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Thursday Discussion: Future Classic Albums

Posted by - 01:15 PM on 05/10/12
For this week’s Thursday Discussion Jason has handed over the torch to me, so without further ado I wanted to discuss a topic which was inspired by a news submission from one of our users combined with an idea I’d had for this feature for a little while now. Imagine that the year is 2040, which albums do you think future generations and our future selves would consider “greats” from recent years. To put some sort of time constraint on it let’s just include albums released between 1990 and 2010, much like there are many widely held greats from 1960-1980s across many genres such as David Bowie – Low, The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Michael Jackson - Thriller, Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited, The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico, Television – Marquee Moon, The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead and well, you get the idea.

I’ve included a selection of the albums I think would be contenders and based my picks on various reasons including resonating influence, originality, success and more. This isn’t a list of your personal favourite albums from the past 20 years, so let’s make that clear, try to think outside the box and include the albums that you think will be heralded come 2040, the ones that either started something special, inspired a whole new generation of bands or that became a “cult classic”.

There are many albums I wanted to include on this list, so the omission of them is not because I don’t think they are worthy, I just wanted to be hard on myself and give a small selection to start with to spark off other people’s ideas. So please get involved, give your suggestions across various genres and let's see what kind of results we can come up with!

Arcade FireFuneral

NoteAll at once full of sadness, pain, child-like wonder and hope, this was the album that really kick-started it all for the Canadian troupe. Full of theatrics akin to the likes of David Bowie or Roxy Music combined with the urgency and tones of tragedy found in a Joy Division record, it really was a record that stood out from the get-go by drawing on already classic influences without letting them drown out or dictate the final outcome and not only that, but it’s an album that was eagerly anticipated following the release of their debut EP, particularly due to the early version of “No Cars Go”. Already considered a “modern classic” it’s easy to tell that this will go down as a true classic as each decade passes.

Radiohead
Kid A
NoteAn album that needs to be included and whilst it was a toss up between including this and OK Computer in my list, I was hard on myself and whittled it down and decided to include Kid A due to how groundbreaking it was…is. An album that defined the next era of rock music, just after releasing an album which featured some of Johnny Greenwood’s greatest guitar work for the band, the band drop it all and flip everything on its head by releasing a record laden with electronics and glitches. The main reason I adore this album so much on a personal level is down to how well executed the “less is more” technique is employed. Granted, there are layers upon layers and intensively intricate details, but it’s the subtlety by which they are implemented that really sweeps the listener away. A sonic landscape is adjusted seamlessly with the most gradual or minute of touches and it remains one of the reasons this record will always be truly special. That, and the moment I press play and hear the opening notes of “Everything In Its Right Place” my body goes into some hypnotic meltdown.

A Tribe Called Quest
The Low End Theory
NoteThis may be a cheat because of how loved it already is and how acclaimed it was by critics from the moment it was released, but deservedly so. The Low End Theory managed to stitch together hip hop and jazz so perfectly that the whole album had a real air of “cool” in a pure Miles Davis sense of the word. The album’s musical flow feels so natural due to the constant groove, which was only complimented further still by the vocal flows of the group. The fusion of samples, a laid back jazz feel and the emphasized backbeat makes for a fresh listen every time.

Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago
NoteI think it’s pretty fair to say that either one of Bon Iver’s albums could qualify, but it’s the story and humble background of this record that is the reason I’m including it in this initial list. The strength in the ambiance of this record is what makes it such a stand out; how the most basic of songs with Vernon’s vocals, a guitar and a foot stomp on the cabin floor sound like a wash of emotion and it’s this “air”, this overwhelming aura which hitches the album up a notch ahead of records in the same vein. It feels like a real emotional cleansing is taking place every time you hit play. All emotional attachments aside, this album will also be remembered as the beginning of it all for Justin Vernon and Bon Iver, it feels like they and he have only just started and by 2040 I don’t doubt this will be remembered as the fragile start of one of the biggest names in music.

The StrokesIs This It
NoteArguably the album which started the garage band revival or “indie band” tag that is thrown at so many bands of varying genres in recent years and whilst a majority of those have been flash-in-the-pan bands or musical landfill there have also been a great number of bands known and loved today that owe a lot to The Strokes’ debut. Taking on influences from The Velvet Underground, The Ramones and 1970s-era garage rock bands they combined it with such brilliant song writing that there is a perfect flow from start to finish, all the while exuding this effortless “cool” feel. This is almost the go-to record for a guitar band starting out and will be considered as such for years to come.

BlurParklife
NoteA quintessentially British album in every sense but most importantly, it felt like it was able to turn the mundane into the magnificent. With tracks like the irresistibly catchy youth culture anthem “Girls & Boys”, the wry, poetic social commentary of title track “Parklife” or the heartbreaking closer in the form of “This Is A Low” it was clear that Blur was the captain of a revolution in music. Combining influences from Punk, New Wave and Pop and using them to kick out against the state of music which surrounded the charts in the UK at the time in a highly influential way.

Justin TimberlakeFutureSex/LoveSounds

NoteAfter the humongous singles from Justified, Timberlake had solidified his role as the new King of Pop and people were eagerly awaiting to see where he headed with album number 2, suffice to say he managed to deliver one of the greatest “popular music” albums of the past few decades. Teaming up with Timbaland and lacing Techno, Funk, Rock and R&B throughout the record they ended up crafting a real album, rather than a collection of singles, it felt like a consistent and complete body of work. Timberlake spoke about he wanted to channel the like of Prince and David Bowie throughout the sophomore effort in attempt to revitalize the charts, an exercise which was executed with near precision.

Elliott SmithEither/Or

NoteReleased whilst Smith was still with Kill Rock Stars, Either/Or is still very much a lo-fi musician’s album, despite being a step up in terms of production and songwriting from the previous two albums, but that takes nothing away from how near perfect it is (nor how great Roman Candle or Elliot Smith are). Tracks like “Cupid’s Trick” and “Angeles” offer a glimmer into the future of his forthcoming great recordings and opener “Speed Trials” is the ideal introduction to Smith’s fragile delivery of superb melodies. This is the kind of album that you really don’t want to pause or to be interrupted during playback, particularly when the likes of “Between The Bars” pull you in so deep. It’s moments like that which will ensure Elliot Smith’s legacy will be remembered.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 350
01:15 PM on 05/10/12
#2
Alex DiVincenzo
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Some of the first choices that come to mind (using 1990 as a starting point):

Nirvana - Nevermind
Raidohead - OK Computer
Metallica - Black Album
Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Eminem - The Marhsall Mathers LP
Green Day - Dookie
Blink 182 - Enema of the State
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

But most of these are already regarded as modern classics. It's hard to gauge a thing like this in our music scene. It's impossible to tell if people in whatever futuristic version of this scene will still be talking about Take This To Your Grave, Tell All Your Friends, Deja Entendu, Sticks and Stones, Is a Real Boy, The Upsides, et al. decades from now. They could just as easily fall into obscurity.
01:17 PM on 05/10/12
#3
Lueda Alia
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Elliott Smith's Either/Or would have been my pick.
01:19 PM on 05/10/12
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Jason Tate
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I think Deja has a good chance with a group of young folks.

Radiohead, for sure. Maybe Muse?
01:22 PM on 05/10/12
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cshadows2887
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All Kyle's picks are phenomenal. But I think Kanye will be in the discussion. Once a little history determines what out of his incredible run is the consensus pick for his best, it's safe to say that will be held with the essentials. I also think Grace, The Rising, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and at least one of Ryan Adam's first two solo records will be in the discussion.

What really intrigues me is what will grow in esteem over time. In the way that, my dad grew up in the 70's and has never heard of Big Star, but now everyone considers them one of the staples of the 70's. I'd be ecstatic if the consensus came to revere albums like August and Everything After or The Con the way that I do.
01:22 PM on 05/10/12
#6
MXP
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I'd put Brand New's Deja Entendu, Silversun Pickups' Swoon, and Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion and Strawberry Jam will be classics in my opinion.
01:24 PM on 05/10/12
#7
pleasedontask
Butter On A Summer Day...
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01:25 PM on 05/10/12
#8
schlotty
See you later, Joben!
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Yaaaay a Thursday Discussion I can really contribute too being 17 and all.
01:25 PM on 05/10/12
#9
Kyle Huntington
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All Kyle's picks are phenomenal. But I think Kanye will be in the discussion. Once a little history determines what out of his incredible run is the consensus pick for his best, it's safe to say that will be held with the essentials. I also think Grace, The Rising, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and at least one of Ryan Adam's first two solo records will be in the discussion.

What really intrigues me is what will grow in esteem over time. In the way that, my dad grew up in the 70's and has never heard of Big Star, but now everyone considers them one of the staples of the 70's. I'd be ecstatic if the consensus came to revere albums like August and Everything After or The Con the way that I do.
Definitely all picks I had considered including, specifically a Kanye record and Lauryn Hill, great additions. Was this close to writing up about Jeff Buckley's Grace as well but wanted others to be able to discuss those as picks.

Thanks a lot man.
01:25 PM on 05/10/12
Grohl
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American Idiot. Sound of Silver. I would hope that a Frank Turner album ends up with that "classic" status. And I could see The '59 Sound really digesting well with the mainstream over the next 30 or so years.
01:27 PM on 05/10/12
Alex DiVincenzo
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American Idiot. Sound of Silver. I would hope that a Frank Turner album ends up with that "classic" status. And I could see The '59 Sound really digesting well with the mainstream over the next 30 or so years.
My mind instantly went to Dookie as the Green Day classic, but you're right - in the long run, American Idiot will likely be the one that's remembered.
01:28 PM on 05/10/12
Kyle Huntington
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Some of the first choices that come to mind (using 1990 as a starting point):

Nirvana - Nevermind
Raidohead - OK Computer
Metallica - Black Album
Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Eminem - The Marhsall Mathers LP
Green Day - Dookie
Blink 182 - Enema of the State
Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral

But most of these are already regarded as modern classics. It's hard to gauge a thing like this in our music scene. It's impossible to tell if people in whatever futuristic version of this scene will still be talking about Take This To Your Grave, Tell All Your Friends, Deja Entendu, Sticks and Stones, Is a Real Boy, The Upsides, et al. decades from now. They could just as easily fall into obscurity.
Great picks too, exactly what I'd hoped for with a list displaying various genres. I agree about the tougher task of picking albums for a specific scene, will the likes of Tell All Your Friends means as much to young teens in 20 or so years time? Hard to tell.
Elliott Smith's Either/Or would have been my pick.
<3
01:29 PM on 05/10/12
randys950
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come 2040?? wow, ummm
Green Day-American Idiot
blink-182-Enema of the State
Alice in Chains-Dirt
Linkin Park-Hybrid Theory
Katy Perry-Teenage Dream
Weezer-Blue Album
01:30 PM on 05/10/12
schlotty
See you later, Joben!
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I really hope my kid picks up American Idiot and loves it the same way I do.
01:30 PM on 05/10/12
cwhit412
don't ask
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Yaaaay a Thursday Discussion I can really contribute too being 17 and all.
poor sak, can't be useful on ap, only 15.

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