Monday, December 13, 2004

Brief Aside From Politics: It's MV's all-time favorite albums

It's getting near the end of the year, and that means time to reflect. It's probably the one time I write in an actual diary, just to scribble out a few noteworthy things that happened over the course of the year. One of the things I like to do every year is list my twenty favorite albums...not of the year, but of all time. Of course, it changes from year to year. So this year, since I started this blog, I thought, "Why not share my favorites with the world?" Unable to formulate a proper answer to my own rhetorical question, here they are, in all their glory: (fyi -- I don't see much point in ranking them, so these aren't in order of wicked-coolness) Boneville by Jackpot - I picked up this one up on a whim from the used CD bin at Coconuts, and I was not disappointed. Jackpot has a gritty alt-country sound. Every song on this album is a gem. I think I read somewhere that, like most great music, it was recorded in a cabin on a 4-track over a rainy weekend. The leader of Jackpot is Rusty Miller, and in every biography I've read of him, it unfailingly mentions that he was the dude who wrote the rippin' guitar riff in the Cake song "The Distance" and contributed to other Cake hits like "Never There" (and this brief biography shall be no different). If you don't believe that they're good, take my wife's word for it. I'm listening to the album right now, and she called from the other room, "Who is that?" and I axed her why she wants to know, and she sez, "Coz I like it!" London Calling by The Clash Thrills by Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Nothing like Thrills to put me in a weird mood. The Swimming Hour by Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - There are one or two throw-aways on this album, but it also contains several of Bird's greatest songs, such has "How Indiscreet" and "Dear Old Greenland" -- two songs that feature Nora O'Connor and Kelly Hogan doing backup vocals. I probably could have died happily after I saw them all together performing these songs at the Hideout Block Party in 2001, which was one of the finest concerts I've attended, right up there with Robbie Fulks and Wilco at Rock the River in 2000 and Ben Folds at the Vic in 2002. Wreck Your Life by the Old '97s - Every song is a gem. Goin Goin Gone being one of my all-time favorite songs. New Parade by Sheila Divine - They used to be the biggest band on the Boston music scene, but now they are but a memory. Their sound? I don't know, I'd probably compare them to Radiohead, Coldplay or Muse -- very clean, cold, but masterful and intense. I saw them live once on some off-night at the Metro a couple of years ago -- there were probably a hundred or so people there, but let me tell you, they rocked every single one of us. On Avery Island by Neutral Milk Hotel - I was trying to figure out which Neutral Milk Hotel album I like better, and though "Holland, 1945" is the greatest song ever recorded, I think every song on Avery is worth listening to tens of thousand times, whereas most songs on In an Airplane Over the Sea start to wear on me after the first few thousand listens in a given day. The Bends by Radiohead - My best friend and his little stripper friend who works at the Admiral think that the best Radiohead album is OK Computer, but you and I know better. Hail to the Thief gets an honorable mention, or since they're British, I guess they should instead get honourable mention. Fear of Pop: Volume I - Most Ben Folds fans are probably scratching their heads at this one. Fear of Pop, after all, is the album Folds fans wish they hadn't purchased in lieu of supporting their diet pills and vodka habit -- mostly because it doesn't have very many words, and thus, they say, does not display Folds' usual cutting wit. To that I say, "Have you listened to the album???" Not only is it packed with booty shakin' grooves, it's also a poignant statement on popular music. Take "Slow Jam '98" -- pop that in your sound system, crank back your seat real far, turn up the bass, and drive around town looking like a bad ass. In that light, listen carefully near the ending. There are subtle jokes like that in every song. Rain Dogs by Tom Waits Let It Be by the Beatles Being There by Wilco - I remember one day, I came home from work on a Friday after a long, horrible week. I popped in Disc 2, turned the volume way up, and blasted "Sunken Treasure," absorbed, and I was good to go. That's healing power. Mermaid Avenue Vol. I by Billy Bragg & Wilco American Gothic by Letterpress Opry - Kind of a folk/bluegrass sound with rich, dark, poignant lyrics. Probably some of the best songwriting I've ever heard. The song "Iowa" is the definitive portrait of that state or perhaps rural life in general. And you can see the genius behind the songs -- Patrick Brickell -- performing solo in Chicago in January at Uncommon Ground. Ben Folds Five by Ben Folds Five If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues August & Everything After by Counting Crows - I hardly pick it up anymore (mostly because the Counting Crows have evolved from slit-your-wrist goodness into a disappointing easy listening suck band) but I've listened to this album somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,347,806 times, mostly during my college years. With that little statistic in mind, I find it amazing that I had time to read The Collected Works of T.S. Eliot a whopping 7,989,097 times during the same period. Anyway, August is still one of the best. Odelay by Beck Her Majesty by The Decemberists Rattle and Hum by U2 - Ever since I mysteriously lost my "War" and "Boy" CDs (I think my mom stole them), this is the only U2 album that I own, and quite frankly, it's the best. Because this is the album where Bono finally answers the question, "Can you see those fighter planes?" **** Anyway, that's my list. I'm happy to have gotten all that off my chest...it was eating me up inside.

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