Two months ago, I asked a simple question:  What are the 5 best unknown, unheard Rock albums ?

The question generated 100s of comments overnight; anyone looking to discover some great new music is advised to sift thru the laundry list of suggestions.

As promised, I am going to share my list this evening. Before my reveal, a quick note about those qualifiers: In order to make this exercise have some resonance, we had to limit the musical universe:

-Rock/Pop was the standard idiom. Jazz, Classical, World, Folk Hip Hop and Electronica are so diverse and have so many back waters and eddies, huge swaths of it seem unknown (I say that as a serious Jazz fan).

-Modern era (1985 to 2010) We could have gone further back in time, but that ran the risk of simply being unknown due to age, versus true obscurity. (We saw examples of that in comments).

-I kept it to 5 for simple reasons of focus (and crowd control).

There are lots great bands that have relatively unheard great albums, but have a major hit single. These are usually so well known that they didn’t qualify. Examples include the Fountains of Wayne album Welcome Interstate Managers — “Stacy’s Mom” was a huge hit, but the rest of the album was overlooked; so to with Dada‘s debut disc Puzzle — they had a giant single in “Dizz Knee Land,” the rest of the album was just as strong, but overlooked. I had a hard time omitting a few Reggae discs, like One Tree or Yell Fire!. Jazz albums that could qualify as Pop are fine — think Jamie Cullum‘s breakout album Twentysomething, but it was too popular to not qualify.

Indeed, figuring out was too popular or too unknown was the biggest challenge. Few people ever heard of my first choice, but the last disc on the list is very well known — it just sold poorly and was heard even less.


Roman CandleSays Pop (2002)

In 2005, I wrote: Roman Candle’s debut is a joyful assortment of finely crafted pop tunes. If FM Radio didn’t suck, this is the sort of music you would be hearing on it right now. Finely crafted lyrics mated to delightful melodies delivered by a tight power pop five-some in a surprisingly slick production.

Like nearly all the discs on this list, this one is really good from start to finish.

Why didn’t you ever hear of these guys? Roman Candle hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and signed with an independent label. No payola, no Clearchannel — and no radio play.

Note: This was released under a new label as “The Wee Hours Review” but its mostly the same disc.


The Push Stars After the Party

How to describe the well crafted, heartfelt songs on this album? Start with infectious melodies, slide reflective lyrics over that, mix in a little effervescent joy. The tunes range from melancholy ballads to joyous rock to pop perfection.

The band has 3 outstanding albums, but After the Party is my absolute favorite. I cannot figure out why the song “Drunk Is Better Than Dead” was not a huge radio smash (but as noted earlier, radio sucks).

The other two favorites are meet me at the fair and Opening Time.


PreFab Sprout Two Wheels Good

This is a spectacular album, released as Steve McQueen in the UK, where it is well known. In the US, this Thomas Dolby-produced album is mostly unknown, hardly heard. And that is a shame, as it is a tour de force of song writing chops, clever lyrics, and brilliant music.

I don’t even know where to begin describing this. Paddy McAloon’s songwriting has been compared to Brian Wilson, and justly so. Each heart rending song of love and loss is harrowing, gorgeous, lovely. The lyrics are sly, full of wry irony. They grab you, and refuse to let go.

On the song Appetite:

Here she is with two small problems
And the best part of the blame
Wishing she could call him heartache
But it’s not a boy’s name

On Horsin’ Around, a song about unfaithfulness:

It’s me again; Your worthless friend (or foe)
I somehow let that lovely creature down
Horsin’ around, horsin’ around
Some things we check and double check (and lose)
I guess I let that little vow get lost
Forgettin’ the cost, forgettin’ the cost

On the song He’ll Have To Go, these lyrics always stood out:

Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone
Let’s pretend that we’re together all alone
I’ll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low
And you can tell your friend there with you
He’ll have to go (go, go go)

Every song is a brilliant combination of musical arrangement, melody, and lyrical genius. I cannot listen to this disc without thinking about loves lost in college, grad school and beyond.

Note: Faron, The opening song, is atypical of the rest of the disc. I always start with the 2nd song, Bonnie, and play it straight through, ending with Faron.


