Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Q- Are We Not Men? A- We Are Devo! (1978)


(Warner Bros.)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

What do irony and sincerity have in common, besides that each can often be mistaken for the other? Well, after a while, both of them get old -- in a pop music platform if not an artistic or real-world one, both are affectations and neither is a suit you want to wear permanently. So the ironic Devo concept, as with every band built on a concept, has almost nothing but limitations in the same way that the Alarm or Elbow can't speak to most of us for the opposite reason. In the late '70s these Ohioans got compared to Talking Heads a lot, which now seems kind of bizarre; the Heads used irony to probe and find the hidden and the human, moreover to approach familiar things and ideas from a subversive and often charming angle. Devo was a sociopolitical gag, dreamed up by college students who'd read a lot of sci-fi, that fit well in with the kitschy self-help era, the new wave era, the post-Nixon era. That was the extent of it all. There's a reason you've probably only heard two or three Devo albums plus a handful of singles. Once a simple but salient point about massacred souls and empty coconut shells of human heads in front of screens is made, however prophetic it might seem in some detached way, what more is there to really add?

But the ironists have one thing on the rest of us, at least -- the ability to sustain a conceit perfectly, smoothly, with no crack in its arch sensibility. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (including its outrageous cover art) is, in a literary sense, a flawless work of popular art; if you're attempting to make a serious point altogether seriously and straightfaced-like, you open yourself up to widespread mockery if you don't allow a little bit of doubt or tempered enthusiasm to creep in. Devo had no such obligation -- their sarcasm is a thing of beauty, icily expressed and unyielding. For this reason, across the length of this debut album they are rock gods: an attitude subsumes you, empowers or digusts you, and becomes impossible to explain to those who don't immediately trust it, nor in turn are those on the outside to be trusted. That is why this is rock & roll, and maybe the most hardened and pointed punk rock artifact of all.

The five members of Devo -- Mark & Bob Mothersbaugh, Bob & Gerald Casale and Alan Myers -- were driven by their contempt for the American cultural hivemind, a loathing that sadly seems eventually to have extended to their own fanbase when they became (inevitably) a cult item that prefigured what we'd now call geek culture, or at least the commodification of it. No doubt the band was born of righteous outrage -- over Kent, so they say, making this a longer reply than the CSNY song -- but also of a kind of post-adolescent smugness that you can hear unmistakably on this record. (Try "Shrivel Up" with its condescending Big Brotherisms.) I've no doubt they grew out of it and came to appreciate their place in the world. But aside from betraying a certain snobbishness -- the kind of sensibility that these days would go on about "sheeple" or whatnot -- Devo's misplaced anger also made them startling performance artists. The compilation The Mongoloid Years gathers, among other things, one of the most confrontational live shows I've ever heard by anyone, wherein drunken Sun Ra fans (!) start expressing open hostility to a band that absolutely eats up the animosity with a fork and spoon. Dylan goes electric, Sex Pistols in the South, Yoko Ono playing in front of whatever idiots don't get her, bah humbug -- this is a moment that sounds actively dangerous somehow.

They got cuddlier later (1980's Freedom of Choice, which spawned the satirical hit "Whip It," is a wonderful albeit far more typical new wave LP) but as of 1978, Devo remained more than a little scary even if you didn't regard them as an important satirical concoction. This brings us back to irony, surrealism and their unwavering commitment to it. David Byrne's voice always expressed frustration with the limits of life out of the spectrum of civilized warmth and comprehension of other humans, peaking with the resignation then bitterness of "The Big Country," and when he attained something like grace on "Take Me to the River" and "This Must Be the Place" you could hear all that resolving itself in a lovely, unmistakably familiar way. That narrative is real and moving. Mark Mothersbaugh's voice resembles Byrne's a bit, at least superficially in its slightly grating yelp, gurgle and shout (both men unmistakably model their singing voices on Buddy Holly, the very first rock star who seemed to be on the outside looking in), but Mothersbaugh never allows himself to be entreated by love, hope or -- least of all -- sex. The band means very much to resemble robots and Mothersbaugh for his part delivers the goods on his dispassionate delivery of lyrics like those in "Praying Hands" ("relax and assume the position / go into doggie submission"), wherein he deadpan-mocks evangelism and masturbation with weirdly equal fervor. Or "Space Junk," which buries the lede with uncomfortable nonchalance -- "She was hit by space junk / she was killed by space junk" -- but not before a bizarre and disturbing bit of incongruous defensiveness: "I never touched her."

Musically, Devo sounds most like a renegade band designed to delight basement nerds and annoy beer-guzzling rednecks on two songs here. The first is the utterly wild "Jocko Homo," a rant and rave in 7/8 time that lends the album its title and sounds indeed more than any other rock song up to the late '70s like the creation strictly of machines gone amok. Sure, it has guitars and unmasked human voices, but none of them are doing anything that sounds normal, mortal or comforting. Like some chant among mole people out of a Corman movie, it marches its oblique march in a way bound to endear itself to alienated types who thrilled at pop concepts as far away as possible from the mainstream of the time. It's hard to reconcile the world of this album with the world simultaneously producing hit albums by the likes of Toto, Elton John, Kansas and Wings, a fact emphasized on the other major cut here, a broken-down, mutated-beyond-recognition cover of "Satisfaction" which all but robs the song of any hook and melody and instead transforms it to a stuttering, atonal bark. The word "rockist" wasn't really around in 1978 but the people now described by the term are the ones Devo's Rolling Stones deconstruction hopes to piss off. It flies in the face of staid, established rock "mythology" far more potently than the lyrical jabs at famous '60s bands from the Clash and such, and by whittling a legendary Boomer-beloved single down to its utter absurdity ("when I'm watching my TV / and a man comes on to tell me / how white my shirts could be / but he can't be a man cause he does not smoke / same cigarettes as me" may as well be a Devo original, really) it says all it needs to without actually verbalizing anything.

These stand out because in reality, most of Devo's music is fairly conventional. The scattered moments of avant garde perversion are mostly provided by producer Brian Eno, who as it happens would soon begin a legendary and long-term association with Talking Heads. Eno apparently saw Devo the same way John Cale saw Squeeze*: as an outlet for his most left-field ideas of what a rock band could be in the '70s. Devo and especially Mothersbaugh ironically didn't much care for Eno's treatments, which are most prominent in the bizarro, busted-toy synthesizer interlude in "Too Much Paranoias," in the spacious rhythmic chaos of the terrific "Gut Feeling," the repeated sound of dying tape decks on "Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Gettin')," but most contentiously on "Space Junk." The bridge of that song is a rattling off of location names -- "Texas" memorably given Mothersbaugh's most absurd southern accent -- with a repetitive guitar riff, which Eno promptly skewers with hypnotic, ghostly echo until it seems to fade into some spacey oblivion while the vocals stay prominent. It has nothing to do with anything, which seems typical of Eno's interest in the project, but it also sounds perfect and is a good fit with Devo's own philosophies and aesthetics, a tilted pinball machine set to music; the band reportedly understands it now and wishes they'd let Eno go further. (At various stages in the album's progress, it was apparently a good deal weirder.)

"Space Junk" stands out because it's a fairly normal-ish rock song that Eno manages to get his hands on; the bulk of these songs are surprisingly conventional even with his slight flourishes, a factor which itself doubles down on the irony -- how better to protest the emptiness of rock & roll than to imitate rock & roll, or better yet: how better to express anyone's naive or sage concerns about the world than through this particular medium, which for all its limits has proven so unexpectedly elastic now for decades? That's why "Uncontrollable Urge" is a great garage-rock banger for the ages and why they rewrite the Joe Jones (by way of the Rivieras) classic "California Sun" as the absurd guitar piffle "Mongoloid" and make it transcendent somehow. Because what Devo means to do in the end is lay down some good old rock & roll. They just wouldn't admit it. Maybe they didn't even know it. But goddamn if that's not what they did.

***

* One of my favorite tangential music anecdotes, actually, and since I'm not a big Squeeze fan (they're all right) I will recount it here and now in case you don't know it: Cale recorded Squeeze's debut album and inexplicably wanted to rename the band and/or the record "Gay Guys" and insisted that the album art would consist of stock photos of circa-1970s muscle-magazine bears. He won one argument and lost the other.

