This year has become ridiculously slow for new releases that I wasted money on a crappy ass Ludo cd just to get a fix of 2008 music.
So instead, I've been spending most of the spring/summer becoming more acquainted with universally "essential" music.
I'll say it started with Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits.
Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits - 4.5/5
This was a very refreshing album to hear as a greatest hits release. It flowed incredibly well as an album, and even unfolded like an album with how the songs were arranged, and even with the less then stellar songs. "Mrs. Robinson," "The Boxer," "Scarborough Fair / Canticle," "The Sound of Silence," "I am a Rock," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" are essentials. Great, amazing songs. Beautiful!
Belle and Sebastian If You're Feeling Sinister - 4.5/5
I got this more because I wanted the two similar sounding B&S cds, because I loved "She's Losing It" from Tigermilk, so got this one as well, and man. I love it. This is without a doubt the best indie pop cd I've ever heard. It's so wonderful and is a complete and utter joy to behold. Key tracks: "The Stars of Track and Field," "The Fox in the Snow," "If You're Feeling Sinister"
Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - 5/5
Oh, man. It's amazing an album like this exists. It's an incredible masterpiece. The melodies are just eerie and the lyrics are shockingly good. It's become one of my all-time favorites in a very very short amount of time, and it's only still growing with me. It's amazing what this album accomplishes, and just how deep it is, even when it's so simplistic as an acoustic guitar. "Oh Comely" is without a doubt one of the greatest songs ever written. Key tracks: "Key of Carrot Flowers Part 1" + "2 & 3", "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," "Holland, 1945," and "Oh Comely."
Sonic Youth Daydream Nation - 4/5
I hate Sonic Youth. I really do. I think they're awful, but I gave one last gasping breath for my hatred of Sonic Youth by checking out Daydream Nation, and I have to say, it's not all bad. Just most of what they do is. Nation actually is more than just a lot of stupid noise. It's still pretty pretentious and overblown, but it's definitely got a great underlying beauty to it, which is rare for me to hear in Sonic Youth. When "Teen Age Riot" didn't suck, I knew I was in for something good. Key Tracks: "Teen Age Riot," "Hey Joni," "Candle," "Trilogy: Hyperstation".
John Lennon The John Lennon Collection - 4.5/5
I think...it's just that I feel I should give love to John. What he did as a solo musician is nice to hear, since he really built on what he was doing with the Beatles instead of just being a real dud like Paul's solo stuff is to me. I have such a high appreciation for John. Easily my favorite Beatle. Key Tracks: "#9 Dream," "Instant Karma," "(Just Like) Starting Over," "Imagine"
The Beatles Revolver - 5/5
To be fair, I had this one for a while, but when I actually actually honestly listened to it...I couldn't believe just how GOOD it was. Truly, Revolver is not only a turning point for The Beatles, but between this and Abbey Road, it's clear why The Beatles were the best band of the 60's. Key tracks: The whole thing. Try finding a song that isn't great.
nine inch nails The Downward Spiral - 4.5/5
I'd consider this "essential" listening anyway. Very impressed by this one. I've had a passing admiration for Trent Reznor and wha the does with nin, but I never really explored it. It's a very deep album that is very melodic and wonderfully structured for an industrial album, most of the genre I find to be rather dull and lifeless. Key tracks: "Heresy," "Reptile," "Hurt".
My Bloody Valentine Loveless - 4/5
Still a grower, this one. But it's a very nice listen. It's an album you can't get the first time you hear it, I don't think, but once you have an idea of what the album is going to do, you can really begin to grow into it. It's quite powerful and disasterously beautiful in a weird way. Love the lo-fi and general mesh of the sound. The walls of guitar, the swallowed vocals. It's love. Key tracks: "Sometimes", "To Here Knows When"
Tom Waits Closing Time - 4.5/5
Like Revolver, I've had this one, but didn't give it a fair shake for a long long long time. Finally did, and it's incredible how deep these songs are, and how polished Waits's songs are for it being a debut album. There are some legacy tracks on this one already. It's quite simply one of the finest piano jazz albums ever created. Key tracks: "Grapefruit Moon", "Martha", "Ice Cream Man"
Nas Illmatic - 4.5/5
I like this album more as a groundwork album for the hip-hop I love than as a hip-hop album I hold in high reverie. I can certainly hear the classic nature of it, and no doubt the length really helps it shine to an incredible level, but it doesn't hit me as close as a lot of hip-hop albums that followed it did for me. But man, Nas's rhymes are incredible nearly front to back though. It's certainly hard to argue how strong everything Nas spits on tihs album is. Key tracks: "The World is Yours", "Memory Lane (Sittin in the Park)", "Represent".
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 5/5
I let this one go? Not sure why I waited so long on this one. It's instantly gratifying. Depth and great track selection and concept help carry this album to incredible heights. It's certainly up there for me as top Beatles albums. Key tracks: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Fixing a Hole," "When I'm Sixty-Four".
The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico - 4/5
The entire concept of what The Velvet Underground were doing had to have been mindblowing in 1967, because a lot of songs are just NOT that strong in my opinion. I've never heard so many filler songs on an "essential" album in my life. Usually, you either get an "essential" album or you don't. This was just a case of songs I loved and songs I really didn't love. Kind of like Illmatic to the extreme for me. The groundwork this album laid cannot be denied, but as a work, it was taken over numerous times in my opinion. Key tracks: "Venus in Furs," "Heroin," "European Son"
Well, that's what I've been up to this summer. Anyone else doing any essential listening this year??