long time - here, for the first time since Goldie, is a credible drum & bass artist everyone can name. "Slam", "Tarantula", and "Fasten Your Seatbelts" have been everywhere over the past year (at least, in club terms), and it's easy to see why; they're accessible and catchy without losing any of the energy or anything-goes spirit that makes all the D&B people can't put a name to so exciting. "Slam", in particular, was one of 2005's finest songs. And, crucially, everybody knows who Pendulum are. There are probably better albums out there (truth be told, 3 or 4 of the songs here are fairly boring), but this is an anomoly; a drum'n'bass record that reached a crowd outside dedicated internet forums. For that alone, it should be applauded.
Peppino D'Agostino A Glimpse of Times Past
Pere Ubu Dub Housing
Perfume Tree A Lifetime Away
Perry Leopold Experiment in Metaphysics
Pet Shop Boys Actually
Pete Rock and CL Smooth Mecca and the Soul Brother
Peteris Vasks Violin Concerto, 'Distant Light'
Peteris Vasks Viatore, for string orchestra
Phaeleh Fallen Light
Pharoahe Monch Internal Affairs
Pharoahe Monch W.A.R.
Philip Glass Glassworks
Pickering Pick Waxwing
Pickering Pick The Pacific Ocean
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon
There's a reason that stoners think Dark Side Of The Moon is the best album ever - they've smoked so much that they've fallen asleep by Side 2. Yes, the opening 5 tracks of Dark Side Of The Moon are truly stunning, and just about worthy of the praise they get. But from "Us & Them" onwards, the album dips considerably. The final 4 tracks just aren't good enough for this record to be a classic. Not the best album ever, and not even Pink Floyd's best (or even 2nd best, or 3rd best). Just get lost in the great part of the record, cut it off after "Money", and pretend it's an EP.
Pink Floyd Echoes
Pistol Annies Hell on Heels
Pixies Trompe Le Monde
PJ Harvey Dry
Placebo Meds
Plan B Who Needs Actions When You've Got Words
Porcupine Tree Stupid Dream
Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet
Portishead Portishead
Portugal. The Man In The Mountain In The Cloud
Powderfinger Odyssey Number Five
Primal Scream Dirty Hits
Primordial To the Nameless Dead
Prince 3121
Projections Between Here and Now
Protest the Hero Kezia
Protest the Hero Fortress
Protest the Hero Scurrilous
Public Enemy Apocalypse 91 The Enemy Strikes Black
Public Enemy Most Of My Heroes Still Don't Appear On No Stamp
Public Image Ltd. Metal Box
Pulp This is Hardcore
Pyotr Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 In F Minor, Op. 36
Queen The Platinum Collection
Queens of the Stone Age Rated R
Queensryche Operation: Mindcrime II
R. Kelly Trapped in the Closet (Chapters 1-12)
R.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant
Rabbit Hole Revelations LP
Radiohead Hail to the Thief
Radiohead My Iron Lung
Radiohead COM LAG (2plus2isfive)
Radiohead Airbag/How Am I Driving?
Radiohead The King of Limbs
Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt II
Raekwon Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
Rahsaan Roland Kirk The Inflated Tear
Ramblin' Jack Elliott Jack Takes The Floor
Random Axe Random Axe
Randy Newman Sail Away
Raphael Saadiq The Way I See It
Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe Duo Exchange
Razorlight Up All Night
Razorlight Razorlight
Johnny Borrell may never fulfil his own prophecies, but he's getting closer. This album is home to some genuinely fine songs, "In The Morning", "LA Waltz", and "Who Needs Love" among them. It's a stripped-back, short, sharp, straight-up pop-rock album that doesn't suffer from those limitations, nor allow them to stifle the ambition at the heart of these songs. As such, and because there are no bad songs here, this is a surprisingly impressive offering. It's easy to see why Razorlight was branded a 5-star album by Q magazine, and given a similar rating by the NME. If vaguely shambolic, regional accent guitar-pop is your bag (and both those publications tend to assume that it's all people in the UK listen to), then only Arctic Monkeys offered a finer album in 2006.
Real Estate Days
Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits
Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Snapper Our Aim is to Satisfy
Regina Spektor Far
Regina Spektor What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Rheostatics 2067
Richard Dyer-Bennet Richard Dyer-Bennet
Richard Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra
Ride Nowhere
Rites of Spring Rites of Spring
Riverside Rapid Eye Movement
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand
Robert Wyatt Comicopera
Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells A Story
Roni Size New Forms
Roxy Music Roxy Music
Rufus Wainwright Want One
Run-D.M.C. Run DMC
Run-D.M.C. Raising Hell
Rush Moving Pictures
Rustie Glass Swords
Ryoji Ikeda +/-
Ryoji Ikeda Test Pattern
Saetia A Retrospective
Sam Cooke Night Beat
Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
Saul Williams Amethyst Rock Star
Scientist Rids the World of the Curse of the Vampires
Scientist Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space
Scott Matthews What The Night Delivers...
Scott Walker The Drift
Tilt was among the most shocking records of the 90s, if for nothing more than the fact that the artists responsible for some of the best art-pop moments ever had gone entirely avant-garde. So maybe it's the shock of the new wearing off, but 11 years on, Scott Walker has delivered Tilt, Part 2, and it's an inferior follow-up. That's not to say it's a bad album - it remains as unique, disarming, ambitious, and fascinating as Tilt, and "Cue" is probably his best avant-garde number (although it seems slightly derivative of Penderecki to these ears). Pulling off a record this dark and unrelenting without becoming cheesy and over-doing it is a difficult trick, and for that, The Drift is one of 2006's most impressive offerings. But overall, this isn't the brilliant, revelatory record Tilt was. Only get this if you want more of the same - great as it is, this has been done better.
Scott Walker Scott 3
Scott Walker The Collection
Scott Walker Bish Bosch
Scrawl Travel On, Rider
Scrawl Nature Film
It's something of a minor miracle that this album is this good. Half of it is cleaned up and slightly re-written re-recordings of earlier material that. An album sequenced in this manner could so easily have stunk of contractual filler, but this never does.

Shockingly, for Scrawl's standards, this is very accessible. "Charles" must be their most light-hearted moment, and could easily have rode into the indie charts alongside The Breeder's similarly oddball and fun "Cannonball" (though it's not *quite* of the same quality). "100 Car Pile-Up" shows that they got more accessible with their havier stuff, too - this is the punchiest, most air-guitar friendly thing I've heard from them. It's also brilliant. Their cover of "Public Image" ranks as a highlight too; some even argue this as their finest moment, though I certainly wouldn't.

Nature Film, if you can find it, is well worth hearing. Scrawl are a remarkable band, and while this may not be their most remarkable album, it's still definitely a keeper.
Scuba Triangulation
Sepalcure Sepalcure
Septicflesh The Great Mass
Sepultura Arise
Shabby Tinkerz 2010 Draw
Shafiq Husayn Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka
Shawn Lee Soul in the Hole
Shawn Lee Voices and Choices
Shpongle Are You Shpongled?
Shpongle would quickly become one of the most vital electronic acts in the world, and certainly one of the best, but Are You Shpongled?, their 1998 debut, only hints at that future in short measures. While it's a perfectly good album in its own terms, a lot of this doesn't bear more than a passing resemblence to the two meisterworks that would follow. More ambient, measured, and freeform, it is almost by definition less enjoyable, but it's also a refreshingly different experience if you're in the mood. It's the Shpongle album most obviously geared at drug users, the one with most in common with new age music, and the one that is arguably the most interesting, if the one most people will listen to least. Then again, there are those who say that this is the only true Shpongle album, and that they immediately 'sold out' before recording anything else, so what do I know?
Shulman In Search of a Meaningful Moment
Sigh In Somniphobia
Sigur Ros ( )
Once upon a time, I would quite happily have slapped 5 stars all over this. Sadly, as I've grown up, discovered more post-rock, and played this album every so often over the course of damn near 6 years, it's simply lost its impact. Only "Untitled 4" still raises chills the way the whole album did when I first heard it; too much of the rest simply drags once you know what's coming next. I'd still recommend this to just about anyone with an interest in post-rock, because for a long time this was one of my absolute favourite albums; sadly it's just lacking that little something that would make it an all-time great.
Sigur Ros Takk...
Sigur Ros Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
Sigur Ros Valtari
SikTh The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out
SikTh came out of my local scene not so long ago, so seeing this album become so acclaimed was a great thing, personally, for a lot of people I know. So there is a temptation to over-rate this slightly, inspiring as it was to hear that songs as good as "Scent Of The Obscene" and "Skies of Millenium Night" could be made in my surroundings. Yet, there are a couple of true clunkers here; "Can't We All Dream" might be the single worst song I own. So, it's an inconsistent record, and it occasionally falls fowl of its own ambition. It's still thrilling, though. The two aforementioned tracks, "Peep Show", the two "Emerson" interludes, and the Nick Cave cover "Tupelo" are all stellar tracks, brimming with energy and invention. Their ambition might hold them back, but as Death Of A Dead Day revealed, it's also their strength, which is what makes this unrestrained recording the finest SikTh release yet. Interesting fact: one of the members of SikTh is currently living with a girl I know. She's a major Shins fan. The plot thickens.
Silver Apples Contact
Silverchair Diorama
Simon and Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Sir Richard Bishop Salvador Kali
Skinnyman Council Estate Of Mind
Slayer Seasons in the Abyss
Slayer Reign in Blood
Slick Rick The Great Adventures of Slick Rick
Ignoring the few stabs at the '80s commercial market that drag it down, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick undoubtedly deserves its reputation as a rap classic. While he might not quite be the finest storyteller in the genre, Rick's definitely got a way with words and imagery that has literally influenced hundreds of rappers who have followed. "Treat Her Like A Prostitute", "Lick The Balls", and "Children's Story" are all classics that only the most humourless cretin could dismiss.
Sly and The Family Stone Fresh
Solomon Burke Nashville
Songs: Ohia The Lioness
Sonic Youth Daydream Nation
Sonic Youth Sister
Sonic Youth EVOL
Sonic Youth Rather Ripped
Sonic Youth SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century
Soundgarden Badmotorfinger
Soundtrack (Film) Forrest Gump
Sparks Kimono My House
Spinal Tap This Is Spinal Tap
Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Squarepusher Music Is Rotted One Note
Squeeze Essential Squeeze
Stabilizer A Fuse Slowly Burning
Stan Getz Getz/Gilberto
Stan Rogers Turnaround
Steely Dan Can't Buy a Thrill
Steely Dan Countdown to Ecstasy
Steinski Nothing to Fear: A Rough Mix
Stenchman Abyss
Steve Earle Guitar Town
Steve Roach The Magnificent Void
Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness' First Finale
Streetlight Manifesto Everything Goes Numb
Sublime Sublime
Suede Suede
Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz
Sugababes Overloaded: The Singles Collection
Sugar Copper Blue
Sun Kil Moon April
Sun Ra Jazz in Silhouette
Talib Kweli Eardrum
Talk Talk Laughing Stock
Talking Heads More Songs About Buildings and Food
Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues
Very, very nearly their best album. Alas, the lack of consistency holds it back.

"Burning Down The House" is simply a wonderful pop song. "Girlfriend Is Better", for my money, is at the very least in the same league as "Burning Down The House", and possibly their best song (any 'Top Talking Heads Songs" list is basically a three-horse race with "Once In A Lifetime" and these two, for my money). Talking Heads do confusion like no other band, and this is perfect evidence of that - it's a rare Talking Heads love song, dealing with a girl trying to force her way into your bed, regardless of your existing girlfriend. 'I've got a girlfriend who's better than that/But nothing could be better than this/Could it?'. The title of Stop Making Sense is taken from this song - a sentiment uttered toward the other woman as the protagonist's resistance breaks. Snow Patrol stole this idea and based an entire song on it for the title track of Eyes Open. They also namedropped Sufjan Stevens. Hey, when you need credibility....

The rest of Side A isn't quite as good, but it's good enough to suggest that this will be one of the best albums of the 80s. Alas, Side B lets us down. "Swamp" marks an immediate drop in quality. The album doesn't really recover until "This Must be The Place", which probably isn't as good as is sometimes suggested, but is still a very good song.

So, a top-heavy offering. But still one well worth your time and/or money.
Talking Heads Fear of Music
Talvin Singh OK
Tangerine Dream Phaedra
Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque
Temple of the Dog Temple of the Dog
Terry Riley In C
The Afghan Whigs 1965
The Afghan Whigs Honky's Ladder
Anyone who's seen either The Afghan Whigs or The Twilight Singers live, or heard any of their live bootlegs, will know Greg Dulli's fond of a cover version or three. He tends to be pretty damn good at them, too - see The Twilight Singers' covers album, She Loves You, for proof of that.

