The Artist’s Choice: Favourite Albums Part II – 20 to 13
The Artist’s Choice is a list of the most popular albums amongst Melting Pot artists. As we explained earlier, this list does not necessarily represent the greatest, most popular or the hottest albums of all time. It merely represents a collection of albums that musicians and singer-songwriters in the local music scene have collectively decided are their favourites. In some respects, this might be a list that is more relevant to you than any of those others could ever be. Either way, we had a lot of fun putting it together so we think you’ll find it pretty interesting as well!
20 – Sunset Studies (Augie March)
Sunset Studies is the first studio album released by local Australian indie rock band Augie March in 2000. Featuring songs of quiet reflection, intimate poetry and beautiful melodies Sunset Studies demonstrated there are still many musical craftsmen around. The fact that this album made the top 20 of the Melting Pot Artist’s Choice is a testament to the quality of the songwriting, musicianship and production of the record: The band recorded the album in nine different studios with six different engineers, attempted launches in both Melbourne and Sydney which were largely unsuccessful and the album did not chart well. Despite this, the album was critically acclaimed both locally and internationally, won an ARIA Award and broke into the JJJ Hottest 100 with “There is No Such Place” in 2001.
19 – Diorama (silverchair)
Diorama was the fourth studio album released by Australian alternative rock band silverchair in 2002. Co-produced by writer Daniel Johns and David Bottrill (Tool, Muse) and featuring renowned orchestrator Van Dyke Parks (Beach Boys), Diorama marked a sharp and ambitious turn away from their post-grunge roots. The name “Diorama” means a world within a world and the album reflected frontman Daniel Johns’ new found positive and uplifting approach to life and music in the wake of his battles with depression, anorexia and reactive arthritis. The album was successful in the charts but divided many critics and fans – some disappointed the album still contained the band’s obligatory grunge efforts while others lamented the loss of an edgy Australian grunge rock band. The first single of the album “The Greatest View” is a good representation of the record with a blend of strong melodies, orchestral twangs and rock sensibilities all mixed together.
18 – Abbey Road (The Beatles)
Abbey Road is the 11th studio album released by the Beatles. It was created and released amid tensions within the band and so it was seen by them as their last album (although they would go on to release Let It Be afterwards before the band’s dissolution in 1970). Abbey Road features “Something” and “Here comes the sun” – two of George Harrison’s most famous songs, “The Octopuses Garden” which was written and sung by Ringo Starr and “Because” which John Lennon said was inspired by Yoko Ono playing Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. At the time, the album received mixed reviews from critics who were critical of the production’s artificial effects and found the music inauthentic. Today many music critics see it as one of the greatest albums of all time and it remains their best selling album.
17 – XO (Elliot Smith)
XO is the fourth studio album released by American singer-songwriter Elliot Smith in 1998. It was his first major label album following on from the release of Gus Van Sant’s film Good Will Hunting which featured a selection of his songs. XO features many of the characteristics that have made Elliot Smith inspire so many other songwriters – understated melody, melancholic lyrics, sparse arrangements and punk elements while maintaining atmosphere. XO was mostly well received by critics and featured two singles – “Waltz #2” and “Baby Britain”.
16 – Tea for the Tiller Man (Cat Stevens)
Tea for the Tillerman was released by English singer-songwriter Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) in 1970. It includes many of Stevens most famous songs including “Where Do the Children Play?”, “Hard Headed Woman”, “Wild World”, “Sad Lisa”, “Into White” and “Father and Son”. Where his previous album “Mona Bone Jakon” released seven months earlier contained many references to death, Tea for the Tillerman focused more on spiritual fulfilment while living in the modern world. Although the album lasts only 36 minutes, it is his finest release and one of the best folk albums to date.
15 – Metals (Feist)
Metals is the fourth studio album released by Canadian singer-songwriter Feist in 2011. Following the touring for her previous album The Reminder (released in 2007), Feist stopped playing music for two years as she said she was “emotionally deaf” and “wasn’t curious anymore”. Thank god she changed her mind! On this album, Feist aimed for a sound she called “modern ancient” which mixed a variety of old and new instruments, different noises with jazz and blues influences. The album includes “How come you never go there” and “Anti-Pioneer” which she began writing ten years earlier. It is hard to know exactly how Metals will be seen over time, but along with Bon Iver’s self titled album it is the most popular album in the last 5 years amongst Melting Pot artists.
14 – Thriller (Michael Jackson)
Thriller is the sixth studio album released by Michael Jackson in 1982. Where do you start with this album? It is the best selling album of all time and won virtually every award it could at the time. For the album Jackson reunited with Off the Wall producer Quincy Jones and together worked on 30 songs – nine of which made the album. Of the nine tracks on the album, seven were released as singles – all of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts. The album was revolutionary in it’s use of music videos as successful promotional tools with “Thriller”, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” all receiving regular rotation. This album is the only album in our Artist’s Choice top 20 that explores pop, post-disco and funk genres – that is not a coincidence.
13 – O (Damien Rice)
O is Damien Rice’s first studio album which he released in 2002. After promising his growing fan base the album was almost finished for almost two years, many would have been wondering whether they were ever going to hear it. Well the wait was worth it! The album features string arrangements by renowned composer David Arnold (Bjork) performed by members of the London Symphony Orchestra, Vyvienne Long on the cello, haunting vocals from Lisa Hannigan, famous French pianist Jean Meunier, a powerful opera singer named Doreen Curran, sound effects of children playing and Gregorian chants – and yet it doesn’t come across over produced or over the top. It just works. Rice wanted to release this album without the backing of a major label. He felt that if he tried to release something on a major label before proving himself, he would be forced to compromise and go in a direction he didn’t want to go. It looks like it’s worked out well for him.
Stay tuned as the countdown continues next week!
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.