Finest Worksongs
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory

A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory

September 15, 2020

As forerunners of alternative hip-hop, A Tribe Called Quest helped set the standard. They led a movement of thoughtful rap, fused by music inspired by their parents and lyrics inspired by their lives in Queens. Led by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, Tribe’s second album, “The Low End Theory” pays homage to jazz and bebop while dropping insightful rhymes about the shadiness of the music business, poseur rappers and injustices all around them. It also introduced the world to Busta Rhymes. To this day, songs like “Scenario,” Excursions,” “Buggin’ Out” are considered masterpieces – and the album can still get a house party jumping.

The Connells - Fun & Games

The Connells - Fun & Games

September 8, 2020

Before they reached international stardom thanks to the song "'74-'75," The Connells were something of a regional favorite to music fans along the Eastern seaboard. Man, could they pack a house. The band composed some of the most pop-centered, unforgettable, singalong songs of the late-'80s and '90s -- ANYWHERE. It also didn't hurt that they came across -- even on stage -- as just normal dudes. They even looked the part. Nowhere was this devotion to catchy melodies more emphasized than on their third album, "Fun & Games."  Mention The Connells today to someone of a certain age in Virginia or the Carolinas, and there's a very good chance this is the album that comes to mind. You can still see the album cover on t-shirts to this day. If that's not lasting power, we don't know what is.

Listener’s Choice - NSync

Listener’s Choice - NSync

July 14, 2020

In our second ever "Listener's Choice" epipod, we take the Wayback Machine to 1998 when boy bands ruled the world. More specific, NSYNC took the pop world by storm with their debut album. This was the world's first glimpse of Justin Timberlake, but NSYNC was more than just JT. In fact, they were a perfectly constructed boy band of the finest ilk -- even if the group didn't reach its full potential until later offerings. But "NSYNC" is a 13-song "how to" album chock-full of the boy band formula: pop gold ("Tearin' Up My Heart" and "I Want You Back"), soulful ballads ("(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You") and even Euro dance hall beats ("I Need Love"). It was a syrupy, uber-produced glimpse of what was to come ... and it was quite the appetizer.

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

July 3, 2020

It’s an album full of rage caused by racial injustice. It’s an album borne out of the voices of the oppressed. It’s a musical masterpiece of dope beats, thumping bass and intellectual rhymes that spotlight police brutality, racial undercurrents and the promise of a pyrrhic breaking point. The album is also 32 years old. The fact that Public Enemy’s seminal “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” is as timely and current today as when it was released is a sad testament to America’s progress in race and socioeconomic progress. However, one reason “It Takes a Nation” still resonates is because musically it still freaking slaps. Spurred by Hall of Fame-caliber hits like “Bring the Noise” and “Don’t Believe the Hype,” this album signaled a brave new world in music. It took courage then to produce it. Unfortunately, even in 2020, it still does.

Metallica - …And Justice For All

Metallica - …And Justice For All

June 23, 2020

No album brought heavy metal into the mainstream quite like Metallica's "... And Justice For All." It didn't hurt that in the golden age of MTV, the anti-war video for "One" was on HEAVY rotation and turned James Hetfield and the rest of the band into household names. But this was still a heavy metal album with all the boxes checked: dark, brooding lyrics; growling vocals; speed-metal guitar riffs; and even double kick drums courtesy of Lars Ulrich. But unlike a lot of previous metal albums, which tended to dive into the dark and sinister for the sake of being dark and sinister, "Justice" was the thinking man's metal album with songs about loss of freedom, inequality, and, of course justice. But there was still just enough of the songs about death and anger and genocide for any headbanger to enjoy.

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

June 9, 2020
"We are headed north."
 
It's all right there in the first verse of the first song of the first major label album by the Avett Brothers. This band of foot-stomping, string-breaking renegades from Concord, NC, were moving on up -- creatively, artistically and, yes, commercially. But "I and Love and You" is not a sell-out album. It's a growth album. All the emotionalism is still there; but the boys -- Seth & Scott Avett, Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon -- are maturing, and asking their fans to mature with them with "I&L&Y." This beautifully-crafted and produced album -- Rick Rubin is to thank for that -- is a statement album. As they sing on "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise": "Decide what to be and go be it."  With "I and Love and You," the Avett Brothers did just that.
Radiohead - The Bends

Radiohead - The Bends

May 28, 2020

You couldn’t get away from Radiohead’s radio hit “Creep” when it was released on the world in 1992-93. Not even the band could escape the clutches of such a megahit. So they did what any self-respecting band – a band inspired by the DIY ethos the likes of R.E.M. – would do with their next album, which was released in 1995. “The Bends,” the follow-up to “Pablo Honey,” is a tour de force album that 25 years later holds up as perhaps one of the most complete and wonderful albums of all time. The guitar virtuosity of Jonny Greenwood is complemented by the paranoid vocals of Thom Yorke. Oh, and the rest of the band is pretty freaking incredible, too. If people came listening for the next “Creep,” they were sorely mistaken. And thank God for that.

Janet Jackson - Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

Janet Jackson - Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

May 12, 2020
If we told you a member of the Jackson family produced an album in the 1980s that produced eight singles and multiple top 5 hits, you would likely assume it was Michael. However, younger sister Janet's "Rhythm Nation 1814" was a behemoth of a hit-maker, with dance-able hits like "Escapade," "Black Cat," "Miss You Much" and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)." The album itself was a concept album meant to address loftier themes. But the videos were peak MTV-era goodness. You couldn't escape Janet. But why would you want to?

 

The Beatles - Rubber Soul

The Beatles - Rubber Soul

April 28, 2020

When The Beatles returned to Abbey Road to record their sixth album, they were exhausted from constant touring and releasing at a pace of two albums a year. They also had virtually no songs prepared. But when it was completed, their sixth album was Rubber Soul, arguably the first actual album, not just a collection of songs. This was the turning point; it’s the album that bridges the British Invasion Beatles to Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. It’s the album that turned the music world on its heels, forcing the band’s rivals and contemporaries like the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones to step up their game.  In essence, with Rubber Soul, the Beatles were just getting started.

The Cure - Disintegration

The Cure - Disintegration

April 16, 2020

Thirty years after it was released, “Disintegration” by The Cure remains a Goth masterpiece. It was Robert Smith’s answer to critics that his band (and, let’s be clear: it was HIS band) could still do moody, dark epics as well or better than anyone. No one was a bigger critic of Robert Smith than himself. So he brought it. It’s all there in its “Cure-iness.” Simon Gallup’s bass is the omnipresent driving low-end of the album. But it’s Smith’s lyrics about creepy lullabies, red-light districts, spidermen and, yes, even love that make “Disintegration” the masterpiece it remains today.

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