Ari Roar – Implode

The inimitable Bella Union will release on May 25th Calm Down the debut LP from Dallas artist Ari Roar. The warm tones and unhurried song construction/arrangement “Implode” aesthetically bring to mind for us bands like Whitney and Real Estate. Spin “Implode” below.

Stream the best new songs in emerging music with our Top 12 of the Week playlist

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SXSW 2017 Preview: B3SCI’s 20 Must See Shows

T-minus South by. The 2017 iteration of the Austin, TX music festival begins this coming Tuesday the 14th. B3 will be headed to Texas for the festival and to preview the event, we’ve selected our twenty favorite official showcases. See you there soon.


Rob $tone, Powers, Temples, Earl St. Clair, Sunny Sweeny
The Gatsby – Pandora

Real Estate, Girlpool, Julie Byrne, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Mothers
Empire Garage – Stereogum


Lil Yachty, Noname, Tei Shi, Ian Sweet, NO WIN
Cheer Up Charlie’s – JanSport

Sweater Beats, Ho99o9, Pomo, Sad13, Frankie Rose, Happy Meals, Two Feet, Qualiatik

SOHN, Cherry Glazerr, Middle Kids, Mondo Cozmo, Aquilo, Gabriel Garzon-Montano
Elysium – KCRW

Marian Hill, Minus the Bear, Bishop Briggs Bleached, Beach Slang
Lustre Pearl – Feed the Beat

The Black Angels, Polica, Denzel Curry, Temple, The Big Moon
Mohawk – House of Vans

Bearson, Youngr, James Hersey, The Japanese House, Matt Maeson, Tei Shi, Flint Eastwood
Empire Control Room – Neon Gold

Night Drive, Molly Burch, The Dig, River Whyless, Active Bird Community, Dude York
Maggie Mae’s – Roll Call Records & Turntable Kitchen


Let’s Eat Grandma, Blaenavon, Hippo Campus, Johnny Flynn, Marika Hackman, Odetta Hartman
Blackheart – Transgressive Records

Cam’ron, MadeinTYO, They, Kyle, Pell, TYuS, Warm Brew
Easy Tiger – TuneIn


Metro Boomin, Lil Yachty, Denzel Curry, Dreezy
Antone’s – Universal

IDLES, Catholic Action, The Japanese House, The Vryll Society, Casi, Rag’n’Bone Man
Latitude 30 – BBC Music

They, Alex Wiley, Sundara Karma, Karen Elson, Jacob Banks, Yung Gordon
Buffalo Billiards – Clash Magazine

Rag’n’Bone Man, Charlotte Cardin, Maggie Rogers, Albin Lee Meldau, Agnes Obel, Matt Maeson
St. David’s – Communion Music

Partybaby, Dream Wife, QTY, Weaves, SLOTFACE, Her’s, Splash
Maggie Mae’s – DIY

flor, The Aces, R.LUM.R, FRENSHIP, Bridgit Mendler, POWERS, NIGHTLY, Youngr
Bungalow – We Found New Music


Diet Cig, Shame, Gold Connections, Alexandra Savior, Skott, Noga Erez, Au/Ra
Barracuda – NME

LIFE, Sundara Karma, SuperGlu, Aquilo, Alice Jemima, Anna Meredith
Latitude 30 – BBC Music

Salt Cathedral, Coucheron, The Shelters, Yoke Lore, St. Tropez, Phoria, GIUNGLA
The Sidewinder – The Burning Ear, Fancy PR & Vinyl Moon

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Sandals – Dust Bowl


We’re into the jangly beachside bedroom pop of Kingston ON musician Ben Morin a/k/a Sandals. Reminding a bit of bands like Hibou and even Real Estate, the very good “Dust Bowl” neatly balances great melody and with cool mood and atmosphere. We love it.

Sandals (Bandcamp)

Track Reviews
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Day Wave – Total Zombie


“Total Zombie” is the second track to surface online from Oakland native Jackson Phillips a/k/a Day Wave. Following the buzzy “Nothing At All”, “Total Zombie” moves in a similar lo-fi, immediately infectious bit of real estate. Listen.

