Paris 1919 – John Cale (1973)

Paris 1919 - John Cale (1973)

This is basically a concept album, but not in the same way as, say, Tommy. It’s a portrait of a specific point in time and space, specifically Paris 1919. Not all of the lyrics are based on that, but it is a fitting soundtrack for that era. It’s layered, intensely personal, and absolutely beautiful, with A Child’s Christmas in Wales perfecting symphonic art rock and the title track expanding on the Velvet Underground’s later sound. Plus Cale’s voice, ragged and touching throughout, is an asset – it makes me wish he’d sang more with the Velvets, but I’ll always have his solo work.

Choice Cut: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

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Hounds of Love – Kate Bush (1985)

Hounds of Love - Kate Bush (1985)

An art pop album that gives you the best of both worlds: the unique song structures, chord progressions, and arrangements of art rock paired with the catchiness of a great pop song. The first side is laced with brilliant gems like the classic Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God), Hounds of Love, and Cloudbusting, the greatest orchestral pop song ever written (and that includes the ones by those Beatle guys!). The second side is an ambitious suite titled The Ninth Wave that both soothes and terrifies, relaying the story of a woman seeing her life flash before her eyes as she drowns beneath icy waters. People say that this one of the greatest albums ever made by a woman. I say drop the “by a woman,” and you’ve got it right.

Choice Cut: Cloudbusting
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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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