Since I Left You – The Avalanches (2000)

Since I Left You - The Avalanches (2000)

An impressive album – the best I discovered in 2014. I want to gush. I’m really tempted to gush. Made from around 3500 samples from vinyl records, this is a veritable epic of a record. Since I Left You boasts an extremely diverse palette of sounds that somehow fraternize into a single, cohesive unit. I’d argue it’s magic. A common, and somewhat warranted, criticism of electronic music is that it doesn’t sound “alive” or that it sounds “sterile.” This album is my rebuttal. It feels not just alive, but young and healthy. It’s genuine and familiar, and yet simultaneously exotic.

Choice Cut: Live at Dominoes

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Ridin’ Dirty – UGK (1996)

Ridin’ Dirty - UGK (1996)

Even with several unabashed celebrations of the gangsta lifestyle (see Murder, 3 in da Mornin’, and Good Stuff), a big part of what really makes this awesome is the clear-eyed, “holy shit we could die at any minute” bent to their songs. And that’s when this one’s at its best – Diamonds & Wood, Hi-Life, and the all-time masterpiece One Day. The other part, of course, is the beats. The atmospheric, laid-back, late-night Ridin’ Dirty, or the funkiest hip-hop song of all time, Pinky Ring… those are timeless, timeless beats that anyone can get good vibes off of.

Choice Cut: One Day

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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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Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana – Shiina Ringo (2003)

Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana - Shiina Ringo (2003)

Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana, (English title Kalk Semen Chestnut Flower), is the essence of art pop and easily one of the best records of the 00’s. Not only is the songwriting terrific – the hooks on Kuki and Yattsuke Shigoto are the hooks of the gods – but there’s this great anything goes spirit and Shiina’s voice is in top form throughout. She also plays an insane amount of instruments, including koto, pipe organ, percussion, piano, erhu, shamisen, melodica, recorder, kalimba, harmonium, jaw harp, whistle, drums, guitar… And some people say that nobody does anything different anymore.

Choice Cut: Kuki

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Our Love – Caribou (2014)

Our Love - Caribou (2014)

You know those science fiction movies where people walk into the bar, and everyone is dancing really slow to slow music? That’s what One Love reminds me of.  The music slowly builds up and becomes more complex, just like a slow club dance style would. On top of this relaxing music, there’s also some nice smooth vocals to top it all off. If I could, I’d let these vocals take me home from the club  When these vocals and I got home, these vocals would make passionate love to me, just like it does on this album.

Choice Cut: Can’t Do Without

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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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