• Best Albums of 2012

    5 jan 2013, 07:32

  • TWENTY MOST UNBELIEVABLY FUCKING AMAZING ALBUMS THAT MAKE ME WONDER IF THEY WERE…

    14 dec 2010, 06:55

    I feel really really really bad for all the great albums I left off this list, but cuts had to be made! Yes I know there are plenty of albums that I left off, but I probably haven't discovered them yet, especially albums from outside my generation. Bear with me! This is my personal list., and I hope you see some albums you recognize. Make your own list and send it to me!

    My challenge: If you don't recognize some of the albums, or just haven't got around to listening to an album on the list, download it and listen! The worst that could happen is that you don't like it and delete it. Best possible outcome is you end up loving it like me! So do it. For me. And for yourself.

    THE LIST

    20. Pixies - Doolittle
    19. Daft Punk - Homework
    18. Coldplay - Parachutes
    17. Death from Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine
    16. The Strokes - Is This It
    15. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
    14. The National - Boxer
    13. Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
    12. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
    11. Nick Drake - Pink Moon
    10. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
    9. Why? - Alopecia
    8. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
    7. Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith
    6. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
    5. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    4. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
    3. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs
    2. The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
    1. Beck - Odelay

    Honourable Mentions

    Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
    Radiohead - In Rainbows
    Ween - The Mollusk
    Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow
    Gorillaz - Gorillaz
    Real Estate - Real Estate
  • Album of the Year - The Short List

    16 nov 2010, 05:51

  • Influential Album #1 - Beck - "Odelay"

    2 mar 2010, 21:53

    When I originally thought up the idea to make this list of influential albums, I knew immediately what my #1 was going to be. The hard part was picking the other 19 albums that would follow. Right off the bat I knew that Beck’s “Odelay” would land at the top of my list. Very few albums have come even close to equalling the impact that “Odelay” has had on me.

    I can’t even count the number of times I’ve obsessed over this album. I remember I couldn’t get enough of it the first time I listened to it. I was probably 7 or 8, and not only was I fascinated by the music, but I remember the album art being extremely interesting to me, especially the egg with the rosary on the back. I also remember going through a very large “Odelay” phase back in high school, roughly grades 10 through 11. How obsessed was I? Let’s just say I had “Yo tengo chicle en cerebro” written in the margins of plenty of my notes.

    There are so many quirks and little samples scattered throughout the album, it’s hard not to get hooked. From the “magical wizard of rhythm” on “Hotwax” all the way to “Two turntables and a microphone,” “Odelay” doesn’t just stand as the peak of Beck’s career, but it sets the bar for all music, begging for it to be as catchy, quirky and unique.

    Like I said, very few albums come even close to matching the impact of “Odelay.” Very few albums have stuck with me this long, keep me interested on every listen, and inspire me to do almost anything like “Odelay” does. When you’re down, the album can make you smile and feel better about yourself. When you’re up, the album will just make you want to dance. When you put it in simple terms like that, then any album that can make you do that has the recipe for success.

    Although there is another Beck album on the list, “Sea Change,” even it fails to reach the level of impact that “Odelay” has had on me. I didn’t discover “Sea Change” until later, after I had already gone through probably 4 or 5 “Odelay phases.” I always debate which Beck album is his best, and it always comes down to “Odelay” and “Sea Change.” While “Sea Change” has that mature, grown-up sense of stability to it, I believe that “Odelay” is his greatest because of the exact opposite reason. It begs you to be a child. “Odelay,” with its’ nonsensical lyrics and unorthodox style simplifies things. I’m going with “Odelay,” and that’s why it’s my number 1 most influential album in my life.

    I’d love to know the most influential album in YOUR life.

