It's that time of year again: my 100 favorite albums. When I compiled my list last year, I was startled at its accuracy in gauging my tastes for that point in time. The list is obviously slanted towards my particular tastes at the moment; my opinion of certain venerable chestnuts tends to fluctuate depending on the season. Whereas last year I was still trying to get a handle on my method of compiling, I had a better grasp on it this year, and as a result, I think the results are more accurate than ever. Naturally, there's a few minor imperfections, but on the whole, the list is incredibly accurate.
As an added bonus for all of you, for each album, I've included three essential songs. These are three of my personal favorites from the albums; if you have interest in a particular album, and these would be the tracks I'd (legally) download first. And so, my 100 favorite albums.
100. Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
Don't laugh; the entire album still stands up as consistently memorable songcraft.
Recommended tracks: "Bat Out of Hell", "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth", "For Crying Out Loud"
99. Joy Division - Substance 1977-1980
Some of the best singles ever recorded balance out the weaker B-sides (admit it, you don't listen to them either).
Recommended tracks: "Transmission", "Atmosphere", "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
98. LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
It's so infectious, it almost makes me wish I went out to clubs.
Recommended tracks: "Tribulations", "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House", "On Repeat"
97. New Order - Low-Life
Short but sweet, I feel that with this album, New Order hit a stride, producing a diverse range of great songs with seeming effortlessness.
Recommended tracks: "Subculture", "This Time of Night", "The Perfect Kiss"
96. Goldfrapp - Supernature
The beats are hugely catchy and contagious.
Recommended tracks: "Fly Me Away", "Ride a White Horse", "Slide In"
95. The Strokes - Is This It
The more I listen to it, the more I realize that it really is phenomenal from start to finish.
Recommended tracks: "Take It or Leave It", "Soma", "Trying Your Luck"
94. Beck - Sea Change
Not exactly chipper listening, but the songwriting and production is deep, layered, and rewarding.
Recommended tracks: "Lonesome Tears", "Sunday Sun", "The Golden Age"
93. Iggy Pop - The Idiot
A spooky album that I actually like more than the late-70s Bowie I've heard.
Recommended tracks: "China Girl", "Nightclubbing", "Mass Production"
92. Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind
It drags at times, but the songs, the atmosphere, and Daniel Lanois' production more than make up for it.
Recommended tracks: "Cold Irons Bound", "Standing in the Doorway", "Love Sick"
91. Harvey Danger - Little by Little...
A collection of hooky, memorable, piano-based treats than Ben Folds would give his left arm for.
Recommended tracks: "Cream and Bastards Rise", "Little Round Mirrors", "Happiness Writes White"
90. Beck - Mutations
My enthusiasm for the album has waned since last year, but the songs are still sturdy enough to support my hypothesis that Sad Beck is the best Beck of all.
Recommended tracks: "Lazy Flies", "We Live Again", "Static"
89. Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love
I had almost forgotten the lyrical brilliance of "Cautious Man" and the musical brilliance of "Brilliant Disguise" and the title track.
Recommended tracks: "Brilliant Disguise", "Cautious Man", "Tunnel of Love"
88. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Get Happy!!
I'll always associate this album with driving to Buffalo (Minnesota) in the summer of 2005.
Recommended tracks: "Opportunity", "Temptation", "High Fidelity"
87. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
It's still an amazingly consistent album that makes for a fun listen every once in a while.
Recommended tracks: "Go Your Own Way", "You Make Loving Fun", "I Don't Want to Know"
86. Wilco - Being There
For some reason, I never really latched on to this musical era of Wilco's (you'll notice that A.M. isn't even on this list), but there's still at least a dozen classic songs on here.
Recommended tracks: "Monday", "Misunderstood", "Someone Else's Song"
85. Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm
Aimee Mann is one of my favorite artists, but since I didn't include soundtrack albums this year, the Magnolia soundtrack wasn't included on the list, meaning that her 2005 release made the list almost by default.
Recommended tracks: "Dear John", "I Can't Get My Head Around It", "Goodbye Caroline"
84. Fleetwood Mac - Tusk
Another case of my enthusiasm declining heavily over the last few years, but "Think About Me" is a killer song and the title track is one of the strangest singles ever.
Recommended tracks: "Think About Me", "Tusk", "Angel"
83. Big Star - #1 Record
I gained an appreciation for the beauty of the mostly acoustic second side, nudging the album above Radio City in my book.
Recommended tracks: "The Ballad of El Goodo", "My Life Is Right", "When My Baby's Beside Me"
82. Jenny Dalton - Fleur de Lily
The newest album on my list, Dalton includes plenty of sad yet tender piano ballads that I listen to over and over.
Recommended tracks: "At Ease", "Three Lilies", "Deep Dark Secrets"
81. The Eagles - Hotel California
I think #81 might be a little high, but the album is still full of great songs from start to finish and it sends a twinge of nostalgia through me for the last weeks of high school.
Recommended tracks: "Hotel California", "Wasted Time", "The Last Resort"
80. Dean Gray - American Edit
There's a lot I want to say about this mashup of Green Day's American Idiot with classic pop records (and I probably will, at some time in the future), but I'll have to settle with imploring you to track it down however you can.
Recommended tracks: "Greenday Massacre", "Boulevard of Broken Songs", "Whatsername (Susanna Hoffs)"
79. The Clash - The Clash [U.S. version]
It's ferocious and political (blah blah blah), but what I find memorable about this record are the moments of beauty such as the guitar lines in the second half of "Complete Control".
Recommended tracks: "Complete Control", "I Fought the Law", "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"
78. Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops
Speaking of beauty, this record just feels like a classic from start to finish (except, of course, the horrendous "Daddy's in the Doldrums").
Recommended tracks: "All at Once (It's Not Important)", "I Hate Pretending", "I Want to Know If It's Still Possible"
77. Joseph Arthur - Redemption's Son
Every type of song Arthur tries on this album is great, from the epics to the garage rave-ups.
Recommended tracks: "Nation of Slaves", "In the Night", "You've Been Loved"
76. Bruce Springsteen - The River
The rock n' rollers are rocking and the ballads are sad - in other words, one of Springsteen's finest hours.
Recommended tracks: "The River", "Out in the Street", "Cadillac Ranch"