I think it would be impossible to count the number of albums I’ve heard throughout my life. But there are those albums that you never forget, albums that have affected you personally, albums that provide with a experience that feels otherworldly. We all have our share of essential albums. There are some we listen to constantly, others we re-discover after a long time. Every time we listen to memories comes back and sometimes the album might yield a different experience from what you remember. There is great influence and power in music, and these are the albums I believe exemplify that transcendence:
12. There is Love in You by Four Tet.
Lovely, that is the best word to describe There is Love in You. Without much vocals, Four Tet construct an atmospheric, euphoric, interesting and intoxicating aural experience. It’s one those perfect background albums. If you’re concentrated in something else the songs give you a pleasant and energetic ambiance, and once in a while when you take a break the song submerge you in a relaxing state.
Essential Tracks: Love Cry, She Just Likes to Fight.
11. Fruit by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.
I still have not found a person who has listened to this album and hasn’t immediately enjoy the living shit out of it. While not extraordinary, with Fruit The Asteroids Galaxy Tour showcase an amazing selection of likeable, up-beat and awesome songs. I love that no matter what Fruit always energizes me pushing me to do be more active. Plus, if you pay attention you’ll discover the strange imagery the lyrics of the songs convey. It almost makes you feel like you are in the wilderness chanting around a fire.
Essential Tracks: Around The Bend, The Sun Ain’t Shining No More.
10. IS IS - EP by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
One thing that I love about EPs is that a lot of artists use them as jumping off points. They can experiment with new ideas, try it out and see what happens. That’s what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do here and the results are fucking badass. IS IS is intimate, stripped down, aggressive and short. It’s too short to be honest, you almost want it to last for at least two hours. It has a concert feel, which to be honest is a great quality rarely artist implement.
Essential Tracks: Down Boy, 10 X 10.
9. Under My Skin by Avril Lavigne.
A long time ago, Avril Lavigne was an admired, respected and interesting artist. She was regularly referred to as the new Alanis Morissette. There was promise in all that she could’ve been, and the exemplification of Lavigne’s impressive artistry is her second album Under My Skin. As the title suggests, this sophomore album is all about stripping down your barriers and exposing your vulnerabilities. While some songs are up-beat, there is a continual sense of sadness, of longing, of anger, of frustration. It is an acoustic album but it has that acoustic feel, that intimacy almost. It’s a fantastic album that showed Avril Lavigne could grow and tackle more mature and introspective themes. Sadly, the song “Girlfriend” happened and now Avril Lavigne’s is stuck, she only appeals to 14-year-olds.
Essential Tracks: Take Me Away, My Happy Ending.
8. Gorillaz by Gorillaz.
Gorillaz will forever be special to me. This was the first album I ever bought and for all intents and purposes my true introduction to music. And what a brilliant introduction. Gorillaz started off like an experiment more than anything else. Something weird and different and rebellious against the music industry. It was a joke, but a joke with some seriously incredible music and visuals. Gorillaz came at the ripe moment where music videos still had the power to influence people and really popularize a band. And their debut self-titled album delivered the goods. It’s not nearly as focused as Demon Days or Plastic Beach, but there is a charm and cool factor about how messy the album is. You can clearly hear that experimentation was key in its contraction and as such the album isn’t as balanced as it could’ve been. But I love it nonetheless. I like how no other Gorillaz album has matched the anarchy, and the dark and twisted humour of their first album.
Essential Tracks: Clint Eastwood, Man Research (Clapper).
7. Minutes to Midnight by Linkin Park.
I’ll admit that I didn’t immediately like Minutes to Midnight. Like most people, the evident shift in direction was both surprising and difficult to get used to. Some people didn’t even tried and opted to dismiss the album. I stayed with it because even though it was different, it still felt like Linkin Park. The essence of the band was very much present. People forget that evolution is necessary for a band to grow. They have to examine who they are and from there chose to take things to the next level. That’s what Linkin Park did with the ambitious Minutes to Midnight, an album far from perfect but bravely executed, especially in regard to how it explores our continual self-destruction.
