Styrofoam Boots' Decade List 2000-2009, Part 3

(100-91) (90-81) 80-71 (70-61) (60-51) (50-41) (40-31) (30-21) (20-11)

80. Wolf Eyes - Burned Mind

Calling anything Wolf Eyes does “subtle” is pretty fucking off the mark, but they certainly have a lot more craft and appreciation for actual dynamics than most self-professed noise artists. Everything these guys do creates its own impenetrable nightmarish atmosphere, and Burned Mind is no exception. Much more violent than the creepier, (marginally) quieter sonics of Human Animal, this album revels in thrashing industrial noise cranked to eleven that suddenly washes out into brain-damaging high-frequency drones and stomping lo-fi beats, with hateful inhuman screams layered over top. “Rattlesnake Shake” is the scariest, darkest corner of psychedelia as performed by a quartet of Ann Arbor psychos, the sonic equivalent of an axe murderer creeping up on you, and the rest is 99% as terrifying. -Stephen

79. Zazen Boys - Zazen Boys 4

Zazen Boys IV is Math-Funk-Synth-[Post-Hardcore]-Rap-Rock. I try, but sometimes labeling doesn’t really work. Zazen Boys manages to blend math rock rhythms, funky slap bass, corny sounding 80’s DX-7 synthesizer, spoken word, post hardcore grit, and Mukai Shutoku’s crazed vocal vocabulary of snarls, yells, screams and unsteady singing into a serious and comprehensible sound. Shutoku’s previous band Number Girl may have a confusing combination of influences, but Zazen Boys takes this to a new level, and THEY ARE NO JOKE. However disturbing it may be to listen to a record with 80’s synthesizer and synthetic hand claps generated from an effects pedal* being played at a Battles-esque precision, it is only in the best possible way. I don’t think someone can envision the sound through an explanation unless you are Mukai Shutoku, where you not only would you be able to actualize this sound in the first place, but express humanity within it. -Adrian

*They actually use an FX pedal used to generate hand claps.

78. Squarepusher - Ultravisitor

Tom Jenkinson has always been out on the fringes of electronica, pushing the envelope further into dissonant, spiraling freeform and cutting-edge beats with every release. But Jenkinson’s a great jazz musician too, as Music Is Rotted One Note proved, and since that release he’s always strived to combine the two worlds with varying success. With Ultravisitor he finally hits that perfect happy medium of glitchy mayhem (“Steinbolt”), gentler jazzy musings (“Iambic 9 Poetry”) and godlike bass solos (“Tetra-Sync”). No you can’t dance to this stuff, and there may be more accessible Squarepusher records available, but compared to the dry, analytical Rubik’s Cube vibe of most IDM (Autechre anyone?), Ultravisitor proves that prog-electronica can race pulses as well as it scrambles brains -Stephen.

77. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

It’s hard to ignore music this catchy, and it’s just as hard to dislike music this earnest. That’s The ’59 Sound in a nutshell, drawing as much on the working class bravado of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger as the punk fervor of a group like Agent Orange. From the pains of trying to hang onto your best gal to the smallness one feels living in a tiny, dead-end working class town, all the classic Heartland topics are covered, but presented with a gusto and unselfconscious sincerity that makes the whole thing feel fresh. You’ll be humming the riffs for weeks and Brian Fallon’s warm, scratchy howl instills a familiarity that makes you think he’s in the room with you. In terms of pure, uncompromised rock ‘n roll over the last 10 years, The Gaslight Anthem was hard to beat, and The ’59 Sound was alive and well in the modern age. -CJ

76. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

Psychedelic pop was hard to pull off even in the heyday of the genre, and one could be accused of looking foolish for trying to revitalize it in the 21st century. Lucky then that MGMT are no fools: Oracular Spectacular is a fine example of the genre that was built(and ultimately destroyed) by bands like Love and The Zombies, simultaneously preserving and reinvigorating the acid-drenched magic for a new generation. The synths are powerful but not overbearing, communicating a sweeping, cosmic emotion that’s hard not to be touched by and harder still to forget, while the lyrics are forward thinking and sharp, demanding that the kids of today stake out a claim that is, and can remain, uniquely their own. Oracular Spectacular is a moving effort from what would become one of the decade’s most relevant groups, and it ain’t bad to dance to, either. -CJ