The Philosopher Kings The Philosopher Kings

The Philosopher Kings mix soulful tunes with rock, jazz and R&B. Gerald Eaton’s distinctive vocals fit the original lyrics/Some people have called this disc urban jazz, I prefer to think of  as an amalgam of pop, rock, soul, fink, layered with jazz instrumentation. Call it smoky vocal jazz with a rock sensibility.

Its wildly original, and every song on the album packs a punch.

The album earned the group a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.


Freedy Johnston This Perfect World: Johnston’s gravelly soprano voice is perfectly suited to his bittersweet lyrics of heartbreak and loneliness. The music belies the lyrical angst, with bouncy chords and jangling guitars serving as the backdrop for exquisite melodies.

Johnston is known for the craftsmanship of his songs, and has been described as a “songwriter’s songwriter; In 1994, Rolling Stone named him “songwriter of the year”. A reviewer “Marries perfectly realized power-pop sensibility to skilled, literary writing chops” — and I see nothing to disagree with there.

This Album never broke into the Billboard charts, and the song Bad Reputation was a minor hit. Why this wasn’t a monster is beyond me: Every song is a perfectly crafted, radio friendly, little story.


The Magic Numbers The Magic Numbers

I thought the band’s debut disc, The Magic Numbers, was the best new rock and roll release of 2005. I was astonished to learn the CD sold a mere 44,000 copies in the US. That’s astonishing to me, considering what a great CD it is.

The band is an amalgam of all sorts of oddities, but
the entire assemblage works surprisingly well. Two pairs of brother/sister teams (from Trinidad/New York/London), best described as “an unfashionable blend of soft country pop with Fifties and Sixties inflections.”

What I liked about it was the strong mix of rock and roll, summery guitars, laid over skiffle and country pop structures. It is spare and at the same time complex, flavored with an inflection of a1960s guitar band. Somehow, it all sounds very modern, via classic rock instruments — simply guitar bass drums — no synth. The songs are jangly, melodic and hook laden; the writing is outstanding. Lyrics and vocals reveal a tender vulnerability. I found the album very addictive — with each listen, you want to hear more . . .


OK, so my top 5 slipped to 6 –  but I couldn’t leave out the last disc.

Runners Up after the jump . . .

It was a challenge narrowing my list to 5. I ended up cutting out the following CDs — not due to their musical greatness or other qualitative factors, but simply because they were too well known artists or albums, or had too much commercial success, to qualify for our short list of “Unknown/Unheard” albums.

For those of you unfamiliar with these albums, well, musical delight awaits you. Definitely give them a listen:


Morcheeba: Big Calm (1998), Charango (2002):  A cool melange of trip hop, electronica, pop and world music, this is one of those discs that I found a year or two after it came out. The “evocative nuevo-lounge and dreamy ambience” just slayed me. Not a bad cut on the disc, and it works on different levels — background atmosphere or upfront toonage.

Tom Lanham summed them up perfectly:  “This whole Bristol sound thing, with sleepy techno beats overshadowed by the chirrupy vocals of some slumberland chanteuse.”

Their first CD, Who Can You Trust, has the same airy, etheral vibe, but is less Pop, more electronica. You may heard the Charango tongue-in-cheek Women Lose Weight (featuring Slick Rick) on the radio — but that’s very atypical of the band; don’t expect anything else like that on any of these CDs.

Morcheeba had lots of hit singles in the UK, and the song Otherwise hit (from Charango) hit #5 in the US. somehow, they remain unknown in the States.


Tell Me Something: The Songs Of Mose Allison Van Morrison/Georgie Fame/Mose Allison/Ben Sidran. (1996)

I was already a fan of Mose Allison’s slick songwriting, devilishly clever lyrics, and gravelly vocals when I walked into a CD store, and heard this playing. Van Morrison gives these classic jazz tunes a big band/pop treatment. It breathes a life into them not usually associated with Mose.

All of my Jazz friends know the disc — it charted at #1 on Top Jazz Albums — but few of my Rock & Pop friends know it. But its not really a jazz album, I think of it more like a jazz-flavored Van Morrison album. Regardless, it is simply fabulous — a great collection of tunes, very accessible. If you are a Mose, Van or Jazz fan, you simply must hear this album.

