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Top 30 Albums; 30-21

May 13, 2014

I’ve been wanting to do this for the fun of it for awhile, and I feel like now is a good a time as any. I’ll do three posts, each featuring ten albums, not in a particular rank in each tier.

Obviously this will be subject to change as music keeps being made and taste continues to develop, but these are albums I’m confident I will come back to for the rest of my life.

30-21 – Influenced me then, influences me now, will continue to influence me…


And the Glass Handed Kites – Mew

And the Glass Handed Kites

My sister burned this CD for me back in High School, but I stashed it away until my freshman year in college when I rediscovered it and instantly fell in love. I had never heard anything quite like this before that point. It was one of my go to study albums.

I love the intricate rhythms of Mew and how each song flows seamlessly into the next. There’s not a weak moment on this album, unlike their others which can be at times exhausting or lull you to sleep. And the Glass Handed Kites starts strong and never lets up. In my opinion one of the most underrated bands out there. Probably because their Dutch.


To Our Children’s Children – The Moody Blues


I knew I had to include a Moody Blues album when I decided to do this. I grew up listening to The Moody Blues any time my family took a road trip and they’ve stuck with me ever since.

When I was at a record store about a year ago, I called my dad and asked which Moody Blues record I should pick up and he recommended this one. I spun it that night and it absolutely blew my mind. It flows in and out of songs and melodies as if you’re traveling through space and time. It’s one of those albums where, once I start listening to it, I can’t do anything else until the final note has been played. To Our Children’s Children isn’t full of hit singles, it’s one cohesive unit of songs, each song informing the next.

The transitions are astonishing, the lyrics are simply yet profound. It’s truly a great album.


Bring Me Your Love – City and Colour


Back in my metal/post hardcore days, I was big fan of Alexisonfire, so when I heard that Dallas Green had a side project, I was stoked. He always had one of my all time favorite voices, and I discovered Bring Me Your Love right when my musical taste was beginning to mellow out.

Dallas Green could sing a Rebecca Black song and make it sound like a choir of angels, (okay, maybe a bit hyperbolic) but it’s his song writing on this album along with his voice that separates it from so many other singer-songwriter albums.


The Bitter End – Right Away, Great Captain!


The Bitter End is the first album of a conceptual trilogy about a sailor in the 18th century who goes off to sea for three years. Just before he leaves he walks in on his wife and brother getting it on. He doesn’t say anything and takes off on his ship and goes crazy with jealousy, self-pity, anger, pure insanity, and some ever-so-brief moments of happiness.

I had been really getting into Manchester Orchestra – the band Andy Hull fronts – when I discovered this. I remember, my best friend in high school, Danny and I were in Chugwater visiting our friend Charlie and we drove around the desolate small Wyoming town and listened to it. That was also the first time I ever smoked a cigarette. I’ll always remember that night and this album had everything to do with it.

It’s low-fi, slow-paced, and abrasive at times, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities of songwriting like no other album has since.

I also had to present a song for my songwriting class a few years ago, and knew right away I had to do a Right Away, Great Captain song. It wasn’t even a decision.


Plans – Death Cab For Cutie


This was the only CD I had to listen to in my car for awhile and I never did get tired of it. I feel like it was catching lightning in a bottle for Death Cab, who has some other stellar albums, but nothing compared to this. Sometimes (definitely not always) the most commercially successful album for a band is such for a reason.

Every song is as great as the next, and the feel matches Ben Gibbard’s lyrics so well – Sorrow drips into your heart through a pin hole / just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound / but while you debate half empty or half full it slowly rises / your love is gunna drown.

Lyrics don’t get a whole lot better than that, and the entire album is on that level. It’s pop music, but it’s rock music, but it’s folk music, but it’s electronic with hip hop beats. It’s melancholy, but it’s upbeat, but it’s depressing, but it’s encouraging. The songs are diverse, but they all fit like brothers on a hotel bed…


Juturna – Circa Survive


Juturna opened my eyes to a new kind of Rock and Roll. The guitars weave together like a tiny, but full symphony which underlines Anthony Green’s unique voice.

Green’s melodies continually screech, then come down softly. I love the atmospheric guitars, the groovy drums and bass. It features some of my favorite dynamics and song structures. Songs like In Fear and Faith make you feel like your flying, then falling, and just when you feel like you’re going to hit the ground, it takes you back up into the clouds.


White Lighter – Typhoon


I saw these guys come through Laramie a few years back and was astonished at how big they sounded live. With eleven members in the band, they are an actual symphony.

When White Lighter came out last year, I was completely blown away. Kyle Morton’s songwriting is some of the best around. He’s full of literary allusions, metaphors, and authenticity. The songs structures continually move, change, and reshape through the narratives like only a band with as many members can pull off. It’s almost as if John Steinbeck took up songwriting instead of prose, then travelled around the country took someone in from each stop to play a different instrument in his band. You play drums? Well, we already have a drummer, but screw it, we’ll find a place for you.

I saw these guys at the Crystal Ballroom a few months ago and couldn’t help but just stand back and stare the whole time in amazement.

We are alone in this together…


Animals – Pink Floyd


Like with To Our Children’s Children, there aren’t any hit singles on this record, in fact there are only five songs total and two of them are less than two minutes long. The others, at least over ten minutes long. My Dad gave me his old copy of this record and it’s been one of my favorites to spin. It goes from acoustic, to psychedelic, to blues, and you don’t know how you got from point A to point B as it slowly forms and reforms. I love sound that moves and evolves, and this is the prototype for that kind of song structure. It flawlessly moves through time signatures and key changes before you know what just happened.

David Gillmore’s guitar solos are unreal, the lyrics are thought provoking, and it doesn’t get too weird like Dark Side of the Moon – you’re not forced to endure clocks and bells ringing for two minutes in order to get to the meat of the song.


Dad Country – Jonny Fritz


I felt like I had to include a country album, growing up in Wyoming and all. It’s also a much needed light-hearted sound to my heavy taste. It’s easy to listen to, and find myself cracking up every time.

Love the simplicity of the lyrics – from a song about forgetting to take out the trash, to a song about a little niece’s birthday party, to a song yelling Shut up! Don’t stop talking, if you get out now, you better hit the ground walking away, just listen to what I have to say.

I saw Jonny come through Portland and play a free show at the record store down the road from my place and was completely sold. I love his voice. I love his guitar picking, and I love Josh Hedley’s fiddle. There really needs to be more fiddle in this list.


Yip Jump MusicDaniel Johnston


Extremely low-fi, often hard to listen to, but completely astonishing, profound, and hilarious. Johnston redefines the art of song writing and organ playing – bangs on the organ like it’s a drum, but it works.

He sings a song about The Beatles and completely sums up why they were what they were. He sings a song called God, about, well, God; and my personal favorite Sorry Entertainer where he screeches I’m a lonerrrrr, I’m a sorry entertainer! It’s awesome. No one else can pull off a song about Casper the Friendly Ghost, or wail yips like Daniel Johnston.


To be continued…

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