75. Dilute - Grape Blueprints Pour Spinach Olive Grape

Dilute is awesome. They have a modest reputation amongst the norcal math rock scene, but for the most part are incredibly obscure, for understandable reasons (the singer sounds like he is on the verge of death, which he sort of is). Honestly, I hate it when people disregard a band solely because of the singers voice; there is much more integrity in the music than the voice. Anyways, Dilute combines free jazz with math rock instrumentation and utilizes these sounds to write genuinely incredible songs for the most part. The singer’s voice, in terms of an emotional standpoint, matches the music perfectly. They are probably one of the most unique bands you’ll hear so if you’re interested in incredibly singular and clean guitar playing with songwriting that seems to focus on construction and deconstruction… listen to Dilute. -Adrian

74. Botch - We Are The Romans

Quite possibly the smartest, most irreverent band in mathy hardcore circa 2000, Seattle heroes Botch nonetheless met and exceeded the genre on its own terms with abrasive slabs of mindfucking noise and gloriously twisted riffs courtesy of guitarist Dave Knudson, stop-start syncopated rhythms and changeups that hit like baseball bats, and Dave Verellan’s caustic rants to top the sundae. Few of their peers could lay claim to the tightly wound, head-spinning maze of riffs underpinning “Mondrian Was a Liar” and “Transitions from Persona to Object,” or the epic sweep of ten-minute bruiser “Man the Ramparts,” which breaks into Gregorian chant just as a nice “fuck you” to pofaced, Jamey Jasta-idolizing hXc kids. -Stephen

73. The Postal Service - Give Up

Even with the beautiful aesthetics aside, this album is important. In 2003 indie was still underground and despite Radiohead and Wilco's hard efforts, the scene still found itself at great distance from digital sounds. Many independant rockers were still so focused on saving rock and roll. But really, the moment anyone heard Such Great Hights it was all over. The war was lost in it's undeniably beautiful tones, coupled with Ben Gibbard's calm, honest delivery. This was the first electronic album most of us listened too, because this was the first electronic album to make the instruments sound real. Like they belonged genuinely to this world as much as, if not more than, the electric guitar. And sure, it gets saccharine at times, but it stood a refreshing contrast to the underground's dominating sex-and-or-gloom aesthetic, changing the course of indie for at least the next five years. It's been a wonder to see this beautiful disc grow slowing, weaving itself gradually above the ground and into the consciousness of an entire generation. -Stuart

72. Immortal - Sons of Northern Darkness

Forget the name of whichever lemon-sucking Aspergers-afflicted Varg wannabe operating from his mom’s basement that P-Fork happens to be giving blowjobs this month. Immortal had properly grim corpse-painted black metal on lock over a decade ago, and without resorting to recording all their records in a cave or burning a single church. How? By being as metal as fucking possible at all times. Sons of Northern Darkness is what the Gods blast in Valhalla between rounds of mead and chopping off heads, an album that manages to be atmospheric, epic (four 7+ minute songs back to back), catchy and heavy as hell, combining a furious maelstrom of Norwegian black metal with the keen melodic sense of Iron Maiden to produce a recording for all to worship. Look at those battle axes, people—this shit is for real. -Stephen

71. Arctic Monkeys - Favorite Worst Nightmare

Smart, driven and at times even downright vicious, Favourite Worst Nightmare is an album conceived by brats and crafted by geniuses. If you’re a skank, a lazy prick or a user, be advised: Alex Turner hates you, and he’s not letting you off the hook. Each song is an immaculately produced, finely tuned attack, and while Jamie Cook’s guitar shifts from surf-rock blitzkriegs to whirring, mosquito-like hums at the drop of a hat, Matt Helder’s swift-but-groovy drum lines and Alex Turner’s sultry, brash vocals keep the sound unified and make damn sure those pretty little socialites can’t escape the scope of their all-seeing gun. This isn’t to take away anything from bassist Nick O’Malley, who shines on tracks like “Balaclava” and “D is for Dangerous” by showing off a rumble and tone that many would kill for. Favourite Worst Nightmare captures alternative rock at its finest: Angry, misanthropic and delightfully, lethally catchy. -CJ


Music Radar's Best Bassist List is Really Only KIND OF Dumb, But Still: Part 1

I'll admit, this list isn't quite as heinous as some of the others we've featured here, because even though they're not in the right order, at least a good portion of the greats are represented: John Entwhistle, John Paul Jones, Paul McCartney, Cliff Burton, Chris Squire, Bootsy Collins, and even though I don't like his music, Geddy Lee, all deserve a spot here.