I may be young but I'm ready: December 2014 albums

Fatigued from the year-end rush which I was already late on, I took a long break from music writing but was still plunged into my usual investigations. In this curiosity-driven post we'll be exploring prior releases by some established artists who unexpectedly enchanted us in the last few years, plus some older materials.

Beyoncé
4 (2011)

(Columbia)

RECOMMENDED * The title officially represents that this is her fourth solo record -- the one where she supposedly courted the alt-rock press with songs that sounded like St. Vincent ("Countdown" and "End of Time") -- but it could just as well refer to the four juggernaut, masterful singles it encompasses: "Love on Top" is throwback spiritual awakening with gymnastic key changes to die for; the glorious "Party" is our own time, our own anthem, our own confident assertion of a generation's sexuality; "Dance for You" is gratitude and romance in the context of a sensual Prince-like lapdance; and "Countdown" is just tremendously strange, wonderful and radio-perfect. Bey is in amazing, full-bodied voice on all of the above. There's at least one other cut that nearly stands on a platform with those: try "Schoolin' Life" on your next joyous drive downtown, freak all day and wish to be 21 so you can get you a drink. Hell, try the entire album, made for placidly exuberant life on a Saturday afternoon, but be warned that it's very front-loaded. Nothing is bad -- lots of Something to Remember-style ballads with subtle hooks and engaging production, but nothing throttles you like the synthy, deliriously engaging hits. I love the lyrics to "Best Thing I Never Had" so much I wish the song was better; I like the hook on "Rather Die Young" so much I wish its lyrics weren't so disturbing. So it goes.

Ciara
Basic Instinct (2010)

(LaFace)

RECOMMENDED * Her voice and attitude get shut out of the driver's seat on even the best of the singles. A shame because it's a hell of a voice, even if the material is inconsistent. Solid pop work, at least for the first two thirds, undermined by backward production and label foolishness that led to her departure from LaFace to create her outstanding debut on Epic three years later.

Camouflage
Rewind: Best Of (1987-95)

(Polydor)

RECOMMENDED * Cute OMD ripoff with a couple of major, fiery singles, in particular the immortal goth-club banger "The Great Commandment" -- numerous priceless remixes not included here. Also not included is my favorite performance by this German collective: their cover of Depeche Mode's early Martin Gore classic "Tora! Tora! Tora!", worth seeking out. What's here is fun anyway.

Daft Punk
Human After All (2005)

(Virgin)

Robovoiced minimalism, ineffective against skeptics -- mostly magnifies the worst tendencies of Discovery without nearly so much evidence of popcraft.

***

Arthur Lee
Vindicator (1972)

(A&M)

!! CAUTION !! * Aside from what's included on the Rhino compilation Love Story, I haven't investigated much of Love's post-Forever Changes output; after that album they essentially became a vehicle for Lee's impulsive fits and starts. That set included one solo single of his, "Everybody's Gotta Live," which I quite enjoyed. But the full album is dreadful classic rock wank, appalling coming from this source. You almost can't even recognize Lee in it, though the most trifling little joke-skits are arguably the one thing that identifies it as being from the same mind that once wrote "Live and Let Live." Song titles make it sound like a Seeds LP.

Danny Brown
XXX (2011)

(Fool's Gold)

RECOMMENDED * Already a fully formed personality with great rhymes and a bumpy, worrisome vibe. Brown's established, hyperactive, even squeaky voice will potentially drive you nuts; it did me at first. But he's lower-key even on this first album than I remembered, and a more careful listen than I afforded it before reveals thornier beats, more harrowing drama, lots of oral sex. (Listen to how he modulates his personalities against terrifying dystopia on "I Will.") A worthy companion to Old.

Lou Reed (1972)
(RCA)

RECOMMENDED * Nearly all these songs were recorded at one point or another by the Velvet Underground and, while unreleased officially for decades, the results are all arguably better-known and superior to what's here. It's still surprisingly interesting to hear Reed take on these songs with then-stylish overproduction and semi-glam methodology, and no one can argue these aren't terrific numbers. "Lisa Says" and "Ride into the Sun" are a lot of fun and everything has spirit, even if it lacks the warmth and charm of the VU.

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele (2009)
(Paw Tracks)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED * I was admittedly and perhaps undeservedly infatuated with this album back in '09, and I stand by my original feeling that May is a hell of a writer and an engaging, amusing entertainer ("Oh Paris!", "Howard" and "Love Song 2009" remain highlights) but of course this isn't as cute as it once seemed. I've changed a little and, to be honest, knowing how limited and somewhat banal May's gifts would turn out to be has tempered my enthusiasm. Also the fact that my life has now led me to conclude that the mocking song about alcoholism is damned offensive. But I'm reluctant to change the high grade because it's still the best ukulele-driven party record of all time, especially if you tack on his utterly transcendent b-side cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine." Prince did all the work of making that one of the most durable songs in the pop repertoire, but May still sings it gorgeously.

Dale Hawkins
Oh! Suzy-Q (1957-61)

(Chess)

RECOMMENDED * Hawkins sang and played rockabilly but he was signed to the blues-centric Chess Records at a time when it embodied the music of black America. He's credited with inventing "swamp rock," a label that makes little sense until you take a long listen to his signature single and greatest achievement "Susie-Q." Forerunning "Shakin' All Over," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," CCR and Screamin' Jay, it sounds like it was recorded from across a dank pond full of danger and secrets. Despite such an alluring sound, Hawkins' primary subject was the usual: lust, cars and his own prowess as a musician and a man. This compilation gathers the entirety of his debut album, notable mostly for its great distorted rhythm guitar sound, and includes some great rock & roll: the youthful verve of "Tornado" and "Baby Baby," the latter brilliantly covered by Mike Waggoner and Bops, and some great rollicking takes on standards -- "Liza Jane" and the relaxed, soulful variant on Willie Dixon's "My Babe." The most engaging of the more obscure material is "Don't Treat Me This Way," as swampy as the hit. Hawkins has less personality than the other rockabilly giants; he's wimpier, more tentative, but his guitar technique is extremely evocative of later heroes like Duane Eddy. This is a valuable historical collection that makes for pleasurable listening.

Destroyer
Trouble in Dreams (2008)

(Merge)

!! CAUTION !! * Dan Bejar's work with the New Pornographers is usually fun. I thought Kaputt was brilliant. But without the novelty of its throwback production eccentricities, I just can't deal with more than a couple of minutes of this... even though his wordplay remains fascinating, his voice admirably weird. It's too dense and proggy.

Autechre
Tri Repetae (1995)

(Warp)

An influential ambient record but one that fades in and out of my consciousness without its innovations ever becoming really audible.

***

eels
Hombre Lobo (2009)

(Vagrant)

RECOMMENDED * Perfectly serviceable mope-rock, reminding us that he wasn't always so self-indulgent; his classicist vibe remains engaging even this late, even if the songs have mostly left him.

Fantasia
Back to Me (2010)

(J)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED * A hodgepodge from the American Idol winner suffers from mediocre production, only fitfully worthwhile writing. And the miracle is -- none of that matters even a little bit. A pedestrian single like "Bittersweet" or the adult-contemporary hop "I'm Doin' Me" is so enthusiastically and thrillingly performed by Barrino that we can truly say she delivers the goods on this entire, economical, exuberant album all by herself. Produced and written by committee, maybe, but the appeal is all hers and the result is kind of a stunner; with solid throwback material and a showpiece stage persona, she exudes confidence and charm.

Fatboy Slim
You've Come a Long Way, Baby (1998)

(astralwerks)

I don't think this is much stronger than its predecessor, which I loathe, but it has gradually gained the added benefit of immediately calling to mind exactly what life felt like in 1999 -- hooks that blared nonstop and unaccompanied off the radio back then now bring a bit of a tear to the eye. The hard times and the good, indeed.

