If you’ve not been keeping up with our countdown of the greatest albums Clash has heard since its founding in 2004, use the links below to see what records we’ve been most moved by. Here, we begin our top 10 – and words on these amazing collections come from a variety of guest contributors.
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Frank Ocean – ‘channel ORANGE’
(Def Jam, 2012)
Advocated by BadBadNotGood:
“The first time I heard ‘channel ORANGE’ I knew right away it would be one of my favourite albums, not only of 2012 but of the last decade. The vast leap that its material took from (2011 mixtape) ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ is staggering. While ‘Nostalgia…’ is a brilliant mixtape by a talented singer and songwriter, ‘channel…’ is a composed and cohesive body of work that instantly established Frank as one of the best new artists of our time.
“Each song is unique but flows effortlessly into the next, tying together his masterful vocals on top of a beautiful genre-bending soundscape of pop/soul/R&B/hip-hop and more. When you reach the end of the record, it’s like reaching the end of a novel that’s so meaningful and powerful you don’t fully understand it. Upon each listen, the cryptic lyrics reveal something new, and give a little more insight into the enigmatic voice that is Frank Ocean.
“His influence became rapidly undeniable. As new records were released, it was obvious that his contemporaries had studied his work. The way he pronounces words, hits vocal runs and the subtle depth of his lyrics all started being apparent in modern music. These Ocean-isms were being used by everyone, consciously or not, from up-and-coming artists to heavyweights like Drake and Kanye West. ‘channel Orange’ is a true classic.”
‘Thinkin Bout You’
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M.I.A. – ‘Kala’
Advocated by Afrikan Boy (AKA Olushola Ajose, collaborator on ‘Hussel’):
“As a 16-year-old British-born Nigerian growing up on a steady diet of grime as my staple genre of music, M.I.A. and her sound was totally foreign to me, but I liked the vibe coming from her MySpace page. I felt I could relate because she’s talking about representing children in Africa and how cool we were, even though they called us ‘Third World’.
“I always wondered why M.I.A. wanted to work with a boy who made a track about shoplifting in German discount supermarket chain Lidl and issues on immigration, but after hearing the rest of the album I quickly came to realise the vision she probably saw for our collaboration, ‘Hussle’.
“‘Kala’ is a unique album that fuses sounds from all over ‘World Town’ into one creative sonic experience. I remember Maya telling me she once had to record in a toilet in Angola, and she was the first to introduce me to kuduro music. She travelled and collected her experiences through samples and sounds. The beauty of ‘Kala’ was its undoubted ability to translate extremely well at live shows.
“‘Kala’ reminds me that it’s okay to make music your friends might not necessarily understand as there is a whole world out there waiting to lose their minds to it.”
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Animal Collective – ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’
Advocated by Dave Bayley, Glass Animals:
“The best records take you somewhere. They give you a little holiday, away from reality, away from sitting on a bus or cleaning your bedroom. Pink Floyd took you to the psychedelic corners of space with ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’. Kendrick Lamar takes you around Compton in his mum’s Chrysler TC with ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’. In ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’, Animal Collective suspend you in a 16-bit wilderness and drip-feed you LSD.
“From the first listen, the crazy, hyper-sampled production is a big progression from what’s come before, but still very identifiably Animal Collective’s idiosyncratic super-fusion of computerised and live instrumentation. It perfectly balances the familiar and the bizarre.
“There’s such depth here. So many details, and so many layers, and all of those layers are constantly pulsating and swirling and gurning. The best example is the arpeggiating synth in ‘My Girls’, nicked from Frankie Knuckles. It never sits still. The delay fades and morphs, constantly panning from ear to ear, and it’s relentlessly tweaked with some kind of wiggly filter.
“All the sounds on this record have this kind of movement and life. Everything is humanised. Nothing feels sterile, soulless, or synthetic like many electronic records do. Then, peel the strange noises away. At the core of it all is a batch of confident, brilliantly written, brilliantly touching pop songs holding everything together and making this album truly iconic.”
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