Mellow Gold – Beck (1994)

Mellow Gold - Beck (1994)

Mellow Gold is the embodiment of redneck and junk culture in the shape of late grunge-era rock. This album is gross, low-class, and repulsive…in a good way! I routinely make long drives through the US Southeast, and while the majority of the area is not what the stereotypes say, there are pockets where the stereotypes don’t go far enough. You can find these pockets all over the globe, not just my tiny hundred mile radius. In Mellow Gold, Beck unapologetically steals from the culture of these pockets and and bakes an excellent album from the sour ingredients.

Choice Cut: Soul Suckin’ Jerk

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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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The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (1969)

The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground (1969)

Each of these ten songs represent everything I want a rock song to be. There’s slow, pretty ones of all kinds, fast, fun rockers, (What Goes On, Beginning to See the Light – featuring one of the greatest endings ever, where everyone gets together and sings “How does it feel… to be loved”), and interestingly weird ones, (The Murder Mystery, I’m Set Free – which inverts Heroin, turning it from a bleak, nihilistic tale into something gorgeous and uplifting). These blissful, beautiful tunes show Lou Reed was one of the greatest songwriters ever. I hope you didn’t need proof of that, but if you did, it’s right here.

Choice Cut: Pale Blue Eyes
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Easy Beat – Dr. Dog (2005)

Easy Beat - Dr. Dog (2005)

Music, or art in general, is a trophy for things humankind has done right. Without technological innovations like agriculture that freed up time for people, no one would have time to foster their artistic side. Because of that, art should be celebrated! Dr. Dog gets this and responds with one of the sweetest-feeling jam albums to grace my ears. It’s sloppy, unpolished, and it egregiously borrows from other music. Who cares, though? They’re celebrating music for its own sake! This is a snapshot of the musician’s soul.

Choice Cut: The World May Never Know
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Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart (1969)

Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart (1969)

Frankly, I have no clue where to start with Trout Mask Replica. Let’s put it this way: Frank Zappa produced it, so you know it’s gonna be weird. Some say Captain Beefheart was a paranoid schizophrenic who deprived the band of sleep. Some say they worked in a tiny room and barely ate. The album sounds like it came from an insane asylum. It sounds like it was crapped out carelessly, yet it’s so very intricately organized. I don’t even.

Choice Cut: Frownland
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Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age (1998)

Queens of the Stone Age - Queens of the Stone Age (1998)

These guys will absolutely bludgeon your head with crunchy riffs, make you enjoy it, and leave you begging for more. R and Songs for the Deaf tend to get more public love, but their self-titled debut may be a better starting point. Regular John comes on like thunder, screaming a mission statement about the band as a whole. QoTSA would eventually go on to make more heartfelt, trippy, and complex music later on (while still rocking). Their self-titled is not made for that. It’s just here to sucker punch you in the gut. You can be very sure it does.

Choice Cut: How to Handle a Rope
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Surfer Rosa – Pixies (1988)

Surfer Rosa - Pixies (1988)
Note: We used the SFW album art. The real NSFW deal can be found here.

How did we get to week 10 without talking about the Pixies? This is easily one of the bands I can gush about, and Surfer Rosa and Doolittle would be the main objects of my overabundant (but sincere) praise. The Pixies combine jagged, dramatic guitar riffs with lyrics about mythology and religion. Black Francis desperately yells his lines to the mic and this somehow mixes melodically with Kim Deal’s smooth back-up vocals. It’s a great dynamic. Amazingly, the Pixies are still relatively distant from common knowledge despite inspiring Kurt Cobain and, by proxy, much of music from then on.

Choice Cut: River Euphrates
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