Thursday, July 3, 2008

From Beginning to End

What was the last time that you put an album on and let it play from beginning to end? Doesn't it seem like the level of consistency has dropped in recent years? In my admittedly novice opinion, these are the only albums since 2000 that are superb throughout:

Coldplay, Parachutes
Jay-Z, The Blueprint
Radiohead, Kid-A
Green Day, American Idiot

What's your take on this? If you agree with me, why do you think the consistency level has dropped? Since the turn of the century, what albums can you honestly say have great tracks from beginning to end?


Jaye Wells said...

I rarely buy entire albums anymore, since I can choose the ones I want from iTunes for $.99 a piece.

That said, I'd toss my vote in for Parachutes, Radiohead, and add anything by the The White Stripes. Also just discovered the Black Keys. Listened to the Attack and Release album about a dozen times during a recent road trip and it didn't get old.

But, in general, yes, the emphasis on singles and overproduction has made the full-album listen a rarity.

Corked Wine and Cigarettes said...

You’re probably right as to frequency as of late of the incredablility (not a word) of albums. Probably due to the shift to the .99 cent iTunes single buy. Not busting on iTunes as I’m fully addicted. I think the bar has definitely been lowered, but there are occasional strokes of brilliance.

My full plays are:
Oasis - What's the Story... / Definitely Maybe
U2 - Rattle and Hum / Achtung Baby
Crowded House - Woodface
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
Jay Z - Black Album
Pearl Jam - Ten
Coldplay - Rush of Blood / Parachutes / Viva la Vida (grown on me - I can't stop listening)

davidf said...

I think front-to-back album quality might be about the same as ever. The good news is that in the 00's we can more and more pay for just the tracks we want! For recent front-to-back quality, stay in the Green Day vein. My suggestions:


Real McKenzies--Loch'd and Loaded

as well as 10,000 Shots

If you want a little hip-hop with your punk, go with Transplants:

My last item for 00's F2B goodness, The Flaming Lips--At War with the Mystics

Morgan Dempsey said...

Since 2000? Oh man. I'll keep the list small if I can.

I'll vouch for Coldplay's Parachutes and add Rush of Blood to the Head.

Also, Radiohead, Kid-A, amazing.

I add:

Muse - Absolution / Black Holes and Revelations

The Eels - Daisies of the Galaxy / Blinking Lights and Other Revelations

Beirut - Gulag Orkestar

Air - Talkie Walkie

Cursive - Happy Hollow

Pure Reason Revolution - The Dark Third

... I'll stop here :)

Ryan Field said...

I haven't done that in so long I don't remember.

But I'm not sure if the consistency level has dropped, or my tastes and habits have changed. That and the fact that when you factor in all the things that tend to complicate your life, like a nice fat mortgage, you don't have time to listen to an album from beginning to end. I used to stack the CD with care when I entertained. Now I go to comcast, find an appropriate music channel, and let it play all night.

Kelly Maher said...

I've always thought it was fairly rare to find an album that I liked listening to for the entire album. With the limit of "since 2000", I think Foo Fighter's Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace is the only album I'd demand be added to the list you already have. Two very close runners-up, for me, are Minutes to Midnight from Linkin Park and Fallen from Evanescence.

Jonathan Lyons said...

I think there has to be some trust between people about this type of question - inevitably someone will cite an album that is outside someone else's range of taste (like me listing Coldplay), but I got to say that I am a bit suspicious about a few of the albums listed here... you guys are telling me that EVERY song on all those albums is great?

Highway 61 Revisted, Blood on the Tracks, Paul's Boutique Sgt. Pepper, The Low End Theory, What's Going On, Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, Appetite for Destruction, Doolittle, London Calling, Ten, Nevermind, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Kind of Blue, Legend, etc..
they're all before 2000.

What was the world like before ITunes? I think I've intentionally blocked it out from my brain!

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

AH, you have a great list there....I just had a flash of Coldplay and Jayz collaborating. Its be a beautiful little musical lovechild wouldnt it?

I'm really glad I came across your blog, I'm working on a query right now in regards to a recent blog where readers left me 107 comments with some "tips" if you will....I'll be scanning your pages for your words of wisdom. Until then, cheers and happy 4th!!

Anonymous said...

Snow Patrol - Eyes Open should be added to this list. Back to back kick-ass tunes...

Snarky Writer said...

I very rarely buy albums, but not because of iTunes. It's more because the artists who produce the type of music I like aren't incredibly prolific or commercially oriented.

That said, I find Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow and Lacuna Coil's Karmacode wonderful all the way through.

Melanie Avila said...

American Idiot is my ultimate get through the end of the day album. Often on replay.

Mark D. said...

Of course, it's all about an individual's tasted in music.

As for me, I'm an old school rocker, and the following LPs are great throughout:

Led Zepplin II
Black Sabbath - Master of Reality
Yes - Fragile
Jethro Tull - Aqualung

Julie Weathers said...

I have several Celtic and Bluegrass CDs I like front to back, but that's not the norm. My youngest son screens my rock music for "Mom safe" songs I would like and burns me CDs.

I did have one band I loved and listened to their albums all the way through with a very few exceptions. However, they decided they needed to make a political statement with their music so they are now lost to me. Not supporting entertainers who feel the need to do that. Do it on your own dime, not mine.

