I am seeing people in the YouTube Vinyl Community posting videos where they share the 10 albums they listen to most from their record collection, and as spins is something I actually track through a custom field I added into my Discogs Collection, I figured I’d throw my list together as well.
If you’ve been following FensePost for a while you may know that every December, I compile a few lists:
- There’s the “Best Of” list which features my selection for the top albums released that year — it’s always brand new albums, not reissues.
- I also do a countdown of my most played artists on Spotify after they share the annual Spotify Wrapped.
- And I recount my most played vinyl records of the year as tracked on Discogs by yours truly, usually containing albums NOT first released in the year I’m compiling the list (current year reissues are permitted in this one).
So, if you want to check out those in a few months, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list below and (or) subscribe to my YouTube Channel. They’ll be dropping in a few months.
This list, however, is different. It’s the ones I have listened to most over the years. These are heavy rotations that span greater amounts of time, often dating back many, many years.
I do hope to update this on an annual basis or so as well, and a second caveat is that I will only feature an artist once on this list, though a handful of them show up with a few albums.
Let’s start with #10:
10 | Lesser Matters by The Radio Dept.
Kicking off this list at #10 is The Radio Dept. and their debut album Lesser Matters. This was released in 2003 (and recently graced my top 20 albums turning 20 in 2023 countdown) and it was kind of at the forefront of the shoegaze resurgence that took place in the mid 2000s with super dreamy melodies and plenty of hazy, fuzzed-out guitars.
“Where Damage Isn’t Already Done” and “1995” are favorites of mine — especially the former.
The album also has some other pretty great tracks like “Why Won’t You Talk About it,” “Against the Tide,” and “Your Father.”
A few years later, in 2006, The Radio Dept. would release Pet Grief. That album didn’t hold the power of this one, but Clinging to a Scheme from 2010 came mighty close and Running Out of Love from 2016 — for me at least — matched the greatness of Lesser Matters.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Running Out of Love eventually overtakes this one in terms of spins. It’s not all too far off as of right now…
9 | Perfect From Now On by Built to Spill
In at #9, Perfect From Now On is the third album by Boise, Idaho band Built to Spill and it was the one that introduced me to the band. Back when it was released in 1997, I’d frequent CD shops and just pick up whatever seemed intriguing. I can’t remember if I had heard a song on the alt-rock radio station in Portland or if the cover art just looked interesting to me, but I ended up bringing this home on CD.
Along with albums like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins, I consider Perfect From Now On one of those true formative albums for me that got me obsessed with discovering new music.
It’s THE album I listen to most from those early to mid high school days. “Randy Described Eternity,” “I Would Hurt a Fly,” “Stop the Show” — so so good — and rounding it out with “Kicked it in the Sun” and “Untrustable / Part 2 (About Someone Else)” — I just love this album so much.
It’s different than a lot of the stuff from Built to Spill. The guitars seemed more spacial and seemed to swirl a bit more than they did before or after. It was indie rock, sure, but it flirted with these dreamy sensibilities you got in the post shoegaze days.
Built to Spill has become one of my most-listened-to bands, and last year’s When the Wind Forgets Your Name has been on pretty constant rotation since its release. It’ll be interesting to see if it ultimately enters the top 10 here soon. And, it’ll be interesting to see if Built to Spill ends up on my Spotify Wrapped list for 2023 come December…
8 | Transatlanticism by Death Cab For Cutie
I remember first hearing Death Cab For Cutie on summer break from college my first year home. It was probably July or August and my high school friend Pat was back from Western Washington University up in Bellingham. I had returned to Vancouver, Washington from Pullman, and we were hanging out in loft-style bedroom at his parents house talking music.
He pulled out We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, Death Cab’s 2000 album which had come out earlier that spring. I was an instant fan and that album was on constant repeat for months thereafter.
I ended up getting an original pressing of The Photo Album when it came out the next year, 2001. But, it wasn’t until the 10th Anniversary pressing that I got my hands on Transatlanticism. That was around 2013 — the actual 10th anniversary — or the following year.
While I love both We Have the Facts and The Photo Album, there was something magical and different about Transatlanticism.
Everything from the lengthy title track to how some of the other songs were crafted. I absolutely LOVE “Expo ’86” as I actually attended that in Vancouver BC in 1986. “We Looked Like Giants” is one of my all-time favorite Death Cab songs.
And, of course, this tends to be the first album I pull out and spin on January 1 every year thanks to the opening track “The New Year.” Early Death Cab for Cutie is great, newer stuff is — meh, it’s OK — but Transatlanticism is where I think they were at their ultimate peak.
7 | Crushing by Julia Jacklin
It’s funny — Julia Jacklin‘s debut Don’t Let the Kids Win didn’t do all too much for me, but hearing Crushing — and, in particular, the songs “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You” and “Body” sucked me in and absolutely dominated my playlist in 2020.
Last year’s Pre-Pleasure was pretty solid as well, though I’m still waiting for that one to fully sink in.
If you’re not familiar with her, Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer-songwriter. If you’re a fan of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Sharon Van Etten — you get the picture — if you like those artists, you’ll probably dig Jacklin.
6 | Bend Beyond by Woods
Bend Beyond is the 2012 album by Neo-psychedelic folk band Woods, and it’s what cemented them as a true favorite of mine. It saw them in their transition phase, post the lo-fi psych-folk of their early days that kind of found its culmination with At Echo Lake in 2010.
