This is, of course, a very fluid list--always changing and evolving. So, just think of this as a time capsule and know that while the pieces may shift around a bit and a few new ones may appear from time to time, for the most part, this list represents the music I love more than anything in the whole world and probably always will.
I'll start at the bottom, of course, because otherwise where's the suspense?! This week I have 13 honorable mentions to...mention...and then I'll do the list in increments of ten--50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11--until I get to the top ten. The top ten will be given the royal treatment with each album getting its own blog entry as we count down to my absolute tip top most favoritest of favorite albums.
AREN'T YOU EXCITED? I am, so let's get right to it!
Black Star - Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star
I'm not really the hugest fan of hip hop in the world. Don't get me wrong, I love hip hop, but it's not exactly my wheelhouse so there's only one hip hop album on this list at all and it's this one. This is the best hip hop album ever as far as I'm concerned. Two of the best emcees of all time in their prime just tearing it down over some phenomenal, diverse beats. So much heart on this record.
You may think Boston is just that 80s cock rock band that sings "More Than a Feeling," and they are, but this record proves they are so much more. It may surprise you just how good this record is. Every song from beginning to end is quality 80s prog rock meets power pop. The highlight of the record, by far, is the epic duo of "Foreplay" and "Long Time" but "Peace of Mind" is amazing, too, as is the classic "More Than a Feeling" which opens the record.
Tool - Undertow
It took me a lot longer to get into the earlier works of one of my favorite bands, being first exposed to their newer, much deeper and more eclectic sound. This and Opiate are both much more "normal" (for lack of a better word) metal albums but they've both got some really powerful stuff on them, especially this one. Highlights include "Intolerance," "Prison Sex," "Flood," and the fan favorite "Sober."
Deathspell Omega - Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice
I went through a phase in about 2004-2006 where I was super into all kinds of sick underground black metal (which is kind of redundant because it's not really black metal unless it's underground) but none of those bands truly grabbed me the way this one did. This is incredibly philosophical, spiritual, powerful black metal. Nothing compares to it. It is the darkest, most beautiful thing I've ever heard.
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral
This is just a masterpiece of angst, frustration, rebellion, grotesque, despair, and pain. It was released in 1994 and remains ahead of its time twenty years later. Truly a watershed moment in heavy music.
Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
It didn't seem possible that Trent Reznor could live up to the expectations created by the groundbreaking The Downward Spiral but lo and behold he somehow managed. The first six (five and a half) songs on this album are SO GOOD you might just forget to keep listening to the rest of this absolutely brilliant double album. It's OK, I do it all the time, don't worry.
Metallica - ...And Justice for All
This is actually a very important album for me in spite of it being an honorable mention. This is the album that really got me into fast music. It was during a time in my life when I was way into nu metal, which was all slow and plodding, and I just couldn't get on board with thrash or speed metal. Then I heard this and everything changed. When "Blackened," the opening track, first hits your ears, you'll understand why: ALL OUT BRUTALITY!
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin
Also affectionately known as "I" by their fans, this is the album that started it all. And when I say "it all," I mean, like...heavy metal. Great album top to bottom, including the classic epic "Dazed and Confused," but to me, the most underrated song on here (and possibly in Zeppelin's entire catalog) is "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You." Especially because it came before Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" and is way better.
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
If you like your indie pop with a heaping side of country twang and heartbreak, meet your new favorite album. This is an indie classic and if you haven't heard of it yet but you love Kings of Leon, you've been doing it wrong for far too long. The four song stretch of "Jesus, Etc.," "Ashes of American Flags," "Heavy Metal Drummer," and "I'm the Man Who Loves You" is probably my second favorite four song stretch ever.
System of a Down - Toxicity
This was my jam in high school. I actually got a leaked demo copy of it online which was pretty awesome. That was back in the days when leaks like that were very rare. I kinda discarded this band when I decided I was too good for "nu metal" but picked them back up recently and realized they're a perfectly awesome band and don't deserve 1/10th of the shit they get from music snobs.
|source: All Music|
The Plastic Mastery - In the Fall of Unearthly Angels
This is a very, very little-known but incredibly awesome (though, sadly, now-defunct) indie pop band from Tallahassee. I first heard them at Orlando Fest 2003 and was absolutely blown away. This is probably the only concept album I know of that clocks in at less than a half hour but what it accomplishes in that time is nothing short of extraordinary.
|source: Sputnik Music|
Off Minor - The Heat Death of the Universe
An absolutely mesmerizing blend of hardcore, indie, and jazz (as implied by the band's name, which is also the name of a Thelonius Monk song). So much power and energy and beauty and discord. Nothing like anything you've ever heard before.
King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
Another one that's unlike anything you've ever heard before but, if possible, even more so. You think The Downward Spiral was ahead of its time? This album was released 45 YEARS AGO and is still way, WAY ahead of its time. Tool is one of my all time favorite bands and this band is one of their biggest influences so that probably tells you pretty much everything you need to know.