These are not just my top five albums of all time. There is no argument. These are simply the top five albums of all time. How can I be so sure? Because while all the other kiddies are dipping their fingers in paint, I’m reading liner notes. Because when I hear my entire kindergarten class butcher the polyphony when doing something as simple as singing the rounds to Kiss From A Rose, a part of me dies inside. Because I’m Lester Bangs’ fucking grandson, that’s why.
5. Sharon, Lois and Bram, “Songs in the Key of Kids”
If you were ever wondering what the perfect pop song sounded like, or how to write the perfect pop song or what the blueprint for the perfect pop song was like, you have to look no further than this record. “Key of Kids” was originally released in 1993 during a particularly volatile time in the lives of all three band members. Sharon and Bram had been involved with each other for a while, but things were starting to get a little messy with Lois, who had recently come out of a bad marriage. They started recording this album, and then they started, getting a little incestuous and sleeping with each other and the elephant got involved as well and hearts are broken and feelings are hurt all throughout the writing and recording of this record. So when you listen to “Songs in the Key of Kids”, you can’t look at the lyrical content as just another sappy children’s album. I mean, put yourself in their shoes right: you are sitting in the recording booth laying down some tracks and you have to look across the room right into the eyes of this elephant who is now sleeping with your ex-wife. And you share a band with these two people also and you are playing a song that she’s written about you, and the whole record is written like this, and on top of selling over 31 records world-wide, it belongs in history, and it belongs in my top 5 records of all time.
4. Fred Penner “Welcome to Fred Penner’s Place”
I’m a huge huge fan of Bob Dylan, and I’m a very very strong believer that Fred Penner is the re… if Dylan were dead, he would probably be the the reincarnation of Bob Dylan. He started the first half of career doing politically-charged folky stuff, and then moved towards the more “emo” infused work of “Ebeneezer Sneezer” –although I don’t really know you could attach “emo” to it or what emo even means anymore. To me it’s just incredibly disgruntled, desperate and dirty folk music. I mean, Fred Penner is a tortured man– and lyrically and vocally it comes through tenfold on this record. And you can really connect with that, as a listener you can really connect with the emotion he is conveying on these tracks. Lyrically he is just a phenomenal story teller, the man can paint a picture with words unlike anyone I’ve heard in years and years and years. Easily the best 45$ I’ve spent on a vinyl.
3. Raffi – “Raffi Radio”
You’re kidding, you don’t know who Raffi is? Well that’s OK, you are little bit younger I guess, but it’s important to know your music history. Raffi is the frontman and lead songwriter for the band Raffi. Now, unfortunately, most people remember Raffi from his 1994 smash hit album “Banana Phone,” which, you know, is still a pretty good record when you take into account where it comes from. Sure, it’s pretty generic children’s pop music, but quite the accomplishment when you take into account that this isn’t some band with major studio backing. This was just one guy writing songs in his garage, and he fucking smashes it. It’s a great record, but the songs are pretty generic. It’s really basic ABABCB formula. The next record, “Raffi Radio,” was a little bit more progressive, a little bit more of a step forward. The guitar work was a little bit more eclectic, a little bit more elaborate, there was a little more of a metal tinge to the vocals and guitar work above all else, but what stands out is some seriously interesting lyrical themes, particularly on the haunting track “Berry Nice News — Seasons.”
2. Jingle Cats – “Jingle Cats Christmas”
Art can transform you and the way you look at the world. Great art simply transforms the world. Jingle Cats’ opus, loosely affiliated with the Christmas holiday, is great art. Using Christmas as a jumping point to climb to much greater artistic heights, the original Animal Collective packed so much sensory delight into it that it makes you feel as if you have lived for nine lives. From the first plaintive meow of “Little Drummer Cat” to the last furry purrs of “Deck the Halls (With Catnip)”, there is not a single note out of place. I remember when Mrs Matice first played this record during naptime, you could feel the carpet shake as the excitement rippled through my peers and I. We knew that from this moment forward we would be putting aside childish things and start experiencing music not simply as background window dressing, but as the front-and-centre “Gurkenspieler” it is. It was a bildungsroman for the ears.
1. Radiohead – Kid A