Sometimes I’m not really sure which category certain topics should fall under. For example, what I’m writing today could probably also be right at home as a Tell All Thursday, Friday Lounge, or Sunday List post. But, since the main focus of today’s post is music, I feel like it belongs in the Music Monday category.
Anyone who loves music probably has a few lists of “favorites” … Favorite bands/artists, favorite songs, favorite albums, etc. Many also have lists of music that mean the most to them. Maybe it’s a list of the albums that inspired them to become musicians. Maybe it’s a list of songs that got them through a particularly difficult time. I personally have tons of these types of lists floating around in my head.
Today I’ve decided to share one of those lists with you. I’ll be naming the 20 albums I could not live without. While it was difficult to narrow down absolute favorites, these are the 20 I came up with.
The only guidelines I gave myself were as follows: I could not choose two albums by the same artist/band. The only exception is if an artist is a member of two different bands and/or has a solo album.
20.) Antichrist Superstar – Marilyn Manson
This may be a surprising addition to the list (unless you actually know me in real life). This album was one that really meant a lot to me in my younger years, though, and has really stood the test of time (at least in my humble opinion). Hey, I’ll admit it: I still totally rock out to this in my car.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Tourniquet,” “Kinderfeld,” “Man That You Fear”
19.) Speak For Yourself – Imogen Heap
One of my good friends in college introduced me to Imogen Heap, and I was instantly hooked. Her unique vocal style and the catchy blend of alternative, pop, and electronica featured on this album make it really addictive, and it became one of my most played albums during my last year in college.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Headlock,” “Loose Ends,” “The Walk”
18.) Takk… – Sigur Ros
Although the lyrics are all in Icelandic and translations can be found online, I find myself creating my own meanings for each of the songs. The music is haunting and gorgeous to the point of being completely inspiring.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Hoppipolla,” “Saeglopur,” “Svo Hijott”
17.) De-Loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta is such an interesting band due to their willingness to experiment with so many styles and sounds. Their debut album gave listeners a taste of what was to come and, in my opinion, contains some of their absolute best work.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Inertiatic ESP,” “Cicatriz ESP,” “Televators”
16.) It’s Blitz! – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This has by far been my favorite Yeah Yeah Yeahs album to date. The sound is quite different from their first two albums, but still distinctly their own. It’s one of those great pieces of work that you can turn on and actually enjoy each and every song.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Heads Will Roll,” “Dull Life,” “Runaway”
15.) In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 – Coheed and Cambria
This album has so many amazing songs! Although my favorite Coheed and Cambria song is on The Second Stage Turbine Blade, this is still my favorite overall.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3,” “The Crowing,” “The Camper Velourium I: Faint of Hearts”
14.) Danse Macabre – The Faint
I never get tired of listening to this album. Each time I hear a song, I notice new things about it. The lyrics are great and the beats are so damn catchy … I love dancing around my apartment to these songs!
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Agenda Suicide,” “Violent,” “Ballad of a Paralysed Citizen”
13.) The Downward Spiral – Nine Inch Nails
This was the first Nine Inch Nails album I ever purchased, way back in middle school when I was beginning to discover the music that would change my life. Dramatic? Sure. But also true. These songs were written by someone who understood anger and depression and pain in such a way that I began to feel understood. This album is a classic for a reason.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Closer,” “Ruiner,” “Eraser”
12.) OK Computer – Radiohead
This is a no brainer for me. This entire album is fantastic. It was definitely a turning point in their career as well, blending some of the heartfelt, anguished lyrics of their earlier work with the electronic sounds we began to hear on all subsequent releases.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Paranoid Android,” “Climbing Up the Walls,” “Lucky”
11.) Cassadaga – Bright Eyes
I remember when this album was released … I listened to it once all the way through and thought, “Wow.” And then I listened to it again … And again … And again. Conor Oberst is, in my opinion, one of the most talented songwriters making music today. I love Bright Eyes, so it was difficult to narrow it down to one album … But the songs on Cassadaga are just too beautiful to imagine being without, so it was the winner.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Hot Knives,” “Middleman,” “No One Would Riot For Less”
10.) Antics – Interpol
This album brings back so many memories of my senior year of college. It was my album of choice when I went for long walks around my college town, and I’ve never grown tired of it.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Public Pervert,” “C’mere,” “Song Seven” (on the extended/special edition version)
9.) Aenima – Tool
Tool is one of those bands that I really got into in my younger years but have continued to appreciate as I grew up. Each album is like a work of art, but Aenima was always my favorite. I’d even go so far as to say that I think of it as a career defining album for this band … It’s that good and that important.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Stinkfist,” “Eulogy,” “Jimmy”
8.) In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
I’ve already written about how much I love Neutral Milk Hotel, so I won’t repeat myself here. I will say, however, that this album is perhaps one of the greatest of all time. It’s beautiful in so many ways.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” “Holland, 1945,” “Oh Comely”
7.) Boys for Pele – Tori Amos
This is another absolutely classic album. Tori Amos has been one of my favorite artists for years, and Boys for Pele has always stood out to me as such a career defining album. The songs are raw, haunting, and full of emotion … Just amazing.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Professional Widow,” Caught a Lite Sneeze,” “Doughnut Song”
6.) Plans – Death Cab for Cutie
This is perhaps a very cliché choice for this band, but it’s still my favorite. Each song is perfect … Lyrically and musically. Maybe that’s the reason it seems to be such a popular, well-loved album.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Someday You Will Be Loved,” “Crooked Teeth,” “Brothers on a Hotel Bed”
5.) The Crane Wife – The Decemberists
This is probably also seen as a cliché choice, but I don’t care. The Decemberists have so many amazing albums, but The Crane Wife is the one that finds itself in rotation most frequently. It quite literally is a masterpiece.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “The Island: Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel the Drowning,” “Summersong,” “The Crane Wife 1 & 2”
4.) When the Pawn … – Fiona Apple
I had such a difficult time choosing just one Fiona Apple album for this list. Although she only has four releases, they’re each packed with amazing songs from start to finish. When the Pawn … was always my go to album following any breakup, though. For that reason alone it holds so many memories and evokes so many emotions (both good and bad).
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “To Your Love,” “Love Ridden,” “Paper Bag”
3.) Sometimes – City and Colour
Dallas Green’s debut under the City and Colour moniker is still my favorite. The songs are stripped bare … It’s just a man and his guitar. If you want raw talent, this is it.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Hello, I’m in Delaware,” “Day Old Hate,” “Comin’ Home”
2.) Watch Out! – Alexisonfire
Yes, I’m putting two Dallas Green projects next to each other on this list … What of it? Seriously, though, Alexisonfire is one of my favorite bands and Watch Out! is the perfect album. I can’t get enough of it!
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Control,” “Side Walk When She Walks,” “Happiness By the Kilowatt”
1.) Figure 8 – Elliott Smith
I love each and every Elliott Smith album for different reasons, so it was definitely hard to choose an absolute “can’t live without it” album. I have to think, though, if I had never heard the songs on this album, I would not have made it through some of the darkest times of my life. So many of these songs hold so much meaning for me. I wish the music world hadn’t lost such a beautiful, amazing soul.
Top Tracks (in order of appearance on the album): “Junk Bond Trader,” “Easy Way Out,” “Happiness”