Top 10 Favorite Albums (of...ever)

I'm just a music fiend. I listen to music all the time - while I drive, while I shower, while I work, when I should probably be doing more productive things. All the time. Music is one of the most moving outlets, don't you agree? There is a song for every mood, and lyrics to match.
As it turns out though, I'm quite picky with my music.
I like to think I'm open-minded about most things, but (regrettably), I don't think I am about music.
Yes, I'm probably exactly what you're imagining: the girl with a playlist full of songs with sentence-long titles, sung by bands you've never heard of, with the catchphrase "oh, I really love ______, but I guess you've probably never heard of them..."

I promise, I'm not annoying though.
Well, I hope not.
When it comes to music, I have a set of criteria that, when met, equals a really great band:

  • Innovative lyrics with a poetry-like quality
  • Skillful instrument playing
  • Catchy tune/lyrics
  • The entire album is excellent - not just one song
It doesn't sound too difficult to find, right? I don't know, but somehow it removes the majority of pop, country, and rap from my list. Not to say that there aren't good bands/songs in those genres, but I typically don't find all my criteria met within them.
Hear me out.
My music library is full of songs by the thousands, and I have them all memorized. I don't have any music I don't listen to, because, what's the point of having it? Through all this listening, memorizing, and sampling, I've determined which albums truly top the charts in my book. As a result, I've compiled a list of my all time favorite albums (to date). These albums are done by some amazing artists, and each has a unique quality that makes it special.

If you're running low on music, I urge you to pleeeease (with a cherry on top?) listen to one or more of these albums. If you like what I like in music, then I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Each of these albums were so moving for me, that I honestly played them on repeat for 3-4 weeks straight before I felt satiated. 

Without further ado (in no particular order), I present, my Top 10 Favorite Albums:

Let's just talk about this red-haired maven for a minute. Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence + The Machine, is one of the most talented vocalists I've ever heard. Honestly, she could give Beyonce a run for her money, if Beyonce also had a British accent and played Indie music. I've seen her live twice, and both times, her performances have blown me away. Anyways, Florence is just glorious, and I can't get enough of her music (especially the harp!). Her lyrics are full of literary and historical references (This is a gift/ it comes with a price/ who is the lamb, and who is the knife/ Midas is king and he holds me so tight/ and turns me to gold in the sunlight), so how could you not love them? This album doesn't have a single song I don't love, not a one. Here's a sample:

There are few bands who do rock and blues better than The Black Keys. You might recognize them from their recently popular songs "Howling For You" and "Lonely Boy", but their older albums are what truly set them apart as rock gods. Dan and Patrick are incredible musicians as well - their guitar and drumming skills are out of this world. Basically, there are loads of reasons why you should listen to them. 'Attack and Release' is my personal favorite album but with 8 albums total, there are plenty of good options to choose from. Here's a sample:

Feist is one of those musical phenoms who is incredibly talented both vocally and musically. Gaining fame after her hits "1234" and "I Feel It All", Leslie Feist has 4 studio albums that are all excellent. I saw her live a few years ago, and was just stunned by her guitar skills (she is absolutely incredible!) as well as her vocals, which she tends to minimize in her songs. "Metals" is my favorite album of the four, for her ability to have a strong buildup with a heavy finish in each of her songs. Also, her background singers are superb (and in their own band - Mountain Man). Here's a sample:

Arguably my favorite band of all time, Wye Oak just hits all the right notes (ha! Get it?). The band is made up of two members - Andy Stacks and Jenn Wasner - but just listening you would assume it was at least 5. Each of them plays two instruments simultaneously, which is incredibly impressive in and of itself. They have 4 albums and 2 EPs, and it was nearly impossible to choose a favorite. However, "Civilian" might be my favorite song of all time, with lyrics like "I don't need another friend/ one more friend and I can barely keep with with them/ perfectly able to hold my own hand/ but I still can't kiss my own neck". So so poignant. So so good. Their sound is characterized as 'guitar noise', and Jenn has this superbly deep and raspy voice. Anyways, here's a sample:

