Odelay is one of my favourite albums, and one of the few where every track is considered a favourite. I love all of Beck's albums to some degree or another, but I'm not sure he'll ever surpass this one. It's a perfect realisation of his early "junkyard mash-up" sound that still carries a lot of heart underneath all the samples and white noise.
I've talked about where my musical taste comes from, and how my family have had very little impact on my choices, but one figure who has is my half-brother Jeff. Almost 30 years my elder and seen for perhaps 4 or 5 days a year, he has nonetheless managed to steer me towards some great artists, such as Martin Grech, who's Open Heart Zoo I would describe as "a howl of rage and sadness by a robot conducting an orchestra in a metalwork factory".
It's a stupid complaint, because in theory it's an easy fix, but I've always been annoyed at myself for not being more involved in our local music scene. I don't know why I'm not - Norwich has a pretty vibrant musical culture, and I've even got friends who dabble in it, but I've just never got into the swing of it. One of the bands I have come across is The Brownies, an excellent indie rock band following in the steps of the Riot Grrl movement. Their album, Ourknife Yourback, is a great record filled with fantastically spiky tunes.
Jamie T's Panic Prevention is one of those albums that I'll forever associate with the time I spent in America, not that it's at all American. In fact, it's one of those albums that I find amazingly evocative of London. It's kind of the flip side to The Good, The Bad and The Queen, which feels rooted in London's history and mythology. Panic Prevention is about the reality - dance floors and minor tragedies and lap dancers and getting the last tube home. It feels like a good collection of short stories, giving momentary glances into people's lives, filled with rich detail and a lived-in quality.
Parallel Lines. 'Nuff said.
When I was around 8 or 9, my sister taped me a copy of Blur's Parklife with, inexplicably, "Gangsta's Paradise" added on before and after the album. It was one of the few albums from that time in my life that I still listen to, although unfortunately it's no longer on my turquoise Sony Walkman, sandwiched in between Coolio.
Paul's Boutique. 'Nuff said.
I find all The Decemberists' albums enjoyable to some extent, but I think Picaresque might be my favourite. There's a wonderful seam of tragedy running through the whole thing, from the adolescent embarrassment of "The Sporting Life" to the grotesque vengeance of "The Mariner's Revenge Song". Perhaps the saddest of the lot, I would rate "On The Bus Mall" amongst my all-time favourite songs, even though it's the tale of two homeless teenage runaways forced into prostitution to survive.
"Vessel" by Zola Jesus