Bonus: The entire album was recorded in one day; all of the performances were live first or second takes.


Everything but the GirlEden (1984), Idlewild (1988) EBTG has a sound that careens from jazz to Britpop to jazzy R&B. The duo are the married couple Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt; he writes classic melodies, and she wraps her silky vocals around them.  They became best known for their later albums: Language of Life (1990), Amplified Heart (1994), Walking Wounded (1996) . The remix of Missing reached No.3 in the UK and No.2 in the US in 1995), but these older discs are both terrific CDs, filled with languid, lovely arrangements.

Eden missed out official cut off by one year, so I am cheating by using 1988′s Idlewild.

I recall telling people about these albums in the late 1980s (in grad school), only to have their dance remixes go ballistic 10 years later.

Neither one ever charted on Billboard’s list, and both are worth checking out . . .


Bitter:Sweet The Mating Game A terrific debut album filled with sensually ethereal, retro lounge set of songs. Not your typical electronica, it is lushly melodic pop, reminiscent of an earlier era.

They might have been unknown when we first mentioned them in 2006, but the music has appeared on so many movies and tv shows, they can hardly be described as unheard ! On May 6 2006, they entered the Billboasd Dance/Electronic Albums at #18.

You can stream most of the album for free here, or download a free MP3 at C/Net Download


Michael Penn March: Fans of the Beatles, Crowded House, and Matthew Sweet will find this debut disc an “engrossing myriad of folk-tinged ballads and up-tempo rockers.”

Penn is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and film composer. His 1989 debut album has 3 hit singles. He won the 1990 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. (yes, he is Sean Penn’s brother, and is married to Aimmee Mann). His career has been described as “critically acclaimed, commercially snubbed.”

No Myth became a hit single, and the disc received both critical and commercial success. The disc spent 34 weeks on the Billboard 200, hitting #31 (April 7 1990) — hence, why it is not on our main list.


Some readers have asked about unknown albums that are “more Rock than Pop.” I don’t think of most of the rock I listen to as obscure or unknown, but here are some titles from our annual best of lists:

The Black Keys Thickfreakness This power duo plays straightforward, blues based rock and roll. Crunchy guitar riffs, soulful vocals over no nonsense drumming sounds like a lot more than two guys from Ohio. The recording is raw and rough edged, but contains surprising nuances and textures. On so many levels, it just works.

Every Stevie Ray Vaughn fan I’ve played this for was delighted. (From the 2004 list)

JJ Grey & Mofro Country Ghetto: My favorite discs of 2007 — I was driving home one night, when I hear this sound come oozing out of the car speakers: A funky, steamy, swamp rock blues number, with a long intro (Footsteps) that finally slid into a great guitar groove that is Turpentine. The strength of that song let me to check out the rest of the disc.

The music is a great cross-breeding experiment across genres: Start with swamp rock, add some smoldering blues, slip in vintage soul, and finally, some gospel-fried funk — and does so with a certain down-and-dirty swagger.  (2007 list)

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden I Trust You To Kill Me. Their sound is original — a jangly roots-rock romp laced with bluegrass and countrified leanings. I agree with the reviewer who wrote that their bluesy debut album “fairly vibrates on DeLuca’s Dobro steel guitar and throaty wail.” (2007 list)

Elvis Costello & The Imposters Momofuku: One of the greatest rockers of all time returns to form. This disc reminds you why Elvis was so great — hard edged yet hook laden, rock-n-roll with catchy tunes, and as Elvis always does, lyrics that are both witty and acerbic. His none-too-subtle wordplay remains as clever as ever. (2008 list)

The Hold Steady: Boys & Girls in America Rolling Stone called them “bizarrely touching and insanely original;” while Spin described the disc as “a raucous album rife with heavy guitar licks and more cultural references than Paul’s Boutique.” The Hold Steady is one of the most interesting and different bands from most of what is people mistakenly call rock and roll these days. (2007 list)

Old 97s Satellite Rides (2004 list)

Kings Of Leon Only By The Night (Who doesn’t know who Kings of Leon are by now?) (2008 list)

Derek Trucks Band Songlines (Same!) (2006 list)

The Who BBC Sessions The Who are hardly unknown, but this disc is an undiscovered gem


