Critic and producer Sean Newgent offers a selection of his all-time favorite records; the music he has on loop on his turntable and Spotify.
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Choosing a favorite Bowie album is an impossibility and entirely depends on my mood. The three I always come back to, gravitating towards whatever my mood, are “Station to Station”, “Low” and 1972’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. simplest and most iconic I could have chosen, but one of the most popular rock records of all time for a reason. Opening with the utterly gorgeous “Five Years” and continuing through a rock opera of androgynous messianic proportions with staples like “Ziggy Stardust” and “Starman,” this concept album has no lull in quality. , constantly surprising with beautiful, catchy and ultimately unforgettable songs. Before, Ziggy Bowie had some big moments, but that’s where Bowie’s superstardom skyrocketed and he embarked on one of the greatest decades of musical production of any artist.
Kate Bush – Love Dogs (1985)
My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (2006)
Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense (1984)
Generally considered one of the best concert films of all time, “Stop Making Sense” can be seen as a movie or heard exclusively via audio and still be an absolute delight. While David Byrne’s quirky costumes, lead singer’s dancing and electricity with his band make for a great viewing experience, it’s the songs at the end that make “Stop Making Sense” so entertaining. Giving a compilation of Talking Heads greatest hits, from Psycho Killer to Once in a Lifetime and Life During Wartime, each performance is arguably better than the studio version. Especially the song above, Burning Down the House, a radio darling that is made so much better by the faster, jubilant performance.
Weezer – The Blue Album (1994)
Blur – 13 (1999)
Thundercat – It Is What It Is (2020)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Much like choosing a favorite Bowie album, choosing a favorite Pink Floyd album is like choosing a favorite child. We all have one, but we don’t know which one. I confess that my favorite album is 1975’s “Wish You Were Here”. With the relaxing “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, and a cream filling that includes the dark and chaotic “Welcome to the Machine” and “Have a Cigar” (both critical of the music industry) and the melancholy “Wish You Were Here” (an ode to Syd Barrett, a founding band member who struggled with mental health issues), the album is thematically more cohesive than the most popular “Dark Side of the Moon” (not so much musically), and shares the Floyd albums top spot with “Meddle” for me.
AJJ – Knifeman (2011)
Miles Davis – Some Kind of Blue (1959)
The Clash – London Calling (1979)
The Comet is Coming – Trust the Life Force of Deep Mystery (2019)
What would jazz sound like if it was processed through a cosmic filter and then played in the descending elevator in your miasmic nightmares? Maybe like the music played by The Comet is Coming. “Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery” oscillates between soothing new wave jazz and chaotic and powerful moments. There are only three people in this group and they create more complex and interesting music than full orchestras. Check out the “Tiny Desk Concert” above to see just how talented these guys are.
Between the buried and me – Colors II (2021)
Unitopia – Artificial (2010)
Television – Marquee Moon (1977)
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
While King Crimson’s “Lizard” might be the most interesting album, “In the Court of the Crimson King” is the one I will keep coming back to, even though it has a long lull in the latter half of its track on longer, “Moonchild”. Opening with “21st Century Schizoid Man,” famously sampled by Kanye West, and ending with “The Court of the Crimson King,” the album manages a number of emotions across its five tracks. “Schizoid Man” is erratic, wild. My favorite track on the record, “Epitaph”, is more of a ballad and lasts a wonderful nine minutes. And “The Court of the Crimson King” plays in a rock opera motif that would only become more popular in the decade to come.
The Cure – Disintegration (1989)
Otis Redding – The Dock of the Bay (1968)
Tatsuro Yamashita – Ride on Time (1980)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Omnium Gatherum (2022)
Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005)
A love letter to the state I grew up in, Illinois is also one of those indie rock albums that all the music snobs in college definitely fell in love with. Stevens’ album is melancholy, using the piano and his dark voice to give a romantic and haunting view of the state. Yet it also offers jubilant and thrilling tunes that celebrate the history and sights of Lincoln Country. “Come on Feel the Illinoise” dreams of the Colombian exhibition, followed immediately by the unforgettable “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”.
And in my best behavior, I’m really like him,
Look under the floor for the secrets I’ve hidden.
Powerful lyrics like this are reminiscent of how a band like Neutral Milk Hotel could turn tragedy into some kind of beautiful song in their “In The Airplane Over the Sea.” No matter where you’re from, this road trip through Illinois is one of music’s best attempts to capture the multifaceted nature of any place we care about.
Sean Newgent is a producer for KGUN 9. Sean has been with KGUN since January 2020 and produces newsletters. Sean graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. While at ISU, Sean wrote film reviews for the newspaper, anchored and produced student newscasts, and was nominated for a student Emmy for broadcast film reviews. He has also written a number of anime reviews, as well as film, television, video game, comic book, and book reviews. In his spare time, he is a voracious history reader and writes weird horror short stories. Share your story ideas and important issues with Sean via email [email protected] or by connecting to Twitter.