Day Wave (Soundcloud)

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Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes (Feat. Zack De La Rocha)


RTJ share Zack De La Rocha collaboration “Close Your Eyes” from forthcoming second EP. To get big bro De La Rocha on tape these is not the easiest ask so any feature from the former Rage Against the Machine vocalist is rare real estate. Here, a looped ZDLR provides “Close Your Eyes” its main (heater of a ) hook. “RTJII” is out October 28th on Mass Appeal.

Run the Jewels (Official)

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Danger Village: SPRING BREAK NINETY-NINE!!! (April 2013 Mix)

Spring Frog

B3SCI has teamed up with the good peeps at Danger Village to drop this exclusive mix of their choice Spring 2013 worthy jams. Owner Beth Martinez curates the mix track by track below. Hibernation doesn’t stand a chance.

1) holychild “Best Friends”

This song sets the tone perfectly for what I want to come across in this mix. For spring we’re looking to brighter, organic sounds threaded through with good feelings of friendship and laughter. Shifting away from the electronic-heavy vibes of the last mix, this song feels like all things lovely and light while still twisting in the confrontational vocal edge.

2) Denai Moore “Gone”

In February I put a British songstress, Laura Mvula, on the mix. Denai Moore comes from the same city, and this stripped down rendition of this ballad reveals how stringently gorgeous her vocals are without embellishment. I obviously love high-produced material, but nothing goes straight to your heart like these soulful vocals.

3) Rainy Milo “This Thing of Ours”

We can’t stop listening to Rainy Milo. The tone of her voice is lovely and this song is excellent.

4) Autre Ne Veut “Counting”

One of my favorite bands I saw at SXSW and one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

5) Jagwar Ma “The Throw”

Convoluted textures and excellent progression. Somehow Jagwar Ma is the only Australian band on this mix.

6) Freedom Fry “Friends and Enemies”

A breezy song about Frenemies. I love how Freedom Fry is able to make intelligent songwriting sound simple.

7) Mystery Skulls “Ghost”

If you want to get pumped up for anything, put this song on. Pay attention to this guy.

8) Mikael Cronin “Weight”

It’s a melodic and bombastic cocktail. I wish more rock bands were able to write songs like these.

9) Shelter Point “Braille”

Shelter Point makes delicately ardent music. The alien sounds in this song keep making me think my phone is ringing.

10) Shlomo ft HTDW “Don’t Say No”

I love everything about How to Dress Well and this Shlomo collab is so fab. Tom Krell’s vocals lead well into the next artist…

11) Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”

This is probably the most adult-contempo song I’ve ever truly loved. It feels like such a progression in his career, and lyrically I think it’s a very mature assessment of the evolution of a “grown-up” relationship. It feels like a true love song to me, which is always my favorite thing.

12) Sigur Ros “Brennistein”

I’m loving the weightier sound of this song. Leave it to Sigur Ros to make “heavy” sound “gorgeous.”

13) Phospherescent “Song For Zula”

I love how this song encapsulates the feeling of entrapment that comes with being broken in love. The epic lyrics here feel so out of place in modern pop music, it made me realize we don’t see many oathey songs these days. When did epic songwriting go the way of Homer?

14) Cloud Boat – “Youthern”

Been loving everything out of the Cloud Boat camp lately.

15) Active Child “Evening Ceremony”

Stunning church-wave at its finest.

16) Beach House “Troublemaker”

Like Real Estate, Beach House is a paradigm of a band that has the ability to continue refining their craft while retaining their singular sound. “Troublemaker” is a song I’ve had on repeat- the airier sounds fit well with spring’s breezes.

Danger Village (Official)

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Ducktails – Letter Of Intent

“Letter Of Intent” is the absolutely catchy new synth-pop single by Ducktails (Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile). Previewed from a forthcoming Domino Records release, The Flower Lane, “Letter Of Intent” seems nothing short of a solid indication that this album will be a noteworthy one. The single features Jessa Farkas (Future Shuttle) on vocals, Joel Ford (Ford & Lopatin) playing bass and Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) on the keys. Ducktails hits the road in early 2013 with dates in New York City, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom. By Brian Litwin

Ducktails (Facebook)

Rating 8.4


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Although we’ve come to the end of the road, still Adele we can’t let you go. We’ve reached 2011’s closing hour and now it is time: b3sci presents it’s Top 50 Albums of 2011. No one’s even come close to having the year Adele’s had. The most albums sold in a single year since 2004, two of the biggest singles of the year, etc, a truly international breakthrough both commercially and critically on a level we haven’t seen in a long time. Adele, our girl, the crown is yours. 21 is b3sci’s Album of the year.

So where the fuck is Adele on many of these respected-indie-press-dude best of lists? That period between Nov 2010 when “Rolling in the Deep” first broke and the lead up to the album’s release in late January, Adele ruled the blogosphere, the fold was united. Then “RITD” got overplayed to the point of absurdity, your mom bought the record, probably your grandma bought it too; those bros that listen to Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 started bumping “Someone Like You” out their trunk. Soon, the “wrong people” liked 21 and Adele’s brief moment atop the indiesphere was over. Right.

Thanks for reading this year, y’all. We’ve got some big plans for 2012. Stay tuned. Much love.

01. Adele – 21 (Buy It) (Read)

02. The Weeknd – House of Balloons (Buy It) (Read)

03. Drake – Take Care (Buy It) (Read)

04. James Blake – James Blake (Buy It) (Read)

05. Kendrick Lamar – Section.80 (Buy It) (Read)

06. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – We’re New Here (Buy It) (Read)

07. WU LYF – Go Tell Fire on the Mountain (Buy It) (Read)

08. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (Buy It) (Read)

09. The Horrors – Skying (Buy It) (Read)

10. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Buy It) (Read)

11. Wye Oak – Civilian (Buy It) (Read)

12. Girls – Father Son, Holy Ghost (Buy It) (Read)

13. Real Estate – Days (Buy It) (Read)

14. A$AP Rocky – Live Love A$AP (Buy It) (Read)

15. Sepalcure – Sepalcure (Buy It) (Read)

16. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake (Buy It) (Read)

17. The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient (Buy It) (Read)

18. Charles Bradley – No Time For Dreaming (Buy It) (Read)

19. Metronomy – The English Riviera (Buy It) (Read)

20. SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Buy It) (Read)

21. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica (Buy It) (Read)

22. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From the Vaccines (Buy It) (Read)

23. Destroyer – Kaputt (Buy It) (Read)

24. The Antlers – Burst Apart (Buy It) (Read)

25. tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l (Buy It) (Read)

26. Beyonce – 4 (Buy It) (Read)

27. Wild Flag – Wild Flag (Buy It) (Read)

28. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Buy It) (Read)

29. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva (Buy It) (Read)

30. Clams Casino – Instrumentals (Buy It) (Read)

31. Gillian Welch – The Harrow and the Harvest (Buy It) (Read)

32. Low Roar – Low Roar (Buy It) (Read)

33. AraabMUZIK – Electronic Dream (Buy It) (Read)

34. Active Child – You Are All I See (Buy It) (Read)

35. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Buy It) (Read)

36. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’ (Buy It) (Read)

37. Cults – Cults (Buy It) (Read)

38. Radiohead – The King of Limbs (Buy It) (Read)

39. Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials (Buy It) (Read)

40. Alex Clare – The Lateness of the Hour (Buy It) (Read)

41. Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise (Buy It) (Read)

42. Jhene Aiko – Sailing Soul(s) (Buy It) (Read)

43. The Stepkids – The Stepkids (Buy It) (Read)

44. Freddie Gibbs – Cold Day in Hell (Buy It) (Read)

45. Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa (Buy It) (Read)

46. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know (Buy It) (Read)

47. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo (Buy It) (Read)

48. Foster the People – Torches (Buy It) (Read)

49. Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Buy It) (Read)

50. Friendly Fires – Pala (Buy It) (Read)

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Mikal Cronin – Am I Wrong


Look out, world, for Mikal Cronin. The SF bro of Ty Segall has got work. “Am I Wrong”, an unreleased track, toes the line of the sort of drop out pop of Wavves and the more straight up melodic indie tones of Real Estate. If you’re feelin that, than you’re prob gonna be into Mikal Cronin so go get it, girl.

Mikal Cronin – Am I Wrong

Mikal Cronin california (Bandcamp) (Facebook)

Rating 8.0


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b3sci exclusive: Mackintosh Braun


b3science recently caught up with Ben and Ian from Chop Shop Records’ latest signing, Mackintosh Braun about their new LP Where We Are, the digital age, music licensing, fat free soy milk and more… check it out:

b3sci: a band of many influences, how has Mackintosh Braun evolved artistically on Where We Are from the days of your self-released debut The Sound?

Ian: we’ve been writing so much over the last couple of years that we’ve learned a lot about how we write songs together. i mean ‘the sound’ came out in 2008. but we had written all those songs in 2007, so we’ve had a lot of time to develop our sound and the way we write songs. this album gave us a chance to share a bit more of ourselves with the listener, and try things musically that we’ve always wanted to.

b3sci: If time and technology were no obstacle, and you guys could collaborate with anyone… ever, past, present or future, who would it be with and why?

Ian: Ratatat
Ben: ian’s got a real Ratatat thing going right now.. they’re great. ummmm, i’m gonna have to say, steely dan. that would pretty much make my dreams come true…

b3sci: how do you feel your synch in MTV’s 2010 season promo has influenced the future and fate of your band?

Ben: i think it’s cool whenever someone wants to showcase your music, and for us it was a compliment when i saw the MTV promo. we can’t really worry about the effect it might have on our future, for us it’s just about getting the music out there and hoping people attach to it.

b3sci: music licensing has come a long way in the last 10 years for emerging and established artists. what was once considered taboo and damaging to an artist’s cred is now of the most sought after opportunities. how would you guys like to see the fate of music licensing evolve?

Ben: music licensing has come a long way, it’s pretty incredible that so many great bands are getting opportunities that they never would have before the current “anti-jingle house” era that we’ve all grown into. i think to answer the question, popular culture and music go hand in hand, so to have it all so accessible now, everywhere you turn, is pretty great in my opinion, it’s helped us tremendously.

b3sci: how does it feel to be signed to Chop Shop Records, and have your vision supported by one of the most influential tastemakers (Alex Patsavas) in the entire entertainment industry?

Ian: it feels like if we planned it from the beginning, it wouldn’t have worked out better than this. it’s a great feeling…
Ben: yeah, it’s pretty great to have someone with her vision and ear for music support us like she does, everyone at Chop Shop is amazing. like ian said, it couldn’t have worked out better.

b3sci: first impressions speak millions, especially in today’s digital age of short attention spans. when somebody has the Mackintosh Braun “experience” for the first time, what is the first impression you’d like those listeners to walk away thinking?

Ian: “i’ve been waiting to hear that”
Ben: i want them to first feel the goosebumpy feeling in your arms when you hear that hot ass track, then i want them to think “damn, that’s some dopness.”

b3sci: what song on Where We Are do you feel most proud of, and why?

Ben: I was just telling ian that i’m really proud of the title track “Where We Are”. i just think we did a great job on that one, the drums sound great, i love the bridge, i’m just really proud of how that song came together.
Ian: I think for me it would be “Made For Us”. One of the reasons is that I love how you can hear both of our personalities come through in that song, and some of the things we tried and experimented with instrumentally, came out really well. there are a few notes in that one that really tug on my heart strings.

b3sci: what song, or artist, made you want to write and share music with people?

Ben: Led Zeppelin had a huge influence on me in my younger days, my mom got me into them when i was in 5th grade. i just always wanted to write music, and create sounds. i’ve never really thought about doing much else, it was the thing that i always had the strongest desire for. i still do.
Ian: I would have to say it was The Beatles, when i was listening to the song “help”, john lennon sings the line, “my independence seems to vanish in the haze”. the feeling that line gave me was so electric, that i knew i wanted to write music and try to create that for someone else.

b3sci: given the current landscape, who would be your top three acts to tour with?

Ian: Ratatat..
Ben: how bout Daft Punk, Royksopp or even Air would be amazing. There are many, many bands that we would love to tour with. lots of good music out there.

b3sci: What’s in your iPod? What album/artist is rocking your world right now?

Ian: loving’ “The Suburbs” by the Arcade Fire, and of course anything by Ratatat.
Ben: really love Wild Nothing “Chinatown” and i’m also diggin Real Estate “Out Of Tune” right now as well.

b3sci: what are 5 things that each of you guys absolutely couldn’t live without?

1) weed
2) our studio..
3) is that 5 things??

b3sci: what are 5 things that each of you guys could totally be cool living without?

1) fat free soy milk
2) third eye blind
3) people who ask about your shit, and then talk about their shit right away..
4) traffic in portland getting worse
5) the kazoo, even though jimmy made it sound awesome on “crosstown traffic”.

b3sci: What role do you think the internet will end up playing for music discovery in the future?

Ben: the largest role, it’s so important these days in discovering music.
Ian: yeah, we really may not have gotten here without it.

Mackintosh Braun info
purchase Where We Are


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Top Ten British Rock Albums 1979-1995

Contributed by Chris Gedos

My mind deals in chronologies. By memorizing the dates of artworks and events, I gain a greater understanding of particular historical progressions. I always keep this in mind when listening to music, which band another band was listening to when they were writing a particular song or album, or whether they were listening to a different genre or no music at all, since they didn’t want to get encumbered by another’s expression and run the risk of intellectual plagiarizing. The period of 1979-1996 could loosely be defined as the third era of British Rock Music, with the first encompassing the Beatles and the second going from Elton John through the Sex Pistols. (One man’s opinion. Don’t burn an effigy of me just because I didn’t put Boys Don’t Cry or Disintegration on the list!)

10. Teardrop Explodes — Kiliminjaro (1980)


Front-man Julian Cope used to play with Ian McCulloch of The Bunnymen in Liverpool in the late 70’s, before each of them became leader of their own outfit. One can only imagine, however, Julian Cope as the 5th member of the Bunnymen, sharing lyrical duties with McCulloch and battling for bravado rights. Key tracks include the infectious “Treason”, “Poppies in the Field”, and the final song “When I Sleep”, which was a hit single in England. The CD also includes the Kiliminjaro EP with title track, which is a mystical journey toward the snowy peak of Africa. The song’s only lyrics: “We set sail a year and a day ago, making our way for Kilimanjaro.” The group plays with an hysteric tightness rarely seen even in the Post-Punk realm.

9. The Wedding Present — Seamonsters (1991)


The Wedding Present, a favorite band of the late British DJ John Peel, is the product of David Gedge. What he lacks in vocal range he more than compensates for in lyrical mastery. Seamonsters contains some of the great rock love songs of the past 25 years. “Dare” is Gedge’s attempt to persuade a girl to love him:

Stay all night, I dare you
Look who is going to know?
I can’t believe you want to go!

Other key tracks include Carolyn, Octopussy, Suck and Niagara, which climaxes in a magical “1,2,3,4!” count-off into the final instrumental. There’s a steep listening curve on this album, but the rewards are more than worth it.

8. The Smiths — The Queen is Dead (1986)


This album should probably be higher on the list. Actually, I forgot about the Smiths when I first created this list late at night, but it would be criminal to shun them from any list of this nature. They are too representative of the era not to give them their proper notice.

The Smiths are highlighted by guitarist Johnny Marr and singer Steven Patrick Morrissey, who of course is better known as simply Morrissey. The Queen is Dead features several of the most iconic Smiths hits, including “Cemetery Gates,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” ” A Boy with a Thorn in His Side,” and a personal favorite, “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”. Morrissey’s trademark self-conscious self-deprecation permeates the album, epitomized by the lyric “It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days whoah-oh ah-ohoh…” (from the song “Never had No One Ever”.)

7. Echo and the Bunnymen — Ocean Rain (1984)


Today, Echo and the Bunnymen is best known as the group that recorded the song “The Killing Moon”, which gained prominence after it was featured in the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. Following the release of the movie, which was a massive cult hit among lovers of independent cinema, Echo also gained notoriety as a key musical influence for groups like Interpol and British Sea Power.

This is not to say that Echo and the Bunnymen wasn’t important in their own day. While virtually unnoticed in America, they had 4 top ten albums in the UK, and “The Killing Moon”, which starts out the second side on Ocean Rain, made it to #8 on the UK singles charts. Bunnymen zealots contend that guitarist Will Sergeant was better than The Edge and also that Bono ripped his vocal style off of Mac the Mouth.

Ocean Rain was supposed to be the album to catapult the Bunnymen toward international superstardom. While it didn’t quite do that, it made it to #4 on the UK album charts. The album features one of my favorite second halves. Starting with “The Killing Moon”, it sequences into “Seven Seas”, featuring one of the greatest bridges of the 80’s, “My Kingdom” and the epic title track to close things out. The Bunnymen are great for toeing the line between passion and histrionics.

6. Oasis — What’s the Story Morning Glory (1995)


Oasis was the biggest thing since the Beatles. Or at least The Brothers Gallagher thought they were. But these guys had the brawn to match the hubris. Oasis’ critics say that they only had one gear and couldn’t change their sound up enough (the paradigmatic one-trick pony), but they knew their sound and usually knocked it out of the park.

While some prefer Definitely Maybe, their debut, I prefer (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, which showed no signs of a sophomore slump. Morning Glory roars out of the gates with “Hello” (more of the Definitely Maybe vein), “Roll With It” (Nirvana meets Britpop), “Wonderwall” (their most accessible hit), and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (title inspired by the John Osborne play). The album gets a little sleepy in the second half before closing with “Champagne Supernova” (another classic).

5. Radiohead — The Bends (1995)


Radiohead is the band which defines our generation. In fact, I had to tailor this post to end in 1995 instead of 1997 so I wouldn’t be obliged to put OK Computer at the top of this list. In many ways they are the current end-product of the entirety of British Rock.

This album kicks ass! I often listen to it in the morning to get my iconoclastic juices rolling before a long day hunting for my piece of cheese in the rat race. The album is replete with attitude, strong choices and general precociousness. Few bands rock as hard as Radiohead on The Bends. After the merely-above-average debut of Pablo Honey, Radiohead went to the sketch pad and drew up the plan for their second album. This is when Radiohead started to become the best band of Earth, even if Yorke owes Buckley’s estate some royalties for “Fake Plastic Trees”. (And I think “Street Spirit” is overrated.) But the quality is uniform throughout.

4. The Clash — London Calling (1979)


Rolling Stone Magazine shocked its readership in 2003 when it placed The Clash’s London Calling at #8 on their 500 Greatest Albums list. I remember them getting some negative feedback, probably justified (with albums like Velvet Underground and Nico, Abbey Road, Are You Experienced, and Nevermind ranked after — a minor misdemeanor.) But even if London Calling isn’t number eight, it undoubtedly clocks in somewhere before twenty.

“Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” sings Strummer on the opening title track. Although there is an outward rejection of the past, The Clash were receptive to incorporating other genres into the framework of punk. “Brand New Cadillac” is Jan and Dean, “Rudie Can’t Fail” is Proto-Ska. Then there’s “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Lover’s Rock”, which for me transcend definition and float within the timeless realm of ineffability. This nineteen track double album is guilty of some filler, but it closes the deal with “Trian in Vain (Stand by Me),” one of their most popular songs.

3. The Stone Roses — The Stone Roses (1989)


The iconic bands share a self-fulfilling vision to be the greatest band on the planet. These guys had that vision. Led by frontman Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire, driven by the incessant beat of bassist Mani and drummer Reni, who battles the late Pete Defritas of The Bunnymen as the best English Drummer of the 80’s, The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut is a statement of purpose.

They are unapologetic about their intentions, as indicated by the opener, “I Wanna Be Adored”, which was an American college radio hit. Next comes the infectious bass line from “She Bangs the Drums”, made recently popular by the videogame Guitar Hero II. “Don’t Stop” is “Waterfall” played backwards! — I mean, who else plays a song backwards? The epic finale is much-loved, but I prefer the saccharine sweetness of “Sugar Spun Sister”.

2. Echo and the Bunnymen — Heaven Up Here (1981)


Echo and the Bunnymen’s second album, Heaven Up Here, was their only LP to make the Rolling Stone top 500 list, squeaking in somewhere between 450 and 500. The inclusion is a bit of a pity prize, but I am at least glad that a) they got the recognition in the first place and b) the preferred Echo album was Heaven Up Here, which, in my opinion, is the most cohesive album of the 1980’s. Still in their early 20’s, they built on the foundation laid with their 1980 debut Crocodiles. While some of Crocodile’s pop infectiousness is lost on Heaven Up Here, Echo makes up for it with a surety of purpose evidenced by a higher lyrical quality; the band follows suit in this step up to the big league. (To compare it with Boy by U2 is a joke, quite honestly.)

“Realistically, it’s hard to dig it all too happily,” Ian McCullloch croons at the start of the opening track, “Show of Strength”. Echo, like the Stone Roses, make an overt statement of greatness with the opening track and somehow manages to succeed. Seargent’s guitars are mesmerizing and DeFritas’ drums cannot be played at a loud enough decibel. The hysteria continues with the dystopic “With a Hip” and the six-minute epic third track, “Over the Wall”, where Mac the Mouth takes the listener to their logical limit. Even filler like “It was a Pleasure” kicks absolute ass. Any doubts are handled by the time we get to “Zimbo”, a metaphysical journey not unlike Kiliminjaro (see#10).

1. The La’s — The La’s (1990)


I was not impressed with this album when I purchased it off Amazon about five years ago. I thought it was too short and that the songwriting was not original enough, outside of “There She Goes” and “Timeless Melody”, the album’s premiere cuts. Most importantly, I found Steve Lillywhite’s production shoddy and hated how I had to crank the volume up before even beginning to rock out.

But over time, I grew attached to this album. I listened to it at least once every day for a six month period, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. This album makes #1 because it breaks all stereotypes of chronology, with tracks sounding like they could’ve been recorded in 1959 or 2009, but definitely not 1989. The La’s came from a different era, taking their, ahem, timeless melodies from that great magical jukebox in the sky.

The La’s, originally from Liverpool, were hailed as the second coming of the Beatles. They put a record company out of business while making this album. Once the label put Steve Lillywhite (U2, Dave Matthews) to the task of salvaging the wreckage of three years of false starts, the album finally came out in 1990. The band, especially frontman Lee Mavers, hated the album and publicly lambasted it, urging their fans not to buy it. They had minimal buzz in the US, appearing on Letterman in 1991; “There She Goes” went to #5 in the UK. After the band broke up, the song continued to grow, being covered by The Cranberries and Sixpence None the Richer and being featured in movies like So I Married an Axe Murderer.

There She Goes was originally released in 1988 as a single, then climbed to #5 when re-released with the album. It is the perfect pop song. Unforgettable guitar intro, pitch-perfect falsetto, 2 minutes 40 seconds, all the ingredients. “Timeless Melody” is almost as good, along with “Way Out”, “IOU”, “Freedom Song”, and the epic finale “Looking Glass”. This album is #1 because there’s no filler. Each track is equally qualified for radio airwaves. Please buy this album, don’t download, since Lee Mavers lives off the royalties. Just don’t tell Lee that you liked his album.

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