Fiona Apple
Extraordinary Machine (2005)

(Epic)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED * We won't be talking about this album's troubled history here; it's well-trodden ground, the so-called "Jon Brion version" (a work in progress that got leaked) having prompted a probably unnecessary campaign to facilitate the release by Sony of Fiona Apple's third record from limbo-prison. Yeah, the released version loses a little bit of rawness and bite, but it gains plenty besides. The emotive qualities of her writing and voice make a noticeable leap here from 1999, and it's not like she was any slouch then; your breath can get taken by how high and low she gets in both senses, and every moment of every song that results has character. The elaborate arrangements and production were decried as distractions by some, but the theatrical setting is perfect for someone who's good at being uncomfortable, better at spreading herself around, and really better than most of us at processing the emotional dilemmas and labyrinthine navigations of Being an Adult. Best moments are "Red Red Red" and "O Sailor" -- the former a string-laden conversation that doesn't just express alienation but embodies it, the latter a drunken barroom singalong of self-sabotage with the mission statement: "everything good I deem too good to be true, everything else is just a bore." But we could go on: the delicate, witty title cut; the bottom-heavy, threatening murder ballad of revenge and self-criticism "Get Him Back," the tricky, playful, wicked-nuts "Tymps," the stop-start drama "Not About Love." Taking it all in shows you one of the most empowered, definitive relationship song cycles, but you don't even have to do that to comprehend the depth, character, beauty in her modulation and sense of timing. What she wrings out of a line like "every man I see reminds me of the one that disappointed me"? I don't just hear Joni Mitchell, I hear Billie Holiday. Oh and incidentally, I start to doubt my expertise in regard to this silly stupid pasttime of mine when I wonder why the fuck I was listening to anything besides this back in 2005. (I did hear it, I just didn't hear it.) Possible new #1 favorite of that year.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Index of posts #1-600

A week shy of five years since I started this thing. Crazy.

ALPHABETICAL INDEX
KEY: [A+] / [hr] = highly recommended / [r] = recommended / [c] = caution / [NO] = avoid

(Keep in mind, we're using iTunes alphabetization here. I am well aware that from a cataloging standpoint that's total bullshit, but it keeps me from having to deal with surname ambiguities. I'm a library assistant in real life so I know this is offensive, and all I can tell you is... I like pissing you off.)

