Monday, February 23, 2009

Music Monday: Best Concept Albums

Guess what? I've decided to start a music Monday! Why Monday? Because of the alliteration with music and 'cause I'll have all weekend to write it when I should be doing homework. It's probably mostly going to be just a random song that came up on my iTunes and maybe I'll post a soundclip if I can figure out how. I have 1686 songs on my iTunes so that's pretty much 1686 Mondays which is um, 32 and a half years. JK I won't do a song every Monday, that's unrealistic, it might be a song or an artist or an album or a genre or something else completely unrelated like what I ate for dinner last night (chicken and mashed potatos) or the colour of my socks (white).

I'm starting off today with something special because it's what gave me the idea to do this. The title of this post is misleading. By "best" I mean "my favorite" and by "concept album" I mean "album that must be listened to starting from track 1 to the end of the cd in order and may employ recurring themes throughout the album and though individually the songs are incredible, their full potential can only be realized when listened to consecutively from beginning to end". Some of the albums I'm about to mention don't have recurring themes which is why they're not necessarily "concept albums" and I had to make my own definition.

Top 9 Concept Albums
Because I can't find a 10th one to even this out.

9. Green Day - American Idiot

Okay, I know Green Day kind of sold out with this album but that doesn't take away the affect it had on me. My dad brought this home for himself in 2004 and I just remember thinking (it's been 5 years?!?) Oh this is the band that wrote When I Come Around and popped it in the cd player. I was forevermore a fan until now when I am not really obsessed anymore. But! American Idiot is a perfect example of a concept album (a real concept album) because it is a story. We are introduced to St. Jimmy and the Jesus of Suburbia who are actually alter egos if I remember correctly. Anyways, this album holds my favorite Green Day song (Letterbomb) as well as a couple of other epics and we all know GD made history and became huge with this. Just as a sidenote, their live dvd Bullet in a Bible is pretty awesome too - they can really rock it live.

8. Rogue Wave - Asleep At Heaven's Gate

Rogue Wave has to be one of my favorite bands. I only got into them last year right before the Death Cab concert because they were the opening act and I decided to check them out. After the concert I bought Asleep at Heaven's Gate and I don't regret it for a second. This album is not a concept album like American Idiot, but the silence after the last track is so comforting it's like being laid on a cloud and I feel like I won't need to ever hear any sound ever again. Harmonium and Cheaper Than Therapy might be the best opening and closing tracks (respectively) I've ever heard on an album. Rogue Wave is kind of like Band of Horses, with beautiful melodies and harmonies and weird lyrics, only better.

7. The Decemberists - Crane Wife

I got into this band also because of DCFC, well really Chris Walla, because everytime I searched his name in brackets someone would mention that he produced for The Decemberists. The Decemberists are really catchy, especially Crane Wife, which kind of has a recurring theme. In any case, this album is quite brilliant; it's dark and sinister and feels very epic. The songs really flow together, which is what makes it such a good "concept album". I'm always kind of sad when it's over. Like American Idiot, Crane Wife has two ~10 minute songs placed at either end of the track list and I think it's a cool format and more bands should try it though it does take considerable skill to write a 10 minute song without boring the shit out of people.

6. Sarah Mclachlan - Mirrorball
Wow, it took me a while to find a picture of Sarah Mclachlan 'cause for some reason it felt really awkward to post a picture of her without a guitar. And then something wonky happened with the HTML and it wouldn't let me type on the left! Now I'm so frustrated I have to listen to Sarah Mclachlan who soothes me with her Canadian voice. Everyone knows who Sarah Mclachlan is right? She's the one who wrote "I Will Remember You" and captured the hearts of people everywhere who have hearts (and ears). Well, Mirrorball is her live cd release thing, and holy shit, if you only want to buy one Sarah Mclachlan album, buy this one. I actually didn't buy mine, I found it. Best! Find! Ever!

5. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

What do you do when you're in Amoeba in San Francisco and you can buy anything you want? Go out on a limb and buy something you're not quite sure of, which is obvs what I did with Modest Mouse or else I wouldn't be telling this story. Isaac Brock is a lyrical genius, really. He's right up there with Conor Oberst which is saying something (!!). The lyrics carry the album as well as the gritty sound and bitterness which make me imagine Brock drunk in a bar stumbling around at 3 am. Personal favorite songs on this album: Missed the Boat, and Little Motel. Modest Mouse also boasts a lineup which includes Johnny Marr, ex-guitarist for The Smiths. Like come on. Just go buy their shit already.

4. Bright Eyes - Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Oh, Conor, Conor, Conor. If I could write one song as well as him I think I would retire my guitar forever. How does he do it?! I think the answer is drugs and alcohol. I was having a conversation with Amanda the other day and she was saying how the "tortured artist" is redundant, 'cause artists are tortured by nature. Conor writes some pretty fucked up stuff, maybe that's why he's so brilliant. This is one of my favorite Bright Eyes albums.

3. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy

Okkervil River is a recent discovery for me but they've quickly become a favorite. I'd heard lots of good things about Black Sheep Boy (apparently it's their best album) so I went out and bought it. It's lived up to expectations. Black Sheep Boy is a true concept album (one of the few on this list) but each individual song carries it's own wave of delicious heartbreak. Interestingly enough, Black Sheep Boy (the opening track) is not an original composition but I love how they turned a small idea into a whole album. I'm waiting for Okkervil River to write a 10 minute song like The Decemberists.

2. The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Okay, I have a few things to say about this. First, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has to be my favorite name for an album ever. Ev-er. Second, it holds some of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins songs like Take Me Down and Beautiful and Bullet With Butterfly Wings. Honestly, this album is epic. It has two discs and the whole thing just feels so romantic, but an edgy kind of romantic. Romance with a knife. Billy Corgan was, and always will be, very, very strange.

1. Pink Floyd - The Wall

The Wall: A concept album. A brilliant, yet simple concept. Why? Because we all build walls. You know, those metaphorical walls. I talk about them sometimes. The Wall features some of Pink Floyd's best stuff, though some would argue The Dark Side of the Moon is better, but that is not for us to debate today. There is a movie that is part drawing part real acting based on the story of the wall. Well, not based on, it IS the story, I guess. It just brings to life the music. I would love to watch it stoned one day, Pink Floyd is so psychaedelic and trippy.
"Vera, Vera! What has become of you? Does anybody else in here feel the way I do?" Pink Floyd - Vera
I could quote them forever. Right? Anyone who likes Pink Floyd knows what I mean. They're all-encompassing.

Also, I realize you are not commenting on my comment post to spite me. That's okay. You can comment on posts from last week. Who is anonymous saying I love you? CAUSE I LOVE YOU TOO whoever you are, I hope it's someone I know or else JK, I don't love you.

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