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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Ninety – 808 State (1989)

Ninety - 808 State (1989)

The late 80s and early 90s is a fun time period because electronic music was out of the “academics and experimenters” phase of the 70s and the “synth-pop” phase of the mid-80s but not yet in the “formulaic molly-popping” stage of the 90s and onward. That’s not to discredit these phases, which can be – and often are – awesome, but rather to drive my point about this time period being special. Ninety is a great example. It sounds aged and is clearly analog, but that adds to the charm. These hooks will be stuck in your head for weeks.

Choice Cut: 808080808
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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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Pretty Hate Machine – Nine Inch Nails (1989)

Pretty Hate Machine - Nine Inch Nails (1989)

Influenced by the likes of Gary Numan and Adam Ant, Trent Reznor set out to make a dark and edgy rock/electronic album. The end result was Pretty Hate Machine, which switches between wanting to dance and wanting to cry. While opinions on Reznor’s lyrics are divided, it is hard to find someone who does not admit that the music on this album is different than anything they’ve ever heard, at least before 1989. This album is musically raw, which one would not expect from the mashup of electronic and rock.

Choice Cut: Terrible Lie
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LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005)

LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (2005)

If someone asked me to pick one album that can defuse the pretentiousness of annoying musos, I’d remark on the odd specificity of that question and then recommend this album. This is music about music. The deeper you are into music culture, the more you know the tropes, and the more history you know, the better this album will be. The tunes are musically strong and surprisingly danceable mixes of electronic, rock, and a billion other things. It’s good even if you don’t get the jokes, but great if you do.

Choice Cut: Movement
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The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses (1989)

Like Primal Scream, the Stone Roses were important players in the British rave scene. This is the sort of psychedelic proto-indie rock that is meant to fill a room and reverberate off the walls. This album combines the epic sense of space found in modern trance music with cool guitar riffs and airy Psychocandy-like vocals. The opening four tracks, no matter how many times I listen to them, still have the ability to give me goosebumps on a 95 degree day. This album helped bridge the gap as rock slowly turned into electronic music – no small achievement.

Choice Cut: I Wanna Be Adored
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Black Sun – Gold Fields (2013)

Black Sun - Gold Fields (2013)

The synthpop sub-genre had intrigued me for a while so I decided to expand my tastes. I found the album Black Sun through an iTunes recommendation and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. Throughout the album lie many strong points such as Dark Again, Treehouse, and You’re Still Gone. People looking for a break from their normal tastes in music will be able to find enjoyment in Black Sun, as I did. The album covers material from pop to alternative rock and is incredibly easy to get into.

Choice Cut: Dark Again
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