The 10 best albums for headphones

Written by: Paul Horsman

So, you decided to treat yo self to some swanky headphones. And now you want to treat those ears to a full sonic workout. Here are ten awesome albums to help…

Radiohead – Kid A

Time to get snug. With the hysteria of commercial suicide being committed well and truly over (goodbye guitars, hello Avant jazz), Kid A is nowadays considered Radiohead’s brilliant brainchild. Sure, it’s still a rather awkward thing with a somewhat chilly exterior. But give it a heartfelt hug and it’ll keep you warm throughout winter.

Air – Moon Safari

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s some sort of Volkswagen-space-shuttle-bus drifting through the cosmos to a blend of synths, strings and gentle electronica. Moon Safari might not be easy to define – blissed out lounge? stylish elevator music? – yet never has an album title (or band name for that matter) summed up its sound better. Hop on.

Deadmau5 – 4×4=12

Yes, there are superior dance albums out there. And yes, there are better Deadmau5 albums too. But if you’re seeking a set of hedonistic tunes that will get you moving like a modern-day Travolta with a feeling of being worshipped by God-like strangers at the coolest club in town… this is the one to do it (a friend once told me).

FKA Twigs – LP1

Five years have passed since the artist formerly known as Twigs unleashed her sultry debut, and it still sounds like a hologram being beamed from a place that doesn’t yet exist. Crisp beats and experimental noises seem to be its main form of communication, while her angelic vocals float above them like the sensual spirit of Aaliyah. An evocative treat for digital ears.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine

A bit dark this one. At the pivotal point of despising each other, the Bristolian trio put their hostility into the music and created a moody masterpiece as a result. Rich with texture and tense with atmosphere, Mezzanine would sound claustrophobic were it not for the airy presence of Horace Andy and Liz Fraser. Perfect for lonesome listening.

The White Stripes – Elephant

Sometimes it takes a smooth set of headphones to appreciate the roughness found in rock music. Elephant’s thumping bass and finger licking riffs keeps its raw energy on the right side of filthy, while you can almost taste Jack White’s spraying sweat as he pounds those instruments of his. Don’t judge me. He’s on a sexiest musicians list.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

With no shortage of quality hip hop albums to blast away the earwax, singling out these bratty bunch of geeks might seem like a bit of a cop out. Not so. Partly thanks to the skills of the Dust Brothers, as well as some pretty slack licensing laws, Paul’s Boutique still owns the best samples, beats and wit on any album in any genre from any period. Fact.

Beatles – Abbey Road

Time has been kind to Abbey Road. Initially met with disappointment, it now stands as many people’s favourite Beatles album. Not mine. But stripped from the symbolism found in earlier material, it does best show off the band’s musical prowess… which sounds awesome when listening through decent headphones.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

To be honest, it was a pretty close call between this mind-blowing saga to our neighbouring natural satellite and its follow-up postcard Wish You Were Here. But whichever Floyd album you opt for, turn off the lights, get horizontal and take a trip to the unknown. Be warned, though. You might come back a different person. Hippy.

Donny Hathaway – Donny Hathaway

It’s not all about bleeps and beats. Sometimes you need intimacy. The feeling that each whispered confession was intended for your ears only, from a voice that’s unable to hide its tormented sorrow. Jeff Buckley’s a good bet. As is Joni Mitchell. But to hear the soul intensely pouring out of someone, you can’t go wrong with Mr. Hathaway. Swoon.

Still need convincing? Listen to my album highlights here.

Author: Paul Horsman

Paul likes writing. And music. It’s unclear whether he likes sharing his suggestions with others or simply likes unleashing an ugly critic within… but we allow him to write about music on The Void.

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