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Many of you know me as the Wilco guy, and sometimes I come across as having a fanboy skew. But the truth is, when they create something crappy, I jump on them just as hard as I would anyone else.
When I was just getting out of college, they dropped a real stinker on me in Sky Blue Sky, and despite my near cult like devotion to the band (YHF and Summerteeth are imo two of the top 10 albums of the last 20 years) I could not get into it. There was only one good song ("Impossible Germany") and the rest was garbage.
Jeff Tweedy on previous albums, was nothing short of a lyrical genius. Suddenly, he's writing songs about doing the dishes. It was the biggest let down of my musical history.
I think we've all had that experience with a favorite band...or at least a favorite band that has been around for 15 or more years (It's hard to complain about a bad album when your favorite band only has one.) Discuss these experiences I guess.
That one album you like by one of your most hated artists/groups
* Pornography. The Cure
* Monster/New Adventures In Hi-Fi. R.E.M.
* Vitalogy. Pearl Jam
* The Letting Go. Bonnie Prince Bonnie
* Tigermilk. Belle/Sebastian etc
* Strange Days. The Doors
* A Saucerful Of Secrets. Pink Floyd
* Tusk. Fleetwood Mac
Flaming Lips: At War With The Mystics
New Pornographers: Challengers
Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express
Drive By Truckers: A Blessing and a Curse
Tom Waits: Alice
The Band: Stage Fright
Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown
It's tough to find albums by groups I like almost everything by that I don't think are at least good. There's plenty of examples of 'Huge drop down from the peak', but do I dislike them? Usually not. Sky Blue Sky is probably my least favorite Wilco album, but do I dislike it? No. Out of the ones I listed the only one I don't think is at least listenable is Green Day.
Their latest effort is an utterly joyless experience, whereas what makes Dookie a good album is that it's so fun to listen to. American Idiot wasn't fun but at least it had the benefit of deviating from expectations, and it had songs with melodies. 21st Century seems like just a bunch of random yelling at republicans while jamming the same three power chords repeatedly. (And Billy Joe. You're 37. It's okay to stop branding yourself as 17!)
HAIL TO THE THIEF. A misstep from a band that made two of the greatest albums of the '90s and the best one of the past decade. It's got too many songs, and nary a one could be considered 'amazing'. Musicwise, Radiohead declared their complacency with this album.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF EARTH. It's hard to believe this is the same band that made 'Is This It'. Just an atrocious album.
YIELD: Pearl Jam love to make it impossible to defend their early catalog. Too many uninspired and uninteresting songs make this one really difficult to enjoy.
X&Y. What it's not -- the hugely acclaimed/experimentally brilliant third album that it had the potential to be. What it is is a piece of festering smegma -- U2 filtered through Radiohead and diluted for maximum distribution potential. It should probably be remembered as the greatest scam in music history.
As big of a Prince fan as I am, there are a few projects of his that totally left me cold, most notably Newpower Soul, which features a few good songs ("The One", "Wasted Kisses", "Come On") amidst a swarm of lifeless, dull plastic funk-lite. Blecccch.
I'm also quite the Madonna fan, but Hard Candy is just horrible. The bitch released it on my birthday, too! The new songs on Celebration are no better- she sounds lazy and uninspired.
As much as I love Björk, her soundtrack to Drawing Restraint 9 did nothing for me.
Same goes for The Cure's Wild Mood Swings.
Blondie's No Exit was a half-hearted comeback album, but the subsequent and much-forgotten The Curse of Blondie is so much better, thankfully!
David Bowie lied with the title of Never Let Me Down.
Aside from Rhythm of Love, Kylie's SAW period is pretty atrocious, particularly Let's Get to It.
Depeche Mode's Exciter was hardly exciting, and incredibly pandering.
Bernard Sumner forgot how to write a melody on New Order's Get Ready, aside from the brilliant single "Crystal".
i love bruce springsteen.
i hate his newest album.
