99 Essential Albums

I listen to a metric shit ton of music. I'm going to add an album a day to this list of stuff that I think everyone should listen to at least once (but hopefully you'll fall in love with them all too.) It doesn't necessarily mean they are my favorites even, but stuff I love that's blown my mind in one way or another. These are unranked.
  1. 1.
    Leonard Cohen • Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
    "Avalanche" is such a damn good song and such a perfect opening track that my beloved Nick Cave opted to open the first Bad Seeds album with this song as well. Another Cohen classic, "Famous Blue Raincoat" is on this album too.
  2. 2.
    Bad Brains • I Against I (1986)
    Mostly thought of as punk (which they definitely are), Bad Brains are notable for incorporating elements of reggae and metal into their dynamic sound. They broke the mold with these guys. The melded the spiritual and political vibes of reggae with the anger and immediacy of punk and metal. Unbelievably, they were nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year though they didn't get voted in. If they'd come along a little later and been willing to play the game, they'd be a household name.
  3. 3.
    Radiohead • OK Computer (1997)
    The album that propelled them from good/promising band into superstardom. I remember falling in love with it instantly upon hearing and listening to it on repeat for days on end. I'd be thoroughly surprised if I've listened to any album more than this one.
  4. 4.
    Animal Collective • Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
    I cannot describe the ways in which this album moves me. Happy, trippy, mind-altering, complex, simple. Imagine the Beach Boys with better technology and better lyrics. It's Pet Sounds for our generation, but not derivative.
  5. 5.
    SPIRITUALIZED • Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space (1997)
    The title track off of this album is possibly my favorite song of all time. My jaw hit the floor the first time I heard this record. The unquestioned crowning achievement from a band with an incredible catalog. Peak space rock.
  6. 6.
    GRATEFUL DEAD • American Beauty (1970)
    The best Americana album ever. Zero debate.
  7. 7.
    ALICE COLTRANE • Journey in Satchidananda (1971)
    This is probably one of the first albums I've posted where most people will say "Who?" I was a latecomer to her music, but I've been rocking this album hard for several years now. This record begs the questions, "Why aren't there more harps in music?" and "Why does her music continue to sit in the shadow of her husband's music?" I probably listen to her more these days to be honest. So many musicians I know and respect adore this record. Celebrate International Women's Day with this rad classic.
  8. 8.
    MILES DAVIS • Bitches Brew (1970)
    I can't imagine how unprepared the world must've been for this album in 1970. Still a total mindbender.
  9. 9.
    SIGUR RÓS • ( ) (2002)
    Sorry for update slacking on this list. But yeah. Sigur Rós...spaced out Icelandic music that sounds like nothing else. Hearing this for the first time upended me musically. Opened whole new worlds. The song "Popplagið" off of this album is one of my favorite songs ever...especially live.
  10. 10.
    DEERHUNTER • Halcyon Digest (2010)
    Possibly my favorite album from this decade (so far.) The song "Helicopter" is one I'm always in the mood for. "Desire Lines" is one of the best live performances I've ever seen.
  11. 11.
    SUFJAN STEVENS • Carrie & Lowell (2015)
    This is one of the most emotionally devastating albums I've ever heard. Talk about putting yourself out there. So raw. People were crying at the show, people cry listening to the record.
  12. 12.
    PAVEMENT • Brighten the Corners (1997)
    A lot of people would opt for Slanted & Enchanted or Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by them, but I think Brighten the Corners is perfect. Great lyrics, tighter playing, sharper production. Great all around.
  13. 13.
    TV on the Radio • Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
    "Blues From Down There" is probably one of my favorite songs ever. Such a glorious bunch of noise.
  14. 14.
    PJ HARVEY • Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000)
    PJ is the best. Legendary record. Thom Yorke guest spot. Love love love this album.
  15. 15.
    Jeff Buckley • Grace (1994)
    Has there been a bigger "what if" in music history than Jeff Buckley? There's been no shortage of tragic, early deaths in music history, but there have usually been a few albums left behind. With only one album, Buckley still has a grip on the public imagination 20 years after his death and the vaults have been plundered for an adoring fan base. Miss you Jeff.
  16. 16.
    Talking Heads • Remain in Light (1980)
    The best album of the 1980s IMO. I'm never not blown away while listening to it.