some number of albums for all-time

About six years ago I gave myself this thing to do. I challenged myself to create a list of my favorite albums. To make the list, I listened to all of my favorite albums, ranking them as I went, and then I did that again. Then I used the average ranking to create a final list, which I published on the internet and has since been seen by seven or eight people.

And here, six years later, so very near to the end of the Obama administration, I’ve given myself another thing to do. It’s similar to the other time, but the albums are, to an extent, different.

Somewhere in the eight weeks I was working on this, I read Chuck Klosterman’s newest, But What If We’re Wrong? That book got me thinking about a lot of things, like that one day, when we are all robots, my little list could contribute to the cyborg canon of greatest albums of all-time. I want the robots to have a genuine understanding of my musical taste as we entered humanity’s end of days.

College was, perhaps too late, very good to me musically. I’m not afraid to admit (although they might be reading, but this life may also be a simulation and I, and they, and music, might not actually exist) that most of the music I acquired between 2004 and 2006 was due to a fault (“fault”) in my college dorm’s network setup that allowed me to browse and download to my computer any song that anyone else in my dorm had in their iTunes library. Many albums on this list are a direct result of this, and most of the others are incidental results of this.

Last time around, without much competition, it turned out that Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was my all-time favorite album. Back then I called it “…about as perfect as perfect gets. It is forty straight minutes of music that gets inside you, music that you feel even more than it is music that speaks to, and for, you.” That holds up. That album is inside me always.

In many of my favorite albums, for glimmers at least, I am able to imagine that I have become the lead singer. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the album where I can imagine it best, and enjoy it the most. Decidedly so. Six years ago and today and, probably (and sorry to harp on this), until the end of humanity.

I also like to treat my lists as resources. This go-round, I not only discovered how easy is it to embed Spotify albums into WordPress posts, but also that every album on my list is also on Spotify. So if you have Spotify, you can listen to any album on this list right here, right now. If you don’t have Spotify and you’re reading this, I would recommend that you go ahead and get Spotify.

One last note on counting down vs. counting up: I start with #1 because if you get bored somewhere along my list, at least you got through the best part. Plus you already know what #1 is. But what’s #2? What number does this list even go to?

So if there’s nothing else, I’ll go ahead now with my list,

Some Number of Albums for All-Time (End of Days Edition)

(1) [1]


In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

(2010 rank: 1)


(2) [2.5]


More Songs About Buildings and Food by Talking Heads (1978)

(2010 rank: 20)

Talking Heads are unquestionably my favorite band, as evidenced by each of their first five albums (and one side project) appearing on my list, as well as the manner in which I dance in my apartment. The real question is, which is my go-to Talking Heads album? It used to be 77, but for thirties me, I think More Songs has, just barely, overtaken it. Found A Job is an all-timer: If your work isn’t what you love, then something isn’t right.


(3) [2.5]


77 by Talking Heads (1977)

(2010 rank: 4)

Say something once, why say it again?


(4) [4]


Alligator by The National (2005)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(5) [5]


The Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse (1997)

(2010 rank: 2)


(6) [6]


Alopecia by Why? (2008)

(2010 rank: 8)


(7) [7]


Fashion Nugget by Cake (1996)

(2010 rank: 5)


(8) [8]


There’s Nothing Wrong With Love by Built to Spill (1994)

(2010 rank: 9)


(9) [9]


Robbers & Cowards by Cold War Kids (2006)

(2010 rank: 3)


(10) [11]

alien lanes

Alien Lanes by Guided by Voices (1995)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(11) [11.5]


Doolittle by Pixies (1989)

(2010 rank: 16)


(12) [11.5]


Kill the Moonlight by Spoon (2002)

(2010 rank: 6)


(13) [12]


High Violet by The National (2010)

(2010 rank: 55)


(14) [14]


We All Belong by Dr. Dog (2007)

(2010 rank: 7)


(15) [15]


I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty (2015)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(16) [16]


Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins (2003)

(2010 rank: 10)


(17) [17.5]


Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco (2002)

(2010 rank: 23)


(18) [19.5]

st vincent

St. Vincent by St. Vincent (2014)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(19) [19.5]


Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement (1994)

(2010 rank: 18)


(20) [19.5]


The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (2010)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(21) [20]


Fear of Music by Talking Heads (1979)

(2010 rank: 47)


(22) [22]


Sound of Silver by LCD Soundystem (2007)

(2010 rank: 14)


(23) [24.5]


Paul’s Boutique by Beastie Boys (1989)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(24) [24.5]


Gimme Fiction by Spoon (2005)

(2010 rank: 26)


(25) [24.5]


Funeral by Arcade Fire (2004)

(2010 rank: 24)


