12 Essential Albums.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Death is The Road to Awe by Clint Mansell.

One of my favourite films of all time is Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. It’s a pretty underrated film, but it contains Aronofsky’s best direction after Requiem for A Dream, Hugh Jackman’s best performance, and another masterpiece of a soundtrack by Clint Mansell. It is a beautifully compelling and arresting film. And this song is where it reaches transcendent levels of greatness.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross scoring David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
First of all, FUCK YES. And now… After scoring David Fincher’s last two films, and winning an Oscar for one, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have confirmed that they will also be scoring Fincher’s upcoming film Gone Girl.
If you’ve seen The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you know that their respective scores provided the film with an immense power. Reznor and Ross have proven that they can create haunting, distinctive and immersive songs that combined with David Fincher create something brilliant. Now I am actually excited to watch Gone Girl.
The film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike premieres on Oct. 3, 2014.
Source: ThePlaylist.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross scoring David Fincher’s Gone Girl.

First of all, FUCK YES. And now… After scoring David Fincher’s last two films, and winning an Oscar for one, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have confirmed that they will also be scoring Fincher’s upcoming film Gone Girl.

If you’ve seen The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, you know that their respective scores provided the film with an immense power. Reznor and Ross have proven that they can create haunting, distinctive and immersive songs that combined with David Fincher create something brilliant. Now I am actually excited to watch Gone Girl.

The film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike premieres on Oct. 3, 2014.

Source: ThePlaylist.

Playlist: The Lannisters Send Their Regards.

  1. The Rains of Castamere by The National.
  2. Main Title by Ramin Djawadi.
  3. Testudo by Atli Örvarsson.
  4. The Farthest Land (Reprise) by Koh Ohtani.
  5. Bloodshed by Bear McCreary.
  6. Atonement by Austin Wintory.
  7. It’s Always Summer Under the Sea (Shireen’s Song) by Kerry Ingram.
  8. The Pointy End by Ramind Djawadi.
  9. Funeral Pyre by Bear McCreary.
  10. North of the Wall by Atli Örvarsson.
  11. The Ruiners by Yoshihisa Hirano.
  12. The Bear and the Maiden Fair by The Hold Steady.

Amongst the amazing elements that make Game of Thrones one of the best TV shows in history, is its soundtrack. With each new season it has grown into an even more powerful, emotional and awesome soundtrack. They elevate almost every scene and help expand the already sprawling and unique lands of Westeros.

This is a playlist inspired by Game of Thrones and in honour of its upcoming season.

Enjoy!

The 10 Best Soundtracks of 2013.

As the film-obsessed person that I am, most of the music I listen to consist of soundtracks or I guess more accurately: scores. I am of the opinion that a soundtrack/score can either make or break a film. Sometimes it enhances the overall experience, other times the music loses its magic when not experienced with the visuals of the film, and then in some cases the soundtrack work no matter what. This year has been a good year for soundtracks although for some reason the ones that I consider to be absolutely brilliant rarely appear in year-end lists. At any case here are the best soundtracks of 2013:

10. Upstream Color by Shane Carruth.

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Upstream Color is a difficult film to both follow and understand. I admire how bold and distinctive it is, but it left me so confused that I honestly don’t feel like ever watching it again. To be honest, I finally begun to somewhat understand the film thanks to the soundtrack and the title of the songs. Shane Carruth captures that otherworldly feeling of the film and creates an atmospheric experience that is both evocative and mesmerizing. Its stillness communicates the film’s themes in a more intuitive way that always make you want to return.

9. Stoker by Clint Mansell.

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Clint Mansell is responsible for the best soundtracks in the history of cinema, and while this entry doesn’t come close to the greatness of his other works it is nevertheless excellent. Blending the Hitchcockian sensibilities of the film with a sense of innocence helped the film greatly. However, the standout track of this soundtrack was not composed by Mansell. “Duet” was composed by Philip Glass and it alongside Emily Wells’ tracks are what further elevate this soundtrack.

8. Prisoners by Jóhann Jóhannsson.

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Prisoners is another difficult film of this year but for an entirely different reason. In here things are too raw and it is that rawness meshed with the film’s foreboding nature that truly haunts you. Jóhann Jóhannsson is for me synonymous with annihilation. His songs establish an air of dread and melancholic as a result of death. With Prisoners he instills those qualities to even greater effect. The songs are minimalistic and tender in their communication of the inner turmoil of the character and the utter desperation. Much like the film, the soundtrack imprisons you in a place of uncertainty and darkness where hope rarely shines through.

