A Slice of Fried Gold

Favorite Albums Ever

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's List Monday once again! After last week was seemingly pretty successful (50% increase in visits!) and a lot of fun, I decided this was definitely a tradition I'd carry on. Once again the list is music oriented but it's an even harder subject than last time. This time it's favorite albums ever (not "best," but favorite), and I judged each album over a number of factors.

Primarily, I looked at how long I've been listening to it, impact on my listening habits, how much of the album I love, standout tracks, worst tracks, and overall appeal of the band. I also limited each band to a maximum of one album on the list, although if I hadn't there only would have been a couple repeats.

I also excluded compilations (such as the Beatles Love and the Rushmore soundtrack) as they felt like cheating. With that said, on with the list!

1. Gatsby's American Dream - Ribbons and Sugar

Favorite track: Recondition, Reprogram, Reactivate

This is Gatsby's second album and the first one I ever listened to of them. They are my favorite band ever, and this album never ceases to be as great as it was the first time I listened to it. Every track of this album is superb and fits perfectly within the album, and every element of each song works perfectly. It's strangely danceable, rocking, fun to sing along to - it's everything I want in a CD.

The only thing I don't understand about it is the fact that it is supposedly a musical interpretation of George Orwell's Animal Farm and I never figured out how exactly it is that. But I digress.

2. Anathallo - Floating World

Favorite track: By Number

Everything about this album is beautiful. From the exquisite (and freakishly delicate) packaging, to the lyrics, to the instruments, to the sheer grandiosity of the sound, to the vocals - everything is gorgeous. This album is the perfect chi balancer, and I have used it many times to study, stretch, work out, work, and to just refocus yourself on the task at hand. It's not for everyone, but I wish that everyone would give a chance because this band from Mount Pleasant, Michigan (by way of Chicago) put out one of the most incredible albums I've ever heard.

3. Cake - Fashion Nugget

Favorite track: Friend is a Four Letter Word

This was a tough choice. Originally I was leaning heavily towards Cake's album Prolonging the Magic, with Comfort Eagle as a close second. Then something snapped, and the history and memories tied to Fashion Nugget made it so this had to be the album chosen. Truth be told, it's probably the right one to be picked if only because this is before they started including their "radio hits" that were great as well, but managed to be killed by repetition (Short Skirt, Long Jacket - I'm looking at you).

Cake is not a complicated band. They're a band that puts out records that are perfect for every situation. Having party? Put on Cake. Depressed because your girl left you? Put on Cake. Taking a road trip? Put on Cake! (See what's happening here? Bet ya do.) Just because the music isn't complicated though does not mean it's bad. Fashion Nugget is fantastic throughout, and gets bonus points for being one of the albums to really get me into music.

4. Phantom Planet - The Guest

Favorite track: Anthem

In the summer of 2005, I lived in Moscow, Idaho and Lewiston, Idaho selling advertising in a campus directory for the University of Idaho and managing a three person sales team. During that summer, I was constantly in a car or on my feet, and perpetually listening to music. Before that summer, I liked sections of Phantom Planet's album the Guest, but never really got in to it. Enter listening to the album on repeat for three months, probably putting down a couple hundred full album spins.

Front to back, this is a perfect summer album. It's warm weather, sunshine, windows down, shorts, sandals, and t-shirts recorded as music. That job was crap, as I made very little money and it was stressful, but I'm thankful very often that I did it if only for discovering the truth about this album.

Also, don't get down on this album because of the track "California." It's only one song, and a good one no less, but it is nowhere near the best this album has to offer. Trust me.

5. Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends

Favorite track: Ghost Man on Third

This is the album (much to Colver's chagrin) that really, really got me in to music. I had listened to a lot of music before this album, but hearing this album more than anything sent me spiraling into the wide world of music more than anything. The dueling vocals, the shredding guitars, the incredible drums, the brilliant singalongs, everything about this album is stellar. Taking Back Sunday led me to the world of emo/screamo/punk, and from there I took the logical progression into indie, all the way to where I'm at now - listening to whatever I can get my hands on.

