by Bradley C.
1.Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
“When all is said and done, build a new route to China if they’ll have you! Who Will Survive in America?? Who Will Survive in America?? Who Will Survive in America”
Honestly, what’s to be said about this album that hasn’t already been said?
“one of pop’s gaudiest, most grandiose efforts,”
“a no-holds-barred musical extravaganza”
“Picasso-like, fulfilling the Cubist mandate of rearranging form, texture, color and space to suggest new ways of viewing things”
“the first album in which he’s truly lived up to his potential in every way – as a rapper, as a lyricist, as a songwriter”
“a deeply fascinating accomplishment”
“an extraordinarily complex 70-minute set of songs”
Actually, despite all of this, there still leaves so much to be said about this album. It’s rare an album so widely discussed, so widely acclaimed, is still, in a way, overlooked. This is a maximalist album at its most maximal, an perfectionist in his most perfect. Kanye caught a lot of heat for describing his music as being very influential to culture, which is probably the understatement of a lifetime. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is american culture, compacted over 75, perfected minutes. An album full of topics of love, hate, drugs, sex, power, arrogance, depression, cheating, racism, insecurities, fame, and especially, self acceptance, it’s album that cannot and never will be repeated. Some people would argue with this, but context matters more than ever when it comes to music. Not just that the music sounds good, but why it sounds good, and the context of the world the music is living in. It’s often forgotten that this was possibly the biggest make-or-break album of modern music. Coming off his mother dying, his engagement ending, and the whole Taylor Swift ordeal, it’s an album that took all of those emotions and compacted it into one masterpiece, which both saving his career and defined it. I chose this particular album cover, out of many, because it represents the album for what it is, both a destruction and a new beginning for pop music’s most important and influential figure. An album that will be seen as the peak of American pop music, that both defines the generation it’s in, and will continue to define and influence for a long while.
2.The Roots: Undun
“I wonder when you die, do you hear harps and bagpipes?”
There are so many bands that try their best to create story albums, or concept albums, that fail miserably. The biggest mistake that they make, is forgetting that we need reasons to care about these people that they’ve created for us, and take away any human relation that we could have with these characters. This album, tells the story of a death in reverse. On the first song, we find Redford Stevens dying, and on the last song, him being born. Throughout the incredible jazz, live band hip hop music, the downfall of Redford is so tragically revealed, as the Roots created a character with so many faults, yet so conscious of his mistakes. The last four songs of the album are all just orchestration, all beautifully made, making us forget the short life that came out of these moments. It is, at this point, the true masterpiece of a concept album in hip hop music.
- Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt
“Compassion we’ll lose with time and test”
Sometimes it really is not what you do, but how you do it. There is nothing on Cerulean Salt that really is new, yet she still finds a way to make everything incredibly fresh, beautiful, easy to relate to, with no She tells stories that we might have heard before, about love and loss, but through her soft, but booming voice, she gives us no moments where we aren’t rooting for her.
4.Drake: Take Care
“My Sophomore, I was all for it, you all saw it, my junior and senior will only get meaner… Take care”
In Take Care, Drake creates the best post-808’s and heartbreak album yet. Drake, constantly described as “emotional,” as if that is a fault in some way, matures incredibly on an album I can not see him topping. He weaves through heartbreak, confidence, and more heartbreak in the a sound that Kanye created through 808’s and Heartbreak, and one that Drake perfects here, creating another true, modern pop masterpiece.
- Frank Ocean: Channel Orange
“Taxi Driver, be my shrink for the hour.”
Through incredibly touching, intricate lyricism and storytelling, Frank Ocean uses mainly pop and jazz sounds to create a new type of modern R&B.
- Kanye West: Yeezus
“As soon as they like you, make them unlike you.”
Kanye threw away the lavish beauty of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, to create an album that sounded almost shockingly different when it was released, and still doesn’t have anything else that sounds quite like it.
- Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
“Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth”
I really think the first half of this album was possibly the 30 minutes of music of this decade, and it’s a shame it trailed off slightly at the end, but that doesn’t take away from the organ and guitar driven, pop perfection that carries most of the album.
- Death Grips: The Money Store
“I STAY NOIDED”
I still have no idea what genre I would place this album in. Is it hip hop? Rock? Punk? Metal? Pop? Industrial? I have no clue personally, but that’s all of the albums charm. Through complete and utter chaos in 13 songs, Death Grips gives one of the most original, and lasting impressions that music has had for some time.
- Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest
An album unlike any other on this list, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter is able to tell the most compelling story of being queer that has been released yet in modern music. An album full of interesting sounds, from shoegaze to distorted rock and pop, this is a great album, if anything for its variety, yet strong consistency.
- Spoon- They Want My Soul
“Jonathan Fisk still wants my soul”
Spoon is so often referred to as having the mark of consistency when it comes to music, almost as a negative. Like, oh they always have good albums! As if they weren’t arguably the best band of the last 15 years. That is shown more than ever on this LP, a fantastic return to form after the disappointing Transference.
- Runaway- Kanye West
- Carissa- Sun Kil Moon
- Helicopter- Deerhunter
- Hannah Hunt- Vampire Weekend
- Pyramids- Frank Ocean
- New Slaves- Kanye
- Dance Yrself Clean- LCD Soundsystem
- Look What You’ve Done- Drake
- Sprawl II- Arcade Fire
- Red Eyes- War on Drugs
- Flash Delirium- MGMT
- Lone- Tyler the Creator
- Werewolf- Fiona Apple
- Devil In A New Dress- Kanye West
- The Fever (AYe Aye)- Death Grips
- Holocene- Bon Iver
- Weight- Mikal Cronin
- Feels Like Were Only Backwards- Tame Impala
- Just From Chevron- Dirty Projectors
- 30- Danny Brown
- Make My- The Roots
- Fire’s Highway- Japandroids
- Otis- Kanye & Jay Z
- Video Games- Lana Del Rey
- 6 Foot 7 Foot- Lil Wayne
- Shake It Off- Taylor Swift