Three for Me

Tonight at dinner Steph and I chose three albums that represented each of our tastes and who we each are (and tried to guess the other’s before we revealed our choices).

You might say we were giving our three favorites, but there’s a nuance to this list, too. I specifically wanted to avoid albums that were really famous, simply because it’s hard to say “This extremely well-known album is really me.” When an album rises above a certain level of fame, it becomes both more difficult and less imaginative to claim it as “yours” unless you have very specific justification for doing so. I think most people understand that contract instinctively, but in this case we made it part of the idea. The most important thing, though, is the album’s match with you and who you are, not the relative obscurity of the album.

Now that I’ve explained all that, here are mine. I was surprised to find that two of my three were made in 2005. This year has been amazingly deep for me, musically.

Illinois; Sufjan Stevens 3) Illinois; Sufjan Stevens I discovered Sufjan back in September through a friend of mine named Gabe. I enjoyed his music immediately, but didn’t realize how much I would grow to love it over the next few months. I know Tim also loves him some Sufjan. Eddie choreographed an entire (totally awesome) dance to the song “Chicago” from this very album. Metacritic, a site that collects and averages dozens (hundreds?) of critical reviews, also likes Sufjan. Look who’s on the top of their Best of 2005 list. When I hear his music, I hear careful, lush compositions. But he’s not so careful as to remove the humanity from his sound. As I explained it in a comment on Tim’s blog, “Sufjan embodies how I wanted to learn to write when I was in college studying composition. Obviously I never did learn such a thing, but when I hear it, I hear my own desires for the progression of music.” (Side note: how pretentious do you have to be to quote yourself?)

Discovery; Daft Punk 2) Discovery; Daft Punk To be totally transparent, I initially wanted to take this one off the list and replace it with United State of Electronica. But after thinking about it some more, I have to admit that Discovery is closer to my heart. Or at least the first four tracks are. Their use of the vocoder is masterful. They’ve got incredible videos. And two of the first four songs on this album, “Digital Love” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, are in my ten most listened-to songs in iTunes (at 146 and 105 plays respectively). They’ve been there for a long, long time. These songs are a permanent part of me.

GameBoy Variations (Hell Yes Remix) - EP; Beck 1) GameBoy Variations (Hell Yes Remix) – EP; Beck (Yes, the review of this EP on the iTunes Music Store by “JL!” was written by me.) I thought about putting Guero in this spot, and in a sense I’ve done that vicariously. I’m proud of Beck for being brave enough to make an entire EP using music of this sort. Most of my friends, while they might enjoy Beck, found this album to be almost completely unlistenable. With me, it’s different. This album hits me on a primal level. It’s like my deepest geeky id was cracked open and poured out in musical form. There, I said it. Please, enjoy. His beat is correct.

5 Comments

  1. Posted February 6, 2006 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Daft Punk is playing at my house!

  2. Posted February 6, 2006 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I like that song. 🙂

  3. erik
    Posted February 6, 2006 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    if you want to give the sub in your new ride a real workout, check out ‘Oh Yeah’ on daft punk’s homework. it’ll let them all know you’re coming.

  4. Neal
    Posted February 9, 2006 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I like those first four songs on Daft Punk a lot, but… the mehness of the rest would keep me from the rest. Kind of like wondering how the latest U2 album could get best album, and Achtung Baby! got passed over. Confusion and oddness is what the Grammy’s are best for, I guess.

    As for Sufjan, I really do dig that Chicago song. I heard it once on that 89.3 station our Twin Cities friends always drool about. However, the bits on iTunes (I hate that they’re only 30 seconds: even 1 minute would give a better idea) don’t seem to have the same power. Thoughts?

  5. Posted February 10, 2006 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    With Sufjan, you kinda need to take in the whole song. Sufjan’s music can’t really be communicated in a “vibe” that would work in a short clip. With his music, it’s not so much about the, “Oh, I like that catchy sound” kind of writing as it is about the intricacy and beauty of his compositions.

    So if I were you, I’d just risk the $10. But I can’t promise you’ll like it, unfortunately. It took me many, many listens to really enjoy it.