Essentially an addendum to the full-length Black Love, Honky's Ladder is still worth picking up as it contains two such fantastic, unexpected covers - one of TLC's "Creep", and one of "If Only I Had A Heart" - yes, the Tin Man's song from The Wizard Of Oz. You're also treated to two versions of the title track, and the brilliant "Blame, Etc.", one of Black Love's very best song.
The Afghan Whigs Uptown Avondale
The Afghan Whigs What Jail is Like
The Beach Boys Wild Honey
Whether or not an album by one of the biggest and most revered bands of all time can truly be called 'underrated' is an argument for another time, but if it can, then Wild Honey deserves the epithet. Recorded and released within 18 months of Pet Sounds, it sees Brian Wilson release creative control of the group and the rest of the band moving back into their comfort zone. That comfort zone, oddly, just happens to be blue-eyed soul; a move sparked by Carl Wilson, if the group's biographies are to be believed. It's certainly Carl who takes to the mic for the surprisingly effective Stevie Wonder cover "I Was Made To Love Her", which ranks as one of the highlights. "Wild Honey", "How She Boogalooed It", "I'd Love Just Once To See You", and "Country Air" are all really good songs too. To be honest I only own this because it came free with Smiley Smile, but to be blunt, this blows that album out of the water.
The Beatles Help!
History alert! Help! is home to the worst song ever recorded (though not written) by the most famous pop band of all time. That song is the almost unbelievably lame "Act Naturally", a hideous abortion of a song if ever I've heard one. Aside from that and the insanely over-rated "Yesterday", this is a pretty good album. "Help!", "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", and "Ticket to Ride" are all among the finest songs the band ever did. Their best, of course, was yet to come, but this was their last glorious stand as a pure pop act.
The Beatles 1967 – 1970
The Bees Octopus
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Gorilla
The Bug London Zoo
The Caretaker An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
The Chemical Brothers Dig Your Own Hole
The Chemical Brothers Singles 93-03
The Clancy Brothers Come Fill Your Glass With Us
The Clash The Clash (US version)
The Clash The Clash
The Clash Black Market Clash
The Commitments The Commitments
The Creature Cocoa Don't Explain It
The Cure Pornography
The Cure Disintegration
The Cure Greatest Hits
The Cure The Head on the Door
The D.O.C. No One Can Do It Better
The Darkness Permission to Land
The Decemberists Castaways and Cutouts
It's only really a lack of consistency that keeps this from being a superb debut. Both of the opening tracks, "Leslie Ann Levine" and "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect", are fantastic songs; quirky, fun, nostalgic, melodic. Shame, then, that the rest of the album isn't as good. From "July, July!" onwards, the album settles into a groove that reels off one good song after another, but no great ones. Still, for a debut, this was very impressive - many groups take 2 or 3 albums to truly find their sound, but The Decemberists had it down instantly here.
The Decemberists The Crane Wife
Hmm. There is an argument to be made that most bands experience their commercial or critical peak on the album AFTER the one that deserves it most - note how Kid A is Radiohead's highest charting album in the US, for instance. The critical slavering that greeted the release of The Crane Wife serves as further evidence that there might just be some truth in this theory. Picaresque is the masterpiece, the gloriously technicolour batch of heartfelt, joyful songs. This is a step backward from that. Not to say it's a bad album, of course - it's simply an album of transition, and it should be acknowledged as such. Smart enough to know that they'll never better themselves if they stick to their established sound, this album sees them branch out into prog and classic rock. It's more bombastic than the band have ever been, perhaps reflecting the changing times in indie music (Arcade Fire might be acknowledged as a precedent for the feel of this record). They might well wring another masterpiece out of this sound, but this isn't it. Still damn good stuff though.
The Decemberists The King Is Dead
The Detroit Cobras Tied and True
The Dirtbombs Ultraglide in Black
The Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I
The Dismemberment Plan and Juno Juno and The Dismemberment Plan
The Divine Comedy Absent Friends
The Divine Comedy A Short Album About Love
The Dresden Dolls Yes, Virginia...
Amanda Palmer probaby gave this album the only review it needs when she discussed its genesis on the band's Myspace page. To paraphrase - 'Every song on our last album was 'the song', the song that meant everything to me, but I just don't feel that much about any of our new songs.' That's the difference between the two Dresden Dolls records to date. While it genuinely felt like Palmer had poured her heart and soul into every song there (and she probably had), this album doesn't reach the same heights of volatile emotion. That's not to say it's bad; if anything, it just means the band have grown up. And there are definitely some great songs on here, with "Shores of California", "Sex Changes", "Backstabber", and "Mrs. O" all being good enough to suggest that the Dolls have a prosperous career ahead of them. There are mis-steps - "Sing" is as redundant as the worst power ballads - but given the power of their debut, we should be thankful that the follow-up is as enjoyable as this. It's certainly not the damp squib it could so easily have been.
The Flaming Lips Transmissions From the Satellite Heart
The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips Fight Test
The Foreign Exchange Authenticity
The Format Dog Problems
The Gaslamp Killer I Spit On Your Grave
The Gathering if_then_else
The Guitar Trio Friday Night In San Francisco
I hate 'guitar' records. You know who I mean - Satriani, Vai, Malmsteem, Becker, and so on. But this one is a real rush. The fact that you can't really tell Di Meola, McLaughlin, and De Lucia apart stops this from degenerating into a G3-style pissing contest, and furthermore, shredding just sounds plain better on a acoustic guitar. And crucially, a sense of fun is maintained throughout - witness the way they drop the Pink Panther theme into one of the more tricky compositions.
The Gutter Twins Saturnalia
The Gutter Twins Adorata
The Indelicates Songs for Swinging Lovers
The Indelicates David Koresh Superstar
The Infomatics Kill Or Create
The Jam All Mod Cons
The Jam Sound Affects
The Kinks The Village Green Preservation Society
The Kinks The Ultimate Collection
The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The Understatement
The Mamas and The Papas If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
The National Boxer
The Panics Rain On The Humming Wire
The Paper Chase Someday This Could All Be Yours Vol.1
The Paper Chase Now You Are One of Us
The Pogues Red Roses for Me
The Prodigy The Fat of the Land
The Prodigy Music for the Jilted Generation
The Prodigy Their Law:The Singles 1990-2005
The Psychic Paramount II
The Replacements Tim
The Residents The Third Reich 'n Roll
On their second album, The Residents anticipated sampling culture by around a decade, using a combination of primitive technology, sarcasm, and spite to record these two side-long mash-ups of various hits from the 1960s. America, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, The Strangeloves, The Doors, Cream, The Beatles, Iron Butterfly, The Rolling Stone - all find themselves in the firing line as The Residents deconstruct their songs and put them back together with silly vocals, lazy instrumentation, and plenty of 'wrong' notes. It's hilarious, but the reason it works is because there's a strange reverance for the original material that shines through - this album is as much a tribute to the '60s as it is a criticism. Probably the band's finest moment.
The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers
The Ronettes Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
The Roots Phrenology
The Saints Eternally Yours
The Smashing Pumpkins Rotten Apples
The Smashing Pumpkins Adore
The Smiths Louder Than Bombs
The Smiths Strangeways, Here We Come
The Smiths Hatful of Hollow
The Specials Specials
The Streets Original Pirate Material
The Streets A Grand Don't Come For Free
The Strokes Is This It
The Supremes The Ultimate Collection
The Tallest Man on Earth Shallow Grave
The Temptations Cloud Nine
The Temptations Puzzle People
The Twilight Singers Powder Burns
The Unthanks Last
The Weeknd House of Balloons
The White Stripes White Blood Cells
The White Stripes Icky Thump
Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous
Thom Yorke Bridge School Benefit 2002
Tim Buckley Lorca
Tim Buckley Goodbye and Hello
Tim Buckley Greetings From L.A.
Titus Andronicus The Monitor
Tom McRae Just Like Blood
Tom Tom Club Tom Tom Club
Tom Waits Swordfishtrombones
Tom Waits Bone Machine
Tomba Choke on Coke
As nasty as you wanna be; the guy's mates with Borgore and it shows. The wobble on the title track is dumb as hell, and so are the only too literal sound effects, but I kinda like that; it sounds like Tomba only discovered what an LFO was twenty minutes before recording it. "Mars 101" is dance music for zombies.
This relentlessly heavy, brutal version of dubstep will probably get pretty tired in the near future, but what can I say? I'm loving it now.
Tomba Jaws
Tool Ænima
Tori Amos Scarlet's Walk
Tori Amos Night of Hunters
Touche Amore Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
tUnE-yArDs w h o k i l l
TwinSisterMoon The Hollow Mountain
U2 The Joshua Tree
Ugly Duckling Bang for the Buck
Ulver Perdition City
Ulver Bergtatt - Et eeventyr i 5 capitler
Uncle Dave Macon Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy
UNKLE Psyence Fiction
UNKLE Never, Never, Land
This got bagged on by a hell of a lot of people when it came out, mainly thanks to the absence of DJ Shadow, the man who most assumed was the heart and soul of UNKLE. Now, thanks to hindsight, we know that this is James Lavelle's baby, and that actually, Never Never Land is a pretty damn good album that doesn't stray too far from the blueprint its predecessor laid out, even if it is inferior. "Panic Attack" and "Eye For An Eye" are both excellent, the guests generally do their job pretty well, and the beats and atmospherics are all present, correct, and effective. Don't let the reputation of this album scare you off - it's actually pretty good.
Vampire Weekend Contra
Van Morrison It's Too Late to Stop Now
Various Artists (Indie) 25 Years of Rough Trade Shops
Various Artists (Punk) 20 Years of Dischord: 1980-2000
Various Artists (Soul) Motown 40: Forever
Vektor Outer Isolation
Venetian Snares Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
Venetian Snares Detrimentalist
Venetian Snares Filth
Venetian Snares Cubist Reggae
Vex'd Cloud Seed
Walter Smetak Interregno
Very impressive. It's microtonal/electroacoustic material, but it pulls in all sorts of strains of popular music. "Trifase", the least avant-garde track on the album, is almost a straight-up blues track, and parts of it feel - if not sound - like American primitivism too. I'm not really sure whether I should judge this as a classical composition approaching pop, or an experimental pop musician reaching into the avant-garde (the Smetak biographies I can find suggest either is equally valid), but it's just as enthralling either way.
War The World Is a Ghetto
Whirr Pipe Dreams
Wilco Sky Blue Sky
William Shatner Has Been
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, K. 525
Wu-Tang Clan Legendary Weapons
Wyclef Jean The Ecleftic (2 Sides II A Book)
X Japan Dahlia
X-Clan To The East, Blackwards
XTC Skylarking
Yagya Rigning
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell
Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz!
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were never so bad that you could really call them worthless, but even so, It's Blitz! is enough to make their previous two albums look a little bit silly. Gone are the irritating vocal tics, the indulgence in noise, and most of the guitars, to be replaced by a batch of mostly electronic songs that offer the kind of depth so sorely lacking on tracks like "Gold Lion" and "Date With The Night". "Runaway" and "Frantic" are likely to be two of the best ballads of the year, while even the more upbeat likes of "Heads Will Roll" and "Zero" sound like the work of a much more mature band. It's not quite the same shock that albums like Death Magnetic and Because of the Times have provided in recent years, but It's Blitz! still deserves to be commended in the same way those albums were; for being far better than anybody could have reasonably expected.
Yes Close to the Edge
Yoko Ono Yes, I'm A Witch
Yoko Ono Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
Younger Brother The Last Days of Gravity
Younger Brother Vaccine
Yusef Lateef Eastern Sounds

3.0 good
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Madonna
2562 Fever
50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin'
808 State Ninety
A Perfect Circle Mer de Noms
The highlights of Mer De Noms are so high that it is tempting to describe it as a masterpiece. "3 Libras", as embarassing as it is to admit it, is such a perfectly judged portrait of unrequited love it's become a song that's painful for me to listen to. "Judith" is a stunner despite the slightly clunky lyrics, and "Thinking Of You" and the magical "Orestes" are both capable of troubling 'Best Of 2000" lists, too. Yet, as an album, this doesn't gel. "Over" is awful, and the likes of "Magdalena", "Renholder", and "Sleeping Beauty" just don't work. These tracks render the album a deeply inconsistent listen, which is disappointing when you consider just how good it could have been.
Aaliyah One in a Million
Looking back with the gift of hindsight, this is a strange album. Like most 90s R&B albums, it's a balance between upbeat numbers and ballads that skews far too heavily in favor of the ballads. But that's the rub - this is one of the very few albums that benefits from such a bias, because a lot of the ballads here are unusually good. Occasionally, they're brilliant. Mostly, they aim for sensuality and style over schmaltz, and they sound all the better for it. The upbeat tracks, however, simple aren't up to scratch, the great "Hot Like Fire" aside.
Later, Aaliyah would become like every else - her next album would showcase great dance numbers, then ruin the flow with syrupy crap - but here, she's a curio. This is modern R&B through the looking glass.
ABC The Lexicon of Love
Adam and the Ants Kings of the Wild Frontier
After Forever Invisible Circles
Against Me! Reinventing Axl Rose
Not so much a folk-punk album as a folk album with a punk yelling over the top of it, this is a fine record that doesn't match up to what came before it in the genre (The Pogues particularly, but also Billy Bragg and The Men They Couldn't Hang), and certainly doesn't deserve the mighty reputation it's acquired. It's easy enough to enjoy, though, the two highlights being at either end of the record, with the anthemic "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" and the near-ballad "8 Full Hours of Sleep". The socio-political lyrics do sometimes fall on the wrong side of preachy, but overall, the mixture of political anger, folk guitars, youthful energy, and subtle humour works. Good stuff. Not a classic, though.
Air The Virgin Suicides
Al Green Let's Stay Together
Al Green Lay It Down
Al Green I'm Still in Love With You
Alanis Morissette Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Alessandro Mannarino Supersantos
Alex Drosen Sit and Melt
Alice in Chains Sap
Alice in Chains Facelift
Alicia Keys As I Am
American Music Club Everclear
Amos Lee Supply And Demand
Amplive Rainydayz Remixes
Anal Cunt It Just Gets Worse
Ananda Shankar Ananda Shankar
Andrew Bird The Mysterious Production Of Eggs
Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
Antimatter Planetary Confinement
Apocalyptica Apocalyptica
Arch Enemy Anthems of Rebellion
Arctic Monkeys Humbug
Arnold Schoenberg Pelleas und Melisande, Op. 5
Art Brut Art Brut vs. Satan
Asian Dub Foundation Time Freeze: The Best of
At the Drive-In In/Casino/Out
Atheist Unquestionable Presence
Athlete Tourist
Athlete Vehicles & Animals
Audioslave Audioslave
Avenged Sevenfold Waking the Fallen
While you don't need to bother with anything else Avenged Sevenfold have ever done, this is actually quite a good mainstream metal album. It's catchy, punchy, and it manages to be neither too dumb to like nor too intelligent to enjoy - both traps countless metal bands fall into. None of the band members are especially impressive, yet when the band lock into one of their vaguely Pantera-influenced grooves - "Eternal Rest", for instance - that doesn't matter. "Chapter Four", "Unholy Confessions", and the big ballad "I Won't See You Tonight" are all very enjoyable, too. Many things grate about Avenged Sevenfold - Shadows' vocals, wanky guitar, boring songs - but none of that can be found here. Unexpected, to say the least.
Baby Charles Baby Charles
Babylon Zoo The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes
Balanescu Quartet Possessed
Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution A Call To Arms
Beastie Boys To the 5 Boroughs
Beatallica Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band
Beck Odelay
Beck Sea Change
Beck The Information
Belle and Sebastian The Boy With the Arab Strap
Belle and Sebastian Tigermilk
Belle and Sebastian Legal Man
Belle and Sebastian The BBC Sessions
Belle and Sebastian Write About Love
Ben Harper Live From Mars
Benga Diary Of An Afro Warrior
Bert Jansch Bert Jansch
Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man Out Of Season
Between the Buried and Me The Great Misdirect
Beverley Knight Who I Am
Big Blood Dead Songs
Bilal Love For Sale
Bill Bailey The Ultimate Collection...Ever!
Billie Holiday Lady In Satin
Billy Bragg and Wilco Mermaid Avenue
Bjork Medulla
Black Country Communion 2
Black Grape It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah
Black Mountain In the Future
Black Sabbath Master of Reality
Black Sabbath The Best of Black Sabbath
Blackalicious The Craft
Blackfield Blackfield II
Blind Guardian A Night at the Opera
Bloc Party Bloc Party
Blood, Sweat and Tears Child is Father to the Man
Bloody Tourists Kink
Blur Blur
Pavement are a vaunted influence on this, but you can hear all sorts of stuff going on in a more subtle way - Sonic Youth, Minutemen, The Replacements, even Black Flag on one track. Blur's American album indeed - this is very American by their standards. Odd, then, that the album's best tracks are the ones that sound most English - "Beetlebum" is in the vein of latter-day Beatles, while "Strange News From Another Star" takes a page from David Bowie's book. "Song 2", while undeniably a shamelessly stadium-sized rock beast most English bands at the time would have been too proud to write, also sounds like little else on here. What remains is occasionally enjoyable, but you get the general impression that the band were fumbling a little, feeling somehow uncomfortable with their new style. On a few tracks, it feels like members of the band are refusing to conform to the new agenda, particularly Alex James. Whatever was going on in the band at the time, we're left with a record that offers mighty peaks, but leaves you feeling a little underwhelmed all the same.
Blur Modern Life Is Rubbish
Boards of Canada Music Has the Right to Children
Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited
It's not hard to imagine just how brilliant this must have sounded back in the day - that snare on "Like A Rolling Stone" must have been like a gavel being slammed on pop's past and rock's future. Still, I can't help but feel like I've grown out of this album with time, and so too has music as a whole. For pure song strength there's no way this should be considered Dylan's best, or even in his top five. "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Desolation Row" still cut through the ages, but much of the rest is held back by the excitement of the new, the failure to acknowledge the timeless, and most irritatingly of all, a lead guitarist who clearly had no idea how to tune his instrument. If you're new to Dylan, start elsewhere - Desire aside, each of his other canonic albums deserves its place in history more than this does.
Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Live 1966
Bob Dylan Modern Times
Bobby McFerrin The Voice
Boyz II Men Legacy: The Greatest Hits Collection
Bright Eyes I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Broken Social Scene You Forgot It in People
Bruce Springsteen Born in the U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen Magic
Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits (1995)
Bruce Springsteen Working on a Dream
Buck 65 Secret House Against The World
Buckethead Colma
Buddy Holly The Best of Buddy Holly
Buena Vista Social Club Buena Vista Social Club
Bullet For My Valentine The Poison
Bullet For My Valentine Scream, Aim, Fire
Busdriver Temporary Forever
Camera Obscura Let's Get Out of This Country
Can Future Days
Candlemass Candlemass
Caspa Everybody's Talking, Nobody's Listening!
Cat Power Moon Pix
Cat Stevens The very best of
Cathy Berberian Revolution
It kind of annoys me that most people these days will only encounter Cathy Berberian through this album, mostly by proxy - tracks from here show up on compilation albums with such tasteful titles as The Weird Beatles, The Funny Beatles, Crap Beatles, whatever. Man, this is the woman behind Stripsody and Omaggio A Joyce and Aria With Fontana Mix and however many other pieces. John Cage and Igor Stravinsky both wrote tributes to her, she was that respected in the classical world. Whatever.

