Saturday, August 13, 2011

Five surprisingly good albums

Bruce Springsteen-Nebraska

I know The Boss is a legend and all, but I've never really been a big fan of his. Except with this album, which is a complete 180 from what he's typically known for. Recorded with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar (with occasional embellishments from harmonica or simple percussion) to a four-track recorder, this album is amazingly stark, and a very bold move for someone as huge as he was at the time of its release.

The Byrds-Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

I enjoy pretty much all of The Byrds' early catalog, so it's not surprising that I like this album. I guess it's surprising to me that this album was good at all, given that the band had previously been a typical "folk rock" group up to this point. A straight up country album was probably the last thing people would have expected these guys to release in 1965.

Nirvana-Unplugged In New York

For a band that was known for the ferocity of their performances, both in studio and on stage, an acoustic show had to have been considered a risk. Not only that, but with the out-of-nowhere appearances by members of the Meat Puppets, as well as the fact that half the album consists of covers (ranging from the Meat Puppets themselves, to Bowie, to Leadbelly), it had all the makings of a disaster. But it was the opposite of a disaster.

Ryan Adams-Love Is Hell

The alt-country prodigy presented this album to his record label as the follow up to his successful Gold, only to have them reject it as sounding too "bleak". Can't say I disagree with them about it sounding bleak, and completely different than his prior output, but damn, it's a good album.

Feist-Let It Die

I guess it's not so much a surprise that this album is's more that I ever allowed myself to get to a point where I feel like it's good. There was a time in my life when I would have hated this album, and anything that sounded like it. This was probably the first album that ever made me take a step back and realize that, no, labels and expectations don't matter when it comes to music. If you like what you're hearing, don't fight it, flitty female vocals and jazzy undertones be damned.

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