There are a few albums that are almost universally recognized as the finest music can produce of their kind, with uniform critical acclaim and high sales that reflect that. Albums like Nirvana's Nevermind, The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Who's Who's Next.
There are a few albums of almost equal caliber that are unknown to even the most seasoned indie hipster. The following are five of these albums that every casual music fan should have, quality productions that further music and belong in your CD collection.
Layla and other assorted love songs
By: Derek and the Dominoes
This celebrated double-album contains some of the greatest blues-based rock and roll ever. Eric Clapton teamed with Delaney and Bonnie and guitarist Duane Allman to create a passionate collection of originals and covers that channels more raw emotion than any CD should be able to hold. Clapton was suffering from his famously unrequited love for Patti Boyd (his best friend George Harrison's wife) during production, making this album perfect for any depressed, lovesick teenager. The incredible title song "Layla" is among rock's finest, a thinly veiled love letter to Boyd with an angry lick and a personal piano line that capture Clapton's frustration. You'll get lost in the powerfully emotive "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad" or the single "Bell-Bottom Blues," whose chorus Do you want me to crawl across the floor to you you'll find yourself repeating. Derek and the Dominoes Layla and other assorted love songs is the magnificent product of Clapton's personal anguish and rock and roll is better for his suffering.
By: Van Morrison
Van Morrison's beautiful love letter to Belfast came right after his biggest hit ("Brown-Eyed Girl") and before perhaps his most well known album (Moondance) but Astral Weeks is likely his finest work. Van Morrison's descriptive lyrics and the beautiful jazzy folk arrangements must be what happiness sounds like. Most noteworthy is Morrison's soul shouting: unmatched for conveying delicate strength in his happy reminiscences.' The expression and depth in songs like "Beside You" and "Sweet Thing" sustain repeated listens and make this delightful recording only more enjoyable as time progresses. Astral Weeks is romantic, adolescent, and nostalgic in the most accurate, pleasant ways; making it a CD you can pop on whenever you get too melancholy. Perfect for the happily inclined.
Emergency and I
By: Dismemberment Plan
Indie-rock outfit Dismemberment Plan is Washington DC's finest, and they fuse Emergency and I into a thrilling ride through their emotions with their uniquely funky and weird but completely honest post-punk. Singer and front man Travis Morrison lends the band his distinctively unusual vocals and intelligent lyrics, each separating Dismemberment Plan from the rest of the bland modern rock scene. The guitars are buzzing and the rhythm tight on Emergency and I, and the consistently solid and original album rewards listeners by growing together as a magnificent sum better than any of its parts. Most powerful is the album's highlight. From the line, "I lost my membership to the human race," song "What Do You Want Me to Say?" sucks the listener into a broken relationship, growing in power and concealed rage until it erupts with the chorus ("What do you want me to say?" Morrison questions). Emergency and I is easily the highlight of modern DC musicianship and worthy of your time.
By: Possum Dixon
Possum Dixon is perhaps the most underrated alternative rock band around, and its self-titled debut is a perfect snapshot of the slick commercial 90's. The product of several Los Angeles hipsters' job anxieties, Possum Dixon's new wave punk-pop should appeal to most high schoolers for its angry disregard for authority: Lines like "I hate work" (from the jumpy opener "Nerve") are thrown out with abandon and "Nerve's" indifferent rough start draws the listener into Possum Dixon's twisted, awkward world. Eccentric keyboard lines and catchy guitar work are center stage on the escapist "She Drives" and the minor hit single "Watch the Girl Destroy Me." The latter is honest and powerful acknowledgement of many guys' hopeless romantic situation whose chorus (the title) you'll find yourself singing despite your better judgment. While all of Possum Dixon's paranoid musings are memorable, the album satisfies simply as tortured art.
By: Sunny Day Real Estate
Sunny Day Real Estate laid the groundwork for emo with their wickedly relentless guitar work, honest lyrics and emotional vocals. Their melodic debut, Diary, is authentic and powerful, featuring dynamic anthems fused with tender and insightful moments. Epic in its breadth, Diary's best songs are focused and up-tempo, unlike most of the current boring angst-rock. Better yet, guitarist and vocalist Dan Hoerner is a commanding presence who pushes Sunny Day Real Estate forward artistically while lead vocalist Jeremy Enigk's tortured high-pitch is effortlessly effective. Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary fits in any music collection as the perfect emo album.
Josh Gottlieb-Miller. More »