So basically it's an album of Beatles covers, sung in an operatic style, with basic backing provided mostly by harpsichord and a string quartet. Okay, in fairness, it's pretty unbearable unless you're really in the mood for it, and you can't imagine that anyone in the world would listen to this over the originals, any other arias, or any other Cathy Berberian offerings (depending on why you're investigating this). But it's fun and it's funny, and if you take it for what it is then it's a very well made record. The only reworking that's 'bad' per se is "Eleanor Rigby", but that's balanced out by "Ticket To Ride" and "Help!", which are both near-genius. Your enjoyment of this will depend almost entirely on your appreciation for, and tolerance of, novelty, but if you can get over yourself and enjoy this at face value then it's certainly worth a listen.
Cay Nature Creates Freaks
Cee Lo Green Cee-Lo Green Is The Soul Machine
Chamillionaire Ultimate Victory
Cheryl Cole 3 Words
Chic C'est Chic
Christophe Bailleau & Neal Williams On Soft Mountains We Work Magic
Claude Debussy Children's Corner, L. 113
Claude Debussy Images, L. 122
Coldplay Parachutes
Coldplay X & Y
Common Finding Forever
Let's clear one thing up - people are calling Finding Forever a disappointment not because it's a bad album, but because of the impossibly high standards Common has set for himself. Practically every album he released until Be can be considered a classic in its field (and yes, that includes Electric Circus), and this just plainly isn't on the level of records like Like Water For Chocolate and One Day It'll All Make Sense. But this is a good album! "The People" and "The Game" are both quality, and "U, Black Maybe" (and D'Angelo's spot on "So Far To Go", or that matter) are as good as all the previous Common tracs to feature Bilal. The Nina Simone-sampling "Misunderstood" is enjoyable too. That's 6 out of 12 tracks. I can't bring myself to complain about an album where half the tracks are good and none of the rest are stinkers.
Counting Crows Hard Candy
Counting Crows Films About Ghosts: The Best Of
Cowboys Became Folk Heroes Cowboys Became Folk Heroes
Cranes Inescapable
Cursive Domestica
Cyne Pretty Dark Things
Cypress Hill Cypress Hill
Daft Punk Homework
Damien Rice O
This ended up being awfully over-rated, didn't it? Honestly, O is a good record. It ends there. Murdered by a lack of variation, inconsistency, and a top-heavy sequencing, it's nevertheless home to a couple of brilliant songs - "Volcano" and "Cannonball" being the highlights. "The Blower's Daughter" is great if you're prepared to overlook the cheesy pay-off line of 'I can't take my eyes off of you....'. But after about 3 or 4 listens, these are the only tracks you'll regularly return to. At its heights, it's wonderful, but it's pretty boring in places, too. The follow-up, 9, is a massive improvement upon this. Worth investigating, but don't expect the masterpiece it's proclaimed to be.
Danger Mouse The Grey Album
Dashboard Confessional The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Dashboard Confessional MTV Unplugged
Daughter Darling Sweet Shadows
David Bowie Low
David Hurn The Beautiful Trustful Future
De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising
It despresses me a ltitle just how much I've outgrown this record. When I discovered it, it was one of the first times I'd been exposed to hip-hop that went beyond gangster clich?it seemed every bit as technicolor, inventive, and majestic as it's always made out to be. But a few years down the line, I find it impossible to listen to this album in full. Or, for that matter, get about 9 or 10 tracks into it. 24 songs is just far, far too much, and if I'm being honest, there's only 4 or 5 songs on here that are worth saturated listens. There's no doubting the importance of this record, but De La Soul themselves have bettered this, not to mention any number of acts that followed them.
Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters
Death Individual Thought Patterns
Deerhoof Friend Opportunity
Deftones Deftones
Depeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
Depeche Mode Sounds Of The Universe
Destiny's Child The Writings on the Wall
Deterior Antimonument
Devendra Banhart Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Devin Davis Lonely People of the World, Unite!
Dexys Midnight Runners Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
Diamanda Galas You Must Be Certain of the Devil
Dilated Peoples Expansion Team
Dinosaur Jr. You're Living All Over Me
Dinosaur Jr. Farm
Dirty Projectors Rise Above
Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca
Dizzee Rascal Maths and English
DJ Format Music for the Mature B-Boy
DJ Hell Teufelswerk
DJ Shadow The Outsider
DJ Zhao Ngoma 2
Doves The Last Broadcast
Doves Kingdom of Rust
Dr. John Gris-Gris
Dr. Octagon Dr. Octagonecologyst
Drake Take Care
Dream Theater A Change of Seasons
If any album sums up Dream Theater's career, it's this one. Nobody can doubt these guys have talent, and if you were going to use pick one song to show that, "A Change Of Seasons" is it. It's Dream Theater's best song, by a mile. 24 minutes long, veering from technical wankery (never overdone, unlike all their other songs) to genuine emotion; from focused, driving power to jokey, stumbling piano breaks. There's great melody, great playing, some great arranging. Hell, it was my favourite prog rock song of all time until I discovered X-Japan's "Art of Life".

And then they go and stick a load of tacky, lazy cover versions on the end.

This album could have been a classic, but once again, Dream Theater are their own worst enemies.
dredg Leitmotif
Drink Me Sleep
E.S. Posthumus Unearthed
Eagles Hotel California
Why, oh why, oh why do so many 'classic' rock albums start off brilliantly and then fall down on their asses in the second half?

The story of Hotel California is a simple one - "Hotel California", "New Kid In Town", "Life In The Fast Lane", and "Wasted Time", a group we can loosely term 'the first four songs', are all brilliant. Then there's an orchestral reprise of "Wasted Time", which is pretty good, before another great song in "Victim of Love".

And then there's "Pretty Maids All In A Row", "Try And Love Again", and "The Last Resort". All so boring I can't remember the first thing about them. Dark Side Of The Moon syndrome or what?

So the great track vs. bad track ratio is high enough to make it worth owning. But this is no masterpiece.
Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
Eagles Long Road Out Of Eden
Easy Star All Stars Radiodread
Edgard Varese Ionisation
Edward Elgar Enigma Variations, Op. 36
Eleven Tigers Clouds Are Mountains
Elliott Smith New Moon
What's there to say? This is exactly what you'd expect. It's Elliott Smith and an acoustic guitar, with a few backing vocals thown in every so often. It's a set of songs that didn't get on the proper albums, some because they didn't fit, some because they weren't seen as good enough, some because they were covers and there were probably issues with copyright. There are no revelations here, and no unexpected shocks, good or bad. It doesn't throw Elliott Smith's music into a new light, nor is it scraping the barrel. If you like Elliott's other albums, you'll like this. He's certainly done better and probably done worse, but it's two CDs worth of material you probably haven't heard before from somebody who's not around to write any more, so it has its worth for that alone.

The two highlights are the Big Star cover, "Thirteen", and the bittersweet "Talking to Mary".
Elton John Greatest Hits 1970-2002
Elvis Costello Armed Forces
Emilie Autumn Fight Like A Girl
Eminem Curtain Call: The Hits
Eminem The Slim Shady EP
Ensemble Nipponia Japan: Kabuki & Other Traditional Music
Eric Lau New Territories
Erik Satie Gymnopédies
Esoteric The Maniacal Vale
Etro Anime See the Sound
Eurythmics Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Eyedea and Abilities E&A
Eyes to Gomorrah Dum Spira Spera
Fair to Midland Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True
Faith No More Album of the Year
Fall Out Boy Infinity on High
Feist The Reminder
Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine
Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel...
Fleetwood Mac Tango in the Night
Foals Antidotes
Foo Fighters In Your Honor
Four Tet Everything Ecstatic
Frank Turner Sleep Is For The Week
Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock
Frank Turner Poetry of the Deed
Frank Turner Rock & Roll
Frankie Goes To Hollywood Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Fugazi Repeater
Funeral for a Friend Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation
Funeral for a Friend Seven Ways To Scream Your Name
Future of the Left Travels With Myself And Another
Fyfe Dangerfield Fly Yellow Moon
Gang Starr Daily Operation
Gavin Castleton Home
Gentle Giant Acquiring the Taste
George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
George Michael Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael
Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX We're New Here
Girls Aloud Sound of the Underground
Girls' Generation The Boys
Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple
God Help The Girl God Help The Girl
Gojira The Way of All Flesh
Goldfrapp Felt Mountain
Goldie Timeless
Goldie Lookin Chain Greatest Hits
Gram Rabbit Music to Start a Cult To
Grant Lee Buffalo Fuzzy
Grinspoon Guide to Better Living
Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
Ground Zero Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, Ver. 1.28
Guido Anidea
Gyorgy Ligeti Le Grand Macabre
Handsome Boy Modeling School White People
Hanif-Jamiyl Krushed Grapes
Hank Mobley Soul Station
Hard-Fi Stars Of CCTV
Hard-Fi Once Upon A Time In The West
Harry Nilsson Nilsson Schmilsson
Harvey Milk Life... The Best Game in Town
Hector Berlioz Romeo et Juliette
Henryk Gorecki Concerto for Harpsichord and Strings, op. 40
Ice Cube Kill at Will
Iced Earth The Blessed and the Damned
Iced Earth Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ida Maria Fortress Round My Heart
Immortal Technique Revolutionary Volume 1
In Flames Colony
Incubus A Crow Left of the Murder...
Incubus S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
Intrusion The Seduction of Silence
Iron Maiden Piece of Mind
Iron Maiden No More Lies
Ital Tek Cyclical
Itzhak Perlman Perlman Plays Klezmer
Ivan Ives Newspeak
J Dilla Donuts
J Dilla Jay Stay Paid
Jace Everett Red Revelations
Jack Off Jill Sexless Demons and Scars
James Brown Live At The Apollo
James Brown Godfather of Soul
Janis Joplin Pearl
Jay-Z The Black Album
Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt
Jay-Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne
Jean Michel Jarre The Essential
Jeff Beck Jeff
Jeff Buckley Mystery White Boy
Jeff Wayne Highlights From The War of the Worlds
Jem Finally Woken
Jesu Conqueror
Jewel Pieces of You
Jim O'Rourke Halfway to a Threeway
Jimi Hendrix Experience Hendrix: The Best of Hendrix
Jimmy Eat World Clarity
JME Blam!
Joanna Newsom Have One on Me
Joe All That I Am
John Legend Get Lifted
After hearing the immense "Ordinary People" and the pretty-damn-good gospel update of "Used To Love U", it was hard not to be disappointed by this full-length offering. The talent on display on those songs too often finds itself buried under posturing, lazy sexism, and badly-judged guest appearances. The title Get Lifted is quite ironic, considering. Still, once the disappointment wears off this reveals itself as a decent offering without too many of the flaws that generally dog mainstream soul records these days. He will almost certainly make better albums than this in the future, though.
John Stainer The Crucifixion
Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around
Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon
Jose Gonzalez Veneer
Josh Ritter So Runs The World Away
Joy Division Unknown Pleasures
Judas Priest Painkiller
Jurassic 5 Quality Control
k.d. lang Ingenue
Kaizers Orchestra Maestro
Karlheinz Stockhausen Etude
Karlheinz Stockhausen Studie I
Karlheinz Stockhausen Studie II
Kashiwa Daisuke 88
Kate Bush The Dreaming
Kate Bush Director's Cut
Kate Nash Made of Bricks
Kayo Dot Choirs of the Eye
Kayo Dot Blue Lambency Downward
Kelis Kaleidoscope
Kelly Clarkson Breakaway
Khaled Kenza
Kieron Means Run Mountain
Kinesis You Are Being Lied To
King Crimson Red
Korn Korn
Kosheen Kokopelli
Kryptic Minds One of Us
KT Tunstall Eye To The Telescope
Kurupt Space Boogie: Smoke Oddyssey
Kylesa Static Tensions
L'arc-en-Ciel Ark
Lacuna Coil Comalies
Lamb Between Darkness And Wonder
Late of the Pier Fantasy Black Channel
Lauryn Hill MTV Unplugged No. 2.0
LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
Led Zeppelin Best Of, Vol. 1: Early Days
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions
Lee Dorsey Yes We Can
Leftfield Rhythm And Stealth
Leona Lewis Spirit
LFO (UK) Frequencies
Lightning Bolt Wonderful Rainbow
Lil B I'm Gay (I'm Happy)
Linkin Park Hybrid Theory
LITE Phantasia
Little Richard Here's Little Richard
Live Throwing Copper
Live Birds Of Pray
Los Campesinos! Hold On Now, Youngster...
Lostprophets Start Something
Lostprophets The Betrayed
Love Da Capo
Lucia Pamela Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela
Lucinda Williams Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Lunatic Soul Lunatic Soul
Lupe Fiasco The Cool
Lykathea Aflame Elvenefris
M83 Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts
Machine Head Burn My Eyes
Machine Head The Blackening
This album is most certainly a step backwards for Machine Head. The band should perhaps be admired for stepping back from the more derivative elements of Through The Ashes of Empires - an album that lifted ideas and riffs from Deftones, Death, and System of a Down, among others - but the fact is that, without lifting what they like from other bands, they seem short on ideas. Over 8 tracks, there's simply too little in the way of variation or invention (or even power, for the most part) for this record to succeed. The band has clearly attempted to introduce variation by adopting progressive elements into their sound, but they simply aren't well done enough. When the band indulge these in full, they sound like Tool without the humor or the flair. So Godsmack, then.
Flynn's voice is still a thing of power, the drumming is still impressive, and the band can still kick out a dancefloor-friendly metal groove perhaps unlike anyone since Pantera, but you can't help but feel that this album has failed at what it set out to do. The Blackening is a reasonably good metal record, but Machine Head have done much better, and there's no doubt that the genre will kick up dozens of albums better than this during 2007.
Madness The Rise & Fall
Madonna The Immaculate Collection
Madonna Ray of Light
Main Source Breaking Atoms
Manes How the World Came To An End
Manic Street Preachers Lipstick Traces (A Secret History of MSP)
Maps & Atlases Tree, Swallows, Houses
Mariah Carey Music Box
Marilyn Manson Antichrist Superstar
Marilyn Roxie New Limerent Object
Mark Kozelek Finally
Maroon 5 Songs About Jane
Martha Wainwright Martha Wainwright
Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
maudlin of the Well Leaving Your Body Map
maudlin of the Well Part the Second
Mayer Hawthorne A Strange Arrangement
mclusky McLusky Do Dallas
Meat Loaf The Very Best of Meat Loaf
Meat Puppets Meat Puppets II
Melvins Houdini
Metallica ...And Justice for All
Metallica The Unnamed Feeling
Metallica S&M
Micah P. Hinson Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress
Michael Jackson Thriller
Michael Jackson Off the Wall
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
Miles Davis Porgy and Bess
Million Dead Harmony No Harmony
Missy Elliott Under Construction
Missy Elliott Respect M.E.: The Best of Missy Elliott
Misty in Roots Live at the Counter Eurovision 79
MJ Cole Sincere
Mob I Believe in You
Moby Play
Moby Grape Moby Grape
Modest Mouse The Moon & Antarctica
Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition
Mogwai Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait OST
Mogwai The Hawk Is Howling
Monty Python Monty Python Sings
Morphine Like Swimming
Morrissey Ringleader of the Tormentors
Morten Lauridsen O Magnum Mysterium
Morton Subotnick The Wild Bull
Mother Love Bone Apple
Mount Kimbie Crooks & Lovers
Ms. Dynamite A Little Deeper
Muggs Dust
Muse The Resistance
My Chemical Romance Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
My Red Cell 13 In My 31
Mystica Second Dive
Nada Surf Lucky
Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens What Have You Done, My Brother?
Authentic as hell, which is a hell of an achievement for a recording in 2009 that is so heavily influenced by gospel, and so openly religious. The singer sounds a hell of a lot like James Brown (imagine how shocked I was when I found out it was a woman!) and the music comes served deep-fried straight from the swinging, raucous Southern church you always hoped would exist.
Still, for such a convincing record, the one thing it doesn't convince me is whether or not it's special. When hearing a record as openly revivalist and old-fashioned as this, the question I automatically ask myself is whether anyone would still be listening to it in 2009 if it actually had been released in the mid-60s. I don't think the answer is a definite no, but it's seriously doubtful. That shouldn't temper my enjoyment of the record, and I don't think it does - it's just a marker of whereabouts this record sits in the broad spectrum of things. Definitely worth hearing, though; it might not do anything new but it does it very, very well.
Nas God's Son
Nas Hip Hop Is Dead
Hip-Hop Is Dead is a concept album of sorts, Nas taking his disillusionment with his contemporaries and asking just what happened to the artists that inspired him. Putting aside the fact that several of the missing artists Nas name-drops are as bad as those he's mocking, andthe irony of having a track named "Hip-Hop Is Dead" be produced by Will.I.Am, Nas seems totally fuelled by this concept. The problem is, for the majority of this record, he's forgotten to write any good songs. Anger and fire is all good, but Nas just doesn't have the vehicles to express himself well here. Nearly every song ranks as a minor disappointment, either by the poor beats, or Nas' reliance on obvious, tired reference points (one of the tracks is a little more than an Eric B & Rakim sample with peppered references to any 80s hip-hop track you care to mention - does this really have replay value to anyone?). Nas fans will enjoy it, of course, but you'd be better off with almost any other Nas album. The latter-day Nas revival has come to a grinding halt here, I'm afraid.
Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young On the Beach
Nerina Pallot Fires
Neu! Neu!
Neurosis Through Silver in Blood
Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island
Really now. All this ambivilence towards this album, just because its follow-up ended up becoming one of the most respected, acclaimed, loved indie albums of all time. C'mon guys, this isn't Pablo Honey! Matter of fact, the distance in quality between the two albums is not that big at all - it's only really enough for you to be certain that In The Aeroplane In The Sea is better, and no more. "Song Against Sex", "A Baby For Pree", "Where You'll Find Me Now", and "Three Peaches" are all fine songs, and there's no need to ignore or scorn them just because they're not "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1" or "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea". Even the maligned "Pree Sisters Swallowing A Donkey's Eye" is interesting and listenable, if overlong. Too many Neutral Milk Hotel fans have neglected this album - seriously, this may well be a noisier effort, with slightly worse production and fewer instantly memorable songs, but it is still a good indie album.
New Cassettes The Art Of...
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Let Love In
Nightwish Once
Nightwish Wishmaster
Nine Inch Nails The Fragile
Nine Inch Nails Further Down the Spiral (UK)
Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York (DVD)
Nitin Sawhney Human
Nobuo Uematsu Final Fantasy VII: Original Soundtrack
Noisettes Wild Young Hearts
NoMeansNo Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?
Norah Jones Come Away with Me
Norah Jones Not Too Late
Northern State Can I Keep This Pen?
Off Minor Some Blood
Oh No Dr. No's Oxperiment
Opeth Lamentations
Opeth The Roundhouse Tapes
Opeth Heritage
Os Mutantes Os Mutantes
Otis Redding The Dock of the Bay
Owls Owls
Panda Bear Person Pitch
Panic! at the Disco A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
Pantera Cowboys From Hell
Pantha Du Prince Black Noise
Paris Suit Yourself My Main Shitstain
Sounds like a lot of the more garage rock indebted recent-ish British bands (think Reverend and the Makers, Little Man Tate, arguably even Art Brut) triple-filtered through Pere Ubu and injected with NoMeansNo and The Residents' respective senses of humour. It's a lot of fun, but unfortunately there isn't a hell of a lot of substance under the dizzyingly weird sheen. Certainly worth one or two listens, mind.
Passion Pit Manners
Patrick Wolf The Magic Position
Patrick Wolf The Bachelor
Paul Giovanni The Wicker Man OST
Paul Simon Paul Simon
Paul Simon Surprise
Paul Weller Wild Wood
Pavel Dovgal Cassiopeia
Pearl Jam Pearl Jam
Pere Ubu The Modern Dance
Pet Shop Boys Very
Peter Green Green & Guitar: The Best Of
Peter Tosh Legalize It
Phil Spector A Christmas Gift For You
Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Photek The Hidden Camera
With the exception of the transcendant "Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu", I really need to be in the mood for Photek's cerebral, meditative style of drum'n'bass. I guess this is an unwelcome side-effect of growing up with ragga at the height of its popularity, and a sister that listened to it constantly - it's the ridiculously aggressive, hyped-up sound of tracks like "Original Nuttah" that I expect, and want, when I listen to DnB. Photek is about as far away as you can get from that, with his perfectly controlled, restrained sound, without moving into areas that start to sound like other genres. That probably makes him one of the best at what he does, but it limits how often I can listen to releases like The Hidden Camera and enjoy them. I would still unconditionally recommend it to anybody else, though.
Pickering Pick Lost Transmissions
Pixies At the BBC
Pixies Complete B-Sides
Placebo Sleeping With Ghosts
Placebo Once More With Feeling
Some bands invite you to look at them as a great singles band, by virtue of having 7 or 8 great singles. These aren't the same thing, as you usually find when you buy a 19-track long singles compilation by the band in question, only to find that half of the songs are actually quite mediocre. British rock bands of the 90s tend to be particularly afflicted by this - see The Verve, for instance.

