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The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018


2017 was a year where fear of nuclear annihilation went from arcane worry to “Ugh, Mondays, am I right?!”. So, of course, it was a great year for metal. And while there wasn’t much of a response to the surrounding conditions, as most of the good stuff was recorded before things really went south of heaven and/or hell, the ensuing madness helped the genre resonate now more than ever.

This year is shaping up to be even more insane and fruitful, if you can imagine that. We’ve got a handful of legends returning from dormancy — including one of the bands responsible for creating metal itself (sadly, Black Sabbath remains a done deal) — in addition to several young bucks bouncing back to make an even bigger impact.

Metal continues to splinter and diversify, as its wont to do, and 2018 will run the gamut from glam-goth to abstract death metal to “turn up hardcore,” whatever that is. Hell, even Diplo managed to wriggle his way into the fold as you’ll see ahead. Now, the question is whether or not it might lead to Metallica headlining Ultra Festival.

Eh, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross, No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018

Release Date: 1/12 via Nuclear Blast

In the three-plus decades since their initial uprising from the Raleigh, North Carolina underground in 1982, Corrosion of Conformity have blossomed from an underground punk band to one of the world’s premiere sludge-metal outfits, trafficking in southern-fried riffs and gnarled breakdowns with relish. Their latest effort, No Cross No Crown, marks the band’s first album with powerhouse vocalist Pepper Keenan (who famously hails from Down, another storied sludge outfit) in over 12 years. Previously-released singles “Cast the First Stone” and “Wolf Named Crow” reveal a welcome return to grizzled, melodic form for the Southerners. –Zoe Camp

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Mammoth Grinder — Cosmic Crypt

mammoth grinder e28094 cosmic crypt The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018

Release Date: 1/26 via Relapse

If you only know Chris Ulsh as Power Trip’s drummer, you don’t know that he’s Austin’s metalpunk savant. With Power Trip’s heavy touring schedule, his main project Mammoth Grinder was on ice for a minute, but they’re back with their first album in five years, Cosmic Crypt. Though he’s added Iron Reagan members to his lineup, Crypt is still Ulsh’s signature blend of Swedish death metal and American hardcore toughness. And with him leading the way, you’ll know what Texans have known for years: the riffs and the carnage never end. Lean? Yes. Mean? Do you even have to ask? –Andy O’Connor

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Machine Head – Catharsis

catharsis The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018

Release Date: 1/26 via Nuclear Blast

Robb Flynn and his comrades in Machine Head can always be trusted upon to deliver melodically-driven, dread-laden rippers that stay in your head long after they’ve assaulted your eardrums. Judging from what we’ve heard so far of the group’s upcoming album, Catharsis, LP number nine most certainly qualifies as due diligence where the din is concerned. But as Flynn pointed out in a SiriusXM interview, fans who head into the experience hoping for a rap-spiked thrashfest, à la 1994’s debut Burn My Eyes, are only setting themselves up for a major letdown. “Keep your expectations low for the heaviness,” he warned. Thanks for the heads-up, Robb! –Zoe Camp

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Portal — ION

portal The 10 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2018

Release Date: 1/26 via Profound Lore

Australia’s Portal are on the cutting edge and outer edge of death metal, filtering Morbid Angel’s splattering chaos through modern classical and a lot of murk. A recipe for stardom? Maybe not, but former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo is a noted fan, elevating their profile with an appearance at his Housecore Festival in 2014. Their fifth album ION is brighter and rawer than their bass-heavy albums before, but just because there’s some clarity doesn’t make them less harrowing. ION further destroys the boundaries between metal and experimental music, now that you can hear all of their contorted skronk. –Andy O’Connor

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Tribulation — Down Below

Release Date: 1/26 via Century Media

Sweden’s Tribulation are one of the few metal bands where a string of eggplant emojis is an accurate description. They’re not only model vampires and vampire models, they’re also one of the best goth metal bands going on now. Down Below continues the path away from their death metal roots and towards silky, hook-laden spiderwebs. There’s a hint of glam in the album’s production, yet Down still has enough grit to satisfy those who still miss Type O Negative. After tours in support of Cannibal Corpse and Deafheaven in 2015, it’s time they got some star power too. –Andy O’Connor

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The Distillers return, share epic video teaser: Watch


After releasing three kickass full-lengths, The Distillers hung up their studded leather jackets and called it quits in 2006. Lead singer Brody Dalle went on to form a new group called Spinnerette as well as put out her debut solo album, Diploid Love, in 2014. Now, with just one cryptic video teaser on Twitter, it appears The Distillers have announced their mighty return.

(Read: The 100 Best Pop Punk Bands)

The 35-second clip stars what looks to be Dalle, as she epically thrashes to and fro behind a mic stand. The whole thing is soundtracked by music that’s equally epic in nature, like the opening seconds of a punk rock rager that’s sure to destroy. Check it out below and get pumped for this Distillers comeback.

Over the last few months, the band has posted some pictures on Facebook further hinting that new material is on the way.



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FIDLAR cover Nirvana’s “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle”: Stream


Photo by ​Philip Cosores

FIDLAR popped up at plenty of festivals while on the road last year, but the punk rockers had a relatively quiet 2017 on the new music front. They’re ripping right into 2018, however, as they’ve shared a cover of the Nirvana track “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle”.

(Read: The 100 Best Pop Punk Bands)

Their version of the In Utero cut does a faithful job of recapturing the original’s rage in the confines of their own screeching style. Guitars are crunchier in the mix and the bridge adds spaced-out bends, but the Los Angeles outfit does Seattle proud with their rendition. Check it out via the YouTube player below — just beware of the NSFW images spliced in at blink-and-you’ll-miss-it intervals.

In a new interview with GQ, FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper revealed the band is in studio working on a follow-up to 2015’s Too. Meanwhile, the surviving members of Nirvana — Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear — reunited last month at a Foo Fighters concert in Eugene, Oregon.



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The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018


There’s a very brief, fleeting moment that takes place between celebrating and reflecting upon the music of a fading year and anticipating the sounds and possibilities of the calendar flip to come. If you blink, you could miss it. So, if you’re scratching your head right about now, odds are you blinked. That’s right. Last year’s best album was … hold on, we’ll think of it. And that song we couldn’t get out of our heads for months … wait, it’ll come to us. That’s a bit hyperbolic, we know, but it’s not entirely untrue either. It’s remarkable how we are able to arbitrarily rope off huge masses of half-processed pop culture in our heads and make way for more to come marching through. Is it fair? Maybe not. Ideally, we’d have a couple months to finish digesting 2017 before we’d have to start consuming all over again. But that’s life, and ready or not, there are dozens more remarkable records on their way. These are the ones we’re most excited to make some room on our plates for.

Happy 2018!

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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First Aid Kit – Ruins

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Release Date: Jan. 19th

Why We’re Excited:  After an exhaustive tour behind their last album, 2014’s acclaimed Stay Gold, the sisters of First Aid Kit took some much needed time apart to decompress. When Klara and Johanna Söderberg regrouped, they felt stronger as both sisters and a musical duo and then applied this sense of renewal to their fourth full-length, Ruins. The result is a rawer sound and a willingness to expose more of their inner selves than perhaps ever before. Here, the Swedish outfit focuses on a crushing heartbreak and the feeling of absolute purposelessness that follows, assisted by the likes of R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Wilco’s Glen Kotche, and elements of Americana and ‘50s-era Everly Brothers balladry. –Lake Schatz

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tUnE-yArDs – I can feel you creep into my private life

icfycimpl 1508791369 640x640 1508854339 640x640 The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Jan. 19th

Why We’re Excited:  Merrill Garbus has kept busy in the four years since 2014’s Nikki Nack: she contributed to albums from Cut Chemist and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, wrote a song for Mavis Staples, and kept on the road — and, as evidenced by early tracks from new album I can feel you creep into my private life, she might have gotten deeper into house music. The officially released tracks have been thrilling, but the live preview of ”Heart Attack” proves there’s far groovier Garbus to come in the near future. –Lior Phillips

