ALBUMS TO LISTEN TO IF YOU HATE (INSERT GENRE) Will Van Dalsem June 11, 2016 Music 393 Tweet Share83 Share Email WhatsAppShares 83I get it, I get it. Mainstream pop is mindless cookie-cutter bullshit. Country has become about as brain-dead and corny as pop. Rap caters to misogynists and beat-junkies and metal is for Satanists. Some of you more than likely believe at least one of the above assertions about musical genres to be true. But have no fear, Will VD is here with some records that prove those beliefs are nothing more than stereotypes. Albums To Listen To If You Hate MAINSTREAM POP: Generally, I believe modern radio pop to be a sad testament to society’s rapidly shrinking attention span. Only a memorable, easily-discernible hook is needed to create a mega-hit, no matter how thoughtless or terrible that hook is (Rihanna’s “Work” comes to mind). However, here are some exceptions to this formula: Charli XCX-Vroom Vroom EP (2016) You probably know English pop singer Charli XCX from her vocal feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, but don’t let that fool you. On her latest EP, Charli teams up with idiosyncratic electronic producer Sophie to create a collection of pop songs that are as catchy as they are jarring. Sophie’s hard-hitting, somewhat industrial production meshes surprisingly well with Charli’s bubblegummy hooks and party lyrics. The EP doesn’t overstay its welcome with a short twenty-minute runtime, but still provides a handful of concise, lovable tunes. Beyonce-Lemonade (2016) I’ve never been a big Queen Bey fan, but the pop icon’s sixth studio album intrigued me when the contributions of James Blake, Jack White, Ezra Koenig, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, and Father John Misty were announced. And sure enough, Beyonce had something amazing up her sleeve. Lemonade features diverse, intricate production, heart-wrenching vocal performances, and deeply personal lyricism. You won’t believe how great this record is until you hear it, so I implore you to give it a listen. Albums To Listen To If You Hate FOLK MUSIC: I grew up listening to artists like Gordon Lightfoot, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Cat Stevens, so I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for folk. Some, however, may yawn at the idea of an old geezer crooning about lost love or the mountains. Hopefully these records will change your mind: Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues (2011) A friend of mine often asserts that Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold has the voice of “a bearded angel”. Indeed, his voice sounds more God-given then ever on the band’s most recent release Helplessness Blues. Accompanied with silky acoustic guitars and towering vocal harmonies, Pecknold details deeply personal struggles while still relating to the overarching plight of man. This record will make you want to journey deep into the forest where no one can find you and sit completely naked underneath a tall redwood tree while deer eat out of the palm of your hand, and that is my guarantee. Father John Misty-I Love You, Honeybear (2015) Singer-songwriter (and former Fleet Foxes drummer) Josh Tillman fuses folk, americana, and psychedelic rock on his second studio album under the Father John Misty moniker. Thematically, Tillman tackles love and companionship. His gorgeous melodies are complemented with lush, splendid string arrangements. Lyrically, the record is about as poignant and heartfelt as it is hilarious. Albums To Listen To If You Hate METAL: I know what you’re thinking: How can people possibly enjoy music this dark and aggressive? Metalheads must be mentally unstable. While I can’t confidently tell you that every metalhead isn’t insane, I can assure you that metal music has serious artistic merit. And, in my opinion, the best way to unlock that merit is by listening to the classics: Black Sabbath-Paranoid (1970) Oh boy, did this record age well. The forefathers of metal music’s second studio album is chalk full of metal magic. Guttural guitar riffs, thunderous drum fills, and horrifying lyrics about war and addiction make this record a metal masterpiece that is as infectious as it is visceral. Metallica-Metallica (1991) For their fifth studio album, thrash metal titans Metallica team up with famed producer Bob Rock on Metallica, popularly called The Black Album. The music on this record is slower and more groove-based than Metallica’s previous output, but just as heavy. The production is clean and crisp, the hooks are as tuneful as thrash metal can get, and Lars Ulrich’s drum sound on this record is the most monstrous I’ve ever heard. Albums To Listen To If You Hate RAP: This one I understand a bit more. For the longest time, I failed to comprehend what made