Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by JulianR (2020)
I am quite excited to discuss literally anything about music ("literal" used in the literal, not figurative sense). I don't really know anyone that listens to the breadth and depth of music that I do. So if you disagree with something I say, or just want to talk about music, totally message me. Also if you want recommendations, or have some for me, totally message me or comment. Thank you!
Just as a heads up, the descriptions for these albums could have been written yesterday, or 18 months ago. They may not be totally reflective of my opinions on them now, though they were at one point at least.
Chart of the Day: 2/21/18, 4/23/19
Questions, comments, concerns, and especially recommendations are all heavily encouraged
- Chart updated: 02/07/2020 06:45
- (Created: 12/14/2016 01:31).
- Chart size: 100 albums.
There are 69 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Top 100 Greatest Music Albums has an average rating of 92 out of 100 (from 107 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.
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Cover Art: 9/10
If You Like This: The For Carnation - self-titled
It's a broodingness that never quite explodes in anger or in sadness, but simply falls deeper into the brooding. It's a beauty that never allows itself to be fully realized.
What strikes you first about this album is its minimalism. And it can be hard to understand, at first. Very hard in fact. The first time I listened to this record, I didn't really hear anything at all. Every once in a while some guy would whisper an incomprehensable phrase, and then fade back while a flute played three notes for a minute and a half. That's what it felt like. That just takes time, but eventually you hear deliberateness instead of silence. Then you begin to marvel at the complexity of the music, in the way one begins to marvel at the complexity of a surface, such as a mirror, a plain wall, if you look at it long enough. The layers and dynamics of this record draw one in, as they have done to me on this record. But after a while, the thing that stands out most about this album is how darn simple it is, on a fundamental level. Some of my favorite moments on Laughing Stock are the choruses, if you could call them that. They are just a short hummable phrase that only appears a few times, but somehow they stick with you so much. I think they are so powerful because they are put in perspective by the ramblings of the woodwinds and lack of melody essentially everywhere else. They are the anchor with which the rest of the fluttering flutes and glittering guitars are tethered down.
This use of melodic and structural contrast is probably the most important aspect of this album. When in the context of the album, Ascension Day is one of may favorite songs of all time. It just feels so powerful. But if you just listen to it on its own, not bookended by Myrrhman and After The Flood, it doesn't have that same power. The minimalism of Myrrhman is what makes the highs of Ascension Day and After The Flood feel so high. Taphead does the same for New Grass, which in turn makes Runeii feel so dark and desolate. Spirit of Eden comes to a close with with Wealth; a prayer, a beautiful, peaceful resolution, a shimmering organ that I imagine as the light blue sky upon which a snow-white dove flaps its wings. Runeii fades Laughing Stock from a dark blue, almost bruised purple, to a deep black, with the threat of shattering into innumerable shards.
Ascension Day - When the guitars suddenly crash in to those powerful chords [First added to this chart: 03/28/2018]
Cover Art: 10/10
If You Like This: Rodan - Rusty; Don Cabellero - Don Cab 2
"Don stepped outside"
Insidious seems to be a good word, in my mind, to describe this album. The album sneaks up on you, all cloak and dagger like. The first time you listen to it, it is a debilitatingly confusing attack on your brain, which most don't defeat. What are all these weird time signatures? Why is he whispering? Who the HELL is Don? Then on the second listen, you get used to the music enough to really begin to listen to the lyrics. Still not enough to actually pull a story line out of them, but enough to get a feeling of vague dread in your gut. On the third or fourth listen or so you begin to understand the story lines, and finally feel the full brunt of them. They are frightening, fascinating, and severely cryptic, and leave you both wanting to know more, but also with the knowledge that their incompleteness is what makes them so amazing in the first place. Probably the least interesting lyrical peice would be "Breadcrumb Trail," which is (not so) coincidentally the most straightforward and complete story given. In contrast, the crown jewels of lyricism on this album would have to be "Good Morning, Captain" and "Don, Aman." If you know the tracks, you also know they are the most cryptic; "Captain" seems to begin right at the end of some long and eventful story, and the way it is sung/spoken we can't even tell who says what in the dialogue. "Don" is about a guy, somewhere, that something happens to, or maybe to his friend, but we miss that part, but we can tell afterward he is angry, or maybe sad, or kinda guilty. As you can tell, I don't have that one quite figured out yet, but that's exactly why it's so amazing.