    Here is a complete recap of the entire list:

    1. Beck - Odelay [1996]
    2. Gorillaz - Gorillaz [2001]
    3. Daft Punk - Homework [1997]
    4. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [1967]
    5. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs [2004]
    6. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum [2007]
    7. Panda Bear - Person Pitch [2007]
    8. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon [1973]
    9. Beck - Sea Change [2002]
    10. Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak [2005]
    11. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary [2005]
    12. Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith [1995]
    13. Weezer - Maladroit [2002]
    14. The National - Boxer [2007]
    15. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois [2005]
    16. Oasis - What's the Story Morning Glory? [1995]
    17. Coldplay - Parachutes [2000]
    18. Billy Talent - Billy Talent [2003]
    19. Ween - The Mollusk [1997]
    20. The Strokes - Room On Fire [2003]
  • Influential Album #2 - Gorillaz - "Gorillaz"

    1 mar 2010, 22:12

    This next album is the single most important album I have ever purchased. Gorillaz self-titled debut album will always hold a special place in my heart. Why is it so important? Well it was the first album I ever bought, that’s why. It was almost completely at random, too. The only song I had heard from it prior to buying it was “Clint Eastwood” and even then, I only kind of liked it. By far the best impulse buy I have ever made!

    There is a belief that when you buy music, it forces you to give it a heartfelt listen. After all, you’ve spent money on it. You are more inclined to cast away, or delete a song after only a single listen if you’ve downloaded it for free. I guess there is some truth to that. I probably would have never spent as much time listening to Gorillazthan I did if I merely downloaded it for free.

    The first album purchase is always a big moment in any music listeners life. A lot of people are embarrassed by their first purchase, if it was maybe the Backstreet Boys or Nickelback, but I got lucky. I still listen to and love this album. I am very pleased with my 10 year old self. Besides the music, another thing that blew me away about this album was the fact that it was an enhanced CD. I loved that. I didn’t know that it had those features until I popped it in my computer one day and saw all the extra cool videos. After finding that out, I think I put every single CD in the house into the computer to see if it was enhanced.

    About the music itself, I absolutely fell in love. There is no genre to describe this album. It changes rapidly from song to song. For a young kid with a short attention span, I loved that. Some of the songs are even a bit goofy, and go out on a lot of limbs. That completely sold it to me as a kid, and that’s why I still love it to this day. Another great thing about the music is the unique use of sampling. A lot of the album is sampled, but you can’t even tell. I sure as hell didn’t know back when I was a kid. That “airy” kind of sound that’s played throughout “Slow Country”? Yeah, that’s a The Specials sample.

    Another great thing about Gorillaz is the story behind the band. Each character has their own unique personality and story, which really adds a unique element to the band. I loved reading the stories on their website, and around the internet. Like I said, it’s a very unique feature to the band. I can’t think of another band that pulled this off as well as Gorillaz has for all these years.

    Although I was underwhelmed by “Demon Days” I remain optimistic about “Plastic Beach.” “Stylo” is an intriguing new song that you should all check out. Even if “Plastic Beach” bombs, I’ll still have the self-titled debut. It will always be one of the biggest albums of my life in terms of influence. I’m proud to say that it was the first album I ever bought. It was only topped by one album, which you will see next. It was very close, and was a very tough decision, but Gorillaz self-titled debut was the clear number two most influential album for me. It is absolutely one of the most fun, catchy, and truly unique albums of my time.
  • Influential Album #3 - Daft Punk - "Homework"

    1 mar 2010, 00:17

    A lot of music I listen to and enjoy today is ; full of samples, loops, and weird vocal effects. I believe that one album paved the way in order for me to enjoy artists like Tobacco, Digitalism, and Black Dice. That album is Daft Punk’s “Homework” released in 1997. Things that would seem to be commonplace in music I listen to today, I first heard on Daft Punk’s Homework.

    Credit goes out to Jess, my sister, on this one. She was the one that forced us to listen to it for hours on end before it finally caught on, but now I can definitely see how the effects have worn off on me, and the type of music I listen to. I’m always drawn in by a catchy electronic hook, and I think that is thanks to all the hours spent listening to this album. I think I originally did not take a liking to this album, possibly even hated it. It took a very long time for me to get into it, but thankfully my sister was persistent, and it paid off. It’s now one of the most influential albums I have ever listened to.

