Music of My Mind: Our favourite albums (Part II)

As the NME recently proved, Best Albums of All Time lists are rubbish. They repeatedly contain the same tired choices and teach nobody anything interesting about new music. Here, our writers were challenged to come up with a list of their ten favourite albums in ten minutes, and to justify their choices in a paragraph. The Beatles were banned and the selection of compilations, live recordings and universally discredited oddities heartily encouraged. (Part II of II. Read Part I here)

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Kevin Chu (@KevinChu_)

Andrew Bird – Noble Beast
Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Mark Ronson – Version
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Dawes – Stories Don’t End
fun. – Aim and Ignite
Backstreet Boys – Millenium
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

rumoursIt’s so hard for me to pin down favorite records of all time, mostly because as a comedy-centred writer I don’t deal with hyperbole (ha, that’s what we in the ‘biz’ call ‘a joke’), but also because my tastes shift suddenly and surely, and what album I’m annoying my coworkers with on loop can change on the dime. That being said, I have a few albums that have shaped my listening practices, and others that are more of stuff I have recently come across that I like to dance to/cry at. There’s a Backstreet Boys one on here and I think we should all just be adults and NOT JUDGE ME.

Rory Johnson (@iamhungrrr)

Flight Of The Conchords – Flight Of The Conchords
Daft Punk – Discovery
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
Queens Of The Stone Age – Rated R
MetronomyNights Out
LCD Soundsystem – Live At Madison Square Garden
2ManyDJs – Live At Creamfields 2008 (Get Your Yo Yo’s Out Pt.3)
Kindness – World, You Need A Change Of Mind
Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5:55
Fever Ray – Fever Ray

daft_punk_disoveryAs someone who has a very perfectionist critique on LPs, whilst also being someone who appreciates sounds more than lyrics, this was a hard decision to make. I feel like I should feel guilty about including no albums pre-21st century, but frankly I don’t give a toss. Many a pathetic geeky story and joyous anecdote can be told around each of these albums, but what I like to think about is the different places I have been in my life while I’ve listened to each. Many countries are represented while many a beat is made, you’ve got Ms. Gainbourg and Andersson for the calmer moments and messes Mount, Murphy and Mckenzie etc. for dancing (amongst nearly everything else in the list).”

Angus Sharpe

Peggy Sue – Peggy Sue Play the Songs of Scorpio Rising
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
Ray Lamontagne – Till the Sun Turns Black
Whiskeytown – Pneumonia
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Sam Cooke – Night Beat
The Walkmen – Lisbon
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Otis Redding – Live In Europe
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

elbow_-_the_seldom_seen_kidSpotify is making it harder to maintain a sense of ownership over music. But that’s what makes these my favourites, that I deem them my own. I know, how childish to like music less the more people recommend it. And yet its almost universal. So while I try mostly to be mature and keep my taste untainted by this bitterness, allow me to indulge it on the albums I really love. Because I want to believe that I care about them more than anyone else. Indeed, there were a couple contenders which, having cavorted around Part I of these Top 10s, were immediately struck from the list, just as an unfaithful partner is shown the door. I think you should leave, The National. And take your (giant) clothes with you, Talking Heads. Oh, and before anyone bangs on about Mercury Prize winning, Olympics closing The Seldom Seen Kid, you have no idea how lonely it is being a 24 year old Elbow diehard. I love it.

Phil Smith (@Phil__Smith)

The National – Boxer
Editors – The Back Room 
Leonard Cohen – Greatest Hits 
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix 
Keane – Hopes and Fears 
The Dubliners – Live at The Gaiety 
Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid 
Joni Mitchell – Blue 
Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You a Picture 
Pulp – Different Class 


Truthfully, all six albums by The National would be in this list; they remain the most perfect fusion of the folk and post punk traditions I hold so dear. On Boxer, their fourth album, Bryan Devendorf’s drumming marries Matt Berninger’s baritone and lyrical flair to weave tales that are introspective and cautious, beautifully reflecting a post-Iraq America that had become just a little less confident. Elsewhere, this as a relatively typical ode to adolescent angst and early drunken dancing delight. Elbow’s magnificent The Seldom Seen Kid took my hand and lead me through the first tumultuous experience of unrequited love; Pulp’s britpop classic allowing me to straddle the transition to University. Phoenix are included for no other reason that more than any other album, it makes happy and it makes me dance. An ode to my beloved home too; as nothing is more evocative than hearing the Dubliner’s reunion album: a reminder of standing awkwardly as kid at family ceilidhs, watching old men drink Guinness, sing drunken songs and tell tales of the glory days, as of yet unaware that I was making the first steps on the exact same path. Special mentions for Keane and Editors, much maligned bands but ones that started my musical journey. To Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits: if you’re reading, I’m so, so, so sorry. I love you so very dearly, just not quite as much as I love Keane.