STUDIO ALBUMS
10,000 Maniacs: In My Tribe (1987) [c]
10,000 Maniacs: Blind Man's Zoo (1989)
10,000 Maniacs: Our Time in Eden (1992) [c]
13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds Of (1966) [hr]
13th Floor Elevators: Easter Everywhere (1967) [r]
2 Many DJ's: As Heard on Radio Soulwax, Pt. 2 (2002)
3 Mustaphas 3: Soup of the Century (1990) [c]
65daysofstatic: Wild Light (2013)
The 6ths: Wasps' Nest (1995) [hr]
The 6ths: Hyacinths and Thistles (2000) [r]
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead: Source Tags & Codes (2002) [c]
A.C. Newman: The Slow Wonder (2004) [r]
A.C. Newman: Get Guilty (2009) [r]
A$AP Rocky: LongLiveA$AP (2013) [r]
Actress: R.I.P. (2012)
Adam Green: Jacket Full of Danger (2006) [r]
Advance Base: A Shut-In's Prayer (2012) [hr]
Aesop Rock: Labor Days (2001) [r]
Against Me!: Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014) [r]
Air: Moon Safari (1998) [hr]
Al Green Gets Next to You (1971) [hr]
Al Green: Let's Stay Together (1972) [hr]
Al Wilson: Show and Tell (1973)
Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill (1995) [r]
Alexander "Skip" Spence: Oar (1969) [hr]
Alexi Murdoch: Time Without Consequence (2006) [hr]
Ali Farka Touré (1988) [r]
Allo Darlin': We Come from the Same Place (2014) [r]
alt-J: This Is All Yours (2014) [r]
AlunaGeorge: Body Music (2013) [r]
Ambrose Akinmusire: The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint (2014) [r]
Anal Cunt: I Like It When You Die (1997)
Andrew Bird: Noble Beast (2009) [hr]
Andrew Bird: Break It Yourself (2012) [r]
Andrew Bird: Hands of Glory (2012) [hr]
Andy Statman: Nashville Mornings, New York Nights (1986) [r]
Andy Stott: Luxury Problems (2012)
Andy Stott: Faith in Strangers (2014) [r]
Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire for No Witness (2014)
Angelique Kidjo: Logozo (1991) [c]
Angelique Kidjo: Eve (2014) [r]
Angie Stone: Black Diamond (1999)
Animal Collective: Sung Tongs (2004)
The Animals: Animalism (1966) [r]
Annie: Anniemal (2004)
Annie Lennox: Diva (1992)
Anouar Brahem: Barzakh (1991) [r]
Antietam: Rope-a-Dope (1994)
The Antlers: Hospice (2009)
The Antlers: Burst Apart (2011) [hr]
The Antlers: Familiars (2014) [r]
Antibalas (2012) [r]
Antony & the Johnsons: I Am a Bird Now (2005)
Any Trouble: Where Are All the Nice Girls? (1980) [c]
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992) [hr]
Aphex Twin: Syro (2014) [c]
The Apples in Stereo: Fun Trick Noisemaker (1995) [r]
The Apples in Stereo: New Magnetic Wonder (2007) [r]
AraabMUZIK: Electronic Dream (2011)
Arab Strap: Monday at the Hug & Pint (2003) [c]
Arca: Xen (2014)
Arcade Fire: Funeral (2004) [hr]
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (2007) [hr]
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (2010) [hr]
Arcade Fire: Reflektor (2014) [r]
Archers of Loaf: Icky Mettle (1993)
Architecture in Helsinki: In Case We Die (2005)
Arctic Monkeys: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (2006) [c]
Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967) [A+]
Ariel Pink: Worn Copy (2005)
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Before Today (2010) [hr]
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (2012) [NO]
Ariel Pink: pom pom (2014) [NO]
Art Blakey: Moanin' (1958) [hr]
Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll (2005) [r]
Artful Dodger: It's All About the Stragglers (2000) [r]
Asgeir: In the Silence (2014) [hr]
Atlas Sound: Logos (2009) [r]
Atlas Sound: Parallax (2011) [hr]
The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You (2009) [hr]
The Avett Brothers: The Carpenter (2012)
The Avett Brothers: Magpie and the Dandelion (2013)
Azealia Banks: Broke with Expensive Taste (2014) [hr]
The B-52's (1979) [hr]
The B-52's: Wild Planet (1980) [hr]
Badbadnotgood: III (2014) [r]
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: I Speak Fula (2010) [hr]
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko (2013) [hr]
Bat for Lashes: The Haunted Man (2012)
Baths: Obsidian (2013) [r]
The Bats: Free All the Monsters (2011) [r]
The Beach Boys: Surfin' Safari (1962) [r]
Beach House: Devotion (2008) [r]
Beach House: Bloom (2012) [hr]
Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011) [r]
The Beatles: Please Please Me (1963) [A+]
The Beatles: With the Beatles (1963) [A+]
The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night (1964) [A+]
Beck: Morning Phase (2014) [c]
Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit (2006) [hr]
Belle & Sebastian: Write About Love (2010) [r]
Ben Frost: Aurora (2014)
Ben Watt: Hendra (2014)
Best Coast: Crazy for You (2010) [r]
Beyoncé (2014) [hr]
Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot- The Son of Chico Dusty (2010) [r]
Big Star: #1 Record (1972) [A+]
Big Star: Radio City (1973) [A+]
Big Star: Third / Sister Lovers (1978) [A+]
Bilal: A Love Surreal (2013)
Bill Callahan: Dream River (2013)
The Bird and the Bee: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future (2008) [hr]
Björk: Selmasongs (2000) [hr]
Björk: Volta (2007) [r]
Björk: Biophilia (2011) [r]
Black Milk: No Poison No Paradise (2013) [r]
Blank Realm: Grassed Inn (2014) [r]
Blood Orange: Cupid Deluxe (2013) [r]
Blur: Think Tank (2003) [hr]
Boards of Canada: Tomorrow's Harvest (2013)
Bob Dylan: Together Through Life (2009) [r]
Bob Dylan: Tempest (2012) [hr]
Bob Mould: Beauty & Ruin (2014) [r]
Bon Iver (2011)
Bonde do Role: Tropical/Bacanal (2012) [r]
The Both (2014)
Braid: No Coast (2014) [c]
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets (1974) [hr]
Brian Eno: Lux (2012) [r]
Brian Eno & Karl Hyde: High Life (2014) [r]
Brian Eno & Rick Holland: Drums Between the Bells (2011) [c]
Broken Bells (2010)
Broken Social Scene (2005) [hr]
Buddy Holly: The "Chirping" Crickets (1957) [hr]
Buddy Holly (1958) [hr]
The Bug: Angels & Devils (2014)
The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (1966) [hr]
The C.A. Quintet: Trip Thru Hell (1968) [r]
Cake: Motorcade of Generosity (1994)
Cake: Fashion Nugget (1996) [c]
Cake: Prolonging the Magic (1998)
Cake: Comfort Eagle (2001)
Calexico: The Blacklight (1998)
Camera Obscura: Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi (2001) [r]
Camera Obscura: Underachievers Plaese Try Harder (2003) [hr]
Camera Obscura: Let's Get Out of This Country (2006) [hr]
Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career (2009) [c]
Camera Obscura: Desire Lines (2013) [r]
Caribou: Our Love (2014) [hr]
Cass McCombs: Wit's End (2011)
Cat Power: The Greatest (2006) [hr]
Cat Power: Sun (2012) [r]
ceo: White Magic (2010) [r]
Charles Bradley: Victim of Love (2013) [r]
Charli XCX: True Romance (2013)
Chatham County Line: IV (2008) [hr]
Chatham County Line: Wildwood (2010) [r]
Chatham County Line: Tightrope (2014)
The Chemical Brothers: Further (2010)
Chromatics: Kill for Love (2012) [r]
Chuck Berry: After School Session (1957) [hr]
Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe (2013) [r]
Ciara (2013) [hr]
Cities Aviv: Come to Life (2014) [hr]
Clark (2014) [r]
The Clash (1977) [A+]
The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope (1978) [r]
clipping.: CLPPNG (2014) [hr]
Cloud Nothings: Attack on Memory (2012) [c]
Collette: When the Music's Loud (2013) [r]
Conor Oberst: Upside Down Mountain (2014) [r]
Crystal Castles (2008)
Crystal Castles (2010) [hr]
Crystal Castles: (III) (2012)
Cults (2011) [hr]
Cults: Static (2013)
Curren$y: Jet Files (2009) [r]
Curren$y: Pilot Talk (2010) [hr]
Curren$y: Pilot Talk II (2010) [r]
Curren$y: Weekend at Burnie's (2011) [r]
Curren$y: Muscle Car Chronicles (2012)
Curren$y: The Stoned Immaculate (2012) [r]
Cut Copy: In Ghost Colours (2008) [r]
Cut Copy: Zonoscope (2011) [hr]
Cut Copy: Free Your Mind (2013) [hr]
Cymbals: The Age of Fracture (2014) [r]
D.L. Byron: This Day and Age (1980)
Daft Punk: Homework (1997) [r]
Daft Punk: Discovery (2000) [r]
Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (2013) [hr]
Damien Jurado: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (2014) [r]
Damien Rice: My Favorite Faded Fantasy (2014) [c]
Danny Brown: Old (2013) [hr]
Darkside: Psychic (2013)
Das Racist: Relax (2011) [hr]
David Bowie: The Next Day (2013) [hr]
Dawn Richard: Goldenheart (2013) [r]
De La Soul: The Grind Date (2004) [r]
Death Grips: The Money Store (2012) [NO]
The Decemberists: The Hazards of Love (2009)
The Decemberists: The King Is Dead (2011) [hr]
Deerhunter: Microcastle (2008) [r]
Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest (2010) [hr]
Deerhunter: Monomania (2013) [c]
Dent May: Do Things (2012) [r]
Dent May: Warm Blanket (2013)
Depeche Mode: Sounds of the Universe (2009) [r]
Depeche Mode: Delta Machine (2013)
Delorean: Subiza (2010) [r]
Destroyer: Kaputt (2011) [hr]
Devo: Something for Everybody (2010) [NO]
DIIV: Oshin (2012)
Dilated Peoples: Directors of Photography (2014) [r]
Dirty Beaches: Drifters / Love Is the Devil (2013) [NO]
Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan (2012)
Disclosure: Settle (2013) [r]
DJ Koze: Amygdala (2013)
DJ Quik: The Book of David (2011) [c]
DJ Rashad: Double Cup (2013) [c]
Drake: Take Care (2011) [NO]
Dum Dum Girls: Too True (2014) [r]
East India Youth: Total Strife Forever (2014) [r]
Eels: Tomorrow Morning (2010)
eels: Wonderful, Glorious (2013) [r]
eels: The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett (2014) [c]
Elbow: The Take Off and Landing of Everything (2014)
El-P: Cancer 4 Cure (2012)
EMA: Past Life Martyred Saints (2011) [r]
EMA: The Future's Void (2014) [r]
Emeralds: Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010) [c]
The Essex Green: Cannibal Sea (2006)
The Everly Brothers (1958) [hr]
The Everly Brothers: Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (1958) [hr]
Ex Hex: Rips (2014) [r]
The Extra Lens: Undercard (2010) [r]
The Faint: Blank Wave Arcade (1999)
Fairport Convention (1967)
Faith No More: Angel Dust (1992) [NO]
Faithless: Reverence (1996) [c]
Fang Island (2010)
Fantasia: Side Effects of You (2013) [hr]
Fatboy Slim: Better Living Through Chemistry (1996) [NO]
Feist: The Reminder (2007) [hr]
Feist: Metals (2011)
The Field: Looping State of Mind (2011) [r]
The Field: Cupid's Head (2013) [r]
Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel... (2012) [hr]
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold (2014) [r]
FKA twigs: LP1 (2014) [NO]
The Flaming Lips: Embryonic (2009) [hr]
The Flaming Lips: The Terror (2013)
The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends (2012)
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues (2011) [c]
Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (2010)
Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes (2012)
Flying Lotus: You're Dead! (2014) [hr]
Forest Swords: Engravings (2013) [c]
Four Tet: There Is Love in You (2010) [r]
Four Tet: Beautiful Rewind (2013) [c]
Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors... (2013)
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (2012) [r]
Frankie Rose: Interstellar (2012)
Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus (2013) [c]
Fucked Up: David Comes to Life (2011)
Fucked Up: Glass Boys (2014)
Future Bible Heroes: Partygoing (2013) [hr]
Future Islands: Singles (2014) [r]
Galaxie 500: Today (1988) [hr]
Galaxie 500: On Fire (1989) [hr]
Galaxie 500: This Is Our Music (1990) [A+]
Gang Gang Dance: Eye Contact (2011) [r]
Gang of Four: Content (2011) [r]
Gerard Way: Hesitant Alien (2014)
Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (2011)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend (2012) [NO]
Goldfrapp: Head First (2010)
Goldfrapp: Tales of Us (2013) [r]
Gonjasufi: A Sufi and a Killer (2010)
Gossip: A Joyful Noise (2012) [c]
Great Lake Swimmers: Lost Channels (2009) [hr]
Great Lake Swimmers: New wild Everywhere (2012) [NO]
Grimes: Visions (2012)
Grizzly Bear: Shields (2012)
Grouper: The Man Who Died in His Boat (2013)
Gruff Rhys: American Interior (2014)
Handsome Boy Modeling School: So... How's Your Girl? (1999) [NO]
Haim: Days Are Gone (2013) [r]
Hamilton Leithauser: Black Hours (2014) [r]
The Haxan Cloak: Excavation (2013) [c]
Herbie Hancock: Head Hunters (1973) [hr]
Hercules & Love Affair: The Feast of the Broken Heart (2014) [r]
Hiss Golden Messenger: Lateness of Dancers (2014)
Hookworms: The Hum (2014) [r]
Horse Feathers: Cynic's New Year (2012) [r]
Hospitality: Trouble (2014) [hr]
Hot Chip: Made in the Dark (2008) [hr]
Hot Chip: One Life Stand (2010) [hr]
Hot Chip: In Our Heads (2012) [r]
How to Dress Well: Love Remains (2010) [c]
Hundred Waters: The Moon Rang Like a Bell (2014)
I Break Horses: Chiaroscuro (2014) [r]
Ice Choir: Afar (2012) [r]
Iceage: New Brigade (2011) [r]
Iceage: Plowing into the Field of Love (2014)
Ice-T: O.G. Original Gangster (1991) [r]
Ida Cox & Coleman Hawkins: Blues for Rampart Street (1961) [hr]
Imani Coppola: Chupacabra (2011) [r]
Information Society (1988) [hr]
The International Submarine Band: Safe at Home (1968) [r]
Interpol (2010) [c]
Interpol: El Pintor (2014) [r]
Iron & Wine: The Shepherd's Dog (2007) [hr]
Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean (2011) [r]
Iron & Wine: Ghost on Ghost (2013) [c]
J Dilla: Donuts (2006) [A+]
James Blake (2011) [r]
James Yorkston: Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society (2014) [c]
Jamie Lidell (2013) [r]
Janelle Monae: The Electric Lady (2013) [hr]
Japandroids: Celebration Rock (2012) [NO]
Jay-Z: Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)
Jay-Z & Kanye West: Watch the Throne (2011) [r]
Jesse Boykins III: Love Apparatus (2014) [r]
Jessie Ware: Devotion (2012) [r]
Joanna Newsom: Ys (2006) [hr]
Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me (2010) [A+]
John Coltrane: Giant Steps (1960) [A+]
John Coltrane: Ballads (1962) [A+]
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1964) [A+]
John Maus: We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (2011) [r]
John Talabot: fIN (2012) [r]
Johnny Cash: With His Hot and Blue Guitar (1957) [hr]
Jon Hopkins: Immunity (2013)
Josephine Foster: I'm a Dreamer (2013) [r]
The Joy Formidable: Wolf's Law (2013)
Joyce Manor: Never Hungover Again (2014) [c]
Julia Holter: Ekstasis (2012) [c]
Julian Lynch: Mare (2010) [r]
Julianna Barwick: The Magic Place (2011)
Julianna Barwick: Nepenthe (2013) [c]
The Julie Ruin: Run Fast (2013) [hr]
Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience (2013)
