If I want some snark, some verbosity, some damn fine songwriting, I turn to Elvis Costello. There is something about how his songs play out. He’s fearless about genre (and occasionally language itself). And sometimes he shows up in the most random of places. Austin Powers cameo? Sure, why not! Host my own talk show* … More Soundtrack of my Life: Ten Best Elvis Costello Songs
I know I said no posting for a while. But… I am a simple girl with simple pleasures. Skippy on vinyl. One more must have record down. I wish it was the original Columbia recording instead of the Sundaze re-release, but I like my kidneys. In one way that 2017 is already better than 2016: … More Yeah. I Know.
I started writing this before all the hell of November began, so I decided to finish it. I’ll write the 2016 year-end stuff next month and then that’s it until I find some sort of joy or purpose. When I discussed Skip Spence’s exquisite and underappreciated OAR, I mentioned a fondness for the broken and lost geniuses … More Soundtrack of my Life: “War In Peace” by Skip Spence
Sly Stone was a genius. Is a genius. A one time drug addled platinum mohawked genius. But a genius none the less. A funkified, soulful genius with the ability to make me dance in a spontaneous way. I wanna take you higher, and all that jazz. Sly came to me late in life after Arrested Development … More The Album List: # 191 Sly and the Family Stone “Stand!”
Ah, Saint Jimi. The master of the guitar, the king of the riff, hero to many. He is much beloved by the masses, and the art of the rock and roll guitar was propelled forward by him into an unknown stratosphere. As previously stated in my other Hendrix album recap, God is taken on blind … More The Album List: # 190 Jimi Hendrix Experience “Axis: Bold As Love”
There are things that those who love me know about me: 1. The Kinks are my favourite band. 2. This is my favourite album of all time, and I often proclaim it the greatest album ever created. 3. My kids prefer Katy Perry to Ray Davies and I feel like a failure as a parent because … More Soundtrack of my Life: “The Village Green Preservation Society” by the Kinks
Lou Reed was a notorious asshole. I mean, music writers all have legendary tales about trying to interview Lou Reed. Most of these stories end up with Lou storming off or insulting said writer to the point the writer leaves. He was a cantankerous bastard. But his being an asshole to music writers was seriously … More Lou Reed: 1942-2013
The idea that electronic music is a recent invention of celebrity DJs or as an off-shoot of hip hop is false. Electronic music pre-dates the second world war, and thrived in post-war Europe, where artists like Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer created the blueprint of modern avant-garde music. It’s no accident countries like France, Germany, … More The Album List: # 192 The Avalanches “Since I Left You”
There are albums that evoke such a time and place that you tend to forget them. It’s a shame that happens, as music is eternal and if you love something you should listen to it, regardless of the shame factor (hello, NKOTB). Dummy is so linked in my head to 1995 that I put it … More The Album List: # 193 Portishead “Dummy”
For all my love of jazz, 80s pop, English story telling, obscure Scottish bands, and middle eastern melodic thievery, I love me some dirty desert rock and roll. Particularly when there is one hell of a guitarist. And especially when Dave Grohl shows up on drums. Dave. I love you.
The Violent Femmes are another early 1980s band who seemed destined for greatness, and their die-hard fans would claim they succeeded. I, however, felt they would struggle greatly on later records to match their first’s sense of humour and lyrical honestly. The Violent Femmes are a great band, but nothing they have ever done has … More The Album List: # 196 The Violent Femmes “The Violent Femmes”
Neko Case’s voice is an earthy, bluesy alto with broad range, tinged with a southern accent long fed through a Northwestern upbringing. It’s one of the greatest voices in modern music, adept at so many genres that she can make your head spin. When I hear her on those great New Pornographer albums like … More The Album List: # 197 Neko Case “Blacklisted”
If my list tends to skew 1980s pop at moments, it’s because I grew up in the 1980s with little more than a boom box where I ripped hundreds of hours of radio, plus several episodes of Video Hits (my boom box had a built-in mic. Yes, I did pretend to be a DJ like … More The Album List: # 200 Simple Minds “New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84”
The power pop classic #1 Record is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. As 2012 winds down and I get buried under some mediocre, some bad, some amazing records released this past dozen months, I want to re-post my 100 Favourite Albums post. Big Star came in 49th on the list. It could have easily placed higher. … More Revisiting #1 Record by Big Star
I don’t think the Kinks get enough credit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Beatles blah blah whatever. I still think the Kinks were better. People I love think I say that to just cause an argument. I don’t. I genuinely believe it. I think the Kinks are a better band than the Beatles. Please send hate … More The Album List #1: The Kinks “The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”
Few things on this earth are guaranteed. Death. Taxes. The fact that Starbuck Caffe mochas will always taste better with full fat milk instead of no-fat milk. The only thing more sure than those three things is that I love the Clash. There is only one band I love more than the Clash. But that … More The Album List #2: The Clash “London Calling”
The year: 1991. The place: Manhattan. I think. Somewhere in New York City, at the very least. The sitch: Spin magazine releases their year-end issue. It’s the issue with all the lists about what’s awesome and what wasn’t so awesome. This particular list caused a stir, though, because of what was number one. 1991 was … More The Album List #3: Teenage Fanclub “Bandwagonesque”
My politics were shaped as much by the music I heard as a teenager as the life experience I have suffered through. I’m a left-wing Nutter, if you haven’t clued in, and quite proud of it, thankyouverymuch. Yeah, whatever, bite me. I grew up with conservative, religious parents who were dismayed by my leftist world … More The Album List #4: Billy Bragg “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry”
My love for the Manchester quartet knows no bounds. Everyone has those bands that implode but you remain devoted to simply because they were so very important to you when you were thirteen. I’ve listed about a dozen of them on this list alone. But the Smiths were special. They were always so very special.