    Even listening to this album today, I get blown away. It’s the type of album where you hear something new each time you play it. That is credit to the amount of time spent picking and placing the samples, which I don’t think is there on other Daft Punk albums. I can’t even imagine how long it took to create some of the songs on “Homework”, because there are always little intricate parts that continue to blow me away.

    I’m actually a little disappointed in how Daft Punk has progressed since “Homework.” They’ve lost the “edge” so to speak. They no longer try to uniquely place their samples, or just do something completely out of the ordinary. I’ve yet to hear another Daft Punk song that sounds like “Rollin’ & Scratchin’” since “Homework.” Although that makes me a little sad because they had so much promise, all I have to do is put on “Homework” and the good memories of Daft Punk return.

    Drum machines and heavily altered vocals feature on most of their songs, with no better example being the song “Around the World.” Drum machine and altered vocals? That sounds a wee bit like one of my other favourite albums of all time, Tobacco’s “Fucked Up Friends.” While many people get turned off by the heavily-vocoded voice and repetitive drum beats in Tobacco’s music, I took quite a liking to it. I really think Daft Punk helped pave the way for me.

    A lot of people credit Daft Punk as “” music or “” but to me, listening to it today, it’s just . Just because it has unconventional instruments and sounds, doesn’t take away from the fact that each song is built on a simple pop hook. It may be masked by loops and loops of other sounds, but the pop is still there; that’s what Daft Punk’s “Homework” taught me. It taught me not to be afraid of music that may seem a little different on the surface, because there is a very valuable sound hidden underneath it all. You just have to do a little work to uncover how wonderful it sounds.
  • Influential Album #4 - The Beatles - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

    28 feb 2010, 07:17

    There isn’t anything I could possibly say about this album that hasn’t been said already. It is without a doubt my favourite Beatles album. I am admittedly not a fan of their older, poppier stuff, but Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band falls right into my alley. Sgt. Pepper’s sounds completely different from anything else The Beatles ever did, and that’s probably why it stands out to me so much. It’s the closest thing to a perfect album that I have heard. It’s number four on my list in terms of influence, but if this was the list of best albums of all time, it would be hard for me to put it anywhere other than at number one.

    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was created with the mindset that they would not be able to play it live. Live shows were becoming pointless, with all the noise and all, and touring was simply a nuisance. They took on the alter-ego of Sgt. Pepper’s Band, and created a completely studio based album. I find that bands that don’t worry how songs will sound live and just write in-studio produce better albums. Albums are all about personal listening. Worry about what songs will sound like live after you’ve written and produced all the songs to sound as good as possible on the record. That’s exactly what the Beatles did with Sgt. Pepper’s and I think that’s what their other albums are lacking. The other albums are missing that “personal touch” on the production.

    The songs included in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are very different from what people came to expect from the Beatles. I know the first time I listened to it, I was very confused. The Beatles I knew were a poppy, basic-riffed “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” kind of band. Then “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” came on. What the heck was that! So amazingly different from any other Beatles song I have ever heard, it really shows the talent and songwriting ability that this band had. They were truly masters at their craft, and I only wish that they produced more albums like this.

    Many believe Sgt. Pepper’s to be the Beatles album with the heaviest drug influence. I can’t refute that, but all I know is whatever they were doing, it worked. The songs on Sgt. Pepper’s are able to capture my attention unlike any other Beatles album. They re-defined how conventional songs were written (not first time they did that). Sgt. Pepper’s is not just an influential album for me, but for an entire community of music lovers around the world. People are still being blown away by this album, to this day. That says a lot for an album that was released way back in 1967.

