Low – David Bowie (1977)

Low - David Bowie (1977)

“I’m gonna review Heroes. …Dammit, Ian! Okay… I’m gonna review Station to Station… Dammit, Ian!” T4B problems. The struggle is real.

This is a powerful testament to how much we like Bowie. He was always doing weird experimental stuff, switching up his style, and trying new things. We’re all about that. Low is essentially an album in two parts: the more “traditional” opening seven and the instrumental closing four. The opening seven are a mix of sounds appropriate for an arcade, 50s piano, rock riffs, and Bowie vocals. The instrumental tracks opened a rabbit hole to be discovered further later.

Choice Cut: What in the World

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Agaetis Byrjun – Sigur Ros (1999)

Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Ros (1999)

Translated from its native Icelandic tongue, “agaetis byrjun” becomes “a good beginning.” Appropriate! Want to talk stark, unfettered beauty? Want to talk rich instrumentation and incredible (if unintelligible to my English ears) vocals? This album is your conversation piece. The album art shows a picture of a fetus in the womb, and I have to wonder if that’s what they had in mind when making this album. I know I’m really grasping here, but I think if you got some decent headphones, sunk into a really big beanbag chair, and listened to this, you might just feel like the album art. Leave yourself an airhole if you try that, though.

Choice Cut: Svefn-g-englar

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You’re Dead! – Flying Lotus (2014)

You’re Dead! - Flying Lotus (2014)

I’ve already covered how Flying Lotus is the grand nephew of jazz greats John and Alice Coltrane, so when I say that this album is a jazz album, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. You’re Dead! is primarily about death, which usually comes with connotations of darkness and heaviness. This album isn’t really dark or heavy though. Sure, this album can get a little slower at times, but I would never say it’s depressing like a lot of music about death is. This album is jazzy, full of life, and experimentation. Kind of an interesting paradox really.

Choice Cut: Dead Man’s Tetris

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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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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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To Be Kind – Swans (2014)

To Be Kind - Swans (2014)

To Be Kind is just barely longer than two hours long, and while that may seems like a daunting task to listen to, it’s worth every single second.  This album is loud, it’s intense, it’s repetitive, and it’s complex.  Everything about this album screams “I AM GOING TO KICK YOUR FACE IN WITH THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL”.  While it might not have more traditional face kicking with the power of rock sound, it’s certainly a good face kicking with the power of rock sound.

Choice Cut: A Little God in My Hands
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Bone Machine – Tom Waits (1992)

Bone Machine- Tom Waits (1992)

Tom Waits follows up his legendary ’80s trilogy with his twisted, demented vision of blues rock. Earth Died Screaming, In the Colosseum, and Goin’ Out West (which you might remember from Fight Club) not only reinvent the tired genre – it’s turned into the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Even the gospel song Jesus Gonna Be Here sounds like it came out of hell. We also get three of his greatest ballads, Who Are You, A Little Rain, and Whistle Down the Wind, as well the unclassifiable, undeniably moving I Don’t Wanna Grow Up. Tom at his most striking, most violent, and most tender.

Choice Cut: Whistle Down the Wind
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