Kimbra has one of the most amazing vocal ranges, on par with Florence, easily. She is often recognized for her part in "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye, but has since gone solo with this incredible album. Her sound is jazzy, bluesy, pop-y, which she classifies as "prog pop" or "progressive pop". She does live voice-over recording, in which she sings all the parts for her songs (not background singers!) and then layers them, live. It's pretty incredible to watch. Plus, not too many super hot ladies of pop are singing lyrics like "I want to settle down/ won't you settle down with me/ I want to raise a child/ won't you raise a child with me" and "I don't read my palms/I read the psalms/ they speak to me" these days. She's just wholesome and full of talent, and I'm pretty ecstatic for her soon-to-be-released sophomore album. Here's a sample of her (live voice-over) music:

The Fray was the first band I ever fell in love with. As I recall, it was after hearing "How to Save a Life" on an episode of Grays Anatomy, which I'm pretty sure is how every girl in my high school fell in love with them. While I'm not a huge fan of their newer stuff, The Fray's first three albums are fantastic. My personal favorite, perhaps out of nostalgia, is their self-titled album released in 2009. "Absolute" will always be one of my forever favorite songs. Also, side note, I saw The Fray live a few years back, and ran on stage during the last song, where Isaac Slade (the lead singer) held my hand while he sang. It was a definite highlight in my life, haha. Here's a sample of this album:

Local Natives are a band that I feel like you either love or you hate. They have a unique sound, formed by harmonizing voices and multiple guitars. While their first album "Gorilla Manor", released in 2011, was quite good, their most recent album "Hummingbirds" was just over the top. Their lyrics are gritty and honest (powder in your hair/ staples in your jeans/ fireworks over the water/ you were holy/ styrofoam cup/ held between your teeth. telling me how you're going to/ outlive your body), and the instrumental breaks (in nearly every song) are loud and boisterous. Try Local Natives on for size, and see what you think. Here's a sample:

I think I've yet to hear a more catchy, upbeat, and impressive album than Young The Giant's self-titled album, released in 2010. The lead singer, Samir, has the dreamiest voice; every single song has you begging to sing along. This is my go-to summer day album, because it's perfect for playing with the window's rolled down and the volume turned up. Plus, their lyrics are totally relatable: if I could find a way/ to see this straight/ I would run away/ to some fortune/ that I / should have found by now. You should definitely listen to Young the Giant, and fall in love. Here's a sample:

I think of Sea Wolf as the perfect music to listen to while riding a train on a rainy day, staring out at the countryside. I don't know why, I just do. Sea Wolf has three albums, but their newest is definitely my favorite. This album is just comfortable, and the atmosphere is inviting. Perfect coffee shop music (which, during my 2-year stint as a barista, it frequently was). Every song tells a complete story, but it's never straight-forward enough to be boring or predictable (cold misty evening/ I watched you walking on the path/ up to the front door/ your footsteps in the grass/ I could see you thinking/ and I had the notion it wasn't good/ as you put your boot on the first step/ I could hear the creak in the wood). You may have heard their song 'You're a Wolf', which was used in a few movie trailers a couple years back. Anyways, here's a sample: 

Last, but certainly not least, is the guitar-king Ben Howard. He is one of the most amazing guitarists I've ever heard, and he's British, so he's basically the best. His songs have magical lyrics and tunes that are hard to get out of your head. My favorite thing though, is the fact that he plays his guitar as a percussion instrument by laying it on his lap and drumming on it. Sounds strange? It's totally awesome, and he rocks it. He has this low, raspy voice that's a bit folk-like, and with cello in the background, everything about his music is perfection. You should definitely watch this live percussion/guitar performance:

Obviously, there are other incredible albums out there that I didn't include in my top 10. Notable exclusions include: The Head and the Heart, Needtobreathe, A Fine Frenzy, Andrew Bird, and Lord Huron.

So who are your favorites? Do we have any crossovers? Happy listening :)

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  1. Ben Howard literally gets me through Wednesdays.

  2. Replies
    1. I have to wait at least 3 months before I can officially add them to my 'favorites' list, to make sure that my love for them isn't just a passing fad. hahaha.

  3. Loved checking out those videos. I like a little Florence and Kimbra, but hadn't heard of the rest! My go-to music is Vienna Teng. I like a little folk or blues inspired stuff, like Delta Rae or The Hush Sound. And I love progressive metal. If you like classically influenced music and vocals with a metal twist, check out Ayreon or Flaming Row (tons of instruments and classified as "metal operas") or Seventh Wonder.