The Replacements - Don't Tell A Soul is lousy, but All Shook Down is unlistenable, imo.
I hesitate to even bring this up, since it’s so obvious, but: R.E.M.’s Around the Sun. Their other post-Bill Berry albums at least rise to the level of acceptable, but that one was just awful.
Others that leap to mind:
The Clash, Cut the Crap
The (real) Clash, Sandinista!
X, Hey Zeus
David Bowie, Let’s Dance
About that last one: while it’s true that Never Let Me Down was terrible, the big dropoff was from the excellent Scary Monsters (1980) to Let’s Dance (1983). A truly hollow album with only one good new song (“Modern Love”), Let’s Dance should have served as notice that David was now phoning it in; unfortunately, its superficial pop sheen made it his biggest chart success, which confused a lot of people.
HttT is certainly the least of Radiohead’s efforts in the last 15 years, but I’m a very long way from hating it. Though I do always skip past “We Suck Young Blood”…
I knew that Hail to the Thief would inevitably come up. I agree that it is a 4.5 star album from a 5 star band. I am going to say the same thing about The Great Escape by Blur before anyone points that one out. I seriously love both of these records and think they're underrated.
I would like to throw in Evil Urges by MMJ as a disappointing and annoying record.
Hail To The Thief > Amnesiac
When I first got HTTT I didn't like it at all, but just this year it clicked for me.
It's not that I hate HTTT, but from day one, it always sounded like a band that wasn't quite sure where to go next. You might say, in limbo. (Hey-oh!) I'll be the first to admit, though, that perhaps it's a tad unfair to expect greatness every time.
PS. Hail To The Thief > Amnesiac? I've said it before, but at least Amnesiac has "Pyramid Song".
PPS. I shouldn't have put X&Y on my list (since Coldplay were never a 'favorite' artist to begin with, and since that album pretty much ruined any chance of them EVER attaining that status).
Amnesiac is a lot better that HTTT in my opinion, I think it is their most underrated album, with some of their best tracks and the greatest flow.
The one I like the least is probably the Bends, it sounds a bit dated, and a bit britpoppy. I also think it lacks the ambition that the others show.
Basically for me with Radiohead The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, and In Rainbows are 5s, Amnesiac and HTTT are 4.5s, and Pablo Honey is no more than a 3.
Hate is a bit of a strong word, but I'd go with The White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan. It did nothing for me, while the rest of their albums have been uniformly enjoyable.
Also, Stereopathic Soul Manure, a patently experimental record from Beck, never got more than the one play from me.
PJ Harvey - "White Chalk"
She's easily my favorite female artist of all time, however ... I know some people really like this one, but it's too sparse for me, to the point it just sounds like pointless piano tinkering.
Todd Rundgren's "Deface the Music" comes immediately to mind. I've seen several positive reviews of the album, but cannot appreciate what others find appealing in its tracks.
Paul Simon. An artist with many different peaks and valleys in his career. You have the beginning with Simon and Garfunkel, the first 5 years of his solo career, the slump from 77-85 where he had two middling albums (though both had some great songs.) Then he released Graceland, THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER, and follows it up with The Rhythm of the Saints, another excellent album. He then decides to write a Broadway play about New York Puerto Rican gangs in the 1950s. What?
It was a gigantic financial and critical disaster, and in order to save what was left, he decides to release the soundtrack recorded by himself. Along with Simon finally losing his youthful voice, the music he wrote was really, really terrible. And with that begins the final chapter of Paul Simon's career. He has released 2 albums since then, and while they are not as bad as this one, they are certainly not what I would call good. It took him much, much longer than many of his 60s contemporaries to finally sputter out and release a clunker, as he was the only one (according to me) who produced good material consistently for 30+ years. Part of that may be because he released albums like a modern group: after Rhymin' Simon he took at least 2 years to release another one.
