Agaetis Byrjun – Sigur Ros (1999)

Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Ros (1999)

Translated from its native Icelandic tongue, “agaetis byrjun” becomes “a good beginning.” Appropriate! Want to talk stark, unfettered beauty? Want to talk rich instrumentation and incredible (if unintelligible to my English ears) vocals? This album is your conversation piece. The album art shows a picture of a fetus in the womb, and I have to wonder if that’s what they had in mind when making this album. I know I’m really grasping here, but I think if you got some decent headphones, sunk into a really big beanbag chair, and listened to this, you might just feel like the album art. Leave yourself an airhole if you try that, though.

Choice Cut: Svefn-g-englar

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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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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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The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me – Brand New (2006)

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me - Brand New (2006)

Emo is an appropriately rather misunderstood genre, with pop punk sort of bastardizing great bands like Cap’n Jazz, American Football, and Sunny Day Real Estate. From the moment I saw this album, I just knew it would be brilliant. The album cover is one of my favorites and perfectly reflects the sounds the band are making on the album. But the most important thing is the music, and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me doesn’t have a weak moment – the five-song opening stretch in particular always leaves me stunned. A dark, intense and powerful album.

Choice Cut: Limousine (MS Rebridge)
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The Woods – Sleater-Kinney (2005)

The Woods - Sleater-Kinney (2005)

The volume and the hooks turned all the way up! If you’re still under the delusion that rock is dead, listen to this fucking album. Jumpers and Modern Girl are placed together and have a brilliant juxtaposition about them. The former is explosive, fun and powerful whereas Modern Girl is more subtle and beautiful. My other favorites are Entertain, a fantastic middle finger at classic rock radio and retro acts alike, (“You did nothing new with ’72! Where’s the fuck you? Where’s the black and blue?”), and Let’s Call It Love, which is less a song and more a battle through music.

(This album was Sleater-Kinney’s one-hell-of-a final shot before disbanding and essentially did for them what Abbey Road did for the Beatles. But they’ve recently announced that they’re returning with a new album in January of next year!)

Choice Cut: Modern Girl
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The Winter of Mixed Drinks – Frightened Rabbit (2010)

The Winter of Mixed Drinks - Frightened Rabbit (2010)

This album was my first conscious effort to listen to indie music and I do not think I could have picked a better choice. This album is beautifully put together, with shoegaze-inspired guitars, passionate vocals, and a great motif. This album is one that will have you back for more. Whereas some indie bands have the effect of not sounding passionate enough, Frightened Rabbit has the opposite effect. They sound too passionate, but that is not a bad thing.

Choice Cut: Swim Until You Can’t See Land
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We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic – Foxygen (2013)

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic - Foxygen (2013)

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic sounds like an album that was taken out of the late 1960’s and re-recorded in a modern studio.  Modern rock, pop, and folk music sound fine and I have few complaints about them. Still, there is a certain novelty in listening to a modern rendition of old styles.  The novelty of this album coupled with lyrics such as “there’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore” makes Foxygen  stand out in the flood of recent indie bands.

Choice Cut: No Destruction
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