    So many emotions are hidden in this album. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is particularly haunting, “Getting Better” is quite uplifting, “When I’m Sixty-Four” is as nostalgic as it gets, and “Lovely Rita” is just plain catchy. Another great thing about Sgt. Pepper’s is how it ends. It ends with what is likely the best Beatles song ever written and that is “A Day in the Life.” This Lennon/McCartney collaboration is basically the Beatles entire career summed up into one song. It’s a spectacular way to end a spectacular album. Every song has a purpose on the album, and is perfect in every way. Like I said before, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is likely the best album ever produced, and was especially influential for me.
  • Influential Album #5 - Animal Collective - "Sung Tongs"

    27 feb 2010, 19:42

    Isn’t it weird how different music can sound better during different seasons? Certain albums just have a “summery” or “winter” feel to them. I’ve always found that interesting. How can our minds connect the sound of music, to seasons of the year? The number 5 album on my list of influential albums has always felt like a “fall” album to me. There is just something about the sounds included in Animal Collective’s “Sung Tongs” that makes me think of the fall season. I always see images of trees slowly turning colour, with the distinct “smell” that fall has. I can almost feel the temperature drop. I don’t know if it was intentional, but “Sung Tongs” is fall summed up into music, to me. Anytime I’m walking outside with my iPod in the fall, I always have to put “Sung Tongs” on.

    “Sung Tongs” was not the first Animal Collective album I heard, that would have to be “Strawberry Jam.” Although “Strawberry Jam” is a very good album in its own right, “Sung Tongs” was the first Animal Collective album I really “connected” with. There’s just something about the acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, tied in with whatever editing they did that makes it stand out from all of their other albums.

    Merriweather Post Pavilion” was the band’s album in 2009. Almost completely electronic, it introduced them to a completely other group of fans. Although I like “Merriweather Post Pavilion” it did not have the same effect on me as “Sung Tongs” did. “Sung Tongs” is far less accessible and I do not recommend starting with it if you’re trying to get into Animal Collective, but it’s definitely a grower.

    At first you might be taken back. Throughout most of the songs there are no actual words spoken, just a lot of “humming” and “ooing.” But as the songs develop, the words start to fall into place, and the result is a beautiful collection of music. Songs like “Leaf House” and “Winters Love” will get stuck in your head for weeks, but not until after you listen to it a few times.

    The songs seem to deal with very basic themes, such as friends, kittens, love, and well…winning a rabbit. However, my personal favourite song “Kids On Holiday” has a bit more to it. It tells a story, quite vividly, about a family who are about to board an airline flight, to presumably go on holiday. It’s my favourite for that reason, because the theme is so different from the rest of the songs on the album. Despite its’ subject being completely different from the other songs, it still stays true to that “fall” feeling that resonates throughout the album.

    “Sung Tongs” is certainly an acquired taste, but we can all use some abstract music every now and then. I firmly believe that this is my favourite “phase” in Animal Collective’s career, since they are known for drastically changing their style on each album. The droning acoustic guitar riffs and peculiar vocals will make you think, and if you’re anything like me, they’ll be thoughts of trees and plants changing colour.
  • Influential Album #6 - Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Dandelion Gum"

    27 feb 2010, 03:23

    Black Moth Super Rainbow is one of the best bands producing music today that nobody has heard of. They accomplished something that is very hard to do with music, and that is making a record that sounds real. Most electronic music sounds like it lacks something, like the artistic value just isn’t there. It sounds computer generated and in a sense, soulless. I used to think all electronic music was like that, but that was before I was introduced to Black Moth Super Rainbow.

    If you’re wondering, yes the music does sound as weird as their name. It’s over-the-top pop with vocals that are played through a vocoder. What is a vocoder? Think of it as what a talk-box is for guitar, but for a keyboard. Some may see it as a gimmick, but it’s really not. The lead songwriter for Black Moth, Tobacco, has always believed that vocals are just another melody in the grand scheme of the song. Playing the vocals through a vocoder just give it an interesting twist.

