Friday, March 14, 2014

Knix Picks: The Top 20 Albums I Never Get Tired Of

If you're anything like me, you have hundreds of tracks on your iPod to listen to while you work out or otherwise go about your daily business.  In my case, I have a waterproof, ugly bright orange mp3 player, so when I go hiking or snowshoeing and inevitably drop it, it is that much easier to spot.  By the way, if you come across a small blue mp3 player on Great Pond Mountain after the spring thaw, it's mine.  But that one wasn't waterproof, so you can keep it!
Anyway, I digress.  My point is that I recently emptied my mp3 of every single track that was on it.  All 700 or so of them. Because, despite so many choices, I got bored, bored, bored. Granted, I go hiking or snowshoeing for a couple of hours every day and that makes for a lot of listening.  So it was when I was picking tracks to put back on my mp3 that I came up with a brilliant Top 20 list for my blog!
There are a ton of singles that I never tire of.  For instance, Nitzer Ebb's "Murderous," Yaz's "Situation," or Club 8's "Stop Taking My Time" will never get a yawn out of me.  (Trivia moment. Yaz is Yazoo in the UK.) But I was thinking how much harder it is to make a full length album where nearly every track is compelling enough to want to listen to it repeatedly without growing weary.  I've been known to catch a fever for an album, play it to death, put it away and never touch it again.  R.E.M.'s Out of Time is one of those.  "Losing My Religion" was a great track in 1991, but that time is over.  Sorry, R.E.M.
So what are my top picks for albums, new or old, that I decidedly want to hear again and again and again? With much consideration, here it is....

Ascii Disko Ascii Disko - The project of DJ Kat D.D. Rokk, this album includes previously released tracks.  Synthpop and house with Euro flair and Rokk's German cool reserve.  Fabulously danceable!
Autokratz Animal - The first full length album by the British electro duo of David Cox and Russell Crank, the track "Always More" is my personal version of a mood lifter!
Cut Copy Bright Like Neon Love - Australian Cut Copy's debut album was indietronica at its best.  Then a trio and now a group of four, the album combines songwriting capability with club friendly tracks!
Digitalism Idealism - The German DJ duo's 2007 debut album was meant to be a garage band gone electronica.  It works!  (Their DJ-Kicks LP features one of my favorite tracks ever, "83.")
Egotronic Ausflug mit Freunden - A German electro punk band with a decidedly political point of view. I can't speak German, so I don't actually contemplate their lyrics.  I just listen to the music.  Is that bad? Danceable but with an edge!
Gary Numan The Pleasure Principle - This is English musician Gary Numan's debut album after the demise of Tubeway Army.  Numan, along with bands like Kraftwerk, was influential in introducing the use of synthesizers in music.  No guitar was used on the album. "Cars" is the track that most people know in the US, but Numan is no one hit wonder.  The entire album is impeccable and inspired what we now call synthpop.
Gesaffelstein Aleph - This album by French producer Mike Levy (who goes by the moniker Gesaffelstein, which is a combination of the German word for "universal artwork" and Albert Einstein's name) is crazy good!  I was obsessed with the electro industrial sound of "Pursuit" when I first heard the LP.  Right now I'm obsessed with "Destinations," which is one of the few tracks with vocals (spoken by Chloe Raunet) and hot in a completely indescribable way.
House of Blondes Clean Cuts - John Blonde released a different House of Blondes album in 2007, but he considers this album, created with a different band and in a very different style, his debut.  Experimentation with synths and the quality of sound make this the only House of Blonde debut that matters.
Icon of Coil Machines are Us - Electro industrial Scandinavian band Icon of Coil was founded in 1998. They tend towards dark, futureworld themes with wordy lyrics while remaining dance friendly.
Ladytron Velocifero - Ladytron was formed in Liverpool, England in 1999.  They've had a few different sounds since their 2001 debut LP, 604.  Velocifero is a tad darker than some of their previous work and perhaps more slick.  Really, I love all of their work, but this is their go to album for me.
Lightning Dust Fantasy - This album is a style change for the Vancouver duo of Amber Webber and Josh Wells.  The addition of synths and rythym boxes to their already impressive songwriting makes for an album I keep going back to.
Lindstrom & Christabelle Real Life is No Cool - This collaborative effort between Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrom and singer Christabelle is electro disco at its best.  "Lovesick" is my favorite track on the album.
Naked and Famous Passive Me, Aggressive You - The New Zealand indietronica band's debut album is infectious and features strong songwriting and equally strong vocals by both Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers.
Nitzer Ebb Industrial Complex - This Chelmsford, England band was formed in 1982 and was doing industrial dance music long before I knew what the term meant.  That Total Age was a college favorite, but this album was considered a comeback for them, and I love a good comeback.
Royksopp Junior - This Norwegian duo used to be responsible for a lot of downbeat trip hop.  Who knew? Because this album is decidedly danceable electro pop.  Guest vocalists pepper the album.  Karin Dreijer of The Knife guests on one of my favorite ever tracks, "This Must Be It."
The Golden Filter Voluspa - This duo sounds decidedly Euro, but they're based in New York.  They combine an electro pop sound with disco elements and great lyrics for a cohesive album of must listen tracks.
Trust Joyland - Joyland just came out, but I was smitten as soon as I heard the second track, "Geryon." What is not to love?  Dark Wave marries pop with brooding lyrics sung in a low baritone.
Tubeway Army with Gary Numan Replicas - Released in 1979, this was the 2nd and final album Tubeway Army made.  Gary Numan went on to an extraordinary solo career.  This "machine" concept album helped to define the post punk era.  Beggars Banquet released reissues of the album with additional material in 1999 and 2008.
Tying Tiffany Peoples Temple - Tying Tiffany is an Italian artist, singer and songwriter who experiments with elements of post punk, electronic and industrial music.  The Peoples Temple (The title of the album refers to the doomed Jim Jones cult.) has a darker, edgier sound than her newly released album Drop.  The track "Show Me What You Got" has her basically screaming the chorus, and I love it!
VNV Nation Empires - This 3rd full length album by the London industrial dance duo is one of their most powerful albums.  Dark, dystopic with lyrics that prophesy the end of the world, Empires carries on a theme I've been attached to since I read George Orwell's "1984."