And as amazing as the lyrics are, the music is just as breathtaking. The guitars are oblique, angular, they hit you from directions guitars aren't allowed to come from. The drums and bass provide an awesomely balanced yet vicious punch. This album truly has some of the cooler drumming I've ever heard. And the way they can all break it down and get super quiet, like most of Don Aman or the build up right before the cresendo of Washer is breathtaking and makes it all the more amazing when they let loose and it feels like they tear the very bottom out of the song and replace it with an indescribable energy. The pinnacle of course being the perfect (and I mean perfect) ending to "Good Morning, Captain," when he starts screaming and all the instruments go into absolute manic mode.
As I have explored more math rock, this album has made me realize something. A lot of math rock that I have listened to really isn't as interesting, despite sounding pretty similar. And I have realized today that that is becuase this music actually goes places; it developes and shifts and builds and falls in a way that is really unique, not just in math rock but in all of music. It has the odd time signatures, the "angular" sound, but it's really what it does with those elements that makes this album so special.
A quote by user louisjwyatt that I found particularly compelling:
"It's like an urban myth set to music"
Good Morning Captain: "ahhhhww, I miss youuuu!!!" Chunk-gah-gah-chunk-gah-gah-chunk-chaaa (just listen to the last minute or so to know what I mean) [First added to this chart: 08/25/2017]
Cover Art: 8/10
IYLT: Brian Eno - Another Green World
"Must have been touching close to 94"
Side 1 is some of the most innovative music made in the 70's. It manages to toe the intersection between being extremely artistic and very catchy/accessible as a good chunk of Bowie's career did (some parts... well, not so much of either). It's just such a creative feat to have written this album 40 years ago and still have it sound interesting, creative, cutting edge, and new. It blows my mind every time. The sounds that Eno (Brian Eno, producer and co-composer of much of Side 2 and prolific ambient artist) gets out of the synths and other instruments is really great. That searing synth in Breaking Glass, that somber background in Warzawa, all fit perfectly with the piece. Timbre is something that is underappreciated in western music, but this album is a masterpiece in that variety. Side 2 (you can probably lump in the last track of side one) is an entirely different experience, although it doesn't feel out of place or awkward in relation to Side 1. It's a brooding collage of textures, where song structure is barely existent. It combines the typical Bowie grandiosity with Eno's minimalist arrangement sensibilities. It is some of the better ambient music I've heard. The result is 20 minutes of a dream.
To sum it up, I will quote my dad, who says Side 1 is David Bowie at his best, while Side 2 is Brian Eno at his best. And I think that's pretty accurate. [First added to this chart: 12/13/2016]
In 1961, Bob Dylan released his first album. Only 5 years after that, he was putting out what is widely considered some of the greatest music of all time, with Blonde on Blonde the obvious highlight. A a little under a decade later, he was back with the masterpiece Blood on the Tracks (along with Desire, which is also pretty good). A bit over another decade later and he had the stellar comeback Oh Mercy. And then another ten years, and along comes Time Out Of Mind. This is not just a return to form as it might be with any other (normal) artist. This is his third return to form. And despite the fact that he had three heydays under his belt, this one could very well be his best yet. Its swamped in reverbed-out organs and wavering, twangy blues guitar notes floating in the distance. Dylan was apparently dissatisfied with the production, but I don't know how; it sounds like the most original blues album ever made because of it.
The lyricism is also some of the best and most personal since Blood On the Tracks (aside from a few excellent songs on Oh Mercy). It's all old age and heartache on this one. Dylan perfectly depicts the slow lull of old age, especially on the lengthy, burning closer Highlands. The song perfectly mirrors his lyricism, and adds a whole other layer to them; it too "drifts from scene to scene", wandering lost in the highlands, aging and slowing. Some are more urgent, as with Its Not Dark Yet, and they are done excellently as well. Yet the highlights are probably the ones that deal with love, which feel just as personal and compelling as they did 30 years ago. Make You Feel My Love is the high point of the album in this regard, with both gorgeous lyricism and a wonderful piano based melody to go with it. [First added to this chart: 04/28/2018]
Cover Art: 5/10
If You Like This: Roger Waters' solo work
"They disembarked in '45
And no-one spoke and no-one smiled
There were too many spaces in the line"
I would like to boast that, of the entire site, I have this album ranked the highest. It's kinda cool (everyone likes being unique, right), but this album honestly deserves so much more recognition.
