The Dreaming – Kate Bush (1982)

The Dreaming - Kate Bush (1982)

An amazing example of artistic growth in action. This was Kate’s first album that she produced entirely on her own, which gave her room to fully explore her own subconscious and create one of the most mesmerizing, complex-sounding albums I’ve ever heard. This is gripping, dramatic, experimental music, full of great narratives (There Goes a Tenner), bizarre arrangements (Sat in Your Lap), and the occasional bit of Irish folk (Night of the Swallow). While casual listeners may be deterred by this album, this is essential for the masses already under Kate’s spell.

Following this release, Bush built her own studios and would return to the charts three years later with her most acclaimed album…

Choice Cut: Night of the Swallow
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Floating Into the Night – Julee Cruise (1989)

Floating Into the Night - Julee Cruise (1989)

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge David Lynch fan, so of course I would love the shit out of this. Lynch wrote all the lyrics here and Angelo Badalamenti provided the synth arrangements, with six of these songs showing up in either Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks. But best of all is Julee Cruise’s soaring, innocent voice, which just thrives in such a chill, pristine environment of dark ambient neo-twee, (the album’s title sums it up nicely). The perfect soundtrack for wandering around aimlessly at night looking for your purpose.

Choice Cut: Falling
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Debut – Bjork (1993)

Debut - Bjork (1993)

Take a cup of clever lyrics, four tablespoons of vaguely rave-inspired beats, and pour on creative, lush ambiance and – boom – you’ve got a Bjork salad. This is my favorite album by this outlandish Icelandic singer-songwriter. Seriously, can you name an artist do you know that recorded part of their song in the restroom of a bar? (If you have a non-Bjork answer to that, comment below). Bjork has a knack for taking a different angle on concepts such as Human Behaviour (told from a non-human perspective) and Venus As A Boy, a rule 63-ish take on mythology.

Choice Cut: There’s More to Life Than This (Recorded Live at the Milk Bar Toilets)
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Come Away with Me – Norah Jones (2002)

Come Away with Me - Norah Jones (2002)

Looks like I’ve tapped into the “impress women” side of my collection. My reasons for liking this album are not so superficial, though. This is a beautiful blend of jazz, country, and blues, all with a touch of pop. The vocal delivery is from a divine plane of existence, I swear. This album exudes classiness and feels like a smooth, delicate listen. It’s also a very good way to broaden your horizons from adrenaline-soaked music to something more musically demure.

Choice Cut: Don’t Know Why
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If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle and Sebastian (1996)

If You’re Feeling Sinister - Belle and Sebastian (1996)

If you like your pop snarky, quirky, and full of great melodies so adorable that you forget the songs are populated by depressed, listless, arguably insane people with all sorts of sexual kinks, then this album is for you. The Fox in the Snow is one of the most gentle, gorgeous songs to ease my troubled mind and a good song to listen to when I’m ready to let my romantic ideal lifestyle take over. A fine alternative to the chest-beating, alpha-male bullshit that British music was marinating in at the time. The best album of 1996; their best album.

Choice Cut: Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
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69 Love Songs – The Magnetic Fields (1999)

69 Love Songs - The Magnetic Fields (1999)

Successfully defines any feeling I’ve ever had related to love. Merritt’s voice is great throughout, as are those of his guests. The stylistic and emotional range on display is ridiculous. I love the concept and most of these 69 love songs are very, very good ones. The magic about 69 Love Songs is that you don’t NEED to listen to all of it in a single sitting. You can randomly play any 10-15 songs from the three volumes and you’ll always end up with a beautiful pop experience. There will never be a 3-disc album this good again. Ever.

Choice Cut: The Book of Love
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Channel Orange – Frank Ocean (2012)

Channel Orange - Frank Ocean (2012)

When I first heard of Frank Ocean, I thought that he could not be anything special.  I thought Frank Ocean was just another artist who would be forgotten in a few years.  Then I listened to Channel Orange.  This album is fantastic.  One of the essentials of modern music.  Frank Ocean’s voice and production are just majestic.  This album are filled with soul that Frank Ocean’s contemporaries cannot match.  Some people may disagree, but I think Channel Orange  is going to become the quintessential album of modern soul and R&B music.

Choice Cut: Crack Rock
Buy Album: Amazon (MP3 · CD · Vinyl) · iTunes MP3

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