“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Music is a universal language.
Whoever you are and wherever you come from, we all can appreciate and enjoy music. Yes, we all have different tastes in music but then again if we all liked the same thing – how boring would that be? Imagine living in a world where music didn’t exist. Walking down the street and no catchy but unbelievably annoying song stuck in your head. Nothing to tap your foot to whilst shopping. Just doing everyday things in absolute silence.
For me, music is an outlet. Whether it be singing a powerful (ly bad) ballad in the shower or playing my guitar or piano to my heart’s content. I’ve always loved music and am known for humming/singing my way through a day (most of the time I’m completely oblivious that I’m doing it) but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve (attempted) to teach myself how to play guitar & piano. I’m no Jimi Hendrix, but one of the greatest feelings is learning a song on a musical instrument and thinking, I did that. So if you’ve ever thought about learning to play an instrument, try it. I did & I’ve never looked back.
I’ve never been one to listen to what other people are listening to just to fit in. You like what you like. What’s the point in spending your life listening to other peoples favourites & never your own? So without further a do, here are ten albums that I couldn’t live without (in no specific order):
1. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No more
This band is definitely high up on my imaginary list of ‘need to see this band in concert before I die.’ They are the best band (that I’ve heard of) that work so harmoniously together, it’s seamless. It’s refreshing to hear true musicians working so well together with lesser used instruments like the banjo and mandolin producing good song after next. If you haven’t listened to this band yet, you’re missing out. Their 2nd album Babel and newly released Wilder Mind are pretty amazing too.
2. Muse – Absolution
I’ve been brought up on Muse and remember listening to them ever since I was young as both my mum & dad love them. I’ll agree they’re not to everybody’s taste but you can’t deny their individuality and the lead singer, Matt Bellamy, is an incredible guitarist and his vocal range is unbelievable. If you haven’t heard anything from these guys I suggest you listen to Time is Running Out, Sing for Absolution & Falling Away With You to start you off. I had difficulty choosing between this album & their next album, Black Holes and Revelations, because they’re both on par with each other so if you like this one, check that out too.
3. Beyonce – I Am… Sasha Fierce
Now I couldn’t not choose a Beyonce album. Although I’m not too keen on her new stuff, no one can deny some of the musical genius that shines through in her earlier stuff (and she’s not such a bad singer too). I don’t think anyone can wholeheartedly say that they don’t have at least one Beyonce song on their iPod (it’s okay to admit, we all have our weaknesses). Halo & Broken-Hearted Girl feature regularly in my shower routine – nothing like some good belters whilst washing away the suds (and don’t forget about the Single Ladies dance whilst doing the dishwasher). Another stand-out album of hers would have to be ‘4’, which has some songs that are impossible to listen to without pretending you’re Beyonce with amazing hair, flicking it around whilst (attempting) to hit them high notes.
4. Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
I have so much love for this band it’s unreal. After stumbling across them one day I was instantly hooked. Dan Reynolds’ (lead singer) voice is a different kind of addictive and the whole band create a distinctive sound that I’ve never come across before and no one would be able to ever recreate. They became famous with their explosive song ‘Radioactive’ and have just gotten bigger and bigger ever since and I’m so glad because they deserve to be listened to. I have great respect for this band as sometimes people can became famous and shoot to fame practically overnight but with Imagine Dragons it took them 5 years to get recognised, that’s true stickability. Without a doubt, this is the best band I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Although it’s been nearly two years, I remember coming out of the venue thinking that was the best night of my life and no gig has been close to topping it since and to say I’m excited to see them live again later in the year would be the understatement of the century. Smoke + Mirrors, their new album they’re touring for is another must-listen – you won’t be disappointed.
5. Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray
Now for those who know me well know that this album is a staple in my life. I discovered Dan when he supported the Imagine Dragons’ gig and the moment him and his band sung In/Out harmoniously without instruments has had me hooked ever since. The thing I love about this album is the eclectic, mix-tape feel you get – because of the wide use of instruments every song is nothing like the last. I’ve seen Dan and his band live twice since then and they play so well together and never disappoint. I had the privilege of meeting him after his gig at The Cockpit in Leeds and he’s such a genuinely nice, down to earth guy and couldn’t thank us enough for coming to see him – I’m sure you can’t say that about many musicians/artists today. You know it’s good when you’ve got it playing in the car and your Nan says that he has a nice clear voice, not like some of the mumblers nowadays and she really loves his song off of the ‘cheese’ advert’. A song on this album that really touches me is the song that the album is named after, ‘Sweet Disarray’. It’s based upon his grandma who has developed dementia, such an underestimated disease that is not recognised enough for the devastation that it causes. Dan told The Sun newspaper in a n interview, “Disarray for me sums up the chaos of my family having to deal with it, mentally, emotionally and financially. The ‘sweet’ part sums up how even though it was such a hard time with so much chaos it’s brought the family together.” After experiencing this personally first hand with one of my own grandparents, I couldn’t agree more.
