21 Records for 21 years

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By Charlie Baylis on 23.5.2023

21 Records for 21 years

For those that weren’t invited to my house party, though I don’t think there were many of you, I recently turned twenty one. In celebration of this fact I did a number of things, quite frankly, a great deal of them were illegal, and a handful are potentially libellous, so I will simply honour the occasion by presenting you with twenty one records that have substantially enriched my twenty one years. Suffice to say, it wouldn’t have been the same without them.

21. Bright Eyes – Letting off the Happiness

An ironic title, don’t expect the happiness to positively drip from this record. Letting off the Happiness is essentially a collection of harrowing recordings nabbed from Conor Oberst’s diary of suicide, dead babies, neuroticism, heartbreak and drugs. It’s probably the most consistent Bright Eyes record and one that I’ve spent many a lonely night screaming along too.

20. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

A supremely confident show of strength, containing no less than six, count them, top forty singles, that sometimes appears as cold as the icy snowscape pictured on the sleeve. However when Bloc Party get it right, there is simply no better band, I never get tired of the beautiful chimes of So Here We Are nor do I tire of Kele’s ‘I’m on Fire’ squeal at the end of Banquet.

19. Arcade Fire – Funeral

So named due to the spate of family member deaths that provoked the recording, Funeral is a refreshing take on the art of making great music, no matter the language, no matter how many instruments, Arcade Fire make it seem effortless. Win Butler’s voice is probably one of the most familiar of the modern age and this album is an often disarmingly pretty mini masterpiece.

18. Interpol – Turn On Bright Lights

There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this album, from start to finish Interpol play cool as fuck Joy Division esque bleak, romantic indie rock and roll. The difference between Ian Curtis and lead singer Paul Banks is that with Interpol the emotion is there, for proof just listen to his falsetto in ‘Obstacle One’ or how sweetly he sings ‘But New York Cares’ in NYC, marvellous.

17. Four Tet – Rounds

Who needs vocals when you’ve got squeaky toys? If ‘Rounds’ proves anything, it’s that Kieran Hebden is a supremely gifted artist. Each track is lovingly constructed, with more layers than a winter walk, his attention to detail is incredible. The fact that even Bruce Springsteen is a fan is just further proof that this is a highly important album.

16. The Strokes – Is This It

Another great debut album, Is This It came along and changed everything, spawning a whole host of inferior bands in the process. The Strokes are a great pop band, and one that sum up being fifteen years old for me perfectly, I only wish I could have seen them live, oh well, I suppose there is still time.

15. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

There are times when I’ve wanted to end a relationship just to add to the poignancy of this album. Ryan Adams has never bettered this, his first solo album. For proof just listen to ‘Amy’ or ‘My Winding Wheel’. You’ll find yourself with five other of his albums by the end of the month, that’s a promise.

14. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

What better to have at fourteen than a Siamese Dream, this album, like many in the list, was a teenage favourite, However unlike Appetite for Destruction or Without You I’m Nothing, this is definitely one that I still play and enjoy. The drum roll opening on Cherub Rock sets the scene perfectly for a great rock record, both the Smashing Pumpkins and their sub-genre, grunge, at their respective peaks.

13. Jeff Buckley – Grace

Jeff Buckley’s death by drowning in the Mississippi River, whether intentional or not, was an extremely sad day for music, in his wake he left one classic debut album and a subsequent host of mainly good live albums. His voice contains the range of his Father, Tim’s, opulent octave, but he adds a poignant, emotional tone that typifies a deeply romantic and affecting album.

12. Joanna Newsom – Milk Eyed Mender

Off beat and eccentric, playful and charming, Joanna Newsom’s first full length album is a joy to behold, her fabulous harp strumming and plucking is matched only in brilliance by her childlike and magical voice. Milk Eyed Mender is a poetic slice of avant-garde brilliance and no, there is no shame in discovering an artist via an advert, especially when the music is this good.