Kaki King: Everybody Loves You (2003) [r]
Kaki King: Legs to Make Us Longer (2004) [hr]
Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak (2008) [hr]
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) [A+]
Kanye West: Yeezus (2013) [A+]
Kasey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park (2013)
Kate Bush: 50 Words for Snow (2011)
Kate Tempest: Everybody Down (2014) [hr]
Kelis: Food (2014) [r]
Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012) [hr]
Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (2012) [hr]
King Creosote: From Scotland with Love (2014)
The Kinks (1964) [r]
The Kinks: Kinda Kinks (1965) [hr]
The Kinks: The Kink Kontroversy (1965) [hr]
The Kinks: Face to Face (1966) [A+]
The Knife: Shaking the Habitual (2013)
KT Tunstall: Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon (2013) [r]
Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011) [NO]
L7 (1988)
L7: Smell the Magic (1990) [hr]
L7: Bricks Are Heavy (1992) [hr]
L7: Hungry for Stink (1994) [r]
La Bouche: Sweet Dreams (2014)
La Roux: Trouble in Paradise (2014) [r]
Lake Street Dive: Bad Self Portraits (2014) [hr]
Lambchop: Mr. M (2012) [r]
Laura Cantrell: No Way There from Here (2014) [r]
Lee Fields: Emma Jean (2014) [r]
Leonard Cohen: Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) [A+]
Leonard Cohen: Songs from a Room (1969) [hr]
Leonard Cohen: Dear Heather (2004) [hr]
Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (2012)
Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems (2014) [hr]
Lisa Germano: No Elephants (2013)
Little Richard: Here's Little Richard (1957)
London Grammar: If You Wait (2014) [r]
Lone: Reality Testing (2014)
Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams (2012) [r]
Los Campesinos!: No Blues (2013)
Lotus Plaza: Spooky Action at a Distance (2012)
Love: Forever Changes (1967) [A+]
Lucinda Williams: Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (2014) [r]
Lupe Fiasco: Lasers (2011) [NO]
Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II (2012) [c]
Lydia Loveless: Somewhere Else (2014)
Lykke Li: Wounded Rhymes (2011) [r]
Lykke Li: I Never Learn (2014)
Lyla Foy: Mirrors the Sky (2014) [hr]
M. Ward: Duet for Guitars #2 (1999) [r]
M. Ward: End of Amnesia (2001) [r]
M. Ward: Transfiguration of Vincent (2003) [hr]
M. Ward: A Wasteland Companion (2012)
M.I.A.: Matangi (2013) [r]
M83: Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (2011) [c]
Mac DeMarco: 2 (2012)
Mac DeMarco: Salad Days (2014) [c]
Madonna: Hard Candy (2008)
Madonna: MDNA (2012)
The Magnetic Fields: Distortion (2008) [hr]
The Magnetic Fields: Love at the Bottom of the Sea (2012) [r]
Male Bonding: Nothing Hurts (2010) [hr]
Male Bonding: Endless Now (2011) [r]
Manic Street Preachers: Futurology (2014)
Marianne Faithfull: Give My Love to London (2014) [r]
Marissa Nadler: July (2014) [c]
Mark Lanegan Band: Phantom Radio (2014) [c]
Marnie Stern: The Chronicles of Marnia (2013)
Marvin Gaye: What's Going On (1971) [A+]
Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On (1973) [A+]
Marvin Gaye: I Want You (1976) [hr]
Mates of State: Mountaintops (2011)
Matthew Dear: Black City (2010) [r]
Maya Jane Coles: Comfort (2013) [r]
The Men: Open Your Heart (2012) [r]
The Men: New Moon (2013) [r]
Metronomy: Love Letters (2014) [r]
Metz (2012) [c]
MGMT (2013) [r]
Midnight Juggernauts: The Crystal Axis (2010) [hr]
Midnight Juggernauts: Uncanny Valley (2013)
Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream (2012) [r]
Mikal Cronin: MCII (2013)
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (1950) [A+]
Miles Davis: Walkin' (1954) [A+]
Miles Davis: Relaxin' (1958) [hr]
Minor Alps: Get There (2013) [r]
Mirel Wagner: When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day (2014) [c]
Moby: Destroyed (2011) [r]
Moonface: Julia with Blue Jeans On (2013) [r]
Mount Eerie: Clear Moon (2012)
The Mountain Goats: The Life of the World to Come (2009) [hr]
The Mountain Goats: All Eternals Deck (2011) [hr]
The Mountain Goats: Transcendental Youth (2012) [r]
[Mr.] Twin Sister: In Heaven (2011) [hr]
Mr. Twin Sister (2014) [r]
Muse: The 2nd Law (2012) [c]
Mutual Benefit: Love's Crushing Diamond (2013) [r]
My Bloody Valentine: Loveless (1991) [A+]
My Bloody Valentine: mbv (2013) [r]
My Brightest Diamond: This Is My Hand (2014) [r]
Nana Grizol: Love It Love It (2008)
Nana Grizol: "Ruth" (2010)
Nas: Life Is Good (2012) [hr]
The National: Trouble Will Find Me (2013) [hr]
Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) [hr]
Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (1970) [A+]
Neko Case: The Worse Things Get... (2013) [r]
Neneh Cherry: Blank Project (2014) [r]
The New Pornographers: Challengers (2007) [r]
The New Pornographers: Brill Bruisers (2014) [hr]
Nicolas Jaar: Space Is Only Noise (2011) [hr]
Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks (2013)
No Age: Everything in Between (2010) [c]
The Notwist: Close to the Glass (2014) [r]
Oasis: Definitely Maybe (1994) [hr]
Of Montreal: Lousy with Sylvianbriar (2013) [r]
OFF! First Four EPs (2011) [r]
Okkervil River: I Am Very Far (2011) [r]
Okkervil River: The Silver Gymnasium (2013) [r]
Old 97's: Blame It on Gravity (2008) [r]
Old 97's: The Grand Theatre, Volume One (2010)
Old 97's: The Grand Theatre Volume Two (2011) [c]
Old 97's: Most Messed Up (2014) [r]
Old Crow Medicine Show: Tennessee Pusher (2008) [hr]
Old Crow Medicine Show: Carry Me Back (2012) [c]
Old Crow Medicine Show: Remedy (2014)
Omar Souleyman: Wenu Wenu (2013) [r]
Oneohtrix Point Never: Replica (2011) [r]
Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven (2013) [hr]
Otis Redding: Otis Blue (1965) [A+]
Otis Redding: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966) [hr]
Ought: More Than Any Other Day (2014)
OutKast: Idlewild (2006) [r]
Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (2011) [r]
Over the Rhine: Meet Me at the Edge of the World (2013) [r]
Owen Pallett: In Conflict (2014) [r]
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Belong (2011) [r]
Panda Bear: Person Pitch (2007) [r]
Panda Bear: Tomboy (2011) [c]
Pantha du Prince: Black Noise (2010)
Parliament: Osmium (1970) [hr]
Parliament: Up for the Down Stroke (1974) [hr]
Parliament: Chocolate City (1975) [hr]
Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal (2014) [c]
Passion Pit: Gossamer (2012)
Patti Smith: Horses (1975) [A+]
Paul McCartney: New (2013) [r]
Paul Simon: So Beautiful or So What (2011)
Perfect Pussy: Say Yes to Love (2014)
Perfume Genius: Put Your Back in 2 It (2012) [r]
Perfume Genius: Too Bright (2014)
The Pernice Brothers: Goodbye, Killer (2010)
Pet Shop Boys: Please (1986) [hr]
Pet Shop Boys: Yes (2009) [hr]
Pet Shop Boys: Elysium (2012) [c]
Pet Shop Boys: Electric (2013) [hr]
Peter Gabriel: Up (2002) [hr]
Pharmakon: Bestial Burden (2014)
Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift for You (1963) [hr]
Phosphorescent: Muchacho (2013) [c]
Pink Martini: Get Happy (2013) [c]
Pistol Annies: Annie Up (2013)
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (2011) [hr]
Polar Bear: In Each and Every One (2014) [r]
Prince: Dirty Mind (1980) [hr]
Prince: Controversy (1981) [hr]
Prince: 1999 (1982) [A+]
Prince: Purple Rain (1984) [A+]
Protomartyr: Under Color of Official Right (2014)
Purity Ring: Shrines (2012)
Quakers (2012) [r]
Queens of the Stone Age: ...Like Clockwork (2013) [c]
R.E.M.: Murmur (1983) [A+]
R.E.M.: Reckoning (1984) [hr]
R.E.M.: Collapse into Now (2011)
Radiohead: In Rainbows (2007) [A+]
Radiohead: The King of Limbs (2011) [hr]
The Range: Nonfiction (2013)
Ratking: So It Goes (2014) [hr]
Ray Charles: Genius + Soul = Jazz (1961)
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962) [A+]
Real Estate: Days (2011) [r]
Real Estate: Atlas (2014)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: I'm with You (2011) [r]
Reigning Sound: Shattered (2014) [c]
The Replacements: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981) [r]
Rhye: Woman (2013) [hr]
Rick Ross: Mastermind (2014) [r]
Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines (2013) [c]
Robyn: Body Talk (2010) [r]
Rodney Crowell: Tarpaper Sky (2014)
The Rolling Stones: England's Newest Hit Makers (1964)
The Rolling Stones: 12 x 5 (1964) [r]
The Roots: Rising Down (2008) [r]
The Roots: undun (2012) [r]
The Roots: ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014) [r]
Rosanne Cash: The River & the Thread (2014) [r]
Royal Baths: Better Luck Next Life (2012) [c]
Run the Jewels (2013) [hr]
Run the Jewels 2 (2014) [hr]
Saint Etienne: Words and Music By (2012) [hr]
The Saints: (I'm) Stranded (1977) [hr]
The Saints: Eternally Yours (1978) [r]
The Saints: All Fool's Day (1986) [hr]
Sally Shapiro: Somewhere Else (2013) [r]
Sam Cooke: Cooke's Tour (1960)
Sam Cooke: Night Beat (1963) [A+]
Saturday Looks Good to Me: Fill Up the Room (2007) [hr]
Saturday Looks Good to Me: One Kiss Ends It All (2013) [r]
Savages: Silence Yourself (2013) [hr]
Schoolboy Q: Habits and Contradictions (2012) [c]
Scott Walker & Sunn O))): Soused (2014)
Sepalcure (2011) [r]
September Girls: Cursing the Sea (2014) [hr]
Shabazz Palaces: Black Up (2011) [hr]
Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty (2014) [hr]
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Give the People What They Want (2014) [r]
Sharon Van Etten: Are We There (2014) [c]
She & Him: Volume Two (2010) [r]
The Shins: Wincing the Night Away (2007) [A+]
The Shins: Port of Morrow (2012) [c]
Sleaford Mods: Divide and Exit (2014) [NO]
Sleigh Bells: Treats (2010) [NO]
Smith Westerns: Dye It Blonde (2011) [hr]
Smith Westerns: Soft Will (2013)
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Make It Happen (1967) [hr]
SOHN: Tremors (2014) [hr]
Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana (2013)
Spiritualized: Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (2012) [r]
Spoon: Transference (2010) [r]
Spoon: They Want My Soul (2014) [r]
St. Vincent: Strange Mercy (2011) [r]
St. Vincent (2014) [r]
Steve Gunn: Way Out Weather (2014)
Stevie Wonder: Music of My Mind (1972) [hr]
Stevie Wonder: Talking Book (1972) [hr]
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1973) [A+]
Strand of Oaks: Heal (2014) [NO]
The Strokes: Angles (2011) [r]
The Strokes: Comedown Machine (2013) [hr]
Suckers: Candy Salad (2012) [hr]
Suede: Bloodsports (2013) [r]
Sufjan Stevens: Illinoise (2005) [hr]
Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz (2010) [hr]
Sun Kil Moon: Benji (2014) [c]
A Sunny Day in Glasgow: Sea When Absent (2014) [c]
Surfer Blood: Pythons (2013) [c]
Suzanne Vega: Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles (2014) [r]
Swans: The Seer (2012) [NO]
Sylvan Esso (2014) [r]
T.I.: King (2006) [r]
Talking Heads: 77 (1977) [hr]
Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978) [A+]
Talking Heads: Fear of Music (1979) [A+]
Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980) [A+]
The Tallest Man on Earth: There's No Leaving Now (2012) [hr]
Tame Impala: Innerspeaker (2010) [hr]
Tame Impala: Lonerism (2012) [r]
Teddy Thompson: Bella (2011) [c]
Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob (2013) [hr]
Television: Marquee Moon (1977) [A+]
Television: Adventure (1978) [hr]
Tennis: Cape Dory (2011) [r]
Terry Malts: Killing Time (2012) [hr]
Terry Malts: Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere (2013)
The-Dream: Love King (2010) [r]
These New Puritans: Field of Reeds (2013) [c]
Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (2011) [c]
Times New Viking: Dancer Equired (2011) [r]
Tinariwen: Emmaar (2014) [r]
Tinashe: Aquarius (2014) [hr]
Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (2010) [hr]
Titus Andronicus: Local Business (2012) [hr]
Todd Terje: It's Album Time (2014) [hr]
Toro Y Moi: Underneath the Pine (2011)
Toumani Diabate: Toumani & Sidiki (2014) [hr]
Trey Songz: Trigga (2014) [c]
tUnE-yArDs: BiRd-BrAiNs (2009) [hr]
tUnE-yArDs: whokill (2011) [A+]
tUnE-yArDs: Nikki Nack (2014) [hr]
TV on the Radio: Dear Science (2008) [hr]
TV on the Radio: Nine Types of Light (2011) [hr]
TV on the Radio: Seeds (2014) [r]
The Twilight Sad: Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (2014)
Twin Shadow: Forget (2010) [r]
Twin Shadow: Confess (2012) [hr]
Ty Segall: Slaughterhouse (2012)
Ty Segall: Manipulator (2014)
The Underachievers: Cellar Door (2014) [hr]
Vampire Weekend (2008) [r]
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City (2013) [A+]
Vashti Bunyan: Heartleap (2014) [r]
The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) [hr]
The Velvet Underground: White Light / White Heat (1968) [A+]
The Velvet Underground (1969) [A+]
Vessel: Punish, Honey (2014) [hr]
The Walkmen: Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone (2002) [hr]
The Walkmen: Bows + Arrows (2004) [hr]
The Walkmen: A Hundred Miles Off (2006) [hr]
The Walkmen: You & Me (2008) [hr]
The Walkmen: Lisbon (2010) [hr]
The Walkmen: Heaven (2012) [hr]
The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (2011) [NO]
Warpaint (2014) [r]
Washed Out: Within and Without (2011) [r]
Wavves: King of the Beach (2010) [r]
Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt (2013) [r]
We Are Scientists: Barbara (2010) [NO]
Weekend: Jinx (2013) [r]
White Lung: Deep Fantasy (2014)
Wilco: The Whole Love (2011) [hr]
Wild Beasts: Present Tense (2014) [r]
Wild Nothing: Gemini (2010) [r]
Wild Nothing: Nocturne (2012) [r]
Willis Earl Beal: Acousmatic Sorcery (2012) [r]
A Winged Victory for the Sullen: Atomos (2014) [r]
Wire: Pink Flag (1977) [A+]
Wire: Red Barked Tree (2011) [r]
Wire: Change Becomes Us (2013)
Woods: With Light and With Love (2014) [r]
WU LYF: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain (2011) [NO]
Wussy: Attica (2014) [r]
Wye Oak: Civilian (2011) [r]
The xx: Coexist (2012) [hr]
Y.G.: My Krazy Life (2014) [r]
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito (2013) [c]
Yeasayer: Fragrant World (2012) [r]
Yo Gotti: I Am (2013) [r]
Yo La Tengo: I Can Heart Beating as One (1997) [A+]
Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (2009) [hr]
Yo La Tengo: Fade (2013) [hr]
Yoko Ono: Take Me to the Land of Hell (2013) [hr]
Young & Sick (2014) [r]
Young Fathers: Dead (2014) [r]
Youth Lagoon: The Year of Hibernation (2011) [r]
Youth Lagoon: Wondrous Bughouse (2013) [NO]
Yuck (2011) [r]