If I could sum up my childhood musically, it would be in the words "Pink Floyd". Ever since I have consciously listened to music, I have always been to hum along to every single note of every single solo of every single song of every single album from Dark Side to the Final Cut. It was never a conscious choice, I just have Gilmour ingrained in my brain, and my father to thank for it. Since I have begun rediscovering music on my own terms, I have discovered, for a fact, that this is the best Pink Floyd album. Sure, PF has some great albums. Everything from Meddle to this record is just top tier in my opinion. They are all grandiose, deep, insightful, innovative, but none are even close to this album, to be honest. None of them quite reach the deep, heartfelt, painful feeling that this album is able to capture. I think in order to get to this true, honest, painful place in his music, Roger Waters needed to cut through the excess at the core of what prog rock is, and for this he needed to cut a lot of the excess of the other members, exercising almost total creative control. With that he was able to create this album ("written by Roger Rogers, Performed by Pink Floyd", as the liner notes specify). You can call it a Waters solo album, but that doesn't make it any worse. It's still fantastic, no matter who got shafted in the process.
Every song feels like it was made through a deeply painful process to Roger; even The Wall, though he is supposedly speaking about himself, feels detached, inflated, melodramatic, abstract. But this album is very real; maybe the most real on this list, maybe of all time. It is an album about real experiences. They may not be Roger's exactly, but they might as well have been. He talks about it as if growing up in a world defined by a war he was barely alive for imbued him with an intimate knowledge of it--and it must have. Growing up, where every man either saw war himself or knew ten others who went and didn't make it back, must have been a strange experience. Roger Waters is conveying multi-generational wounds on this album, deep pain that, though he hasn't felt it, has felt the effects of every day of his life. In "your possible pasts", he is singing about the way could tell, growing up, that everyone was holding a strange and invisible burden, one that everyone saw but no-one talked about. And he also gets very personal. "When the tigers broke free" (ya i know it wasnt on the original release but its on the one I have and I consider it part of the album) is about his firsthand experience with how his dad died.
But this isn't an album just for him. It talks about his childhood experiences, but it also talks about the lives of the adults around him during that time through their eyes. And even more than that, it's an album for an entire country. A country he saw as sliding right back into the tendencies that led to all the pain he saw in the first place. The tendencies that have the possibility to kill us all in nuclear catastrophe, as he points out in what may be the greatest closer to an album ever.
" Finally, I understand, the feelings of the few
Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend
We were all equal in the end " [First added to this chart: 12/13/2016]
Cover Art: 8/10 for the reissue one
Some albums are magical. Laughing Stock (#1) and Lazer Guided Melodies (#4 at the moment) are some of the most magical albums I have ever heard. Loveless, Kid A, Blonde, Chill Out, and many others have been wonderfully magical at various times in my life. But this album seems to have a different, more special kind of magic to it. It's own form of magic is small, not grandiose like the rest. It is the magic of being alone in the woods. It is the magic of feelings left bottled up. It is the magic of a man with a guitar making music for its own sake. The only album that is able to capture a similar magic is Iron & Wine's "The Creek Drank The Cradle." And even then, that is the magic of old times, the rustic American Midwest. Appalachia. For Emma, Forever Ago, to me, is the magic of the American Northwest. The Rockies. Evergreen trees, deep, damp forests, snowfall. Love. A lot more love is here. Maybe more for me than for others, given my life experiences with this album. It is the album that soundtracks my current love, more beautiful than even this album. [First added to this chart: 10/19/2018]
IYLT: Steven Wilson's more famous project, Porcupine Tree (which is proggier).
"Hey brother, it's been a while now
I bet you thought that I was dead"
THIS is what a rock opera is supposed to be. Epic. In my mind, it is both the natural progression of the more mainstream parts of Animals/WYWH era Pink Floyd and a brave new deviation from the more experimental parts, into uncharted territories. Wilson doesn't just ride the line between anthemic rock and heavy progressive rock, he finds whole new spaces in between the two, and creates one of the more creative pieces in either genre. It builds on itself in amazing ways, and flows so well that sometimes it's hard to know when one song ends and the next begins. It's all so natural. And I might dare to say that it is the best produced album of all time. Just listen to Ancestral and tell me I'm wrong.
And the story is awesome, if not very defined or linear. It is inspired by the life (and more importantly death) of a girl named Joyce Carol Vincent, who, despite having friends and family, died in her apartment and wasn't found until 3 years later. Crazy right. Wilson is able to craft a story that, if not quite a story line, does give a glimpse into how easily we can slip in and out of eachothers lives without noticing.