11. Elliott Smith – Either/Or

Elliot Smith committed suicide via stabbing himself in the heart, which according to the police, is not a very common way of ending it all, indeed it has prompted calls of a conspiracy, some say he was stabbed by his girlfriend. Either way, for confirmation that his heart once ticked, look no further than Either/Or, Elliott’s finest moment, into which his once fully functioning heart was poured. Its strength lies in understatement, and his silvery wisp of a voice, which is gentle, but utterly convincing.

To find out which other albums have brought joy to my life, look out for the concluding parts of this ‘completely unpretentious’ feature over the coming days and feel free to inform me how much I’ve wasted my time on this planet.



Comments

  • Ok, fine, I am wrong, you win. Joanna Newsom plucks and strums a harp. But originally when you said she plays a harp and not a harpsichord, whilst predominately her music is set to a harp, the harpsichord can also be heard, so I am not wrong in writing that she plays a harpsichord.

    I will change the article for you Jimmy, and thanks for flagging me up, next time, I’m sure I’ll be quicker to believe you.

    By chairman on 7.7.2023

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  • “Most players of the harp are also players of the harpsichord”

    Wrong, they’re entirely different instruments. Where exactly is it you got that information from?

    “The keys pluck the strings”

    Yes they do indeed, but Joanna herself neither plucks nor strums her harpsichord, just as a pianist doesn’t strike steel strings with hammers. I think it is you that needs to read up on music, or perhaps just admit your mistake, (though I’m not holding my breath for that one).

    You meant harp, I try to point that out, and you childishly try to make out like you are correct. You’re not. Grow up Baylis.

    By Jimmy ‘Big Nuts’ McGonagall on 6.7.2023

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  • I can play harpsicord and not a harp, the clue isnt really in the name, they just sound similar. I can play piano, hence being able to play a harpsicord.

    Technically, the harpsicord is plucked, and can therefore be played by hand, but the same could be said for a piano.

    At the end of the day, Jimmy or whatever, hush your hole.

    Charlie… well, nothing really, you are correct for the most part.

    By George Berry on 6.7.2023

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  • Most players of the harp are also players of the harpsichord, they key is in the word. They are not worlds apart, if you want to check that joanna newsom can play both, why not go and see her perform?

    Err, the keys pluck the strings. Go and read up on music.And you can technically strum a harpsichord too, but it’s not really a great idea.

    By chairman on 4.7.2023

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  • since when was a harpsichord either strummed or plucked?

    plus, if you’re going to abuse gomez, at least make some sense when you’re doing so

    By Jimmy ‘Big Nuts’ McGonagall on 3.7.2023

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  • actually she plays both, so you’re wrong.

    and you listen to much gomez to even comment..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_Newsom

    By chairman on 1.7.2023

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  • Newsom plays a harp, not a harpsichord. Fool.

    PS Bright Eyes and Ryan Adams? Really?!

    By Jimmy @Big Nuts’ McGonagall on 30.6.2023

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  • Of the best music in the world!

    By Lauren Granville on 23.6.2023

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  • of things to burn to a crisp?

    By events-editor on 23.6.2023

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  • I can’t believe Funeral is at 19… I would have put it in at least top 5!

    By Lauren Granville on 23.6.2023

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  • Never claiming to be a fan of Scouting, I wouldn’t know anything about ‘sub coldplay rubbish’. I’ll keep my ears open for such a phenomenon.

    By events-editor on 29.5.2023

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  • Ok so maybe it was scouting for girls that you like, to be honest, I find it impossible to differentiate between all this sub coldplay rubbish.

    By chairman on 28.5.2023

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  • Can’t say I have ever picked up one of their tracks on my trails, but should I ever want to listen, I will catch them on ‘Worst Excuse for a Bad Ever’ Tour, supporting Arcade Fire.

    By events-editor on 27.5.2023

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  • I think the fact that it is in this list presumably indicates I have already made the ‘mistake’ of buying it.

    Don’t you like the Pigeon Detectives? are they not the worst excuse for a band ever?

    By Charlie on 27.5.2023

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  • Arcade Fire? Oh dear oh dear Charlie. May as well save yourself the £10 for their album and throw a kitten onto a keyboard for the same effect.

    By events-editor on 27.5.2023

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