5 Albums I'll Never Stop Spinning - Danny

March 10, 2017

There are plenty of exciting happenings brewing here at Shambles headquarters. We’ll get to those soon. Today I want to share five albums from throughout my life that have made a major impact on my love of music. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite album. I tried to pick some that go beyond the obvious (I love the Beatles and I assume you do too). We would love to hear from you about some of your favorites too, so reach out on Facebook if you’d like! In no particular order, here are five albums that really “do it” for me.

Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil (1966)

Released in 1966 on Blue Note Records, this album features the powerful line up of Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Ron Carter (bass) Elvin Jones (drums), and Herbie Hancock (piano). By simply reading the track listing, you can get a sense of the mysticism and fantasy of the album. Songs like “Witch Hunt” and “Fee-fi-fo-fum” create a world of intrigue and imagination. Each solo is more of a journey than a collection of licks and riffs. I’ve yet to find a ballad as powerful and beautiful as “Infant Eyes,” which was written for Wayne’s newborn daughter. I listened to this album just about every day a few summers ago, and I’m certain that it will never get old. I suggest enjoying it with a strong cup of coffee on an overcast day to really achieve the mood.

Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (‘) (1974)

Frank Zappa is a fascinating figure in American popular music. He wrote and produced over sixty albums and orchestral works in a career spanning more than thirty years. A true iconoclast, he was as influenced by Igor Stravinsky as he was by shredding guitar rock. Like many strange and eccentric artists, it can take a bit of time, patience, and effort to dig into his catalogue. I think that "Apostrophe (‘)” is a great place to start. It’s an exciting introduction to the humor, variety, musical proficiency, and compositional genius of Zappa. The opening track, “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” warns the listener “watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow.” I suggest giving this one a try all in one sitting at a time where you can pay attention to all that is happening. If you don’t connect right away, wait a week and try again. If you do, move on to the album “Overnite Sensation,” which was recorded during the same sessions. It’s not for everyone, but after hearing this I know I went and listened to everything I could find.

Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan - The Goat Rodeo Sessions - (2011)

This album is everything that a genre-defying supergroup collaboration should be. Four virtuosos from slightly different areas of the string world come together and perform some of my very favorite modern compositions. Yo-Yo Ma is the quintessential household name of classical cellists, Edgar Meyer is deeply steeped in classical and jazz, Stuart Duncan is a bluegrass legend, and Chris Thile does it all and then some. If this is your first time hearing of this project, I would suggest starting with the Tiny Desk concert, because it helps to see them breathe together and make plenty of eye contact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7EcT5YzKhQ. This album is perfectly suited for close listening on your favorite couch, or as the soundtrack for some cooking and cleaning. It is a collaboration that I can only aptly describe as magic. Here’s to hoping that they make a follow up one day.

D’Angelo And The Vanguard - Black Messiah (2014)

The story of Michael Eugene Archer (D’Angelo) is full of drama, disappointment, and patience. The very short version goes like this. After the two hugely successful albums Brown Sugar (1995) and Voodoo (2000), D’Angelo seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth. He was overwhelmed with personal issues and struggles, notably his reluctance as a sex symbol. The music video for his song “Untitled (How Does it Feel) features a shirtless D’Angelo, and this largely contributed to this status. The sabbatical following “Voodoo” was years and years longer than anybody anticipated or expected. In fact, after years of delays, his third album didn’t come out until December of 2014. It took awhile, but man was it worth the wait. Hard hitting funk and soul numbers are interspersed with sensual ballads and political statements. Joining him are longtime D’Angelo collaborators such as Questlove, Pino Palladino and Chris Dave. I’m happy to have him back and I know I’m not the only one.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

This album is difficult to describe. There is so much going on. It’s an assault on the senses and I mean that in the best way. Hiatus Kaiyote is a quartet from Melbourne, Australia, and they self-describe their sound as “multi-dimensional polyrhythmic gangster shit.” As is the theme for this short list, this album might take a listen or two or three to really understand. They’re able to create so much sound and rhythm, without any of it being extraneous or overdone. Front woman “Nai Palm” has the voice of an angel. A really cool angel. This album is best enjoyed nice and loud with the bass turned up on your favorite speakers. It makes for a great home dance party, just make sure that you stretch first.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy some new music!

-Danny Abrams