Counting Down

XTC Albums From Worst To Best

By Robert Ham / September 15, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Of all the bands that emerged from the British post-punk scene, XTC has been one of the hardest to pin down. You could peg them as an ’80s dinosaur whose most recognizable tracks pop up on cut-rate compilations of new wave or classic alternative rock. Or they could slot into an adult alternative playlist, to… More »


AC/DC Albums From Worst To Best

By Phil Freeman / August 27, 2014 - 11:13 am

In the single greatest book ever written about rock music, 1991’s Rock And The Pop Narcotic, Joe Carducci described AC/DC thusly: “They kind of took the lumpen stomp of Slade and sort of added the blues croak of early Savoy Brown (Chris Youlden) and came up with a raw, narrowly focused, grittily compacted hard rock… More »


The Afghan Whigs Albums From Worst To Best

By Joseph Schafer / August 12, 2014 - 11:52 am

Never trust a man who says he knows what the meaning of life is. That is unknowable, and maybe nonexistent. However, I know damn well what the point of life is: to procreate, and in so doing, fornicate. To the best of our scientific knowledge, six billion years of evolution has gone into making all… More »


Tom Petty Albums From Worst To Best

By James Jackson Toth / August 5, 2014 - 11:15 am

If so-called rockists ever decide to secede and form their own nation, Tom Petty is a shoo-in for the country’s first presidential nominee. Petty’s music advances the notion of rock and roll as utopian ideal, and the tremendous success of his band Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers proves that populism is not necessarily the byproduct… More »


Judas Priest Albums From Worst To Best

By Adrien Begrand / July 9, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Judas Priest is heavy metal personified.

The most important innovator in the genre’s progression after Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Judas Priest’s influence looms immensely on not only heavy metal’s music, but its visual presentation as well. Historically, the Birmingham band fits neatly in the genre’s second wave alongside Scorpions, UFO, Rainbow, and… More »


Prince Albums From Worst To Best

By Brad Shoup / June 25, 2014 - 10:37 am

In baseball, the five-tool player is kind of a bullshit concept, but it connotes a particular beauty. The five-tool player hits for power, hits for average, throws well, fields well, and roams the basepaths like a guerilla warrior; when the term “five-tool” is deployed, it implicitly presents these skills as equally weighted. As the greatest… More »


Rush Albums From Worst To Best

By Adrien Begrand / June 10, 2014 - 11:17 am

For a band that has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, whose streak of consecutive gold and platinum records is topped only by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, trying to nail down the exact reason why Canadian trio Rush is so adored by so many is never easy. Reviled by critics — or… More »


Aesop Rock Albums From Worst To Best

By Joseph Schafer / May 8, 2014 - 12:25 pm

In 2014 we appraise hip-hop on its forthrightness. Take, for example, the two front-runner Grammy-nominated hip-hop albums of 2013: Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City and Macklemore’s The Heist. Both albums, in different ways, present up-front opinions on the word we live in, be it the gangland problems still present in Compton or the bigotry… More »


Van Morrison Albums From Worst To Best

By Timothy Bracy And Elizabeth Bracy / April 14, 2014 - 10:59 am

Amongst the major musical titans emerging during the second half of the 20th century, the Belfast-born Irish soul troubadour Van Morrison is perhaps the most underappreciated — a figure every bit the equal of Dylan, Young, and Cohen in terms of achievement and influence — but somehow one also subtly marginalized in the annals of music history. More »


Stephen Malkmus Albums From Worst To Best

By James Jackson Toth / March 18, 2014 - 12:19 pm

Few solo careers justify wholesale rebranding. Though it has become common for aging indie rockers to want a “clean slate” following the dissolution of their respective beloved bands, listeners can usually spot an old dog doing old tricks, and a fresh moniker alone is unlikely to persuade them to reconsider their already-established impressions. But unlike… More »


Iron Maiden Albums From Worst To Best

By Adrien Begrand / March 4, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Rivaled only by Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in regards to influence and impact on the early development of heavy metal, Iron Maiden took the burgeoning musical style to a new and very unique level, starting in the UK in the late-1970s, and soon after, all over the world. Formed in 1975 by bassist Steve… More »


Elliott Smith Albums From Worst To Best

By Brad Shoup / February 11, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Elliott Smith at the 70th Academy Awards ceremony: When it’s mentioned, it’s as one of those cautionary anecdotes, an example of the fundamental incompatibility of the underground with commercial artistry. But it’s all there, or if it isn’t, we can pretend it is. Trisha Yearwood has finished her performance, and the onstage columns drift apart… More »


El-P Albums From Worst To Best

By Joseph Schafer / January 29, 2014 - 11:31 am

I saw El-P perform live for the first time in 2013. The stage, situated under the I-65 overpass at Louisville, Kentucky’s Forecastle festival, sat a stone’s throw from both the Ohio River and a decoratively beached yacht, so it felt preternaturally appropriate when El stood next to his partner in rhyme, Killer Mike, and rattled… More »


Nick Cave Albums From Worst To Best

By Dan Lawrence / January 8, 2014 - 10:49 am

The year 2000 saw the release of a three-disc Johnny Cash compilation with each disc bearing a one-word title indicating the thematic scopes of the chosen songs: Love, God, and Murder. One could do much the same for Nick Cave, if not for the inconvenient fact that, more often than not, he’s singing about all… More »


Morrissey Albums From Worst To Best

By Brad Shoup / December 10, 2013 - 3:46 pm

What an enviable position in which Steven Patrick Morrissey finds himself. It is, I dare say, quite privileged, but we’ll get back to that. He is a spokesman for Morrissey alone: not for a bygone era of guitar-spined indie pop; not for the Cool Britannia movement that emerged, like a cicada swarm, from Morrissey’s fixatio… More »


Beatles Albums From Worst To Best

By Chris DeVille / November 27, 2013 - 1:21 pm

Barring the collapse of the space-time continuum, this was bound to happen at some point, but it’s still a shock: The first Beatles album, Please Please Me, turned 50 years old this year. More »


of Montreal Albums From Worst To Best

By John Everhart / November 12, 2013 - 12:19 pm

The name of the game for of Montreal has always been evolution. Their current incarnation, making its debut on their newest album Lousy With Sylvianbriar, favors whip-smart, sinewy rock songs, eschewing the dance pop they’ve embraced in recent years, while baring a faint resemblance to the classicist proclivities they favored early in their career. Yet… More »


Smashing Pumpkins Albums From Worst To Best

By Ryan Leas / October 29, 2013 - 11:34 am

It’s easy to forget that the Smashing Pumpkins were outsiders. Not in the sense that many bands are — the weird, artsy, pained kids who find an outlet by playing loud rock music. The Smashing Pumpkins were outsiders from a wave of outsiders, often regarded by a sneer from their contemporaries as ’90s alternative took… More »


Joni Mitchell Albums From Worst To Best

By James Jackson Toth / October 22, 2013 - 2:53 pm

It might seem ludicrous to use the word “underappreciated” when discussing an artist with as many accomplishments and accolades as Joni Mitchell. In addition to having sold millions of albums, Mitchell is the recipient of eight Grammy awards among many nominations (as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002); she is also a Rock… More »


Metallica Albums From Worst To Best

By Doug Moore / October 14, 2013 - 2:45 pm

“This album and what we’re doing with it — that, to me, is what Metallica are all about: exploring different things. The minute you stop exploring, just sit down and fucking die.” — Lars Ulrich, Metallica drummer, 1996

Ulrich uttered those words during the press cycle for Load, Metallica’s sixth album. Though LoadMore »