rap music so great. I couldn’t get behind the genre’s hedonistic, sexist lyricism or enjoy its often atonal hooks. However, if done right, rap music is as powerful, poetic, purposeful, and musical as any other genre, and these albums allowed me to discover that: Kanye West-Graduation (2007) Yeezy’s third studio album is the pinnacle of pop rap. The beats on this record are euphonious and detailed, the hooks melodious and catchy, and Kanye’s lyrics the perfect balance of corny and introspective. Graduation is a beautiful combination of Ye’s soulful hip-hop sound on The College Dropout (2004) and the grander, more orchestral flavors of records like his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). Kendrick Lamar-To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) K Dot’s third LP is an extremely dense, complex, and intricate record, so normally I would not recommend an album like this as an introduction to a genre. But somehow To Pimp a Butterfly single-handedly ignited my passions for hip-hop music when it was released a year and a half ago, so I feel a certain obligation to recommend it here. Kendrick’s lyrics are pure poetry and the production is inspired by jazz, funk, and soul. I especially loved the choice to sample the Isley Brothers’s “That Lady Pt. 1 & 2” on the song “i”. This record is about as perfect as music can get. I know that’s a bold statement, but I wholeheartedly believe it to be true. Albums To Listen To If You Hate PUNK: Too much politics, too much anarchy, too much noise and gruff yelling. Here are two records that keep those things to a minimum: Misfits-Walk Among Us (1982) Walk Among Us is perhaps the catchiest hardcore punk record I know. Lead vocalist Glenn Danzig’s gruesome lyricism and ear for memorable hooks accompany the brutally fast and heavy instrumentation. The chorus melodies on “I Turned Into a Martian” and “Astro Zombies” are particularly tuneful and, dare I say, poppy. Green Day-Dookie (1994) Any true punks reading this are probably screaming at the computer screen right now. Green Day isn’t punk! I know, I know. But Green Day’s pop rock approach is an easy, accessible way for one to become accustomed to the punk rock format of upbeat tempos, short songs, and a few simple chords. Lyrically Billie Joe Armstrong explores his own teen angst while delivering some clean, easy-on-the-ears vocals. Dookie is a true pop punk gem. Albums To Listen To If You Hate ELECTRONIC MUSIC Thanks to Skrillex and Skrillex imitators, today’s electronic music gets a bad rap. Hopefully these records will convince you that there is more to electronic music than “the drop”: LCD Soundsystem-Sound of Silver (2007) While James Murphy and company’s second full-length release is more “electronic rock” than it is a truly electronic LP, the elements of rock music contained on Sound of Silver will perhaps make the synthetic elements on the album easier to enjoy. Murphy displays the elasticity of the electronic platform by employing plenty of dancy grooves alongside sleeker, somber electronic ballads. Lyrically impassioned and masterfully produced, this record is a solid introduction to electronic music. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories (2013) Featuring collaborations from the likes of Chic’s Nile Rogers, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and Pharrell Williams, the French electronic duo’s fourth LP is a blissful fusion of disco, funk, and futuristic pop. The record’s chord progressions and grooves are exceedingly simple, yet clean and classy, making Random Access Memories euphoric ear-candy. Albums To Listen To If You Hate COUNTRY This one’s a biggie, and for good reason. Today’s popular country music thrives on sucking money out of wannabe countryfolk that crave subpar, interchangeable songs about tractors, cold brews, and farmer’s daughters. But not all country music is inherently shitty: Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits (1978) When it comes to classic country, I prefer Hank Williams, but artists such as Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard could just as easily do the job. Hank’s rootsy southern twang and characteristic falsetto crack make me wish I was a cow-wrangler or a wanted outlaw. It’s simple, pure, honest country music. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016) Sturgill Simpson perfects his mildly psychedelic take on country on his most recent LP. This record contains sensitive, melancholic ballads decorated with strings, upbeat country rock bangers, and even a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom”. Lyrically, Simpson advises his newborn son on navigating the world. Tender, heartfelt, and ever so southern, this record is a prime example that not all modern country music is terrible.