Links are to the songs/albums in question on iTunes.
- Different Trains by Steve Reich – I was introduced to this one through a facilitator at Shimer. He only played us about three minutes of it because of time constraints. Which is kind of a shame, really – it's like playing fifteen seconds of a Beatles song; it won't do a whole lot for you. Initially the music is kind of repetitive, but once you get over that and just let it sweep over you, you start to notice little changes in the music that feel weirdly monumental. Kronos Quartet (the folks who played that Requiem for a Dream song that you hear in every film trailer) play along with recordings of people discussing very different experiences with trains circa World War II. The performances bring out musicality in the voices that make them almost seem as if they're auto-tuned.
- The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground – I'd always thought this album was just okay – aside from the lead track "Sunday Morning," which I thought was one of the best damn things I'd ever heard from the first few seconds – but now it's settled on me quite a bit more. A good album for a cloudy day with rain pouring down, the sort of day we've had to deal with every now and then in Chicago as of late.
- Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches – A song made of a very eclectic mix of voice and music samples. The music video is one of the most wonderful (and strange) I've seen.
- Bartók: Complete String Quartets performed by New Budapest Quartet – Still making my way through these, but I really really like what I hear so far. The best stuff on here is atonal without sounding like complete anarchy. Listening to it is like watching an unhinged retail employee; at first polite, but after while it becomes clear that shit's about to go down.
- McCartney by Paul McCartney – This one was reissued and remastered recently. The audio's top notch, but it really brings a lot of the instrumental sloppiness to the foreground. The sloppiness is to be expected, to a certain degree. Sir Paul played all the instruments on this one, recording it not long before he announced that The Beatles were no more. The album feels a lot like a break – like an incredibly talented guy messing around with a tape-recorder – which in many ways it is. The imperfections that become clear through the newly-mastered version bring a certain needed humanness to a lot of the tracks; on the other hand, it makes the immaculate "Maybe I'm Amazed" sound just a little bit wimpier as a result.
- Gay Bar by Electric Six – There is something about this song that is awesome, hilarious and oh-God-they're-going-to-kick-my-ass all at once.