REMIX ALBUMS / MIXTAPES / FILM SCORES
A$AP Rocky: LiveLoveA$AP (2011) [hr]
Aimee Mann: Magnolia OST (1999) [c]
Big K.R.I.T.: Return of 4Eva (2011)
Björk: Selmasongs (2000) [hr]
Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap (2013)
The Chemical Brothers: Hanna OST (2011) [r]
Curren$y: Return to the Winner's Circle (2011) [hr]
Curren$y: Verde Terrace (2011)
Curren$y: New Jet City (2013)
Curren$y: The Drive-In Theatre (2014)
Curren$y & The Alchemist: Covert Coup (2011)
Das Racist: Sit Down, Man (2010) [r]
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx: We're New Here (2011) [r]
Kelela: Cut 4 Me (2013) [hr]
Lupe Fiasco: Friend of the People (2012) [c]
The Mountain Goats: All Survivors Pack (2011) [r]
Radiohead: TKOL RMX 1234567 (2011)
The Weeknd: House of Balloons (2011) [r]

EP's
Advance Base: The World Is in a Bad Fix Everywhere (2013)
Alexi Murdoch: Four Songs (2002) [hr]
Andrew Bird: I Want to See Pulaski at Night (2013)
Animal Collective: Fall Be Kind (2009)
The Antlers: (together) (2011)
The Antlers: Undersea (2012) [r]
Arcade Fire (2003)
The Avalanches: At Last Alone (2001)
The B-52's: Party Mix (1981)
Burial: Kindred (2012)
Burial: Rival Dealer (2013) [r]
Colleen Green: Cujo (2011) [r]
Crystal Stilts: Radiant Door (2011) [hr]
Darkside (2011) [r]
The Decemberists: iTunes Session (2011) [r]
The Decemberists: Long Live the King (2011) [r]
Destroyer: Five Spanish Songs (2013)
Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze (2012)
The Flaming Lips: With Neon Indian (2011) [r]
Girls: Broken Dreams Club (2010) [r]
Hot Chip: We Have Remixes (2010) [r]
James Blake: CMYK (2010)
MØ: Bikini Daze (2013) [r]
Nicolas Jaar: Don't Break My Love (2011)
Okkervil River: Golden Opportunities 2 (2011)
Oneohtrix Point Never: Commissions I (2014) [r]
PAPA: A Good Woman Is Hard to Find (2011) [hr]
R.E.M.: Chronic Town (1982) [A+]
Radiohead: TKOL RMX 8 (2011)
Sufjan Stevens: All Delighted People (2010) [r]
Surfer Blood: Tarot Classics (2011) [r]
The Tallest Man on Earth: Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird (2010) [hr]
Terrry Malts: Insides (2014) [r]
TNGHT (2012) [r]
Vampire Weekend: iTunes Session (2011) [r]
Vince Staples: Hell Can Wait (2014)
Yo La Tengo: Stupid Things (2012) [r]