So there you have it.  My Top 20 albums that I never get tired of. From my list, you can probably discern that I have a taste for electro pop and dance industrial.  And only one US band.  What's up with that?  What albums make the cut for you?  Post on The Knix Mix Facebook page and let me know!


  1. Awesome taste in music. I like almost all these artists / albums mentioned (the few others I don't know yet).

    May I recommend you 5 bands?

    1. The Birthday Massacre - a synthpop/alternative rock/industrial/metal female fronted Canadian band that make insanely catchy music. First check these 2 albums "Violet" and "Walking With Strangers", then the others. Super-recommended.

    2. Curve - an older alternative rock/shoegazing/industrial band. Strong beats, powerful riffs, amazing female vocalist. Their singer also collaborated with Leftfield, Recoil, FSOL and many others. Check the song "Fait Accompli" for example.

    3. Shiny Toy Guns - they have two vocalists (one male, one female) and both are great. Check these two albums first: "We Are Pilots" and "III". Check the song "You Are the One" for example.

    4. Wire - an older post punk band. They're known for their first 3 albums (esp. Pink Flag), but their latest 4 albums (Send, Object 47, Red Barked Tree, Change Becomes Us) are also really worth listening. Object 47 in particular is one of my all time favorite albums. Check the song "One of Us" for example.

    5. The Sisters of Mercy - a classic gothic rock band. The timeless album "Floodland" is their best. Check the song "Flood II" for example.

    1. Thanks, Alin! The Sisters of Mercy are classic, so I've loved them since back in the day. Curve I know, but I don't know Wire, The Birthday Massacre or Shiny Toy Guns. At least I don't think I do! I'll check them out!