That said, the actual order they were placed in is almost criminally screwed, and there are still some real head-spinners as to who they left off. Best bassist ever is a big consideration, so limiting it to ten picks as to who else could've gone on the list was trickier than some of the others we've done, but still, here are ten more that I'm baffled didn't fit into 25,000 people's definition of "best ever".

John Wetton(King Crimson, U.K., Asia)

We will not consider anything that Wetton has done post-U.K., since he has done nothing after that time worth considering. Instead, take note of how in a band where the only other two people were Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford, it was the relatively unknown bass player who completely dominated the sound of the band. Wetton's bass tone can only be described as monstrous-if he were playing in that manner today he could've easily fit in with the Melvins or Kyuss, but Wetton also had incredible technique, supporting the sounds of the other musicians while making sure that he was the one you were paying attention to. John Wetton's bass playing was larger than life, and for three albums with King Crimson he was the most powerful bass guitarist in the world.

Larry Graham(Sly and the Family Stone, Graham Central Station, Prince)

Dude invented slap-bass. Can I stop there? No? Fine. Aside from inventing slap bass, funk wouldn't have come around without Graham's basswork-Bootsy perfected the art of funk bass, but Graham laid down the foundation and played with greater force, to boot. Other funk bassists were content with getting a good groove, but not Larry. Larry wouldn't stop until that groove was kicking your ass up and down the street, making sure that even the slower songs moved with enough boom to swallow you whole. Graham's playing was revelatory at the time, still slightly unbelievable today, and it's a crime that this guy doesn't get mentioned alongside Entwhistle, Jones and Collins every time the most influential bassists of all time are brought up.

Geezer Butler(Black Sabbath)

Frankly, I'm absolutely stunned a website made entirely of prog nerds and metal heads could even conceive of leaving Geezer Butler off of their list of best ever. Simply put, the man invented heavy metal bass playing. There's not really any debating this, and giving even the most cursory listen to Butler's bass playing compared with the hard rock groups of the time will prove this. Even if he wasn't one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Butler would still deserve a place on this list for coming up with bass lines that were heavy and intricate but didn't steal the spotlight and propped up Tony Iommi's seminal guitar work like no other bassist could. Geezer was the backing power that kept Black Sabbath heavy, and you won't find '70s bass playing more crushing or memorable than on Sabbath's first 6 albums.


Takeshi is an interesting case, because all the other bassists I've mentioned so far have taken on dominate, or at least co-lead responsibilities for the instrumental sections of their respective bands. Boris doesn't work like that-as a power trio, either all of them are working as a cohesive unit or they aren't working at all. That means you don't get that dynamic energy without Wata's guitar, you don't get that manic, thunderous rhythm without Atsuo's drums and you don't get that relentless, heart-pounding BOOM that stays a constant in every song without Takeshi's bass. Often drifting by as the most underrated member of the band, Takeshi's basslines have a heft that occasionally gets muddled in the mix but shoves the band's classic-rock-meets-doom-metal sound into the titanous force they've become known for. Takeshi deserves a place here because he is an equal in power in a band that is unbelievably powerful.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Electric, Dyna-Soar, Ibitsu


You're saying I need to explain why this dude belongs on a greatest ever list? Do you want him to come over here and kill me?!

5 more in the next couple days.



Peter Gabriel-Melt

1980; The Townhouse, London; Mercury/Geffen

Hey folks, sorry this list thing is taking so long. It's all Adrian's fault, so if you wanted to be mad at him that would be pretty appropriate. Anyhow, to sate you until our next installment, here's a review I did for progarchives.com. It's for one of my very favorite albums, and if you give it a chance I think you'll like it a lot, too. I'll explain why below. Enjoy.

Rarely is an artist able to mix artistry and listenability in such a graceful manner that the two become indistinguishable. Of course, I suppose if anyone was going to do it it was Peter Gabriel, who, not satisfied with being in the greatest progressive rock band to ever exist, decided he would like to be one of the most intelligent, influential and marketable pop acts in the world as well, mixing his prog chops with the newly emergent world music scene to create a masterpiece that can't be easily defined as either prog or pop, but which slides comfortably into either arena.

It's easy to understand(and equally easy to mock) why Atlantic Records would drop Gabriel from their label after hearing pieces of this album: There's a nervous tone to Melt, a seeping paranoia that can't be easily identified, that the record execs were scared would frighten away a mainstream audience. When you have an opener like "Intruder", a song sung from the perspective of a burglar that uses tool sound effects, monstrous falsettos and whispered verses about the joys of home invasion to frighten the listener into submission, you can see why a manager wouldn't think that this album would light the sales charts on fire. And when you hear the next song, "No Self Control", a nervous breakdown driven by a xylophone, you'd be booting the man out on his behind faster than you can say "Billboard 200".