(26) [25.5]


Elephant Eyelash by Why? (2005)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(27) [27]


Graceland by Paul Simon (1986)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(28) [27.5]


Reflektor by Arcade Fire (2013)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(29) [29.5]


Lonerism by Tame Impala (2012)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(30) [30]


Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend (2008)

(2010 rank: 31)


(31) [30.5]


OK Computer by Radiohead (1997)

(2010 rank: 27)


(32) [31.5]

tune yards whokill

W H O K I L L by tUnE-yArDs (2011)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(33) [33.5]


LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem (2005)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(34) [35]


Oh, Inverted World by The Shins (2001)

(2010 rank: 29)


(35) [35]


Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon (2007)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(36) [35]


Speaking in Tongues by Talking Heads (1983)

(2010 rank: 40)


(37) [36.5]


Fate by Dr. Dog (2008)

(2010 rank: 39)


(38) [37.5]


This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About by Modest Mouse (1996)

(2010 rank: 34)


(39) [40.5]


This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem (2010)

(2010 rank: 35)


(40) [42.5]


Ode to Sunshine by Delta Spirit (2008)

(2010 rank: 28)


(41) [42.5]


American Beauty by Grateful Dead (1970)

(2010 rank: 46)


(42) [42.5]


Days by Real Estate (2011)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(43) [42.5]


Easy Beat by Dr. Dog (2005)

(2010 rank: 64)


(44) [43.5]


Currents by Tame Impala (2015)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(45) [43.5]


The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips (1999)

(2010 rank: 30)

It was only during my most recent listen of this album that I made the connection between The Soft Bulletin and the lyrics “the softest bullet ever shot” from The Spark That Bled. Ah well.


(46) [45]


Remain in Light by Talking Heads (1981)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(47) [46.5]


Michael by Les Sins (2014)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(48) [46.5]


Mellow Gold by Beck (1994)

(2010 rank: 62)


(49) [48]


Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon (2004)

(2010 rank: 32)


(50) [50.5]

salad days

Salad Days by Mac DeMarco (2014)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(51) [52]


Shame, Shame by Dr. Dog (2010)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(52) [52.5]


Building Nothing Out of Something by Modest Mouse (2000)

(2010 rank: 45)


(53) [52.5]

north hills

North Hills by Dawes (2009)

(2010 rank: 12)

North Hills and Ode to Sunshine were both kind of right place, right time albums. The couple of years that followed college was the lowest period of my life. North Hills in particular, which is hands down the saddest album on this list, overly spoke for me. I related to it too much. I don’t relate to it in that way anymore, and it has that taint of the memory of the days when I did (and maybe that’s why Dawes has moved away from it as well), but it is still a damn fine album. When My Time Comes is better than most songs.


(54) [53.5]


Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys (1966)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(55) [55.5]


Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan (1965)

(2010 rank: 36)


(56) [56]


On Avery Island by Neutral Milk Hotel (1996)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(57) [57.5]


Your Favorite Weapon by Brand New (2001)

(2010 rank: n/a)

Not sure why this didn’t make the 2010 list. Think I was taking a break from it back then (See also: North Hills note). Quintessential representation of the emo high school version of myself that is still in there somewhere (See also: North Hills note).


(58) [57.5]

black moon spell

Black Moon Spell by King Tuff (2014)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(59) [58]


Tom Tom Club by Tom Tom Club (1981)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(60) [60]


Black Messiah by D’Angelo and the Vanguard (2014)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(61) [62]


Everything All the Time by Band of Horses (2006)

(2010 rank: 22)


(62) [63.5]


Youth & Young Manhood by Kings of Leon (2003)

(2010 rank: 19)

2010 note: “NOTE: R.I.P. Kings of Leon, 2003-2004. Never forget.”


(63) [64]


Trying to Never Catch Up by What Made Milwaukee Famous (2004)

(2010 rank: 11)


(64) [65]


Odelay by Beck (1996)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(65) [66]


Cape Dory by Tennis (2011)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(66) [66]


Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr. (1993)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(67) [66]


Make the Clocks Move by Kevin Devine (2003)

(2010 rank: 21)


(68) [68]


Yuck by Yuck (2011)

(2010 rank: n/a)


(69) [68.5]


Let it Be by The Beatles (1970)

(2010 rank: 33)


(70) [69.5]


August & Everything After by Counting Crows (1993)

(2010 rank: 53)

NOTE: I am not embarrassed to include these last three albums at the very bottom of my way too long list.


(71) [71]


…is a Real Boy by Say Anything (2004)

(2010 rank: 50)


(72) [73.5]


The Stage Names by Okkervil River (2007)

(2010 rank: 13)


Have fun, cyborgs.