Ten albums I can never do without.

Sunday, February 7th 10 at 2:15 pm 3 comments

Last week, my number one internet feeling, Autostraddle, did a piece asking “What are the top ten albums you can’t live without?” Being the sucker that I am for list type things, and also they asked “hey what are yours?” and I can’t deny answering such questions in great detail – I decided I would take to my own blog and do one of my very own! And no, I can’t put them in a specific order because that just makes a tricky task all the more difficult.

The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)
It’d be really easy for The Beatles to populate at least half of this list. If it were top fifteen then I’d effortlessly fill those slots with Abbey Road, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Let it Be and Sgt. Peppers. But as it is not, I had to make the difficult decision of narrowing it down to one Beatles album. And really, in the end, it was fairly easy. The White Album features some of the best of the Beatles, and it’s a bonus that it’s double the length of an average album. From the sleepy and tender movements of Julia and Blackbird to the flat out rock and roll songs like Helter Skelter, it’s a truly all encompassing and beautiful album.
Favourite tracks: Julia, Cry Baby Cry and While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Tegan and Sara – The Con
In my initial assessment, I listed So Jealous, but after some quiet time in the car with The Con I quickly remembered that it is a completely perfect album and I love every second of it. For as much as I love So Jealous and as much as it will always mean to me, I simply couldn’t do without some of the best songs TRQ and SKQ have ever written. Part of what makes it so great is that instead of sticking with the same formula that was working so beautifully for them, they went out on a couple new limbs, especially with Are You Ten Years Ago. The Con has it all. It makes me want to cry, laugh, sing out loud, dance and just close my eyes and dissolve.
Favourite tracks: The Con, Burn Your Life Down and Nineteen

AFI – The Art of Drowning
The Art of Drowning holds a very special place in my heart because it was the first AFI album I ever heard or bought and it changed me completely. It was released before they really blew up on the radio so it seems to have the tiniest bit more integrity than what’s come after it (though don’t get me wrong, I love them all – even Crash Love). There’s just something about it that was perfect in a messy sort of way. It was faster, heavier and rawer than anything since. There was an authenticity in Davey’s throaty screams and background shouting vocals. If I could only ever have one AFI album and abandon all others, this is the one I’d keep.
Favourite tracks: Wester, The Lost Souls, Ever and a Day

Jewel – Spirit
Kristi laughs at me for cherishing this cd as much as I do, but the fact is… I really love Jewel. I always have and the mood to be thirteen again and cry that my hands are small, I know, will probably forever strike me. This album carried me through my abnormally challenging teenage years and was a constant source of inspiration and strength. In fact, there’s times when it still is. Jewel’s ethereal voice and beautifully crafted lyrics were what carved out a place for her inside my chest and it’s the enduring quality of Spirit that will always hold her there.
Favourite tracks: Enter From the East, Jupiter, Absence of Fear

Ani DiFranco – Revelling/Reckoning
The truth is, I could do without the first disc, Revelling, entirely. In fact, I’ve hardly ever listened to it but a few times. As much as it’d pain me to be without some of Ani’s best songs like Untouchable Face, Dilate, Anyday and Both Hands; the ones I could never do without are the ones on the second disc, Reckoning. This blue cd was another that pulled me through my more formative years. It carried me along by giving me a place to store my tears and rage, all my emotion and apathy. The way she painfully sings the chorus: “You are a miracle, but that is not all. You are also a stiff drink, and I am on call. You are a party and I am a school night. And I’m looking for my door key, but you are my porch light.” is a moment of time that I always feel to my centre, no matter how many times I’ve listened to it (and believe me, it’s been hundreds).  And after all these years and all those plays, that surely says something about how pristine it all is.
Favourite tracks: School Night, So What

Bright Eyes – Letting Off the Happiness
My goodness, I was a highly emotional teenager. And when I was feeling a particularly overwhelming rush of them, it was Conor Oberst I turned to. His imperfect, trembling vocals sang pure poetry. Literally, some of the most perfect combinations of words I have ever read or heard. I don’t listen to him much anymore, but this collection of love, pain, loss and sex will forever remain one of my favourite albums of all time.
Favourite tracks: The Difference in the Shades, June on the West Coast and A Poetic Retelling of an Unfortunate Seduction

Portishead – Dummy
I bought this album because I read in a Star Wars magazine that it was Natalie Portman’s favourite at the time. I’d never in my life heard of this band, but if my one true love Natalie Portman loved them, then obviously I needed to as well. What I heard was a little shocking at first (at this point, all I listened to was *NSync, Cher and dcTalk. I had not yet developed a mature and robust taste in music), but I saturated myself with the heavy beats and Beth Gibbons’ beautiful voice. I soon realised that I wanted to suffocate and drown in its thickness. Thickness, that’s the perfect way to describe Portishead’s music. It’s rich, heavy and solid and it pours over me like honey.
Favourite tracks: Roads, It Could Be Sweet and Sour Times

George Harrison – Let It Roll
Sometimes, how much I love George Harrison makes me want to cry. He is my favourite Beatle and there’s no question that I’d willingly never listen to John Lennon’s Double Fantasy ever again, as long as I always have George. His mysticism really speaks to the deepest parts of me and I feel complete peace when I spend time with him. Let it Roll is the perfect compilation, better than All Things Must Pass, because it has favourites as well as the one song I never want to do without in my life.
Favourite tracks: Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), Blow Away and All Things Must Pass

Lydia – This December, It’s One More and I’m Free
Lydia is perfect in a different way than most things are. The vocals sometimes tend to almost blend together in a way that they’re difficult to understand. But there’s a moment when you actually hear what is being sung and it breaks you with its beauty.  Lydia is also the ideal music for a rainy night. There’s just something about the quality of this cd that says “if it’s raining, this is the only thing that makes sense to listen to.” Maybe it’s the gloom that comes with a grey sky and the way it’s reflected in lyrics like “I’m tasting nothing but four words, ‘please don’t leave me.’” But whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. If asphalt is wet, this is what I’m singing. Lydia’s newest album, Illuminate, is beautiful – but it could never hold a candle to This December for me.
Favourite tracks: December, Its In Your Blood and Smile, You’ve Won

Radiohead – OK Computer
Wasn’t this pretty much everyone’s first Radiohead? Cause it was mine. Even up next to the brilliant opus that was In Rainbows, OK Computer remains, in my opinion, their best release. It brought a sort of understanding to me – not necessarily understanding for any particular thing – just a sort of calm knowledge that settled over me. It’s another album, like Dummy, that is thick and heavy and pours slowly over me the way honey drips off of a spoon.
Favourite tracks: Climbing Up the Walls, Exit Music [For a Film] and Lucky

So there it is. My evening at work is passed and my entire head aches because I can’t stop unconsciously grinding and clenching my teeth. It’s awful. If you’ve made it thus to the end, ever present reader (you’re still there right? were you ever there at all?), what are the ten albums you could never live without? Don’t worry; I don’t expect you to be as loquacious as I am.


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My nerves will be the death of me, I know. It’ll be just like starting over.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kevin  |  Monday, February 8th 10 at 11:03 am

    Eclectic choices. I agree with OK Computer. In Rainbows just bowled me over, but I can’t put it over OK. I can’t.

    I did a top five a long time ago; tastes change though so I might just give a larger list for 10.

  • 2. marny  |  Saturday, February 27th 10 at 4:26 am

    iawt list. whose blog is this, this person must be very intelligent and fun and AWESOME.

  • 3. victoria  |  Monday, October 31st 11 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve been listening to “Hands” nonstop lately. I know what you mean. It never gets old. Jewel was always wise beyond her years. Have you read her books?


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