2016 – Favorite Records 30 – 21

Closer and closer to the great inevitable predictable!

30
King Crimson 1981
Discipline
Score: 570 W/L/T: 8 / 3 / 3
You got your new wave on my prog rock! You got your prog rock on my new wave! Delicious!
29
REM 1982
Chronic Town
Score: 573 W/L/T: 12 / 7 / 4
The “Radio Free Europe” single was their very first release. After that, before Murmur, they released this EP. And this is awesome. It’s so much more alive and jangly than the watery Murmur. And, at just five songs, it doesn’t come close to overstaying its welcome.
28
Neutral Milk Hotel 1998
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Score: 581 W/L/T: 12 / 5 / 0
I picture a ramshackle psychedelic marching band on the back of a flat bed truck, careening through town at 80 miles an hour, everybody’s hair on fire, playing with wild abandon and bugged-out eyes. And the driver is playing guitar through the world’s biggest fuzz-box while singing out the window at bewildered pedestrians. Or else they’re on a merry-go-round that’s whirling at such a speed that it should be impossible for them to stay on, but they overcome centrifugal force by being hallucinatory. And they’re in space.
27
The Smiths 1984
Hatful Of Hollow
Score: 593 W/L/T: 17 / 6 / 0
Radio and Peel sessions, etc.. I bought this before I bought The Smiths, so I prefer these versions to the proper album versions. These sound fresher and more alive, IMO.
26
The Dave Rawlings Machine 2010
Friend of a Friend
Score: 604 W/L/T: 11 / 6 / 0
It’s a bit less gloomy and a bit more silly than most of what they put out as ‘Gillian Welch’. But, it’s still Gil and Dave, so it’s still great.
25
Robyn Hitchcock 1998
Storefront Hitchcock
Score: 622 W/L/T: 10 / 3 / 3
The abbreviated soundtrack to a wonderful Jonathan Demme movie. This is my favorite Robyn era.
24
The Cure 1986
Standing On A Beach
Score: 622 W/L/T: 11 / 1 / 2
The flip side of the Starting At The Sea singles compilation cassette. These are the non-album B-sides to the singles, and so are sometimes a bit more experimental and carefree than songs that made the albums. If you don’t have the singles, or the tape, you can find the songs scattered about the Join The Dots B-sides and rarities compilation. I have taken those and reassembled them into the sequence from the cassette because that’s the proper sequence.
23
Wilco 2007
Sky Blue Sky
Score: 629 W/L/T: 8 / 4 / 4
The mellowest of their records. Reminds me of the Scud Mountain Boys or The Eagles or any of those mellow country-rockers. There’s very very little of the sonic experimentalism of their other records – just nice songs simply delivered.
22
Q-Tip 2008
The Renaissance
Score: 633 W/L/T: 14 / 7 / 0
Is ‘adult contemporary hip-hop’ a genre? Nothing too harsh here: nothing too loud or obnoxious. The tracks keep up that mellow, groovy, jazzy vibe that ATCQ pioneered. And Q-Tip does his Q-Tip thing over it.
21
Erykah Badu 2010
New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
Score: 658 W/L/T: 10 / 6 / 0
Smooth and slinky and sweet and sexy. Badu’s vocals are my favorite part – both loose and off-hand but still totally in charge – but the music is pretty amazing, too. The production is fantastically rich and detailed – so many layers and little ornamental flourishes everywhere; voices pop in and out; sneaky little sounds wriggle in the background. Always funky. It was my introduction to the world of neo-soul, and it’s the reason there are three other Badu records, and that record from The Internet, on this list this year. Entirely thanks to her appearance Chappelle’s Show.