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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums by JulianR (2019)

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Hey!
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
Thanks
- Julian

Chart updated: 05/27/2019 08:45 (Created: 12/14/2016 01:31). Chart size: 100 albums.

There are 63 comments for this chart from BestEverAlbums.com members and Top 100 Greatest Music Albums has an average rating of 91 out of 100 (from 92 votes). Please log in or register to leave a comment or assign a rating.

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Collector's summaryLog in or register to discover the great albums that are missing from your music collection!
Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | ArtistDate Added
RankAlbumArtist
1. (=)

Laughing StockUnited Kingdom Talk Talk
Art Rock • Jazz-Rock
100/100
Cover Art: 9/10

Time, setting on the Horizon.
Your day will come,
And it is today.

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.

Best Moments:
Ascension Day - When the guitars suddenly crash in to those powerful chords
(First added to chart: 03/28/2018)
Year of Release:1991Appears in:569 charts
Rank in 1991:9Rank Score:13,631
Rank in 1990s47Overall Rank:204
Average Rating:  84/100 (674 votes)
Comments: 64 comments
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2. (=)

SpiderlandUnited States Slint
Math Rock
100/100
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"

Best Moment:
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 chart: 08/25/2017)
Year of Release:1991Appears in:817 charts
Rank in 1991:5Rank Score:22,894
Rank in 1990s22Overall Rank:112
Average Rating: Top rated 85/100 (950 votes)
Comments: 101 comments
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3. (=)

LowUnited Kingdom David Bowie
Art Rock • Electronic • Ambient (side 2)
95/100
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 chart: 12/13/2016)
Year of Release:1977Appears in:1,189 charts
Rank in 1977:4Rank Score:35,417
Rank in 1970s17Overall Rank:63
Average Rating: Top rated 86/100 (1,619 votes)
Comments: 134 comments
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4. (=)

Time Out Of MindUnited States Bob Dylan
Blues Rock
95/100
CA: 7/10

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 chart: 04/28/2018)
Year of Release:1997Appears in:292 charts
Rank in 1997:20Rank Score:2,877
Rank in 1990s182Overall Rank:879
Average Rating:  79/100 (456 votes)
Comments: 21 comments
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5. (=)

The Final CutUnited Kingdom Pink Floyd
Rock • Prog • Rock Ballads
95/100
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 chart: 12/13/2016)
Year of Release:1983Appears in:295 charts
Rank in 1983:9Rank Score:3,896
Rank in 1980s101Overall Rank:666
Average Rating:  71/100 (801 votes)
Comments: 53 comments
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6. (=)

For Emma, Forever AgoUnited States Bon Iver
Indie Folk
95/100
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 chart: 10/19/2018)
Year of Release:2007Appears in:988 charts
Rank in 2007:2Rank Score:27,267
Rank in 2000s11Overall Rank:90
Average Rating:  83/100 (1,245 votes)
Comments: 95 comments
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7. (=)

Hand. Cannot. Erase.United Kingdom Steven Wilson
Prog Rock • Rock Opera
95/100
CA: 7/10

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.

BM:
Ancestral: "Come baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack if you want to!", and the ensuing, face melting, guitar solo
(First added to chart: 03/23/2017)
Year of Release:2015Appears in:201 charts
Rank in 2015:7Rank Score:3,465
Rank in 2010s75Overall Rank:741
Average Rating:  81/100 (302 votes)
Comments: 36 comments
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8. (=)

The Soft BulletinUnited States The Flaming Lips
95/100
(First added to chart: 05/07/2018)
Year of Release:1999Appears in:1,033 charts
Rank in 1999:2Rank Score:26,266
Rank in 1990s19Overall Rank:95
Average Rating:  83/100 (1,248 votes)
Comments: 102 comments
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9. (=)

The Age Of AdzUnited States Sufjan Stevens
Indietronica • Folk-Hop (my made-up genre name for Hip-Hop-Folk fusion)
95/100
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.

