Five Albums That Will Sweep You Away with Radical Themes and Impactful Beats 

By Kal Weiss 

The first thing people come to know about me is that I love all things music. I always have earbuds in, listening to my playlist. Everything in my life has music embedded into it in some way — I try to practice playing music when I can, constantly put together CD mixtapes and Spotify playlists, go to concerts religiously, and I’m always wearing a band t-shirt; I even have a tattoo for one of my favorite bands. 

I’ve listened to more albums than I can count in my short lifetime. There’s an insurmountable number I consider to be among my favorites, but these have changed my life in ways that I want to share with everyone. 

“So” by Peter Gabriel (1986) 

People know Peter Gabriel as the original lead singer of Genesis before leaving in 1975 to embark on his own solo career. He cemented his place as a cult musician by releasing four albums, all self-titled “Peter Gabriel”. He ventured into atypical fusions with political lyrics while incorporating African instruments and rhythm-focused beats. Despite being less experimental than his previous albums, “So” pioneered the sound of ‘80s music that we all know and love; it remains his best-selling album. A unique mix of rock, pop, soul, and world music, the music projects itself in a bold way that not many songwriters have achieved. “So” let me know that there are many genres of music that can be manipulated into unique creations, which inspired me to start making my own music. 

“Marquee Moon” by Television (1977) 

Television was one of the most influential post-punk bands to come out of New York City in the ‘70s. They frequented venues in lower Manhattan such as CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. Every member of the band wanted to record unconventional music, as quoted by lead singer Tom Verlaine. The album was mostly recorded live in one take and the final mixing and mastering had no effects included. The album is very technical, using countermelodies, syncopation, and approaches from avant-garde jazz to elevate their sound. “Marquee Moon” is one of the rawest albums out there; the lyricism and sound of this album inspired me to become more intuitive in my creative endeavors. 

“The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails (1994) 

Lead singer Trent Reznor became the face of industrial melancholia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s after releasing “Pretty Hate Machine” and “Broken”. “The Downward Spiral” album combines abrasive lyrics, gritty techno and soundscapes to make one of the most imitated albums in history. It is semi-autobiographical, telling the story of a man’s descent into nihilistic madness, a subject of controversy when it released in 1994. Reznor felt considerably alienated after being caught in a feud between his then-record label, TVT Records, and became immersed in the dregs of depression and addiction. As a result, he wrote “The Downward Spiral” as a form of catharsis. This album encapsulates the lowest of the lows, which comforted me in my teenage years. 

“The Doors” by The Doors (1967) 

The Doors are one of the most recognizable psychedelic rock bands. Many critics and publications have called “The Doors” one of the best debut albums of all time. After completing their residency at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, they got to work recording and promoting the album. It was controversial at the time but paved the way for what people considered socially acceptable to air on the radio. The instrumentation is simple yet takes listeners on an auditory trip from start to finish. The album is punchy and hard-hitting in such a unique way, which inspired me to take a headstrong route in life. 

“The Velvet Underground” by The Velvet Underground (1969) 

This is one of the most influential, controversial, and one-of-a-kind bands you will hear about. The Velvet Underground is considered the first new-wave band and a catalyst to the post-punk genre by headlining proto punk with their experimental approach to music. This album is their first without John Cale, their bass and viola player. Their first album, “The Velvet Underground & Nico”, was met with meager success, but let the industry know that they weren’t a band to mess with. This self-titled album, however, was praised by contemporaries. It took a more acoustic approach to their sound, which was drastically different from prior releases. It was more of a lovey-dovey sound that appealed to me. I’m a sap, and this album reminded me that it’s okay to be sappy. 

Music has had my heart since the day I was born, and this list exists to serve as a reminder of that. I hope that you have a grand time listening to these albums — stay tuned for part two! 

About Kal Weiss

Kal is pursuing a degree in Graphic Design and plans to graduate in Winter 2024. After graduation, they plan to begin their graphic design career.
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