Placebo are one of these bands. They have their share of great singles, sure - "Nancy Boy", "Pure Morning", "The Bitter End", and "This Picture" being the best of the bunch. But then....quite a few of these tracks offer almost zero pleasure, too. "Black-Eyed", "Bruise Pristine", "English Summer Rain", and "I Do" being among the worst offenders.

There's a few great songs here which are worth tracking down - if you've heard one Placebo song and enjoyed it, you're almost certain to enjoy another 7 or 8 from this selection. But, as an album, too many of these tracks miss the mark.
Plan B The Defamation Of Strickland Banks
Plants and Animals Parc Avenue
Platinum Pied Pipers Abundance
Poe Haunted
Porcupine Tree Deadwing
Prefuse 73 Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian
Presto State of the Art
Prince 1999
Prince Musicology
Professor Green Alive Till I'm Dead
Public Enemy Yo! Bum Rush the Show
Public Enemy He Got Game
Public Enemy How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People..
Pulp Different Class
Ultimately, it's dominated by the singles. But what singles! Each and every one of the five tracks here that made it into the charts is an era-defining classic. Shame that the last four tracks let the side down in a very bad way. But at least the album tracks here are far better than those on some of the albums it contended with in the Britpop rat race (step forward Urban Hymns).
Pyotr Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker, Op. 71
Quasimoto The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
Queen A Night at the Opera
Queen Greatest Hits
Queens of the Stone Age Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age Lullabies to Paralyze
R.E.M. Murmur
R.E.M. Document
Radiohead Itch
Rafter Quiet Storm
Rammstein Mutter
Ramones Rocket to Russia
Ramones Ramones
Rancid ...And Out Come the Wolves
Randy Newman 12 Songs
Red Hot Chili Peppers By the Way
Though Californication had been a blast and a shocking return to form, it was almost inevitable that the new RHCP it presented were going to end up coasting. And so By The Way showcases a band who've landed in a comfort zone and are prefectly happy not to rock the boat. There are, of course, moments here that still display a songwriting talent that rarely comes without a 20 years of experience - "Midnight", "By The Way", "The Zephyr Song", and "Cabron" could all be considered highlights of RHCP's career. But, at 16 tracks, it becomes a slog to listen to this album. Parts of it - "Universally Speaking", "Warm Tape" - are just far too boring. "Can't Stop" is a revelation here, because everything else is cozy, laid-back, full of vocal harmonies and understated music. I'm glad that they got over the personal hell of the mid 90s, but I can't help but feel that something's been lost.
Redman Whut? Thee Album
Regina Spektor Begin To Hope
Resoe The Black Void Of Space...
Richard and Linda Thompson I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Richard Hawley Coles Corner
Richard Hell and The Voidoids Blank Generation
Richard Wagner Der Ring des Nibelungen
Rihanna Good Girl Gone Bad
RJD2 Deadringer
Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers Vol. 2
Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues
Robert Wyatt Rock Bottom
Roots Manuva Awfully Deep
Royksopp Junior
Rustic Overtones Rooms by the Hour
Ry Cooder Paradise And Lunch
Ryan Adams Love is Hell
Ryan Adams Heartbreaker
Ryan Adams Easy Tiger
Ryoji Ikeda Dataplex
Sa-Ra Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love
Sabu Palo Congo
Salem (US) King Night
Saltillo Ganglion
Sam Cooke Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964
Santana Supernatural
Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters
Screaming Trees Ocean of Confusion
Self Subliminal Plastic Motives
Shabazz Palaces Black Up
Shakira Oral Fixation Vol. 2
She Coloris
Shugo Tokumaru Exit
Sigh Scenes from Hell
Sigur Ros Agætis byrjun
SikTh Death of a Dead Day
Simple Minds New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
Sir Richard Bishop The Freak of Araby
Skunk Anansie Paranoid And Sunburnt
Skunk Anansie Post Orgasmic Chill
Skunk Anansie Stoosh
Slipknot Slipknot
Slipknot Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
A shocker from out of nowhere, or the album Slipknot clearly always had in them? Depends on your view, I guess, but this is a crazy leap forward from Slipknot's previous work. The introduction of guitar solos, acoustic guitars, and a conscious drive towards melody expands the band's palette enough to make sure this album doesn't become as repetitive as just about any other nu-metal album you could care to mention. And in "Before I Forget", "Pulse Of The Maggots", "Duality", and "Vermillion", they have 4 utterly mighty rock songs worth returning to.
Slipknot All Hope Is Gone
Sly and The Family Stone Stand!
Small Faces Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake
Sneaker Pimps Becoming X
Snowman The Horse, the Rat and the Swan
So Solid Crew They Don't Know
Sofia Gubaidulina 'Introitus': Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orc.
Soft Machine Third
Solar Bears She Was Coloured In
Sonic Youth Sonic Nurse
Sonic Youth The Eternal
Sonny Sharrock Ask the Ages
Soul II Soul Club Classics Vol. One
Soundtrack (Film) Singles (Original Soundtrack)
Soweto Kinch Conversations With the Unseen
Sparks Hello Young Lovers
Spice Girls Spiceworld
Spice Girls Greatest Hits
Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Staind Break The Cycle
Stars Set Yourself On Fire
Steven Wilson Insurgentes
Stevie Wonder Talking Book
Stone Temple Pilots Core
Stone Temple Pilots Purple
Suede Dog Man Star
Suede Singles
Sugababes Taller In More Ways
Sugababes Angels with Dirty Faces
Supertramp Crime of the Century
System of a Down System of a Down
System of a Down Toxicity
System of a Down Hypnotize
Definitely inferior to Mezmerize, and it's cursed by two truly awful songs in "Hypnotize" and "Lonely Day", but not that bad a record overall. "Soldier Side" might be the best System Of A Down song ever, and if it's not, it's easily top 5. "Vicinity of Obscenity" is the best example yet of how infectious System's sense of humor can be, and "Attack" and "U-Fig" provide other highlights. So while Mezmerize stands out among System albums for being filled with highlights, this is a return to the days of Toxicity - some brilliant songs, but quite a few dirges and a couple of uninspired blasts of frenzy, too. Too much of this is either slightly too boring or simply too forgettable. Still, when it's good, it's System at their very best.
T. Rex Electric Warrior
Talib Kweli and Madlib Liberation
Terry Riley A Rainbow In Curved Air
Terry Scott Taylor Neverhood Songs
The 13th Floor Elevators The Psychedelic Sounds Of...
The Band Music from Big Pink
The Bar-Kays Money Talks
The Beatles Abbey Road
Like The White Album, Abbey Road is up for a lot of debate amongst Beatles fans. Maybe it's the final half of the album; almost an early stab at prog rock, the 10 closing tracks blend into one cohesive song cycle. Maybe it's the pervasive influence The Jimi Hendrix Experience had on proceedings, which meant things were heavier and groovier (witness "The End", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", and "Come Together") than they'd been before. Maybe it was the throwaway Peppers-esque pop of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Octopus's Garden". Hell, maybe it's because George Harrison wrote the best song on the album this time. Whatever. Even if it's far from their best and the medley is mostly a failure, Abbey Road blows both Sgt. Peppers and The White Album out of the water, and the first half of the album has proved itself the final coherent articulation of their vision. Not bad work for a band on such poor terms with each other that they promptly split up.
The Beatles With the Beatles
The Beatles 1
The Beautiful South Blue Is The Colour
The Birdtree Orchards and Caravans
The Black Mages The Black Mages
The Books Lost And Safe
The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo
The Chameleons Script of the Bridge
The Chemical Brothers Exit Planet Dust
The Claret Sky A Concentrated Memory Of an Undiluted Mind
The Coma Lilies The Coma Lilies
The Cramps Songs the Lord Taught Us
The Decemberists Her Majesty the Decemberists
Though not devoid of highlights ("I Was Meant For The Stage", "Los Angeles, I'm Yours"), this is the worst Decemberists album by quite a noticable distance. Effectively this is little more than a dry run for Picaresque - plenty of the songs here can be matched up with later, superior counterparts. And nothing here equals earlier gems like "Leslie Ann Levine" or "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect", either. Worth hearing for the Decemberists fan, since it's hardly a radical departure from their established style - in fact, it's just more of the same except worse. But nobody should be seeking this out when they haven't already got both Picaresque and Castaways & Cutouts.
The Detroit Cobras Mink Rat or Rabbit
The Detroit Cobras Seven Easy Pieces
The Dirtbombs Party Store
The Dodos Visiter
The Fall The Infotainment Scan
The Flaming Lips Embryonic
The Flashbulb Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
The Format Interventions and Lullabies
The Gaslamp Killer + Free the Robots The Killer Robots
The Gathering Sleepy Buildings:A Semi-Acoustic Evening
The Gits Frenching the Bully
The Go! Team Proof of Youth
The Hives Black and White Album
The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America
The Honeymoon Dialogue
The Horrors Primary Colours
The Isley Brothers 3+3
The Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold as Love
The Jolly Rogers The Jolly Rogers
The Killers Hot Fuss
The Killers Sam's Town
The Knife Silent Shout
Believe me, I love the music here. They've got a DIY, low-budget take on 'Werk-esque electronica that's actually very enjoyable, and displays a lot of invention. There's a sense of humor about the whole thing, too. I always appreciate that. But Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, the vocals are annoying. Mildly, yet gratingly, out of tune, they have no power to them, barely any charm, and they mask the lyrics they're meant to be bringing to the foreground. Can we have Jose Gonzalez sing the next album? As in, all of it? Pretty please?
The Last Poets The Last Poets
The Leisure Society The Sleeper
The Lemonheads It's a Shame About Ray
The Lost Children of Babylon The 911 Report: The Ultimate Conspiracy
The Magic Numbers Those the Brokes
The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs
The Men They Couldn't Hang How Green Is The Valley
A combination of The Pogues and Billy Bragg at his most political. In a sense it's a little disappointing because it dispenses with two of the most obvious strengths of those acts (the diverse instrumentation of The Pogues and the ability to flip between finger wagging and tenderness that both they and Bragg had), but those things aren't missed - The Men They Couldn't Hang are much more direct and unambiguous in their approach, and that helps them feel like their own band rather than a sum of their influences. rIt's pretty dated (you could almost peg this to a specific year, let alone a decade), but it's got a lot of charm in its robust rantings, and that's more than a lot of political music can offer. Certainly worth hearing if you've run your Pogues albums into the ground and the Dubliners are just a little too Irish for you.
The Microphones Mount Eerie
The Music The Music
The Nation of Ulysses Plays Pretty for Baby
The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death
The Offspring Smash
The Orb U.F.Off (The Best of The Orb)
The Pax Cecilia Blessed Are The Bonds
The Pogues Just Look Them in the Eye and Say...Pogue Mahone!!
The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow
The Prodigy Invaders Must Die
The Prodigy Their Law: The Singles 1990-2005 [Special Edition]
The Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk
The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers
The Renderers That Dog's Head in the Gutter Gives Off Vibrations
Alt rock with male-female vocals tradeoffs that was very, very definitely recorded and released in the mid-'90s, and was very, very definitely made on a small budget by amateur musicians.
It's hard to pinpoint any other band that sounds quite like them, but I fear that's not a result of a maverick spirit in action, but simply a result of the band not really knowing how to synthesize their influences properly. The range in their list of reference points is impressive - Nirvana, The Cranberries, The Mekons, Blondie, perhaps a touch of early goth - but the way they arrange them isn't. An enjoyable enough record, though; just not one you're likely to get more than 2 plays out of.
The Residents Not Available
The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed
The Rolling Stones Forty Licks
The Roots How I Got Over
The Shaggs Philosophy of the World
No matter what you've heard about Philosophy Of The World - all of it's true, incidentally - nothing can really prepare you for the shock of actually hearing this. The three members of this band sound like they've never actually heard any music before in their life, because there is absolutely no sense of meter, cohesion, or tonality to about 90% of what's happening here.

But it's not total crap. Well, it IS total crap, but by virtue of being genuinely groundbreaking in just how far it goes in breaking down 'good' musical practice, it becomes one of the most dizzying albums ever. The combination of Dot Wiggins' voice and this clattering, alien music is simply one of the creepiest, most fascinating experiences popular music has ever offered up. 3 is an appropriate rating because it's an average between 1 and 5 - either rating works perfectly for this album.

To quote AMG, 'There is nothing in your CD collection that sounds REMOTELY like this.'
The Shins Oh, Inverted World
The Shins Wincing the Night Away
The Shortwave Set Replica Sun Machine
The Smashing Pumpkins Gish
The Smashing Pumpkins Zeitgeist
No messing - "Tarantula" is freakin' AWSUM. "Doomsday Clock", "7 Shades of Black", and possibly "Pomp & Circumstance", are the remaining highlights of an album that slots nicely into the band's discography without drawing too much attention to itself. There's the out-and-out rockers, the ballads (which do follow on from "Adore", in that they use synths and odd sound-effects - one such track sounds like Enya - and in that they're not all that good), and "United States", a lengthy powerhouse that goes absolutely nowhere, and seems to take a aeon to do so. Note also the odd mix and immature production - they do detract from the record, but truth be told, not that much. Still, for its weaknesses, Zeitgeist certainly has its strengths, not the least of which is that it really does feel like the Pumpkins are back. The walls of guitars, the ridicuclously overblown lyrical conceits, Corgan's unmistakable voice and his way with a melody, they're all present and correct.

