10 Albums to Listen to Before You Die

10 Albums to Listen to Before You Die

Music taste is a very subjective thing, however, there are some albums that are simply legendary and have to be heard. We've rounded up our favourite albums of all time, whether they're influential, innovative, or just downright great - these are the albums to listen to before you die. 

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When it comes down to music, anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm incredibly fussy. However, I do believe that I have a very diverse taste, and I'm always open to new suggestions. I've tried to make this list as un-biased as possible, and I know for a fact that there are some true greats in here. Hopefully you agree with my choices, and if you haven't heard any of the albums here, I'd highly advise giving them a listen.

10. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

my beautiful dark twister fantasy

Mr. West is one of the biggest celebrities on the planet today. The man is always the centre of media attention, and is a style icon. Although many favour his early albums, such as College Dropout or Graduation, for me, MBDTF is his masterpiece. The album flows exceptionally well from start to finish, and reveals a lot of the rapper's inner thoughts throughout. It's one of the only albums ever to have received near perfect reviews from every major media outlet upon its release. The 9 minute long track "Runaway" is an instant standout for me. Kanye invites the listener into the furthest depths of his mind, revealing his personal doubts regarding himself, and others, as well as voicing his thoughts on some of the intense criticism he's received over the years.

Original Release: 2010
Standout Track: Runaway
Hidden Gem: Blame Game (Ft. John Legend)

9. The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs (1987)

louder than bombs

Although controversial with his views, Morrisey is renowned for being a lyrical genius. Combine his poetic words with Johnny Marr's instantly recognisable guitar style, and you've got a match made in heaven. Louder Than Bombs is actually a compilation album, featuring singles and B-sides from over the years. There isn't a boring moment throughout the album, and considering it's 24 tracks long, I see that as pretty impressive. Singles such as "Panic" and "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" are obvious standout tracks, however personally I find a lot of the relatively unknown B-sides to be musically better tracks. Louder Than Bombs peaked at number 38 on the British album charts.

Original Release: 1987
Standout Track: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Hidden Gem: Oscillate Wildly

8. American Football - American Football (1999)

american football
PHOTO CREDIT: American Football

Ask any critic out there and I'm 99% certain they'll tell you that American Football pretty much single-handedly started the emo genre. Lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Kinsella claims he was inspired by bands such as The Cure and The Smiths, and a lot of this can be heard throughout the album. It's a masterpiece from start to finish, and is my go-to "chill out album" every time. A broad range of instruments were used on the album, including the trumpet, a wurlitzer, and many other instruments you wouldn't typically expect from an emo album. If you're having a quiet evening and need a bit of ambience, don't hesitate to give this one a spin.

Original Release: 1999
Standout Track: Never Meant
Hidden Gem: Stay Home

7. Drake - Take Care (2011)

drake take care

When a friend first introduced me to Drake way back in early 2012, I wasn't expecting great things, but I couldn't of been more wrong. The Canadian born rapper has an unmistakable tone and flow, and his lyrical talent also shines through pretty quickly upon an initial listen to the album. It's a modern classic with standout songs from start to finish. There's also consistent features on the album, from huge names such as The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, and Andre 3000. Powerful and energetic songs such as "Headlines" are balanced out by emotional slow jams like "Marvin's Room". Although it's a long running album, it's definitely worth a listen if you haven't already.

Original Release: 2011
Standout Track: HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
Hidden Gem: Crew Love (Ft. The Weeknd)

6. Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine (1992)

rage against the machine
PHOTO CREDIT: Rage Against the Machine

I'm a huge fan of heavier music, and also well into my rap/hip-hop, so combine the two and you've basically created my perfect genre. Rage Against the Machine were the pioneers of the rap-metal genre with their self titled debut album. Whether you're a guitarist or not, you'll appreciate the fast paced and brutal riffs heard throughout, and you certainly won't forget Zack De La Rocha's controversial and heavily political lyrics in a hurry. This isn't one for the faint-hearted, however even if you aren't a fan of heavier music, we'd advise giving this one a go, your foot will be tapping along in no time.