If you had waited a minute, however, you would have heard "I Don't Remember", a song which takes the dark, frantic themes of the first two songs and sculpts them into a dance track that's one part Brian Eno and one part Human League, you would've realized that you had a hit single on your hands. And if you had waited until the next song, "Family Snapshot", you'd have realized you missed the opportunity to release what is easily one of the greatest songs ever written: Focusing on the Kennedy assasination as told from the viewpoint of Lee Harvey Oswald, the listener is forced to sit inside the mind of the killer, letting the tension build and build to such grand proportions that by the time the song's quiet, heartbreaking denouement arrives one might be moved to tears at the plight of one of the most hated men in American history. It is not only Peter Gabriel's finest song, it is not only one of the greatest progressive rock songs of all time, and it is not only one of the greatest songs of the '80s. It has the distinction of not only being completely incomparable, but being one of the greatest songs of all time, in any era, in any context.

The second half of the album is as jammed with as many pop hits as it is experimental pieces, and only one of them, "Not One Of Us", straddles the line uncomfortably and becomes the album's only dud. The rest are spectacular. "And Through The Wire" is a touching, fast moving ballad about the pains of being in a long-distance relationship, and it goes without saying that "Games Without Frontiers" is a classic, a brooding, dramatic single that's still played on the radio to this day thanks to that rare mix of catchiness, deathly serious gravity and radio-friendly runtime. "Lead a Normal Life" is a quiet, reflective piece about being caged in a rehabilitative center of some kind, and is more notable for its subtle ambiance than its compelling content. The album concludes with "Biko", and introduces a case where I have no idea how this song became a radio hit. That isn't an insult-the song is a touching tribute to anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and it's long, slow and thoughtful, just in the way that such subject matter should be handled. It simply lacks a "hook" to grab in the average listener. Still, anomaly that it is, it's certainly a welcome one.

Don't mistake this album for being a pop record-it isn't one. Don't mistake it for being a progressive rock record, either, however, as it isn't that either. It is one of the rare cases where the usually pretentious and unnecessary term "art rock" can be applied, a work that combines rock and roll with experimental electronica and instrumental influences from all across the globe to create an album that is designed to appeal to everyone from the most snobbish "high-culture" music aficionado to the most lackadaisical radio maven.Melt" is a classic no matter who you talk to, and no matter what kind of music you enjoy.



Miles Davis-A Tribute to Jack Johnson

1971; 30th Street Studio, New York, New York; Columbia/Legacy

A Tribute to Jack Johnson is not what you expect from a jazz album. It's not even what you expect from a jazz fusion album, the pieces of rock and roll and jazz refusing to intertwine as gracefully as a band such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra would demand. In spirit, and in tone, it may be closer to the blues than anything else. It's the day as it passes you by on the corner, it's beer and hot, trashy food from a local vendor, it's a sweaty, filthy old man lusting after some sweet young thing because he's got nothing to lose from pursuing his baser instincts. It's grimy, it's gritty, and most of all, it feels undoubtedly, indescribably real.

Right off the bat, you can plainly see that Miles, even if he was in his 40s when the album came out, understands the tone and ambition of unbridled youth. Remember, this music served as a tribute to a black man who would unapologetically destroy his white opponents in the ring and later sleep with their wives, back in an era where simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and having the wrong colored skin could put you on the end of a branch. Jack Johnson's brashness, fearlessness and pride are captured perfectly in the first song, "Right Off". John McLaughlin jams along with guitar riffs deep and crackly enough to make even John Lee Hooker do a double take. Miles' soloing is joyous but sharp-he's having a good time, but don't let that stop you from thinking he doesn't have something to prove. Billy Cobham doesn't get much opportunity to stretch his legs, but he keeps a thick, funky rhythm throughout, and if he isn't already, than Michael Henderson, young as he was at the time, deserves a spot next to Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham as one of the best funk bassists to have ever lived: His bass lines are as smooth as silk and heavy as stone. Herbie Hancock puts in an appearance during the last 10 minutes that sends off the first 2/3rds of the song before it ends with an electrifying guitar-centered jam, courtesy of John McLaughlin. While it stretches a bit long in places, "Right Off", with all its verve and boldness, is truly one of the finest jams ever recorded.