Belting single, fine album. Let's not complain - after all, how many other cross-dressing, temperamental, pseudo-gothic, melodramatic, shameless, charismatic, talismanic, gravel-voiced, semi-genius frontmen are left in epic, wailing mainstream rock these days?
The Smiths The Smiths
The Stooges The Stooges
The Strange Boys And Girls Club
The String Quartet Strung Out on Panic! At the Disco
The String Quartet Strung Out on OK Computer: The String Quartet Trib
The The Soul Mining
The Traveling Wilburys Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3
The Walker Brothers The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore: The Best Of
Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures
Therapy? Troublegum
Thin Lizzy Jailbreak
Thom Yorke The Eraser
Thrice The Artist in the Ambulance
Thurston Moore Trees Outside the Academy
Tim Buckley Happy Sad
Tinariwen Amassakoul
Tom McRae All Maps Welcome
Tom Verlaine Dreamtime
Tomba Brace For Impact
Tool Salival
Tool 10,000 Days
Tori Amos Strange Little Girls
Tori left her covers album until way too late in her career. Earlier stabs at covering songs originally by male artists - "Ain't No Sunshine", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Purple Rain", et cetera - were excellent. She could very easily have cranked out a great covers album in, say, 1995. But by 2001, things were different. Why that is is something of a mystery, but there are weak spots dotted through this album - "Real Men", "Strange Little Girl", "Rattlesnakes". Yet the highlights are impressive enough makes this worthwhile for fans. "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" is actually among her best songs, and while she arguably doesn't add much to either song, "I'm Not In Love" and "Enjoy The Silence" are simply great pieces of writing and Tori performs them with respect and aplomb. "Raining Blood", the album's key talking point, is good, if over-rated. It's inconsistent, like a lot of covers albums, but there's some great songs on here at least. And there's only 12 tracks! How about that for a latter-day Tori album?
Tori Amos American Doll Posse
Tortoise Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman
Tranzfusion Lotus
Tricky Knowle West Boy
Tricky Pre-Millenium Tension
Trivium Ascendancy
True Widow As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center
u.n.p.o.c. Fifth Column
U2 Achtung Baby
U2 The Best Of 1990-2000
U2 War
Ulver Kveldssanger
Ulver Silence Teaches You How to Sing EP
Ulver Childhood's End
Underworld Second Toughest in the Infants
Up Dharma Down Fragmented
Usher My Way
Usher 8701
Uzi And Ari Headworms
Van Halen 1984
Van Halen The Best of Both Worlds
Various Artists Box Of Dub
Various Artists (Classical) The Christmas Collection: Classical
Various Artists (Electronic) The Classic Chillout Album
Various Artists (Hip Hop) 8 Mile OST
Various Artists (Indie) A Lump of Coal
Various Artists (Jazz) Music From the Yiddish Radio Project
Various Artists (World) Tibetan Buddhism: Tantras of Gyütö - Sangwa Düpa
Deep, dark, cavernous, and heavy. Truth be told, it's tough to get through, especially the first track, which is entirely acapella and shifts slowly through textures in a way that reminds me of Ligeti's micropolyphony, only not quite as interesting (perhaps purely because it's not as dense, with the appeal coming more from the sound of the individual voices; and while that is impressive, it's hard to string out your disbelief for 24 minutes). The second track introduces rattling, clanging percussion which, while just as sparse, gives the voices a framework which up the ante considerably. It's certainly worth a shot if you're interested in religious music though, or if you just want something that way out of your comfort zone - it's unlikely you'll have heard much like this. I certainly don't feel like I have.
VAST Visual Audio Sensory Theater
Velvet Revolver Contraband
Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas
We Are Scientists With Love and Squalor
Ween Chocolate and Cheese
Weezer Weezer (Deluxe Edition)
Weird Al Yankovic Running With Scissors
Weird Al Yankovic Straight Outta Lynwood
White Mice True Love
Wilco Summerteeth
Wilco Kicking Television: Live in Chicago
Wilco Wilco (The Album)
Wilco The Whole Love
Wiley Evolve Or Be Extinct
Willie Nelson Stardust
Willie Nelson Yesterday's Wine
Willie Nile Streets of New York
Wipers Youth of America
World's End Girlfriend Hurtbreak Wonderland
Wu-Tang Clan 8 Diagrams
X Los Angeles
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Is Is
Yeasayer Odd Blood
Yes Fragile
There are some brilliant bits, and some boring bits. What else can I say? Clearly Yes went into this album attempting to capture just about every idea they had in their heads. On "Roundabout", it's thrilling. On "Cans And Brahms", it's quaint (and kinda enjoyable, I guess, but only a little bit). On the two 10 minutes-plus beasts at the tail end of the record, it leads to songs that veer wildly between being brilliant and dull. Fragile is a good album, but it's too much like hard work trying to find the meat of the album between all the guff.
Yo La Tengo Summer Sun
Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Yu Miyake Katamari Damacy OST
Zero 7 When It Falls
Zero 7 Simple Things

2.5 average
!!! Myth Takes
2Pac Until the End of Time
2Pac Rap Phenomenon II
A Perfect Circle Thirteenth Step
Just like its predecessor, Thirteenth Step is an album that displays moments of genius effectively holding hands with moments of indulgent toss. "The Noose" is a knockout at the heart of the record, and is probably the band's best song. "The Package", "Weak & Powerless", and "Blue" are all good tracks, too, and while "The Nurse Who Loved Me" pales in comparison to the Failure original, it's still okay. The rest, however, is generally boring, sometimes awful. APC are clearly a band who could have made a classic if they'd set their minds to it, but thanks to all the filler and failed, unrealised ideas, Thirteenth Step ends up sounding lazy.
A Tribe Called Quest People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths of Rhythm
ABBA Arrival
ABBA The Visitors
Aberrant Vascular Thyestes
AC/DC Back In Black
Some bands - Metallica, Spinal Tap, Tool - have, with an almost sweet naivete (or a knowing camp, in the Tap's case), used plain black album covers to try and give their music some sort of mystery. Not AC/DC. Who cares about mystery when there's whiskey to be drunk? Who cares about sexual equality when there's groupies to shag? Who cares about 'depth' and 'intelligence' when this is one of the 10 biggest selling albums of all time? And who the hell cares if this album only has one song repeated over and over again? It's fucking RAWK, man!

Ah, AC/DC. They're everything I hate in a band, but you've gotta love 'em.

Though I am tempted to knock off a star for "Have A Drink On Me". That's a pretty fucking stupid song to write just one year after your much-loved singer dies an alcohol-related death.
Aesop Rock Float
AFI Decemberunderground
In effect, Decemberunderground is Sing The Sorrow, Pt. 2. This is a continuation of the direction they'd begun to travel in. "Prelude 12/21" even kicks off the record with the same kind of atmospheric wall of drums and backing vocals that "Miseria Cantare" provided, before "Kill Caustic" flies out of the traps. Their love of pop hooks finds a logical end in "Miss Murder" too, which almost sounds like an A.F.I. remix of "Peaches" by The Stranglers. This opening trilogy is undoubtedly the high point of the album. Electronic swirls permeate the remainder of the album, just as they did for much of Sing The Sorrow.

The problem is that the rest is hugely inferior to everything on Sing The Sorrow. Nothing catches the ear. It all plods along in a basically pleasant, yet boring 80s-synth-pop kind of way. It's certainly AFI's weakest 'mainstream' record (Black Sails In The Sunset onwards), and it only betters their very early hardcore outings because there are actually two good songs here.