Picking one Elvis Costello record from the reams and reams of worthy Elvis Costello records should have been a nightmare. But it wasn’t. King of America has always been my favourite album by the awesome and brilliant Declan MacManus. There was never any question in my mind it would be on this list, and that it … More The Album List #6: Elvis Costello “King Of America”
Radiohead went from being Britpop runner ups to unequivocal geniuses in three albums. Talk about ambitious.
I’m still recovering from the September announcement of R.E.M.’s end. They were hugely important to me in my life, and even though I know they made the right decision, I’m still trying to get my head around the idea that there will be no more R.E.M. I have every album. This is the one that … More The Album List #8: R.E.M. “Fables of the Reconstruction”
It really comes down to one thing and one thing only. He’s John Lennon. You are not.
I am probably the only Manic Street Preachers fan in all of North America. I am devoted. 164 songs on my iTunes devoted- only a few bands top them in sheer volume. They are a band with a bit of a sad history, having lost member Richey Edwards a couple of years into their successful … More The Album List #10: Manic Street Preachers “This Is My Truth Tell me Yours”
I listen too much music. But even those of us who listen to a lot of music sometimes miss amazing records, usually debuts, from small labels simply because most people want to hear about how much Britney Spears’ album sucked ass. The problems with music criticism is the increasing need to draw in eyeballs ( … More The Album List #11: Arcade Fire “Funeral”
Love is a mysterious thing. It strikes you down, consumes you, eats you from the inside out. When you just cannot take one more second of it…
Bruce Springsteen playing “Born To Run” is pretty much as holy roller as my life gets. Music is my heart and soul, after all. A song like “Born To Run” is the greatest hymn for those who think that, with its grandiose wall of sound production, insane Clarence Clemons solo, and of course, lyrics about cars … More The Album List #13: Bruce Springsteen “Born To Run”
Yes, Parklife would probably be the one you own, if you happened to be a person from the nineties with a modicum of taste. Blur never made a huge impact over in America ( they fared slightly better in Canada), and they never had the breakthrough Oasis had with “Wonderwall”. In the eternal battle for rock … More The Album List #14: Blur “Blur”
One of the greatest songs ever written about loving music was written by one Ted Leo. A spry, punkish tribute to ska, the lyrics drip with references to the Rude Boy era of British music, particularly the perfection that were the Specials. It has the benefit of being one of the greatest songs ever written, … More The Album List #15: The Specials “The Specials”
There are just some artists you know you should drop from the discussion. I did it with the Beatles. But Bob Dylan is so important to me I couldn’t cut him with the big 5. And this album is just so magnificent I had to put it on my list. It really is an arbitrary … More The Album List #16: Bob Dylan “Bringing It All Back Home”
The Ramones are the be all and end all of punk rock. Everything that comes after is punk rock mixed with something else. The Clash used ska and reggae. The Sex Pistols were a glorified boy band. Blondie was disco, Television was arty, the New York Dolls were an excellent drag act, the Adverts could … More The Album List #17: The Buzzcocks “Singles Going Steady”
Rock history is littered with perfectionist geniuses. Brian Wilson comes to mind immediately. But Kevin Shields, the mastermind behind My Bloody Valentine, holds a special place in the hearts and minds of music fans. Because he nearly ended Alan McGee. McGee founded Creation Records. A crucial label in 1980s Brit indie music, he signed MBV … More The Album List #18: My Bloody Valentine “Loveless”
The pianist in me wants to be amongst the greatest jazz pianists. Peterson, Baisie, Carmichael, Corea, Dearie, Ellington, Gershwin, Hines, Henderson, Jobim, Ibrahim, Legrand, Monk, Mingus, Strayhorn, Tatum, Toussaint, Waller- these are just the ones who have albums sitting in my Sunday morning jazz playing queue. But I always save a special place every Sunday … More The Album List # 19: Dave Brubeck Quartet “Time Out”
Hip hop and I were born around the same time. We grew up together. We once trawled disco beats before discovering life was hard and listening to new music that felt as alienated and angry as we were. There were moments of sweetness, moments of pain, and a lot of fantastic music. But it wasn’t … More The Album List #21: Jay-Z “The Black Album”
Name yourself after the infamous quartet that held on to Chinese power only to be brought down after Mao’s death and you might get labelled. Create a new sound full of jagged guitars and disco squawking, you might get labelled. Be totally awesome and you will get my vote as one of the most vital … More The Album List #22: Gang Of Four “Entertainment!”