All of the prior annual best of lists can be found here

Category: Friday Night Jazz, Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

46 Responses to “Friday Nite Jazz Rock: 5 Best Unknown/Unheard Albums”

  1. I’ll post the remaining disc(s) later tonite . . .

  2. Greg0658 says:

    hum .. only link I can provide (x2) .. (no full track freebee)*(we have subscription Napster) .. anyway – provided by xeren & another on last Friday nite name drop .. I totally became immersed in trk 11 “Seven Swans” the album title track followed by trk 12 “Transfiguration” .. t11 “he will chase – you if you run” & t12 the honking keyboard followup .. I must have played them 50x in the background of tv stuff .. been a long time since stuck on something .. warn ya tho – they are both a bit melancholy .. umm I guess the trap of it all

    Sufjan Stevens (Wikipedia)

    Seven Swans
    (the 30 second tracks are to short and don’t nail the song)

    * I thought about doing a stuffed animals video with 7Swans play’g in the background .. maybe Rascal (the S.Husky) doing his best to rip them to shreads


    BR: Thanks for the heads up for 7 Swans

    His disc Illinoise was a big seller — #121 on the Billboard 200 (July 23 2005), 8 weeks on that chart, and #1 on the “Heatseekers Albums” (32 weeks) # 4 Independent Albums (39 weeks).

  3. TakBak04 says:

    BR…Thanks for your picks.

    Had only little time…but checked out: • PreFab Sprout Two Wheels Good..and first two tunes, Bonnie and Appetite.

    Nice Sound. Reminded me of George Michael in his early days in those two. Very good listen and for these times……soothing.

  4. jbmd says:

    I bought Two Wheels Good years ago at a duty free shop in Shannon airport. How could you not mention “When Love Breaks Down” (which was actually a semi-hit here and in the UK)?


    BR: I love that song:

    My love and I, we work well together
    But often we’re apart
    Absence makes the heart lose weight, yeah,
    Till love breaks down, love breaks down

    Oh my, oh my, have you seen the weather
    The sweet september rain
    Rain on me like no other
    Until I drown, until I drown

    But i had to stop somewhere!

  5. Jojo says:

    I’m much more into Jazz than Rock these days so I’ll only contribute 2 selections:

    Not a lot of people have heard of Devil Doll. Great voice! Rock, punk, sexy…

    Queen of Pain
    Devil Doll

    Everyone knows Van Morison but I don’t think many people have come across this album. Great live session:

    How Long Has This Been Going on
    Van Moorison with Georgie Fame & Friends
    Recorded live May 3, 1995 at Ronnie Scott’s club in London


    BR: Another great Van the Man disc . . .

  6. TakBak04 says:

    Damn, BR…you hooked me on: • PreFab Sprout Two Wheels Good

    I gotta go..but took time to check out on You Tube…and this is a good one …full version with a more full flavor of what they do than the Amazon snips:

    Good STUFF! And from 1985 and I never hear of ‘em! Good to hear a New/Old Sound…learn New…

    This is a very cool listen/watch: “CRUEL”

    Prefab Sprout – Cruel (Live in Munich 1985)

  7. wunsacon says:

    I’d like to recommend “Come Find Yourself” from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals. While “Scooby Snacks” was a hit (that disqualified them from this list), the other songs — while a little more laid back — have a consistent, enjoyable sound. Solid fun. (The lyrics are a hoot.)

    Come to think of it, if you like listening to amusing lyrics and some eclectic but still poppish music (“slacker jazz”), consider buying the “best of” album from Soul Coughing.


    BR: I love the song The Fun Lovin Criminal ! I have it on a mixed playlist I made some time ago

    Reminds me a bit of Cypress Hill . . .

  8. The Window Washer says:

    Bob Geldof’s Vegetarians of love and The Happy Club were great early 90’s albums. I’ve been listening to them again and they hold up wonderfully.

    I guess we should be linking to songs.

    The Great Song of Indifference from Vegetarians of Love

  9. The Window Washer says:

    Sorry I guess we should be linking to songs.

    The Great Song of Indifference from Vegetarians of Love

  10. trbodden says:

    Seems to me I heard “He’ll have to go” way back in the fifties. Maybe by Jim Reesves, I’m not sure. But they are certainly not original lyrics of late.