AFI fans who haven't been short-sighted and weak enough to call them 'sell-outs' will probably enjoy this. But as far as everyone else is concerned, this is to be avoided.
Aimee Mann Whatever
All Saints All Saints
Alter Bridge One Day Remains
Alter Bridge Blackbird
Andrew W.K. I Get Wet
Aphex Twin 26 Mixes For Cash
Arcade Fire The Arcade Fire
Arthur Russell World of Echo
Ash 1977
Ashes Divide Keep Telling Myself It's Alright
Asian Dub Foundation RAFI's Revenge
You could just about make a legitimate claim that RAFI's Revenge is the defining Asian Dub Foundation album. It's certainly their most politically charged - "Free Satpal Ram" (about Satpal Ram, the Asian man imprisoned for murder in an allegedly racist trial) and "Naxalite" (about the Indian communist movement) are the highlights, and they're two of the most angry songs in this band's catalogue. Yet, as angry and intelligent as the sentiments are, that fails to translate to the music, which is often far too basic and boring to truly carry the message. Later ADF albums would show that at their best, there is simply no band that can match them for political fury. Here, that potential is only hinted at. One only for fans.
Asian Dub Foundation Live - Keep Bangin' on the Walls
Astronautalis This Is Our Science
At the Drive-In Acrobatic Tenement
Athlete Beyond The Neighbourhood
Avril Lavigne Let Go
A better debut than a lot of people give it credit for, but still an ultimately average album. The lyrics are abysmal in places, it's true, and it can be tempting to be annoyed at the album simply because the people it's marketed at are annoying themselves, bu you shouldn't let that detract from the highlights here, which are very good. "Losing Grip" is possibly Lavigne's defining song, displaying perfectly the genuine pathos that eventually replaced the bouncy punk-popper she was originally marketed as. "I'm With You" is in a similar mould, replacing the guitars with mournful cellos. The contrast with songs like the bouncy "Sk8er Boi" make this a slightly disjointed listen (although that song does contain one lyrical gem in the spiteful 'does your pretty face see what he's worth?') Worth hearing once, but her second album was a major improvement on this.
Avril Lavigne The Best Damn Thing
Bad Brains I Against I
Bad Religion No Control
Bassnectar VAVA VOOM
Battles Gloss Drop
Bauhaus Mask
Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Beats Antique Elektrafone
Beck Modern Guilt
Bedouin Soundclash Street Gospels
Belle and Sebastian Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
Between the Buried and Me The Anatomy Of
Big Black Songs About Fucking
Big Star #1 Record
Billy Joel The Stranger
Bjork Volta
Black Sabbath Vol. 4
Bloc Party Silent Alarm Remixed
Bloc Party A Weekend in the City
Bloodhound Gang Hooray For Boobies
Blue Sky Black Death Third Party
Blur Think Tank
Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan Together Through Life
Booker T. and The MGs Stax Profiles
Breed 77 Cultura
Bright Eyes The People's Key
Brodequin Methods of Execution
brokeNCYDE I'm Not a Fan, but the Kids Like It!
Better than any of John Lennon's solo albums. Y'all need to hear some more music, go to more parties, and get laid more if you think this is the worst music in the world.
brokeNCYDE Guilty Pleasure
Bruce Hamana Hamana
Well, I don't know. The major criticisms of this album are really obvious ones - mostly, Hamana is a massive hippy who writes unironic lyrics like 'our people foretold this' and 'I woke up with my socks on last night because I got high'. Either he took way too many drugs or none at all, because his ideas about what psychedelia is are pretty far removed from either the real experience or from any other musical exploration of it I've heard. The real problem that festers throughout the lyrics, and that drags the album into near-mediocrity, isn't so much that the lyrics are bad or cringeworthy, it's that they're just impossible to believe in.
On the plus side, "Why Can't I Understand" and "Be Free With Me" are pretty catchy, and much of the guitar playing throughout is damn good; the fluidity of it is a considerable redeeming feature. While some of the musical ideas are reminiscent of Tim Buckley's more driving and direct moments, it's the guitars that keep it in its own territory. But really, it's all too hard to work up an opinion on this album one way or the other, because while it's clearly not awful and clearly not brilliant, it also mostly just washes over you. I suppose it's obscure for a reason.
Bruce Willis The Return of Bruno
Burton Wagner 21
Busta Rhymes Turn It Up! The Very Best Of
Butch Walker Cover Me Badd
Butthole Surfers Locust Abortion Technician
Camel I Can See Your House from Here
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band Safe As Milk
Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning
Chris Squire Fish Out of Water
Christina Aguilera Stripped
CMX Aura
Coheed and Cambria From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Coil The Ape Of Naples
Coma Cinema Blue Suicide
Common Universal Mind Control
Converge Axe to Fall
Counting Crows This Desert Life
Cradle of Filth Lovecraft & Witch Hearts
D12 Devil's Night
Daft Punk Alive 2007
Daft Punk Random Access Memories
Danielle Dax Dark Adapted Eye
Danielle Dax Inky Bloaters
Darkthrone Under a Funeral Moon
David Bowie Hunky Dory
David Gray White Ladder
Days of the New Days of the New II
Def Leppard Pyromania
Derek Bailey Aida
Devo Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Diamanda Galas Plague Mass
Diana Deutsch Musical Illusions and Paradoxes
Dilated Peoples 20/20
Dimmu Borgir Death Cult Armageddon
Dirty Vegas Dirty Vegas
Disco Inferno D.I. Go Pop
Dish Ma raison de vivre ton amour
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince Platinum & Gold Collection
Do Make Say Think Goodbye Enemy Airship the Landlord is Dead
DragonForce Inhuman Rampage
Dream Theater Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Dream Theater Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Duran Duran Rio
Eagles Very Best Of
Early Music Consort of London The Art of Courtly Love
Easy Star All Stars Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band
Echo and The Bunnymen Heaven Up Here
Einsturzende Neubauten Strategies Against Architecture '80-'83
Emeli Sande Our Version Of Events
Eminem The Eminem Show
Eric Clapton The Cream of Clapton (US)
Erik Satie Gnossiennes
Ethel Meserve The Milton Abandonment
Evanescence Fallen
FACT In the Blink of an Eye
Fatboy Slim You've Come a Long Way, Baby
Feeder The Singles
Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac
Flobots Fight with Tools
Flying Lotus Los Angeles
Foo Fighters The Colour and the Shape
Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Fuck Buttons Street Horrrsing
Fugazi 3 Songs
Fuzz Orchestra Fuzz Orchestra
Genesis Foxtrot
Genesis Selling England by the Pound
George Martin In My Life
George Michael Faith
Ghedalia Tazartes Une eclipse totale de soleil
Girl Unit Club Rez
Girls Aloud Tangled Up
Glasvegas Glasvegas
God Is an Astronaut Far from Refuge
Goldfinger Hello Destiny
Goldfrapp Supernature
Gorillaz Plastic Beach
Grateful Dead American Beauty
Green Day 21st Century Breakdown
Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy
Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 10 in F sharp [Unfinished]
Handsome Boy Modeling School So ... How's Your Girl?
Happy Mondays Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches
Harry Nilsson Nilsson Sings Newman
Herbert Scale
Hilltop Hoods The Hard Road
Hole Nobody's Daughter
Huck Notari Very Long Dream
Iannis Xenakis Orient-Occident
Iannis Xenakis S.709
Iggy Pop Lust For Life
Incubus If Not Now, When?
InMe Overgrown Eden
Iron Maiden Somewhere in Time
Iron Maiden A Matter of Life and Death
It seems to me that Iron Maiden have attempted here to both continue the sound they've been persuing since Brave New World, and make a vague concession to bringing their music more in line with the American rock music that's dominated the charts in the past couple of years (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, et al). Don't worry - this doesn't mean Iron Maiden have pop-punk - it just means that what we're left with is an album with short riffs that are fairly snappy for Iron Maiden's standards (gone already are the likes of "Paschendale", where a riff would be repeated for minutes, to be replaced by slightly more simple riffs that disappear nearly as soon as they arrive), yet maintains proggy aspirations. It doesn't work, especially since they appear to have abandoned all sense of melody. A Matter Of Life And Death is an album that never truly settles, and something this nervy and jumpy will never work in the hands of a band who found their second wind, 20 years into their careers, by focusing on composition. Somehow, it's annoyingly repetitive, too. It's not awful, and there's certainly stuff on here that's very enjoyable, but it's a major disappointment compared to the two records before it.
Jamie Cullum Pointless Nostalgic
Jamiroquai Emergency on Planet Earth
Jane's Addiction Ritual De Lo Habitual
Jane's Addiction Strays
Jawbreaker Dear You
Joe Better Days
Johann Sebastian Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
John Lennon Imagine
John Prine John Prine
Johnny Dowd A Drunkard's Masterpiece
Johnny Hollow Dirty Hands
Joker The Vision
Juno Reactor Bible Of Dreams
Kaada / Patton Romances
Kanye West 808s and Heartbreak
Karol Szymanowski Litania do Marii Panny
Katatonia Viva Emptiness
Katie Melua Call Off the Search
Kayo Dot Coyote
Kid Koala Some of My Best Friends Are DJs
Klaxons Xan Valleys
As far as introductions go, this is slightly inauspicious. "Atlantis To Interzone" is mighty, of course, and right up there with the best songs of 2006. The remix of it presented here is pretty good too. But the rest...well, it seems a little flat. "Gravity's Rainbow" and "4 Horsemen of 2012" both made it to the full album, and neither is a standout track there. In fact, the latter is probably the worst song on that album. "The Bouncer", meanwhile, flat-out sucks. Clearly a budget and a more professional production job did them wonders - this EP is crying out for a "Golden Skans" or a "Two Recievers".
Klaxons Surfing the Void
Komar, Melamid and Dave Soldier People's Choice Music
Korn The Path of Totality
Kow Otani Shadow of the Colossus: Roar of the Earth
Krohm Crown of the Ancients
Krzysztof Penderecki and Jonny Greenwood Krzysztof Penderecki / Jonny Greenwood
L'arc-en-Ciel Ray
Lady Gaga Born This Way
Lamb Lamb
LCD Soundsystem LCD Soundsystem
Oh dear. This should have been a classic, and James Murphy blew it. Failing almost entirely to follow up on the promise of the High-Fidelity-As-Song "Losing My Edge" and sheer hip-nerd genius of "Daft Punk is Playing At My House", LCD Soundsystem is as disappointing as records come. Admittedly, "Tribulations" is excellent, but it's the only thing here that doesn't annoy or bore. "Too Much Love" gets no love, "Thrills" fails to do just that, and silliness aside, "On Repeat" is a joke. If you heard "Disco Infiltrator" and were shocked at how much worse it was than the singles that came before it, be warned - it's the third best song on here.
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV
Yes, it's got "Stairway To Heaven". Yes, it's got "Black Dog". Far be it from me to detract from the majesty of either of those songs, both of which are among the band's best. Yes, it's even got "Going To California", which is pretty, in an inconsequential way. But let's be honest - "Four Sticks" and "Rock N Roll" both flat-out suck, "When The Levee Breaks" tricks you into thinking it'll be good before getting hidesouly boring about 2 minutes in, "Battle Of Evermore" is nonsense, and "Misty Mountain Hop" is so nondescript I can't even remember it being there the last couple of times I've heard this.
Sorry, but this is far from Zeppelin's best record, let alone one of the best rock albums of all time. To anyone who values consistency and coherence, it is, at the very best, Zep's fourth best album.
Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy
Though it's common critical practice to state that Zeppelin's retreat to the country cleared their heads, their records show that all it did was make them lose all sense of quality control. IV had been a showcase for 2 amazing songs and another decent one, true, but you had to sift through an awful load of crap to get to them. The same applies to Houses Of The Holy, only this time, there's nothing as good as "Stairway To Heaven". The album is far from without merit - "No Quarter" is good, although others would improve it when they covered it, and "Over The Hills And Far Away" is one of their prettiest folk moments. Yet much of the rest is shameful; "D'yer Maker" in particular stands out as quite possibly the worst thing this band ever put their name to, and "The Crunge" isn't much better. By this point it must have zeemed like Zeppelin were completely over the hill, resorting to lame genre experiments to hide the fact that they had almost no material worthy of releasing. Thank God they turned it round on Physical Graffiti.
Leonard Bernstein Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man
Lily Allen Alright, Still
It's typical for any music that comes from the internet and breaks the mainstream to be described as 'a breath of fresh air', be it Arctic Monkeys or *gags* Sandi Thom. In this case, it was justified. Alright, Still is an album as bright and alive as anything released this decade. Over music that blends pop and reggae without sucking (and that in itself is an achievement), Allen tells stories of prostitutes, stoned little brothers, debt collectors, break-ups, and endless nights out. In other words, it's a typical British pop album, but it feels fresh all the same. It helps that the first 5 tracks here are simply astounding. Hilarious, fun, whipsmart, witty, sunny pop songs, one and all. "Not Big" is, frankly, one of the funniest songs I've ever heard. Yet, from there, the album doesn't live up to its early promise. "Friday Night" doesn't display the wit of the opening 5, "Littlest Things", though a good single, is slightly too dreary in this company, and "Take What You Take" is nice, but it fails to be memorable in any way. That isn't to say these are bad songs, or that it's a bad album; it's very good. It's just that it's not the best pop album of the 21st century, which you can't help but feel it could have been.
Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You
Limp Bizkit Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
There's a great irony in my relationship with this album. When it was released, it was insanely popular with my age group, in particular the people I mostly socialized with. Not with me, though - I thought it was absolute trash, and that the band had entirely failed to understand what metal was, or what rap was. Thing is though, even though I never liked it at the time, I frequently find myself defending it against the massive hate it generates now. Honestly, this is not that bad. Obviously it's dumb, void of content, and full of posturing, but in some ways, that's the album's greatest strength. When you want really stupid, heavy rock or rap that you don't have to think about - and once in a blue moon I do - then this is just about the best album of its kind. It's club music, and nothing more; treat it as such and it's perfectly average.
Lindsey Buckingham Under the Skin
Linkin Park Hybrid Theory EP
Linkin Park Minutes to Midnight
Live V
Lostprophets The Fake Sound Of Progress
You'd never have guessed that Lostprophets would go on from here to become one of Britain's biggest rock bands. The Fake Sound Of Progress mostly sounds like the work of any number of hard rock bands that appear and disappear two weeks later after 1 or 2 hits. Had Start Something not been as impressive as it was, these guys would have gone the same way as My Vitriol, Engerica, and InMe. Still, even if it's nothing special, and you could probably find a dozen records as good in the hard rock section of any second-hand record shop, that's not to say it's bad. "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja" packs a punch they'd never quite recapture. "The Fake Sound Of Progress" was decent, too. The rest is adequate, but easily forgotten. LostProphets fans love it, of course. I find it to be a basically good, unremarkable album.
Lou Reed Transformer
M.I.A. Arular
Mahavatar Demo 2003
Mahavishnu Orchestra Birds of Fire
Malcolm McLaren Duck Rock
Manic Street Preachers Know Your Enemy
Manic Street Preachers Lifeblood
Maps & Atlases Perch Patchwork
Mariah Carey Greatest Hits
Marilyn Manson Mechanical Animals
Marvin Gaye What's Going On
Massive Attack 100th Window
Massive Attack No Protection: Massive Attack vs Mad Professor
Mastodon Crack the Skye
Matisyahu Youth
Metallica Reload
Metallica Load
Michael Jackson Number Ones
Michael Kiwanuka Home Again
Mike Watt The Secondman's Middle Stand
Miles Davis Sketches of Spain
Miles Davis Bitches Brew
There aren't many albums that you aren't allowed to dislike. Somewhere along the line, you'll always find quite a few people who agree with you that, say, Revolver is average, or that Blonde On Blonde is Dylan at his worst, or whatever. Yet, I'm finding that expressing anything other than the wildest admiration for Bitches Brew is basically unforgivable. I've felt like I'm seconds away from being lynched when I've told people that I think this is the worst Miles Davis I've heard. So, I'm really sorry....but Bitches Brew, for all the instrumental ability, experimentation, and stoned ambience, is a really average listening experience, with only sporadic moments that I find enjoyable. Repeated listens haven't helped me enjoy it, and neither has an expanded knowledge of jazz. I just don't think it's anything special as far as quality goes. Don't kill me!
Miles Davis The Essential Miles Davis
Minmae Le grand essor de la maison du monstre
Minor Threat Complete Discography
Minor Threat Minor Threat
Modest Mouse Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Such a shame. The way Good News... kicks off suggests it could be on a par with any album you care to mention. "The World At Large" and "Float On" are both wonderful, brilliant songs. But it never recaptures that glory. They come closest on "Bukowski", but the rest of the album ranges from good to mediocre - except, of course, "Dance Hall", which is utterly abysmal. A deeply inconsistent record, but the first two songs are certainly worth at least a download.
Morphine Good
Morrissey Viva Hate
Morton Subotnick Silver Apples of the Moon
Mos Def The New Danger
Motorhead No Sleep 'til Hammersmith
Mr. Bungle California
My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything
My Vitriol Finelines
Nas Untitled
Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971
Neurosis Given to the Rising
New Order Low-Life
Nickelback Silver Side Up
Nickelback All the Right Reasons
Nightwish Angels Fall First
Nightwish Oceanborn
Nightwish End Of An Era
Nirvana Nirvana
No Doubt The Singles 1992-2003
No-Man Schoolyard Ghosts
Norah Jones Feels Like Home
Nujabes/Fat Jon Departure
Opeth Orchid
Pantera Reinventing Hell: The Best of Pantera
Papa Roach Infest
Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Pavement Slanted and Enchanted
Pavement Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe
Peanut Butter Wolf My Vinyl Weighs a Ton
Peeping Tom Peeping Tom
Peter Gabriel Melt
Peteris Vasks Musica Dolorosa, for string orchestra
Phil Spector Back to Mono (1958-1969)
Phoenix Alphabetical
Pink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Animals
Pink Floyd Meddle
Pixies Surfer Rosa
Pixies Come On Pilgrim
Porcupine Tree Up the Downstair
Primal Scream Screamadelica
Pussycat Dolls PCD
Queen Sheer Heart Attack
Queensryche Tribe
R. Kelly Double Up
R.E.M. Accelerate
Radiohead Amnesiac
After 3 classics in a row, Radiohead were bound to come down sometime. Okay, so it's perhaps a little harsh to criticize Amnesiac too much - it is, after all, basically the leftovers from Kid A. Still, the band themselves insist that this should be treated as their 5th album proper, and if we do that, it reveals itself to be a messy, disappointing addition to a stellar catalogue. For 6 songs, the batting average is high - "Knives Out" and "Packt Like Sardines" being the major highlights. Then the album bottoms out entirely. "Morning Bell/Amnesiac" is a shoddy reworking of the Kid A highlight that should only have ever seen the light of day on a bonus disc on an expansive Kid A re-issue. "Dollars & Cents" and "Hunting Bears" might be the two worst Radiohead songs ever. "Like Spinning Plates", though beautiful on I Might Be Wrong, is lazy and boring here, consisting of nothing more than a Thom Yorke and Hail To The Theif's "I Will" played backwards. "Life In A Glasshouse" is better, but it's still dreary and unimaginative. Radiohead are a band who've always been full of ideas. Amnesiac is the sound of those ideas running out. Luckily, they pulled themselves together pretty quickly.
Radiohead Pablo Honey
Rage Against The Machine Evil Empire
Rage Against The Machine The Battle of Los Angeles
Rage Against The Machine Renegades
Rainbow Rising
Randy Newman Harps and Angels
Ravi Shankar The Sounds Of India
Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country Western Music
Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium
Red Rat Oh No...It's Red Rat!
Regina Spektor Soviet Kitsch
Riverside Anno Domini High Definition
Robbie Williams Life Thru a Lens
Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings
Rosetta A Determinism of Morality
Roxy Music Country Life
Ruff Sqwad Guns and Roses Vol 2
Rufus Wainwright Rufus Wainwright
Rufus Wainwright Release The Stars
Wainwright's fifth album, Release The Stars is basically typical of the man - by this point, if you don't expect another album with a few coy gay jokes ("Between My Legs"), lots of fancy orchestration, and even more flowery melodrama, you've probably not listened to his old stuff much.
"Do I Disappoint You?", "Going To A Town", and "Tulsa" are perfectly good songs. The rest is as charming as ever. There's especially nothing wrong with this album, to be sure, but by the same token, it's missing the stand-outs that made Want Two such a stand-out album in 2004, and that ensured Poses and Want One stayed in regular rotation long after they were released. Most of his fans, and most newcomers, will probably enjoy this for about three listens, then return to the Want series for their weekly fill of homo-erotic-classico-pop.
Run-D.M.C. Greatest Hits
Scott Matthews Elsewhere
Shania Twain Come On Over
Silverbullit Citizen Bird
Sinead O'Connor The Lion And The Cobra
Skindred Babylon
Slowdive Souvlaki
Snow Patrol Final Straw
Snow Patrol Eyes Open
Sonic Youth A Thousand Leaves
Sonic Youth Bad Moon Rising
Some people would have you believe that Sonic Youth were at their peak before any of their canonical albums; that Confusion is Sex and Bad Moon Rising are more pure distillations of what made Sonic Youth so special than, say Evol or Dirty. They're idiots. Bad Moon Rising is largely a poor album made by a band who haven't yet found a solid ground on which to operate. It's unsure, unmemorable, and given what was to come in the two decades after this, underwhelming. Only "Death Valley '69" and "Brave Men Run (In My Family)" are worth salvaging.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor Read My Lips
Spacemen 3 The Perfect Prescription
Spice Girls Spice
Spooks SIOSOS Volume One
Starsailor Love Is Here
Steely Dan Aja
Steve Vai Passion and Warfare
Sublime 40 Oz. to Freedom
Subtle ExitingARM
Sufjan Stevens Illinois
Illinois was, for a brief period (ie until the backlash started), the Funeral of 2005. It's not hard to see why - the blend of invention, songcraft, unusual instrumental textures, and warmth suggests that this will be a brilliant album. Yet, what feels like 3 hours later, you see Illinois for what it is - a handful of great songs, a remaining cast of fairly good songs, and a few boring songs. But above all, a LOT of songs, and there simply aren't enough ideas here to justify 22 vehicles for them. Sufjan's lack of grasp on quality control ruins what could have been a very, very good album. In about 9 attempts, I still haven't managed to listen to the whole thing without getting bored, frustrated, or irritated. Less is more, kids.
Suicide Suicide
Suspyre When Time Fades
Suzanne Vega Solitude Standing
Sylvia Telles Caricia
Perfectly pleasant, perfectly consistent, and perfectly there. Caricia never elevates itself above the level of background music, but if you consider what you actually expect from background music, this covers all the bases really well. I'd happily rate this higher if there was ever a space in my life for music like this, but sadly I only ever get the chance to really listen to music these days in situations where it's just me and the music, and this just doesn't really cut it somehow.
Symphony X The Odyssey
Tame Impala Tame Impala
Teenage Fanclub Thirteen
Tenacious D Tenacious D
The Auteurs New Wave
The Avalanches Since I Left You
The Beach Boys Today!
The Beatles A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles The Beatles
People who hold this up as an example of how a double album should be done are insane. Yes, this is an archetypal double-header, but only because it's as annoyingly inconsistent as most double albums are, perhaps even more so. If "Back in the USSR", the Anthology version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", "Blackbird", "Helter Skelter", and both "Revolution 1" and "Revolution 9" were isolated and released on their own, it'd be a contender for the best EP of all time. But 7 good songs out of 30? Nah. Not good enough. Each of the other 23 tracks ranges from 'average' ("Dear Prudence", "Sexy Sadie") to 'terrible' ("Long Long Long", Wild Honey Pie"). This was the first proof that both Lennon and McCartney were basically useless without the other, and that their solo careers (both of which effectively started here) would be awful.
The Beatles 1962 - 1966
The Beautiful South Welcome To The Beautiful South
The Blue Nile Hats
The Byrds The Notorious Byrd Brothers
The Cardigans First Band on the Moon
The Cars The Cars
The Dandy Warhols Come Down
The Darkness One Way Ticket To Hell And Back
Well, this could probably have been much worse than it was, if nothing else. And yet, it was inevitable that the wheels would fall off the story of The Darkness sooner or later. The fun, the surprisingly mature songcraft, the commitment, the undeniable hooks, and the refreshing lack of irony that made Permission to Land a phenomenon are all but lost here, meaning that this has lost what could have made it special enough to survive in the '00s - it's now just a run-of-the-mill 80s metal album that's arrived two decades too late. "Is It Just Me" and "Hazel Eyes" offer brief highlights; yet, it's hardly surprising that the band has effectively fallen apart since this was released, having lost their two most interesting original members. This isn't bad, per se, but it did put a full stop on their career.
The Devin Townsend Band Synchestra
The Devin Townsend Band Accelerated Evolution
The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!
The Doors Strange Days
The Dresden Dolls No, Virginia...
The Fall Hex Enduction Hour
The Frogs It's Only Right and Natural
The Futureheads The Futureheads
The Gun Club Fire of Love
The Hives Your New Favourite Band
The Human League Dare!
The Killers Day & Age
The Mars Volta Frances the Mute
The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers
The Mothers of Invention Weasels Ripped My Flesh
The Mothers of Invention Freak Out!
The Offspring Conspiracy of One
The Olivia Tremor Control Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume 1
The Only Ones Special View
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Belong
The Pretenders Pretenders
The Residents Commercial Album
One of the more celebrated of the concept albums The Residents pumped out during the their peak, The Commercial Album is an experiment in boiling the pop song down to its fundamentals and ignoring its repetitious nature. Sadly, it basically fails, remaining an album that's much more interesting than it is enjoyable. Ultimate this just feels like forty out-takes, none of them particularly notable. This is far from a bad record, but The Residents have made at least three other albums that blow this out of the water.
The Roots undun
The Seeds The Seeds (I)
"Can't Seem to Make You Mine" is outrageously sexy in a way that nowhere near enough '60s music is - or rock music at all is, for that matter. It's arresting and instant, and it would probably scrape into most lists of the best songs of the decade if it were a touch more famous.
It's a shame, then, that the only song on the album that comes close to its style is "Nobody Spoil My Fun". The rest is just typical Nuggets fodder - ironically, the song on this album that did make its way onto Nuggets is "Pushin' Too Hard", possibly the weakest song on the whole album. So it's all a bit disappointing, really. It sure sounds like they had a lot of fun making it, though, and that counts for something.
The Slits Cut
The Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
The Smiths Meat Is Murder
The Strokes First Impressions of Earth
The Sundays Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
The Velvet Underground Loaded
The Velvet Underground VU
The Verve Urban Hymns
Were albums judged purely on their singles, Urban Hymns would be a contendor for the greatest album ever released. Each of the four that made it into the charts - "Sonnet", "Bittersweet Symphony", "Lucky Man", and "The Drugs Don't Work" are all fantastic songs. But then there's the rest of the album to deal with, and frankly, it's not very good. There's lots of baggy-style wig-out jams, and some stuff that harks back to their shoegaze origins, but really, none of it's any good. Those who claim "The Rolling People" as this album's fifth highlight are clearly hearing something I'm not. You'll probably find yourself better off picking up the recent Greatest Hits set than bothering with this.
The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan
The Who Then and Now
Thompson Twins Into the Gap
Thrice Vheissu
Thrice Beggars
Tool Undertow
Tori Amos The Beekeeper
Turbonegro Apocalypse Dudes
TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain
TV on the Radio Dear Science
U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
Unicorn (JPN) Hattori
United Nations United Nations
UNKLE War Stories
Van der Graaf Generator Pawn Hearts
Various Artists Nuggets: Original Artyfacts
Venom Black Metal
Votum Time Must Have a Stop
Weezer Weezer
Wham! Make It Big
Why? Alopecia
Will Smith Big Willie Style
Wire Train No Soul No Strain
Within Temptation Mother Earth
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Requiem in D minor, K. 626
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflote, 'The Magic Flute', K. 620
Wolfmother Wolfmother
I really wanted to love this. What, after all, was to dislike about "Woman"? Derivative of Led Zep and Black Sab for sure, but it was also a fantastic rock song done absolutely without tongues in cheeks. For a second, Wolfmother were everything The Darkness should have been.