"Yesternow", while a bit less driving a bit more mellow, is no less powerful in its own right. If Henderson was great on the first track, than he's positively transcendent here-his bass lines build the foundation of the song, and stick out on their own as being chill but forceful, a combination many bassists would and will never accomplish. Cobham gets a bit more room to improvise, since the song structure is less demanding, and John McLaughlin's guitar gains a psychedelic, near Hendrix-like attitude that seeps in and around the music. Miles himself has a relatively wide berth from the song, but when he does play it's the same mix of unshakable calm and jagged bravado. One would think that a complete lineup change halfway through the song would spell catastrophe, but while it is jarring at first, it soon gains a funky, badass edge that's only befitting as a tribute for one of the funkiest badasses who ever lived. "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" ends the exact same way it began-with its finger on the trigger and a devilish smile spreading across its face.

This album is a rather singular entity in the musical landscape. No album before or since has mixed such technical complexity with such honest, streetwise intensity. It certainly isn't a perfect album-as I alluded to earlier, parts of it are too long and there's a frustrating lack of closure on the first track-but I'm going to go right ahead and call this "Essential" anyway, since this belongs in the collection of any jazz fan, any rock fan, hell, any MUSIC fan who'd like to take a walk on the wild side. "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" is as groovy as you can get without actually being George Clinton, and it sends a clear message to the musical world of the 1970s: "Are you listening? Because THIS is how it's done."

"I'm Jack Johnson -- heavyweight champion of the world! I'm black! They never let me forget it. I'm black all right; I'll never let THEM forget it."

Never do, Jack. You neither, Miles.



Styrofoam Boots' Decade List 2000-2009, Part 2

90. Yann Tiersen - Amélie Original Movie Soundtrack

Girls really, really like Amélie, for good reason. The movie is well written, funny, romantic, idyllic and fantastical; things like that, from my understanding, really, really appeal to the female demographic. However, their infatuation with the movie would not be remotely as powerful if it wasn’t for the soundtrack, which by itself conjures up the redeeming characteristics of the movie. Yann Tiersen utilizes influences stemming from traditional French music and classical, and re-contextualizes it for a modern audience by shortening the length of his compositions (when compared to romantic classical), using simpler, more accessible melodies, and the whimsical and immediately intriguing sounds of toy pianos and xylophones. The purpose of a soundtrack is to accommodate the movie it was made for, and it’s intent comes across perfectly— many of the merits of the movie are represented and remembered through the soundtrack, and although watching the movie sums up the entire Amelie experience, the soundtrack still stands on its own and is a pleasurable listening experience within itself. Even if you’re not a girl. -Adrian

89. Jesu- Silver

If you told me ten years ago that Justin Broadrick would be making pop music I would’ve laughed my ass off, but on Silver EP he makes a pretty compelling case for his own brand. Imagine the nihilistic assault of Godflesh wrapped up in a warm blanket of shoegazer fuzztone, the stark industrial doom softened by a healthy dose of autumnal gloom and gorgeous guitar drone soaked in delay. I wouldn’t exactly call Jesu happy, but there’s a definite lilt to the melancholic sound that keeps this uplifting. “Silver” and “Star” are the promise of Jesu’s concept finally realized. It’s too bad the full-lengths before and after this miss the mark by inches, losing out on some of the sepia tones and shades of grey that make this EP so damn good. -Stephen

88. The Young K

nives – Superabundance

While the Young Knives weren’t doing anything particularly di

fferent from other post punk revival groups like the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, it’s a shame that Superabundance never got noticed, because with this album they proved they could do them just as well. Nearly every song has an infectiously catchy hook and it’s almost impossible not to smile when listening to Henry Dartnall’s British, distinctly faux-upper class vocals. In fact, Superabundance may have been one of the year’s defining guitar albums: Simple, memorable and addictive hooks define nearly each and every song. If you missed it the first time around, pick it up-this one has “cult classic” written all over it. -CJ

87. Fantomas- Director’s Cut

I hope it’s not an insult to declare a pretty fucking amazing supergroup’s covers album to be the best thing they’ve ever done, because as good as their other records are Director’s Cut is the only one I would listen to every day without objection. Mike Patton, King Buzzo, Dave Lombardo and Trevor Dunn take classic film scores—some obscure, some not—and twist them into what they’d sound like if Carl Stalling was composing for Slayer. Shit yes. -Stephen

