Taking a detour here from comics and writing and stuff to talk about some of my favorite albums. Hey, it’s my blog, and I’ll do what I want! You got that?
I’m going to list my top ten favorite albums of all time. This is a list that could possibly change down the line, but for now it’s pretty accurate.
10) Soundgarden “Badmotorfinger”
Soundgarden was the band of the 90s for me. Everyone was all about Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, but for me, it was all about Soundgarden. From the very first time I heard the opening call-and-answer guitar of Rusty Cage, I knew this was a band I needed to listen to. The combination of Chris Cornell’s high-pitched shrieks and Matt Cameron’s incredible, jaw-dropping drumming (I’m a drummer, and I consider Cameron the most solid and impressive drummer I’ve ever heard. I’ll skip that ridiculous double-bass and those fucked up time signatures that death and technical metal bands use, Matt Cameron is a rock upon with some of the greatest songs of my generation were built on). Badmotorfinger also has my all-time favorite Soundgarden song on it: “Somewhere”. It’s just a perfect 90s song.
9) Ween “Pure Guava”
This is a weird one, but anyone who’s ever listened to Ween knows they’re a weird band. This was back in the heady days of their fucked-up joke-y albums. There was a progression with Ween over the years, where the first few albums were mostly weird-ass songs with a few proper songs thrown in the mix. As they progressed over the years, that became the reverse, and they established themselves as amazing songwriters. But Pure Guava is still my favorite, because it was my first, and because it has “Push Th’ Little Daisies” on it, which is still by far my favorite Ween song.
8) Deftones “Around the Fur”
This one came to me when I was…17 or 18? And changed the way I listened to vocals. I was in a huge metal phase, and got onboard with the whole rap-metal thing that happened right around there, with Korn, Limp Bizkit (I know, I know…) and Deftones. I was listening to a lot of more brutal vocal metal, stuff like Sepultura and Skinlab, and here was a band with the same kind of hard musicality, but with this dude who could actually sing. It was a bit of a revelation for me, because I realized you didn’t have to have a Cookie Monster-voiced screaming dude fronting your band. You could have a guy influenced by Sade as your singer. To this day, I still get goosebumps when I hear Chino start in on “Be Quiet and Drive”.
7) Archers of Loaf “The Speed of Cattle”
Archers of Loaf were one of my favorite bands when I was in high school. Quirky pop-punk made by guys who looked like regular dudes you might bump into at the beer store. Just normal guys. They defined a lot of my musical preferences during my early teens, and this album is my favorite of theirs. It’s kind of a B-Sides kind of thing, with the original (better) version of “Web in Front”, which still ranks in my top 10 favorite songs of all time (that’s a list for another day).
6) Radiohead “In Rainbows”
In my opinion, this is the best Radiohead album. I feel it’s kind of the pinnacle of their songwriting, a good combination of the rock and the electronic. I know OK Computer usually gets the nod for best Radiohead album, but this is my list, and I say it’s In Rainbows. If I was a songwriter, and I wrote something as incredible and heart-breaking as “All I Need”, I would hang up my guitar, satisfied knowing I had created such a game-changer of a song. I think this is the height of what I want Radiohead to sound like. I was underwhelmed by the follow up “King of Limbs” (it wasn’t a bad album, but not what I was expecting, I guess) so for my money, it’s In Rainbows.
5) Sloan “Twice Removed”
This was named as the Best Canadian Album ever at some point, and I tend to agree. Sloan was another major musical force in my early-to-mid teens. I loved the fact that the four dudes would switch up duties from song to song, that brought out such a wealth of different songwriting styles, and man, it was just flat out cool to see. These guys were really talented, and I think they hit their height with Twice Removed. After their first album, Smeared, they were sort of painted as the Canadian answer to grunge, but that really wasn’t them. Twice Removed contains my favorite Sloan song, “Coax Me”. It’s also one of the few albums I can listen to beginning to end without skipping or stopping.
4) Melvins “Houdini”
Another of my favorite 90s grunge bands, Melvins were second (for me) only to Soundgarden. I always tended to like the stuff that was less mainstream, and the Melvins were about as far away from mainstream as you could get. King Buzzo has the world’s most awesome hair (go Wikipedia that). Little known fact: Kurt Cobain played the drums on a couple of songs on this album. Houdini is probably their most accessible album, they write a lot of challenging, verging on difficult-to-listen-to music. This album also has my favorite Melvins track: “Honey Bucket”.
3) Sebadoh “Bakesale”
Ah, Sebadoh. Another favorite from my teen years, this album contains the song that I would consider my most favorite of all-time: “Skull”. This is a jangly, lo-fi affair that always made me think it was written and recorded in a hurry. But that adds to it’s charm, for me. They bang the songs off in record time, never really slowing down much. I was lucky enough to see the reunited Sebadoh a couple of months ago, and will never forget seeing Lou Barlow rock out with “Skull”, even though they sped it up and I didn’t like it as much as the album version…
2) The Clash “London Calling”
I almost went with “Combat Rock” instead, but this album wins out because of “The Guns of Brixton” which is another of my all-time favorite songs. It’s one of the few songs that Paul Simonon wrote rather than Joe Strummer. But it also has some of the most classic Clash songs, like “London Calling” itself, “Rudie Can’t Fail” and “Lost in the Supermarket”. This was also the first Clash album I ever heard, so just for nostalgic reasons it ranks at number two. I’d always known about the Clash, but never took the time to actually listen to them until I was older. I was in my mid-to-late 20s when I first actually listened to a Clash song, and that was it for me. Easily my favorite band of all time.
1) Tom Waits “Rain Dogs”
This was another tough one, simply because I couldn’t fit all 20-plus Waits albums in the number one spot. So I dug deep, and realized that yes, “Rain Dogs” is truly my favorite Waits disk. It’s the middle of a loosely collected trilogy of albums Waits released in the 80s, sandwiched between “Swordfishtrombones” and “Frank’s Wild Years”. It has some of the most classic Waits songs on it as well: “Hang Down Your Head”, “Downtown Train” (which was made famous by Rod Stewart, but you absolutely have to listen to the original), “Gun Street Girl” and the title track itself. I could do a list on just my favorite Tom Waits albums…hmmm…
Okay, that’s it for today. Do yourself a favor and go listen to any of the albums or songs I mentioned here. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re a horrible person with no musical taste whatsoever.