Some of our Favorite Albums on Vinyl

Some albums are best listened to on a turntable

August 12, 2019

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Not all of my favorite albums are my favorite to listen to on vinyl. With the ability to pull almost any song ever and stream it from anywhere with at least a bar of service or some free wi-fi, the record listening experience is a whole different game.

We brought in a few of our favorite records we put on at home. The ones where you have to get off your butt and flip something over. The ones where if the dog jumps off the couch just right (wrong?), the record skips and you remember how lucky we with media today! Like driving stick-shift, record listening is an experience that requires your physical input as a participant.

Fugazi Red Medicine

This record took me from non-stop 90's punk rock and matured me as a music lover. A coming of age record for me from a band that was literally a generation ahead of their time. It's as good today as it was the very first time I listened. This is the most important album of my life and hearing it with pops and hiss makes it that much better.

Foo Fighters Foo Fighters

The album that started it all for Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters and one of my favorite albums to spin on the turntable. This LP is gritty and raw and loud. You can hear (and feel) the emotion just in the way Dave bangs on the drums throughout. I love every song on this album, but my favorite is the last track, "Exhausted".

Smashing Pumpkins Gish

There was a super snotty 90's music girl in my 9th grade English class and she loved Smashing Pumpkins. I found Billy's voice a bit much, but with a bit of a crush on this trendsetter, I listened to this album begrudgingly. Then when Gish got reissued I literally bought it because it looked cool. Nostalgia + shiny purple = purchase. My god. This thing SHREDS. I normally don't peg myself as a Pumpkins fan, but back when it was this intense and this full of energy, they were indeed great.


Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti

I was young and in high school and a fellow student always brought in a Led Zeppelin book for study hall. At the time in my life I was listening to a lot of...well.. let's just say I did not have good taste in music that year, ha! I remember asking him one day, "What's so great about Led Zeppelin?" He replied, "What isn't great about Led Zeppelin?" The first thing I did when I got home that day was put on some Zeppelin in the headphones and immediately fell into this hole and never climbed out. I was sucked in by the sounds of Jimmy Page's guitar strokes and the haunting echoes of Robert Plant's voice on "Immigrant Song". It was like nothing I ever listened to before. I now own every LZ studio album on vinyl + a few live LP's. At the moment, this is my favorite record from the guys.

Neurosis Times of Grace

This was the first album I ever bought on vinyl. It's a thundering, crushing experience not suited for a casual first time listen. Luckily, I was about a billion spins in on the CD when I got it. Produced by Steve Albini (the guy who did Nirvana's In Utero), he brings his signature style capturing a live sound via engineering without crushing the audio with a cinderblock wall's worth of compression.

I put this on my newly acquired record player, turned it way up, and was met with something totally unexpected: sonic range. This album taught me that when something is recorded and put to CD, the compression to get there changes how it sounds. Let this monster breath and suddenly I'm experiencing the high-end ring out of the cymbals and another bottom shelf of bass.

It also taught me that not all records are recorded this way. With vinyl a secondary delivery method (now tertiary to streaming), music is produced largely without sonic expansiveness in mind. It's why buying some great albums on vinyl can be a waste of time and money when you get to finally drop the needle.

Florence + the Machine Lungs

The debut album from the graceful butterfly, ginger goddess, Florence Welch. What's not to love?! I'm taking credit for turning all my friends onto Florence years ago. I became obsessed when I first heard "Rabbit Heart" and needed to know everything behind the beautiful voice coming through my speakers. This album was a good friend to me when I was in a weird place in my life so it will always hold a special spot in my music nerd heart. <3 Favorite tracks: Howl, You've Got The Love,
Hurricane Drunk and Between Two Lungs and... well, the entire dang album!

When we set out to do this, I couldn't limit my selections to three. So here are a few more bonus records that you may even recognize!

alt-J An Awesome Wave

Rarely is there an album I can still listen to without skipping songs after I've heard said skippable songs on the radio 30,000 trillion times. There's a reason alt-J won the Mercury Prize for this release. It's incredible from start to end. I don't think this sounds specifically that much better on vinyl than elsewhere, but the songs are so great that putting on the turntable is quite satisfying.

The Album Leaf In a Safe Place

I didn't learn about this band/solo-project until almost a decade after this album came out. I heard it a couple of times and loved it, popped in Neumos to see it performed live and absolutely loved that, too. I was wandering home through Capitol Hill with a decent beer buzz and popped into Spin Cycle Records where they had a used great condition copy that I handed over all my monies and went home to cherish (instead I passed out with the record on and woke up a few hours later in the dark).

Nils Frahm Spaces

Even though he stood me up for an interview like a big stupid German jerk, Nils Frahm's first album Spaces - a live performance piece - makes the cut because I love it so much and listen to it frequently. The combination of live keyed piano, organ and looping is a journey between classical music composition and modern technology that speaks to my roots as the son of a European immigrant engineer who listened only to classical music and 1950's rock 'n' roll. 

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