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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Come Away with Me – Norah Jones (2002)

Come Away with Me - Norah Jones (2002)

Looks like I’ve tapped into the “impress women” side of my collection. My reasons for liking this album are not so superficial, though. This is a beautiful blend of jazz, country, and blues, all with a touch of pop. The vocal delivery is from a divine plane of existence, I swear. This album exudes classiness and feels like a smooth, delicate listen. It’s also a very good way to broaden your horizons from adrenaline-soaked music to something more musically demure.

Choice Cut: Don’t Know Why
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St. Vincent – St. Vincent (2014)

St. Vincent - St. Vincent (2014)

Like a billion other albums, Alex introduced me to this. St. Vincent is what happens when you combine futurism, poetic lyrics, fantastic vocals, and selectively heavy beats. This is not really a “hard” album…but it can rattle the car when it has a point to make! I also have to say that it is refreshing to hear such confidence in female vocals: power sans machismo. An attitude of “I know I’m cool; I run this show” permeates this album and it’s all I can do to meekly agree. Highly recommended.

Choice Cut: Huey Newton
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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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Screamadelica – Primal Scream (1991)

 Screamadelica – Primal Scream (1991)

Screamadelica is the child of rave culture, rock, and even a touch of gospel. Even as the generation of college students who tripped to this music reach their 40s, this album continues to age surprisingly well. This is remarkable because drug albums tend to age like drug stories (which almost invariably end with “you had to be there”). But perhaps I’m overestimating the impact of psychoactive compounds on this album. The themes are classic to art as a whole: exploration, openness to experience, and fascination with everything. The diversity of this record explains its influence and agelessness.

Choice CutLoaded
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Psychocandy – Jesus and Mary Chain (1985)

Psychocandy – Jesus and Mary Chain (1985)

Is distortion an instrument? These guys say yes. A fair warning to all potential listeners: this is a tough album to sit through, even more so than Tobacco. Do not let this discourage you. There are moments of intense beauty on this album, coming from ghost-like vocals floating above the harsh, yet melodic wall-to-wall feedback. There’s a primal, satisfying je ne sais quoi in the music. It’s something like how babies can fall asleep to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, which this album kind of sounds like. The loud parts rock so hard and the quiet parts are beautiful.

Choice CutJust Like Honey
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