It's a false dawn. While there is a definite drive towards the 70s here - the organ swirls that appear all too often are pure pre-synth amateurism - the overall effect of this record is that it's a lost White Stripes album. And why would we need that when the original Stripes are still around? The singer's voice is even a clone of Jack White's at times.

That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, of course, if the songs were up to scratch, but the sad fact is that "Woman" is head and shoulders above everything else here. "Colassal" is the only other thing here that doesn't sound uninspired. "Apple Tree" is just abysmal (the nicest thing you could say about it is that it sounds like a White Blood Cells B-side), and the ballads fall completely flat, particularly in their hollow attempts to transform, "Stairway" style, into epic rockers halfway through. There's even reminders of similarly failed revivalists here - "Witchcraft" sounds like Ocean Color Scene, and some of the blundering rhythms elsewhere remind me of Jet. NOT COOL.
Wolves in the Throne Room Two Hunters
Well, it's certainly easy to see how this album could have been great. That, at least, is something I'm happy to compliment them on. And yet, Two Hunters is held back on several back points. First, some of the playing here is really sloppy (the guitar at slower tempos and the drums at higher ones, in particular), and in this context that's a real problem. Second, the production during the heavier sections is really, really bad, with the snare (which sounds awful) dominating everything else in the mix. Third, the band seem insistent on abusing their ideas. This album would have been improved immeasurably if they'd come up with some more material, but instead they choose to make one idea last as long as humanly possible before moving on to the next. I can't imagine how boring some of this is to play. Props to WITTR for coming up with a sound and a concept that will serve them well, but the execution here leaves a lot to be desired.
Women & Children Paralyzed Dance, Tonight
Wyclef Jean Masquerade
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

2.0 poor
(hed) p.e. Broke
AC/DC Highway To Hell
Aerosmith O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits
Alanis Morissette Alanis
'Secret histories' are one of the most consistently funny things about pop music. Ever heard Y Kant Tori Read? You don't want to. Did you know that The Bravery used to be a ska band? Ouch. Here's the scoop on Alanis Morissette - before Jagged Little Pill, before anyone outside Canada knew who she was, she sounded just like Gloria Estefan. Oh yeah. This is trashy, throwaway pop, that's 'sassy' in the way people thought Paula Abdul was 'sassy'. Alanis never recorded a song with a cat, true, but there's a good reason that these albums have never been reissued, remastered, or talked about ever again.
Anal Cunt Top 40 Hits
At their best, A.C. are funny, heavy, provocative, and quite unique. Top 40 Hits is none of the above. It may well rank as the worst A.C. album. Not even the song titles are as funny as their others - "Living Colour Is My Favourite Black Metal Band" being one of the funnier ones here. It's hardly "Johnny Violent Getting His Ass Kicked By Morrissey" or "Everyone In The Underground Music Scene Is Stupid", is it? There aren't even any attacks on Brutal Truth here. For shame.

There's some sort of vague concept to the album, in that the 'hits' of the title are demonstrated either by cover versions of actual hit singles, or actual hits, in the violent sense. "Some Hits", "Some More Hits", and "Even More Hits" are just recordings of silly sound effects of things being hit. Incidentally, the covers are easily the best songs on the record - their Oi! version of "Staying Alive" being the highlight.
Anita Baker Rapture
Arghoslent Hornets of the Pogrom
Melodeath that's as fixated on Iron Maiden as it is on how awesome it is to be white. These guys are okay, but they're no Prussian Blue.
Babyshambles Down In Albion
Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys
Backstreet Boys Backstreet's Back
Bad Company Bad Company
Billie Piper Honey to the B
Bloc Party Four
Bob Dylan Desire
Poor in any context, maddeningly bad when you consider it was the follow-up to his masterpiece, Desire sounds nothing like a good Bob Dylan album. Instead, it sounds lazy, forced, and insincere. After the fire and the brimstone of some of Blood on the Tracks' most famous moments, Bob could be forgiven for not finding marital bliss as fun as violent heartache, yet that doesn't excuse the music here. If was a girl, and somebody wrote the emotionally hollow "Sara" for me, I would automatically assume they didn't love me and had just been pretending the whole time. Oh, but "Hurricane" is brilliant, of course. It's not enough to make up for the snooze-fest on "Mozambique" and "One More Cup of Coffee" though. At least religious '80s Dylan was mildly entertaining sometimes.
Brian Wilson Smile
Bright Eyes Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Britney Spears ...Baby One More Time
Generally, when pop artists become absolute megastars, the album that's propelled them there is a pretty good one. Think Off The Wall, or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or even Justified if Justin Trousersnake can be considered a megastar. Alas, it's not the case here - it's easy to believe that not even the tiniest effort was put into any song here that wasn't released as a single. "E-Mail My Heart" has even achieved notoriety as one of the worst songs of all time, and rightfully so. Everything else on the second half of this album is lazy and trite as anything you're ever likely to hear. In fairness, the singles were pretty great, including even the lesser-known ones like "Born To Make You Happy", but they're available on her greatest hits. So, ya know.....don't waste your time.
Britney Spears Blackout
Coheed and Cambria Neverender
This DVD would be absolutely amazing if it wasn't by Coheed & Cambria. 2 good songs spread over 4 DVDs? Wow!
It's pretty much porn for Coheed fanboys (of which Sputnik apparently has dozens), but one day, they'll grow up and discover actual porn.
Cornershop When I Was Born For The 7th Time
I gave this album a bad review and the lead singer sent me a message on Twitter telling me to go fuck myself. Half a point knocked off the score for being humourless, precocious, self-entitled twats, then.
CSS Donkey
Cursive The Storms of Early Summer
Daft Punk Tron: Legacy
Deerhunter Microcastle
Deerhunter Weird Era Cont.
Del Amitri Waking Hours
Desmond Dekker The Best of Desmond Dekker
Dimlite Prismic Tops
Django Reinhardt Et le Quintette du Hot Club de France
Duke Ellington Ellington at Newport 1956 (Complete)
Duran Duran Thank You
Durrty Goodz Overall
Elvis Presley The Sun Sessions
Emilie Autumn A Bit o' This and That
Eric Clapton Complete Clapton
Erik Satie Nocturnes
G. Love and Special Sauce G. Love and Special Sauce
Gackt MARS
Gackt Rebirth
Gavin Bryars Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
Two minutes of this is absolutely bewitching. An hour? No thanks. This album consists of a recording of an unknown tramp singing a hymn entitled "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" for about 15 seconds, looped ad infinitum until Tom Waits shows up to offer harmony, and to close the album solo. Behind that are some syrupy, not-particularly-good strings. I get the place this has in musical history, and I get what Bryars was trying to accomplish, but holy Christ this is difficult to listen to in full. The Tom Waits vocal is actually pretty poor by his standards, too.

Check out The Sinking of the Titanic instead - you get the original version of this (it's much shorter, if nothing else), plus the titular piece to boot.
Georgs Pelécis Concertino Bianco for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
Ginuwine Ginuwine...The Bachelor
Girl Talk Feed the Animals
Godspeed You! Black Emperor Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Godspeed You! Black Emperor F♯ A♯ ∞
Guillemots Red
Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction
Gustav Holst The Planets, Op. 32
Gwen Stefani Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Half Man Half Biscuit Four Lads Who Shook the Wirral
Head Automatica Decadence
Hot Chip The Warning
The story of Iai and Hot Chip - saw them live and hated it, heard "Over & Over" and loved it, got the album, thought they were horrifically boring again. Literally, everything on this album apart from "Over And Over" is unremarkable, boring, typical indie-dance music. Musically, not a lot of much note goes on in any of the songs, and the tongue-in-cheek humor which works so well on this album's one hit falls totally flat elsewhere, putting the rest of the songs on the level of tossed-off jamming littered with stoned in-jokes. The Warning could have been a good album, but it's crushed under the weight of one-dimensional laziness. Not recommended.
Iannis Xenakis Diamorphoses
Iannis Xenakis Concret PH
Iannis Xenakis Hibiki-Hana-Ma
Immortal Technique The 3rd World
Interpol Interpol
Ja Rule Pain Is Love
James Blake James Blake
Jay-Z The Blueprint 3
Jet Get Born
Good for mindless teenage kicks, but boy is it ever unoriginal. If you've even the most basic familiarity with classic rock, you'll spot the rip-offs all over this record. AC/DC, The Beatles, Iggy, the Stones, they all come in for the treatment. At least what we can say is that Get Born retains a sense of fun for most of its duration, so it's not a horrible album to hear. But the shelf-life is minimal, and the strength of the songs here isn't good enough to keep you coming back to this, rather than the originals. In retrospect, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" was always destined to be a indie dancefloor smash, but aside from that, the band were doomed.
Joanna Newsom Ys
Honestly, I don't know how to respond to this. By all accounts and all objective standards, it outright sucks. The songs are about nothing tangible, the lyrics have no sense of flow or meter (some say they're 'poetry' - they need to be exposed to better poetry), and frankly, they often scan like something a class of amateur songwriters would come up with if asked to write a psychedelia album in 30 minutes. The songs go on for ages, with any sort of development and dynamic contrast avoided at all costs. For an album recorded by Steve Albini and Jim O'Rourke, it sounds as weedy as hell. And the arrangments (from Van Dyke Parks) are often all too stereotypical and quite boring. But somehow, it hangs together well enough to work more often than it falls apart into dreary, pretentious slush. Newsom's voice, though slightly annoying, does at least display the fact that she's sensitive to the needs of the words and the music - her nuance and sensitivity does much to help the album flow. And, in a bizarre way, the fact that the entire project seems geared towards being as fey as possible actually makes it believable - although I still find it hard to imagine that anyone will enjoy this album as much more than a novelty, the charm of it is undeniable. Just good enough for a generous 2.5.
Joe My Name is Joe
John Williams Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
John Williams Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
John Williams (AUS) The Magic Box
Kaiser Chiefs Employment
They never deserved to be as big as they became. Employment is a dire album enlivened only by "I Predict A Riot" and "Every Day I Love You Less And Less", and even the latter of those quickly gets old (seriously, are there any words that rhyme with less that he DOESN'T use here?). The rest is either boring (the Dears-lite "Modern Way"), annoying ("Oh My God"), or both (everything else). Keep this up and they'll never have another hit. One to avoid.
Kanye West Graduation
Kasabian West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Keane Hopes & Fears
Krohm Slayer of Lost Martyrs
Kuedo Severant
LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening
On "Drunk Girls", James Murphy cannily observes that drunk girls will wait an hour to pee. Thanks. For. That.