    If there is one word that I can use to describe their album “Dandelion Gum” it’s organic. I find that very weird for an electronic album. It sounds completely different from any other electronic album that I have heard. A big contribution to making it sound “real” and “organic” is probably the fact that they use all analog instruments. That means there are no computers, nothing is fake. All of the instruments they use were around in the 70s, and I believe that sets them apart from a lot of the new age electronic artists.

    Every person needs to at least give these guys a chance, because I honestly believe that they are producing some of the best music in the world at the moment. I do warn you that it is very different, it’s certainly not conventional pop, but damn is it ever catchy. To go along with the “organic” theme, there is just something about how the album is recorded that sets it apart. Just play “Jump Into My Mouth and Breathe the Stardust” and listen to the gentle hum in the background that is played throughout. I have no idea how Tobacco does it, but I find it extremely interesting.

    I had the pleasure to meet a couple members of the band this year, when Tobacco came to Hamilton to play a solo set at This Ain’t Hollywood. It was very cool to meet the man behind this great album, definitely a highlight of 2009 for me. They are pretty reclusive, and don’t give out interviews very often, so it was neat just to get to talk to him, and get a picture. Unfortunately, his solo work is separate from his Black Moth Super Rainbow stuff, so nothing from “Dandelion Gum” got played. Regardless, it was still a very good night.

    I’ve always said that “Dandelion Gum” has ruined my taste in music. Everything I listen to now sounds boring compared to the over-the-top psychedelicness of Black Moth Super Rainbow. Maybe it didn’t ruin it after all; it just made me aware of what real music can sound like. Maybe we’ve all been dumbed down for so long by the conventional, repetitive music that is out there, that we are at a loss for words when we hear a truly great album like this. Describing “Dandelion Gum” to someone who hasn’t heard it is borderline impossible. The only way to fully understand what I mean is to check it out for yourself. Hopefully you’re as blown away as I was when I first heard it.
  • Influential Album #7 - Panda Bear - "Person Pitch"

    26 feb 2010, 16:54

    The use of samples can be a bit of a touchy subject. I’ll say right now, if you aren’t a fan of the use of samples, you probably will not be a fan of Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” either. The entire album is based on the use of samples. They aren’t just thrown in there, and passed off as a song, no. They are skilfully altered, manipulated, and placed in a way I have never heard before. Panda Bear creates sounds I never thought were possible; it’s truly amazing that the album is actually full of recycled sounds. You can’t deny that there is talent in that. Creating completely different sounding songs using sounds from other songs is a skill, and you are forced to agree when you listen to “Person Pitch.”

    Panda Bear is actually noah lennox, a member of Animal Collective (a band you may see later on in this list *hint*). Animal Collective is known for their use of samples as well, especially in their newer albums. “Person Pitch” is not just another Animal Collective album, though. The album was painstakingly put together by Panda Bear by himself in Portugal in 2007.

    I don’t know what he does differently from other artists who use samples, but there is definitely a process he uses that sets him apart. The stunning transitions from one part of a song to another are exactly that…stunning. All of it is accompanied by his vocals, which sound like are underwater. Very little of the lyrics are understandable, but it forces you to listen closely. You may think you hear something, and it draws you in, making you listen closer. It’s a very clever and interesting tactic by Mr. Lennox.

    What makes this album influential enough to make it #7? Easy, this is the only album in the world that sounds like this. There is no genre to it, no general pattern you can get a hold of. I can’t give you any comparisons to what it may sound like, solely because there is no other album that even comes remotely close to sounding like it. If this album influences some musicians half as much as it has influenced me, then the world of music is a better place.

    If the prospect of an album that is completely unique from anything you have ever heard doesn’t excite you, then there must be something wrong with you. As a person who is always searching for new sounds, “Person Pitch” is a breath of fresh air. It continues to be a fresh breath of air to this day, as it’s been since the first day I heard it. It’s an album I can listen to time and time again without ever getting boring, because there are always new and previously undiscovered sounds to make me smile.

    Also, Bros may just be my all time favourite song.