Autobahn – Kraftwerk (1974)

Autobahn - Kraftwerk (1974)

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! For many of our readers, today is a very, very special day. Today, my gift to you is an album I really like, and you can listen to it regardless of whether or why you’re celebrating today.

Autobahn calmed me down in a time of great stress when nothing else could. I have a sentimental attachment to the album. Beautiful, clean, smooth, forward-thinking melodies. The bright, tinkling quality of the music seems more “Christmas” to me than hymns and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or “Jingle Bell Rock”. Yet it’s so warm, too.

So, call your friends and family and tell them how much you appreciate them. Then go cuddle up with someone you love, grab some hot chocolate, and put on this album. And to all a good night!

Choice Cut: Kometenmelodie 2

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Somethin’ Else – Cannonball Adderley (1958)

Somethin' Else - Cannonball Adderley (1958)

The amount of jazz albums we recommend is not commensurate to how much we love the genre. But there’s one advantage to that oversight: we can always recommend the most bomb-ass jazz albums. I’m partial to the swingy groove of Somethin’ Else, but some may prefer the delicate piano of Love For Sale. I certainly can’t fault you for that, because all six of the songs on this album are pretty great. I imagine this made quite the atmosphere for socialites to enjoy at swanky late-50s parties. It works well for the holiday season, too!

Choice Cut: Somethin’ Else

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Mellow Gold – Beck (1994)

Mellow Gold - Beck (1994)

Mellow Gold is the embodiment of redneck and junk culture in the shape of late grunge-era rock. This album is gross, low-class, and repulsive…in a good way! I routinely make long drives through the US Southeast, and while the majority of the area is not what the stereotypes say, there are pockets where the stereotypes don’t go far enough. You can find these pockets all over the globe, not just my tiny hundred mile radius. In Mellow Gold, Beck unapologetically steals from the culture of these pockets and and bakes an excellent album from the sour ingredients.

Choice Cut: Soul Suckin’ Jerk

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Broken Bells – Broken Bells (2010)

Broken Bells - Broken Bells (2010)

I could spend the better part of this review talking about the lead singer for the Shins and Danger Mouse…but that’s too easy and does this great album injustice. The artistic chemistry is clear. The falsetto vocals and lush electronic instrumentation are a wonderful blend, and I think this album was underappreciated upon its release. Broken Bells is laid-back, calm music, very easy to listen to, very accessible. We tend to recommend divisive albums on this site, but this a crowd pleaser that everyone can enjoy.

Choice Cut: The High Road

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Lead Belly Road – Lead Belly (Year Unknown)

Lead Belly Road - Lead Belly (Year Unknown)

Like a ghost, you can hear the distant howls of Lead Belly (“Irene, good ni-i-ight, Irene, good nigh'”) in this murky compilation. Lead Bally is such a classic blues singer, of incalculable influence…and yet his music is so damn hard to find in a decent album format. And yet despite the age of the recordings, you can still hear the power, the creativity, the very immortal soul of blues coming through the distressed vinyl and scrub-heavy potato-quality MP3. That’s how Lead Belly is…he transcends shit technology, floating above it way more than his namesake would suggest possible.

Choice Cut: Irene
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Acid Rap – Chance the Rapper (2013)

Album

As introspective as the drug that provides this album’s namesake, Chance the Rapper knows how to make you think. And laugh. And nod your head. I don’t know many rappers who can use a loop of themselves coughing and make it work. His beats and his wordplay are so far up on that next level that he can do crap like that and make it look like a master stroke. Because it is. He clearly has a big heart, a big brain, and a probably a perforated sheet of something-something in his fridge. Hell of a combo in the rap game.

Choice Cut: Cocoa Butter Kisses
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Who’s Afraid of the Art of Noise? – Art of Noise (1984)

Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise? - Art of Noise (1984)

Well, I’m not afraid of the Art of Noise, but I can see how you could be intimidated. I can’t really pin it down as clearly ambient or experimental. It’s a bit aggressive to be ambient, but it’s not regular enough to be dance. AllMusic calls it dance-rock, but I don’t even think that’s quite right. Two things are for sure: it’s interesting and it’s good. Art of Noise is exactly that, art made out of odd sounds – vaguely industrial, vaguely dreamy, vaguely dancey, vaguely rocky.

Choice Cut: Moments in Love
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