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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2)


My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2)
SO WHAT’S THIS ABOUT THEN?
Glad you asked! Basically, I have become embarrassingly one-dimensional and I now measure my self-worth via the potency of my vinyl collection. Which isn’t a great, because while my current accumulation features some of the greatest albums ever made according to EVERYONE, this achieveiment is still not as impressive or as substantial as many people's collections of which I have seen with my own eyes. These shortcomings are owed in part to my late registration for the vinyl game, only actively seeking out the phonograph record medium for roughly two years now. These shortcomings are also owed in part to my drug problem.

Taking my procrastinated vinyl puberty into account, I was forced to think quick and think smart, developing a system which not only ensured that I hit the ground running, but also that I allowed the public eye to get involved, potentially encouraging outside pockets to purchase vinyl for me if they were feeling nice (and some have!). Hello, this is where Juice Nothing comes in.

Flashback, March 2016. I initiated a five-part blog series called The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s through to The 00s, carefully considering my favourite records within these designated decade time gaps. I even reviewed each one, a seemingly innocent exercise in creative writing when, in truth, I was actually underhandedly compiling a checklist of 50 albums I needed in order to have a modest yet powerful army of essential masterpieces within my stockpile. Surely this would prove my worth to the musical community in the most streamlined manner possible. And I’m proud to say that I am almost there. I now own 38 of the original stated 50, which is such a thrill, yet also clearly not good enough.

Last year I released a somewhat b-side extension of this idea, called My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1). You see, over the years I have reviewed many many albums, and yet some of the most imperative releases known to man have somehow slipped under my typewriter and never received the props they deserved. The idea of that article was to give love where love was due while expanding on my vinyl requests in front of everyone, please buy me these things oh please please please. I had so much fun with the concept and delivery, that I decided right then and there that this was going to be a yearly post, and here we are again. Once more around the sun. Let's write some words down, I'm so excited.

But before that, it’s important to note that I lied to you before we even began. These are not necessarily my favourite albums that I’ve never reviewed. Who could accurately honour such a specific title? Instead, these are kinda the first 10 that came to my mind (which means a lot in itself), ordered by the level of how badly I wish to hold them in my hands.

Oh, and one more thing. Here are all the album reviews I’ve already ever written on this site, so feel free to buy me any of these on vinyl. For additional safety, you can select from the following two Amazon wish lists here and here. I will legit love you forever, as I have been known to trade bits of my heart for records before.

The Top 10 Albums Of The 60s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 70s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 80s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 90s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s
The Top 50 Greatest Albums Ever (even if a bit outdated)
My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 1)
Worst to Best: David Bowie
Worst to Best: Sonic Youth
Worst to Best: Nick Cave
Worst to Best: Aerosmith
Worst to Best: Radiohead
Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers
As well as a Top 50 from every year this decade: 2010, 2011 (short stories ugh), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.


My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 10. Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album

10. Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album (1997)

IDM
Spotify


Having constructed his authoritative reputation within a more ambient space, the acceleration of Aphex Twin’s somewhat self-titled fourth album wasn’t exactly greeted by open arms. The frantic turbulence of technical drill ‘n’ bass drum patterns were too full-on and messy for some, while others had a difficult time taking the cutesy kiddie elements seriously, uncertain whether the uplifting synthetic strings were intended as a joke or not. Of course, only Aphex Twin could answer that (and what's more, he won't), but while the Richard D. James Album has never been dubbed his most coherently proficient, critically revered, or commercially successful record, there was something mischievously special about this particular product. Between the over-caffeinated beats and artificial strangeness, Richard was pushing for the future by hammering a warped and troubling naivety into the computers until the machines themselves wanted to play. And play, they did, very quickly for 32 minutes until they died with pixelated smiles upon their faces and sporadic seizures within their final breaths. Personally, this album was one of my very first adventures into the electronic world which actually made sense to me, and I was surprised to find that, two decades later, it still hasn’t dated whatsoever. This is a feat almost unheard of from the '90s electro scene.

Selected Accolades:
Among The Wire’s list of The Top 50 Albums of 1996
#20 on NME’s list of The Best Albums of 1996
#91 on Slant Magazine's list of The Top 100 Albums of 1990s
#40 on Pitchfork’s list of The Top Albums of 1990s
#71 on Spin’s list of The Best Albums of the Past 30 Years



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 09. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain

09. TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)

Indie Art Rock
Spotify


If you’re lucky enough, you can sometimes spot an album just as it dances along the very outskirts of contemporary trends. Perhaps it wields a modest spotlight which shines towards the next most logical step. Perhaps it guides the indie scene out from the crowded slump everyone else had sunk into. Either which way, Return to Cookie Mountain provided that exact meeting point, an accumulation of what it was like to be an art kid of the mid-2000s, full of spirited spunk yet not ignorant to the troublesome darkness of reality. By all means, enjoy your distractions of electronic tinkerings and pop ideals, but keep your soul tightly squeezed behind the ribs of accessibility, refusing to get comfortable, forever aware that you don’t entirely belong here and something is very wrong with this place. The particulars of said weird energy is not immediately apparent, but if you stay present for long enough, you’ll learn how to wash away a layer of this mess. And there you may find yourself holding one unconventional experiment indeed, maybe not coagulating in the neatest of manners but still a delightfully colourful pinnacle for a band who have continued to be a consistently compelling asset throughout their career. This album also comes with the Bowie vocal stamp of approval, so just show me where to sign already.

Selected Accolades:
#5 on Metacritic’s list of The Best Albums of 2006
#4 on Stylus Magazine’s list of The Best Albums of 2006
#4 on Slant Magazine’s list of The Best Albums of 2006
#4 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The Best Albums of 2006
#2 on Pitchfork’s list of Top 50 Albums of 2006
#1 on Spin’s list of The Best Albums of 2006
#8 on Rhapsody’s list of The Best Albums of the 2000s



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 08. Television - Marquee Moon

08. Television - Marquee Moon (1977)

Art Post-Punk
Spotify


New York City in the late ‘70s was the place to be, man. A magical time in a magical scene, where the primitives of punk music were evolving towards a new wave direction, and Marquee Moon was painting the flag while making the most sensible suggestions. Why this debut’s importance was so unique is because it captured an arty intellectual attitude which was so of-its-time yet had never been captured before. Its rock fundamentals manipulated that laid-back Velvet Underground aesthetic by leaning into a cleaner melody, pushing the guitar out as their primary weaponry, effortlessly intertwining graceful solos between monotone poetics, uniting a coherent mood without ever interrupting its cryptic smile, the very epitome of a relaxed cool demeanor. Perhaps even more interesting, was that the mountains of critical acclaim stacked beneath this classic record were unable to break it into mass audience awareness, and it is still overlooked in so many ways like some strange little secret which was only monumentally transformative if you knew where to find it. But in the indie alternative rock world itself, its influence was unparalleled. Just ask Sonic Youth, Pixies, U2, R.E.M, Joy Division, John Frusciante, and all those Arctic Monkeys/The Strokes copies you lot seems to be so infatuated with.

Selected Accolades:
#5 in NME's list of The Best Albums of 1977
#10 in NME's list of The Greatest Albums of the 1970s
#3 in Pitchfork’s list of The Greatest Albums of the 1970s
#128 in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#33 in The Guardian's list of The Greatest Albums of All Time
#25 in Melody Maker's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#4 in NME's list of The Greatest Albums of All Time



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 07. Sublime - Sublime

07. Sublime - Sublime (1996)

Alternative Third Wave Ska Punk Rock
Spotify


On May 25, 1996, Bradley Nowell was found dead in his motel bed with his Dalmatian, Lou Dog, whimpering beside his uninhabited body. Heroin overdose. Classic end to the rockstar story, save for the following three additional tragic details: Bradley had been married for only one week before his passing; he’d turned 28 three months earlier (just missing the ever romanticised 27 Club criteria); and his death came two months before the release of this self-titled Sublime record, now remembered as their most revered collection of songs yet. Interestingly enough, the reasons for said accolade could not be further from the darkness which clogged Bradley’s veins, as this album was overflowing with theme tunes which drifted through a playful summery day. Everyone was smoking pot here. We were happy to be lazy and wanted to take it easy. Just jam it out, man. Ride this therapeutic third wave of ska. Bounce your head to those hip hop samples. We’ll go smash shit up at the punk rock show later. Of course, the debate of some “death sells” scenario is a fair discussion, especially when considering how this album’s warmth was suddenly embraced beyond the band's standard surfer/skater/stoner crowd, ultimately shipping over five million copies by the decade’s end, a suspicious outcome when any touring promotion was not even an option. But it's still sad though, right? Always a cultural disaster when we lose someone at their peak. Then again, artistically, perhaps this is the greatest way to go? Who's to say. And either way, God bless you, Bradley Nowell. Thanks for the good vibes, brother.