7. Gravity by Steve Price.

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Gravity is a nearly perfect film where all of its elements coverage to create an intense experience unlike any other. Steve Price was able to create a soundtrack of the same level as the special effects of this film. Songs like “Debris” cued the audience into preparing themselves for an onslaught of terror and unprecedented tension. As good as this soundtrack is though, in the end it goes to operatic and uplifting. It works best when it is quite and foreboding, not when it brings forth a choir and forces hope down our throats.

6. Side Effects by Thomas Newman.

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This is another film with Hitchcockian elements whose soundtracks shines from the very beginning. I’m always impressed by how playful some of the songs are. Sometimes it almost feels like lullaby and underneath it is this sense of secrecy, mystery and bad deeds. My mind can’t comprehend how does Newman perfectly capture all the subtleties of the film, but my ears are glad he does. This is a incredibly memorial sonic sendoff as Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic career draws to a close.

5. Welcome to the Punch by Harry Escott.

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Welcome to the Punch is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. I hadn’t heard anything about this film or even since a trailer for it. I saw the people involved and went to see because the other film I wanted to see was sold-out. This is one of the most effective action thrillers I’ve seen in a very long time and what impressed me the most was the soundtrack. Harry Escott creates a exhilarating aural landscape of action that doesn’t feel generic in the slightest. This soundtrack is an electronic cinematic album that pumps you full of adrenaline. I especially love the vocal tracks that get really quite only to unleash an Inception-like noise that actually works.

4. Trance by Rick Smith.

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Even though Danny Boyle has been hit and miss with me lately, one thing that I know for certain is that the soundtracks of his films will delver the goods. I heard the soundtrack for Trance prior to watching the film and it blew me away to such a degree that I forced myself to love the film, which let’s be honest is not that great. The instrumental tracks here feel epic in the way they take their time to build things up and then cap it off with rapid acceleration that makes you want to run. It’s fantastic and also sentimental in its approach, and then the vocal tracks such make it better. This is a soundtrack that aims to entertain and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which cannot be said about the film itself.

3. Evil Dead by Roque Baños.

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I’ve never understood why the original Evil Dead is considered a horror masterpiece. I’ve been forced to watch it twice and both times my hatred towards it have increased. It doesn’t work me, which is why I had high hopes for the remake especially since the trailer was so fucking awesome. Unfortunately, the remake also kind of sucked. But the soundtrack of the soundtrack is such pure unadulterated operatic epicness. Perhaps its a matter of personal taste, but I really enjoy songs with a high degree of over-the-topness. This soundtrack is a spectacle that moves so far away from subtlety that you can almost feel composer Roque Baños saying “fuck it, I’m turning the Evil Dead into a nightmarish, gory and disturbing version of Phantom of the Opera.” It’s an insane soundtrack, especially the song called “Final Scene” where literally hell breaks loose and drills its bloody rage into your brain. I fucking love it.

2. Only God Forgives by Cliff Martinez.

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Once in a while a film comes along where there is a unnaturally perfect combination of talents. Drive would not have been the masterpiece that it is today if it wasn’t for Cliff Martinez’s majestic soundtrack. He helped make that film better and the same thing occurs with Only God Forgives but to greater effect. Only God Forgives disappointed a lot of people for not being like Drive, but I thought it was excellent. It is a hopeless, atmospheric and nightmarish version of Drive where darkness and death reign. The soundtrack mirror those sentiments to perfection establishing an aura of dream-like landscapes bathed in blood. It’s dark, haunting and without a sense of humour which surfaces on the vocal tracks sang in collaboration with Vithaya Pansringarm. To be honest, I think this is a much better soundtrack than Drive.

1. Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo by Shiro Sagisu.

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People tend to forget that animated films can also deliver outstanding soundtracks. The Evangelion series is my favourite anime ever and the Rebuild of Evangelion films have gotten much, much better. With this third entry the series went to a new direction that while not liked by everyone demonstrates that the people still have a lot to say. Likewise, the soundtracks moves towards a direction where piano reigns supreme. This may sound pretentious, but I feel this soundtrack was made for me because the reason why I am obsessed with instrumental music is to the piano. The piano is such amazing musical instrument that can capture the entirety of human emotion and really touch you. I connected a lot with this soundtrack and the best part is in the midst of the beautiful piano-driven songs, there are these epic songs full of sprawling spectacle. It is a powerful soundtrack that I consider to be the absolute best of the entire series.

Honourable Mentions: The Great Gatsby (hated the film but goddamn that soundtrack was just flashy awesomeness), The Last of Us (not film related but definitely a must-have), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (powerful stuff).

Thank you for reading and do check these amazing soundtrack if you can. Check the LINK for more year-in-review lists.