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Old 10-21-2008, 04:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Brad Stengel's Magical Musical Orgy of Sound

I've been wanting to do a top music thread for awhile now, but what's always keeping me from doing so is the lack of music I own. I have albums by Brian Eno, Silver Apples, Can, Flaming Lips, Blonde Redhead, The Smiths, etc., on my wishlist that I'm almost positive I'd enjoy enough to put on some sort of top music list, yet because I havent heard all of them, no can do. I really hate leaving stuff off lists, so I've figured a way to prevent so with this thread.

I've decided to list my top 30 favorite musical purchases in a given year (this one is 2006). That way theres a finite number of albums for me to consider, and anything that doesn't make it, I'm fine with. These albums cover between the years 1967-2005, so theres alot of stuff to be included. Keep in mind only stuff that I heard during 2006 is mentioned- so if I leave something off, it might be that I hadnt heard it yet, or heard it a year before. Hope everyone enjoys.

Best Music Purchases of 2006:
30. The Brian Jonestown Massacre- "Thank God For Mental Illness"
29. Husker Du- "Zen Arcade"
28. Sonic Youth- "Sister"
27. of Montreal- "The Sunlandic Twins"
26. Pavement- "Slanted & Enchanted"
25. Wire- "Chairs Missing"
24. Neutral Milk Hotel- "On Avery Island"
23. Weezer- "Weezer (The Blue Album)"
22. Iggy & the Stooges- "Raw Power"
21. Bob Dylan- "Highway 61 Revisited"
20. Pere Ubu- "Terminal Tower"
19. Husker Du- "New Day Rising"
18. Violent Femmes- "Violent Femmes"
17. Richard Hell & the Voidoids- "Blank Generation"
16. The Magnetic Fields- "69 Love Songs"
15. The Replacements- "Let It Be"
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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#30

The Brian Jonestown Massacre
"Thank God For Mental Illness" (1996)


For me, The Brian Jonestown Massacre are pretty hit or miss. 'Methodrone' has one good song, 'Take it From the Man' is patchy, but for the most part, this is a pretty solid album. Every one of their records from this period emulates a certain era of the Rolling Stones, and this one is their raw, country-tinged take on 'Beggars Banquet'.

The album opens up with 'Spanish Bee', just a guitar strumming at first, and then expanding into this epic reverb filled chorus. It's one of the best on the album, the greatest being "The Ballad of Jim Jones", the song that got me into this band. With a great melody, just acoustic guitar and harmonica, and lyrics about Jim Jones, mastermind behind the Jonestown suicides, it makes for the best moment on the album. In fact, if every other song on this album sucked, it would still be worth getting just for that one.

The thing that I love most about this album is the final track- "Sound of Confusion". I had dismissed it as a tossable noise collage at first, until a friend of mine showed me that if you skip past the first ten minutes or so, theres four more songs buried in there! These songs dont sound anything like the Beggars Banquet-sque tracks before-this is the Brian Jonestown Massacre as a mid 90's rock band, and its on these that you can hear Anton Newcombe's other influences like The Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine. The second of these secret tracks (they have no name), is easily the second best track on the album, and probably my second favorite BJM song of all time.

Of course, The Brian Jonestown Massacre are that band featured in the documentary 'DiG!', also featuring the Dandy Warhols-who suck. People tend to be pretty split on BJM, they either dismiss them as mediocre, or worship the shit out of their leader, Anton Newcombe. For me, this is their only great album. Theres a good deal of other songs from different time periods I enjoy, but "Thank God For Mental Illness" is where they struck gold. And did I mention this album was recorded for something like $16? And it sounds much less lo-fi then most old Pavement and GBV? Even if you're not a fan, you have to admit after listening, that that, is pretty amazing.

85/100
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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#29

Husker Du
"Zen Arcade" (1984)

This album can seem overwhelming at first-it's a double album, supposovely a concept album, and it's a hardcore album (not if you ask me-i'll get to that later). I'll admit, my first few times listening, I couldn't penetrate it-I had heard so much about it, and I was starting to wonder why. Thankfully, It finally clicked.

It was a few songs that finally did the trick. First, "Pink Turns to Blue". Great guitar riff, melody, and that really strange sound they make alot on this album, it sounds like a piano with reverb tacked on it recorded in the 1930's. In fact, the whole thing sounds terrible (I mean that in the best of ways). Sometimes I feel like this is the most lo-fi album I own, and I have demos from bands that were recorded on tape recorders. The guitar distortion is evtremely muffling, sometimes you can barely tell the chords are changing, theres that odd piano sound, and the drums sound very far away-that said, the sound, although lo-fi, has alot of personality. I can't say that any other record sounds like it, even their follow up, "New Day Rising", which was cleaner (but not nearly as slick as their later albums).