Ancestral: "Come baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack if you want to!", and the ensuing, face melting, guitar solo [First added to this chart: 03/23/2017]
Terry Riley knows of another plane of existence, and he can take you there too, if you have the money for some headphones. [First added to this chart: 11/22/2017]
Cover Art: 4/10
IYLT: Frank Ocean - Blonde; Bon Iver - 22, A Million
"It's different now I think
I wasn't older yet
I wasn't wise, I guess"
PSA: Apparently his name is pronounced "Soof-yawn"
I'm calling it now. This album, along with "Hand. Cannot. Erase." by Steven Wilson, will be heralded as the unsung masterpieces of this era. You might as well thank me now it's as good a time as any. (Reading back over this sentence like a year after I wrote it, I should note that was just a note, I'm not that pretentious at all :) )
This is such a complex album. Every note and every rhythm is so fine tuned. Even listening to the rhythms from one bar to the next you realize it is rarely the same time twice. Every single fragment of this album is so meticulously composed. And I do mean composed; while basically all electronic music feels like variations on a pattern, this feels like it was constructed from the ground up every second of the way.
The music is so creative and unique. There really is nothing even comparable. The way Sufjan is able to create moods and build powerful flows with his music is always inspiring, but the way he does it on this album takes it to a whole new level. The willingness to dip into these new tools doesn't act as a cop out for creativity as some artists have used them for (I'm looking at you, Coldplay and Arcade Fire). They instead simply augment his awe-inspiring compositional skills. And the result is truly transcendent above not only both his folk and more electronic albums, but also most electronic music ever.
I want to be well (5:30ish): When the "I'm not fuckin' around! (and I'm not one to be!)" really reaches its crescendo [First added to this chart: 07/13/2017]
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition
|The Flaming Lips||5||5%|
Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes
| Down 1 from 60th to 61st|
The Glow Pt. 2
by The Microphones
| Down 1 from 61st to 62nd|
| Down 1 from 62nd to 63rd|
by Drive Like Jehu
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This chart is rated in the top 1% of all charts on BestEverAlbums.com. This chart has a mean average rating of 91.0/100. The trimmed mean (excluding outliers) is 92.3/100. The standard deviation for this chart is 13.0.
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Great list with wonderful notes and recommendations. Your description of Loveless and Shoegaze is as touching as it is true. You're right about Touched, haha
Although the list is really an odd mix of soul/hip of and progressive rock/post-rock (if I am not mistaken, I did see a similar combination somewhere else on this site on an earlier browse last autumn), there is not that much of real note in the chart.
However, the lack of really unusual albums and a grouping of genres that is merely on the “eccentric” side is certainly compensated for by some impressive notes, which substantially add to the rating.
Some albums you might not have heard that I could attempt to recommend based on your taste:
— ‘Yeti’ by Amon Düül II
— ‘H to He Who Am the Only One’ and ‘Pawn Hearts’ by Van der Graaf Generator
— ‘A Return to the Inner Experience’, ‘This Timeless Turning’ and ‘Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves’ by Sky Cries Mary
— ‘Gala’ and ‘Spooky’ by Lush
Very nice and unique chart, very inspiring! And also, good job on all those comments.
Really nice chart, maybe you like Gorillaz?
Not a huge fan of all these albums, but I really like the chart with its descriptions and stuff.
I love how there's lots of underdog records from great artists picked before their most popular masterpieces, your picks from Pink Floyd, Dylan, Kanye and Kendrick just to name a few. Not that it makes this - or any other - chart automatically better. Sometimes it could mean the total opposite; "why did you choose a, when x, y and z by the same artist are clearly much better". Therefor I think in doing that some notes are definitely a good thing to have. Not because it's wrong at all to pick outside the stream, but naturally questions will rise when it occurs.
You did such a great job on your notes so your niche is much more than justified! So happy to see that!
This is just one of the many elements that makes this list great, just wanted to point that out. This chart is a great inspiration.
Really how eclectic and different this is! Lots of new stuff for me to dig into here. Also love the "if you like this" suggestion. Nice touch! Thank you!
Really great chart, dude. I particularly enjoyed the "Best Moments" that you noted from some of the albums. I also really liked your write-up an explanation for your top albums. Keep up the good work!
Awesome stuff ;) Based on everything you have on the list, you need to give Portishead another chance. Especially "Third" should grow on you like a lot of your favorite albums.
Yo the cover art for Laughing Stock is 10/10 tho