When you hear that one of your favorite bands is coming out with a new album, an abundance of thoughts come to your mind. The first one usually is, when does the single come out? It finally comes out and you love it, and you are so excited for the album to be released. It’s finally released, but only the single or a few songs are actually entertaining to you. That’s never a good feeling. Putting an album out that is “single-heavy” is like writing a novel and putting all the action in the first chapter.
Luckily for us, many bands have created albums that don’t contain a weak link at all. The songs are woven together perfectly to tell a story, or to let you inside the mind of the band. Here are 20 of the best albums from beginning to end, including a favorite non-single for each album.
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Filled with powerful melodies and innovative indie ballads, Arcade Fire’s debut album, Funeral, opened the ears of millions back in 2004. I love albums that provoke feelings, and after listening to this you feel like you can conquer the world. Here is one of those innovative indie ballads I mentioned earlier, “The Crown of Love.”
Weezer – Pinkerton
This whole album is about Rivers Cuomo’s quest to make a girl his while at Harvard. You feel his desire throughout the album, then on the 9th track, “Pink Triangle,” you find out the girl he liked wasn’t even into guys. His emotional distress proved to be the source of one of the 90’s best albums, even though at the time it was voted one of the worst albums of 1996. Check out “Why Bother?” below.
Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
This album is best known for spawning the mega-hit “Float On”, but it is so much more than that. It has that rare trait in which no matter how many times you listen to it, it never gets old. Isaac Brock’s lyrics throughout the album are untouchable, “My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.” Here’s “One Chance” below.
The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
Every Smiths album, in my opinion, is extremely solid all the way through. If this album came out tomorrow, it would still serve as the anthem for the lonely. Call me a crazy millennial, but I think Morrissey and Marr are better songwriters than McCartney and Lennon were. The hauntingly great “I Know It’s Over” will bring some credibility to that statement.
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
The reason why I love this album is that it’s a blend of 90% indie rock and 10% country. After many test trials, my body will not let me enjoy country music. However, if there’s just a splash of it, like vermouth in a martini, I can’t get enough of it. Cease to Begin is a great album to put on while doing yard work on a hot day.This song was named after former Seattle SuperSonics’ big man, Detlef Schrempf.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
In 1975, The Boss showed America that he was ready to become the next big American rock star, and he succeeded with flying colors. Several albums, tours, and money have piled up since then, and everyone still knows he rocks. Listen to the opening track, “Thunder Road” below.
The Strokes – Is This It
When this album emerged on to the scene, bands like Limp Bizkit, were at the top of the charts. Needless to say they didn’t last long, as Julian Casablancas and company redefined what cool really was. A lot of people criticize what they have become, but without this album, the current indie rock landscape would be arguably different. They were trendsetters, as quickly everyone ran to the nearest thrift store for a vintage cardigan and some tight jeans. This is one of the most underrated songs by them, “Trying Your Luck.”
Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
Unknown Pleasures is a masterpiece, plain and simple. Besides Ian’s great lyrics and ghostly vocals, Peter Hook’s bass playing really drives the album forward. When the album is over, you are left wanting more. I surely wish there were more than two JD albums; I wonder how their sound would of evolved into the eighties. I don’t think they would of took the New Order electronic route at all if Ian had kept living.
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Jeff Tweedy is all about consistency. Every Wilco album is very easy to listen to all the way through. It’s top notch studying music; I once got an A on a test I thought I was going to fail just because this album got me in the zone. The best part about the album, besides the cover of course, is that you know they are talking about Chicago. Check out the opening track, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” below.
The Pixies – Doolittle
One of the staples of alternative eighties’ music, Doolittle launched The Pixies into great success. The success ultimately was too much to deal with, as they broke up in 1993. This year, they have got back together but without their key bassist, Kim Deal. Fun fact, “Debaser” was not an original single off this album.
Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
One thing about the current electronic dance music movement that I don’t care for is that no DJ says thanks to pioneers of electronic music, like Depeche Mode. Don’t worry boys; we know you would be on the Mt. Rushmore of electronic music. Check out the track “Nothing” below.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
I wish this album were out when the movie Into The Wild was made, because it could 100 percent be the soundtrack to it. If I were to get a van and drive to Alaska in a state of depression, this is the first CD I put in for the journey. It is very calming and beautiful music. Sorry that I still pronounce their name with a hard I. Sue me.
The Killers – Hot Fuss
Once you hear the opening bass line on “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine”, you know this album is going to be groovy. Hot Fuss brings you inside the damaged mind of Brandon Flowers, and it’s very interesting. I turn to this song whenever I need a little encouragement.
The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
At my first Lollapalooza, in 2009, I saw The Decemberists. I was a fan of theirs before the show, so I was a little disappointed when I found out their set was just going to consist of playing their new album, The Hazards of Love, from start to finish. Before you knew it, my frown turned upside down because getting to hear this album live was an experience to say the least. It tells a very dark story that is very enthralling. Translates perfectly live.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon
It would have been insane to leave this album off this list; I easily could of included The Wall as well. Each song blends and segues into each other to create one listening experience. I’m sure millions of people have listened to this album with the lights off in their room before; it was the sole reason I bought a lava lamp. Enjoy the whole album below.
Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare
The ‘Monkey’s sophomore effort flows together a bit better than their 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say About Me, That’s What I’m Not. The opening track “Brianstorm” sets the tempo and drummer Matt Helders keeps it up throughout. The highlight of this album is the last track, “505.” The whole album seems like you are free falling in the air only to land in a truck bed full of pillows.
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
In 2009, Phoenix partied like it was 1901. The band won a Grammy and emerged into the public eye with a little help of some car commercials, but mostly because this album is incredible. What is your favorite song off of it? Mine is “Armistice.” I will see Phoenix in Paris before I die, have to put my college French classes to good use, right?
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus
Yah mon, it would be a crime not to include this. I hope futuristic interactive dictionaries play this album when people look up the definition of Reggae. Bob knew what life was all about, being happy. His music definitely reflected that, and Exodus serves as a perfect cure to a bad day. Jam out to the opening track, “Natural Mystic” below.
Nirvana – Nevermind
A lot of bands have a breakthrough album, but not many change the way the youth of America acts and dresses like. I imagined if you went to high school in the early nineties, you either listened to Nirvana or Paula Abdul. Inside the heart of the grunge scene, I wonder how many people were team Nirvana or team Pearl Jam? I would bat clean up for team Nirvana any day. Here’s “Drain You” below.
The Cure – Disintegration
If I were 21 years old in 1989, you would probably find me in Smart Bar dancing to this album. When I saw The Cure at Lolla this year, it was unreal. I heard rumors going in that Robert didn’t sound as good as he used to, but as anyone who was there knows, that is false. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and that easily ranks top 5 ever. This album has three major hits on it, and still sounds very good all the way through. Watch them open their set at Lollapalooza with “Plainsong” which was also the first song off Disintegration.
If you just bought a car with a 6 CD changer, just pick 6 of those albums above, and you should be set for a road trip. It’s a hassle to have to skip through an album because you only like certain songs. Save your finger a rest and go back and remind yourself how great these albums from start to finish.