In a recent post, I shared the top 10 albums that I listen to most in my vinyl collection. This is something I track on Discogs — the total number of spins of every single record in my collection. Granted, that tracking system only goes back to about 2019 or so. Still, it got me thinking: what BANDS get played most?
Today, I’m answering that question.
But first, let’s go through the process of compiling the list.
Compiling the List of Top Played Bands
I exported my collection from Discogs into Google Sheets and ran a SUMIFS formula on band name and album spins, I did some filtering, and devised this list. While there is some overlap in artists, half of this list contains artists that weren’t on the video I did covering the 10 Albums I Listen to Most on Vinyl, including three of the top 5 AND the #1 artist too!
Furthermore, where my top played albums list included all 12-inch records, this one tallies up a lot plays from 7-inch singles as well.
For the artists that do overlap, I’ll be talking a little about some of the other albums — the ones that weren’t the most-played albums. And, as I go through this list, if any of the records I share stand out and you’d like me to dig into them a little more with a review or unboxing, let me know down in the comments.
Let’s get started.
10 | Voxtrot
Voxtrot is one of the bands that wasn’t on my most-listened to albums list, but I’m sure that will change eventually. Especially now that they’ve released Early Music, which houses their first two EPs.
The band officially reunited in 2022 after an extended hiatus, briefly toured, and gave us Early Music and Cut From the Stone (pictured above), the latter of which is a compilation of rarities and b-sides from their assorted 7-inch singles.
I’ve been a fan of Voxtrot since the moment I got my hands on a radio station promo of their debut EP Raised By Wolves way back in 2006. The title track and “The Start of Something” from that EP have been favorites ever since!
Like a handful of my favorite bands, I became a bit of a completist when it comes to Voxtrot’s released works on vinyl. They only had a lone full-length album, which came out in 2007, but they released quite a few singles — almost hitting double digits.
These singles are what propelled Voxtrot’s super infectious jangly indie pop into the top 10.
9 | Woods
Their sound has morphed a bit over the years. In my top albums list, I noted that Bend Beyond saw the band injecting more rock into their original lo-fi psychedelic folk sound. This continued to a greater extent with their 2014 album With Light And With Love (pictured above).
Then, in 2016, they gave us City Sun Eater in the River of Light — that’s a mouthful. Here they added more horns and woodwind instruments, and the result was shockingly good with hints of a 1970s style jazz fused with funk.
Love is Love from 2017 mellowed out a bit, and that trend continued with Strange to Explain in 2020.
Woods has a new album coming out this fall and you can rest assured I’ll be getting my hands on that as soon as it’s out!
8 | Saint Etienne
I’ve covered a few Saint Etienne albums here an on my YouTube Channel, and I was kind of surprised to see them hit the list as there isn’t any specific album, single, or compilation in my collection that even really comes close to the top 10 in terms of total spins. But, like Voxtrot, because I have so many items in my collection, it is solidly cemented in at number 8.
In my Haul Video from a trip to a record store in Fort Worth back in June, I shared that I finally found a copy of Tales from the Turnpike House. Released in 2005, this has some really solid tracks like “A Good Thing” and “Stars Above Us.” Turnpike is a totally solid record, and it really embodied that downtempo style of dance pop that Saint Etienne is kinda known for.
Higher up on the spin count would be their 2012 album Words And Music By Saint Etienne. I’m not really sure why this one has more spins than others, as no specific song stands out to me. But overall, it’s a very nice and cohesive record. That might be the reason.
And, to no surprise, there’s my original 1991 pressing of Foxbase Alpha. I don’t know exactly when I picked it up, but I do know it was likely the early 2000s, and I snagged it for a cool $8. For an original UK pressing, that’s a pretty damn good deal and it’s worth quite a bit more than that these days!
One standout track from Foxbase Alpha is “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” which is actually a cover of a Neil Young song.
Pictured above is the 25th Anniversary pressing of Good Humor, which I covered within the past year.
7 | Built to Spill
I’m really not surprised to see Built to Spill on this list. Of all the bands featured here and on the Top Albums list, this one has been a favorite the longest.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I discovered them upon the release of their 1996 album Perfect From Now On. Of course, if you’ve watched other videos on my YouTube Channel, you may have seen that their 1999 album Keep it Like a Secret was my first ever brand new vinyl purchase, or that last year’s When the Wind Forgets Your Name (pictured) was in the top 3 albums of 2022 for me.
Aside from a handful of oddball releases like the one of Daniel Johnston covers and the long out of print Live record, the only one I’m missing in my collection is their debut.
I just love the quirky nature of Doug Martsch’s vocals, and how surprisingly evocative and emotive his lyrics can be. They have a shocking depth to them that isn’t always apparent on first listening to Built to Spill.
6 | Big Thief
For a band I really didn’t pay attention to until late 2019 and early 2020, Big Thief has come to dominate. Capacity, Two Hands and last year’s Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe in You all frequent my turntable. Their ability to flirt with lots of different styles and do so in a way that is so cohesively THEM is one trait that really sets Bit Thief apart.
Dragon New Warm Mountain was actually my #1 album of 2022, and I likened this double album to other double albums like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins and The White Album by The Beatles in how it kind of presents ground-breaking territory for the band.