Essential Tracks: Hands Held High, Bleed It Out.
6. 808’s & Heartbreak by Kanye West.
It always surprises the amount of animosity some people have towards this album. It’s a very different album from Kanye West, but without 808’s & Heartbreak I honestly feel like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Nightmare wouldn’t have happened. With 808’s & Heartbreak, there was an evident desire to go into an entirely different direction, a much more sentimental one. 808’s & Heartbreak feels more personal than the others and if nothing else, you have to admire how vastly interesting is the album.
Essential Tracks: Welcome To Heartbreak (feat. Kid Cudi), Paranoid (feat. Mr. Hudson).
5. The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe.
The ArchAndroid is one of the 5 albums I’ve fallen in love with in the first listen. I even remember exactly where I was, who I was with, what I was doing, everything. I was in this heritage museum near Edmonton bored out of my fucking mind. Oh I remember I was texting this girl I want to hook up with. But anyway, as I was walking I started playing The ArchAndroid and holy shit. After the song “Mushrooms & Roses” I stopped and said aloud: “this is the greatest shit I haver ever heard.” My mind could not handle the majestic, cinematic, and operatic fucking genius of this album. It felt like I was witnessing an otherworldly piece of art that I could never possibly comprehend. The ArchAndroid is perfection and seriously more people need to listen to it.
Essential Tracks: Cold War, Mushrooms & Roses.
4. Rated R by Queens of the Stone Age.
Lullabies to Paralyze was my introduction to Queens of the Stone Age, but it wasn’t until I heard Rated R that I genuinely became a devoted fan. Rated R is a crazy album that while trying different things still manages to remain balanced and effective. It’s more experimental and you can tell that in this album Josh Homme isn’t the one calling the shots. There are more ideas thrown into the pile and fortunately they yield some of the most interesting, especially in terms of orchestration, songs in their career. All you have to do is listen to “In The Fade” and marvel at the awesomeness of Rated R.
Essential Tracks: In The Fade, I Think I Lost My Headache.
3. Untrue by Burial.
Untrue is one of those albums I stumbled upon at the right moment in my life. It was my first year of uni and being my first time living by myself in a new city, I wasn’t unhappy but I was in contemplative state. Taking everything in and thinking about things, I would usually walk around the city at 3am or so. I liked the quiet and in one of those walks I listen to Untrue for the first time. My mind was fucking blown! It was perfect. Afterwards it became almost a daily routine to walk at 3am with Untrue playing.
Essential Tracks: Dog Shelter, Raver.
2. Confessions On a Dance Floor by Madonna.
Say whatever you want about Madonna, but this is the album that not only justifies her existence, but also makes you glad she does. Always called the Queen of Pop, I never felt like Madonna’s music ever lived-up to that title until Confessions On a Dance Floor. I see it like this, Kanye West was always good but it wasn’t until My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that he proved that he is the best. Confessions On a Dance Floor is Madonna’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Every single was fucking gold and enhancing the brilliance and effectiveness of the music was Madonna’s aesthetic change. With every new album there is a new look, and the look of Confessions On a Dance Floor was perfect.
Essential Tracks: Get Together, Hung Up.
1. Maxinquaye by Tricky.
Similar to The ArchAndroid, Maxinquaye is another of the 5 albums I’ve fallen in love with in the first listen. Anyone that knows can attest to the fact that I prefer the dark, disturbing, depressing stuff. In my eyes, Maxinquaye is the epitome of my preference. The album explores despair, trying to both make sense of it and not remain a victim to its claws. There is also a vulnerability present throughout the album that is quite disarming. Maxinquaye feels personal, intimate and something that reveals a reality about who we are. It is more than deserving of your attention.
Essential Tracks: Ponderosa, Strugglin’.
Thank you for reading. What are your essential albums?