COMPILATIONS
The "5" Royales: All Righty! The Apollo Recordings (1951-55) [r]
The "5" Royales: Complete King Masters (1954-60) [A+]
? & the Mysterians: Best Of- Cameo Parkway (1966-67) [hr]
101 Strings Orchestra: 20 Years of Beautiful Music (1969) [hr]
1910 Fruitgum Co.: Best Of (1968-70) [hr]
Aaron Neville: A Collection of His Best (1966-2006) [NO]
The Action: The Ultimate! Action (1964-68) [r]
Adam and the Ants: Stand and Deliver- Very Best Of (1977-95)
Adriano Celentano: Best (1975-99) [r]
The Adverts: The Singles (1977-79) [r]
Afrika Bambaataa: Looking for the Perfect Beat (1980-2001) [hr]
Al Green: Definitive Greatest Hits (1967-2007) [hr]
Al Martino: The Ultimate Al Martino (1952-79)
Alabina: L'Essentiel (1996-2000)
Alan Lomax: The Alan Lomax Popular Songbook (1933-59) [r]
Albert Ammons: The Boogie Woogie Man (1936-44) [r]
Albert Ayler: Free Form Jazz (1963-69) [hr]
Albert King: Best of (1968-73)
Alex Chilton: A Retrospective (1967-95) [r]
All Saints: All Hits (1997-2001) [r]
Amos Milburn: Bad Bad Whiskey (1947-55) [r]
The Andrews Sisters: Best Of (1937-50) [hr]
The Animals: Best Of (1964-65) [hr]
Ann Peebles: The Complete Ann Peebles on Hi Records Vol. 1 (1969-73) [r]
Archie Bell & the Drells: Tightening It Up (1967-79) [hr]
Aretha Franklin: 20 Greatest Hits (1967-74) [A+]
Art of Noise: Best Of (1983-92) [c]
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 2 (1946-49) [r]
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup: Complete Recorded Works Vol. 3 (1949-52)
Arthur Alexander: The Ultimate (1961-75) [A+]
The Artwoods: 100 Oxford Street (1964-66)
Ashford & Simpson: Best Of (1973-90) [r]
At the Drive-In: This Station Is Non-Operational (1997-2000) [c]
B.B. King: His Definitive Greatest Hits (1951-93)
B.T. Express: Best Of (1974-80) [r]
The Beach Boys: Summer Love Songs (1963-71)
Bo Diddley: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection (1955-62)
Buddy Holly: Greatest Hits (1957-59) [A+]
Cabaret Voltaire: The Original Sound of Sheffield (1978-82)
Carl Perkins: Original Sun Greatest Hits (1955-57) [A+]
Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight (1955-65) [A+]
Earl Bostic Blows a Fuse (1946-58) [r]
The Everly Brothers: Cadence Classics- 20 Greatest Hits (1957-60) [hr]
The Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back (Warner Years) (1960-69) [r]
Faces: The Definitive Rock Collection (1970-75) [NO]
Fat Boys: All Meat No Filler (1984-89) [r]
Gene Vincent: Best Of (1956-63) [A+]
Hall & Oates: The Essential Collection (1974-2001) [NO]
Hank Locklin: RCA Country Legends (1956-68) [r]
Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits (1947-53) [A+]
The Impressions: Definitive (1961-68) [hr]
J.B. Lenoir: Vietnam Blues (1965-66) [hr]
Jack Nitzsche: Hearing Is Believing (1962-79) [hr]
James Brown: In the Jungle Groove (1969-86)
K.C. & the Sunshine Band: Best Of (1974-89) [hr]
Oasis: The Masterplan (1994-97) [r]
Otis Redding: Very Best Of (1962-68) [r]
Ray Charles: Ultimate Hits Collection (1953-90) [hr]
R.E.M.: Eponymous (1981-85)
Sam & Dave: Sweat 'n' Soul- Anthology (1965-71) [A+]
Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend (1951-64) [A+]
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs: Pharaohization (1965-67) [hr]
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: Ooo Baby Baby- The Anthology (1961-72) [hr]
Taj Mahal: Best of (1967-74) [r]
Talking Heads: Sand in the Vaseline- Popular Favorites (1975-92) [r]
Talking Heads: Bonus Rarities and Outtakes (1975-92)
Van Morrison: Best Of (1965-89) [r]
The Yardbirds: Ultimate! (1964-69) [hr]

