1. Jamila Woods – Legacy! Legacy!
I have had this record on repeat for almost a year now. Masterful song writing and performances. Her lyrics are powerful, poignant, inspirational, introspective and her vocal style is packed with soul. Each track is unique and each pays respect to an important historical figure in black music, film, art and literary culture.
2. Marvin Gaye – What’s going on?
This is probably my all-time favorite record. A brilliant “protest” record filled with despair, reverence and hope from a “pop” artist who put his career on the line to say something meaningful through music.
3. St Germain – Boulevard
I am a big fan Ludovic Navarre’s other projects, but St Germain is by far my favorite. His fusion of live instruments, samples, vocals and deep, genre bending, hypnotic programming were transformative at the time and still stand up today.
4. The Orb – Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
A genre defying blend of everything I loved about music at the time that still ranks at the very top of the greatest albums ever produced. Every song stands on its own but as a cohesive album, it’s an unmatched musical journey.
5. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome
When this album came out, its impact was not initially apparent to me. With “Frankie Say” shirts everywhere, the hype was inescapable and a big turn off at the time. It wasn’t until I heard it on a quality stereo a couple of years later that I understood what the “hype” was about. This Trevor Horn produced masterpiece is still the first record I reach for when testing out a new sound system.
6. Yello – One Second
I first heard Yello in the early 80s and it changed the musical trajectory of my life. This is their masterpiece and one of the albums that sparked my “audiophile” pursuits in my teens. It was around this time that I realized that some records can only be fully appreciated on sound systems capable of presenting the content the way the artist intended.
7. Pink Floyd – Animals
If you asked me what my favorite Floyd album is, I am not sure I would pick Animals, but this seems to be the one that gets played from beginning to end more often than any other. Masterclass songwriting, musicianship and searing social commentary still as relevant today, if not more so, than when it was released over 40 years ago.
8. Raveena – Shanti
Another record that has been on repeat since I got it. A perfect blend of modern pop sensibility and vintage tone, songwriting and production. Every song on this record would be equally at home on your Spotify feed or a 1970s AM radio soul/easy listening station.
9. Kraftwerk – Minimum/Maximum
Instead of trying to pick one Kraftwerk LP, this covers most of my favorites and then some. While technically a “live” album, the production and engineering are reference quality and the unique versions provided here make it worth buying even if you already have the rest of their catalog.
10. Daft Punk – RAM
I know this is a polarizing choice but I honestly can’t think of a finer record produced in the last 20 years. I appreciate most everything they’ve done but it seems to me that RAM is the record they always wanted to make, they just had to level up a few times before they could make it happen.
Midnight Music Club – Premisession (inc. Private Guy remix) (Kajunga)
Minneapolis label Kajunga welcomes local mainstay Craig Lambert aka DJ Focus aka Midnight Music Club for an EP that pays homage to his home scene and includes a remix from label co-founder Private Guy. Midnight Music Club has been collecting records for over 40 years, sharing them passionately for nearly 30 and studying music production for 20. This live artist’s timeless yet distinctly old school sound is reminiscent of early Chicago and Detroit pioneers, with a blend of deep house and techno that is uniquely his own. He has released on Chicago’s Descendants of the Deep label, as well as Headphoniq and his own self titled outlet. His ‘Premisession’ EP is an ode to the pivotal but now defunct Minneapolis warehouse venue Premises, which he himself founded and which hosted Kajunga’s first-ever all-night party. The EP showcases MMC’s hardware fluency right from the off: the fantastic ‘Calling Card’ creates a welcome invitation to the record with sensual synth lines paired with the drive of undulating tom rhythms that echoes the best of US house music. The sensuous ‘A New Day’ evokes the feeling of a deep acid soiree with rich emotion and improvisational elegance resonating throughout the track. The warm, meditative ‘Five A.M.’ starts with a spring-time air before blooming into a Sunday morning daydream that you won’t want to break. Remixer Private Guy is a purveyor of all things deep and seals the deal by providing a more moody take on ‘A New Day,’ with melodies weaving through playful percussion to great effect.