It’s around that time of year where some of us music enthusiasts ponder what albums we’re most thankful for.
The albums you choose doesn’t necessarily express that you think they’re greatest albums ever made. Of course, some might, but not the majority. If you’re someone that appreciates music as much as myself, then you do this every year around Thanksgiving. Simply because it’s always exhilarating to reminisce about albums and once again experience how they made us feel when we first heard them.
After strong consideration on my part and an intense game of “process of elimination,” I’ve come up with five albums that I’m thankful for. Again, I’ll probably end up doing this every year, but I promise every year they’ll be different. Not only due to the fact that new music will be released, but also I could randomly discover a new one that makes the list that either I didn’t fully appreciate after my first listen, or I’ve simply never heard of it.
Without further delay, here are my top five albums that I’m thankful for as of Nov. 22, 2017:
5. Third Eye Blind – Out of The Vein
2 Blinded (When I See You)
3 Forget Myself
5 Crystal Baller
6 My Hit And Run
8 Can’t Get Away
9 Wake For Young Souls
10 Palm Reader
13 Good Man
14 Another Life (Hidden Track)
Third Eye Blind released their third album Out of The Vein on May 13, 2003. Admittedly, I didn’t hear this album until around 2010 with one of my closest friends. Whose probably the reason I’m as big of a fan as I am to begin with.
There aren’t many albums that I can listen from front to back without skipping a song. In fact, the albums that make this list are the only ones for me. When it comes to this album, there are no mainstream hits like previously released “Semi-Charmed Life,” or “Jumper.” But, I felt like every single song on this album was equally as good. Songs like “Crystal Baller,” “Palm Reader,” “Faster,” and ‘My Hit And Run” can be played anyplace, anytime and I’ll drop everything I’m doing to grasp every single lyric and guitar riff.
Lead singer Stephen Jenkins’ vocals are so underrated. He remains so charismatic and vulnerable throughout this album. Of course, this album was at the same time when he split with previous girlfriend Charlize Theron. So, you could imagine he had a lot to get off his chest. This album gets a lot of credit from me in regards to helping me recover from a rough break-up with my kids’ mom. For that reason, I could relate to so much of what Jenkins expressed on this album.
4. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
4 Love Like A Sunset Part I
5 Love Like A Sunset Part II
How can anyone overlook the moment when they realized who their favorite band or artist was? That moment for me occurred back in the Summer of 2009. Phoenix released their fourth studio album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on May 25, 2009. This upbeat, French indie-pop band changed my life and the way I perceived music to this day. What upset me after hearing this album is that I had already missed nearly 10 years of their career.
“Lisztomania,” is not only their most popular song on this album, but also is likely their biggest hit to this day.
“So sentimental; not sentimental, no!/ Romantic; not disgusting yet,” sings frontman Thomas Mars on opener “Lisztomania”, sounding like a madman with two tiny creatures whispering into each ear. – Ryan Dombal from Pitchfork
Phoenix typically makes songs about love and they want to ensure that everyone knows that. When this album was released, it was around the time I entered the dating world and helped me get through some heartbreaks. Without getting too sentimental, that is what helps me relate to so much of their lyrics on this album especially. “Do you remember when 21 years was old?” sings Thomas Mars on “Countdown.” Overall, it’s simply one of those albums for me that can put me in a feel-good mood no matter what’s going on and I’ll never forget that.
3. Nirvana – Nevermind
1 Smells Like Teen Spirit
2 In Bloom
3 Come as You Are
7 Territorial Pissings
8 Drain You
9 Lounge Act
10 Stay Away
11 On a Plain
12 Something in the Way / Endless, Nameless
Nirvana released their second album Nevermind on September 24, 1991. This album has a perfect combination of punk, a little metal, rock & roll, and perhaps even a little bit of pop. As an avid Foo Fighter’s fan, this was the first Nirvana album where Dave Grohl was featured as the band’s drummer. Grohl on the drums, along with Kurt Cobain on the guitar and lead vocals is almost criminal.