BOXED SETS
The Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions (1965-67) [c]
Big Star: Keep an Eye on the Sky (1970-74) [r]
Billie Holiday: The Master Takes and Singles (1935-42) [A+]
Chuck Berry: The Chess Box (1955-75) [r]
James Brown: Star Time (1956-84) [A+]
Little Richard: The Specialty Sessions (1954-60) [hr]
Phil Spector: Back to Mono (1958-69) [A+]
Sam Cooke: The Man Who Invented Soul (1957-61) [hr]

BOOTLEGS
Oasis: The Early Years (1992-95)

SINGLES & MISC. TRACKS
non-LP cuts: #

LISTS & COMMENTS ETC.
List of Lists 2014
The Best Records of 2014
Format change info
List of Lists 2013
The Best Records of 2013
Revisions & Changes / Index
The List of Lists 2012
The Best Records of 2012
Top Artists + Index
The List of Lists 2011
The Best Records of 2011
Top 100 Music Videos + Index
All-Time Top Albums + Index
The List of Lists 2010
The Best Records of 2010
Welcome & Introduction

***

SPECIAL RESEARCH UNIT
Originally this was going to be a list of artists that I'd advise the reader to investigate elsewhere because I had made up my mind about them unfavorably long before starting this blog and thus none of their releases were ever likely to be explored and evaluated here. But why would you expect this blog to be some sort of canon? Music is even more colored by personal biases than movies or literature, and it would be bigheaded of me to think that some such cataloging would be of any use to anyone. Plus it's the lazy method of acknolwedging those bands and artists in the rock idiom that, alas, I just don't get. So I thought we would make this a challenge instead -- I would roll down the same list, starting with R&R HOF inductees (it's just handy), and give them one more shot in hopes of articulating just why I don't enjoy them... or who knows, maybe discovering that I've changed. They'll be rated on the usual scale but I would ask you to please not consider them as along the lines of my usual reviews; I'm listening to them only once for this post.

The Four Seasons
The Very Best of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (1962-78)

(Rhino)

!! CAUTION !! * I guess I should stand by my emphatic defense of the Distinctive Frontman, but something about the way Frankie Valli exercises his larnyx never has sat well with me -- I feel like the strain is all I can hear. (Compare "Big Girls Don't Cry" to Brian Wilson's lead on "Don't Worry Baby" for some clarification.) Personal bias but I also find the vocal arrangements unbearably cloying and always have; growing up on oldies radio, this was one of the only groups that ever prompted me to change the dial. All that said, bless them for introducing "Working My Way Back to You" so the Spinners could make something of it. Must say I do slightly rate the promiscuous disco "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," though perhaps that's because I rate promiscuous disco in general. This set also contains a few of Valli's solo cuts, the only significant one being "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," significant strictly because it was later interpolated by my favorite promiscuous disco group.

Jimi Hendrix Experience
Are You Experienced (1967)

(Reprise)

I'm well aware of the depth of this blasphemy and there's no one not in my repertoire whom I want to love more than Hendrix; whether it's the amount of time that's passed or some allergy to the specific stylistics or some other external factor, I've tried dozens of times and failed to find his albums endearing. (Monterey Pop or Woodstock footage is a different matter.) I used to own this, Electric Ladyland and Smash Hits and I've played Axis three or four times. Trying to pare down my problems with this, I can only make it nebulous: the heaviness of the riffs doesn't wash with me -- this is strongest on "Manic Depression," which is unmistakably influential but has more in common with subsequent rock I hate than the stuff I love. But it's also true of "Foxey Lady" and "Purple Haze"; I suppose they are both so familiar that I can't hear their idiosyncracies, though I don't know why I have no such problem with someone as iconic as, say, the Beatles. That said, I have evolved on a few levels -- namely, I like Hendrix's vocals quite a bit, of course I respect and enjoy his guitar technique, and I think his version of "Hey Joe" is probably the best of all (though I do also admire the Creation's). But the big surprise was "May This Be Love." The back half of the record sort of numbs me, but "May This Be Love" sounds like some signal from a wholly different planet and I love every second of it. That track alone brings me close to putting this down as a "recommended" title (an arbitrary distinction, of course, as anyone who cares about rock music surely doesn't need this recommended to them, least of all by me); instead, I think next time we do this I will give Electric Ladyland another shot.

Cream
Disraeli Gears (1967)

(Atco)

!! CAUTION !! * This is one of two albums in this little project that I had not previously heard in full. My broad impression of Cream from limited exposure through the years seems to hold. It might be a tentpole but "Strange Brew" sounds to me like the most generic of psych-rock excursions. "World of Pain" is "As Tears Go By" only with wah wah. "Sunshine of Your Love" might employ one of the most famous riffs in rock history but does it really go anywhere with it? The rest: more riffs, more psychedelic barbership, more drugged-out drudgery. I don't hear the good in it.

The Doors
Greatest Hits (1966-71)

(Elektra)

!!!!! AVOID !!!!! * I feel justified in thinking of the Doors as an awful band, more than anything because they enabled a schmoozing wino like Jim Morrison to achieve fame. Some of their songs are catchy, though in the case of something like "Light My Fire" they completely ruin the hooks with their meandering seven-minute jam; most of them are hilariously stupid, like "Break on Through" and the immortally icky "The End." Plenty of those hooks are cribbed from other people anyway, even disregarding the time they stole an Ajax jingle; "People Are Strange" is just the Turtles turned upside down, "Break on Through" plagiarizes Ray Charles, "Hello, I Love You" (their most shamelessly pandering pop single) is a direct lift from the Kinks. (Please play it all the time though, cause Ray Davies gets all the money when you do.) But much worse than the music itself is how it provides a platform for Morrison's mixture of empty new age philosophy and self-mythologizing bullshit; he is everything disgusting about the egomaniacal, Jesus-complex side of rock & roll -- the uncredited father of Scott Stapp, Sting, Steve Perry and Richard Ashcroft. It figures that their best song by a hundred miles is the genuinely enjoyable "Touch Me," on which they admit to Morrison's true soul: as a future has-been nightclub singer in the vein of Tom Jones, suntanned and shameless, full of expired sensuality and sugary strings. It's pure Vegas, and -- on the "I'm gonna love you..." chorus, it is literally the only time in Morrison's entire career that he didn't sound like a lying macho prick.

Grateful Dead
Workingman's Dead (1970)

(Warner Bros.)

I never bought the love-the-band/hate-the-fans conceit many folks applied to this group; the Deadheads I knew in high school were typically fine people and you had to admire their level of commitment to a single artist. Complain about tape collectors if you wish but acquiring hundreds of live shows is no different than habits of mine: the acquisition of hundreds of Beatles bootlegs or every Clash, Talking Heads and Yo La Tengo live show I've been able to find. And none of those habits brought me closer to a friendly community. My exposure to the Dead's music was mostly incidental to observances of this phenomenon. I don't think I ever heard a full studio album -- only a bunch of live shows. But the structure of their music didn't appeal to me, though I rather liked Jerry Garcia's Roger McGuinn-like drawl. I don't mind the guitars, I don't mind the twang, I don't even mind the length of these eight songs which are all pretty brief. The writing just doesn't inspire me; it's pleasant enough. So as much as I might make fun of things for resembling the Dead, they really aren't anything I find objectionable. Boring, maybe, but there are worse things to be, and maybe someday I will want this particular sort of droning on in my life.