It doesn’t necessarily have heavier indie-rock-infused tracks like “Not” from Two Hands or “Shark Smile” from Capacity, but it has a lot of other styles including the familiar indie folk you occasionally get form the band dating back to their 2016 debut Masterpiece.
“Mythological Beauty” is off Big Thief’s sophomore album Capacity.
5 | Blonde Redhead
This really is a list of my long-time favorites. I talked a little bit about 23 and Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons from indie and art-rock band Blonde Redhead in my top albums list. I’ll going to step down the list to the next most-played one from my collection: Misery is a Butterfly.
This one is fascinating because it comes with a terrifying backstory. Lead singer Kazu Makino spends a great deal of her time and energy reflecting on the experience and aftermath of an accident where she was trampled by a horse. This left her hospitalized, bedridden, and — most likely — quite traumatized. In fact, I believe there was question as to whether she’d even speak again after the accident.
The music video for “Equus” visually recount’s much of this experience:
It was here on Misery is a Butterfly that the band began to move away from the earlier experimental-ish art rock of their first five albums and into a dreamier sound that has, to some extent, continued to this day.
Like Woods from earlier on this list, Blonde Redhead is set to release a new album this year. It’ll be their first in a whopping 9 years! The album is called Sit Down For Dinner and I’ve preordered it from Levitation Records and am super excited about that pressing as it’s on this interesting Strawberry Parfait Splatter wax that calls out the cover art. I think there are still copies available too!
From what I’ve heard so far, the album — kinda like their last, Barragain, from 2014 — blends both that dreamy sound from their mid-era and some of the art-rock elements they embodied in the 1990s.
Alright, I’m hitting the top 4, meaning three of the upcoming artists weren’t on my Top Albums list. Ready?
4 | David Bowie
David Bowie actually tied with Blonde Redhead for spins. I think part of the reason Bowie is so high is due to the size of my Bowie collection. Between LPs and 7-inch singles, I have a whopping 30 items in my collection. At the top is The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust followed closely by Space Oddity.
If you were to ask what my favorites were, I’d probably say the first two from his Berlin Trilogy — which would be Low and Heroes, both from 1977.
I’m also not counting The Idiot here, which was a big collaboration between Iggy Pop and David Bowie with Iggy writing most of the lyrics and Bowie composing much of the music. It’s dubbed as a studio album by Iggy Pop, though, hence its exclusion.
I do have this interesting bootleg called Iggy Vs. Ziggy though, which features both nude on the cover and contains a live performance in Seattle from 1977 featuring a very interesting blend of songs dating back to the debut album by The Stooges.
3 | The Smiths
Say what you want about Morrissey, but I can’t deny how much I love the music of The Smiths. If I were to include Morrissey’s solo stuff, this would be #2 on the list, but I’m not so it’s sits comfortably at #3.
One of the reasons The Smiths is so high is, like Voxtrot, due to the fact that I have quite the sizable collection of singles. Here, they’re 12-inches, and many of them have had quite a few spins, including the 12-inch for “How Soon is Now.”
I also listened to The Smiths quite a bit earlier this year after Andy Rourke passed away. Rourke was the bassist for The Smiths, and at the time, I put together a list of my top 10 bass lines from songs by The Smiths. I definitely recommend checking that one out.
Personally, I think my favorite album will always be The Queen is Dead. Just all around solid with tracks like “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and “Never Had No One Ever.”
2 | Kevin Morby
Kevin Morby comes in at a solid #2 on my list of most-played artists on vinyl. I’ve been obsessed with Morby’s music since about 2019 when he released Oh My God. And, he’s been featured on this list before — he was in Woods up through Bend Beyond. Before falling in love with Morby’s solo work, I was also quite a big fan of his band The Babies with Cassie Ramone from Vivian Girls.
These days, Morby just dominates my turntable. And it’s not any album in particular, really, I listen to it all quite a bit. You’ve got City Music and last year’s This is a Photograph. There’s Sundowner, which topped my Top Albums list. I mean, I just spun Singing Saw a day or two ago!
Coming up this fall is More Photographs which is a continuum of last year’s album. That release is out now, though it won’t be on vinyl for a few more months. And yes, I do have that on preorder as well.
1 | Belle And Sebastian (123)
Finally, in at #1 is probably my all-time favorite band. It’s Belle And Sebastian. What Jack Black’s character Barry calls “Sad Bastard” music in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity from 2000. I’ve loved Belle And Sebastian since probably the late 90s or early 2000s, and no single album really stands out for me. MOST by them are good.
And, after a few I would consider not the greatest — essentially, anything released between 2010 and 2020 — the band returned in the past two years with two new albums that I feel really saw them return to form a bit.
There’s A Bit of Previous from 2022 and Late Developers from January 2023.
But my favorites remain the early work: Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister from 1996, Dear Catastrophe Waitress from 2003, and The Life Pursuit from 2006. These records will always be regulars in my collection.
What’s On Your List?
That rounds out the list. Do you track spins by album in your collection? I’d love to know — please let me know I’m not the only one, and if you do, what are the top bands on your list?