6. The Beatles - Help! vs. 2. Raekwon - Only Built For Cuban Linx… Pt II
Raekwon is getting a beating here like there is no tomorrow. Of course, The Beatles are always a dangerous opponent, but in his way Raekwon out-Beatles the Fab Four themselves here. Usually it is or Liverpudlian group that makes the most varies album; that's part of their virtue. Not really so with Help!. It's still a very good album, by any measure, but hardly it contains no surprises in the way their best albums do.
Now, Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt II is an epic in any sense of the word. It's got great variety. Musical depth and lyrical power to spare. Better even, despite YouTube breaking the continues flow the album goes for you can still easily experience how well everything fits together here. No mean feat considering how much Raekwon is balancing here. I haven't heard Part I actually, but still I can't help but being deeply impressed with Part II.
5. Wishbone Ash - Argus vs. 1. The Red Crayola - The Parable of Arable Land
Argus is a very good prog rock album, of the kind that easily appeals to people who wouldn't normally touch the genre with a ten foot pole. That's because it never gets too weird and normal instruments are used. If this sounds like back-handed praise, it isn't. I like Argus. Especially the second half got great songs.
But The Parable of Arable Land belongs to that ever-fun group of truly weird albums who, if they are not by any member of Animal Collective, I tend to love. The Red Crayola debut is no exception. It's seriously insane and I love every minute of it.
8. Nic Jones - Penguin Eggs vs. 3. Fennesz - Becs
Penguin Eggs was a disappointment. I thought I would love it, but it felt like a sub-standard folk album. Well-played and sung perhaps, but with little that makes it truly stand out.
Becs is gorgeous. One of the warmest electronic albums I have heard. Should be heard by anyone who claims the genre is cold.
7. Thrice - Major/Minor vs. 4. Barbara - Barbara chante Barbara
I long thought that the chanson was not for me, but a couple of artists have proven otherwise to me. Barbara chante Barbara is a good example. It's a very good, cool mood piece, sung with a great voice.
Major/Minor was a pleasant surprise too. Not a unique album in any sense, but it's rock played very well, with a couple of truly memorable song and perhaps one genre masterwork in Promises. I really didn't expect to like it as much as I did.