Our generation has been blessed with the ability for any artist now to incorporate everything from the past, fuse it together and produce fresh music that could never have been imagined into existence before. As a generation we have it all; there are musical innovations not to mention the records that lyrically speak so distinctly on our socio-political climate.
Still wishing you were born in the 60’s or 70’s? These 10 generation defining records, chocked full of innovation and soul prove just how wrong you are.
None of this could have been said before, because these words are for us, for our generation and the world we endure now. Stop saying you wished you lived in the 60s or the 70s or the 80s, there is music today just as inspiring, just as important and far more innovative than ever before. You just need to know where to look.
Here are 10 records that could be the best of our generation.
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange (2012)
If you don’t think Channel Orange has made an impact in the music world, just ask the Frank Ocean fans and just about everyone else who has been hanging desperately since 2012 for more. The New Orleans based musician is formerly a member of rap conglomerate OFWGKTA but soon managed to find his solo feet. His sophomore album rippled into awesome waves of hip-hop, soul and R&B that gained universal kudos and seemed to inspire a new age of R&B.
Ocean’s unconventional / idiosyncratic songs were a mass of masterful storytelling based mostly on unrequited love. Ground breaking too, with Ocean’s announcement to the album’s release that his first love was a man, critics soon began to label him as the David Bowie of hip-hop.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
To Pimp a Butterfly is hands down one of the most important musical releases of the decade. Kendrick Lamar has ripped open the predetermined confines of what rap music has to sound like with his use of jazz and vocal experimentation throughout TPAB. In a year that was polarised by race issues and systematic police inequality, Lamar’s politically swayed narrative that is TPAB stands as a distinctive voice of this generation and provided a basis for a new era of revolution.
Tame Impala – Currents (2015)
From the moment Let it Happen debuted on radio airwaves, the eight minute explosion of psychedelic pop was a definitive moment for anyone listening. Tame Impala’s Currents is a testament to musical exploration, experimentation and absolute aural ecstasy.
It’s a sound that wouldn’t have been perfected in any other generation and one that belongs, unmistakably to Kevin Parker. Darren Levin of Rolling Stone Australia said “you really do get the feeling you’re watching one of rock’s most restlessly creative minds at work.”
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)
A record filled with lyrically witty and intriguing narrative from a leading female in rock. The debut album from Melbourne based Courtney Barnett is the conversational quarter life angst felt so staunchly by its listeners. The band, reminiscent of nineties garage rock, is the perfect combination to Barnett’s humorous perspective about the mundane turned extraordinary. It’s an essential album to the strength of rock music still today.
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I am That’s What I’m Not (2006)
“Don’t believe the hype.” The first words spoken by Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner before thrumming their way into the first single of Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not and into the consciousness of a generation Y stumbling clumsily into adulthood.
The wordsmith skills of Turner with the frenetic garage rock playing put under the microscope the human encounters of the English nightlife. The record was stellar, becoming the fastest selling debut album in British music history, selling over 360,000 copies in its first week. A debut album so distinctive yet not defining nor pigeonholing the band as they have continued to release innovative records ever since. Do believe the hype. It’s been more than real.
Mac Demarco – Salad Days (2014)
When you manage to get the majority of kids dressing in wide-leg trousers, tucked in t-shirts, old Converse and flat brim caps to emulate they very way you dress, it’s kind of obvious the impact being made. Mac Demarco’s Salad Days is the progression of his whimsical laid-back sound with the darker melancholy of sighing love ballads. The psychedelic jangle of Salad Days is a record full of soul that the older folks might not be able to hear and so, we like to think, is just for us.
FKA Twigs – LP1 (2014)
The sultry, celestial whispers of FKA Twigs’ voice is the magnetic allure of LP1 that ranks it in the top records of this generation. LP1 is an R&B album that experiments with a futuristic synth-heavy sound whilst remanning grounded in soul.
It’s the dark and almost controlled fragility of FKA Twigs that has led to Spin writer Jonathon Zwickel describing the record as “unconventional stuff, drug-like, elemental and extra-terrestrial… LP1 sounds like nothing else in the world right now.” It’s a debut album that promises to continue to change the vision of music in R&B.
Vampire Weekend – Contra (2010)
Vampire Weekend’s Contra is one of those records filled with joy, experimentation in different genres and authentic genius. The New York boys produced an unashamed album of dynamic eccentricities mixed with African influences and preppy Hampton holiday bangers. The weaving complexities of sound found in Contra from a band so unique in its conception.
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2013)
Selling more than 339,000 copies within its first week, becoming their highest charting album to date and their first to top the chart, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is an ode to the brilliance of today’s technology and the genius musicians using it.
It’s groove, disco and EDM and features some of the leading musicians of past and present (namely Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers). Daft Punk are the electronic duo that have always just been around and are pioneers of their genre, but upon the release of RAM they really staked a claim as one of the most distinctive sounds of this decade.
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2006)
Back to Black was never about musical innovation or experimenting with sound. The record was an epitomisation of the cathartic and bleeding nature of music and a soul who knew just what to do with it. This album wrung out Amy Winehouse’s pain with pop songs melding with jazz, blues, soul and copious amounts of alcohol. Amy Winehouse was a noughties artist with edge.
Authentic and baring all her emotion and misgivings in her music, and in front of cameras, and deciding that she didn’t care what people thought. Since Winehouse’s passing, Back to Black has become a 21st century classic with all its twisted soul and dark truth.