Albums I don't like by favorite artists:
Elliott Smith: From a Basement on a Hill
Pavement: Wowee Zowee
Beck: The Information
Pink Floyd: The Wall (I consider everything after that solo projects)
Radiohead: Pablo Honey
Dandy Warhols: Odditorium or the Warlords From Mars
Shins: Wincing the Night Away
Albums I really like by artists I don't:
Hall and Oates: Abandoned Luncheonette
Bee Gees: 1st
Cake: Fashion Nugget
Led Zeppelin: II
Bob Mould: Workbook
Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything
Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story (Assuming we're talking about his solo work only and excluding Truth)
PJ Harvey in my opinion is one of that artists who are yet to make a bad album. That girl just rocks, 2 decades of greats records and counting! My album would be: Tori Amos's Abnormally Attracted To Sin, the only album that nothing was great, everything was average or bad or awful. All the other albums i listened, had something worthy, and were pretty solid. I guess i should think AM for introduce me to a lot of great artists. Thank God, i don't feel disappointed a lot.
OK Computer- 4
The Bends- 3.5
Hail to the Thief- 3
In Rainbows- 3
Pablo Honey- 2.5
HTTT has way too much bullshit going on to be that good but it does have some good songs on there.
Kid A: 5.0
OK Computer: 4.9
The Bends: 4.1
In Rainbows: 4.0
Hail To The Thief: 2.8
Pablo Honey: 2.5 (and rising)
OK Computer: 5
Kid A: 5
The Bends: 5
In Rainbows: 4.5
Hail to the Thief: 4
Pablo Honey: 2.5
....and that's the way it is. And yes, i really did just give 5 stars to three Radiohead albums.
To provide some counterweight:
Pablo Honey: 5.0/10
The Bends: 7.0/10
OK Computer: 7.5/10
Kid A: 7.0/10
Hail To The Thief 6.0/10
In Rainbows: 6.5/10
Kid A: 5
OK Computer: 5
Hail to the Thief: 4.8
In Rainbows: 4.4
The Bends: 4
Pablo Honey: 2
After seeing you guys rating radiohead albums, i guess i give 5 stars way too easily. Shame on me. Many times the record is not that solid and i give 4.5, what do i do ? How should i rate something ? I rate track by track and then i do the math. Whe i'm rating something should i consider other things too like: overall listening, or cohesion, or how that album is good compared to the others from the same artist or even different ones ? I just give 5 stars too easily, that's bad, that's showgirls-bad! Rolling Stone loves to give 3 and 3.5 stars, but at least it's not a 5. Even Entertainment Weekly rates better than me. Could you guys give me some types ? By the way, i rated Pablo Honey 4 stars, so there IS something wrong!
Basically to me:
I think not giving enough 5s overlooks genre differences and such.
Thanks for your opinion guys! It helped a lot. Maybe there's nothing wrong and i just like Pablo Honey (a lot) more than you.
I do think the highest ranking you can give out, a 5-star rating for most of you, or a 10/10 for me, should be a rarity. I've given a total of 7 albums the 'perfect' rating of 10/10, and if I were to rate on a 100-point basis (like pitchfork) I probably wouldn't rate a single album I've ever heard as 100/100. Because wouldn't ranking an album 100/100 mean that you think it is the perfect record? And if you have multiple 100/100's, would all those albums be equally perfect? And what would happen if an album were to be released that's even better than one or all of those records you rated 100/100? I just think it's a little presumptuous to give something a perfect rating on such a precise scale, as it somewhat suggests you believe it will never be bested.
So yes, you should rate however you want to, and if you think Pablo Honey is a great record worthy of 4/5 then by all means you should rate it as such. However, if you find yourself giving over a dozen records a year a 5/5 rating I think you might be a little too enthusiastic with your ratings. Or it might just have been a great year, I suppose.
Stephan, I agree. I always find it a bit suspect when a person tosses out multiple 5/5, 10/10, etc. ratings. (Fwiw, my rating of Radiohead albums was done solely in relation to the band's catalog.)
