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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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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The Dreaming – Kate Bush (1982)

The Dreaming - Kate Bush (1982)

An amazing example of artistic growth in action. This was Kate’s first album that she produced entirely on her own, which gave her room to fully explore her own subconscious and create one of the most mesmerizing, complex-sounding albums I’ve ever heard. This is gripping, dramatic, experimental music, full of great narratives (There Goes a Tenner), bizarre arrangements (Sat in Your Lap), and the occasional bit of Irish folk (Night of the Swallow). While casual listeners may be deterred by this album, this is essential for the masses already under Kate’s spell.

Following this release, Bush built her own studios and would return to the charts three years later with her most acclaimed album…

Choice Cut: Night of the Swallow
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