I am a huge fan of lists. I am constantly reading lists of every type: music, movies, sports, anything that I find remotely interesting I will read a list about. There is something about someones opinion and ranking of a medium that is intriguing. Really the best part is the arguments and disagreements that lists cause. Music by far has the most interesting possibilities of list-making, “Top ten albums of 2005” or “My top 100 favorite albums of all time”. Instead of doing one of these I was thinking about top albums that represent the music you like. I thought this would be a good way to answer the question: “what music do you like?” a question that I struggle with answering a lot. So in absolutely no particular order here are the albums I think represent my taste in music.
The Locust-Plague Soundscapes
The Locust was the first band I was totally in love with. Although love isn’t really appropriate for this band. Once I heard “Moth Eaten Deer Head” off of their self-titled cd I had to get everything they ever released. Plague Soundscapes is their best work, a furious assault of spastic noise and unearthly sounds. The entire album clocks in at a gargantuan 20 minutes and lasts a total of 23 tracks. This “every song is less than a minute” philosophy may be the reason why I have a terrible attention span when it comes to listening to new music. Every track has hilarious/disgusting names such as “Who wants a dose of the clap?”, “Recyclable body fluids in human form” and “Listen the mighty ear is here”. But don’t be fooled be the ridiculous names, The Locust will attack you with unbelievably fast drumming, bug-like noise keyboards, and vocals that sound like they’re from possessed 8 year olds. The best songs on the album are the aforementioned “Recyclable body fluids in human form” and the song I named my blog after “Live from the Russian compound”. You will either love or hate (and probably already do) the Locust and their unique sound but they are standouts in a genre full of similar sounding bands. And those locust suits are undeniably badass.
Lightning Bolt-Hypermagic Mountain
Every time I listen to Lightning Bolt I still find it amazing that it is two guys. I firmly believe that these two are in the top ten of best musicians ever at their instruments. Lightning Bolt features little if any vocals, another thing I normally don’t like in my music. Most songs are repetitive jam sessions that entrance you. “Megaghost” consists of little more than drumming, a recurring bass line, and ghost-like howling. It is difficult to describe Lightning Bolts appeal in words; you just have to listen to them. “Dead Cowboy” and “Riiffwraith” are probably two of my favorite songs of all time and really encapsulate what the band is. If The Locust have decreased my attention span then Lightning Bolt is trying its hardest to increase it. Half the songs on the album are over 4:30, and a couple over 6 minutes. This is very short for the band with a song spanning the better part of half an hour on a previous album. Lightning Bolt can be a little daunting to get into, but once you do you will be rewarded with some hypnotic, brutal, and beautiful music.
Death from Above 1979-You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine
I will admit that I hate dancing and subsequently music that induces dancing. But there is something about DFA that is very danceable and at the same time, kicks so many asses. Another two piece drum and bass band, DFA incorporates keyboards and a more accessible sound than Lightning Bolt (that is probably the only time these two will be in the same sentence anywhere). DFA have a very infectious sound to them, the high energy vocals, attractive bass and drumming, and of course those damned keyboards. “Romantic Rights” is an amazing song, with scratchy bass, a non-stop drum line, and a breakdown that inspires all but the soulless to sing along. The lyrics have been accused of being womanizing (just check out the song “Pull out”, the title pretty much tells the story), but I find them memorable and entertaining. Unlike the previous two selections on this list I feel DFA is highly accessible to almost any music fan. I only wish they had another album out…
Interpol is the definition of mood music to me. My sleep playlist on itunes is about 40% Interpol. This is stuff for driving in the rain or taking a walk at midnight. Paul Banks’ lyrics and voice are almost ethereal, haunting. His voice conveys a lot of emotion and is very unique sounding. Make no mistake though, Interpol can turn on the oomph, songs like “Evil” and “Slow Hands” are very up-tempo and some of the best songs on the album. “Next Exit” is one of the best leadoff songs to an album I have heard. After listening to the album to death, I still find myself coming back to Antics periodically when the mood strikes me.
Andrew WK-I get Wet
Mr. WK has to represent the guilty pleasure section of this list. There is no denying the truly goofy lyrics (“party” is in, by my calculations, every song on the album) and song names (“Party till you puke”, “Party hard”, and the ubiquitous “It’s time to party”) but I can’t stop listening to this man. When I first heard the album, I thought “every song is exactly the same!” but they are all great in their own way. He mixes yelling/chanting, classic rock guitar, and piano into contagious anthems that ooze power. The albums title track could bring me back from the dead, it’s that potent. Almost every song on this cd makes you want to drink a beer, thrash around, and scream every word. I Get Wet won’t ever win any awards, or appear on any greatest lists (except greatest party albums, in which it is every entry) but it is very enjoyable to listen to, even if just for the comedic value.
I think 5 are sufficient for now. I like this list and feel it is very representative of my varying musical tastes. I behoove anyone who likes list-making to do something like this, as it is more thought provoking than just your favorite albums. Honorable mentions that I left out for length purposes and/or genre similarities: Daughters-Canada Songs, The Strokes-Room on Fire, Nine Inch Nails-Pretty Hate Machine, Blood Brothers-Burn Piano Island Burn, Lightning Bolt-Wonderful Rainbow, Smashing Pumpkins-Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and many others.