Counting Down

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 Load was a… More »


Kate Bush Albums From Worst To Best

By Ryan Reed / October 7, 2013 - 3:15 pm
You know you've transcended to "legend" status when critics use your name as an adjective. These days, "Kate Bush-ian" is a shortcut descriptor (usually a lazy one — and one I've overused myself) thrown at any authoritative female singer-songwriter (Natasha Khan, Florence Welch) whose music harnesses an ethereal grandeur. And nobody deserves to be a… More »


U2 Albums From Worst To Best

By Ryan Leas / October 1, 2013 - 10:31 am
People hate U2. OK, people hate a lot of bands. Out of the other Great Artists we've covered in this feature, though, U2 elicit ire more than others. Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and the Stones? Maybe they're not your thing, but nobody hates those guys, right? And maybe you dislike Springsteen, maybe eve… More »


Okkervil River Albums From Worst To Best

By John Everhart / September 24, 2013 - 11:16 am
Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff told me in an interview for an R.E.M. retrospective piece a few years back that when his band was initially conceived, "What was shocking, and quite funny to me, was that when I started Okkervil River and we incorporated some of the same stuff — bringing in mandolins and accordio… More »


Trent Reznor Albums From Worst To Best

By Joseph Schafer / September 16, 2013 - 1:21 pm
The first time I heard Nine Inch Nails, I was barely fourteen, hanging, unsupervised, with my friend at the time and his older brother — a "bad kid" judging by his pierced ear and Grateful Dead T-shirt. We sat on his dingy floor while he sparked a joint and asked us if we wanted to… More »


Tom Waits Albums From Worst To Best

By James Jackson Toth / September 9, 2013 - 3:29 pm
Heard through the wall of a neighboring apartment, you might confuse Tom Waits's music with Howlin' Wolf's. Then again, you could just as easily mistake it for a long-lost Harry Partch piece, an especially 'out' Busta Rhymes interlude, or a bootleg recording of Randy Newman twelve-stepping in reverse. For all the discussion of Tom Wait… More »


Coldplay Albums From Worst To Best

By Ryan Leas / September 3, 2013 - 1:36 pm
One of the better moments in the last few stumbling seasons of The Office came when James Spader's Robert California offered his thoughts on the Black Eyed Peas: "It's rock and roll for people who don't like rock and roll; it's rap for people who don't like rap; it's pop for people who don't like… More »


Neil Young Albums From Worst To Best

By James Jackson Toth / August 23, 2013 - 3:36 pm
Aliens land. They've traveled from some distant planet with a specific mission: to find out what this 'rock and roll' stuff is all about. Through some curious coincidence, they find you. "What is rock and roll?" they demand, rayguns drawn. You begin to sweat. Still, there is really only one question you need to ask… More »