The next is an odd choice I'm sure, for anyone who knows this album well. The song that made me go out and purchase this. At the time I couldn't download music on my computer, but I had speakers. So when I would hear about an album getting lots of acclaim that seemed up my alley, I'd go to amazon and listen to the thirty second clips of each song. "Monday Will Never Be the Same" is an instrumental, with just piano, but that melody absolutely gripped me from the moment I heard it. One of my favorite instrumentals of all time, and it just happens to be the last song anyone would name from this record.

So a year or so after I got this, I was reading some article from the 80's praising both "Zen Arcade", and the Replacements' "Let It Be". They were saying how "Let It Be" is album of the year, but song of the year was "Turn on the News", from this album. I realized it was a song I never noticed (which happens frequently with double-albums-a truly great double-album will have at least one amazing song you don't notice until much after you've listened to it), and listened. I was blown away. I couldn't believe I never noticed this gem before. Husker Du's ultimate anthem, and it has handclaps, probably my favorite thing to hear in a song.

This has been called a 'hardcore' album, or sometimes 'crossover', but it's really just plain and simple 'rock' that was at least ten years ahead of it's time. If this came out in the 90's, it probably would have been called grunge even. The term 'hardcore' isn't very accomadating to experimentation, hence my view that this is not a 'hardcore' album. This is a 'hardcore' band trying to write 'The White Album'.

'Zen Arcade' can be challenging, I myself took a while to really praise it to the point that I do now. But I assure you, its worth the effort to get into it. And listen to "Turn on the News". Like myself, I'm sure you'll be baffled at how you've let it slip through the cracks for so long.
87/100
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Detailed, well written reviews, this list is looking good. I think I might check out Zen Arcade, sounds interesting.
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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#28

Sonic Youth
"Sister" (1987)

The first Sonic Youth album I ever owned was "Dirty". I got it during a 90's alt rock kick I had 5 years ago (in which I purchased lots of albums I realized I only really liked because they reminded me of being a kid-lots of AIC and Pearl Jam, which didn't hold up too well). I wasn't really into it, but a year later I got 'Daydream Nation' and was blown away. A year after that, and I get 'Sister', which was much better than I thought it would be, although it's no 'Daydream'.

It's a pretty well known fact that the first song off almost any SY album is a keeper, and "Schizophrenia" is no exception. I love the way their songs start off sounding like they're going to explode, but often just trail off in a strange (yet enjoyable) way. "Schizophrenia" starts off with so much potential energy, and then just fades into Kim Gordon doing her usual out of key vocals and some odd tuned guitars strumming. Sonic Youth are one of the only bands who can pull this off without ever dissapointing me.

Another album that gets better with each listen. This along with alot of albums I got in 2006 were shelved for all intensive purposes for a few weeks when I got them, because I bought something like 70 albums in three months that year (I had a job that payed 350 a week over the summer. Did I save any? Of course not. This list is basically a list of some of the better excuses for why I had no money after quitting that job). However going back to it, it delivered everything I expected and then more, considering I knew it wouldn't be another "Daydream Nation".

"I've Got A (Catholic Block)" is another classic Youth tune, complete with Thurston Moore's half-assed attitude, screechy guitars, all in what's basically one of Sonic Youth's attempts at a hard rock song, which almost always ends up sounding like The Fall if Mark E. Smith was raised on Teenage Jesus and addicted to speed. Come to think of it, Sonic Youth remind me alot of The Fall, at least their messy songs, most of which are on this album.

Definitely messier than 'Daydream', and shorter songs, although still not as focused as 'Goo' or as slick as 'Dirty', which I always found ironically titled. 'Sister' is the second-best Sonic Youth album, and considering how good their best is, that's not a detriment in the least. I'd say the best startout point for this band is "Daydream Nation", and if you love that album as much as I do, you will be more than satisfyed with what 'Sister' has to offer.
87/100
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fruitonica View Post
Detailed, well written reviews, this list is looking good. I think I might check out Zen Arcade, sounds interesting.
Thanks. Personally, I think 'New Day Rising' is better than 'Zen Arcade', but 'Zen Arcade' is definately still worth picking up. Like I said though, it can take awhile to get used to.
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Stengel View Post
Come to think of it, Sonic Youth remind me alot of The Fall, at least their messy songs, most of which are on this album.
Have you heard the 4 tunna brix EP?
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Have you heard the 4 tunna brix EP?
Nope. What is it/where can I get it?
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It's Sonic Youth doing a bunch of Fall covers for a John Peel show. It was released as a semi offical / bootleg.

They're not very good and do neither band any justice , and when Smith found out they were going to record it he apologised saying he was sorry if he was responsible in any way for Sonic Youth existing

If you want to hear it it's pretty easy to find a download of it off google.
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Hatemonger View Post
It's Sonic Youth doing a bunch of Fall covers for a John Peel show. It was released as a semi offical / bootleg.

They're not very good and do neither band any justice , and when Smith found out they were going to record it he apologised saying he was sorry if he was responsible in any way for Sonic Youth existing

If you want to hear it it's pretty easy to find a download of it off google.
Ha, I'll have to have a listen. Every time I hear about Mark E. Smith talk about a band, its always very witty and negative, I love it.
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