Like everyone else born of the 1970s, U2 were my 1980s. Specifically, The Joshua Tree was my 1980s. It’s one of those albums. It looms large, much like Nevermind. It colours an era. It’s a fine album, a great album. It’s just this one, out the ashes of a newly reunited Germany and a band nearly … More The Album List #23: U2 “Achtung Baby”
I am in love with the city of Manchester. It has a lot to do with Manchester United, certainly, but my love affair with the great northern English city started before David Beckham made me a football fan. See, Manchester is the home of some of the greatest bands that ever existed. Most of these … More The Album List #24: Joy Division “Closer”
Everyone who bought this album started a band. So goes the myth. There are albums who influence far outstrips the record sales. This album is exhibit “A”.
There are some albums that appear on this list that are beyond obvious and tread into cliché. As a Canadian woman born in the late seventies, there will be a Joni Mitchell album on the list, and it will be Blue. This cliché wouldn’t exist if the album wasn’t simply one of the most beautiful … More The Album List #26: Joni Mitchell “Blue”
It won the very first Mercury Music Prize. How some random indie Scottish band that could never keep it’s membership turned out the greatest of the house records remains a mystery. The singer was once the drummer for the Jesus and Mary Chain, ferchrissakes. But here it is, the best album to pull out during … More The Album List #27: Primal Scream “Screamadelica”
David Bowie is one of the great loves of my life. I adored him when I was young and “Modern Love” was a hit, with its sixties inspired harmonies and bright pop. I loved him even more when I discovered “Heroes” as a teenager, and Low in college. There is a beauty in “Space Oddity”‘s story … More The Album List #28: David Bowie “The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”
I would follow Tom Waits to the end of the earth. Then, when he would say “Jump”, I’d probably do it. Swordfishtrombones is the album that took Waits from the gruff voiced crooner to the ravaged, rough style that would be his later records. The genius of it is, the songs got better.
To me, as big an influence as the grunge scene was, the early 1990s for me means Britpop. Specifically, it means the mighty trifecta of Blur, Oasis, and Pulp. Sure, I’ll take arguments for Suede or Sleeper or whatever, but those three were the big three. Of those three, though, I found Oasis derivative of … More The Album List #30: Pulp “Different Class”
Rock and roll is full of mythology. Elvis is alive. Paul McCartney’s dead. Robert Johnson made a deal with Satan. This insanity therefore transfers to the music itself. Say you are a very popular 1960s Southern Cali band who are being overworked to the point of collapse. In the three years of your career, you … More The Album List #31: Brian Wilson “Smile”
T. Rex and I have a long love-hate relationship. I hate the twee, “Ride A White Swan” nonsense, where Marc Bolan was done up in so much glitter he looked like a disco ball. I love the riffs of “Children of the Revolution” and “20th Century Boy”, the love of cars and girls that makes … More The album List #32: T. Rex “Electric Warrior”
This album is legendary. The crash and burn tale of the Zombies is a favourite among music geeks. A simple tale of St. Alban’s lads form band, then release a single called “She’s Not There” that I consider to be among the greatest songs ever recorded, and within four years released three albums and completely … More The Album List #33: The Zombies “Odessey And Oracle”
Some things in life are total surprises. I talk about 1977 a lot. Since it was the year I was born, I kind of admit to liking a lot of really bad things simply because I was born in 1977. Avocado kitchen appliances is a major sticking point of taste. I have somewhere in the … More The Album List #34: Dennis Wilson “Pacific Ocean Blue”
What I remember most about Prefab is the ridiculousness of their single “King Of Rock and Roll”, which doesn’t appear on this album, but deserve a mention for the completely random lyrics: ” I am the king of rock and roll completely, up from suede shoes to my baby blues- hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque.” … More The Album List #35: Prefab Sprout “Steve McQueen”
Rarely does a band enter its recording career as assured in their sound as Moby Grape. The quirky sunshine pop and harmonies of this Cali band are perfection. Sure, they were undone a bit by hype and marketing overkill, but still, the songs are fantastic.
This is where the phrase “No shit, Sherlock” comes into play.