A big reason as to why I’m such a devoted fan of alternative and indie-rock is due in large part because of this album. If you grew up in the 90’s, this album is probably a top ten album for that entire generation. Led by popular radio hits “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” and “Lithium,” Nevermind was Nirvana’s transition from a “garage band,” to the mainstream. Not to mention, the Seattle trio toppled Michael Jackson’s Dangerous at the number one spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
What this album did pretty much single-handedly killed off the “hair metal band” era. It was the year of Seattle bands to take over, as both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam had very popular albums the same year. It’s so unfortunate Nirvana was only able to release three albums to due Cobain’s unprecedented demise. Nevermind is a masterpiece that nearly created it’s own genre and began the “grunge” era in music.
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
1 Wesley’s Theory
2 For Free? – Interlude
3 King Kunta
5 These Walls
8 For Sale? Interlude
10 Hood Politics
11 How Much A Dollar Cost
12 Complexion (A Zulu Love)
13 The Blacker The Berry
14 You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
16 Mortal Man
It had been several years since I actually enjoyed a hip-hop project all the way through — eight years to be exact. We’ll revisit that later on. Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp A Butterfly March 15, 2015. Instantly, a track that resonates with me to this day is “Mortal Man.” Which is an imaginary conversation, between two of hip-hop’s leading voices from different eras including both Lamar and Tupac Shakur. The quality of production on that record was phenomenal. That’s what sets Lamar apart from the rest of today’s hip-hop artists. The conversation seemed so perceptibly, that some could mistake it as a real convo.
His previous album good kid, m.A.A.d. city was obviously a great project as well. But, To Pimp a Butterfly set a new standard for contemporary hip-hop. It’s probably not as popular as his other albums, but the combination of his musical reach and intensity on this project brought me back to the hip-hop world.
The P-Funk groove combined with Dr. Dre‘s West-Coast gangsta-rap vibe on “Wesley’s Theory,” set off the album. This album is a producers’ dream. Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers), Pharrell Williams, among many others helped put together this masterpiece. And you could tell from song one.
But, to address the elephant in the room, this album obviously had so much more meaning behind it other than just the producers and the groovy sound. To Pimp a Butterfly was released in the midst of a division phase in the world. Blacks were being killed by law-enforcement at an all-time high rate. It was definitely becoming a topical issue in the news. Lamar decides to deal head-on with the issues that African-Americans face on a day-to-day basis. This album overall speaks to black empowerment. “Alright,” became the official anthem for the newly founded Black Lives Matter movement and for an entire culture.
1. Kanye West – Graduation
1 Good Morning
4 I Wonder
5 Good Life
6 Can’t Tell Me Nothing
7 Barry Bonds
8 Drunk and Hot Girls
9 Flashing Lights
10 Everything I am
11 The Glory
13 Big Brother
This album won Grammy after Grammy. It won a Grammy for Best Rap Album, and an American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album as well. Kanye West released his third studio album Graduation September 11, 2007. Before anyone starts going ballistic on me, this isn’t my favorite of all-time. Re-iterating the fact that these are albums that I’m thankful for whether they were released this year or not.
It’s weird that this album is now 11 years old. Graduation is an album that speaks directly to your soul. It was when this album dropped when Kanye emerged as the best artist of our generation. There aren’t any comical skits, limited features, and samples — just Kanye speaking to you. That’s what makes Kanye so unique and substantial. His ability to creatively explore without featuring a more successful artist is exceptional. There are four songs on this album that will remain all-time favorites for me including; “Champion,” “Stronger,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and of course “Flashing Lights.”
Graduation isn’t Kanye’s best. It’s very few people’s favorite. It’s not necessarily my favorite either, that would probably be 808s & Heartbreak that he released a year later. But, this album is an incredible body of art and in my opinion is the reason we all “want the old Kanye back.”