Bend Beyond definitively saw them adding in more rock traits with bigger, louder, and more pronounced sounds. They dipped their toes into some pretty solid guitar solos around this time on tracks like opener and title track “Bend Beyond,” the solid “Size Meets the Sound,” and my favorite, “Find Them Empty.”
Production value was also heightened here, which I think contributed significantly to Bend Beyond‘s ability to jump around to a number of different sounds. There’s the heavier more psych-rock-influenced ones I mentioned before paired together with the pop-centric “Cali in a Cup” and the pared back and stripped down emotive psych-folk of “It Ain’t Easy” and closer “Something Surreal.”
This is one of those albums I never seem to get tired of and usually finds its way into the lower end of my most-spun records of the year.
5 | Two Hands by Big Thief
I didn’t give Big Thief their due credit for years. It wasn’t until driving out to Texas in early 2020 during my move from Washington that the band really struck home. I spent the subsequent three years devouring their entire catalog.
Thanks to the song “Not,” Two Hands shot up the list to just enter the top 5.
However, I do own two copies of Capacity and spins combined that would probably top the list. Furthermore, my #1 pick from last year is quickly catching up as well. That album is called Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe In You and it’s a masterfully crafted double LP.
To this day, “Not” remains my favorite Big Thief track among dozens of favorites. I got to see them earlier this year when they came to Dallas and despite guitarist Buck Meek having issues with his monitor, they put on a stunning performance!
4 | Lost Wisdom by Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron & Fred Squire
There’s this dualistic nature to the music Phil Elverum creates, both as his prior band Microphones and Mount Eerie. On one hand you have experimental noisy post rock and on the other the stripped-down, minimalist acoustic records like this one: Lost Wisdom.
Here, Elverum is joined by Julie Doiron and Fred Squire, and while I’m a big fan of the noisy side of Mount Eerie, the harmonic and emotive nature of this record is hauntingly beautiful.
“Lost Wisdom” is probably my favorite track by Mount Eerie, and this album is packed with other favorites. “Voice in Headphones,” “You Swan, Go On,” “O My Heart” — I love this album cover to cover.
And speaking of: the sleeve on this particular pressing is a 24×36 inch doubled sided fold out poster. My copy is on light blue marble vinyl whereas later copies came pressed on clear wax.
I think this would be one of those desert island picks for me…
3 | Hey What by Low
The first Low album I ever purchased was the 2007 LP Drums And Guns, and honestly it’s probably my least favorite of the Low albums in my collection. I’ve amassed a handful now dating back to 1999s Secret Name and up through the band’s final LP in 2021 HEY WHAT.
Picking up 2004’s The Great Destroyer is probably what made me a true fan of the band thanks to songs like “Monkey” and “Pissing,” but HEY WHAT is the one that truly blew my mind.
This is a record I revisit over and over, giving it a fresh spin or two every few months. Not only do you have some truly phenomenal tracks like “More,” “White Horses,” “Disappearing,” and “Days Like These” to name a few, the production value on this record is what really drove its greatness home.
Low’s music is soft and melodic — the husband and wife duo of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Rogers created this ambient post rock sound that blended in experimental noise on Hey What through that added production I just mentioned.
Ultimately those things would drive Hey What and Low to the pinnacle of my year-end list in 2021, making it my #1 album of the year.
My copy is the LOSER edition on clear wax. You can find used copies on Discogs for under $20, or you can snag a black vinyl pressing from your favorite online retailer.
2 | 23 by Blonde Redhead
I’m only really covering one album per band on this list, but highlighting a few others that get heavy rotation as well. Enter the trio Blonde Redhead, who are set to release their first album in 9 years this coming fall — stay tuned for that!
23 is the record they released in 2007, and it tops spins for the band, though Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons is up there a ways as well. 23 saw the band leave behind much of their art rock noise-tinged indie rock from their earlier albums like Certain Damaged Lemons from 2000 and everything they released in the 1990s.
You got hints of this remade sound on 2004’s Misery is a Butterfly, but it wasn’t as cohesive or all-encompassing as you’d get with 23. Here, the band dips their toes into pioneering the shoegaze resurgence.
23 is dreamy, mystical, and an album I really struggle to find a weak point on.
It’s probably my favorite album from 2007.
1 | Sundowner by Kevin Morby
I think the first Kevin Morby album I picked up with his 4th LP, City Music, from 2017. I stumbled upon the Vinyl Me, Please pressing of album at my local record store back in WA. It took me a while to get into it.
In fact, it wasn’t until he released Oh My God in 2019 that things clicked. “No Halo” off that record remains one of my favorite songs by Morby to this day. And, after the release of Oh My God, I went and grabbed up copies of all his other albums.
Then he released Sundowner in 2020. That was the year I became a Kevin Morby super fan. This album, in conjunction with what we were all experiencing with the pandemic, just resonated so deeply with me. I had just moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas and didn’t know anyone.
Paired with the isolation of the pandemic and the reflective, solitary nature of so much of Morby’s music. I would throw this on as I headed out on the trails here on my bike, disappearing into a world all my own. It’s what brought me comfort and companionship my first year here.
That year, this album also skyrocketed up this list to be my #1 spun album of all time. A spot it holds to this day.
That’s the list! I’m honored you stuck with me this long, and wanted to share that in an upcoming video and post, I’m going to share the top 10 BANDS I listen to on vinyl. I exported my collection into an excel sheet and ran a SUMIFS formula on band name and album spins to get the official numbers.
While there is some overlap in artists, about half the list contains artists that weren’t on this one, including 2 out of the top 3! So do subscribe to my email list below and subscribe on YouTube as well (hit the bell so you’ll be notified when that goes up).