As a point of reference, I currently have 9130 songs on iTunes. Of those, I've given only 83 a 5-star rating.
I've heard roughly 500 albums. Out of those 500, I've given 52 of them perfect 100/100. That may seem a little high to some, but that is just how I rate music.
To me a 5 star album just means a top 500 or so. That said, I don't think every album in AM's top 500 is a 5 star. Some I consider as low as a 2 1/2 or 3 star.
But all in all I don't think that's over the top; AMG gives 1100 5 stars. Rolling Stone Album Guide gives about 350. The idea that there are a few hundred albums deserving of the highest honor is to me, not unrealistic, given that there have been approximately 1/4 a million different albums released in the U.S. in the last decade alone.
Sgt. Pepper was a real let-down when I first listened to it. I wasn't around when it was released but after all that I'd heard about it it shocked me how indifferent much of it sounded. Fixing A Hole and When I'm Sixty Four are awful IMO.
At first i don't like stuff, i rate 3 stars or 4, but sudden;y they all grow on me and i give 5 stars, i gave many albums a 5, but that was only based on the material, i never made comparisons, and i always thought they were equally great. If i judge Pablo Honey, compared to other albums by Radiohead, and others inside the same genre or movement, the rating fell to 3 (2.7 actually) stars. Maybe i should start doing that. Cause i listen the same album, like 6 times, and they all grow on me with the exception of Tori Amos's Abnormally. So i guess that doing that, i could stop giving a lot of 5 stars, at least the overall rating wouldn't be a 5. I just thought the something was wrong, cause not every album i rated 5 still sounds the same, they sound dated, is that something bad ? Should i downgrade them because of that ? In my mind, yes, what you guys think about this ?
If the dated sound of the albums makes you enjoy them less I'd say the answer is simple.
The fact that you're finding a lot of 5-star records might be very simple; you've been visiting this website. It'll likely influence which records you're listening to, and assuming you are like me you'll start with those that are highest up in the list or come most recommended here on the forums. Those albums aren't acclaimed without reason.
"Fixing a Hole" has not ever impressed me particularly. While "When I'm 64" is not much more than a ditty, I find that it still has some emotional appeal for me, especially since I heard it during a wedding reception/ceremony. I can understand why you don't care for it, but it still works for me.
Kid A 85%
Album where song as Nude is only the third worst on it IS that good. BTW very good write up for it in Stylus decade ranking.
If you rank your albums on a 100 basis, I would understand you don't have any 100 album since you have quite a large scale to rate album ; but on a 5 stars basis, you have to give much more "perfect" note. With 5 stars you only have 11 different grades available (and you will almost never give a note below 1 I guess). 5 then does not mean perfect but "among the bests", it's exactly the same in school or college, giving a 20/20 does not mean your copy is perfect, just that it is among the best.
I don't know if there is an equivalent in the other countries but in France, for the exams you pass in order to enter the best engineering or economy schools, there is always some people getting 20/20, and believe me, they never answer to all the questions (in the scientific subjects) or make a perfect copy (in philosophy or litterature, perfect has no sense), so five stars just mean that those students have made the best works among all the students. That's what 5 stars mean to me, we are not talking about perfection !
I personally have 19 5 stars albums (the last one I gave was for Perfect From Now On, about 6 months ago).
To go bad to the main topics, even my top 3 artists have made albums I don't like (I won't say that I hate them however).
I don't like Figure 8 much, the songs seems weaker to me than those of the other albums and the huge amount of orchestrations does not compensate.
I never understood the acclaim of Check Your Head, I like Beastie Boys for their versatility and that album sounds very repetitive and lacks perspectives.
I don't like Queens of the Stone Age self-titled album either, not only is it weaker than any of their other albums, but it is also not worth the 2 last Kyuss albums. Still, even though I don't like it, it has built the bridge between the heavy stoner or Kyuss and the poppier sound of QOTSA, leading to the 5 star "Songs for the Deaf".