Selected Accolades:
#8 in Spin's list of The 20 Best Albums of '96
#48 in Spin's list of The 90 Greatest Albums of the '90s
Included in Rolling Stone's list of The Essential Recordings of the 90's
#25 in Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Best Albums of the Nineties



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 06. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯A♯∞

06. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F♯A♯∞ (1997)

Post-Rock
Spotify


If you’ve ever wondered what the end of the world would sound like, here is the post-apocalyptic soundtrack you ordered. The chaos is over, the dirt has settled, and now all that is left is you and an ambient hum, slowly stretching across miles of desolate debris, the drone of our expiration trembling against your eardrums. And you’re sad. You’re scared. You’ve been abandoned. Occasionally, a spoken word mumble or poetic daydream will punctuate the point, but this foreboding emptiness of pure loneliness is carried here by the smarts of accomplished instrumentation exclusively, using fearful symphonics and a forlorn western twang to carve out an isolated path of travel just for you. Considering the 10 core members of Godspeed on this album (with 10 additional guests credited), it’s disconcerting at how sparse this debut sounds, featuring many lengthy gaps where one solitary player stands in the middle of this space, the surrounding orchestrated restraint perhaps F♯A♯∞ most impressive attribute. In an overall analysis of their catalogue, this debut is not always the go-to choice for Godspeed’s magnum opus (that honour usually falls towards this album’s follow up, 2000’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven), but there is a certain dark wisdom embedded into this release found nowhere else. A wandering dejection, one which is so timeless and terrifying that I personally consider this to be their unequivocal masterpiece.

Selected Accolades:
#56 in Chart Attack magazine’s list of The Top 50 Canadian Albums of All Time
#38 in The Magnet’s list of The Best Albums from 1993 to 2003
#45 in Pitchfork’s list of The Top 100 Albums of the 1990s

Read This Next Maybe

The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s
The Top 10 Albums Of The 00s
My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 05. Slipknot - Slipknot

05. Slipknot - Slipknot (1999)

Nu Metal
Spotify


Only members of the embarrassing late-90s nu metal army will ever fully comprehend the significance of this album. I mean, to even slap Slipknot’s debut beneath the nu metal label hardly seems like a fair analysis. We were listening to Korn and Limp Bizkit at the time! Do you know what happened when we heard this record?? Slipknot crawled out of nowhere and aggressively tore our barely teenage stomachs open, shoving pictures of dead animals inside of our wounds. They suggested that we cut Satanic symbology into our adolescent arms. I swear I heard them insinuate that I should murder my parents once. My God, if this was indeed nu metal, then it had been coated in so much dirt and shouted at with such hatred that it sunk to the bottom of this genre's gene pool. Nine full-grown men. Each wearing identical boiler suits. Disguising their identities with creepy masks and ID numbers instead of names. It was intimidating, and what's more, they were starving, absolutely hellbent on destroying everything while building a wall of chaotic noise behind their cause, drowning out their talent with antagonistic clamours, which always left their skillset gravely undervalued. That drumming? Wildly inventive. The backing percussion? Overwhelmingly forceful. And Corey’s vocals? Versatile and instantaneously gratifying, still to this very day. Eventually, the masks did come off to reveal nothing more than normal human heads beneath, and the spooky charade fell to pieces shortly following. It quickly became uncool to send any accolades Slipknot's way, and I take a risk by writing this very review. But do you remember this back then? Slipknot were the closest to the devil we had come thus far.

Selected Accolades:
Included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book by Robert Dimery
Included in Q magazine’s list of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time
Fastest-selling metal debut in Soundscan's history
#1 in Metal Hammer’s list of The Best Debut Albums of the Last 25 Years



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 04. Jay-Z - The Black Album

04. Jay-Z - The Black Album (2003)

East Coast Hip Hop

There’s not enough space on this page to detail Jay-Z's successes. His critical accolades, his money made, and his myriad of entrepreneurial ventures are far too vast to summarise except to bow down and recognise this as the man who married BeyoncĂ©. He is also the oft-documented "biggest male artist in the modern world" and this is a fair statement, as there is no one bigger, really. If the ever-bragged crown of rap actually existed, then it’s done its rounds on his head plenty, that much is for sure. So what more can we say? Evidently nothing, as by 2003, even Jay figured he’d said enough and announced his retirement with this very release, The Black Album. Said proclamation may have eventually proven to be somewhat dishonest, but whether a publicity stunt or not, his retreat was inescapably the theme of this record, certainly in a lyrical regard, but even more so in Jay-Z’s sheer determination to manufacture a classic hip hop exit, armed with a precise concentration and an infallible plan to align the stars by force. And by stars, I mean the harvesting of the creamiest producers available, including Rubin, West, Timbaland, Neptunes, and Eminem, each of these fellas polishing a gleaming shell around the place where gangster beats and pop sensibilities copulated to birth insanely attractive children with a whole load of words in their mouths. Naturally, Jay raps exclusively about his own greatness, but this boasting technique is a defining characteristic of the entire genre, so what you gonna do about it? At least Jay’s self-fellatio has some genuine merit, right? This isn’t even the guy's only classic album.

