Listening to an album on vinyl gives the listener a more intimate and tangible experience than listening to some illegally downloaded mp3 files on a computer. It may take a bit more effort to take a record out of its sleeve, place it on the turntable, and drop the needle than it does to just push play on iTunes, but the payoff is greater. Playing a record on vinyl is a listening experience, not just background noise or the soundtrack to your online shopping.
If you are thinking about making the switch to vinyl, you have to start somewhere. This list will help you determine what records to get first. The list only includes albums that were released this century, 2000-present day. Classics from artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys are not eligible for this list, although they are great artists to have on vinyl. Everyone has their own personal opinions and tastes. Some people will agree with some selections on this list and others may strongly disagree with everything about it. It is not objective. The list is just a guide, John. Its just a guide.
Sufjan Stevens - "Illinois"
The second installment of his overly ambitious 50 states project may be the best thing he's ever done. Illinois is an album all about the state of Illinois and it is beautiful and tragic. The album covers such topics as the murderous clown John Wayne Gacy, Casimir Pulaski Day, and, as mentioned in a previous article, the city of Chicago.
Choice cuts: "Chicago" "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." "Decatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother"
Wilco - "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
Wilco's sixth album is widely recognized as their best album ever. It is the quintessential Wilco album. If you only listen to one album from this band, it needs to be Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. With lyrics that are both introspective and abstract, the songs on this album are relatable and thought provoking. A perfect record to listen to by yourself in your bedroom.
Choice cuts: "Ashes of American Flags" "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" "Jesus, Etc."
The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound"
This is an album that was made to play on vinyl. It has an old fashioned sound to it, hence the title, and brings to mind many iconic musicians of the past. These Jersey rockers are heavily influenced by fellow garden state artist Bruce Springsteen, and it shows. You can hear the influence in the lyrics, half of which seem like borrowed poetry from their musical heroes, and in the instrumentation. The Gaslight Anthem made a throwback masterpiece when they made this record.
Choice Cuts: "The '59 Sound" "Miles Davis and the Cool" "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues"
Japandroids - "Celebration Rock"
Perhaps the least known band on this list, Japandroids is a canadian rock duo who belt out beer and adrenaline fueled anthems. The duo makes a ton of noise for only having one guitar and one set of drums. Celebration Rock is an album to turn all the way up and shout along to with your friends, or yell like hell to the heavens. It has a contagious energy to it and makes you feel enthusiastic about being alive.
Choice cuts: "The Nights of Wine and Roses" "Younger Us" "The House That Heaven Built"
Bright Eyes - "I'm Wide Awake, Its Morning"
The lead singer of Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, may be one of the greatest lyricist of this young century. Many agree that his voice is less than golden, but what he lacks in the vocal department he makes up for in emotion and lyricism. The songs on this album are emotive, neurotic, raw, heartbreaking, reflective, painful, and even hopeful. Everyone can find something that they can relate to on this album, for better or worse.
Choice cuts: "At The Bottom Of Everything" "Lua" "Road to Joy"
Frank Ocean - "Channel Orange"
Frank Ocean's 2012 album, Channel Orange, found its way onto many end of the year lists for various musical websites and publications. After listening to it, it is easy to understand why. Ocean's voice is oftentimes hypnotic and demands your attention. Mix Ocean's voice with the personal and thought provoking lyrics and the array of captivating beats, the result is a near perfect modern R&B record. He pushes the boundaries of what R&B is supposed to be. On this album he tackles subjects such as life ruining effects of crack addiction, spacey alien paranoia, and privileged youth, which is a pleasant diversion from typical R&B songs that only talk about love and sex.
Choice Cuts: "Super Rich Kids" "Pyramids" "Pink Matter"
Kanye West - "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"
Kanye's fifth full length album could be found near the top of many year end lists in 2010. If you have listened to the album, this should come as no surprise. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is not your typical rap album. It is not full of three minute club songs, it features many non hip hop guest spots, and features piano and a variety of other instruments. Kanye was at the heigh of his creative genius with this album. Whether you are a fan of Kanye or hip hop in general, you need to listen to this album.
Choice Cuts: "All Of The Lights" "Monster" "Runaway"