Essential Music For The Soul

By Disinnocence Disinnocence
updated about 1 year ago

It could be said that all music is essential listening, and while that is true, there are songs/albums/bands that stand above the rest. Prime examples of music as an art form. Reminders of why music is emotional, physical, and spiritual. They can be grand narratives that range from a broad variety of themes and/or metaphors, or they can be more understated and tell a personal story that's relatable and grounded. It can move you, evoke imagery, bring back memories of past experiences, or deconstruct or educate on a topic. Music is the aural art; its reaches are boundless, vast as the ocean or the sky. Whether it be to take a journey, hear a story, understand a topic more, or just to vibe to some background noise, music is an important part of culture. Music is the purest expression of the soul translated into sound.

I try to avoid albums everyone would say to listen to (e.g. Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Dark Side of The Moon, etc.), since they're already set in stone as centerpieces to the entire music medium. This list tries to focus on newer (1980-2010~) releases because not everyone may know of them or have thought to try them before. I, also, am more well-versed in modern music because, despite the fact that I love older music acts, I feel that essential bands like King Crimson, Talk Talk, David Bowie, etc. have been thoroughly discussed and showcased before. If you really want to know my thoughts on someone, just message me and, granted I've heard the band's music, I'll try to give essential releases.

While these albums are based on personal preference, I try to consider them outside of my personal experience and decide if they are albums I believe to be truly essential. They may not all be groundbreaking or innovative, because this is more so based on the emotional and spiritual aspect of the music, but these albums are ones I hold dear to my heart, and I hope you do too.

  1. Deafheaven - Sunbather

    A highly subversive and divisive album, Sunbather still remains one of the prime examples of "beauty through brutality." A pure wave of emotion that crashes upon you, swallowing you, only to be immersed in the serenity of its harsh, but oddly calm, walls of noise. Sunbather feels as warm and inviting as the striking pink cover that accompanies it. A sublime dose of romanticism, longing, and personal demons makes Sunbather one of the decade's most compelling albums.

  2. Giles Corey - Giles Corey

    Utilizing ritualistic and occult themes, Dan Barrett explores suicide, depression, and the afterlife on one of the most honest, brutal, and deeply emotional albums of all time.

  3. La Dispute - Rooms Of The House

    As an album, this represents La Dispute going for a more mellow and subdued sound, but they're just as emotionally impactful and compelling. As a story, I believe this represents the height of Jordan Dreyer's narrative abilities. The metaphors are clever and relatable, the themes of "finding meaning in the mundane/ordinary" is extremely poetic, and despite it being about a failing relationship, its overarching story truly describes "romantic." Not your usual La Dispute, but exploring Rooms of the House is surely worth it.

  4. Oceansize - Frames

    Frames seems to be the album where Oceansize finally nailed what they were trying to do. A diverse mix of genres/influences, top-notch musicianship (the drumwork is astounding on this one), interesting song structures/ideas, and "The Frame" is probably my favorite album closer of all time. The final line "I am not the picture, now I'm the frame" seems to be even more relevant now. Don't miss out on this.

  5. Godspeed You Black Emperor! - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven

    An album I think could only be described as a "religious experience," Lift Your Skinny Fists sees the band at their creative peak. It's about HOPE and FEAR and reconciling both of them. It signals the impending end of the world, but the serenity displayed in its doom and gloom says that, through all this, there's still beauty in desolation. In every crescendo and in every drone section, you feel that everything will be okay. Poetry without words, this albums truly beckons you to "lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven."

  6. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

    Cosmogramma, FlyLo's opus or "cosmic drama," is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Seeing that, throughout all his grief for his mother (coupled with the fact that the last songs sample various things from his mother's hospital room), he could pull through and produce an album so transcendentally beautiful is more inspirational than any words or saying could convey. Cosmogramma proves that love can transcend the boundary of death.

  7. A.S.M.Z.* - He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms…

    Being an album with no real clear narrative, He Has Left Us Alone conveys a message better than most albums even with full stories. Supposedly a "Jewish experience," its religious tones and themes come through beautifully, and as a send-off for his dog, I couldn't imagine anything more proper. "Movie (Never Made)" is a rare moment where, despite Efrim's voice clearly showing he's not one for singing, the raw emotion in this performance is unmatched. Take some time to immerse yourself in this record, and be elevated by it.

  8. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly

    one of the best albums of this decade

  9. Frank Ocean - Blond

    yeah good album

  10. Swans - The Seer

    the first of the swans trilogy, kind of an introduction and has the most ideas that may not mesh as well, but it'sstill fucking fantastic

  11. Swans - To Be Kind

    second in the swans trilogy, and the magnum opus imo

  12. Swans - The Glowing Man

    my least favorite of the trilogy, but it presents a more spiritual vibe and a good closing to "swans" for now at least

  13. Porcupine Tree - Signify

    maybe not porcupine tree's finest moments, but it highlights each part of their sound, making for their most compelling release

  14. The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium

    the mars voltas first release, also being (possibly) their greatest achievement, as it is their most cohesive and focused record, with every interesting influence intact

  15. Esben And The Witch - A New Nature

    sort of a passion choice here, but i promise there's a reason behind it. the raw and primal sounds these guys display on here is electrifying and shit nigga this sounds so fucking god idk

  16. Death Grips - The Powers That B

    you could probably say all of death grips' albums are essential just because of what they've done for music in the 2010's, but i believe the power that b is the crowning achievement of these guys. it showcases both sides perfectly

  17. Clarence Clarity - No Now

    this one probably seems rather odd, but i think NO NOW shows how pop sensibilities can mix with experimentation and abstraction extremely well.

  18. Radiohead - OK Computer

    while millions of things have been said about this record time and time again, there's fair reason for it. could be argued as the best album of the 30-40 years or so idk

  19. Radiohead - Kid A

    yeah yeah yeah *it's kid a* everyone knows how great it is but damn nigga this shit is the best radiohead has done simply because it subverted people's expectations and it changed the way a lot of bands played and shit. forewardthinking and compelling

  20. Boris (3) - Amplifier Worship

    boris' output over the last 25 years may be divisive even after their first release, and i think these guys have a few essential albums, but i believe this one is the HEIGHT of not only boris, but also of drone/doom/stoner/??? shit as a whole.

  21. Boris (3) - Pink

    as a band with dozens of studio albums, collaborations, eps, live albums it's hard to really sift through and find their *truly* shining achievements, but as some of you may know, PINK is an oft mentioned effort by the band, and for good reason. PINK is a showcase of every one of the band's many talents (save for j-pop and the like), ranging from stoner to doom to noise to drone/ambient to post-rock. everything's here, so that makes PINK the best starting point for BORIS.

  22. Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem

    even phil himself said this is the best work that mount eerie has done, and for good reason. it's an album that blends folk and black metal together *in the opposite way*

  23. Mount Eerie - Sauna

    maybe adding TWO mount eerie releases to this list is a bit overkill, but i assure i include this one for good reason. it's an album that explores exisitence themes and atmospheres reaching beyond the mortal coil by using imagery of *water, steam, etc*

  24. Nujabes - Modal Soul

    the original joji

  25. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

    not many albums are as evocative as this one. the album sounds like the album cover looks. noisy, crowded, and diverse. but i mean that as a good thing. an album that clashes to become one holistic piece. also this is one of the few albums that vocals are literally used as an instrument.