Although only ten tracks long, there is a lot of power on this album, and even though both albums since have been downgrades, this one maintains it's hold on me. Seeing them three times live (they're incredible) definitely helps, but listening to tracks like Ghost Man on Third and Cute Without the E takes me back to a time when it felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time. I hope some day they can get back to the level of greatness they were once at, but even if they don't they'll always have put out this marvelous record.

6. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow

Favorite track: Gone For Good

Disclaimer: I got in before the explosion they experienced after Garden State. Barely, but I got in before by just a tad. Not trying to be that guy to say "oh, I liked them before they were huge," but this band faced some of the biggest bandwagon jumping of recent memory in music.

These guys only put out great music, and maintain their position as one of my favorite bands, but Chutes is flat out their best album. Another short album for my list, as it only has ten tracks as well and clocks in at barely under 34 minutes, but that doesn't matter. This is the crown jewel of the barrage of indie pop records that came out over the last six years, all because of the sunny retro-tinged (and slightly country at times - gasp!) disposition to all of the tracks.

These guys aren't writing songs to be popular or to be critically acclaimed, they don't have an agenda. They just make brilliant pop music, and Chutes Too Narrow is where they brought it all together.

7. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun

Favorite track: Olsen Olsen

This band is impossible to explain. Their music is ravishing, emotionally powerful, lush, gorgeous, , and it's all that without one understandable lyric. It's all in Icelandic, or all besides standout track Olsen Olsen, which is actually written in a dialect of Icelandic invented by the band. The amazing thing about this album is it is another ten track album, but this one clocks in at slightly over 71 minutes, and that I really like only half the album at a slighty-above-average level. I can definitely skip tracks.

However, tracks Svefn-g-englar, Staralfur, and Olsen Olsen would be in a "Top 10 favorite songs" list if I ever got around to making it. All three of them. You could call this album top heavy, I call it my seventh favorite album ever. Pick up the album and try not looping those three tracks for hours on end. It's tough.

8. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let's Face It

Favorite track: The Rascal King

If Tell All Your Friends is the album that took me to the next level of getting into music, this is the first album that really made me appreciate the album as an art form. I'll be perfectly honest, when I was younger I would listen to only single tracks off CD's. It blows my mind now, but it would happen often. This is the first album where I was taken aback by how great it was all the way through.

It's still a great album, one of my all time favorites, but it's definitely this high because of legacy as much as anything. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

9. Pete Yorn - Musicforthemorningafter

Favorite track: For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)

This is another somewhat top heavy album, but what a half an album! The second half of the album is very solid, if not occasionally boring. But the first half? My god. Perfection. Standout track "For Nancy" is both the song most often associated with me by friends (good friend Sobo says that song always make him think of me) and also my favorite single track ever. Besides that, the rest of the first half are also delicious little ditties about love and heartbreak, all told through simple guitar rock that is just fun as heck to sing along to.

10. Eels - Electro Shock Blues

Favorite track: Last Stop, This Town

This is a very tragic album, as it is the album Mark Oliver Everett wrote after his sister and mother both died. What came from it is one of the most captivating and engrossing albums I've ever heard, at times being incredibly sad and others being marvelously uplifting. It's quirky and peculiar, but that is all part of E's charm.

I really think it's a very influential album, as this is a forefather to a lot of the indie pop that came from after it. It's definitely the best album E ever produced - which is saying something as this band has produced a lot of wonderful material. This is an underappreciated gem that should be loved by more, but for now, it's at least loved by me.

11. Gorillaz - Gorillaz

12. Muse - Absolution

13. Spoon - Gimme Fiction

14. Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism

15. Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album)

16. The Strokes - Is This It?

17. Blink-182 - Enema of the State

18. Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

19. Fenix Tx - Lechuza

20. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape

21. NOFX - So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes

22. The Postal Service - Give Up

23. Say Anyhing - ...is a Real Boy

24. The Killers - Hot Fuss

25. Radiohead - Kid A

26. Arcade Fire - Funeral

27. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head

28. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

29. Sublime - Sublime

30. The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre


Patty said...

And to pick the "countriest" song on the Shins cd to be your favorite. What a shock.

Post a Comment