pom pom – Ariel Pink (2014)

pom pom - Ariel Pink (2014)

Ariel Pink does an amazing job at harkening back to the days of Frank Zappa, lo-fi, and new wave all while keeping pom pom new and exciting. Not that Zappa, lo-fi, or new wave aren’t exciting to begin with, but those styles kind of get old after awhile. Maybe it’s the synthesis of these genres, or maybe it’s just how weird this album is, but whatever it is pom pom is most definitely worth a listen.

Choice Cut: Put Your Number In My Phone

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Slanted & Enchanted – Pavement (1992)

Slanted & Enchanted - Pavement (1992)

I hated this album when I first heard it. With a few years and added musical maturity, I’ve recently listened to it again. The jagged, uneven hooks and desperate vocals (“I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’…”) push away casual listeners. Summer Babe is a perfectly amicable radio hit, but by the time you get to No Life Singed Her, you know what you’re in for. If you can handle that, you’re in for ugly beauty. To anyone who’s intimidated by this album, I suggest listening to it three times. I think it takes three listens to truly start appreciating a complex album.

Choice Cut: Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era

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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

Has this remarkable outsider vibe, despite being one of the most acclaimed albums in history. An assortment of surrealism, idiosyncrasy, sorrow, pain, and beauty. Goddamn, is it beautiful… not in a conventional way at all, but listening to Jeff Mangum pour his heart out accompanied by marching bands, freaky organs, and musical saws is a fantastic, engrossing experience. The title track turns madness into stately beauty, sounding like a eulogy to someone who never actually existed but would’ve been your best friend if they had. And good luck not getting swept up in the bizarre emotions of Oh Comely, emotions I’m not even sure they have names for. Genius or insanity? I say both!

Choice Cut: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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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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“Heroes” – David Bowie (1977)

Heroes - David Bowie (1977)

The crown of the Bowie/Eno Berlin trilogy and the most accessible entry point to Bowie’s work from his arty experimental rock period. The ambient sound collage that defined the second half of Low is a lot stronger and more fully realized here. Then there’s the album’s title track, which is unquestionably David’s greatest song, where he does something he hasn’t done since Life on Mars? way back on Hunky Dory – he takes every single one of his Bowie masks off and proves that he does have a real human heart in there somewhere. Not to mention, this album has excellent playing from Robert Fripp all over it.

Choice Cut: Heroes

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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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Revolver – The Beatles (1966)

Revolver - The Beatles (1966)

One of the most important albums in history. It’s daring, diverse, melodic, and accessible despite the heavy experimentation – overshadowing everything the band had put out beforehand. It’s not only The Beatles at the heights of their songwriting ability, but them also at their most creative, containing a BUNCH of top-flight tunes, including acid-rockers (Tomorrow Never Knows, She Said She Said, I’m Only Sleeping… most of these are John’s), aching ballads (Eleanor Rigby, Here There and Everywhere… Paul’s, of course), and for the first time, songs by George that could compete with the best of Lennon/McCartney (Taxman, I Want to Tell You). It’s an amazing masterpiece of an album, and essential in understanding ’60s rock. You probably already have it, though, and if not you should get your fucking head checked.

Choice Cut: Here, There and Everywhere
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