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Nils Frahm – All Melody

nils frahm The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Jan. 26th

Why We’re Excited:  In preparation for his ninth (!) studio album, Nils Frahm created his ideal recording studio. Saal 3 is located within the historic Funkhaus building in Berlin and boasts bespoke cabling, a mixing desk, and a self-built pipe organ, among other unique features that have helped the German composer fully realize his vision and properly translate the arrangements inside his head onto record. While Frahm was already operating at a high level on his last few LPs, including 2015’s Solo, All Melody represents an accomplished musician elevated and empowered by a nurturing personal environment. –Lake Schatz

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Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

a1476423984 10 The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Jan. 26th

Why We’re Excited:  It almost doesn’t make sense to eagerly anticipate a new Ty Segall record, given the maddeningly prolific clip that the seasoned garage guru records at. But his second self-titled effort, released in early 2017, showed Segall’s ability to branch beyond his savage musical instincts into subtler territory. To that end, it’ll be interesting to see if Freedom Goblin represents further growth or a retreat back to garage punk primitiveness. –Ryan Bray

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Rhye – Blood

rhye blood cover rgb The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Feb. 2nd

Why We’re Excited: Rhye may have lost one of their two founding members since releasing the Polaris Prize-nominated Woman in 2013, but the R&B outfit have still managed to evolve and become the most complete version of themselves on BLOOD. Much of this growth stems from Rhye’s many, many months spent on the road: Their music now is more inspired than ever by the intimacy and humanity that goes into a live performance. There’s also a noticeable emphasis on the sounds of funk and soul, which goes hand in hand with the LA-based act’s desire for closeness and emotional intoxication. –Lake Schatz

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Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows

dc crooked shadows 1 The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Feb. 9th

Why We’re Excited: It’s been eight years since we’ve had the emo songwriting of Chris Carrabba to empathize with us while we wallow in our emotional depths, and there’s no better time for a return than 2018. Lead single “We Fight” was a reminder that those of us who feel like loners are still part of a community built on the acceptance of the outcast. Emo has had its ups and downs artistically as well as culturally over the years, but with the recent surge of talented young bands in the genre and a milieu more in need of rallying cries than ever, Dashboard Confessional is well set to return to the vanguard. –Ben Kaye

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Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending

franz ferdinand always ascending domino The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Feb. 9th

Why We’re Excited: Following the collaborative album FFS, released in conjunction with the band Sparks in 2013, the boys in Franz Ferdinand are getting back to business. Always Ascending marks the band’s first proper album since 2013 and features production from Philippe Zdar, who has previously worked with the likes of Phoenix and Beastie Boys. The self-titled lead single is heavy on synth and also gives fans their first look at new members Julian Corrie and Dino Bardot, who will help fill the gap left by founding member Nick McCarthy, who departed in 2016. Now 14 years removed from their smash hit “Take Me Out”,  Always Ascending offers a chance for Franz Ferdinand to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. –Zack Ruskin

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Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive

04d49d86ffc64ca63527128931363233 1000x1000x1 The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Feb. 16th

Why We’re Excited: Don’t take the title of Superchunk’s 11th studio album at face value. What a Time to Be Alive, from its moribund-looking cover art to its angry-as-all-fuck title track, appears poised to be the most pointed and overtly political outing of the iconic indie act’s career. In today’s turbulent times, we’ll take all the fiery sonic catharsis we can get. Fortunately for fans, Superchunk haven’t missed their mark yet. –Ryan Bray

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Wild Beasts – Last Night All My Dreams Came True

last night all my dreams came true 3000x3000 72 dpi 1512576880 640x640 The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

 

Release Date: Feb. 16th

Why We’re Excited: Wild Beasts announced their split in September, but the UK indie rockers’ many passionate fans will have one last album to cherish. The culmination of more than a decade and a half together, Last Night My Dreams Came True features 13 live studio recordings of tracks pulled from across the band’s five studio albums. It’s a bittersweet farewell, but a powerful one as evidenced by early sample “The Devil’s Palace”, which inventively combines Limbo, Panto highlight “The Devil’s Crayon” and “Palace” from 2014’s Present Tense. –Lior Phillips

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Screaming Females – All at Once

sfallatonce1400cover The 30 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

Release Date: Feb. 23rd

Why We’re Excited: It’s common knowledge that Marissa Paternoster is one of our generation’s greatest guitarists. Through six albums with Screaming Females, she’s also proven to be one of punk’s sharpest voices, a bastion of clarity, and an undeniable force. The band’s seventh album, All at Once, is due out February 23rd on Don Giovanni Records and appears to be nothing less than a monster. Single “Glass House” builds momentum into a pummeling crescendo, claustrophobic and thrilling in the best ways, and if it’s representative of what’s to come, we may be in for the band’s heaviest record yet. –David Sackllah

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Top 50 Albums of 2017


Last year felt particularly cruel as we watched so many of our pop-culture icons get taken from us without warning. By December, we all yearned for a pause, an ending, a reset. However, none of the comfort that comes with the hopeful act of flipping a calendar page lasted long into 2017. Instead, we’ve felt the pain more acutely and more personally than a year ago. Most of us have witnessed our core values challenged, felt our realities shaken, and endured daily reminders that who we are in our most basic integrity remains very much at stake. For that reason, it’s been a year in which we’ve turned to music out of necessity perhaps more than ever. The albums you find on this list aren’t just records we admired or caught ourselves dancing to. In many cases, they’re part of the reason we’re still here. They’ve consoled and empowered us, understood how we’ve felt, and in a time of such ugly, bitter divisiveness, reminded us that we’re never truly alone in mind, heart, or spirit.

These are the 50 albums we’ve leaned on most this year. Here’s hoping they don’t have to do such heavy lifting in 2018.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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50. Johnny Jewel – Windswept

windswept Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Los Angeles, California

The Gist: After placing Chromatics’ Dear Tommy in the Red Room, Italians Do It Better producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel issued this daring solo album mostly inspired by his work behind the scenes on Twin Peaks: The Return.

Why It Rules: With Windswept, Jewel sounds more assured as a producer than ever, conjuring up a moody amalgamation of his signature brooding synthpop and a style of free-form jazz akin to David Lynch go-to Angelo Badalamenti.

Essential Tracks: “Windswept”, “Slow Dreams”, and “Between Worlds”

–Michael Roffman

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49. Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time

good time oneohtrix soundtrack stream listen Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Wayland, Massachusetts

The Gist: Two years after the interstellar, metallic Garden of Delete, esoteric electronic experimentalist Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) returned to score a crime drama starring Robert Pattinson. Retaining his own burning palette and pushing it through a Vangelis/Carpenter mesh, Lopatin continues to find new ways to inject anxiety and awe under the skin.

Why It Rules: A somber, piano-heavy collaboration with Iggy Pop in which the Stooge dreams about petting crocodiles is a good place to start, but Lopatin delivers the high-voltage thrills all on his own.

Essential Tracks: “Hospital Escape / Access-A-Ride”, “The Acid Hits”, and “The Pure and the Damned”

–Lior Phillips

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48. Jay Som – Everybody Works

jay som everybody works Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Oakland, California

The Gist: Multiple-instrumentalist Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som) rode her production and recording acumen on debut LP, Turn Into, to a deal with indie major Polyvinyl for Everybody Works.

Why It Rules: In what can only be described as bedroom maximalism, Duterte dug her lyrics into the granular, banalities of existence and aimed her production at expansive soundscapes. On “The Bus Song”, Duterte sings, “I can be whoever I want to be,” and that’s exactly who she is on Everybody Works.

Essential Tracks: “The Bus Song”, “Everybody Works”, and “For Light”

–Geoff Nelson

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47. The JuJu – Exchange

the juju exchange shin maeng billboard embed Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Chicago, Illinois

The Gist: After rising to session-player fame by collaborating with Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, and Vic Mensa, 24-year-old trumpeter Segal (FKA Donnie Trumpet) wrangled three fellow Chicago musicians together to expand his interest in experimental jazz, ultimately showcasing how the backbeat of hip-hop’s new sound is worthy of its own spotlight.

Why It Rules: On their debut LP, The Juju Exchange follow in the footsteps of producers like Flying Lotus and Knxwledge — not in sound, but in audience awareness, drawing listeners out of their usual jazz associations and into a world of smooth, free-form, low-key musings that inspire with their use of ample space.

Essential Tracks: “The Circuit”, “We Good”, and “Morning Of”

–Nina Corcoran

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46. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfish – Blade Runner 2049

blade runner 2049 soundtrack artwork Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Santa Monica, California; London, United Kingdom

The Gist: All signs pointed to chaos when director Denis Villeneuve parted ways with composer Jóhann Jóhannsson at the 25th hour, but Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfish rose up to the challenge with an unexpected Hail Mary score.

Why It Rules: In addition to time restraints, both Zimmer and Wallfish had to follow in the footsteps of Vangelis, whose original Blade Runner score remains inimitable. They succeeded with a follow-up that’s both reverent and wholly intimidating.

Essential Tracks: “Sea Wall”, “Rain”, and “Wallace”

–Michael Roffman

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45. Paramore – After Laughter

paramore after laughter download album stream mp3 Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Nashville, Tennessee

The Gist: Another lineup change and personal turmoil almost broke up Paramore, but Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and a returning Zac Farro came back stronger than ever to record their most pop-leaning album to date.

Why It Rules: On After Laughter, Paramore step completely away from their pop-punk origins and embrace the influences of Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, and Blondie. Catchy sing-along hooks and ’80s pop production combine for a bright, polished sound that barely conceals the heartbreak and pain in the lyrics underneath. Williams describes the album best with the catchphrase “cry hard, dance harder.”

Essential Tracks: “Rose Colored Boy”, “26”, and “Hard Times”

–Eddie Fu

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44. Khalid – American Teen

khalid american teen Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Fort Stewart, Georgia

The Gist: The 19-year-old R&B singer’s debut album builds from the buzzing lead single, “Location”, and demonstrates a strong grasp of the pulse of his generation without alienating a greater audience.

Why It Rules: Khalid’s silky-smooth voice and anthemic hooks combine with pop/R&B production for a fresh sound that doesn’t push the rookie too far outside his comfort zone. American Teen is a solid effort in its own right while also allowing plenty of room for growth as he comes of age.

Essential Tracks: “Young Dumb & Broke”, “Location”, and “8teen”

–Eddie Fu

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43. Phoenix – Ti Amo

phoenix ti amo Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Versailles, France

The Gist: Caught between the brutality of the Bataclan massacre and the subsequent ascent of France’s right-wing reactionaries, veteran synth rocker Thomas Mars and co. escaped the tension by looking backward via this Italo-disco ode to bygone Riviera summers.

Why It Rules: Released just in time for the warm-weather months, Ti Amo hit like the aural equivalent of a white wine spritzer: Singles “J-Boy” and “Ti Amo” bubble with a radio-ready fizz, while deeper cuts like “Tuttifrutti” and “Fleur De Lys” add a shade of heady longing to all that sunbaked pop.

Essential Tracks: “J-Boy”, “Tuttifrutti”, and “Fleur De Lys”

–Tyler Clark

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42. Migos – Culture

migos culture Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Atlanta, Georgia

The Gist: Riding high off the runaway hip-hop hit “Bad and Boujee”, the prodigious trio of Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff fully capitalized on that momentum with a splendid set of tracks that put even the best work in their mixtape-heavy discography on notice.

Why It Rules: Backed by a cadre of producers, including Metro Boomin and Zaytoven, the success-obsessed bars and hedonistic hooks of Culture perfectly encapsulate the breadth of trap music, from its hypnagogic highs to its unapologetic lows.

Essential Tracks: “Bad and Boujee”, “Slippery”, and “T-Shirt”

–Gary Suarez

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41. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – Stranger Things 2

stranger things 2 Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Austin, Texas

The Gist: Another season of Netflix’s Stranger Things means another vintage score from Survive’s own Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, and that’s exactly what they dropped back in October ahead of the series’ highly anticipated premiere.

Why It Rules: A year has passed. They’re a little older. They’re a little wiser. No longer are they echoing the iconic sounds of John Carpenter or Goblin, but indulging in more modern fare like Bon Iver and M83. Hawkins has never sounded so hip.

Essential Tracks: “Eulogy”, “Eight Fifteen”, and “On the Bus”

–Michael Roffman

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Lizard Hips – Top 10 albums of 2017


Weird year for stuff, some of it bad some of it excellent. My top 2 will not surprise some people and it’s mostly business as usual. Some returning bands – The Bronx have absolutely excelled themselves on the new one – USA Nails might not be in the giddy heights of their first two records, but their new one is as brutal and horrific as ever and it’s a simple fact that there’s been some exceptional albums. Some truly outstanding work all round though and even albums hat didn’t make the top ten (sorry Pissed Jeans, you’re in at 11…) were stonking great. Enjoy.

10. Onsind – We Wilt, We Bloom (Specialist Subject)onsind-wwwb

A somewhat late inclusion, but this third album from Durham’s Onsind has made a massive impact on me in just a short space of time. Raw, brutally honest and some incredible lyrics throughout, We Wilt, We Bloom is a moving, cynical and cutting statement, heavily referencing our current see-sawing political climate of bullshit and misery. However, it’s laced with hope, with a direction that states we can do something, that there is time for change and better days are on the horizon. Listen to the lyrics on the brilliant Shining-referencing Sectioned – superb, thoughtful and reflective storytelling locked down into a four minute pop-punk banger.

Top track: Sectioned

9. USA Nails – Shame Spiral (Bigoût Records / Hominid Sounds)usanails-shame

Hello nasty. Noise and speed are two words to sum up Shame Spiral, the third album from London teeth-grinders, USA Nails. This is an ugly, boiling cauldron of rage; the guitars are overclocked to the max, especially on the acidic bedlam of Play It Again Johnny and the shredding Does Format Matter? It’s got that scrawled, caustic quality of the first METZ album – utterly savage, loud, volatile and seriously uncomfortable to experience. Every track feels as though it has been submerged in a barrel of noxious feedback and it howls with implacable tension and serves to move the band further from their debut, Sonic Moist. Chilling and strangely intriguing. (Review)

Top track: Does Format Matter?

8. Christian Fitness – Slap Bass Hunks (Prescriptions)a0968992665_10

Slap Bass Hunks is apparently the least successful Christian Fitness album, which is a shame because it is fucking brilliant. For one thing, the bass sounds utterly gnarled/ugly/disgustingly noisy. Also, some of Falco’s best work exists on this excellent 10 tracker, from the vomiting-fury of the title track, to the vest-appraising National Insurance, an Anglican mouse on the handclap frenzy of Hallowed Be Thy Naming Rights and the dread-inducing creep of Nobody Likes a Snitch. Just under 30 minutes of pure surrealism that will leave you either laughing your head off or whimpering in the corner and we should all be thankful for it. (Review)

Top track: Slap Bass Hunks

7. The Bronx – V (Cooking Vinyl)a2581068749_10

THIS AIN’T NO SOBER SONG, KILL ME OR TURN ME ON!” screams Matt Caughthran on opening track, Night Drop At The Glue Factory. Yes, so The Bronx have always been a bit word salad at times with lyrics, but Bronx V, sees them crunch back into the punk rock scene with a cracking selection of fresh cuts. Fill The Tanks is a pure thrash excellence, whilst the abrasive Sore Throat, is a vein-bursting roar for blood. Here’s hoping they keep up the wrecking machine of energy and vitality forever with their fire-starting vigour and fucking brilliant songs. (Review)

Top track: Stranger Danger

6. ’68 – Two Parts Viper (Cooking Vinyl)two-parts-viper-68

Every song by ’68 sounds as if it’s been pushed to its very limit. All the dials are spiking into the red, alarms are blasting, blood is spurting from the console. Meltdown achieved. Josh Scogin and (now-ex) drummer Michael McClellan attack their instruments with the similar “throw it in” bravado of their debut, but the amps don’t explode this time; the riffs though, are still there and it’s still uncomfortably discordant, channelling Scogin’s Nirvana worship even more (see No Apologies) and the rap-rock swagger of This Life Is Old, Borrowed and Blue. Utterly unique and constantly evolving, Two Parts Viper is a venomous beast. (Review)

Top track: Whether Terrified or Unafraid

5. Mutoid Man – War Moans (Sargent House)mutoid-man-war

Nick Cageao’s Mutoid Man might be the greatest band of all time. I mean, he’s got Stephen Brodsky and Ben FUCKING Koller in tow. War Moans doesn’t so much as tick all the boxes as smash several guitars through walls and walls of amps to make its point. This album is hilarious; it’s packed with the most ridiculous, cheesy, heavy, thrash-tastic riffs imaginable, the sickest drumming courtesy of Koller and it is infectiously joyful and an unstoppable thrill ride from the face-punch of the start to the haunting end. There’s no way you can finish even the first track without air-guitar/bass/drumming your arms off. If you thought Bleeder was good, get a load of this baby. (Review)

Top track: Irons In The Fire

4. John – God Speed In The National Limit (Pets Care Records)john-godspeed

You could be forgiven for thinking there were double or even triple the amount of band members in Crystal Palace duo John, such is the absolute racket they both make. God Speed In The National Limit is a brutally fast, concentrated and bludgeoning rush and it makes no bones about being anything else, other than a fucking great punk rock album. There’s everything on this – songs about haunted printers, the shitness of everyday life and resetting your mobile phone. Probably. Whatever it is, this is an absolute killer of a debut album and I bloody love it. (Review)

Top track: Straight Lines

3. Single Mothers – Our Pleasure (Big Scary Monsters)singlemothers-our-pleasure

Whatever happened to Single Mothers?” screams vocalist Drew Thomson on Our Pleasure, the second album from the “pissed at everything” Canadian four piece. With the kind of rapid-fire vocal delivery (and disdain) akin to that of Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods; Single Mothers are a free-flow nuisance of seething, bile-spitting obnoxious punk rock debauchery. This churns, boils and rages at everything, especially on the pocket-digging bravado of Long Distance to the hardcore fury of Well Wisher.  Cracking sophomore album that vents with urgent, wild energy and will ultimately make you want to smash things and oddly, has a lot of heart if you delve into Thomson’s thoughtful and compelling lyrics.

Top track: Long Distance

2. Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Anti-)japandroids1

An album that you keep returning to must ring some alarm bells in your mind. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Japandroids was released at the tail-end of January, yet it’s something I am constantly listening to, over and over and over again. Is it down to how beautifully all 8 of the songs on this are crafted? Is it the fact it fills me with unrelenting happiness and optimism? Is it the fact it makes me want to shout every single lyric at the top of my lungs? Is it the fact it makes me so fucking emotional every time I listen to it? It’s all of these things and a heap more, loaded with the all the real feels and sweaty, melancholic emotional nostalgia. (Review)

Top track: Arc of Bar

1. Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones)blanckmass

The fact that World Eater seems to have endless layers the more you listen to it shows just how staggeringly inventive Blanck Mass (aka, Benjamin John Power) is as a musician. It’s a hypnotic, mind-melt of emotions, ranging from fear, serenity, hate and even joy. I’ve struggled at times not to go a week, sometimes a day without putting this on – without being lost in the industrial-rave-death-dance party of Rhesus Negative or the trippy percussion-driven club bounce of Silent Treatment. This is the sound of ripping through the fabric of our dimension and becoming totally submerged in the deadlights. Beep, beep, Benny – a phenomenal and hypnotic, mesmeric trip into the void and my album of the year, hands down. (Review)

Top track: Please

Other great stuff from this year you should stick in your ears.

Alpha Male Tea Party – Health

Bat Piss – Rest In Piss

Cassels – Epithet

Converge – The Dusk In Us

Death From Above – Outrage! Is Now

Frauen – Unreal City

Gallops – Bronze Mystic

Goddamned Animals – My Second Cult Suicide

Gnarwolves – Outsiders

Idles – Brutalism

Intervals – The Way Forward

Jamie Lenman – Devolver

Krause – 2am Thoughts

Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

Metz – Strange Peace

Part Chimp – IV

Perturbator – New Model

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Feed The Rats

Pissed Jeans – Why Love Now

Pulled Apart By Horses – The Haze

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

Sleaford Mods – London Tapas

Slotface – Try Not To Freak Out

Sorority Noise – You’re Not As _ As You Think

Stnnng – Veterans of Pleasure

Tricot – 3

The Jimmy Cake – Tough Love

The Menzingers – After The Party

UpCDownC – I, Awake

Unsane – Sterilize

Yagow – Yagow

Yards – Excitation Thresholds

Additional

Science Fiction by Brand New didn’t make the cut this year for obvious reasons. Would it have done in other circumstances? Yes, it would easily be top 5 material, perhaps higher. It’s their best album as well. There, I said it. However, to give the band any kind of accolade this year is not something I am not comfortable with doing at all. Thank you.

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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Top 50 Albums of 2017


Last year felt particularly cruel as we watched so many of our pop-culture icons get taken from us without warning. By December, we all yearned for a pause, an ending, a reset. However, none of the comfort that comes with the hopeful act of flipping a calendar page lasted long into 2017. Instead, we’ve felt the pain more acutely and more personally than a year ago. Most of us have witnessed our core values challenged, felt our realities shaken, and endured daily reminders that who we are in our most basic integrity remains very much at stake. For that reason, it’s been a year in which we’ve turned to music out of necessity perhaps more than ever. The albums you find on this list aren’t just records we admired or caught ourselves dancing to. In many cases, they’re part of the reason we’re still here. They’ve consoled and empowered us, understood how we’ve felt, and in a time of such ugly, bitter divisiveness, reminded us that we’re never truly alone in mind, heart, or spirit.

These are the 50 albums we’ve leaned on most this year. Here’s hoping they don’t have to do such heavy lifting in 2018.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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50. Johnny Jewel – Windswept

windswept Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Los Angeles, California

The Gist: After placing Chromatics’ Dear Tommy in the Red Room, Italians Do It Better producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel issued this daring solo album mostly inspired by his work behind the scenes on Twin Peaks: The Return.

Why It Rules: With Windswept, Jewel sounds more assured as a producer than ever, conjuring up a moody amalgamation of his signature brooding synthpop and a style of free-form jazz akin to David Lynch go-to Angelo Badalamenti.

Essential Tracks: “Windswept”, “Slow Dreams”, and “Between Worlds”

–Michael Roffman

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49. Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time

good time oneohtrix soundtrack stream listen Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Wayland, Massachusetts

The Gist: Two years after the interstellar, metallic Garden of Delete, esoteric electronic experimentalist Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) returned to score a crime drama starring Robert Pattinson. Retaining his own burning palette and pushing it through a Vangelis/Carpenter mesh, Lopatin continues to find new ways to inject anxiety and awe under the skin.

Why It Rules: A somber, piano-heavy collaboration with Iggy Pop in which the Stooge dreams about petting crocodiles is a good place to start, but Lopatin delivers the high-voltage thrills all on his own.

Essential Tracks: “Hospital Escape / Access-A-Ride”, “The Acid Hits”, and “The Pure and the Damned”

–Lior Phillips

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48. Jay Som – Work Songs

jay som everybody works Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Oakland, CA

The Gist: Multiple-instrumentalist Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som) rode her production and recording acumen on debut LP, Turn Into, to a deal with indie major Polyvinyl for Everybody Works.

Why It Rules: In what can only be described as bedroom maximalism, Duterte dug her lyrics into the granular, banalities of existence and aimed her production at expansive soundscapes. On “The Bus Song”, Duterte sings, “I can be whoever I want to be,” and that’s exactly who she is on Everybody Works.

Essential Tracks: “The Bus Song”, “Everybody Works”, and “For Light”

–Geoff Nelson

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47. The JuJu – Exchange

the juju exchange shin maeng billboard embed Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Chicago, Illinois

The Gist: After rising to session-player fame by collaborating with Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, and Vic Mensa, 24-year-old trumpeter Segal (FKA Donnie Trumpet) wrangled three fellow Chicago musicians together to expand his interest in experimental jazz, ultimately showcasing how the backbeat of hip-hop’s new sound is worthy of its own spotlight.

Why It Rules: On their debut LP, The Juju Exchange follow in the footsteps of producers like Flying Lotus and Knxwledge — not in sound, but in audience awareness, drawing listeners out of their usual jazz associations and into a world of smooth, free-form, low-key musings that inspire with their use of ample space.

Essential Tracks: “The Circuit”, “We Good”, and “Morning Of”

–Nina Corcoran

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46. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfish – Blade Runner 2049

blade runner 2049 soundtrack artwork Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Santa Monica, California; London, United Kingdom

The Gist: All signs pointed to chaos when director Denis Villeneuve parted ways with composer Jóhann Jóhannsson at the 25th hour, but Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfish rose up to the challenge with an unexpected Hail Mary score.

Why It Rules: In addition to time restraints, both Zimmer and Wallfish had to follow in the footsteps of Vangelis, whose original Blade Runner score remains inimitable. They succeeded with a follow-up that’s both reverent and wholly intimidating.

Essential Tracks: “Sea Wall”, “Rain”, and “Wallace”

–Michael Roffman

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45. Paramore – After Laughter

paramore after laughter download album stream mp3 Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Nashville, Tennessee

The Gist: Another lineup change and personal turmoil almost broke up Paramore, but Hayley Williams, Taylor York, and a returning Zac Farro came back stronger than ever to record their most pop-leaning album to date.

Why It Rules: On After Laughter, Paramore step completely away from their pop-punk origins and embrace the influences of Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads, and Blondie. Catchy sing-along hooks and ’80s pop production combine for a bright, polished sound that barely conceals the heartbreak and pain in the lyrics underneath. Williams describes the album best with the catchphrase “cry hard, dance harder.”

Essential Tracks: “Rose Colored Boy”, “26”, and “Hard Times”

–Eddie Fu

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44. Khalid – American Teen

khalid american teen Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Fort Stewart, Georgia

The Gist: The 19-year-old R&B singer’s debut album builds from the buzzing lead single, “Location”, and demonstrates a strong grasp of the pulse of his generation without alienating a greater audience.

Why It Rules: Khalid’s silky-smooth voice and anthemic hooks combine with pop/R&B production for a fresh sound that doesn’t push the rookie too far outside his comfort zone. American Teen is a solid effort in its own right while also allowing plenty of room for growth as he comes of age.

Essential Tracks: “Young Dumb & Broke”, “Location”, and “8teen”

–Eddie Fu

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43. Phoenix – Ti Amo

phoenix ti amo Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Versailles, France

The Gist: Caught between the brutality of the Bataclan massacre and the subsequent ascent of France’s right-wing reactionaries, veteran synth rocker Thomas Mars and co. escaped the tension by looking backward via this Italo-disco ode to bygone Riviera summers.

Why It Rules: Released just in time for the warm-weather months, Ti Amo hit like the aural equivalent of a white wine spritzer: Singles “J-Boy” and “Ti Amo” bubble with a radio-ready fizz, while deeper cuts like “Tuttifrutti” and “Fleur De Lys” add a shade of heady longing to all that sunbaked pop.

Essential Tracks: “J-Boy”, “Tuttifrutti”, and “Fleur De Lys”

–Tyler Clark

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42. Migos – Culture

migos culture Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Atlanta, Georgia

The Gist: Riding high off the runaway hip-hop hit “Bad and Boujee”, the prodigious trio of Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff fully capitalized on that momentum with a splendid set of tracks that put even the best work in their mixtape-heavy discography on notice.

Why It Rules: Backed by a cadre of producers, including Metro Boomin and Zaytoven, the success-obsessed bars and hedonistic hooks of Culture perfectly encapsulate the breadth of trap music, from its hypnagogic highs to its unapologetic lows.

Essential Tracks: “Bad and Boujee”, “Slippery”, and “T-Shirt”

–Gary Suarez

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41. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – Stranger Things 2

stranger things 2 Top 50 Albums of 2017

Origin: Austin, TX

The Gist: Another season of Netflix’s Stranger Things means another vintage score from Survive’s own Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, and that’s exactly what they dropped back in October ahead of the series’ highly anticipated premiere.

Why It Rules: A year has passed. They’re a little older. They’re a little wiser. No longer are they echoing the iconic sounds of John Carpenter or Goblin, but indulging in more modern fare like Bon Iver and M83. Hawkins has never sounded so hip.

Essential Tracks: “Eulogy”, “Eight Fifteen”, and “On the Bus”

–Michael Roffman

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Catalan! – Alive


image1You may remember back in the sunny days of July, we had a feature and interview with a certain Mr Ewen Friers, aka Catalan! talking all about the creation of the project, hopes for the future, collaborations and whether he’s a Dr Ian Malcolm or David Levinson kind of guy.

Well, Ewen (or Catalan!) is back with a new single, the energetically named Alive. I love the squelching keyboard opening to this and when the cowbell kicks in. It’s the opening two lines that get me though – the layered vocal delivery of “Another worse Hot Water Music/A million more Menzingersers” seems to be having a cheeky pop at all those bands who employ the gruff-ramshackle punk aesthetic, but feels ever-so-tongue-in-cheek.  Throughout Alive, there is this bass-heavy fuzz; it feels very Death From Above in places, that similar, infectious dance-punk groove, and boy does this act as an itch – that chorus will worm its way into your brain before you know what’s happening.

It’s a proper fist-pumper of a track – that light pop-rock bounce, those Metric-esque synth-lines and that huge, skyscraper of a chorus leaves you wanting more. With Axis Of currently dormant at the moment, this is certainly a project that has legs and fans of the aforementioned Portstewart lads, will absolutely love this. Cracking work – stream Alive by Catalan! below.

Links

Catalan Twitter

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time


Artwork by Cap Blackard

The two best-selling soundtracks of all time celebrate milestones this November, with Saturday Night Fever turning 40 and The Bodyguard turning 25. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at what exactly makes a film soundtrack great, something that seemed much easier on paper than in execution.

We found plenty of soundtracks that excelled by using subtle songs in the periphery of pivotal scenes, and we also came across films that dropped the music right into the story, as part of the plot or even as a character itself. We came across those movies that made hits out of otherwise obscure songs, while also taking into account films that hijacked a popular song and made it indistinguishable from the film itself. More importantly, we looked at the soundtracks that enhanced the film and went hand-in-hand with its tone and story, giving you greater insight into pivotal scenes and character growth.

We avoided musicals, band movies, concert films, and scores in this regard, focusing solely on the best use of popular music in film, combing through movies from the ’60s all the way up to 2017 until we had our picks. As with any list of this size, there are bound to be disagreements as well as some soundtracks that should have made the cut. Let us know what you think we missed, but in the meantime, sit back and take a whirlwind trip through music in cinema with our picks for the 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time.

–Doug Nunnally
Contributing Writer

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100. Juno (2007)

juno The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s quirky dramedy about a misfit teenager who finds herself two months pregnant and decides to have and adopt out her baby gets a lot of things right. One of those is a soundtrack that almost acts as an interior monologue for the title character. While Juno MacGuff may dig the raw power of Iggy and his Stooges, having indie vet Kimya Dawson’s soft voice and oddball lyrics floating in during transitions or when Juno’s faced with a difficult moment feels like a far better match. So taken by Dawson’s music was Reitman that he had her re-record instrumentals and humming to use for scenes and commissioned Mateo Messina to use her style as the basis for the scored parts of the movie. The final result is a soundtrack of unforgettable moments like Juno and Paulie dueting “Anyone Else but You” and the latter completing his morning routine to The Kinks’ brilliant “A Well Respected Man”. Wizard. –Matt Melis

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99. Batman Forever (1995)

batman forever The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

The less said about Joel Schumacher’s Batman films, the better, but kudos has to be given to the soundtrack for his first attempt. Though only a few of its songs appear in the film, the soundtrack picks up the ball Schumacher so casually dropped with a deep mélange that helped illustrate Batman’s gritty nature, Robin’s empowered gall, Riddler’s manic depravity, and Two-Face’s fractured distress — all things effectively absent within Schumaker’s obtrusive vision. It doesn’t quite hit the lofty mark of Prince’s interpretation, but thanks to Seal’s powerhouse song and U2’s surprising gem, it definitely comes close. –Doug Nunnally

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98. The Karate Kid (1984)

the karate kid The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Look, The Karate Kid is basically Little Rocky. You’ve got director John G. Avildsen behind the camera again and his buddy Bill Conti added yet another triumphant score to make everyone believe that an underdog could rise to the top. But, like any story that’s repackaged for a younger audience, it’s gotta be hip, and that’s essentially what this soundtrack is — at least for the time. Even then, nobody was listening to Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best” without singing along ironically (hell, it was rejected by Rocky Balboa himself), but they were rocking out to Gang of Four (“Desire”) or Broken Edge (“No Shelter”). And while it’s a crime Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” was left off, you get your New Wave fix with Commuter (“Young Hearts”) and Baxter Robertson (“Feel the Night”), two songs that will legitimately dent your soul. Wax on, wax off, people. –Michael Roffman

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97. Space Jam (1996)

space jam The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Here’s something that doesn’t get discussed a lot — the soundtrack to Space Jam contained five Top 40 hits, four of them being Top 10 hits that made 1996 and 1997 a time that you couldn’t escape this soundtrack if you tried. But the real charm for this soundtrack lies outside the hits, like great dance/hip-hop songs by Robin S and Salt-N-Pepa, though all you really need to know about this soundtrack’s quality is that it got Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man to all collaborate on a song about the villainous Monstars … and it’s absolutely phenomenal. –Doug Nunnally

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96. Angus (1995)

angus The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

If we’re talking about soundtracks being emblematic of the mid-’90s high school experience, few are as tried and true as Angus. At the time, the whole grunge scene had given way to a more alternative sound with Green Day and Weezer leading the charge. Wouldn’t you know, they both headline this collection, what with Green Day’s memorial song “J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)” tipping off the LP and Weezer’s “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” sitting right in the middle between Ash, Smoking Popes, and The Muffs. Fun fact: That latter song wasn’t intended for the soundtrack, as frontman Rivers Cuomo originally penned a song for the film titled “Wanda (You’re My Only Love)”, which was rejected for being “too much of a strict interpretation of the movie.” It’s okay, like Angus, they won out in the end, releasing Pinkerton the following year. –Michael Roffman

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95. Elizabethtown (2005)

elizabethtown The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Cameron Crowe’s much-maligned 2005 treatise on kindness, forgiveness, love, and Manic Pixie Dream Girls might have become a punchline in its own time, but one of its more lasting impressions is its soundtrack, crafted specifically to bring Orlando Bloom’s suicidal ex-shoe designer (yep) back from the brink. Through a mixture of Kirsten Dunst’s love and a sprawling playlist including Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket, Lindsey Buckingham, Elton John, U2, and a host of other familiar and minor names alike, Crowe serves as the benevolent god of his film’s loving world. Bloom might be trapped in a fiasco, but the soundtrack looks straight ahead to clearer skies. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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94. Times Square (1980)

times square The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

You’ve probably never seen Times Square. Don’t worry. Not many have. Even now, despite its cult acclaim, Allan Moyle’s punk rock coming-of-age movie is an under-the-radar gem. Those who have seen it, probably remember its groundbreaking double-album soundtrack that features a who’s who of punk and new wave titans circa 1980, from Talking Heads to The Cure, Gary Numan to Patti Smith. As Wet Hot American Summer composer Craig Wedren told us years ago, “Times Square totally cracked [the underground] open. It was an introduction to our music, our generation’s music: the early MTV hard rock top 40 and the new wave that was happening between 1979 and 1981.” In other words, a totally essentially time capsule. –Michael Roffman
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93. Stealing Beauty (1996)

stealing beauty The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Italian writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci has struck serious highs in terms of epic drama (The Last Emperor) and provocative, controversial sensuality (Last Tango in Paris). The 1996 Liv Tyler-starring Stealing Beauty may not have the cultural cache or critical seal of approval of his most beloved films, but the atmospheric, blue moodiness of the soundtrack alone fills the film with smoky appeal that transcends its ‘90s bonds. The film finds the melancholy in the Cocteau Twins as well as Mozart, Mazzy Star, and Nina Simone. The film is haunted by poetry (Liv Tyler’s Lucy deals with the death of her poet mother), and the soundtrack is similarly obsessed with the beauty of quiet moments and subtle, swaying emotion. But when the mood breaks, as it must inevitably, you’d be hard-pressed to find better explosions than Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. –Lior Phillips

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92. 500 Days Of Summer (2009)

500 days The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

500 Days Of Summer’s soundtrack works as a cohesive gel, piecing together the disjointed narrative so you can absorb the nonlinear scenes with better clarity and context. Though we know how it ends, The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” allows us to experience the wide-eyed wonderment of love, while Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True” helps illustrate its fantasies. The best case for music bridging the gap is the expectation vs. reality scene, deftly scored by Regina Spektor’s “Hero”. Your eyes dart between the two unfolding scenes, but it’s the song’s disappointed tone that you can’t avoid, hammering home the scene’s, and the soundtrack’s, true impact. –Doug Nunnally

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91. The Lost Boys (1987)

lost boys The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

The worst thing about The Lost Boys soundtrack is that you have to imagine Tim Capello shirtless when you listen to “I Still Believe”. It’s a ludicrous song that works much better on-screen, where we can actually see his hunky, muscle-y abs reflecting the beach flames of Santa Carla, California. Nonetheless, there are plenty other goodies to sink your teeth into on this album, which may be the most bizarre hodgepodge of musicians assembled for what’s ostensibly an alty ’80s film. Like, why is Echo and the Bunnymen covering The Doors’ “People are Strange”? Or why is Roger Daltrey wedged between two songs by INXS? Whatever, it all works, and don’t tell me you’ve never screamed with Gerard McMann on “Cry Little Sister”. –Michael Roffman

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90. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

scottpilgrim albumcover The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

If you’re going to write a movie with a battle of the bands at its core, you better be ready to have a great soundtrack and some top-tier songwriters on board to ensure you can actually build some drama into that climactic battle. For Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Edgar Wright amassed a super-team to make sure that both the songs chosen and composed for the soundtrack would rock hard enough to literally battle competitors. The songs for Scott’s band, Sex Bob-Omb, were written by Beck, while Broken Social Scene write and perform as Crash and the Boys. But let’s not forget to credit the actors: Michael Cera, Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons, and Erik Knudsen all actually played instruments and sang for the soundtrack, while Sloan’s Chris Murphy coached guitar. Add to that mix a swathe of stomping classic rock (T. Rex, The Rolling Stones) and a score featuring Radiohead contributor Nigel Godrich, Beck, Dan the Automator, Cornelius, and more, and Scott Pilgrim has the brash pedigree to pull off its musical conceit. –Lior Phillips

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89. Ghostbusters II (1989)

screen shot 2017 11 13 at 10 48 58 am The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Hot take: Bobby Brown’s greatest song is “On Our Own”. That’s not irony. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a cold, hard fact. The de facto theme song of Ghostbusters II thrives from a shivering glaze of New Jack swing, the likes of which wouldn’t sound this polished and this lush until Michael Jackson would go all-in on the genre a couple years later on 1991’s Dangerous. It’s a total improvement over Ray Parker Jr.’s original theme, which also gets a facelift on this soundtrack with a remix by the one and only Run-DMC. (Not surprisingly, their version is better.) Elsewhere, you get slimed by a little hip-hop (Doug E. Fresh), some veteran rock (Elton John, Glenn Frey), and a whole lotta soul (Howard Huntsberry), all of which screams 1989. –Michael Roffman

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88. American Pie (1999)

american pie The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

What you have to keep telling yourself whenever you watch American Pie is that, yes, this is a film from another time. Otherwise, you’re going to have an aneurysm from all the rampant homophobia and the fact that its most iconic scene is straight-up sexual predation. Still, even though the film hardly holds up, the soundtrack does, oozing with all kinds of late ’90s alt-rock that will probably be great source of nostalgia in a couple of years if it isn’t already. Those who were also in high school during that era will probably stare off in the distance to Bic Runga’s “Sway” just as they’ll bop their heads to Blink-182’s Enema of the State gem “Mutt”. What sucks most about this soundtrack, however, are all the songs that were left off, from Duke Daniels’ “Following a Star” to Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta”, to the film’s ostensible theme, James’ “Laid”. Oh well. –Michael Roffman

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87. Love and Basketball (2000)


love and basketball The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

All good love stories develop their own soundtrack, and the sweet, smoky, long-gestating romance between Sanaa Lathan’s Monica and Omar Epps’ Quincy in Love & Basketball is no exception. The characters develop an attraction over decades, and all while training and competing. By reaching back to Zapp and Chaka Khan and going all the way through to contemporary R&B jams like Bilal’s “Soul Sista”, the soundtrack reflects changes in intensity and era without losing the thread of frustrated romance. And when they finally find that their chemistry works off the court and get down to business, Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work” provides the sweet and sultry background. –Adam Kivel

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86. The Breakfast Club (1985)


breakfast club The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Few, if any, modern filmmakers take the mundanity of adolescence as seriously as writer-filmmaker John Hughes once did. How committed was Hughes? In The Breakfast Club, he sells us on the idea that a Saturday detention can change how a group of young people view the world. We see these five different students – most of whom would never speak to each other if not locked up in a library together – running through the halls to Wang Chung and dancing together to a Karla DeVito record. It’s all silly and unbelievable, and yet by film’s end the five have managed to learn something life-altering about themselves. When Judd Nelson crosses the football field and iconically pumps his fist to Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, he’s not just celebrating another detention done and over with or even his new girlfriend; it’s a gesture that reminds even the most skeptical among us that real life takes place sometimes where and when we least expect. It’s something John Hughes knew all too well. –Matt Melis

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85. American Beauty (2000)

american beauty The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Very few midlife crises sound this exceptional. For Lester Burnham, the sardonic protagonist of Sam Mendes’ American Beauty, this suburban daddy’s jarring left turn from normalcy is at all times beautiful, compelling, and riveting. There’s Bill Withers bringing the soul on “Use Me”, Elliott Smith matching the tranquility of composer Thomas Newman with “Because”, and the FM jams of The Who (“The Seeker”) and Free (“All Right Now”). The generational gaps between all the acts — umm, it oscillates from Bobby Darin and Peggy Lee to Gomez and the Eeels — seems almost implicit, seeing how this is a movie about an old man trying to have sex with a young woman — scratch that, a young teenager. No wonder Kevin Spacey won the Oscar! –Michael Roffman
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84. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

darjeeling The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Three Kinks songs slip in between Bollywood tracks in Wes Anderson’s fifth film to showcase three American brothers’ train-riding vision quest through the Indian countryside. Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody are mourning the loss of their father and trapped in cycles of familial struggle, but find a new peace together. The trio move from wondering about where they’ll be “This Time Tomorrow”, to discovering that though they’re “Strangers” they are one on this new road, to coming to grips with the fight against the “Powerman” figure always enforcing the status quo that had kept them apart. And as the film goes on, the Indian music becomes less strange and more essential to their relationship. –Adam Kivel

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83. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

shaun of the dead The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

While Baby Driver solidified Edgar Wright’s unmatched ability to make music an essential character and piece of the narrative, fans of his earlier films — and shout-out to Spaced too — will eagerly explain that that’s always been the case. The first film of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead utilizes both diegetic music and clever scoring to comedic and dramatic affect. Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford created the score in honor of classic zombie and horror soundtracks, from John Carpenter vibes to Goblin intensity. Meanwhile, the high-wire choreography of Baby Driver is predated by (among other scenes in Wright’s filmography) a brilliant scene in which Shaun, Ed, Liz, and co. fight off zombies in the Winchester who had been drawn in by a malfunctioning jukebox that wouldn’t stop playing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. –Adam Kivel

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82. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

everybodys talkin The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Like the movie itself, the soundtrack to Midnight Cowboy is an ambitious affair with a collection of songs that joins together country folk instrumentals and an array of rock styles, from the radio friendly rock sound (including a cover of a great early Warren Zevon song) to more expansive psych explorations, all of which helps explore the complicated psyche of its story. The blend also helps the score pieces resonate, and sets the stage for the iconic “Everybody’s Talkin’”, leading to the first Grammys for both Harry Nilsson and legendary composer John Barry. –Doug Nunnally

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81. Top Gun (1986)

top gun The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

As far as ’80s movie soundtracks go, Top Gun may not be the best of the decade, but it’s absolutely among the most memorable. As the above album art suggests, it’s at the very least “up there with the best of the best.” Tony Scott’s film is draped in loud, near-constant pop music, but it’s the two classics from the film’s soundtrack that have come to define the film even more than all of the well-shot, frequently homoerotic action on hand ever could have. Kenny Loggins offered a new path for America, on the highway to the Danger Zone, where Tom Cruise’s ace pilot lives and exists in all of his pursuits. And not only did Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” underscore each of the film’s many illustrations of the totally hetero passion involving Cruise and Kelly McGillis’ program instructor, but it became one of the biggest power ballads of the decade that defined the form. You, reading this now? There’s like a 40% chance you were made to the tune of “Take My Breath Away”. Congratulations. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
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80. Mo’ Better Blues (1990)

 The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

As a film, Mo’ Better Blues may not be one of Spike Lee’s more outstanding works, but it indisputably features one of his best soundtracks. The Branford Marsalis Quartet’s work here plays a crucial (you could even say instrumental) role in Lee’s film, chronicling the rise and fall of Denzel Washington’s Bleek with lively, improvisational-feeling jazz riffs of every kind. Plus, how often do you get to hear Washington, Gang Starr, and Wesley Snipes perform over jazz music? It accomplishes what most soundtracks only aspire to do: it truly adds something more to the film beyond it. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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79. Marie Antoinette (2006)

marie antoinette The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Sofia Coppola’s misunderstood, anachronistic 2006 take on the last queen of pre-Revolution France speaks the language of decadence as only a Coppola film could. Yet its soundtrack, which initially grated on some listeners, is one of the greats of the aughts, an exercise in melancholic pop sounds that manages to comment on one hedonistic era using the sounds of another. New Order, Bow Wow Wow, The Radio Dept., and a host of other artists add to the lushly ornate settings, glorifying in an era of excess even as it verges on its sudden, violent, and inevitable end. It’s a pop soundtrack for the end of the world as many knew it. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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78. Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

where the wild things are The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Eight years later, we’re still periodically baffled that Warner Bros. gave Spike Jonze $100 million of studio money to make what may well be one of the saddest films ever aimed at children. Yet Where the Wild Things Are is worth every cent, a sincerely magical bit of painful fantasy, and one of the better illustrations of childhood fear and anxiety ever put to movie screens. The soundtrack, by Karen O and the Kids, heightens the magical realism of Jonze’s feature, dealing in simple and resonant melodies that transcend the singsong by O’s vocals, which lend the same agonized lilt to the film’s sparse, simple balladry that she often did to even some of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ most biting work. It’s a perfect marriage of artist and art, a soundscape that supplements and adds onto the already wonderful film to which it’s connected. —Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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77. Boomerang (1990)

boomerang The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

A perfect snapshot into early ’90s R&B, Boomerang’s soundtrack captured the changing of the musical guard, proudly showing the wonders of New Jack swing while previewing the expansive hip hop soul that was to come. Both the film and soundtrack had lasting effect on the industry, essentially launching the careers of Halle Berry and Toni Braxton, while also giving ample exposure to a laundry list of artists who would go on to fill the screen and airwaves of the ‘90s: Martin Lawrence, Boyz II Men, Tisha Campbell, TLC, Chris Rock, A Tribe Called Quest. –Doug Nunnally

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76. Pretty In Pink (1986)

pretty in pink The 100 Greatest Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Pretty in Pink may not always be at the top of anybody’s John Hughes power ranking, but it’s always a consistent top five, a wild tale of young love that stands as one of his outright funnier movies. But perhaps most memorable, at least to some, is the film’s new wave soundtrack, one that made OMD’s “If You Leave” a chart-topping hit and introduced quite a few young Americans to New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen. That’s all to say nothing of the titular Psychedelic Furs track, the kind of song that captures the ’80s in all its poppy excess in the span of just a few short minutes. Also, Duckie had a lot more to offer than Blaine in the long term. No, we haven’t let this go yet. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
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R.E.M.’s Top 20 Songs


If you’re at all like me, you probably associate certain bands with specific moods. In other words, you turn to these bands when they fit your state of mind, match how your day went, or just seem to sound how you feel. R.E.M. has never been one of those bands for me, though. No matter my mood, mindset, or emotion, there’s an R.E.M. album or sound that suits me. “I have lived a full life,” Michael Stipe once sang, and I think that’s how we felt about the band when they parted ways in 2011. To look back at their catalogue then or now is to see a band that have lived a full life — and life to the fullest — leaving few stones of the band experience unflipped or unskipped. All these years later, R.E.M. remains a band to vent to, cry to, and dance alongside. There are songs to make you remember, songs to make you forget, and songs literally sung to save your life. Again, no matter how you feel, they have something for you, and it’s hard to think of a better catalogue of songs to grow up with, to grow with, and, finally, to grow old with.

So, here are 20 R.E.M. songs that the four of us find ourselves turning to these days more than most. And, luckily, there are plenty more where they came from.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director

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Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

Sleeping through a revolution is a cardinal sin, as “Begin the Begin” argues from the get-go: “Birdie in the hand for life’s rich demand/ The insurgency began and you missed it.” It’s a biting line that Michael Stipe repeats again and again for full effect, splattering his listeners with passive-aggressive guilt, as he later leans on aggression and loses any guff: “Silence means security, silence means approval.” It’s easy to see why the opening track off R.E.M.’s fourth studio album, Lifes Rich Pageant, would open so many of their live performances. It’s a timeless statement for progressives everywhere, and as such, incredibly emblematic of the band as a whole. Let’s listen again. –Michael Roffman

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Reckoning (1984)

With its jangly, arpeggiated chords and driving rhythm section, “Pretty Persuasion” doesn’t seem out of place on 1984’s Reckoning, even though R.E.M. allegedly penned the song years earlier. There’s a clear power-pop influence here, and Peter Buck’s sparkly intro riff sets the tone for a darker, more ominous version of The Records’ “Starry Eyes” (released a year before R.E.M. formed, in 1979). Michael Stipe almost sounds like a punk singer as he rails against the “hurry and buy” impulse of consumerism, his anger intermingling with the jangly melody to create something odd and inexplicably captivating. –Collin Brennan

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New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996)

For years, R.E.M. fans thought to themselves: If only we knew what Michael Stipe was saying. Fast-forward a decade and change later to R.E.M. being arguably the biggest band in the world, Stipe at his most intelligible, and R.E.M. fans thinking to themselves: If only we could make any sense out of what Michael Stipe is saying. Few could have known that the spoken-sung “E-Bow the Letter” with its “hash bars, cherry mash and tinfoil tiaras” actually comes from an unsent letter from Stipe to friend and late actor River Phoenix. But, as we’ve learned with R.E.M. over the years, not knowing doesn’t equate to not feeling. As we let Patti Smith’s backing vocals and the sustained vibrations from an EBow coil tightly around us as the song pushes on, a “straightforward” line like “Aluminum, tastes like fear/ Adrenaline, pulls us near” somehow seems to make all the sense in the world. –Matt Melis

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Collapse Into Now (2011)

One of the great final gasps of R.E.M. is this stunning jam that stresses the idea of carpe diem. It’s about embracing the unknown and the changes that come from within. Musically, the whole thing brims with harmonies, hooks, and the kind of woodsy instrumentation that made the Athens outfit so iconic, but we’ll leave it to Stipe to explain the lyrical nature itself: “I wanted to picture an almost blunt outsider’s perspective – the experience of a guy who is walking through a city that is completely new to him and still very unfamiliar. I have combined these two words to express that. I don’t pretend being a German or a Berliner. Not at all. I just tried to figure out the mind of this outsider….” Well, there you are. –Michael Roffman

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Up (1998)

R.E.M.’s unfairly maligned Up contains plenty of gems, chief among them “Walk Unafraid”. Musically, the song is a study in contrasts: Teeth-gnashing electric guitar and thumping drums create a menacing underbelly that’s mitigated by Stipe’s delicate vocal delivery, space-filled arrangements, and lilting strings. Lyrically, the tune boasts a compassionate message of “courageous stumbling” that manifests itself mainly in defiant declarations of individuality: “I’ll trip, fall, pick myself up and walk unafraid/ I’ll be clumsy instead.” With its subtext of nonconformity, “Walk Unafraid” has an unimpeachable sentiment — and a flawless execution to boot. –Annie Zaleski

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Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)

“Driver 8” kicks off the strongest two-song sequence on Fables of the Reconstruction with a bluesy guitar riff that mimics the forward thrust of a locomotive. Add in the insistent repetition of “Take a break, Driver 8/ Driver 8, take a break” that carries over from the first verse into the chorus, and you’re left with the distinct impression of a train barreling through a Southern landscape with no brakes and a crew strung-out on lack of sleep. But something about the song’s mood or urgency shifts as it arrives at the second verse, where all of a sudden Michael Stipe pauses to soak in the imagery that surrounds him: a tree house on a farm, church bells ringing, children playing in the field. But just as the driving riffs give way to arpeggiated chords, so do these pastoral relics of the South give way to images of power lines and other vaguely sinister representations of modernity. Like many of the best R.E.M. songs, “Driver 8” doesn’t pick sides. Not quite sad and not quite celebratory, it keeps its quiet revelations close to the chest. –Collin Brennan

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Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)

Fables of the Reconstruction contains plenty of wisdom — including this song, inspired by the title of the book Life: How to Live written by a local Athens character named Brivs Mekis. The lyrics are whimsical — they detail Mekis’ eccentric habits — but suit the bustling music. In particular, Bill Berry’s drumming bristles with spring-loaded energy, which pushes the song forward and highlights the urgency inherent in Peter Buck’s circular riffs and the water-falling backing vocals. R.E.M. dusted off “Life and How to Live It” occasionally even during their final tour, and it became even more galvanizing as the years passed. –Annie Zaleski

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Document (1987)

“The One I Love” is one of R.E.M.’s most straightforward songs in terms of melody and structure: three verses, three one-word choruses, and a bluesy Peter Buck solo thrown in for good measure. The tune’s relative simplicity lent itself to mainstream pop radio and did what “Radio Free Europe” and other early singles could not — it transformed R.E.M. from a scrappy but steady college band into a commercial rock juggernaut. But the thing about “The One I Love”, of course, is that it isn’t straightforward. Not at all. Over the past 30 years, R.E.M.’s first hit single has gained notoriety as one of pop music’s most famous not-quite-love songs. It begins, almost self-consciously, as a love ballad, only to pull the rug out from beneath the listener by referring to the object of love as “a simple prop to occupy my time.” Michael Stipe is at his lyrical best here, painting a picture that shifts from quiet romantic bliss to a desperation larger than words. When he screams “Fire!” in the chorus, it’s not meant to mean anything. You’re just supposed to swallow hard and feel the burn. –Collin Brennan

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Automatic For the People (1992)

The final track on Automatic for the People is one of R.E.M.’s most gorgeous songs. Acoustic guitar, organ, and cascades of hymn-like harmonies create a solemn atmosphere that’s lightened somewhat by twinkling piano. Lyrically, “Find the River” addresses the passage of time over the course of a long life (“The ocean is the river’s goal/ A need to leave the water knows”) and ponders the inevitable transition to the next spiritual plane. Using subtle language, “Find the River” reveals this shift isn’t an ending, but something self-sustaining (“The river empties to the tide”). Poignant and reflective — but not resigned, “Find the River” is a fitting ending to a near-perfect album. –Annie Zaleski
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Monster (1994)

“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” is like the “Homerpalooza” of R.E.M.’s catalogue: a tragic story of an old man trying to be cool. It happens to everyone, though, and as Stipe was racing towards his 13th year with the outfit, it’s not unlikely that he was having those very same feelings. Of course, we all know he had very little to worry about — especially, you know, seeing how Monster arrived towards the tail-end of an unstoppable run of albums — and this song was proof perfect. It was a noisy signal to Generation X that the band understood the frequency loud and clear. After all, they were the progenitors of what would wind up being ’90s Alternative, so they weren’t exactly asking questions. They were answering them. –Michael Roffman

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