Selected Accolades:
Nominated for Best Rap Album Grammy in 2005
#90 in Pitchfork's list of The Top 200 Albums from the 2000s
#7 in Slant Magazine's list of The Top 200 Albums from the 2000s
#349 in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 03. ABBA - The Visitors

03. ABBA - The Visitors (1981)

Pop
Spotify


ABBA have an inaccurate reputation as an overplayed set of disco stars who orbit around their Mama Mia hits, and this misconception is a minor musical tragedy. All too often these mistruths fester in people's minds before they reach The Visitors part of their exploration, and as a result, many never get to hear ABBA say goodbye. Goodbye to us (this being their final album), but more importantly, goodbye to one another, divorce papers signed, the two ABBA couples already split down the middle, no longer interested in the monuments they had built together. Due to this hostile atmosphere surrounding an understandably interpersonal tension, you can hear that this was not an easy album to make. However, the darker liquid they managed to painfully squeezed from their creativity ducts was of a much higher concentration, more arty and progressive this time, a humourless sophistication within the melancholic complications, long past the process of flicking bubblegum at your face in hopes that something would stick. This is the sound of fatigued talent trying to dance with a brave smile, but unable to remember exactly how to do so, eventually giving up completely. It was a somber flash of resignation and, predictably, this direction didn't fill fans with confidence, meaning that ABBA's masterpiece has never been as commercially nor critically acclaimed as it damn well should have been. However, those of us who understand, recognise a much wider ache in these abandonment issues, the sour center of a sugarcoated catalog leaving a lasting linger of a loud, bitter taste between our frowns.

Selected Accolades:
none, impossibly.



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 02. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction

02. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)

Hard Rock
Spotify


If there ever was a band who came out running with scissors, it would be Guns N' Roses. The unadulterated arrogance of this debut was not only far too excessive for such a fresh outfit, but annoyingly, they also had the talent to back their loud mouths up. The poster partnership between Slash’s recognisable hard metal riffs and Axl’s unprecedented vocal power exploded this album as an instant hard rock classic, single-handedly altering the entire genre itself. They were the aggressive injection of fire that the scene was craving, a rebellious party attitude fixated on utter carnage, scaring those glam hair bands far away when the energy got a little too dangerous for their glittered platform shoes. Make no mistake, Guns N' Roses were the real deal. They were the cool kids from the trash pile, sharing needles, forgetting to use condoms, full of disease and excited to bite you, please roll up your sleeve. And while the hit songs on Appetite for Destruction are so monumental that the radio has fucked them dry while the surrounding tracks suffering in their shadows, it’s difficult not to appreciate how far up its own ass this audacious package was before anyone even cared. Because that’s exactly where rock ‘n roll belongs. Up someone's ass, preferably a blonde.

Selected Accolades:
Included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book by Robert Dimery
#59 in Pitchfork’s list of The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s
#37 in Slant Magazine’s list of The Best Albums of the 1980s
#27 in Rolling Stone's list of The Best Albums of the 1980s
#10 in Q magazine’s list of The 40 Best Albums of the '80s
#2 in Guitar World magazine's list of The 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time
#62 in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#42 in VH1’s list of The Greatest Albums of All Time



My Favourite Albums That I've Never Reviewed (Part 2): 01. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica

01. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)

Experimental Rock

Written in eight hours. Mismatched ideas of avant-garde blues and free folk jazzies were intentionally stuck together at the wrong angles. Unhinged and out of sync. Challenging the entire audio art form with a comical clutter. Outlandish surrealism. Eccentric Tom Waits snarls which predated Tom Waits himself. Relentlessly rehearsed 14+ hours a day for 8 months, often without food. Dictated by Beefheart's strict cult leadership fist until members had mental breakdowns. Refined sloppiness was achieved. Over an hour of instrumentals recorded in six hours. Fittingly produced by Frank Zappa’s fingers as the very extremities of his philosophical whack. Polarising results followed. Insufferable to many. The pinnacle of influential music craft to others. Throwing the bar so far out of the window that people still hardly dare to venture out that distance. Imagine all of this back in ‘69. Do you feel that? Is the folklore allure tugging at your curiosity? Then brace yourself for a very difficult first few listens. You have to put the time in for this one here. You have to want it. But with a bit of perseverance, you'll eventually latch onto some specific childlike moment obscured deep within the disjointed chaos, and that’s your in. Soon after, you’ll become desensitised, and suddenly, Trout Mask Replica won’t sound disorganised anymore. Congratulations, you’ve just leveled up.

Selected Accolades:
Included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book by Robert Dimery
#60 in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
#51 in Mojo's list of The 100 Records That Changed the World
#28 in Mojo's list of The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made
Added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2010



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