  11. The Window Washer says:

    Let this be a warning to all: think of all your ideas before you post

    Most of the comment we’re leaning to the softer side so lets not forget:

    Tin Machine: Tin Machine

    Slayer Reign in Blood

    or the South Park version

    Looking forward to everyones imput.
    Looks like a weekend of new or re-discovered music. God Prefab Sprouts that takes me back.

  12. louis says:

    Always forget about The Magic Numbers, very much agree.

    The Chiefs are great when you need some energy.

  13. flenerman says:

    Just to correct a possible misunderstanding — “He’ll Have to Go” was written by Joe and Audrey Allison. I think the most popular version of the song, making both the Pop And country charts, was sung by Jim Reeves and recorded in 1959 or 1960.

  14. JY says:

    I thought I was the only person in America (I moved from Toronto to NY for work years ago) who knew who The Philosopher Kings were.

    How on earth did you ever find them ?

  15. A friend owned a Bang & Olufsen store on Madison Ave in NY.

    One day, I was flipping thru his CDs, and the name just grabbed me. That’s usually a recipe for crap, but the disc was great —

    It was pure serendipity finding them . . .

  16. rogerD says:

    I can’t wait to check out some of these guys. I have really expanded my musical tastes over the years and have been searching out more Indy bands, rather than the mainstream pop crap that is so often pushed. Lately, I have been on an old Soul/Jazz/Folk binge.

    Somehow, I managed to miss all of these bands, so I have a little bit of catching up to do :)

  17. philipat says:

    Thought you were going to do some critical/editorial work and review the proposals made by others in what must be the most highly responded to thread ever? That could have been even more useful and saved all the work!!

    Guess we all (You all) have day jobs?!!

  18. wunsacon says:

    >> Reminds me a bit of Cypress Hill . . .

    “I want to get hiiiiiiigh, so hiiiiiigh”….

    I usually can’t help but sing off-key. Ergo, Cypress Hill songs fill a major portion of my vocal repertoire. ;-)

  19. Joe Friday says:

    The second release from the ALEX LEVIN TRIO, a CD titled “A Reason For Being Alone”, with nine original compositions, has guest musicians appearing on about half the tracks. The first release was “Night and Distance”.

  20. santamonica says:

    Try some Tragically Hip…

  21. TakBak04 says:

    One really sad one to have a few drinks while listening to but beware..before opening the window…lest you think about jumping out :-(

    Prefab Sprout – We Let The Stars Go

    Prefab Sprout We Let The Stars Go lyrics
    There was that girl I used to know
    She’d tease me about my name
    Fan the embers long enough
    I sometimes catch her flame
    The soothing voice of distance tells me
    That was just a fling
    Other music fills my ears
    But I still hear her sing :
    She sings :
    Paddy Joe, say Paddy Joe
    Don’t you remember me ?
    How long ago one gorgeous night
    We let the stars go
    Paddy Joe, say Paddy Joe
    Don’t you remember me ?
    How long ago one gorgeous night
    We let the stars go free
    There was a boy I used to be
    I guess that he was cold
    If she came to buy him now
    How cheaply he’d be sold
    But the light is gone and it is dark
    What used to be the sky
    Is suddenly embarrassing
    To the naked eye
    You see :
    Paddy Joe, see Paddy Joe
    Can’t face this memory
    How long ago one gorgeous night
    We let the stars go—–

    More lyrics:


    BUT THEN…It GETS WORSE! A SONG FOR OUR TIMES…if one lets one’s imagination morph over to the times we live in:

    Prefab Sprout – Cars & Girls
    (Some Things Hurt Much More US NOW…than Cars and Girls)


    Brucie dreams life’s a highway too many roads bypass my way
    Or they never begin. innocence coming to grief
    At the hands of life – stinkin’ car thief, that’s my concept of sin
    Does heaven wait all heavenly over the next horizon ?

    But look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
    Just look at us now, start counting, what adds up the way it did when we were young ?
    Look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt much more than cars and girls.

    Life’s a drive through a dust bowl, what’s it do, do to a young soul
    We are deeply concerned, someone stops for directions,
    Something responds deep in our engines, we have all been burned
    Will heaven wait all heavenly over the next horizon ?

