So I’m not Rolling Stone magazine, and I don’t have any authority to make sweeping claims about the best albums of all time. I tend to vote more with my heart than my head in these situations, and I am nowhere in the realm of being a music critic.
That being said, as a rock musician, piano teacher, and overall music enthusiast, I was inspired to compile this list of my five favourite albums for you here, the five that I consider the best albums of all time, whether or not anyone else agrees. In fact, I invite you to disagree – or, at least, to share your own favourites in the comments below, and what makes them your favourite. Let’s get to know each other a little bit better, and share around some truly amazing music to kick off a great week!
So here we go. These are the albums that I’ve sat in a room listening to, nothing else but me and my headphones or stereo. The ones that have followed me on countless walks and drives. Albums that have defined me, shaped me, and moved me.
Radiohead: OK Computer
Choosing this album was literally a no-brainer. I haven’t even considered the other four yet, to decide which albums I love won’t make the cut (I’m already dreading that tragedy).
Though this album came out in 1997, I didn’t pick up my own copy until 2004. I was slow to catch on to 90s rock music – at the time of this album release, I was 11 years old and almost definitely prancing around to the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls.
I received this album as a Christmas present as an angsty teen, fresh from my first breakup, and worshipped every song (except, perhaps, “Fitter, Happier” – the robot voice one). After listening to it dozens of times, I gifted it to my ex as a final farewell, and then bought myself a new one.
Last weekend, as I was driving down a highway and Michael was sleeping in the passenger seat, I decided to pop in this album, since I hadn’t listened to it in eons. I cranked it louder than my ears probably would’ve liked (let me be clear, Michael can sleep through anything, and did), and sang along to every word, the lyrics not forgotten but instead just dormant. I still love it just as much as I did when I first listened to it over a decade ago.
Mother Mother: O My Heart
Mother Mother is a band that some of you may not be familiar with – they’re becoming more popular as time goes on, but they’re still a relatively-unknown band outside of Canada. O My Heart was released in 2008, and again, I was slow on the uptake – it wasn’t until 2012 when I really discovered them and devoured all their albums.
O My Heart is an album that I can listen to in any circumstance, whether I’m happy or sad, relaxing or partying. It’s quirky and surprising enough that I always discover new things on repeated listens, but emotive enough that some songs really hit my heart (Body of Years is my jam). The lyrics are weird and memorable (“and this is why I have decided/to pull these old white sheets from my head/you don’t need ghosts for sidekicks/you don’t need treats and you don’t need tricks”), or Wrecking Ball’s, “I am unruly in the stands, I am a rock on top of the sand, I am a fist amidst the hands, and I break it just because I can.”
Great vocals, great harmonies and melodies, great writing. I really can’t say enough good things about this album.
Tegan and Sara – The Con
Back in 2007, my love life was chaos. And, like Tegan and Sara had been doing for years, they released another album amidst my emotional storm – another album to love, latch on to, and create very personal associations with (thanks, guys!).
As Michael is fond of saying, “The Con is a perfect album”. With tracks like “Relief Next To Me”, “The Con”, and “Nineteen” (and every other track, let’s be real), I’m inclined to agree.
At risk of sounding like that hipster, I liked Tegan and Sara before they were cool, back when they were a small Canadian indie band. If you haven’t, check out some of their older, folkier stuff from If It Was You or even So Jealous (though So Jealous was more transitory to their newer style).
Sia – Some People Have Real Problems
Did anyone ever watch the show Six Feet Under? If you haven’t, you should – it’s an HBO masterpiece. In the mid-2000s the series finale aired, and this beautiful song called “Breathe Me” played during the last, tearful moments of the show – but, even though I fell in love with the song, I didn’t fall in love with Sia until I lived in Austin in 2013.
Maybe it was because I was lonely – I had left behind a great job and great boyfriend for half a year in pursuit of some life goals (professional chef training), but this smooth and mellow album really spoke to me. I remember long, hot walks with this in my ears, sweating in the Texas heat and feeling vital and alive, sharing my heartache with Sia.
Dead Sara – Self Titled
This is the newest addition to the list, and the one I was most tentative to add because I’ve only loved it a year or so. Still, this was the first album in a year or two that really excited me, that I really wanted to listen to over and over again.
Dead Sara is a newish band from Southern California, and as far as I can tell, relatively unknown in the wider sphere. But they kick some serious ass. They’re a half male, half female band (vocals and guitars by the women), which I think is nice and democratic, and it’s really raw, aggressive rock music at its finest. Emily Armstrong has this wonderful belting/screaming voice – at different times rough, smooth, melodic and intense.
Picking just five albums was torture – a shoutout to all the others I considered, but chose against. This includes every other Mother Mother album and Sia’s Color the Small One, Hot Fuss by The Killers, a few Nine Inch Nails options, The White Stripes, and Silversun Pickup’s Carnavas.
Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite albums of all time?