It’s Monday so why not continue our march down Alek’s 50 favorite albums? Onward then!
40. “Hot Fuss” by The Killers
It’s hard to pick out debut albums flashier, more fun and all around as good as The Killer’s “Hot Fuss.” From track one on “Hot Fuss” does not let up until closer “Everything Will Be Alright” relents and allows the listener to melt in a musical experience akin to the afterglow of good sex. In fact, that’s the best description of “Hot Fuss”: it’s sexy. At times it’s dark or cruel, at times lighthearted or even comical, but in the end it’s just beautiful. Don’t let the overplay of “Mr. Brightside” get you down either, that is one of the best tracks on the album, on any album. This is a CD you can dance to, and I highly recommend you do.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Change Your Mind”
39. “The College Dropout” by Kanye West
Upon listening to Kanye’s debut disc just once, two things are evident: this guy is really good, and this guy fucking knows it. It’s no surprise that as Kanye’s ego quadrupled in size, his music really lost sight of itself and suffered, but lucky for us Ye got two phenomenal albums out of that giant head of his (“Stop talkin bout how my dickhead is”).
“College Dropout” is fun, suburban rap, with rhymes about backpacks, being late for class and your girlfriend’s father, as well as the more serious tangles with religion, race relations and Ye’s infamous car wreck. But it’s all fresh here, the first time Kanye put this stuff on paper, and it’s got a flavor all its own, equal parts Tribe, Will Smith and Nas. Next time you got some girls in the crib drop that classic “Dropout” and you know the good times be about to roll.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Spaceship,” “Never Let Me Down,” “Through the Wire,” “Breathe In Breathe Out”
38. “Man On the Moon” by Kid Cudi
Cudi’s first disc isn’t obfuscated by his own ego, which gives him that slight edge on Ye for the #38 spot. Outside of Childish Gambino, who I haven’t heard enough of, Kid Cudi is the closest thing I’ve heard to an “emo” rapper. While songs like “Solo Dolo” contain rhymes for sure, you could imagine Brand New or The Smashing Pumpkins doing a haunting rendition of the track. The concept of the album, narrated by Common, gets tiresome pretty fast, but that doesn’t detract from the music itself in anyway. Cudi produces solid beats and layers them in a way that would make Phil Specter proud. “Man On the Moon 2” was even more experimental and when you take the two in together you’ve got to be excited about the musical possibilities for this young talent.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Heart of a Lion,” “Pursuit of Happiness,” “Day n Night (Crocker’s Remix),” “Up, Up and Away”
37. “Sounds of Salvation” by Cassino
I don’t know if album art has even done a record such justice. Cassino’s first record is simple, quiet and beautiful, with undertones of poverty and addiction and a suggestion that what lies just out (aka the truth) of frame is much uglier than what’s being presented (aka the art). I’d describe the cover art in the exact same way.
“Sounds of Salvation” is almost entirely acoustic and features very little percussion, but it manages, unlike most Bright Eyes of Dashboard Confessional efforts, not to sound repetitive or slow. The songs here have texture, layers…they truly are the sounds of salvation, musical pieces offering hope without solutions to get there. It’s an incredibly sad but admirable structure. Listen to this CD from 430-530 on a warm June afternoon and if it does not move you you’ve been officially diagnosed as sociopath.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Platano,” “The Gin War,” “Dust Went Flying,” “Lolita”
36. “Is This It?” by The Strokes
The fifth consecutive debut album today is the best of the bunch. Since buying “Is This It?” immediately upon release way back in 2001 I’ve called myself a Strokes fan, despite being familiar with only a dozen or so post-debut tracks. And that’s because this one album–a mere 11 songs, not even an hour of play–is just so damn good. You’re familiar with The Strokes, the low-fi recording, distorted vocals, the raw energy most bands find so elusive in the studio–it’s all here, but unlike any other Strokes album it sounds dangerous, like this is a band that really knows what they want and knows how to get it. It sounds young and furious and mistrustful, and yet the songs are so short and mostly sweet and humorous.
The best way to say it, though, is you’d be hard pressed to find a decade of music that “Is This It?” wouldn’t fit into, and beyond that, wouldn’t be regarded a classic, and rightfully so.
HIGHLIGHTS: “Is This It?” “Hard to Explain,” “Someday,” “Barely Legal”