6. James Bay – Chaos & The Calm
This is a relatively new album but has quickly become another staple in my car. I’d recently started to lose faith in the music industry when the top 40 is made up of absolute rubbish, then James came along (thank goodness) and saved the day. This is another artist that earns my respect in the fact that he was found and signed because of doing numerous open mics and just generally doing what he loved. His songs are beautiful both lyrically and musically – an absolute joy to listen to. His voice has such a beautiful distinctiveness to it you’ll be addicted in thirty seconds, tops. Try listening to it, you maybe surprised. I’m going to see him play later in the year so let’s hope he lives up to my expectations (though I’m sure he will).
7. Hozier – Hozier
When everyone started raving about Hozier, I just thought he was another one of those one hit wonders so didn’t go out of my way to listen to his music to see if I even liked it or not. Boy was I missing out. In some ways he reminds of Dan Croll, in the fact that none of his songs are similar or have a constant theme. He’s a storyteller by means of his lyrics and although his album would be classed as a ‘folksy-blues’ style, some haunting melodies that are included in a few of his songs make him stand out. Hozier’s sound is like a mix between Mumford & Sons and George Ezra. Definitely well worth a listen.
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
There’s nothing like having your headphones in, your eyes closed & Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa on the highest volume possible pretending you’re Ezra Koenig the lead singer of Vampire Weekend. What? Just me…? Their African influence is obvious and sets the theme for the majority of their music – it’s like Lady Smith Black Mambazo meets punk rock. Vampire Weekend wouldn’t be Vampire Weekend if it wasn’t for Ezra’s voice. His range is incredible and albeit not your usual singing techniques, he definitely has his own unique style Although they’ve released 2 outstanding albums since this one, I would say this is still my favourite as it is the one that ignited my love for them. Their music is addictive & once your sucked in there’s no looking back.
9. The Fratellis – Costello Music
I spent the majority of 2006/2007 listening to this on repeat and can probably recite 99% of the words to this album. As I was going through all my old music to discern my top 10 albums, I rediscovered this one and have become obsessed with it once again. If you haven’t heard this band before, don’t be put off with the album cover (I’m not that keen on it either) as it’s like a present that has been wrapped shoddily, but it’s actually a little masterpiece waiting for you on the inside. This album is definitely one to listen whilst driving, there’s no other feeling like it then when giving it your all, singing and drumming on the steering wheel to Chelsea Dagger (although I can’t guarantee that you won’t get some funny looks whilst sat waiting in traffic and yes, I am speaking from experience). Henrietta, Creepin Up The Backstairs, For The Girl & Baby Fratelli are absolute gems and you’d be missing out if you don’t listen to them.
10. Arctic Monkeys – AM
And last but certainly not least, Arctic Monkeys’ newest album AM (can’t believe this was released in 2013?!). It was so hard to pick an album from these guys because they’ve released five albums and had so many amazing songs but I came to a final decision that collectively, this is the best album. Not forgetting some of my favourite songs by them – Mardy Bum, Fluorescent Adolescent, Teddy Picker & Dancing Shoes. Arctic Monkey’s are well known for their catchy guitar riffs and us Yorkshireians are proud to have produced such a band. Alex Turner, the lead singer, is to put it simply, a genius. Much like Hozier, Turner is a storyteller and possesses lyrical ingenuity, for eg. ‘Been wondering if your heart’s still open. And if so, I wanna know what time it shuts’ and ‘I go crazy cause here isn’t where I wanna be. And satisfaction feels like a distant memory.’ AM is, and will always be, a classic.
And that’s it. Ten albums I couldn’t live without. (I will no doubt kick myself after posting this, remembering ones I’ve forgotten to add). Are your favourite albums on my list? What albums could you not live without? Let me know, I’d love to hear what you would pick!
Ciao for now