Posted by: cousinbrandon | July 23, 2009

My Top 106 Records of All Time (Because 100 Simply Wasn’t Enough)

Originally published July 23, 2009 on 710 ESPN.

Back in March, only hours after conducting the 2009 Justice League Fantasy Baseball draft, I was sitting around with some of the league owners discussing not baseball, but music. It’s a pretty regular topic among my Cousin Matt and me, really, as noted in previous posts. Sitting in his Havertown, PA kitchen after a long day of drafting (and drinking), the conversation turned to our top 20 albums of all time. Of course, never one for brevity and absolutely terrified that I’d omit something, I immediately piped up that there was absolutely no way I could list only 20. I mean, we’re talking not only about a lifetime of music here, but everything that preceded me. I’m referring to all of that great music that came to be before I ever set foot on this good Earth.

And, sure, even though I’ve come to realize that a good deal of so-called “classic rock” really doesn’t hold up as well, there was certainly a time when I appreciated it. Nowadays, though, I find myself averting bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd because I no longer have any use for them. Sorry, but it now strikes me as boring. Who do I blame for this? Namely radio stations and violators of jukeboxes everywhere. In both cases, all we, the listeners, ever get are the predictable songs – “Stairway to Heaven,” “Money,” etc. – as opposed to the typically never played treasures that lurk in every great band’s catalog. For instance, if I ever have to hear “Brown Eyed Girl” blared from the loudspeakers of some bar while the 25-year-old girl and her inebriated friends who played it while celebrating, well, Wednesday hoot and holler and make spectacles of themselves, self-assured they’re by far the best looking thing to walk into that joint in years, frankly, it will be all too soon.

That being said, you won’t find bands like Floyd, Zeppelin, and The Stones on my list. You just won’t. Sorry, but they just don’t do it for me. At least, not the hits. Were I going to include, say, a Pink Floyd record, I’d easily go Atom Heart Mother or Meddle as opposed to The Wall or Wish You Were Here. Honestly, the former recordings are simply more interesting.

So what, then, is this list? Nothing more than 106 of what I would consider to be the best and most influential records in shaping me as a music fan, music writer, concert-goer, and all-around swell fellow. And why 106 recordings as opposed to 100? I’m weird that way. With that, this list is not ordered by preference; rather, it is merely alphabetical. Furthermore, I most definitely excluded recordings I’m merely forgetting at the moment, and will therefore go back and kick myself repeatedly once I recognize it as such.

764-Hero – Salt Sinks & Sugar Floats (1996)
Air – Moon Safari (1998)
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes (2002)
Animal Collective – Sung Tongs (2004)
The Apples in Stereo – Tone Soul Evolution (1997)
Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
Archers of Loaf – Vee Vee (1995)
Augie March – Strange Bird (2002)
Avalanches – Since I Left You (2001)
Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast (2000)
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)
The Beatles – Revolver (1966)
The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)
The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996)
The Beta Band – The Three EPs (1999)
Beulah – When Your Heartstrings Break (1999)
Frank Black – Teenager of the Year (1994)
Bonnie “Prince” Billy – I See A Darkness (1999)
The Breeders – Last Splash (1993)
Bright Eyes – Fevers and Mirrors (2000)
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People (2003)
Richard Buckner – Since (1998)
Built to Spill – There’s Nothing Wrong With Love (1994)
Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On (1997)
Burakumin – Early Mourning (2000)
Cat Power – Moon Pix (1998)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2005)
Clem Snide – The Ghost of Fashion (2001)
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (1964)
Elvis Costello – Armed Forces (1979)
Elvis Costello – Imperial Bedroom (1982)
Elvis Costello – Blood and Chocolate (1986)
Dinosaur Jr. – Green Mind (1991)
The Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I (1999)
Do Make Say Think – & Yet & Yet (2002)
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (1970)
Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1972)
The Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat (2004)
The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999)
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)
The Good Life – Black Out (2002)
Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (2000)
Guided By Voices – Bee Thousand (1994)
Guided By Voices – Alien Lanes (1995)
The Halo Benders – The Rebels Not In (1998)
Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice (2002)
Interpol – Turn On the Bright Lights (2002)
Japancakes – The Sleepy Strange (2001)
John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Acme (1998)
Modest Mouse – This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (1996)
Modest Mouse – Lonesome Crowded West (1997)
Mogwai – EP+2 (1999)
The Mountain Goats – The Sunset Tree (2005)
My Morning Jacket – At Dawn (2001)
Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea* (1998)
The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000)
Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
The Octopus Project – One Ten Hundred Thousand Million (2005)
Okkervil River – Black Sheep Boy (2005)
Jim O’Rourke – Bad Timing (1997)
Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
Pavement – Wowee Zowee (1995)
Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville (1993)
The Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)
The Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
The Pixies – Bossanova (1990)
Portishead – Dummy (1994)
Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Quasi – Featuring “Birds” (1998)
Radar Bros. – The Singing Hatchet (1999)
Radiohead – The Bends (1995)
Red Stars Theory – Life in a Bubble Can Be Beautiful (1999)
Rocket From the Crypt – Group Sounds (2001)
The Shins – Oh, Inverted World (2001)
Sigur Ros – Ágætis Byrjun (1999)
Sigur Ros – () (2002)
Silver Jews – American Water (1998)
Son Volt – Trace (1995)
Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Company (2003)
Spoon – A Series of Sneaks (1998)
Spoon – Girls Can Tell (2001)
Stereolab – Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)
The Strokes – Is This It (2001)
Superchunk – Come Pick Me Up (1999)
Swearing At Motorists – Number Seven Uptown (2000)
The Swirlies – Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (1993)
The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006)
They Might Be Giants – Lincoln (1989)
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders (1993)
The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003)
Ween – Chocolate and Cheese (1994)
Ween – The Mollusk (1997)
Weezer – Weezer (1994)
Weezer – Pinkerton (1996)
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells (2001)
Wilco – A.M. (1995)
Wilco – Being There (1996)
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
The Wrens – The Meadowlands (2003)
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One (1997)

* While I cannot put the above recordings into any sort of order, I will say that this record, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, is my favorite of all time. Not only did it literally change my life as well as my understanding of music, but I’ve gone so far as to “teach” the record in several college-level composition courses I’ve taught over the years.

Now I realize many of you are going to be offended by this list, and even appalled by some of the omissions. And by all mean, I encourage you to comment and let me know what I missed. Be warned, though: Slippery When Wet is not, nor will it ever be, a contender.

Until next time, have at it, you vultures!



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