Monday, November 23, 2009

50 other great albums, in no particular order: part 4

31. Deftones, White Pony. One of my goals when I started this foolhardy enterprise was to make a change in somebody's life. A change for the better. A change with the gift of music. And that goal has overwhelmed one of my other goals, which was to not repeat any bands or artists on my Top Albums list, the better to show the breadth of my musical knowledge. But, you know, these Deftones ... damn! Blogging about Adrenaline earlier compelled me to seek out some of their earlier stuff, and White Pony just about blew me away. And let me once again clarify: I am not a metal guy. I don't have any neck tats. I shower regularly. I cherish Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." I emote. But White Pony will trash all your pre-conceived notions about metal and put a smile on your face, even as your eardrums drip torrents of blood into the gutter past a dead rat's bloated carcass, or something like that.

32. Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust. One of my college roommates had dinner with Peter Garrett during his semester abroad in Sydney. But that's not why this album is on here. It's just a good album, really good. I would say it's neck-and-neck with Listen Like Thieves by INXS for greatest Australian rock album. I haven't forgotten about AC/DC, either. They're somewhere back in the pack.

33. Of Montreal, The Sunlandic Twins. Again, one of those bands that I haven't heard a *ton* of, but definitely like what I've heard. And I think I've liked Sunlandic Twins the best of their CD's, though my favorite song (and one of my favorite songs, PERIOD) is on Satanic Panic in the Attic. You know the one I'm talking about, don't you? That's right: "Eros' Entropic Tundra." A goofy title (fitting with most of their song titles) but a magnificent song.

34. Pinback, Pinback. One of my best pick-ups from my comeback year in college radio, at KUOI in Moscow ID during my first year of med school. (Whoever thought I'd make a successful return to college radio, 9 years after leaving undergrad? Damn.) Pinback's product has declined a bit since this intro album, but I'm still happy to see them whenever they pass through town. "Hurley" in particular is just a fantastic, mellow kind of alt-rock song, with a tricky little guitar intro that just works so well.

35. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs. I was once in love with someone who loved Tom Waits. But ultimately, she ended up treating me kinda like dogshit. And my first instinct was to take it out on Tom Waits: throw away his CD's, diss his music to whoever would listen, buy the Rod Stewart version of "Downtown Train," etc. But there's something about the guy, and that god-awful warble of his ... I guess it makes me feel good to know there's at least one bona fide rocker out there whose voice is worse than mine. Plus, he's a great actor (check out "Short Cuts"), wrote a great song for Solomon Burke's comeback album ("Diamond in Your Mind"), and his song "Way Down in the Hole" opened every episode of "The Wire," one of the greatest TV series of all time. Tough to argue with all that.

36. Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. One of the freakiest, most effed-up albums to come out of an effed-up decade (the 70's). But at the same time, brilliant. And, it's a double album! Bonus points. Peter Gabriel made some great music after leaving Genesis and going solo, but some of his finest work is on here. (I don't know what a carpet crawler is, but I don't know how you can't love that song ...) What would've happened if he'd stayed on? For one thing, the world might have never had to suffer through the agony of "Sussudio." Wait - that's a solo Phil Collins song. Well, for sure, the world wouldn't have had to suffer through "It's No Fun Being an Illegal Alien." Though Abacab was a pretty good album ...

37. Various artists, To Hal and Bacharach. OK, I have to admit, I've never heard this album. But I did want to include Burt Bacharach somewhere on this list. I mean, the man's a giant of American songwriting. I can't even begin to list all the great songs he wrote; just trust me that the list is lengthy. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." "The Look of Love." "Walk on By." "Close to You." "Close to You," for chrissake! Even the Carpenters wanted a piece of him.
But I have no idea what his best album was. Probably wasn't even his - it was probably someone else, singing his songs! Ha ha. To Hal and Bacharach was a tribute album to Hal David and Burt Bacharach, put out about 10 years ago by a bunch of Aussies. I bet it sounds good; and, it has the greatest album title of all time. I used to think At the Movies was pretty good, but To Hal and Bacharach ... well, that just can't be topped.

38. The Shins, Oh, Inverted World. Remember how big the Shins were about 10 years ago? They were huge, man. Maybe they're still big in some circles, I don't know. But while I really dug their debut album, I also recognized it was right on the cusp of being too clever, and I felt they went over the edge with the follow-up Chutes Too Narrow. But I'm not really an intellectual, so maybe they were just pretending to be too clever, but really weren't. Anyhow, this is a really good album.

39. Hovercraft, Akathisia. I saw Hovercraft live once back in Seattle, probably around 1997. Really, one of the most amazing shows I ever saw. An eerie, throbbing, post-apocalyptic jam, all perfectly choreographed with disturbing clips from science and space documentaries. They just came out, played continuously for about 45 minutes, and then left. The show ended, perfectly, to the image of a light bulb falling in slow motion onto a concrete floor. It was so cool. This album is cool, too. I think about that show whenever I listen to it, and sometimes about all the other great shows I saw back in the day.

40. Air, Talkie Walkie. Some would say that Moon Safari deserves this honor. Well, they're both great albums, but only one of them can be on my list. Unless you're the Deftones; then I'll make an exception for you. But I put Talkie Walkie here because I like "Cherry Blossom Girl" just a little more than "All I Need" (the jazz flute puts it over the top), and also because "Mike Mills" is a really exceptional instrumental song.

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