For our inaugural Valentine's Day epipod, we take a listen to an album full of passion and want, an album full of self-reflection and obsession. With just one album (and really just 2.5 band members), The Postal Service gave us "Give Up" back in 2003 -- an album that meant so much to so many people, and one that exemplifies the extremes of love and lost. Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello's masterpiece album struck a chord -- one that still strikes hard 15 years later.
At the end of the day, Hootie and the Blowfish may have just been four good dudes from South Carolina who hit lightning in a bottle (of probably Bud Light) and offered a pop-heavy, feel-good answer to grunge. But give Darius Rucker & Co. their due: “Cracked Rear View” is one of the best debut albums of all time and it gave us memorable, catchy hits — many of which are way deeper than you may have originally noticed.
They were like nothing we had seen or heard before. From the opening growls of "Welcome to the Jungle" to the pop sensibilities of "Sweet Child O' Mine" and the anthemic "Paradise City," Guns N' Roses was the next generation's answer to Led Zeppelin. And "Appetite for Destruction" pulled back the curtain on the debauchery and insanity that was L.A. and the Sunset Strip in the mid-1980s. Sure, they used hairspray ... but mainly just to light a Molotov cocktail to set fire to hair metal. Axl, Slash, and the boys would go on to sell a mere 30 million copies of "Appetite." And they left a path of destruction in their wake.
In our inaugural “Listener’s Choice” episode and final epipod of Season 1, we tackle the third album from Run the Jewels. RTJ combines the best attributes of rap and hip hop: fierce and insightful lyrics that make you think from a different point of view, and insane beats and production that transport you to dystopian, apocalyptic streets. Wrapped up within the fierce fire of RTJ’s lyrics are humor, vulnerability, and a sincere desire to make things better. That sincerity comes through by the fact that this group has made every one of its albums available as a free download. RT&J is the new PB&J … and it’s delicious.
The Beach Boys and Kacey Musgraves both produced quintessential Christmas albums – they just happened to be generations and decades apart. The similarities are striking: both albums are a mix of well-known holiday standards plus original compositions – and all are true to the artists’ unique sounds. Both albums make you excited for all of the “Ribbons and Bows” of the season and the coming of “Little Saint Nick.”
It’s frankly one of the great mysteries in music: Why isn’t the English band Elbow more popular in the United States? After all, this band of longtime friends has produced some of the most captivating sounds and albums for more than two decades. Their 2008 album, “The Seldom Seen Kid,” even won the Mercury Prize for best album in the UK – topping giants such as Radiohead, Adele, and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Singer Guy Garvey’s poetic longing is fully embraced by the sonic backing of the rest of Elbow, resulting in anthemic and haunting masterpieces such as “Starlings” and “One Day Like This,” while also featuring grooves like “Grounds for Divorce,” “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” and so much more.
Green Day's "Dookie" brought punk rock to the masses in the mid-90s -- yet resulted in the band being ostracized from the punk community due to its mainstream success. It transcends punk rock, and 25 years later this album is still full of fist-pumping hits like "When I Come Around," "Longview," "Welcome to Paradise" and more.
Geographic name-dropping, songs about Saabs and golf courses, and of course questions of love and faith. Vampire Weekend’s third album, “Modern Vampires of the City” showcased the band’s songwriting and song content growth – and was considered by many as the best album of 2013. But don’t fret: there’s still plenty of catchy hooks, popped collars and high-fallutin’ themes – the things we all tend to love Vampire Weekend for anyway.
It was an album that record execs and studio heads initially rejected. But “Kick” by INXS would go on to produce a slew of top 10 hits worldwide, turning the band - led by charismatic frontman Michael Hutchence - from Australian heroes to the people’s choice in rock and roll, putting them on par with U2 and R.E.M.