Obsessive List #5.1: Beats of Different Drummers

Got an email this morning from ocassional Guest Blogger Jason, who used to have his own brief but enjoyable blog with a new list: personal favorite albums that were "uncommon." In other words, an album that YOU might love, but it's unlikely anyone else would put it on their list.

It seemed like 10 minutes after I agreed to it, I received his list, complete with commetary.

So without further ado:

1. PJ Harvey: To Bring You My Love (1995) - Time Magazine called this album the worst of 1995. Fuck you Time, you also called Mariah Carey’s album that year one of the 10 best among all musical genres, so you have zero credibility with me. PJ is raw, powerful and bluesy all over the place, with a sexy-dark thing going on as well.

2. Sparklehorse: It's A Wonderful Life (2001) - Most of this album is very low key and completely lo-fi. Interspersed into this sweet, crackly atmospheric flow are some very rocking chunky guitars and fast-paced rock nihilism. Bonus points for guest appearances by two other favorite artists of mine, PJ Harvey and Tom Waits.

3. Shudder to Think: Pony Express Record (1994) - I don’t know how to describe Shudder to Think. Alterna-Pop torch songs sung in smooth falsetto, for starters. Whatever it is, this album is the Shudder to Thinkingest of them all. Their earlier albums were very obscure and their later ones kind of sucked, so I’m fairly certain this one is unique to me.

4. John Lee Hooker: Mad Man Blues (1973) - I suppose it’s possible somebody else I know would have a JLH album as a favorite, but he’s had so many great ones I feel safe picking Mad Man Blues, even though it contains cuts of some of his all time classics, like "Sugar Mama" and "In The Mood." I always said Hooker was the world’s best living bluesman - but then he died.

5. Winterpills: Winterpills (2005) - Once featured on NPR, but nobody listens to that so I’m safe claiming this one, right? Anyway, they’re a very fine, mellow, vocal/acoustic, folky kind of group from Northampton, Massachusetts.

6. Quicksand: Slip (1993) - This is college-boy angst alt-metal, a subgenre I don’t normally favor, but man did I ever wear this cassette tape out in college. The music and lyrics are just a bit fresher and more complex than a lot of similar, more popular bands of the time. I first was exposed to Quicksand at a Boston hardcore show just after their first EP came out. They went more mainstream with their first full studio album Slip, and then kind of bottomed out creatively.

7. Motörhead: The Best of Motörhead (2000) - Cheating a bit on this one, because what I actually love is the single disc I made from this 2-disc set, leaving off all of the not-110% awesome headbanging songs (Hawkwind, I’m talking to you). But I’m still left with 50+ minutes of absolute growly, lascivious and morbid perfection. And the presence of BOTH "Ace of Spades" and "Deaf Forever" automatically gets you in anyway, so there. Those are two of the best metal songs of all time. Period. (How can you forget "Overkill" in there? - ed)

8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Murder Ballads (1996) - This one is mine for it’s sheer misanthropic revelry in the deaths of human beings in all manner of ways and for all types of reasons. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation. Perfect for Halloween or any time I’m pissed at the world. Every song is a story of murder, hence the title.

9. The Freeze: Rabid Reaction (1993) - This is the only one on my list that I can truthfully say I have performed on stage with the band. Of course, it was at a youth center in Dennis-Yarmouth, MA, and there wasn’t really a stage per se, just a line on the floor. The Freeze is best known (if it can be said they are known at all) for the title track on the punk compilation This Is Boston Not L.A.. But they actually hailed from my own Cape Cod, so I got to see them several times as a yoot. Of their two full albums, this is the one I still hum to myself disturbingly often.

10. Boogie Down Productions: Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop (1989) - Rap is popular, and KRS-One was pretty famous back in the day, but this was in the era of Public Enemy, and I think BDP got largely overlooked and overshadowed (rightfully so) by Chuck D and Flava. But this is a great old school rap album, even if you are a soft silly low budget sucka like myself (have I mentioned I have the style you need at my house, on the shelf?).


There you have it. Mine coming up next.