You know all the lazy, average filler that's all over the last two LCD Soundsystem records? You know how you forgave them for it because there were tracks as great as "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" and "North American Scum" to make up for it? You know how much you'd have disliked and ignored those albums if it wasn't for those tracks? This is Happening is that album. It's been fun, Mr. Murphy, but I think I'm leaving you behind at this point.
Live Secret Samadhi
Lou Reed Berlin
Lullacry Crucify My Heart
Madonna Music
Melody Gardot My One and Only Thrill
MGMT Oracular Spectacular
Motorhead The Best of Motorhead: Deaf Forever
Negativland U2
Nevermore Enemies Of Reality
Nevermore This Godless Endeavor
Oh dear. Once upon a time, Nevermore were probably the finest metal band on the planet, the twin genre classics of Dreaming Neon Black and Dead Heart In A Dead World making them arguably the most essential band to look out for. It wasn't beyond the realms of possibilty that they might blow up Metallica style. Yet, with Enemies of Reality, they skipped straight to the St. Anger stage with a lazy, badly produced album that felt like it was being made by an awful tribute band. This Godless Endeavor is better than that, but not by much. I wanted this to be good, and I gave it chance after chance, but the reality is that not a single moment here seems like it was written by a band capable of ever recapturing the heights of their masterpieces. It all feels insipid and derivative, and it find it hard to believe that these guys really care that much any more. Where's the spirit? Where's the fire? Where's the ability, even? Their most obvious weapons - Dane's voice and Loomis' guitar solo - are muted here, with neither of them attaining the heights we know they're capable of. I still hope Nevermore can get back to their best, but this record has convinced me that they won't. And that depresses me.
Nirvana From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah
No Doubt Tragic Kingdom
Oasis Dig Out Your Soul
OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Patti Smith Easter
Be prepared for immense disappointment if you're coming to this immediately after Horses - it's quite simply nowhere near as good. Still, as poor an album as this is on the whole, it does have two considerable highpoints, the first being "Because The Night". It's Patti's biggest hit ever, and rightly so - even if the song was written by Bruce Springsteen, she makes it her own, pinning it down as one of the great proto-power ballads. The other is the ferocious "Rock'n'Roll Nigger". Outside of that.....well, "Till Victory" isn't too shabby, but "25th Floor" is boring, "Ghost Dance" is annoying, and the rest barely provokes any reaction at all. Hit and miss, to say the least.
Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert
Pearl Jam Live at the Gorge 05/06
Pelican City of Echoes
Pendulum In Silico
Penguin Cafe Orchestra Music from the Penguin Cafe
Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive!
PJ Harvey Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Queen Queen II
R.E.M. Green
Razorlight Slipway Fires
Richard Cheese Lounge Against The Machine
S Club 7 The Greatest Hits Of S Club 7
Scarlett Johansson Anywhere I Lay My Head
Sebadoh III
Sheryl Crow Tuesday Night Music Club
Shudder To Think Pony Express Record
Shulman Endless Rhythms of the Beatless Heart
Simone White I Am the Man
Sisqo Unleash the Dragon
SOiL Pride
Son Lux At War With Walls And Mazes
Despite all the effort Son Lux has clearly put in to make this an interesting listen, At War With Walls and Mazes is a completely unremarkable album. It's almost as if a good cartoonist decided to draw a comic strip with absolutely no storyline, character development, or action - this may well be impressive on first glance, and God knows Ryan Lott has done his homework as far as production and genre goes, but there's nothing here beneath the surface. There's no appreciation of songcraft, passion, or context - the good ideas that he has are left marooned by the fact that he spent way too much time on being interesting and not enough time on actually making music. Another disappointing release from the most reliably disappointing label in the world right now.
Son of a Bitch Victim You
Soundtrack (Film) Queen of the damned
Soundtrack (Film) Blade 2
Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians
Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas Flood
Sunny Day Real Estate Diary
T. Rex The Very Best Of
The Beach Boys Smiley Smile
The Beatle Bronies Apple Road
I can't believe they sullied the magic of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by mixing it with an album as mediocre as Abbey Road. :3
The Beatles Let It Be… Naked
The Beatles Let It Be
The Beatles Please Please Me
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
I would never dream of dismissing the influence, importance, and legacy of this album. And I'm only happy to acknowledge that millions of people consider this the best album ever made, and that my opinion is in the minority, to say the least. What I will say, though, is that I just can't derive any sustained enjoyment from this record. "When I'm Sixty-Four", "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Getting Better", and "Lovely Rita" all sound like filler to these ears, particularly the first two, which struck me as juvenile even when I had to sing them in primary school. "She's Leaving Home" bores me, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" sounds too crude in the way it switches ungracefully from the 3/4 verse to the 4/4 chorus, and while I respect the spirit of invention and playfulness at the heart of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite", I don't enjoy listening to it. The two title tracks are nice, melodic rock songs, but they're bettered by the entire first half of Abbey Road, 11 of the 12 tracks on Revolver, and the vast majority of Rubber Soul and A Hard Day's Night, too. "A Day In The Life" is magnificent, but I find myself clinging to it, because it's the only thing here that genuinely impresses me. I'm well aware that my opinion does nothing to tarnish the reputation of this record, and I'm not one of the Pepper haters who screams from the hilltops that this is the most over-rated album in existence, but this album just isn't for me.
The Black Eyed Peas Elephunk
The Black Eyed Peas Monkey Business
The Clash Combat Rock
The Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out
The Detroit Cobras Baby
The Doors The Doors
The good - "Break On Through (To The Other Side)", "The End", and "Light My Fire" are all excellent. The bad - everything else. The Doors were, musically, an average band. They were prone to a nice solo every so often, and they excel on "The End" (a rare event), but other than that, they were always going to be defined by whoever their singer was. Unlucky for them, their singer was one of the most insufferable morons in the history of music. Occasionally, Jim Morrison could produce flashes of genius, but far too often, his lyrics read as 4th form psycho-babble, and are sung as if we're supposed to believe that he's imparting wisdom from the Gods. Frustrated, confused teenagers may well identify with him perfectly. But this is not for me.
The Flaming Lips At War With The Mystics
The Flaming Lips Christmas On Mars
The Flaming Lips The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends
The Fratellis Costello Music
Try-hards. The Fartellis have quite obviously made every effort to make every song on this album a catchy, quirky, Britpop anthem. They succeed with "Chelsea Dagger", they get halfway with "Flathead", and everything else gets annoying and boring fast. As far as imitating Britpop goes, this is roughly akin to a fat man you've never seen before running up to you in the street and shouting 'PARKLOIF!' at you as loud as he can.
The Future Sound of London ISDN
The La's The La's
The Mars Volta De-Loused in the Comatorium
The Mint Chicks F**k The Golden Youth
Why did people keep recommending this to me, exactly? In all honesty, this is one of the most boring, insipid records I've heard so far this decade. It's nothing more than 2-dimensional punk rock with absolutely no ideas at all. "Opium Of The People" is alright. Avoid the rest like the plague.
The Police Synchronicity
The Rolling Stones Exile on Main St.
The Rolling Stones Aftermath
The Simpsons The Simpsons Sing the Blues
The Streets The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
The String Quartet The String Quartet Tribute to Jeff Buckley
The Verve This Is Music: The Singles 92-98
The Vines Highly Evolved
The Who Live at Leeds
The Who The Who Sell Out
The Who Who's Next
The Who My Generation
The Who 20th Century Masters
The Who Live at Leeds (Deluxe Edition)
Tina Turner Private Dancer
Toni Braxton Secrets
Tori Amos Abnormally Attracted To Sin
Trevor Wishart Voiceprints
Tricky Blowback
Tyler, the Creator Goblin
Various Artists (Hip Hop) Urban Renewal
Whitney Houston My Love Is Your Love
Will Young Friday's Child
William Orbit Pieces in a Modern Style
Yann Tiersen Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain
Zoe Keating Into the Trees

1.5 very poor
Abdullah Ibrahim Water From an Ancient Well
AC/DC For Those About To Rock We Salute You
Adele 19
Aerosmith Toys in the Attic
Anthrax The Collection
Architecture In Helsinki In Case We Die
Oh, how I'd love to hear Architecture In Helsinki play a song, or even a tune. They might have some good ones in them. Unfortunately, In Case We Die is devoid of both, meaning what we get is a calamitous mess that sounds like 50 instrumentalists who've never met each other before trying to play some kind of 'progressive' indie. And if you're going to record an album, at least tune your instruments! Jesus.
Be Your Own Pet Be Your Own Pet
Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill
Blink-182 Take Off Your Pants And Jacket
Blink-182 Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan Christmas in the Heart
Christina Aguilera Bionic
Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head
Converge No Heroes
David Bowie Young Americans
Donald Fagen The Nightfly
Elvis Presley Elvis Presley
Eminem Relapse
Nope, sorry. Just because it's better than Encore doesn't mean it's not really, really bad. The orchestral, off-kilter "Underground" is an unexpected sting in the tail that proves Em still has the talent when he sets his mind to it, but the 19 tracks before it are lazy as hell. There's not a single fresh thought or idea in them, and in spite of his hiatus, Em just sounds bored of making music. The better moments are just re-writes of the filler on The Eminem Show; the really bad parts are just as bad as the bulk of Encore. I'd love to tell you that he's back on form, but the sad reality is that this blows.
Eyedea and Abilities By the Throat
Fauna Rain
Feeling Left Out Wish Me Luck EP
Five Invincible
Gossip Standing In The Way Of Control
The subject of one of the most blatant and transparent cases of payola in recent years (perhaps ever), Standing in the Way of Control came endorsed by The Sun, the NME, the Guardian, Radio 1, and various other lazy media outlets susceptible to telling people something is good just because they're being given a fat wad of cash for the privilege. And yes, just like The Others (who were the subject of a similarly cynical scheme), the music of The Gossip falls on the wrong side of 'adequate' - the vocals are obnoxious, the guitars obvious and redundant, the rhythm section on auto-pilot. "Standing in the Way of Control" is actually the best song here, which is just plain embarrassing. Luckily, nobody actually bought this record, and soon Beth Ditto is going to receive a rather large invoice from her record label. Maybe she'll suffocate on her own fat first though, who knows?
Gossip Music For Men
Green Day Dookie
Green Day American Idiot
Green Day's next album is going to be very interesting. They basically have two options. The first is to return to what they're good at, which is mindless, adolescent pop music with loud guitars. The second is to continue in the corner they've backed themselves into and try to deliver another 'political' record, and find themselves an anachronism in a world that's fast getting sick of shallow, hollow anti-Bush sentiments with no real message behind them. The former will make them more money, but it'll reveal American Idiot for the sham of an album it was. The latter will kill off their career, because that bandwagon got old about 18 months ago. So what is it, guys? Pride or money?
Groove Armada Vertigo
HIM Love Metal
HIM And Love Said No
HIM The Single Collection
Iannis Xenakis Bohor
Iluvatar Iluvatar
John Lennon John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Kaiser Chiefs Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Kings of Leon Aha Shake Heartbreak
Kings of Leon Youth and Young Manhood
Korn Follow the Leader
Lady Sovereign Public Warning
Linkin Park Meteora
Mark & Samantha Ronson Get R: The C Ronson Mixtape
Metallica St. Anger
Hey, it's not as bad as everyone makes out, at least. It does contain 3 decent tracks in "Frantic", "St. Anger", and "The Un-Named Feeling". Okay, so they were all released as singles, which means you've heard them and don't need to buy this record. Yes, it's Metallica's worst record. But this isn't the worst thing ever released, or even the worst album of 2003. Lay off the hate!
Mika Life in Cartoon Motion
In short: really, really bad. Quite apart from being a shameless rip of the Scissor Sisters that fails entirely to capture what made them good, Life in Cartoon Motion is packed front to back with the kind of songs capable of making you abandon music forever. "Lollipop", "Love Today", "Billy Brown", and "Fat Chick (You Are Hideous)" are the worst offenders, but there's very little good to be said about "Grace Kelly" or "Relax" either, and they can legitimately be considered the album's strong points. The chorus of "My Happy Ending" is the album's only redeeming feature, and I'm still certain that he's ripped it off from somewhere. 1.5 is being generous.
Murderdolls Beyond The Valley of the Murderdolls
Next Welcome II Nextacy
Nirvana Nevermind
Nevermind certainly isn't the worst album ever made, like some of its detractors would have you believe. It is, however, an incompetent stab at hardcore-influenced power pop, and were it not for Sgt. Peppers, it'd be the most over-rated musical document of the popular era. Many of these songs fly by, leaving little or no effect on the listener. "Lounge Act", "Stay Away", "On A Plain", "Something in The Way", and "Endless, Nameless" form one of the worst 5-song stretches on any album in the 90s for this very reason. Others are home to good ideas that don't really go anywhere - "Drain You", "Territorial Pissings", "Polly", "In Bloom", and "Lithium" being examples of such. "Come As You Are" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" are nice enough, if not spectacular. Overall, Nevermind sounds neutered, as if the band knew they were playing well below their talents. The production sheen admittedly didn't help, though to blame things squarely on that, as Cobain did, is misleading. The problems with this album aren't even the oft-cited ones - simplicity, repetition, and such. These just aren't very good songs, plain and simple. That Nirvana followed this up with a true modern masterpiece in In Utero is incredible.
Oasis Heathen Chemistry
Paper Boyz Paper Boyz
Pokemon 2BA Masta
Puscifer "V" Is For Vagina
Pussycat Dolls Doll Domination
Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris
Spice Girls Forever
The Black Eyed Peas The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies)
The Fray How to Save a Life
The Simpsons Testify
The Velvet Underground White Light/White Heat
The View Hats Off To The Buskers
One of the most brilliant things about music is that the law of diminishing returns is not universal. There are albums out there that retain the magic of their first listen right through to the 100th. Still, there's something sadly inevitable about just how mediocre this album turned out. The View's debut is yet another missive from a middle-class bunch of white kids who think singing songs about going out in an annoying regional accent makes them more authentic. Is there anything good left in this drained well? The intention here is obvious - The view want people to think that they're the missing link between The Kooks and Arctic Monkeys. The sad truth, though, is that they haven't got the energy, passion, melodies, or lyrical flair of either. At best, this is an honorable failure that occasionally manages to be fun; at worst, it's a cynical, soul-less, obvious attempt at jumping the post-Britpop post-punk-revivalist bandwagon. "Street Lights" offers a rare glimpse of a good song; the rest is forgettable.
The White Stripes Elephant
The Who Tommy
will.i.am Songs About Girls
Wobbler Afterglow
WWE WWF Aggression
ZZ Top Tres Hombres
ZZ Top Eliminator

1.0 awful
A Perfect Circle eMOTIVe
I'm afraid everything you've heard is true - this album is truly abysmal. Cover albums have a bad reputation as it is, but occasionally, they can be fantastic - artists paying tribute to their influences while adding a little of themselves to the songs, making something that truly stands as a tribute. eMOTIVe, on the other hand, stands as an insult. There are so many things wrong with this album it's difficult to know where to start. For one thing, the motive behind it was cynical to say the least - this album is simply a cobbled-together, half-assed attempt to jump aboard the anti-Bush bandwagon, which means the songs chosen weren't necessarily chosen for the right reasons. There are songs here that simply have no place being covered by A Perfect Circle - "What's Going On", "Peace, Love, and Understandin'", "People Are People", and "Imagine", especially, sound like awkward attempts at jamming together two entirely contrasting ideas, and it simply doesn't work. APC are not a soul band, and they're idiots for trying to do soul songs. Even the songs that you'd think APC might do well, like "When The Levee Breaks" or "Let's Have A War", feel like B-sides at the very best. A shockingly bad album.
Anal Cunt Picnic of Love
Blink-182 blink-182
Blink-182 Enema of the State
Dirty Pretty Things Waterloo to Anywhere
Dr. Hook Completely Hooked
Eminem Encore
Slim Shady was the take-off. Marshall Mathers was the flight. Eminem Show was the turbulance. Encore? The crash. And it was a nasty, nasty crash. Eminem's career was officially over as soon as he dropped this turd. Retiring was merely a face-saving exercise, and it was far too little, far too late. "Like Toy Soldiers" was good, the rest should only be brought out in public to torture prisoners.
Exoskeleton Plutonian Herd
Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords
Geri Halliwell Schizophonic
Girls Aloud Out of Control
Insane Clown Posse Bang! Pow! Boom!
Jack Johnson Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for Curious George
Lady Sovereign Jigsaw
Marnie Stern In Advance of the Broken Arm
Mary J. Blige No More Drama
Michael Jackson Invincible
At least we can try to praise Invincible by remarking on how hilarious it turned out. I mean, have you heard "The Lost Children"? Did he think it would help him in court? Jesus. And God knows why he felt the need to repeat every chorus 8 or 9 times. Over 50% of every track is taken up by repeats. Ironically, there's a duet with Biggie here - he died around the same Jacko's career did, didn't he?
Muller and Patton Jonathan & Bailey
Papa Roach lovehatetragedy
Reef Glow
Relient K Mmhmm
Riddlin' Kids Hurry Up And Wait
Scouting for Girls Scouting For Girls
Snoop Dogg Tha Last Meal
Uuuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhhhhh. One of the worst hip-hop albums I've ever encountered. "Lay Low" could have been brilliant, were it not for the awful guest appearances. Awful guest appearances, in fact, run right throughout this album, with only Eve (on "Ready 2 Ryde") not sucking. Snoop isn't exactly on top form, either, and nor are the producers. "Snoop Dogg" is an annoying, embarassing rewrite of the Doggystyle classic "What's My Name", and every other track veers between boring, awful, forgettable, and excruciating. Snoop's worst album, one of the worst albums of 2000....got the picture yet?
Steve Reich Early Works
A compilation of Reich's earliest compositions, Early Works shows off his experiments with tape loops and phase shifting, an important concept to minimalism's development and a stepping stone for music. So yes, these pieces are important. They're also awful. For a combined length of over 30 minutes, "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain" spin just one vocal sample each - both taken from racially provocative sources - against another recording of the same vocal sample that's playing slightly faster, until the two cycle right through and sync up again. It's an interesting concept, but then so was the Portsmouth Sinfonia - this is even more unlistenable. "Clapping Music" is exactly that, with the same phased idea, and while "Piano Phase" is the best thing here, it still wouldn't trouble a list of minimalism's finest moments. One should only listen to this is they are studying 20th century music - it's quite simply not an album to be enjoyed.
The Field From Here We Go Sublime
The same three seconds of music repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Unutterably boring and redundant.
The Libertines Up The Bracket
The Libertines The Libertines
The Stone Roses The Very Best of The Stone Roses
If this is the very best, I dread to think what the very worst is like.
The Stone Roses The Stone Roses
I'll happily concede that The Stone Roses featured 3 very talented musicians, and that together, they could occasionally conjure moments of hypnotic, trippy magic. And yet, the fact that they only once managed to write a half-decent song ("I Wanna Be Adored"), and never managed a memorable melody, is proof that Ian Brown is the worst frontman in the history of music. Listening to this album is frustrating, infuriating, and ever so slightly despressing, simply because Brown irrepairably fucks up everything he touches. File under 'Could have been great; unfortunately, ended up a pile of wank.'
Weezer Make Believe
Weezer are dead. Long live Weezer. Make Believe was the worst album of 2005, by a country mile. There is not a gram of pleasure to recommend this record. If you're yet to hear it, then consider this warning - the embarrassing Weezer parody of "Beverly Hills" and the even worse, desperately misjudged "We Are All On Drugs" constitute HIGHLIGHTS here.
WWE WWF: The Music, Volume 4
Zwan Mary Star Of The Sea

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