    But look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
    Just look at us now, start counting, what adds up the way it did when we were young ?
    Look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt much more than cars and girls.

    Little boy got a hot rod, thinks it makes him some kind of new god
    Well this is one race he won’t win,
    ‘cos life’s no cruise with a cool chick
    Too many folks feelin’ car sick, but it never pulls in.
    Brucie’s thoughts – pretty streamers
    - guess this world needs it’s dreamers may they never wake up.

    But look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
    Just look at us now, start counting, what adds up the way it did when we were young ?
    Look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt much more than cars and girls.

    But look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt more much more than cars and girls.
    Just look at us now, start counting, what adds up the way it did when we were young ?
    Look at us now, quit driving, some things hurt much more than cars and girls.

    More lyrics:

  22. EdDunkle says:

    This topic got me to register. Thanks for all the great picks everybody. I know this is late, but I’m always looking for music and here are some largely overlooked gems:

    “Avant Hard” by Add N to (X)
    “Velocity of Sound” by Apples in Stereo
    “Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation” by Au Revoir Simone
    “Dandelion Gum” by Black Moth Super Rainbow
    “The Noise Made by People” by Broadcast
    “FANTASMA” by Cornelius
    “Spiderman of the Rings” by Dan Deacon
    “Cultivation” by Gram Rabbit
    “Rock ‘N’ Roll” by the Mekons
    “Featuring ‘Birds’” by Quasi
    “I, Lucifer” by the Real Tuesday Weld

    Okay, back to lurking…

  23. Julia Chestnut says:

    BR, surely you are aware that “He’ll have to go” is an American country music standard. I think my favorite version is Patsy Kline. No joke.


    BR: I didn’t have a clue. And it fits so perfectly with the rest of the disc . . .

  24. acai says:

    I don’t know how known or obscure this is , but for guitar players or guitar fans…check out Johnny A.’s CD “Get Inside”. It is an interesting amalgamation of rock guitar, surf guitar (a la early 1960′s), Chet Atkins influences, hendrix, led Zep…it’s really all over the place but really interesting stuff . The guy is great!

  25. ukarlewitz says:

    I’m glad you named Prefab Sprout. They were once referred to as the best band no one had ever heard. I came across them in 1990 with the release of Jordan: The Comeback, a disc I tried to wear out. Carnival 2000, Looking for Atlantis, Doo Wop in Harlem and We Let The Stars Go are all terrific. I think it is interesting and appropriate that their mention here has generated so much commentary.

  26. gms777 says:

    Re: Roman Candle…

    Another great Chapel Hill, NC, band…

    Love Language

  27. Cooter says:

    Sorry, most of these titles have just a toe hold on the rock genre. Mainly these are pop albums. Simply not enough edge to be considered rock.

  28. Cooter says:

    Black Mountain – There’s a rock band that is unknown.

    BTW – everyone needs to have bookmarked. Free streaming music.

  29. swag says:

    Wow, great recs, everybody. Thanks!

    Reading through this, I realize that in my contribution to the previous thread, I left out an album that I have given as a gift to many friends over the years as it goes in and out of print.

    Young Marble Giants – “Colossal Youth”

    Don’t be without it.

  30. Edoc says:

    Regarding Freedy Johnston– I don’t think it’s possible to hold up ‘This Perfect World’ over the earlier ‘Can You Fly?’ The way I recall it, TPW didn’t fell short of the expectations set by ‘Can You Fly?’, despite some good radio-friendly songs (Bad Reputation, Evie’s Tears). Give ‘Can You Fly?’ — TPW sounds watered-down by comparison.

  31. Edoc says:

    Can’t recall if anyone mentioned Tindersticks on the original post. Great, terribly underrated band. The first two releases are staggeringly beautiful.

    Also of potential interest:
    The Rentals – The Return of the Rentals
    Everclear – Sparkle & Fade (this certainly charted)
    Imperial Teen – Seasick
    Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion (this probably charted as well)
    East River Pipe – Shining Hours in a Can (check out

  32. louis says:

    Not sure if the Pastels work got mentioned?

