Five Perfect Records (Jon Behm)
Because ten is too many and three is too few
Broadcast: The Noise Made By People
This record is so unique, mystical, and gorgeous-sounding that it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine it being of extraterrestrial provenance. Broadcast, in their too-short lifespan, created two near-perfect albums and though I used to gravitate more towards Haha Sound, I now appreciate The Noise Made By People as the better of two greats. One of my biggest regrets is not seeing them when they played in Northfield in 2009. Trish Keenan tragically passed away less than two years later and Broadcast was no more.
Bill Callahan: Woke On A Whaleheart
Bill Callahan became famous as Smog and has some great records under that moniker (I particularly like underrated Supper). My favorite Callahan work, however, is from after he ditched Smog and started recording under his own name. And he’s had quite a few notable albums since then, and my favorite remains the first, Woke on a Whaleheart. Every song on this record is fantastic and archives that perfect balance of light/dark that Callahan has his own unique play on.
Edan: Beauty And The Beat
Kind of inclined to add an “*almost perfect” qualifier to this one because it includes a few homophobic lyrics which unfortunately plagued rap for many years. There are so few they could have easily been excluded! But to an extent I guess this work is a product of it’s time and you could certainly do much worse. Many of my other top tier rap albums (i.e. Illmatic, Enter the Wu Tang, The Infamous) all suffer from the same issue. In any case, Edan’s psychedelic rap opus is like anything I have ever heard, back when it was released in 2005, or since. Never before have rap and rock and roll been fused so successfully and to the detriment of neither. Beauty and the Beat has been engineered down to the nth degree which could have been problematic but in this case just makes every sound, every sample, every lyric just sound perfectly timed (and there are A LOT of tiny details to notice).
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
Nick Cave purists would probably note that the “Right” opinion on this is Henry’s Dream, which is of course also a terrific album. However my favorite Cave period is actually the post-Bargeld time frame in the mid oughts when Abbatoir/Lyre and Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! both came out. The latter is probably my favorite. It’s, in my opinion, the tightest collection of Bad Seeds tunes with not a lacking one in the bunch. It doesn’t even contain any of my favorite singles but as a whole it is executed better than any collection of hits could be. It is best heard in the album format as opposed to other Bad Seeds records which I don’t mind cutting and pasting songs from. I dearly wish I could have seen one of the shows on the tour to support this record.
The Kinks: Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Let me just start by saying that I am not a great appreciator of Britpop. In fact I think it’s one of the more irritating genres due to all the poorly executed imitators who have come along throughout the years (the 90’s through the early oughts were particularly lousy). However I can appreciate some of the style’s originators and none more than The Kinks whom I adore. Village Green Preservation Society is a perfectly executed rock/pop record. It’s got timeless hooks, interesting/esoteric subject matter (i.e. pastoral British life), and I can play it again and again without ever tiring of it.
Runner’s Up: (because I had to)
The Stooges – Funhouse
The Raincoats – ST
Josephine Foster – Blood Rushing
Selda Bagcan – Selda
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
Townes Van Zandt – Live at Old Quarter
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Pete Rock and CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient
David Bowie – Hunky Dory