Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Top 10 Debut Albums

I'm not sure where it started, or how long it's been going on for, but quite a few people have been tweeting their 'Top 50 Debut Albums' over the last few days.

I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but I'm not sure I've even heard fifty debut albums, let alone fifty good ones. I decided that I could just about stretch to a Top 10, so here we are - The Album Wall's Official Top 10 Debut Albums:

10. Give Blood by Brakes
Recorded in one long take (or so I vaguely remember reading), this awesome album gave the world its first glimpse of the Brakes and their bonkers little world.

Standout Track: Hi How Are You

9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
In which Alec Ounsworth finds beauty and brilliance in his own nasal passages, and deigns to share it with us. As every review mentioned at the time of its release, Davids Byrne and Bowie were both big fans.

Standout Track: The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth

8. Tragedy Rocks by The Crimea
Bigger and better things would follow - anyone who sees Tragedy Rocks as The Crimea's crowning achievement is way off the mark - but, gosh, you don't see many major-label albums that balance so deftly on the line between shiny pop and agonised misery.

Standout Track: Lottery Winners on Acid

7. Where the Humans Eat by Willy Mason
Released in a period during which every new singer-songwriter was hailed as 'The New Dylan', Willy Mason's gorgeous home-made debut proved that such comparisons could be accurate after all.

Standout Track: Where the Humans Eat

6. Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol
This gloomy yet skyscraping tribute to NYC made the Big Apple sound far more appealing than Frank Sinatra's big band travel ad ever did.

Standout Track: The New

5. Through the Windowpane by Guillemots
It's one of my favourite albums of all time, so of course it gets a spot on this list. Few other debuts have the wild musical ambition of Sao Paulo or the sheer bravery necessary for an a capella track as moving as Blue Would Still Be Blue.

Standout Track: Sao Paulo

4. Funeral by Arcade Fire
In spite of its flaws (which are few and far between), Funeral remains the high point of a career that's never been stingy with its helpings of extremely good music.

Standout Track: Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)

3. Tindersticks by Tindersticks
Who said a debut album had to be slight, snappy, and succinct? The first of the band's two self-titled albums, Tindersticks is a smorgasbord of everything Stuart Staples and Co were capable of at the time. Listening to the whole thing is quite a journey - compare the lo-fi indie-rock of Nectar to the psychedelic sounds of Tyed and the glorious, oboe-toting closer, The Not Knowing.

Standout Track: Raindrops

2. Attack of the Grey Lantern by Mansun
Another one from my all-time top ten. How many bands are daring enough to allow crazy concepts like Mavis and the stripper vicar to form the foundation of their first album? How many bands put enough thought in from the very beginning to make a (gapless!) debut album like this?

Standout Track: She Makes My Nose Bleed

1. Almost Killed Me by The Hold Steady
Just to be clear, Almost Killed Me isn't my favourite album on this list, but for the effortless aplomb with which Craig Finn introduces us to the wacky world of Holly, Gideon, and Charlemagne - characters, mind you, who would continue to pop up in Hold Steady song for many years to come - this one gets the top spot. Wonderful, brash tunes, too.

Standout Track: Knuckles

Agree/disagree with my choices? Let your voice be heard in the comments!

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