  33. cognos says:

    Pascal and Mister Day, “the lure of melody”

  34. just, to jump/cut, to the ‘end’ of “Comments” line..

    We’re talkin’ “Rock”, right?

    How about Jimi Hendrix’ ‘back Catalogue’?

    you know, with Songs like ‘Bolero”…

    try hit #6, you know, for starters..

    and, here, in 2-d land, note, I mean no disresect to the previous (offerings)..~

  35. cognos says:

    Just listened to that “philosopher kings”?!?

    Bah. Like Phish… But with bad musicians.

    Eye of beholder I guess.

  36. atswimtwobirds says:

    three totally different.

    Aztec Camera: High Land Hard Rain
    The Apex of 80′s Britpop.

    Joy Division: Unknown Pleasure

    The Violent Femmes: The violent Femmes
    Maybe the best debut album of all time!

  37. Zekeman says:


    One of the best CD’s I bought recently is

    .Muddy Waters

    .Folk Singer

    Recorded at a studio in Chicago in the ’60′s….It is one of those albums that is good from start to finish.

    I recommend listening to it on a good stereo….no black plastic from Best Buy….preferably a tube amp.

    Everyone I have turned on to this loves it!

    Your Welcome!


  38. lpinero says:

    these are great! and the comments give so many more good recs too!

    let me throw in one recommendation:

    Irving “Death In The Garden Blood On The Flowers”

    band website:

    Irving was an L.A. band that arose out of the Silver Lake/Echo Park music scene in 1998. Released in 2007, this was a nearly perfect indy pop record that received little airplay or attention outside of Los Angeles. The band broke up in 2007 or so when member Alex Church left to start his Sea Wolf project. The rest of the band and a few more formed the band Afternoons which is now named Shadow Shadow Shade.

  39. VillaRosie says:

    I missed the original thread, traveling in South America. I can only think of a single album in my whole collection over 30 years that easily meets the criteria, and surprisingly I didn’t see it in the original thread:
    “Giant” by the Woodentops, 1986 is just fantastic, hypertempo, melodic, alternately joyful and heartbreaking, manic acoustic and electric guitars, marimbas, horns, accordions and all varieties of percussion, great polished sound mix yet not overproduced. I was always surprised singer/leader Rolo and his band never made it really big.

    This track was from a their previous (first) record but shows their unique passionate style:

    The band is back together; according to their myspace page they played Barcelona Spain last night!

  40. Diesel says:

    Fantastic collection — thank you for this.

    I need you to come to my house, update my CD/MP3 collections, get my 401k in order, set up a Twitter account, and find me a collectible car to drive!

  41. JasRas says:

    Just queued up the top 6 on Napster so I can hear these declared gems. I am thinking the process of getting to this point was more entertaining and interesting than reaching the “answer” I know I really had fun sifting through my collections (mp3, CD, album) and reconnecting with albums I found to be significant to me that were relative unknowns. As a former record store manager/owner, we (those working in the store) prided ourselves in finding the unknown gems. Sometimes these gems remained our little secrets (although they were played to death in the store for all to here) simply because the right person didn’t come in at the time it was playing. It was a lovely time in my life when looking back…

    Anyway, thanks for the exercise and reconnecting me with parts of my collection that had gathered some dust! I know, you’re probably wondering “If these pieces of music were so great, why were they dusty at all??” Another music store blessing/curse: I constantly forage for new, fresh sounds, and can’t help myself. I guess normal people find their niche and cling to that for the next 40-50 years…I’d go crazy if I did that.

  42. MelJ says:

    You are just not listening to the right radio station.
    Most (if not all) of the artists mentioned can be
    heard on WFMU which broadcasts out of Jersey City on
    91.1 FM. You can also listen live over the internet
    at “” or to archived programs.
    It’s free form and listener sponsored with different
    DJs every few hours, each with different tastes in
    music so you get to hear everything (even things you
    don’t like!).

  43. rat89 says:

    add a couple:

    Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions: Through The Devil Softly

    Anything by Third Eye Blind, though I guess you could say they were not unknown…

    the funny thing is that when you look up BR’s picks on amazon and see what other people who bought one of them bought, it’s the whole list! Even with that insider info leaked out I got This Perfect World used/very good for 25¢ :)