Readers of my previous MSN Space may remember that a few years ago I wrote a blog about my favourite music. In my first post on this blog, I suggested I might do the same again.
When I started writing this entry, I only intended to list my favourite bands, with little or no explanation. However, a random, coincidental conversation at work changed all that. This time, instead of picking my ten favourite albums, I’m going to list all the albums I love. These may be albums where all of the tracks are brilliant, or they may be ones which are flawed but still ones I listen to frequently. For the sake of completeness, there will be some overlap with the previous list.
Foals – ‘Antidotes’
This is first on the list not because it is my all-time favourite (though it’s not too far away) but because it was the first to spring into my mind, which is telling in itself. The fact that it still sounds fresh and new every time I listen is a measure of its quality.
Muse – ‘Origin Of Symmetry’
Muse have yet to release a bad album in my opinion (though I think their latest, ‘The Resistance’ is the weakest so far), but this is the best because it doesn’t have a ropey song on it.
Radiohead – ‘OK Computer’ and ‘In Rainbows’
OK Computer‘s quality goes without saying – it’s no surprise it regularly features on ‘Best Album Ever’ lists – but In Rainbows is my second favourite, even ahead of The Bends.
My Morning Jacket – ‘Z’
Much like the Foals album, this sounds crisp and new every time I listen to it. The final track is a great way to finish off, building to a crescendo from a quiet and mellow start.
Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’
A genuine classic, which I think I wrote about in my previous blog (linked above). It demonstrates one of the key qualities of a brilliant album (as far as I’m concerned) – if I start listening to it, I want to hear it all the way through.
Explosions In The Sky – ‘The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’
Beautiful from start to finish; another I am loathe to even pause.
Mono – ‘You Are There’
I could very easily apply the description of The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place to You Are There. There isn’t much else to say, other than Mono’s use of strings as an accompaniment throughout the album gives it a more refined and accomplished feel than their previous albums.
Messiah J & The Expert – ‘Now This I Have To Hear’
I don’t really like hip-hop. However, Messiah J & The Expert are so good that I can’t help but love them. This album is the one out of the four they have released that I felt deserved a mention because I like each and every track. The other three albums contain some brilliant songs, but each one contains a weak track or two, which excludes them from this list.
Interpol – ‘Antics’
Antics is just a great indie/rock album. There is a great coherence throughout the album, and no shortage of quality songs. As I said in my previous list, it isn’t as original or adventurous as many of the other albums described here, but it’s just as good.
Iron & Wine – ‘The Shepherd’s Dog’
Iron & Wine’s previous albums aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but on The Shepherd’s Dog, Sam Beam brings more instruments into the mix, giving the songs a greater range of highs and lows, and this takes the album to dizzy new heights of brilliance.
The Strokes – ‘Is This It’
At only just over half an hour, this is the shortest album on the list. What it lacks in quantity it makes up in quality.
The Decemberists – ‘Picaresque’, ‘The Crane Wife’ and ‘The Hazards Of Love’
The Decemberists are the only band in here with three albums. Each of them contains some brilliant songs, not least ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’ from Picaresque.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘F#A# ∞’
Not the easiest listen, but bursting with ideas and glimpses of genuine genius. Despite only having three tracks, it still manages a running time of nearly 70 minutes, and yet doesn’t feel long at all.
Pulp – ‘Different Class’
The best Britpop album in my collection. Better than Definitely Maybe, Urban Hymns or anything I’ve heard from Blur.
Belle & Sebastian – ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’
This album is just indie-pop gem after indie-pop gem, many of them written and sung with tongue firmly in cheek (figuratively speaking!) and a wink in the eye.
The Arcade Fire – ‘Funeral’
The Arcade Fire’s debut album is their best so far in my opinion, mostly due to the great consistency in the quality of the songs.
The Good Life – ‘The Album Of The Year’
Joining The Hazards Of Love and The Crane Wife to make a hat-trick of concept albums, The Album Of The Year is a great record of the life of a relationship over the span of twelve months.
Mumford & Sons – ‘Sigh No More’
This is only a recent addition to my music library, but one I’m very glad I made. The album contains a lot of catchy songs (not always an indicator of quality, I’ll admit) and bundles along at a decent pace.
Thirteen Senses – ‘The Invitation’ and ‘Contact’
As I wrote this, I was scanning through my iPod library for inspiration – and to make sure I didn’t miss any obvious albums out – and I was moved to include both Thirteen Senses albums. This came as quite a surprise to me in some ways. I like both albums, but if you had asked me straight out about this band in particular, I wouldn’t have said they were among my favourites. However, in recent weeks I have listened to one or the other on several occasions, and both have a few things in common: neither contains a bad track; all the songs are of a similar standard (there’s no mediocre/good/mediocre/good alternation going on); and finally, they’re really easy to listen to. There’s no other way of describing it. They aren’t particularly original (ploughing a similar furrow to the likes of Keane, Coldplay, Snow Patrol et al), and they have yet to come up with a song of outstanding brilliance, but they are good at what they do and have made two very listenable albums.