Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now

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Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now

This week's curator: Justin Gage of Aquarium Drunkard.

Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Justin Gage, founder of Autumn Tone Records and the Aquarium Drunkard music blog, and producer of the weekly Aquarium Drunkard radio program for SIRIUS/XMU satellite radio.

Ty Segall, Melted

1) Ty Segall, Melted

Most of the "new" music I'm interested in these days is the aural equivalent of throwing gasoline all over an amp/guitar/whatever, flicking a lit cigarette on it, and watching it burn. And yeah, that's a good thing. I instinctively get off on crunchy, fucked-up rock & roll — the kind of stuff Ike Turner and the gang started fifty years ago with their blown-out and broke-down, newspaper-stuffed amplifier on "Rocket 88." It's a sound perfected by The Kinks '66 and The Creation — and maybe a limited one to play with, but a discernible sound nonetheless. Ty Segall's Melted is that sound in 2010.

Listen: "My Sunshine"

My Sunshine

Cotton Jones, Tall Hours In The Glowstream

2) Cotton Jones, Tall Hours In The Glowstream

A sleeper, this is one of my favorite LPs of 2010. The album sounds like a weary traveler in 1980s West Virginia who stopped by an old-school roadside diner round about midnight — alone but not lonely. Like the ghost of a country band drifting out of a transistor radio in a half-remembered dream, this is a group that's truly exploring "cosmic American music" in the twenty-first century.

Listen: "Glorylight And Christie"

Glorylight And Christie

Phil Spector, A Christmas Gift For You

3) Phil Spector, A Christmas Gift For You

Phil Spector's wall of sound meets the North Pole on this 1963 Christmas classic. At times a surreal look at the Holidays in balmy Los Angeles, A Christmas Gift for You succeeds on every track. This, along with Elvis's Christmas album, is the epitome of the tasteful "rock & roll Christmas" LP — it never sounds ill-conceived or corny. Featuring such Spector studio staples as The Ronettes, The Crystals, and a solo Darlene Love, Christmas Gift, since its debut, has organically worked itself into our cultural holiday fabric.

Listen: "White Christmas"

White Christmas

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy with Tortoise, The Brave And The Bold

4) Bonnie 'Prince' Billy with Tortoise, The Brave And The Bold

In January of 2006, Will Oldham, under his working guise of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, released a collaborative covers album with the comparatively abrasive post-rock quintet Tortoise. They called it The Brave And The Bold. Over ten tracks, the collection spans re-workings of Richard Thompson, Elton John, the Minutemen, Devo, and, notably, Bruce Springsteen. Many of the offerings are unrecognizable — broad reinterpretations using trace elements of the source material. The band tears the source material down to its skeletal frame before building it back from the ground up, lending an altogether new presence to many of the songs.

Listen: "Thunder Road"

Thunder Road

Futurebirds, Hampton's Lullaby

5) Futurebirds, Hampton's Lullaby

Covered in kudzu and swathed in a blanket of humidity, spanish moss, feedback, and reverb is the band Futurebirds. Sounding like a fusion of Neil Young's yin and yang, Futurebirds meld the sweet, lilting, pedal steel and harmonies of the Stray Gators with the raucous, buzzing, distortion of Crazy Horse. Their debut, Hampton's Lullaby, is forged from a South that has as much to do with the worldview of Silver Jews' David Berman as with the inhabitants of William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County.

Listen: "Johnny Utah"

Johnny Utah