1: Beatles’ Revolver (1966)

I’m a Beatles girl, I guess. And I’m one of those Beatles girls that doesn’t grow tired of the songs she loves. Sure, White is incredible, and yeah, there’s a lot of incredible stuff out there that the Fab Four are responsible for, but what can I say, this is my favorite. “Eleanor Rigby”, “Taxman” and come on, one of the greatest songs ever, “Tomorrow Never Knows” completely changed the way I listen to music more than once. It's my favorite song of all time. Besides that, the theme of groups experimenting with different genres comes to full fruition on this one, as it stands as one of the most successful attempts at playing with different sounds ever. The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" ...

2: Radiohead’s Kid A (2000)

I have such an undeniable affection for the oldies, the songs that create the platform and landscape for current listening, that it sometimes clouds my relationship with new music. It's not any sort of revolutionary statement to declare modern music deeply in debt to the innovators of the past, but it does bear repeating. Being able to look back and see how things fit together in the vast musical landscape is important for anyone who truly cares about the art form -- or any art form, for that matter. That's why Kid A is such an incredible record. Though it definitely brings to mind a variety of other genres and accomplishments, it's one of the only records I've ever listened to that truly, completely turned all other music on its head. There's nothing to compare it to, even if you're able to find elements of the familiar inside its dense compositions. It's so complex, so thick and layered, its individual parts almost float away. The beauty of these songs lies in the way every smaller element fits with the whole. The simple floating layers at the beginning of "Treefingers", the deafening horns, seemingly completely out of context in "National Anthem", the haunting layers of whispers in "In Limbo" ...

3: Pavement’s Wowee Zowee (1995)

It's no secret that I'm a Pavement nerd. Shit, this blog is named after one of my favorite songs. Wowee Zowee, however, might not be the popular choice for the best of the bunch. Regardless, WZ has become not only my favorite Pavement record, but one of my favorite records of all time. More eccentric than its predecessors, it combines some of Malkmus' best songwriting with a lot more guitar than we'd seen previously. The sort of classic rock vibe disappeared on this album, leaving room for lots of improvisation structure-wise. It's also one of the most perfectly sequenced albums ever ...

4: Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (1979)

Here's another record that usually divides a room. Even folks who really love Fleetwood Mac in a non-ironic just-the-hits kind of way don't always see eye to eye on Tusk. For me, the magic of that band has always lied with Lindsey Buckingham, the group's driving force post Peter Green and the band's most prolific songwriter. For a Buckingham fan, Tusk captures everything wonderful about him as a musician: there's the softer, simpler songs as well as the other side -- a meaner, more aggressive personality with lots of weight to carry emotionally. "What Makes You Think You're the One" sort of embodies both of these personalities flawlessly, mixing the sing-along loveliness of Fleetwood Mac with the caustic, angular bits that always kept them interesting. After all, if all they'd ever done was pump out these sunny CA love tunes, they never would have reached the point they did stardom-wise. Though in many circles, they're relegated to that summary, it's simply not true. Even on Rumours, their most successful album, Buckingham's experimental input added an incredible amount of character to all the songs. The same is true -- in spades -- on Tusk. After the success of Rumours, he decided to insert more of his vision into the follow up, and the result wasn't necessarily received as well as the band would have liked. Though there's still plenty of input from Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, the album was widely regarded as a commercial failure (despite peaking at #4...

5: George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (1970)

I wrote this about George a while back, after watching some Dick Cavett DVDs: Watching him talk to Dick Cavett has brought me to the verge of tears more than once, and not because he’s said anything particularly emotive, not even because I’ve watched him become upset remembering footage he saw of Bangladesh or his visible discomfort in the interviewee seat (despite having been there who knows how many times by that point in his life). Not even, hard as it was, because he’s gone. There’s something else that’s hidden, and something essentially unknowable about him. Dark Horse, right? At one point in the interview, which is almost painful to sit through thanks to Cavett’s clear discomfort and Harrison’s even more visible version, the subject of composition comes up. Cavett mentions that Harrison doesn’t read or write sheet music, and asks if that has ever hindered the music-writing process. Harrison laughs, I believe for the first time in the interview, and says something to the effect of, “No, people who compose orchestras, people who write symphonies, those are people who ‘read’ or ‘write’ music, what I do is much more simple.” Perhaps it’s that sort of self-deprecating (at least in tone) attitude that always gets me about him. As he went on to explain his process (“I have a tune in my head that I’ll remember, then I work it out on piano or guitar. I don’t write anything down until I have words, why else would I need to write anything...