Geraint Ellis (@geraintlellis)

Makthaverskan – Makthaverskan II
Fantasy Rainbow – Bos Taurus
Mink De Ville – Cabretta
The Avalanches – Since I Left You
Echo and the Bunnymen – Crocodiles
Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain
Being There – Breaking Away
Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
Buddy Miles – Them Changes
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation

ECHOI figure if you’re not dancing or crying then it probably wasn’t worth it, and to these records I often do both at the same time. I waltz-weep to misery-guts woozy-glum teenage cynical laments, to velvet-tongued hip-wiggle sass-sharp-suit swaggers and to glorious psycho-frenetic riots of sound. To my ears it’s a glorious cacophony, marred only by the absence of so many other beautiful albums. Still, at some stage these records have made me clatter round the place with every fibre of my being roaring, testing my body to every beat and break and snare and howl. These choices would change if I wrote this again in an hour, but I associate these here records with everything I love, every failed venture and every time I’ve ever danced or cried, and that seems as good a place to start as any.

Buster Stonham (@BusterStonham)

RadioheadIn Rainbows
Talking Heads – The Name of this band is Talking Heads
The Stone RosesThe Stone Roses
The Smiths – Meat is Murder
Bloc PartySilent Alarm
Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
New Order – Substance

in-rainbows-radiohead-2007Whenever I tell people I run a music blog they always ask “what kind of music do you like?” I can never answer the question sufficiently, partly because my taste in music is fairly wide and follows no clear pattern, but mostly because I don’t think music can easily be pigeon-holed into neat genres. This list therefore has no real theme, but has been chosen carefully to represent memorable moments in my life. In Rainbows, for instance, will forever be linked to my first year away from home at University. The buzz surrounding the revolutionary release of that album is something I have not experienced before or since and is something I believe will come to be seen as a watershed moment in music. Idlewild and The Twilight Sad also remind me of my Uni days and are probably my most leftfield choices. The Scottish music scene was something I grew to love in Edinburgh and listening to these two albums now takes me back to walking home from gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow on a cold winter’s evening. Silent Alarm made the list as it was one of the first albums that got me into music and still sounds special today. Burial really got me into electronic music and I’ve thrown in a few classics from the Manchester scene for good measure. Now when people ask me what music I like I’ll show them this list, as it says more about me and my taste in music than any vague list of unrepresentative genres.

Anna Feintuck (@AnnaFeintuck)

Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted
PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
The Smiths – The World Won’t Listen
Kirsty MacColl – Kite
New Order – The Best of New Order
The Libertines – Up the Bracket
Wild Nothing – Gemini
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Yann Tiersen – Amélie Soundtrack
Various artists – Alternative Eighties


My love of Pavement is well-documented and no personal top ten would be complete without them: top ten hairstyles, top ten band t-shirts, top ten lyrics… As for the remaining nine choices, Polly Harvey is one of my all-time favourite women and Stories is an exceptionally beautiful album. Wild Nothing’s Gemini accompanied me on almost every single walk to lectures in my third year of university and I still can’t listen to it without a nostalgic shiver, even though back then I rarely listened past the first two songs. Edinburgh is small. Rumours was the only album three friends and I could agree on listening to from the (limited) choice available in a caving hut we stayed at during a holiday to Assynt in 2011; correspondingly, we listened to it almost non-stop and my fondness for it was cemented. The Amélie soundtrack is an old love, but its inclusion here is dedicated to a former flatmate and memories of listening to him play certain pieces from it over and over again on our tuneless piano. Much of the rest of my list can be credited to an early post-punk education, for which I am truly grateful.

Part I of this feature can be found here: 
Music of My Mind: Our favourite albums (Part I)

What do you think of our choices? What would your top 10 list be? Leave us a comment below.

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One response to “Music of My Mind: Our favourite albums (Part II)

  1. Pingback: Music of My Mind: Our favourite albums (Part I) | Music Factory Number One·

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