Parker’s 10 Favorite Albums … Ever
These are in no particular order.
Dizzee Rascal | Boy In Da Corner
British rapper/producer Dizzee Rascal recorded Boy In Da Corner when he was 16 years old, and it stands today as one of the strongest mixes of hip hop vocals, garage beats, and grime synths. Rascal’s frenetic flow and inquisitive wordplay cemented him as one of the greatest UK rappers of all time.
Essential song: “I Luv U”
Johnny Cash | At Folsom Prison
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Never were these words more punctual than his raucous live performance at Folsom Prison in central California. Ever the sinner himself, Cash sung to murderers, rapists, and thieves to create one of the most visceral live albums ever recorded.
Essential song: “Folsom Prison Blues”
American Football | American Football
Sometimes, I like to be sad. Sometimes, being sad is out of my control. But the singular LP released by math-rock emo band American Football is the essential companion to sad feelings. Its unique use of jazz instrumentation to complement some of the prettiest guitar riffs in existence helped American Football break the mold of what it meant to be “emo”.
Essential song: “Never Meant”
Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampires of the City
Ezra Koenig’s lyrical genius alone would make this an album worth listening to. However, when you add orchestral instrumentation, varied topics (religion, love, etc.), and a wide variety of sonic influences, you get one of the best albums this decade.
Fleetwood Mac | Rumors
One of the most carefully crafted LPs of all time, Rumors sold a then-record 800,000 copies in its first week of release. The songs here are simply beautiful, and it’s remarkable how every sonic aspect of the song (guitar, bassline, drums, vocals, etc.) falls neatly into place without overshadowing another.
The Beach Boys | Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys were the birth of indie rock. Yes, there had been alternative rock bands before The Beach Boys, but none had done it this well. Pet Sounds saw The Beach Boys innovate their sound with increased brass, and Brian Wilson’s songwriting had a marked effect on the band’s success.
Pavement | Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
The way lead singer Stephen Malkmus hangs onto every word he sings, coupled with the pretty (yet sometimes screechy) guitar underneath, leads to some fantastic tunes. The mathy drums and somewhat pretentious lyrics make Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain the quintessential college album.
Weezer | The Blue Album
Weezer’s debut introduced the world to Rivers Cuomo and all that he could provide. His lyrics were off-kilter (especially in the first half of the album) but The Blue Album was billed as alternative rock that could be played on mainstream radio. It lived up to those expectations.
Essential song: “Buddy Holly”
Ice Cube | The Predator
Released as a response to the early 90s’ Los Angeles riots, west coast rapper Ice Cube’s finest released expressed the frustration he felt as an LA native. His confidence and braggadocio come through nicely, and nothing sounds better blasting out of a car in the middle of summer.
Essential song: “It Was A Good Day”
Frank Ocean | channel ORANGE
This is my favorite album ever released. There is not a weak point on this album, as we see Frank Ocean’s narrative go from the highs of life (“Super Rich Kids”, “Sweet Life”) to the lows (“Crack Rock”, “Pilot Jones”) and everywhere in between. It’s sexy and sad, confident and weak, beautiful and ugly. For me, there isn’t a better music experience.