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  • Joe Brockmeier 10:05 pm on September 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #13 ("Who's Next") 

    Album cover "Who's Next" by The WhoOn Tommy The Who sought to stretch beyond the confines of single songs to a cohesive, two-album work. With Who's Next, The Who deliver nine incredible specimens of classic rock and roll.

    From the first notes of the primitive A.R.P. synthesizer on "Baba O'Riley" to the final flourish of "Won't Get Fooled Again," Who's Next is a monument to The Who's sheer brilliance. If it's not a perfect album, it's so close that any deficiencies aren't worth discussing.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 10:15 pm on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #14 ("The Future") 

    "The Future" by Leonard Cohen (Album Cover)The Future is currently my favorite album by Leonard Cohen, and some of his darkest material.

    Coming four years after I'm Your Man, The Future finds Cohen even less optimistic and just as hoarse. That's OK, he has a choir of angels to back him – or, at least, it sounds that way.

    If you've seen Natural Born Killers, several songs off The Future are going to sound familiar. (If you've seen the movie, you know that the soundtrack is really the best thing about the movie…)

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  • Joe Brockmeier 8:47 pm on September 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #15 ("Speak for Yourself") 

    "Speak for Yourself" album coverAfter developing an addiction to Frou Frou, it's not much of a surprise that I'd branch out to Imogen Heap immediately. Her second solo album, 2005's Speak for Yourself is everything I enjoyed about Frou Frou and then some.

    There's not a huge difference in overall sound between Frou Frou and Heap's solo work. Not surprising since Heap's voice is sort of distinctive, likewise her songwriting.

    Speak for Yourself features a similar ethereal, breezy approach with incredibly strong hooks. The music is beautiful, but it's her voice and delivery that completely steals the show. Consider the live version here of her second track from the album, "Say Goodnight and Go." The album version features percussion/drum machine, layers of additional instruments or synthesizers, and effects. Her live performance is every bit as entrancing, though, and it's all about her voice. Well, and the song itself.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 8:18 pm on September 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #16 ("Broken") 

    Album Cover "Broken" by Nine Inch NailsJust how loud and angry can an album be, without devolving into noise? With Broken Nine Inch Nails tells us, pretty fucking loud and angry.

    The follow up to Pretty Hate Machine, Broken is an EP that barely clocks in over 30 minutes. Less, if you don't count the "bonus" songs that shipped on a 3-inch mini-CD with the first pressings of Broken. The proper EP is only six songs, two of which are short-ish instrumentals. You can see clearly where the rest of Trent Reznor's career is going from Broken.

    The days of "a slightly harder Depeche Mode" are over. Reznor's found out about guitars, and has decided they're a good thing.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 6:39 pm on September 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Michael Franti, Rono Tse   

    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #17 ("Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury") 

    Album cover "Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury"True to their name, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were one and done. They left behind one album, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, a damning cultural critique of U.S. culture over a unique synthesis of hip hop, industrial, jazz poetry, and punk.

    My only beef with the Heroes is that they only stuck around for one album1. Michael Franti has gone on to do Spearhead and solo albums, Charlie Hunter went on to do jazz, and Rono Tse seems to have disappeared entirely. Perhaps they said all they needed to say on Hypocrisy.

    They said a lot on this album. They cover censorship, compromises of fame, the Gulf War (the first one), television, immigration, and much more. And Franti doesn't just turn the critical gaze outward, he also looks at some of his own flaws as well.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 11:45 pm on September 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #18 ("Whatever") 

    "Whatever" album cover by Aimee MannA word of caution before listening to Aimee Mann's Whatever – it may very well cause you to recalibrate your standards for songwriting. If you're setting your standards by this album, it's almost unfair to most other bands. Almost.

    Released in 1993, Whatever was Mann's first solo album – but certainly not her first time to take a hand at songwriting. Mann recorded three studio LPs with 'Til Tuesday, and an EP with her first band The Young Snakes.

    Whatever is a damned fine work, with 13 songs that are all a-side material. (Technically, it's a 14-track album if you count a nine-second piece of fluff at the end.)

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  • Joe Brockmeier 11:02 pm on September 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #19 ("Document") 

    "Document" album coverFor Document R.E.M. picked up a much harder edge than previous albums. Sure, Life's Rich Pageant dabbled a bit with more aggressive guitar, but Document has a much harsher sound throughout. And it sounds so, so good.

    Document practically kicks you in the face with the opening track, "Finest Worksong." A whip-crack snare and then Peter Buck is off to the races with an almost metal guitar intro that sets the rhythm. There's more than a little The Who influence here. And Michael Stipe's voice, once again, is crisp and clear at the forefront. This is, by the way, true to its title. If "Finest Worksong" doesn't motivate you to get shit done, seek medical care.

    R.E.M. has taken on some political overtones with Document. "Welcome to the Occupation," and "Exhuming McCarthy" in particular. "Exhuming McCarthy" is also the first R.E.M. song I can recall with "found" sounds or samples, starting with the typewriter setting the tempo at the beginning, and then audio of Joseph Welch chastising Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy hearings. There's some heavy keyboard on this one, and I seem to recall it was Peter Holsapple on this track but I can't find anything today that confirms this.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 10:28 pm on September 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #20 ("Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me") 

    Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss MeMost of The Cure's albums are outstanding, but Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is simply magical. Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me shows The Cure delivering perfect, joyful pop right alongside languid and extended jams that don't give a damn about radio play.

    I have to be honest, I was a bit put off by Robert Smith's voice at first. Almost despite myself, I loved some of the singles off this album, but I initially found his delivery just a little off-putting. It eventually grew on me, but that's a story for later.

    Even so, I couldn't deny the strength of the singles from Kiss Me.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 11:00 pm on September 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #21 ("Queen Elvis") 

    Album cover "Queen Elvis" by Robyn HitchcockWatching "alternative" bands like The Cure, R.E.M., and U2 punch through to mainstream success, I had high hopes that Robyn Hitchcock would break through with Queen Elvis.

    Released in March 1989, Hitchcock was opening for R.E.M. on the Green tour. Queen Elvis, by Robyn Hitchcock 'n the Egyptians, was on a major label and they were putting money into videos for MTV. It seemed to me that the rest of the world would surely notice what they'd been missing so far.

    By rights, Queen Elvis should have garnered more attention than it did. Musically, it's phenomenal, and it's one of Hitchcock's most accessible (read: there are no songs about "furry green atom bowls," or men with lightbulb heads) albums.

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  • Joe Brockmeier 10:44 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    My favorite 100 albums of all time: #22 ("The Wall") 

    Pink Floyd - "The Wall" album coverThe Who's Tommy pioneered the "rock opera." Pink Floyd perfected it with The Wall.

    Like Tommy, The Wall is a sprawling two-album work. Running more than 80 minutes, The Wall covers a lot of musical ground – ballads, pseudo-opera, rock, and even dabbles in disco. The Wall is Pink Floyd's, or at least Roger Waters', magnum opus.

    Since The Wall came out when I was nine years old, it's hard to remember a world before it existed. It's just always been part of the classic rock canon, right? Even though it was ever-present on the radio, at least snippets of it, it wasn't until I was well into high school that I got a copy of the full album. And then I listened to The Wall over and over again.

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