Critic and producer Sean Newgent offers a selection of his favorite records of all time; the music that he has on repeat 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 depends entirely on my mood. The three I always go back to, gravitating toward no matter my mood, are "Station to Station", "Low", and 1972's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars". Perhaps the easiest and most iconic choice I could have gone with, but one of the most popular rock records of all time for a reason. Opening with the absolutely 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 lulls in quality, constantly surprising with beautiful, catchy, and ultimately unforgettable songs. Pre-Ziggy Bowie had some great moments, but this is where Bowie's superstardom skyrockets and he embarks on one of the greatest decades of musical output of any artist.
Kate Bush- Hounds of Love (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 finest concert films of all time, "Stop Making Sense" can be viewed as a film or heard exclusively through audio and still be an absolute delight. While David Byrne's bizarre suits, dancing, and the electricity of the lead singer with his band makes for a great viewing experience, it's the songs in 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, every performance is arguably better than the studio version. Especially the above song, Burning Down the House, a radio darling that is made so much better by the quicker, 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 picking a favorite Bowie album, picking a favorite Pink Floyd album is like picking a favorite child. We all have one, but we just don't admit which one. I'll admit my favorite album is 1975's "Wish You Were Here". Bookended by the relaxing "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", and with a cream filling that includes the dark, chaotic "Welcome to the Machine" and "Have a Cigar" (both criticizing the music industry) and the melancholy "Wish You Were Here" (an ode to Syd Barrett, a founding member of the group who battled with mental health issues), the album is more cohesive thematically than the more popular "Dark Side of the Moon" (not so much musically), and shares the top spot of Floyd albums with "Meddle" for me.
AJJ- Knifeman (2011)
Miles Davis- Some Kind of Blue (1959)
The Clash- London Calling (1979)
The Comet is Coming- Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (2019)
What would jazz sound like if it were processed through a cosmic filter then played on the elevator descending into your miasmic nightmares? Possibly like the music played by The Comet is Coming. "Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery" vacillates between soothing new wave jazz and chaotic, powerful moments. There are only three people in this group and they are creating more intricate, interesting music than entire orchestras. Check out the above 'Tiny Desk Concert' 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 more interesting album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" is the one I will constantly return to, even if it has a long lull in the last half of its longest track, "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 in its five tracks. "Schizoid Man" is erratic, wild. My favorite track on the record, "Epitaph", is more ballad-y and a gorgeous nine minutes. And "The Court of the Crimson King" plays into a rock opera motif that would only become more popular in the coming decade.
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 anyone who was a music snob in college has definitely fallen in love with. Stevens' album is melancholy, utilizing piano and his somber vocals to give a romantic, haunting vision of the state. Yet he also offers jubilant, exciting tracks that celebrate the history and sights of the Land of Lincoln. "Come on Feel the Illinoise" dreams of the Columbian exposition, followed immediately by the unforgettable "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.".
And in my best behavior I am really just like him,
Look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid.
Powerful lyrics like this recall the way a band like Neutral Milk Hotel could turn tragedy into a kind of beautiful songcrafting in their "In The Aeroplane Over the Sea". Regardless of where you are from, this road trip across Illinois is one of music's best attempts to capture the multi-faceted nature of any place we hold close to our heart.
Sean Newgent is a producer for KGUN 9. Sean graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. While at ISU, Sean wrote movie reviews for the paper, anchored and produced student newscasts, and was nominated for a student Emmy for broadcast film reviews. Share your story ideas and important issues with Sean by emailing email@example.com or by connecting on Twitter.