86. Thom Yorke - The Eraser

What distinguishes the good from the great in music is the ability to not only clearly convey the purposes of the music, but to make it to grow and evolve throughout its course. Although Thom Yorke is a genius for his stylistic songwriting, instrumentation and delivery, his constant advancement of sound without sacrificing any of these elements is the most impressive; Eraser is not a rehash of Radiohead songs, but an extension of Thom Yorke’s creative output. Eraser emphasizes the rhythm section and atmospherics of the album, and the songs are formulated sort of like dance tracks, with a central theme repeated throughout the 4-5 minute range that most of the tracks are in. Although accessible and interesting in its own right, Eraser could perhaps seem mundane to some listeners. Despite everything, all I’m really trying to say is that Pitchfork writers have some sort of mental deficiency by giving this album a 6.6 while giving bands like Wavves 8.1’s. Even as an average listener, Eraser has more than enough moments to justify listening to all nine songs. -Adrian

85. The Streets - Original Pirate Material

I'll be damned if I could properly explain the feeling I get when the digitally spliced up violins drones begin to play, over sharp but sparse beats, circling endlessly. When Mike Skinner comes in and tells you to walk away. When he spits poetry like Jarvis Cocker reborn as a computer hacker. When he argues for innovation, for cunning, for technology, for drugs and sex and bar fights and garage music. For a brief moment Skinner was the most intelligent, the most honest man behind a microphone in the world, and for a few songs he was even the funniest, and he's warning you not to fuck with him. -Stuart

84. The Melvins- A Senile Animal

Yeah we had to wait a while for this long-awaited and brilliant sequel to stone-cold Melvins classics Bullhead, Houdini and Stoner Witch, but don’t expect a tired retread either. Instead of yet another spontaneously combusting bassist (the last one was Kevin Rutmanis, for those keeping track) King Buzzo and Dale Crover simply absorbed equally heavy Pacific Northwest two-piece Big Business and released one of their most direct and satisfying albums yet. Bringing new elements like twin drummers and actual honest-to-God vocal harmonies to the table, (A) Senile Animal still revels in the tar bomb sludge riffing and off kilter yet rewarding song structures that only the mighty Buzzo can deliver. -Stephen

83. Frost – Milliontown

Thank Christ that someone, somewhere, figured out that modern prog does not necessarily need to have anything to do with metal. As it turns out that person was producer Jem Godfrey, a huge prog nut who just happened to be the same guy who produced albums for all-girl British pop group Atomic Kitten and even the Lizzie McGuire movie soundtrack. This sounds like the last person you’d want trying to make progressive rock, but it turns out to be a match made in heaven as Godfrey coats a catchy, poppy sheen across dauntingly composed, extremely complex prog songs. Featuring great lyrics (“My handiwork will hunt me down and masquerade as me”), wonderful piano playing, catchy alternative-meets-progressive rock hooks and a 26 minute closer that retains interest throughout, Frost created a prog album that’s one in a million…town.

Sorry. -CJ

82. King Crimson – The Power to Believe

King Crimson works with a philosophy that is in complete defiance of many other prog groups’ “It worked in the ‘70s, let’s hope to Christ it works now” strategies. One would never mistake The Power to Believe with The Court of the Crimson King, for indeed, King Crimson is a band that is never content to sit still. On their latest album, Krim deftly mixes math rock, industrial music and good old fashioned improvisation to make an album that has the classical somber grandeur that the band is known for, updated and refined for a modern listening audience. Indeed, the only place you’ll find prog comparably dark and challenging this decade is on an Opeth or Tool album. Here’s to 40 more years of King Crimson giving a good name to progressive rock. -CJ

81. Einsturzende Neubaten- Silence Is Sexy

It’s hard to pinpoint EN’s best album—after all, they’ve been around for close to thirty years now, and all their releases are at least listenable (well, depending on how much you like jackhammers…). But I can honestly say that Silence Is Sexy has gotten the most spins from me out of all of them. Usually “artistic maturity” is music nerd code for dull, but turning the volume knob down and adding more nuanced songwriting and rich melodies have done nothing to temper Blixa Bargeld and company’s high-art wanderings, and the relative absence of power tools clang makes English-language ballads like “Sabrina” and “Total Eclipse of The Sun” all the sweeter while still avoiding trite sentiment. But don’t worry, old-school fans will still find their fixes of noise in “Zampano,” “In Circles,” and “Redukt.” -Stephen