BM:
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 chart: 07/13/2017)
Year of Release:2010Appears in:468 charts
Rank in 2010:9Rank Score:8,068
Rank in 2010s33Overall Rank:349
Average Rating:  80/100 (682 votes)
Comments: 50 comments
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10. (=)

YeezusUnited States Kanye West
Industrial Hip-Hop
95/100
CA: 8/10

"Y'all 'bout to turn shit up?
I'm 'bout to tear shit down
I'm 'bout to air shit out
Now what the fuck they gon' say now?"

This album has made me re-evaluate a lot of how I think about music. As one who comes from a classic rock background, as I suspect most (or at least a good number) on this site do, it's hard not to think of Kanye as one of those new rappers writing pop-rap for a bunch of teenagers to drink and party to. To a certain extent, that not incorrect. But this album is a whole lot more.

While MBDTF was definitely an artistic statement, it was one designed to generate radio hits. Yeezus is, to a certain extent, anti-commercial. Or at least as anti-commercial as any serious album by the most popular artist in the world could be. On Sight is abrasive as hell. The same is true of most of the rest. As hard as it might be to understand coming from the high-brow land of rock n' roll, this is a thoroughly artistic, not commercial, endeavor.

The next hurdle of course is that you might point out, "Look at all the shitty stuff he says! He's just vulgar, obscene, and misogynistic!". Again, you would not be entirely wrong. In defense, I call to the stand Lou Reed. He in fact named this one of his favorite albums of the past decade or so shortly before passing away, but thats not what he's been called to the stand for. Instead, it is for his magnum opus track, Sister Ray. A song almost universally revered by rock "oldheads," it literally details a drug fueled orgy, in the strongest language that 60's would allow. More evidence could be presented, such as the Sex Pistols in general. These artists aren't considered vulgar unintelligent provocateurs, but as visionaries of the art form that is music. The same is true of Kanye West. If one reframes his vulgar digressions as either playful jibes or an attempt to see how far boundaries can be pushed (they are often both), one gets a figure not unlike the late Lou Reed.

That said, I don't think that he is immune from criticism. I'm still unsure how I feel about the politics surrounding using Billy Holiday's "Blood On The Leaves" as the basis for a song about ecstacy fueled affairs. But overall the album is a pretty awesome listen. Just a quick shoutout to the real highlights of the album: I Am A God is a banger, and quite a good distillation of Kanye himself; a self-aware, yet flamboyantly excessive exercise in self-worship. New Slaves is a surpringly nuanced look at what it means to be black and successful in America. And Hold My Liquor is possibly Kanye's greatest accomplishment of all time.
(First added to chart: 12/08/2017)
Year of Release:2013Appears in:527 charts
Rank in 2013:6Rank Score:9,112
Rank in 2010s30Overall Rank:319
Average Rating:  76/100 (1,062 votes)
Comments: 137 comments
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Top 100 Greatest Music Albums composition

Decade Albums %


1930s 0 0%
1940s 0 0%
1950s 0 0%
1960s 15 15%
1970s 12 12%
1980s 5 5%
1990s 23 23%
2000s 21 21%
2010s 24 24%
Artist Albums %


The Flaming Lips 5 5%
Pink Floyd 4 4%
Talk Talk 3 3%
Kendrick Lamar 3 3%
Radiohead 3 3%
Bob Dylan 3 3%
Kanye West 3 3%
Show all
Country Albums %


United States 55 55%
United Kingdom 27 27%
Australia 4 4%
Canada 4 4%
Mixed Nationality 3 3%
Ireland 3 3%
Russia 1 1%
Show all

Top 100 Greatest Music Albums chart changes

Biggest climbers
climbers Up 12 from 97th to 85th
A Love Supreme
by John Coltrane
Biggest fallers
fallers Down 2 from 84th to 86th
American Football
by American Football
fallers Down 2 from 85th to 87th
The Wall
by Pink Floyd
fallers Down 2 from 86th to 88th
Pinkerton
by Weezer
New entries
newentries 新しい日の誕生 [Birth Of A New Day]
by 2814
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