PERFECT ALBUMS, BEGINNING TO END

Ranked in order of how much I'll love you if you put one on at a party or roadtrip. With descriptions of the first time I remember hearing the album...
  1. 1.
    OutKast - "Aquemini"
    I was in the Student Government Association office with Karen Bucknor, planning Homecoming Week festivities. We were 2 hours south of Atlanta and had the album on repeat. There'd been some complaints from school administration about reckless dancing to “Rosa Parks,” so we brainstormed ways to work OutKast into the programming that would win the older folks over. Our solution: have the marching band learn “SpottieOttieDopalicious” and lead a parade from the stadium to the dance.
  2. 2.
    Jamie xx - "In Colour"
    I had just moved into my new place, and he released an advance stream through iTunes - it was a graphics-only music video of the rainbows on the album cover changing colors. It was what I listened to as I set up my new office. I still can't imagine a room where this isn't the perfect sound for an hour.
  3. 3.
    Ray Charles - "Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years"
    Glaring omission: "Georgia On My Mind." While it wasn’t this album, I remember listening to lots and lots Ray with my parents as a child. He was one of the few artists that my dad would play at an inappropriately high volume late on a school night that I actually enjoyed. Sidenote: my dad took my mom to see Ray Charles in Atlanta on one of their first dates.
  4. 4.
    Dean Martin - "Dream with Dean"
    Glaring omission: "Georgia On My Mind." I was in the back of my grandparents’ Cadillac Seville. Wood grain everywhere. The armrests on the doors in the back seat had ashtrays and cigarette lighters in them. I remember this album coming on and my grandfather’s vibrato whistling as he sang to my grandmother. I’m instantly transported anytime I hear the first line of “I’m Confessin.’"
  5. 5.
    The Weeknd - "House of Balloons"
    I was up early for the LA Marathon in 2011 - to cheer and run alongside friends who were actually racing. It was pouring outside. As I was plotting out my route, I saw a link to House of Balloons on twitter. I grabbed it as something to listen to while I drove and jogged from spot to spot. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. “Wicked Games” will forever be my favorite track of his, and part of me wonders if it’s simply because it seemed perfectly in synch with that rare grey, rainy day.
  6. 6.
    Kanye West - "College Dropout"
    On tour in 2004, somewhere on the west coast. @john was featured in The Fader at the time, so we had a copy on the bus. Kanye was on the cover with an interesting profile. Though I didn’t love “Through The Wire,” I checked out the album when it dropped.. and couldn’t believe that every single song was as good as it was. I remember DRH saying to me, “Man. And even the Jesus song. And I’m even good with that one!” To me, “Last Call” stands as one the greatest, boldest tracks of all time.
  7. 7.
    Frank Ocean - "nostalgia/ultra"
    I saw Tyler and Hodgy’s performance on Fallon and immediately took a deep dive into Odd Future’s site… I downloaded everything they had but remembered the description of this one jumping out at me like, oh wait, THIS is why I’m here: “Smooth Ass Music About B-, Relationships And Being A Rich Young N-…But In A Swagged Out Way.” When I think about living in New York that summer, this is the score of rides on the F and runs over the lower 3 bridges.
  8. 8.
    D'Angelo - "Voodoo"
    I slept on this one. Not sure how or why. I remember finally listening to it front-to-back in the back lounge of a bus late one night, thinking “I’m discovering my favorite album of all time, right now, in this moment.” So many tracks landed on so many mix CDs. So many nights of falling asleep with this thing on repeat.
  9. 9.
    Lord Huron - "Lonesome Dreams"
    Another soundtrack for a move - I’ll forever associate my apartment in Manhattan Beach with this album. We were also in pre-production for ASTRAEA, and so many of the album’s themes - solitude, ghosting memories, ambling across the world - paired with my vision for the film. That winter, I drove from LA to Miami with my two dudes. Few albums front-to-back were designed to be a such a perfect roadtrip partner.
  10. 10.
    Kings of Leon - "Only By The Night"
    Their SNL was one of the few I’ve seen that struck me as really special. I admittedly wasn’t on board with them until that Fall, and this album led me to revisit all their earlier stuff. I lived in West Hollywood at the time and remember listening to it every day as I ran through WeHo and Beverly Hills, loving how much what was in my ears contrasted so strongly with those idyllic neighborhoods.