Sunday, November 09, 2008

10 albums you should listen to

Having harped on about my favourite album, No Name Face, I’d like to share another 10 albums with you, and say a few words about why they’re so good. The criteria for getting onto this list included excellent music, excellent lyrics, and that ‘something extra’ that means that an album really affects me personally. So, in alphabetical order by artist:

British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power
British Sea Power are one of those unique bands that sound like no-one else. This is there first album and, after the first three slightly unusual tracks disappear within 5 minutes, the next 8 are stupendous, with soaring guitars, haunting vocals that manage to combine a scream and a whisper, and poetic imagery like you’ve never heard before.

DCTalk – Jesus Freak
This album is lyrically just so blatant and unashamed with songs like 'Jesus Freak' and 'Like it, Love it, Need it', but also raw and intimate with 'What if I Stumble' and 'Mind’s Eye'. The music is so (there’s no other word for it) cool, and In The Light has probably the funkiest intro of all time.

Easyworld – This Is Where I Stand
This album is packed full of catchy riffs, exciting tunes, and solid, driving rhythms, but the thing that makes it special is the vocals, which reach notes I didn’t think even existed. This is one of those albums that has a couple of ‘good’ songs, and the rest is absolutely brilliant.

Enya – A Day Without Rain
Enya’s music is just beautiful, and this album in particular. There’s not a weak track on it and it’s actually full of variety from the Latin chant 'Tempus Vernum' to the slow 'Only Time' to the upbeat 'Lazy Days'. The genius is that she does it all herself – all the instruments and all the vocals. The only word is beautiful.

Idlewild – The Remote Part
Idlewild are one of my favourite bands and this is their best album. It’s full of hits (You held the world, Modern Way, American English, Stay the same etc), and is one of those rare albums that doesn’t have a weakness. The melodies are inspired and the music uplifting. And the lyrics are typically beautifully obscure.

Matt Redman – The Friendship and the Fear
By far my favourite worship album, although only a couple of songs have ever been picked up for congregational use. This album is rawly intimate with both introspective and extraspective songs, and it’s the rawness that makes it so special - it's far more real and intimate than any other worship album. It’s also really long at a whopping 72 minutes!

Mew – Frengers
From the opening crash of 'Am I Wry' to the final epicness of 'Comforting Sounds', this album is full of really excellent songs, both heavy and soft. It’s one of those albums that you hear, and then you listen to nothing else for a month. Incredibly addictive, with beautifully written lyrics and wonderfully arranged music.

Sabio – Escape
Sabio only ever wrote 8 songs, but they’re all immense. This is a very honest album about chasing after God, and the lyrics are very open and real, with no messing about. The music varies from electronically influenced rockiness to mellow acoustic ballads, covering everything in between. 'Mother' is one of those songs that, when listening to it while driving, I’m always surprised that I manage to maintain control of the vehicle.

Sixpence None the Richer – Divine Discontent
Sixpence always make good music – simple, easy to listen to, music that practically anyone will enjoy – but what I love about this album is how it always makes me feel good about life. It’s not all happy music, but it always leaves a positive message, and some songs in particular on this album reach the beauty usually only produced by Enya – high praise! It’s also great to have a female vocalist for a change.

Stellastarr* – Harmonies for the Haunted
This album is just full of absolute tunes. The music is solid and incredibly catchy, with no pansying about, and the combination of male and female vocalists produces a unique sound. It is not possible to not get into these songs, making this one of my favourite albums for almost any situation.

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