I find lists very interesting, but ranking things is such a subjective sort of process. Take for instance, Rolling Stone's recent "The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time." Now it's a given that black people sing better than white people, and that 7 of the top 10 are African-American is a testament to this. But Bob Dylan is ranked the seventh greatest singer of all time, behind only Elvis Presley and John Lennon as far as honkies. That means Bob Dylan is the third best white singer ever. If you're a white person, how does that make you feel? If you're anybody, how do you feel that Otis Redding is right behind him?
I also find it intriguing when people don't number their lists in any order, but rather, make the list a collective of things to do... or else. There's a whole series of 1001 Things to Do Before You Die, including albums to hear, buildings to see, foods you must taste, etc. I like this sort of idea better, but there are usually so many painfully obvious choices on these lists that over half seem a waste. Of course you have to hear Exodus and see the Parthenon.
Because I love lists, but find problems with both types' shortcomings, I have decided to make my own list, which may be the first of a series, or not, depending upon response. The list? "50 Albums You Didn't Hear Before You Were Brutally Raped & Murdered." This list represents fifty albums that for one reason or another, you probably haven't heard yet, but should. If you have heard some of these (or even most of these, which seems unlikely), just feel good about yourself. There aren't any painfully obvious choices on this list. If they seem obvious, it's probably because you've been hanging around me. Why the vulgar result? "Before you die" seems so far off and dismissible. Plus, this list is a full 951 items less than those others, so there's no reason in today's instant access world why you shouldn't be able to hear these albums within 3 years, the national average waiting period for rape-death.
I'm gonna do them in order of album name in groups of ten. Without further chit-chat...
50 Albums You Didn't Hear Before You Were Brutally Raped & Murdered
Why You Didn't Hear It: You had DVR and fast-forwarded right past the Esurance commercial featuring "Lucky Today."
Why You Should've: The album came out years before the commercial, and the songs artfully deal with the unexpected death of lead singer Craig Minowa's two year-old son.
2. Nathan Johnson & the Cinematic Underground - Annasthesia
Why You Didn't Hear It: You didn't see Brick, so you were never exposed to Johnson and company.
Why You Should've: It's a modern-day concept album that sounds like Radiohead plus bicycle parts.
Why You Didn't Hear It: You didn't know the guy from Jimmie's Chicken Shack had another band.
Why You Should've: Acoustic-based jam-rock shows a softer side of Jimi Haha, and the best stuff he's made since Pushing the Salmonella Envelope.
Why You Didn't Hear It: You were unaware James Taylor and Carly Simon had kids.
Why You Should've: Ben's album recalls his father's records of the '70s, but he still manages to develop his own style.
Why You Didn't Hear It: You never listened to my radio show, Jenny Eats Something.
Why You Should've: This "slaptrack" album is mix of electronic, ambient, and rock sounds, and still remains accessible to all listeners.
Why You Didn't Hear It: You didn't know the guy from Mosquitos made music before he got all bossa nova on your ass.
Why You Should've: Chronicling a whole relationship (lasting one day?), Chris Root's simple lyrics and melodies make this the perfect album for a summer day.
Why You Didn't Hear It: For you, the "new British invasion" only meant Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party.
Why You Should've: Being well-read has never sounded so energetic.
Why You Didn't Hear It: You don't judge albums by their covers.
Why You Should've: I liked the cover, so I picked up this beautiful account of the two members' real-life relationship/break-up/marriage.
Why You Didn't Hear It: Your knowledge of Sub Pop's catalog was limited to Nirvana, the Shins, and the Postal Service.
Why You Should've: Rogue Wave's last Sub Pop album, and first as a full band, is exactly what great indie rock should be.
Why You Didn't Hear It: I'm not so sure 'cause I figured everyone had heard of them, but when I asked you, you hadn't.
Why You Should've: This nine-piece band avoids the wasteful Arcade Fire-influenced group-yelling that seems to be so standard nowadays, and focuses on making 12 beautiful songs that flow together seamlessly.