• Andrew Hartley

Thoughts - Unskippable Albums

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

As I sat and looked through what I’ve spoken about on this blog since I made it last year I realised there is one massive thing missing and that is music. Those who know me will know how mad I am about music of all genres, I probably spend at least 50% of my day listening to it, it is a pure obsession. It's what I use to help me write, to get me through those gruelling runs and even to make the boring jobs like hoovering and washing up a little more fun. This obsession with music has recently seen me gain an opportunity to write music reviews, this is something that I’ll be posting about more frequently in the next few weeks and months. Due to this new opportunity, I figured I should use my own blog to give myself a bit of music writing practice.

So now my usual drawn out and long intro is done, let me tell you about my favourite albums, the title says ‘Unskippable albums’ and I mean that quite literally. If I listen to a full album, I like to listen to it without shuffle on and generally, I won’t wanna skip a song at all. I find music so digestible these days with apps like Spotify and SoundCloud around and because of this I find it nice to just go old school and listen to a full album. Anyway, take a look at the albums below and see if you agree with my opinions on them (these aren’t necessarily in any particular order).

Loyle Carner - Not Waving, But Drowning

Since his first single ‘Tierney Terrace’ emerged on my Discover Weekly on Spotify in 2015, I’ve eagerly awaited every single release that has had Loyle Carner’s name attached to it. He merges poetry, hip hop and spoken word all in one and his fanbase is growing year on year and to me that comes as no surprise at all. Loyle is an artist that raps about real stuff, doesn’t need misogyny in his lyrics and has mad respect for friends and family, that is something that really shines through his work.

This album is a work of art for me and it follows up his debut album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ perfectly, it is one of those albums that you can listen to when in any mood at all. I saw him performing this one in Amsterdam last year and it did not disappoint live either, I’ve never seen an artist get a crowd going so mad with such chilled music. With tracks featuring artists like Tom Misch and Jorja Smith it really is the best advert for British music you could ask for. I could talk about this one all day because it means a lot to me and I’ve listened to it a damn lot but I’ll let you go have a listen yourself.

Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Now talk about a comeback, this album epitomises the word.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve listened through this one. After his absolutely shambolic interruption of Taylor Swift’s award acceptance at the 2009 VMAs most people considered Kanye’s career dead. Then he followed it up with this and it is unbelievable, it takes you on a journey and it features the biggest variety of hip hop I think I’ve ever seen on one album. After listening to the ‘Dissect’ podcast by Cole Cuchna on Spotify, he takes this album apart track by track and bit by bit and it makes my respect for it increase all the more.

Whether you like Kanye or hate him, you can feel the work that has gone into this album from the first listen and there is so much variety in it because of the amount of artists that he got in to work on it. If you listen to all of the tracks you’ll soon come to realise that the album title is absolutely perfect too, if you’ve somehow never listened to this one then get on it right now.

Oasis - Definitely Maybe

Now, as times gone on my music taste has moved through to mainly hip-hop and electronica but I am still a big fan of indie music and this is an album that I can’t leave out. The tracks on this album are possibly the first to ever fuel my interest in music whatsoever. Say what you like about the Gallagher brothers, they’re not everybody’s cup of tea but they’ve made some of the best tracks to ever exist and this album is where it all started for them.

They’re probably the only band that still to this day make me wish I actually was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, the music here in Definitely Maybe is pure and it's so hard to think some of them were written by Noel Gallagher in a matter of minutes. If you’re not convinced by this description alone then get on Netflix and watch ‘Supersonic’ - it's a documentary about their early years and the making of this album and it is unreal. If that doesn’t convince you that this album is unskippable then I don’t know what will.

Jamie XX - In Colour

This is a short but sweet one, Jamie XX doesn’t make your typical music and you can gather that from the first second of this album when track one, Gosh takes off. Although In Colour might not be to everybody’s taste you can see how experimental it is, especially when you compare it to the music of The XX which is where Jamie’s music first found fame. There is such a mix in this one and he changes the pace of the music constantly which is a common theme in his live music as well. Some of the best moments of my life at festivals and warehouse gigs with my best mates have been listening to this man’s music and for that reason alone, this album is unskippable for me and it has to be on here.

Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

This is not the only Kendrick album that is on the list and that is for very good reason. The man is a lyrical genius in my opinion and one thing that is undeniable about him and this album especially is that his music spreads a powerful message no matter what way you perceive it. This album was extremely experimental at the time of its release and it was a completely new sound with the introduction of jazz and the changing of his voice on almost every track. It took me a few listens to really like it but it has stood the test of time and it is and will always be one of my favourite albums of all time.

The thing with Kendrick’s music is that he may wait years before he drops something new but during any period of inactivity, the whole world is still discussing his music, its sound and what messages he is sending out through it. This is another album that was selected by Cole Cushna for his ‘Dissect’ podcast series and you can see why. To Pimp A Butterfly is more than just hip hop and it will be forever relevant for generations to come.

Sticky Fingers - Caress Your Soul

Talking earlier about the type of music that you can listen to in any mood, this album defines that more than any. I only discovered Sticky Fingers a few years ago through a friend of mine but ever since then they have been a constant pick for my playlists. This is the second album they released and it came out back in 2013 so for me to have only discovered it in 2018 shows that it has moved well with time.

I again choose this album like many others on this list for its variety, the pace is changed up on many songs throughout and their melody as a band fuses indie with reggae which is a mix I haven’t really heard from many other artists. They have plenty of other good tunes on albums released since Caress Your Soul but in my opinion, this album is where their best music lies. I’ll listen to this album in a lot of settings but mostly in the summer, sitting in the sun with a group of friends and a load of beers, it just has that kind of vibe.

Bonobo - Migration

I’ve been lucky enough to see Bonobo performing live at both his own gigs and at festivals and he does not disappoint at all, especially when he brings a live orchestra with him. Bonobo’s music makes for very easy listening whether you are doing some work, travelling or you’re just on a walk, it is extremely soothing and that is exactly why it makes it as an unskippable album.

Tracks such as ‘Kerala’ and ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ can simply take you away and relax your mind. I would find it extremely difficult not appreciating this music and seeing those two tracks live for the first time proved to be an unforgettable moment in my life. People may be put off straight away by the fact that it is electronic music but my response to that would be that it is so unique that it would probably fall under its own genre. That is a genre that I would not even begin to know how to explain, so it's probably better if you simply give it a try and listen.

Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

That man Kendrick popping up again and the reason for this album making it on to my list is that by God, the man can really tell a story. It is essential that you turn shuffle off when you give good kid, m.A.A.d city a try for the first time, it tells an extremely engaging story of Kendrick’s life growing up in Compton and you can really see why he has such a story to tell.

With features from artists such as Drake and Dr. Dre, it has a perfect mix of intense, heavy and chilled tracks. It also says a lot about this album that so many people still love every song even after some of them are rinsed by every DJ in every club in every country. There are some absolute classics on here and whenever any of the tunes pop up on my playlist, they’re never skipped.

Masego - Lady Lady

I’m ending the list on a bit of a different style to all of the above. Masego has a vibe that hits differently, he is a multi-talented musician and you can see his versatility through his music. His mix of sax, drums and piano on some of the songs on this album make for some really good tunes. When I first discovered this album I wasn’t sure if it was my kinda style of music but after a few listens it became infectious and since then I listen to it a lot. Just like most of the albums already discussed in this post, Lady Lady has a sound of its own and that is the sign of a great record and a brilliant artist.

So it ended up being 9 albums, I just started writing and tried to figure out if I could think of any more that are unskippable and for me, there aren’t. Of course a lot of people would disagree if the world was to read this post but it's just one of many opinions innit. I’d love to see everyone else’s unskippable albums too so if it is something that interests you then drop yours in the comments.

I really enjoyed writing this one to be fair, if it's been a good read for you and you fancy sharing it then do so, it always helps me out. I’m really enjoying my writing at the moment when I actually find the motivation to do it so I’m very happy to share it with everyone.

See you later and as usual, thanks a lot for reading!

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