Music

Music Reviews

Here is nearly every review I have written about the recorded music I have listened to in my life, sorted by year.

Below the table you will eventually find my attempt at creating definitive lists of the best rock, jazz and maybe even “classical” music I’m aware of. But this is work in progress.

2024202320222021 2020:
1. Fiona Apple: Fetch the Boltcutters
2. Guga Stroeter, Lucio Agra, Renato Soares – Computador do Amor
3. tētēma: Necroscape
4. Scott the Hoople: NEIL
5. Pearl Jam: Gigaton (6?/10)
2019:
1. Tool: Fear Inoculum
2018:
1. Missing Waves: Post-Crash (7/10)
2. Rabbit Rabbit: Black Inscription
2017:
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: “Luciferian Towers”
2. The Bob’s Burgers Music Album
3. Ex Eye
4. Vijay Iyer Sextet: Far From Over
2016:
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
2. Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Dissociation
4. 4. The Bad Plus: It’s Hard
5. Weaves
6. Free Salamander Exhibit: Undestroyed
7. Wilco: Schmilco
2015:
1. Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance: Synovial Joints
2. Vijay Iyer: Break Stuff
3. The Visit: Through Darkness Into Light
4. Mary Halvorson: Meltframe
5. Wilco: Star Wars
6. The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: ‘Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress’
8. Rabbit Rabbit Radio Vol. 3 – Year of the Wooden Horse
9. Faith No More: Sol Invictus
10. Battles: La Di Da Di
2014:
1. tetema: Geocidal
2. Tinariwen: Emmaar
3. Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal
4. Thurston Moore: The Best Day
5. Robert Ellis: Lights from the Chemical Plant
6. Scott Walker, Sunn O))): Soused
7. Daniel Lanois: Flesh and Machine
8. Tord Gustavsen Quartet: Extended Circle
9. Beck: Morning Phase
10. John Hiatt: Terms of My Surrender

2013:
1. Hilary Hahn: In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores (9/10)
2. Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society: Brooklyn Babylon
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan: One of Us is the Killer
4. The Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea
5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away
6. Deafheaven: Sunbather
7. The Flaming Lips: The Terror
8. Rabbit Rabbit: Rabbit Rabbit Radio, Vol. 1
9. Julian Lynch: Lines
10. Dave Holland: Prism
2012:
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
1. Scott Walker: Bish Bosch
3. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do
4. John Zorn: The Gnostic Preludes
5. Hilary Hahn and Hauschka: Silfra
6. The Mars Volta: Nocturniquet
7. Dirty Projectors: Swing Lo Magellan
8. Jack White: Blunderbuss
9. Failure Epics
10. Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans: Mechanical Malfunction
2011:
1. PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
2. Dave Douglas and Brass Ecstasy: United Front: Brass Ecstasy Live at Newport
3. Original Broadway Cast Recording: The Book of Mormon by Matt Stone, Robert Lopez and Trey Parker
4. Peter Gabriel: New Blood
5. Tom Waits: Bad as Me
6. Bill Frisell’s 858 Quartet: Sign of Life
7. Man Man: Life Fantastic
8. Erik Friedlander: Bonebridge
9. Esmerine: La Lechuza
10. Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans: Electric Fruit
2010:
1. The Element Choir at Rosedale United
2. Nels Cline: Dirty Baby
3. The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights
4. Elvis Costello: The National Ransom
5. Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back
6. The Claudia Quintet: Royal Toast
7. Jason Robinson: Two Faces of Janus
8. Grinderman 2
9. Bill Frisell: Beautiful Dreamers
10. theHEAD: Trojan Jazz Festival
21st Century
2029202820272026202520242023202220212020
2019201820172016201520142013201220112010
20092008200720062005200420032002:20012000
20th Century
1999199819971996199519941993199219911990
1989198819871986198519841983198219811980
1979197819771976197519741973197219711970
1969196819671966196519641963196219611960
1959195819571956195519541953195219511950
1949194819471946194519441943194219411940
1939193819371936193519341933193219311930
1929192819271926192519241923192219211920
1919191819171916191519141913191219111910
1909190819071906190519041903190219011900
19th Century
1899189818971896189518941893189218911890
1889188818871886188518841883188218811880
1879187818771876187518741873187218711870
1869186818671866186518641863186218611860
1859185818571856185518541853185218511850
1849184818471846184518441843184218411840
1839183818371836183518341833183218311830
1829182818271826182518241823182218211820
1819181818171816181518141813181218111810
1809180818071806180518041803180218011800
18th Century
1790s1780s1770s1760s1750s1740s1730s1720s1710s1700s
17th Century
1690s1680s1670s1660s1650s1640s1630s1620s1610s1600s
16th Century
1590s1580s1570s1560s1550s1540s1530s1520s1510s1500s
15th Century
14th Century
13th Century
12th Century

Here is a guide to my rating system:

  1. Transcendentally awful
  2. Awful
  3. Bad
  4. Below Average
  5. Average
  6. Above Average
  7. Good
  8. Very Good
  9. Great: Near-Perfect or Near-Transcendent
  10. Perfect and/or Transcendent

Core Curriculum

I have listened to a lot of music in my life, enough to think I know what people should listen to if they want to understand certain genres of music.

So I present here three lists of essential albums (or pieces, in the case of western art music) which give the listener an understanding of these genres. And I present them in authoritative order, meaning that the first list is for the genre I know the most about, the second I know a little bit less about and the third I know far less about.

Core Curriculum for Pop Rock Music

Core Curriculum for Jazz

Core Curriculum for Western Art Music (aka “Classical”)

As you can see there isn’t anything for Hip Hop, nor is there for electronic music or dance music (often lumped together). I know nothing about these genres and do not pretend to know anything.

As for genres such as blues and folk (and basically any “roots” genre), I know a fair amount about these genres but choose to omit lists for both of them for two reasons:

  • I don’t know enough to get truly authoritative, especially when it comes to before 1960 or so AND
  • So much of what I know about these genres comes from my experiences of pop rock music, and its sources.

I hope you find these lists useful. If not, please comment.