Why 42? Because 42 is the meaning of the universe, life, everything…
Before we get started, a brief disclaimer:
I feel that any chart or top “whatever” is a snapshot of a person at specific point in time. Much like your tastes in food change, music taste changes over time and I don’t imagine these ratings will hold any weight in the coming years, months or even weeks. I am also not a music writer. So take everything I say at face value.
For a frame of reference, I tried to rank these on a rough scale of importance in my life and how many times I have listened to them.
I don’t have the writing stamina to analyze all these albums, but I may make this a series where I talk about each album in depth. This time, it is the top 10!
The Top 10
The top 10 are my top 10 favorite albums of all time that I could listen on loop no problem but have also been more of a permanent fixture in my music taste. Things I have always enjoyed and constantly come back to enjoy. These are albums that really stir up an emotional reaction in me.
I have a pretty decent idea of what lives in this category because I can distinctly remember smashing the repeat button for either the whole album or a majority of songs for all of these albums. I feel that if I were to ask someone to listen to ten albums to get a picture of the music I like, these ten would do a decent job.
Contemporary Movement, Stratosphere and Hier Kommt Der Schwarze Mond
Duster released their music around the turn of the century. Slightly infused with Y2K malaise, their distorted, fuzzy instrumentation is so soothing. The vocals are understated yet pose interesting points and rebuttals. Duster is not just an album, it is a mood that consumes the room when it is on the stereo.
Yes. Duster takes up 30% of my top 10 albums of all time. This, however, is not without good reason. Duster has a distinct sound insofar that I have been unable to find someone who has been able to scratch the same itch as Duster. I’ve heard that they do not like to associate as a “slowcore” band but they inspired so many people to play around with sound in a way nobody thought of before.
When I listen to Duster, I just feel like I am floating. The distorted, hypnotic guitars just penetrate to the very core of my being. While I personally love Hier Kommt Der Schwarze Mond more than anything they released under the Duster label, I am certainly one of many people who are thankful for the music Duster pioneered.
Just Got Back From the Discomfort—We’re Alright and Masked Dancers: Concern in So Many Things You Forget Where You Are
I’d like to consider myself a connoisseur of emo music. Emo’s reputation often comes with ridiculous spiked hair, black clothing, goth attire and other ridiculous caricature-level depictions that are truly unfair to modern waves of emo music.
A lot of modern emo music is or was inspired by the hardcore emo scene in Washington DC before the twinkly-guitared Midwest emo movement helped push emo in a new direction. It’s fusion with the extremely technical math rock helped to amplify the fun when it came to basement shows and the smaller venues which hold these firecrackers of bands.
Brave Little Abacus was a flash in the pan when we think of a band’s longevity. Two Full Lengths, an EP and half a split is all we have of Brave Little Abacus. But my lord does their music mean so much to me. It feels like I am exploring a sonic zoo with all these interesting melodies, harmonies and a balance of different instruments. I can never seem to tire of these songs no matter how much I listen. I always discover something new.
Distal by Crash of Rhinos
Okay first of all I would kill for a copy of this on vinyl. Second of all, if you enjoy dense, technical drum work with sing-along choruses and the catchiest of melodies, then Distal is the album for you. Crash of Rhinos unfortunately went extinct but three of the bands members formed the band Holding Patterns.
“Woo Ohhh Yeah….. F***ing Hell!” That is the first thing you hear right before this dense wall of high hats, snares, bass and lead guitars pelt you in the ears. This album is full of 6-9 minute songs which take you on a sonic journey. I think the most characteristic thing of this album is I will be air-drumming as hard as I can but still cannot match it!
Distal is just an album I think about a lot. It’s just so much fun. The gang vocals are cheesy but they soar over the instrumentation on this album. It is odd because it seems none of their other work ever stuck for me as much as this album, but there is not a single track on this bad boy that ever gets skipped.
Everything So Far by Pinegrove
Are anthology albums a cop out? I don’t think so! Gosh I love this album. The length seems to be perfect for an afternoon hang out session. I also love the use of banjo all over this album. I never considered myself to someone who would love banjo but Pinegrove made me a believer. Evan Stephen Hall’s vocals are just heavenly. He just has a great time playing these songs and quite a expansive vocabulary.
I’d also say you should investigate Pinegrove because it seems they have stolen all the catchy hooks in existence! The amount of times I have found myself saying “Waaaashing Winnndooows with ANGELINA!” is ridiculous. This album has also been a slow burner in that I find myself appreciating the songs more and more as time goes on.
I also would love to say how great this album is for making playlists. It has a ton of high quality songs at different moods that just fill the gaps whenever I have them. Then whenever it comes up, I still am just as surprised at their versatility.
Endless by Frank Ocean
If Apple can be for thanked for something, it is having a hand in bringing this album to the public. However they are garbage at getting it available. This was originally released as a visual album only on Apple Music. Then Frank Ocean released a high quality album version that is phenomenal and hard to locate ANYWHERE. It was released as a vinyl but then the scalpers got to it.
I would say this is an ambient R&B record. It is ethereal. It feels rejuvenating and cathartic in a way. Frank Ocean’s surreal falsetto just transports me to another dimension. The instrumentation is lush, dense but at the same time light. This album puts me in a trance and does not release me until it’s 38 minute tracklist dissipates. I lose sense of time when listening to this one.
It is odd but I see these mental images of brutalist structures, empty warehouses and an ambivalent sunset where the sun is warm enough to prevent it from being cold but not enough to keep you warm on its own. Frank’s delivery is top notch and I wish more people knew this existed.
Ghost City by Delta Sleep
This album fills me with happy contentedness. I have so many happy memories of listening to this album when going to and from college. I also discovered this album with my brother. I got him hooked on the good stuff, as well! Another British emo, math rock band who delivers a really fun and dynamic performance.
The energy of the guitars and the rough growl the lead vocalist sometimes displays offers a nice levity to the grooves while the lyrics talk about a dystopian city of the future. I love how catchy everything is in this album. The tunes just make me feel good and I think that is what all good music should accomplish.
One of my most prized possessions is the vinyl of this album that was signed by all four band members. I saw them at about a 150-person show in Los Angeles and they were the nicest people. They loved talking to me and that made me feel special. I will never forget that.
Everything Between Paint and A Wall by Grandview
If I had a nickel for every album on my top 10 that needs to be repressed to vinyl due to scalpers or having not been on vinyl, I would have 30 cents. In all seriousness, this album is a newcomer to the top ten. I discovered this album a few months back and it just clicked right off the start. I don’t know what about it really speaks to me, but nothing feels rushed. Everything on this album feels like it is exactly how it is supposed to be.
This album flows so well and incorporates great song structure. It is like watching a play almost in the ways things ebb and flow. Whenever I need just the finale, I start listening at the song “Shaper”. When I want to experience the masterpiece, I start from the beginning. Fun quirk is that “Paint” is the first song and “A Wall” is the last song.
This album is addicting. The guitars have this reverb that is almost as bright as the sun. This album does meander at times but it packs such a punch with every listen. I think the line that stuck with me the most was:
I’m still learning what it’s like to see the colors for what they are. Not what I want from them.
Hopefully you enjoyed that tour through my top 10 albums of all time as of right now. Hopefully there is something here that you can appreciate, as well!Get in touch: