There are only a few albums in the world that transcend any scene or genre, and build a following in their own, distinct shadows. It's powerful, and it's mostly good, but sometimes the greatest albums of all time can turn good, solid people into an absolutely insufferable demographic. You know what I'm talking about. Those albums.
You're at a party, you asked someone about their favorite records, they reply with a record you both like, but their fandom runs in a dark, depressing obsession -- there's a reason Weezer fans always travel in groups. We went ahead and highlighted a few of these albums, if only to help inspire a bit of sanity back into their steadfast followers. It's never good when a human being can be adequately described with the name of an album.
Nas - llmatic
Like a number of pathetic white men, I learned about this album in high school and proceeded to be an absolute cock to everyone else about it. I only listened to real hip-hop, because there's no feeling of self-accomplishment quite like the one that comes with listening to a 70-minute-long Roots album without having a single second of fun. Illmatic is, of course, responsible for the artistic trajectory of the following decade in rap, but it's also the No. 1 cause of people taking music way too seriously. I thought I hated Soulja Boy because of Illmatic, and I don't think I can ever forgive it for that.
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is arguably the greatest teenaged indie-rock album of all time. (Just as The Catcher in the Rye is for fiction.) That does not excuse In the Aeroplane Over the Sea people, mostly in their late twenties, trying desperately not to cringe at lyrical turns they once wholeheartedly believed to be genius. Deep down we all know Jeff Mangum's poetry was about the quality of an incredibly talented seventeen-year-old, which is why his music resonated so thoroughly with seventeen-year-olds savvy enough to read Pitchfork, but there's a reason he's only just now playing those songs live after a decades-long hiatus. My senior quote was "And one day we will die and our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea, but for now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see," and I'm OK with that. When you quote those words wistfully, disregarding its newfound, post-adolescent corniness, you seem like a sad person.
The Strokes - Is This It
Julian Casablancas is a sad drunk asshole who seems to alienate everyone he works with. The dream is over. I'm sorry. He's not Elvis. He co-owns a restaurant and makes barely passable electropop in his free time. He never even fucking played guitar. Is This It is a broken promise. Still, that doesn't stop Team Julian. Team Julian will not rest until their favorite leather-bound shithead is treated like an icon. Team Julian believes that all those critics were taking money under the table from the Vines to pan Comedown Machine, Team Julian is what happens when a false prophet dies, taking all of his believers down with him.
Aphex Twin - The Richard D. James Album
I generally don't like it when people (usually white men) spend a lot of time talking about different drugs to take when listening to certain albums. Aphex Twin's career has made a small fortune on leading would-be conspirators to the pasture. Linking together cryptic symbols and discreet hints to arrive at the true nature of... what exactly? Not sure. You see, with Jandek at least there's a perceived mystery about his identity and purpose, Daniel Johnston has the whole schizophrenia thing, but Richard D. James would be the first to admit he's just some pasty, ponytailed nerd from Ireland. There's nothing to decipher here; the guy has played Coachella before. Spending extensive amount of time excavating the Aphex Twin narrative is about as culturally relevant as finally discovering the illuminati references in Everclear's "Santa Monica."
The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
OK, yes, I get it, you think the Beatles are overrated. The Rolling Stones are dumb. Brian Wilson's experimentation wasn't unique to him. You like the album with songs about amoebas, and hilariously overwrought adaptations of Hindi culture. You pick one of the greatest relics in psychedelic history, and something that would go on to influence Animal Collective, the modern snooty tastemaker for marginal people. You could've picked Forever Changes, or The Who Sell Out, or, hell, the fucking Byrds, but you say The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, and we all sigh. We sigh because we know the second you learned about this album (probably sophomore year of high school) you felt embarrassed about liking the Beatles. That's just no way to live a life, man.
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