Original Release: 1992
Standout Track: Killing in the Name
Hidden Gem: Take the Power Back

5. Radiohead - The Bends (1995)

radiohead the bends

Radiohead are pretty highly acclaimed by most, however The Bends isn't regarded as their best album by many. For me however, it's their masterpiece. It reached #4 on the UK album chart, however wasn't greeted with the same successes outside of the UK. It's the raw emotion that can be heard time after time on this album that really makes it a winner for me. There's a song for just about every mood, and the general feel of the album is almost dream-like, which certainly makes for an interesting listen. The Bends marked the decision to take Radiohead's sound into a more developed and mature style, straying away from the grunge like sound heard on Pablo Honey.

Original Release: 1995
Standout Track: Fake Plastic Trees
Hidden Gem: Bulletproof... I Wish I Was

4. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

loveless my bloody valentine
PHOTO CREDIT: My Bloody Valentine

When an album takes two years, 19 studios and roughly £250,000 to produce, you'd sort of hope that the outcome was rather epic. Luckily for Irish rock band My Bloody Valentine, Loveless was nothing short of a masterpiece. The album was one of the first to create the "shoegaze" sound. Dreamy vocals, and heavily distorted/entrancing guitar melodies. Upon its release, the album didn't achieve mainstream success, however it was extremely highly critically acclaimed, and is now generally regarded as a classic. If you're intrigued as to how drugged up sex sounds in sonic form, give this one a listen.

Original Release: 1991
Standout Track: Sometimes
Hidden Gem: Come in Alone

3. Burial - Untrue (2007)

burial untrue

Untrue was electronic producer Burial's second full length album. It was widely acclaimed by critics for it's ambient yet continuously interesting sound, and it also paved the way for a whole new generation of dubstep producers. Burial claims he draws influence from UK garage, hardcore, and ambient music. It received both Mercury Prize and Shortlist Music Prize nominations on the year of its launch. The sound is extremely technical and dark, and it's best listened to on a pair of high quality headphones, so you never miss a beat.

Original Release: 2007
Standout Track: Archangel
Hidden Gem: Etched Headplate

2. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)

pink floyd wish you were here

Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without the inclusion of a Floyd album somewhere. Whilst the 1973 classic "Dark Side of the Moon" is favoured by many, personally I don't think Wish You Were Here can be beaten. From the intense atmospherical build up heard on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", through to the funky licks at the start of "Have a Cigar", the entire album is just a pleasure to the ears. If you're unfamiliar with Pink Floyd in general, you've got a lot of catching up to do - they're one of the most iconic bands of the last 100 years.

Original Release: 1975
Standout Track: Wish You Were Here
Hidden Gem: Welcome to the Machine

1. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)

nirvana nevermind

So, our number one choice goes to American grunge legends Nirvana. The late and great Kurt Cobain's vocal style is simply unparalleled in its field, and with the added musical genius of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana were a force to be reckoned with. Nevermind's iconic album artwork caused controversy upon its release, picturing a young baby's exposed penis. Whether I'm angry, ecstatic, or even feeling sorry for myself, blasting out Nevermind never fails to cheer me up and get me singing along. Softer songs such as "Polly" and "Something in the Way" break up the madness, but for the most part Nevermind is 100mph rock.

Original Release: 1991
Standout Track: Smells Like Teen Spirit
Hidden Gem: Territorial Pissings

On That Note

After all, music is a very subjective field. No-one is ever going to 100% agree with someone else when it comes down to the "best albums ever", and my list is certainly reflective of my taste. One thing I will say though, is never be afraid to branch out into new genres and try something different. In the past I've restricted myself to genres I'm comfortable with, and if I hadn't of changed this habit, I would of never discovered some of the albums that are included on this list. If you haven't had the chance whilst reading through, check out some of the albums I've included here - I can personally say that a few of these have had huge influence on me as a person, and in some ways, changed my life.


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