Recently, I bought three CDs and was terribly disappointed that most of the songs set my teeth on edge.

Most of the CDs I like all the way through are from artists who aren't mainstream. It seems they can be more selective and just put on songs they love.

Tannat Madiran - The Darkest Grape said...

In Rainbows reaffirmed my faith in Radiohead. Played it straight through the first time and loved every track. And today I still do.

Andrew Bird's latest album, Armchair Apocrypha fits that bill for me as well, loved it from start to finish.

Coincidentally those two albums represent the greatest lyricists (albeit minimal in their design) that we have had in the last decade.

There, I said it.

Brigid said...

Yeah, I think iTunes has forever changed the way albums will be assembled -- though honestly I'm glad I don't have to spend $17.99 to listen to one song anymore. I'm not sure I can list one album I've ever liked all the way through ... maybe Maroon 5, but I think there was one song on there I didn't like.

And on a side note, mostly thanks to my husband, any time someone mentions Coldplay, I immediately say in my head, "You know how I know you're gay? Because you listen to Coldplay."

(If you haven't seen The 40 Year Old Virgin, you won't get the reference, and I'll just sound like a freak.)

C. Taylor said...

I think the consistency of the quality has gone down due to record companies being in a rush to get the albums out. I few songs are great and then the rest is the filler needed to push the album into production.

As far as great albums, I don't know if this would count, but the soundtrack to "Once", is beautiful.

Josephine Damian said...

Agent Jonathan:

Three words:

Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell

I gotta add my other fave, Foreigner by Cat Stevens

Do note these are both 70's albums!

Cold Play? Heard they may have a greatest hits out soon. I'm waiting on that one.

But you're right about a decline, and I'll say it applies to all aspects of American "culture." TV? Movies? After the 70's were over, most movies weren't/still aren't worth watching.

And books? Especially those written in the 21rst century? Don't even get me started on that topic.

Dwight Wannabe said...

I say the quality/consistency of music has not really degraded.

Back when putting a vinyl disc on a contraption took an effort we were much more likely to let the music play... and "build a relationship" with the lesser cuts.

I think about the albums SIDE A's I used to listen to in their entirety:

Pink Floyd
Dark Side of the Moon
Journey Evolution
Meat Loaf Bat out of Hell
Don McLean American Pie

All rife with lessor cuts which are now part of my musical DNA.

It's so easy to skip forward and back through a downloaded playlist in this electronic age, I still buy entire albums off iTunes, but I rarely invest the time developing a relationship with the B-cuts.

It's not the quality of the music. It's the commitment of the listener.

Southern Writer said...

I have to agree that all the 70's albums listed here are beyond reproach, and I would add Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla" to the list. But there's one album (god, I'm still calling them "albums"; how old am I?) that will always, always remain in my mind as the most perfect album ever put together. Every song was great, each one followed in just the right order so that the mood it created was an exact shade of mellow. Try Avalon by Roxy Music. It's like a total body massage for your psyche.

I'd also add to the list Roll With It by Steve Winwood, and the first two Enigma cd's, MCMXC a.D. and The Cross Of Changes.

And Brigid, I think you knew it would start a controversy when you said it, but I love Coldplay. I'm straight as they come, but not at all homophobic. I love Nickelback, too. I think there's still a lot of great music out there, but I can't recall the last time I heard an entire album made after 2000.

Amanda C. said...

I rarely enjoy every song on an album. There are only a couple that were released after 2000 that I listen to all the way through (I looked at some of my favorite albums and A LOT of them were released in 1999).

Anyway, I totally love:

Flipsyde - We the People
Mika - Life in Cartoon Motion

My husband and I always talk about the decline of music after 2000. For a long time you had to search to find the good stuff.

Nathan said...

"Funeral" by The Arcade Fire

"Sea Change" by Beck comes close

"O" by Damien Rice is completely listenable all the way through, but I don't know how "great" it is

A personal, somewhat unknown fave I can listen to all the way through: "False Cathedrals" by Elliott

"Turn on the Bright Lights" by Interpol

"Blacklisted" by Neko Case

"Hot Fuss" by the Killers falls into that whole Damien Rice thing of being all totally enjoyable and guilt-ridden dessert without a meal

"Alligator" by the National

"Heartbreaker" by Ryan Adams

"Young Liars EP" by TV on the Radio (cheating a little since it's only 5 songs)

Heidi the Hick said...

Where have you all been? Go get Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss!!!! Released October 2007. Every track is stellar: wonderful performances, solid songs, great production.

I also recommend anything Jack White has had his hands on.

Good music is still out there, and great albums are being made, but the whole music biz has been in a huge state of change for the last ten years, from the recording process to the sales promotion. I think we have to work a little harder to go find the excellent music. But it's not gone!

Southern Writer said...

I'll second that, Heidi. Not because I've actually heard it (an error I need to correct immediately), but because my sister raved about it, and she has great taste in music. Besides, I love both those performers.

150 said...

I'm coming in late, and kind of randomly, but my new favorite album is by the French band Dionysos - La mecanique du coeur. It's one of the rare albums I always listen to as a whole. The other would be Gorillaz - Demon Days. I love the Decemberists, but there's always one song I usually end up skipping.