As part of our COMPETITION with HMV Exeter, the editors at Exeposé Music picked the Top 10 Vinyl Picks for Students, from the classic, to the edgy, to the poser-y. The winner of our Facebook competition will receive their choice of one of these ten and a Lenco L-85 record player. Everyone else just gets to enjoy the list.
Arcade Fire – Suburbs
Inspired by band-mate/sibling combination Win and Will Butler’s upbringing in suburban Texas, Win claims the album is “neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs” – and you can certainly hear that familiar sense of coming home in every single track. Arcade Fire prove the mastery of their craft again and again through all their albums, that is definitely not slowing down any time soon.
Arctic Monkeys – AM
The latest album from Alex Turner and co. is big, brash and bold. Heavy, distortion-led catchy guitar lines, Turner’s charming, distinctive northern vocals, and running themes of drinking and dancing (as we always get with our favourite cheeky chaps) pave the way to smooth yet mischievous melodies that make it easy to see why the Sheffield lads have earned countless awards for, and die-hard fans from this album. House party bangers galore with tracks like R U Mine and Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High make for the ultimate student soundtrack. One thing is for sure, you need this album in your vinyl collection more than Alex Turner needs hair gel.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Think And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Courtney Barnett’s laid-back, meat-and-chips rock stands out from the crowd because of her ability to articulate the mundane with a sense of wonder and indifference both at once. Sometimes I Sit and Think is a breath of fresh air in a rock climate where everyone takes themselves so darn seriously; from songs about the inflated housing market of a North-Melbourne suburb (‘Depreston’) to existential internal dialogues about the state of her lawn (‘Small Poppies’). Barnett is as funny as she is quietly profound and her “slacker rock” style is a digestible and uplifting backdrop to her ingenious poetry: a definite student favourite.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
“Is that Kendrick Lamar?” your love interest croons, stroking the politically loaded cover, thoughtful and impressed. “Yeah, it’s really profound. I can’t stand institutional racism. Definitely the best album of last year”. They sigh and bite their lip. This is how it goes when you’re into music as good and as smart as Kendrick Lamar’s. With layers and layers of implication and subtext, unquestionable technical mastery, and bangers groovy enough to still be respectable like ‘King Kunta’ and ‘i’, you can’t go wrong.
Nas – Illmatic
A bastion of East coast hip-hop, Illmatic clung on to a sense of rawness and integrity at a time when hip-hop had been stolen by upbeat, West coast swagger crusaders like Dr Dre. Its lyrics are dark and tell it how it is, just like you, and it popularised the whole “putting a baby picture of you on the cover”, meta-tough thing. It’s a truly seminal album, effortlessly achieving the “legitimacy” so many hip-hop artists strive for today, and is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. Students like it because they feel they live the hard, bread-line life, but whereas Nas discussed drive-by-anxiety, I listen to it when ELE is down.
Nirvana – Nevermind
No record collection would be truly complete without Nevermind. Indisputably the biggest grunge album ever and one of the core albums of the 90s, it made colossal waves all over the world and brought the post-punk grunge sound of late 80s Seattle to the masses. Opening single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ still remains one of the most ubiquitous rock songs of all time, and the album sweats furiously with angst and raw power. It’s also Nirvana’s poppiest album; Cobain’s mild appropriation of Pixies-style quiet/loud dynamics gave him room for hooks and scope for intensity – a perfect mix.
Radiohead – OK Computer
It made all rock music seem dated and irrelevant, it justified Radiohead’s place as a generation-defining band, and most importantly, it precipitated the popularity of everyone’s favourite music snob-post – Pitchfork. Of course OK Computer is a favourite with students. Where The Bends was Radiohead’s impressive, if juvenile, adolescent effort, OK Computer lifted the band into the stratosphere. The band applied all they had learned and slaved over in their careers, creating a beautiful, intelligent album in much the same way that you’re beautiful and intelligent now you’re at university. That’s what you think, isn’t it?
The Strokes – Is This It?
With possibly the most controversial album cover in rock (except for the ol’ baby wang above), The Strokes’ breakthrough album dazzled the saturated rock market with it’s unpretentious and melodic pop-rock ditties. Maestro-singer Julian Casablancas focused on “raw efficiency” and leaned towards under-production which didn’t go down so well with with their US audience but we lapped it up in all it’s bum-stroking glory. I defy you to put on ‘Last Night’, ‘Someday’ or ‘Hard to Explain’ on at a trendy “gathering” and not have the guys wearing The Stone Roses t-shirts nod their heads approvingly. Not only that, if that cover is mounted in your room, your prospective love interest might think you’re cool and sensual, but you might also seem a bit predatory. Best to gauge their reaction carefully.
Tame Impala – Currents
The third LP by Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala is a masterful stylistic blend – synth pop meets psychedelic meets hip hop influence and rock sensibilities. At its core though, Currents is sublime pop writing; frontman, writer and Chief Impala Kevin Parker allegedly said after his last album that he had at least six songs ready for Kylie Minogue. This is really evident in singles like ‘The Moment’ and ”Cause I’m a Man’, but what elevates Currents is the way it takes psychedelic structures and textures and applies them to plastic pop, from the trepidatious spiralling of ‘Let It Happen’ to the swelling sumptuosity of ‘Eventually’. Oh, and the swervy bass riff in ‘The Less I Know The Better’ is the best thing since sliced bread.
The White Stripes – Elephant
Elephant is a great album, and that’s not just because the omnipresent ‘Seven Nation Army’ is ululated in some form or another at every football match. Jack White inflicted his totally unique sound onto the alternative scene with the schizophrenic blues of ‘Ball and Biscuit’ and rambunctious bangers ‘Black Math’ and ‘Hypnotise’. ‘The Hardest Button To Button’ displays considered and confident dynamics, and the album has a softer side, as demonstrated in the Dusty Springfield cover, ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’. Such diversity in songwriting and originality in sound firmly cements Elephant as one of the most memorable albums of the Noughties.
Big thanks to HMV.