I am SO not an Audiophile, the definition of good music for me is simple: that which sounds good on the car stereo. Here’s my list of best sounding albums:
- Aja by Steely Dan. An album with class, Aja is my personal Pantheon of best sounding album. Each instrument can be heard clearly without unnecessarily being loud.
- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. I listen to Kanye all the time! I see Kanye among others like Andre 3000 and Eminem as a person who’s responsible for making Hip Hop universally acceptable. To describe Kanye is to understand that at the very core he was gifted of having good ear and that what makes him a good music producer who maintain his production style in a very high standard. It’s not easy to pick which Kanye’s album is the best sounding album, we have College Trilogy (The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation) which is very satisfying to listen to, but perhaps it was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that’s flawless. Play it on the car stereo with your friends, it’s guaranteed to make your trip more fun.
- Parklife by blur. This album is another testament of how good Graham Coxon is. Combine Coxon’s cleverness on picking sounds for his guitar with Damon’s genius and provocative songwriting, we have Parklife: the holy grail of britpop! Listen to Clover Over Dover.
- Back to Mono by Phil Spector (and his artists). If you think your car stereo is already good, try testing it with this album. And if your car stereo can handle it right it means your car stereo are ready for all the music out there. Back to Mono is unique and perhaps the most raw album you can listen to, being it produce live and recorded monaraully.
- Loaded by The Velvet Underground. A quintessentially New Yorker album. Loaded was open with a song which at the same time admires and mocks Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun. Then it went full-blast hipsters for the rest of the album, making this the most-sacred albums for today’s pitchfork generation hipster band.
- Thriller by Michael Jackson. Produced by one of the most important figure in music history, Quincy Jones who delivers the right doze of R & B, Pop and Funk injections, Thriller is the mother of all modern pop album that’s looking for perfection in sound.
- Abbey Road by The Beatles. It was amazing that in less than a decade The Beatles has evolved many times. First they recorded a song like I Want to Hold Your Hand then they’ve changed in Help! and again in Rubber Soul but not until Revolver i think that John Lennon really found his music, track like Tomorrow Never Knows change The Beatles forever, they were never recorded song like Love Me Do anymore. In Sgt. Pepper, John keeps being Psychedelic, he’s not the leader on that album, but his contribution in Peppers like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and even for some lines in Getting Better and small part of vocal in Lovely Rita is what keeps the Beatles different. Then comes White Album with a song like Happiness is a Warm Gun and Revolution which become the base for Lennon’s solo works later in his career. But perhaps the most beautifully written song by John is Strawberry Fields Forever, in Magical Mystery Tour. Abbey Road itself feels less Lennon-McCartney because of George contributions which only makes Abbey Road better. The Album has never been released in Mono unlike most of Beatles’ album before. Abbey Road sounds so crisp making it a truly timeless album.
- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. Co-produce by the man who brought us Crime of The Century, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust is truly a masterpiece, each track sounds so clear, listen to the sax on Soul Love.
- Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. An essentially sex album! Kind of Blue is relaxing and help me focus on my driving.
- Yours Truly by Ariana Grande. I don’t just play the albums i’ve listed above and expect to get a head nod by my traveling companion. Friends of my age will often complained that those music are too old, or if i’m traveling with elderly it’s guaranteed that they will not enjoy My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This is where Yours Truly filled the spot, song like Baby I captured the goodness of 90’s pop music and the rest of the album is easy to listen with so little distraction.
What About Singles?
These are songs i considered best sounding:
- Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight
- Pink Houses by John Mellencamp
- Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues by Bob Dylan
- Children Crying by The Congos
- The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga
- Ribs by Lorde
- Lump Sum by Bon Iver
- Highlights by Kanye West
- Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles
- Time of the Season by The Zombies
- White Sky by Vampire Weekend
- 4th Dimensional Transition by MGMT
- We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus
- If I Was Your Girlfriend by Prince
- I Know it’s Over by The Smiths
- Sweet Virginia by The Rolling Stones
- Digital Love by Daft Punk
- Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel
- Family Affair by Sly & the Family Stone
- A Case of You by Joni Mitchell
5 Loud Albums
Needless to say, i despise “loud” albums. A lot of musicians wrote great songs which unfortunately get ruined by the poor production. This is some album i consider too loud and artificial:
- Magic by Bruce Springsteen. I love Bruce Springsteen! He wrote a wonderful love song like “Thunder Road” but honest question: Did he ever make an album which if i listen today doesn’t sounds like a 96kbps audio? Magic is something else, it is an example of loud album, it’s too much, it’s loud and tiring.
- American IV by Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin picked some of the best songs to cover but like many Rick Rubin produced album, it is just too loud, try listening to “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. It’s an acoustic song with Phil Spector’s-esque orchestration which unfortunately louder than a rock song.
- The Next Day by David Bowie. By the time i listen to the first track it makes me excited to hear the rest of the album, all songs in this album are good but i’m struggling to listen to it to the end because my ears are just tired.
- Death Magnetic by Metallica. There is nothing that can describe American suburban teenager life better than Metal music: Black Tees, full of anger, drama, tough acting but probably will feature on a K.O video on WorldStar (WorldStarHipHop). Death Magnetic is one of very few Metal albums that i actually listen and enjoy, but then Rick Rubin is at it again.
- You Could Have it so Much Better by Franz Ferdinand. Two things about Franz Ferdinand, first Alex Kapranos can’t really sing and second their live performance sucks. I did however enjoyed their eponymous album, Their second album You Could Have it so much Better contained a track like This Boy which captured nothing but static, and in Evil and a Heathen the producer seems to have messed with the mixing probably for the sake of art which sadly doesn’t go that way.
- That’s Why God Made the Radio by The Beach Boys. Ok, this one is not necessarily a loud album but more like a computer album, means that it was over-produced, the vocals sounds artificial, just listen to the single version of Isn’t It Time on Made In California.
Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri