Elliott Smith – Figure 8
I got into Elliott Smith in a big way in my mid 20s and for me this album represents his finest work before he spiraled into drugs and ultimately died.
I love to hear music where the entire composition is from one mind, like it’s a complete thing and as they intended as opposed to being created by committee like you get when a band releases something.
I remember hearing the interweaving piano and guitar melodies on the first track “Son of Sam” and thinking how beautifully arranged it all was, and then the album goes on to include huge orchestral pieces with rich vocal harmonies rising from songs which start out just on an acoustic guitar. It’s really incredible and it’s such a shame he died when he did as I can only imagine what he’d be creating now.
Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
Hands down one of the best live acts I have ever seen and another example of one person realizing their musical vision. This album shows such a wide variety of styles and songwriting ability, the production and use of space and sound is mind-blowing.
The stand out track on this for me is probably “We’re in this together” as it showcases all the things I’ve shown above, it goes from a ballad to a rock track to an industrial one and for a fairly long song it never begins to drag, you can listen again and again and hear some different textural noise or a delayed reverb on the drums or another layer of vocals. I’m a big fan of everything NIN have done before and since this album but I reckon this is just a 2-disc masterpiece.
Freddy Fudd Pucker – Hourglass Wine
OK, so there is a pattern emerging here as yet again we have an example of one person doing their thing. I met Freddy a few years ago at a basement gig in Edinburgh and we swapped albums after the gig and I left it on top of my computer in the pile of discs to copy for about 3 months.
When I finally got round to listening to it I was just pinned to the spot from start to finish. The urgency and raw emotion in the delivery of the songs on this album is tangible and the lyrical content is above and beyond anything else I’ve seen or heard on the DIY touring circuit. Freddy manages to spin multiple existential themes into each verse of his songs. This is music that genuinely moves me and makes me think.
If I gain nothing else from having toured about so much over the last few years, at least I found this music.
Tim Loud is a country/folk/blues/punk singer-songwriter from Stoke-On-Trent, England. You can hear his tunes here.