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September 28, 2014 / bloggenstatt

A is for Albert King, Arcade Fire and the Arctic Monkeys. A is not for ABBA.

I did not expect to have such a hard time picking out the best of the letter A. It could have been easier if I categorized Albert King as King, Albert, but I’m playing by iTunes’ rules, so I’m sorry Archers of Loaf, you got bumped because of Tim Cook’s bizarre alphabetizing system.

Conversely, I was extremely confident that I would be able to pick out the worst of the letter A, because I downloaded an ill-advised ’80s one hit wonder compilation a few years ago. ABBA sucks, it is well-documented, it is not controversial to say they suck, so I won’t dwell on ABBA. Instead, here are some songs by the quality artists and a short blurb about each one.

Albert King: Albert King is probably my favorite blues guitarist of all-time. It’s sort of odd that he isn’t the most famous person with his surname in his preferred genre, because he influenced everyone, including B.B. King, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. The man stood at almost seven-feet tall, played blistering guitar and was born on a Mississippi plantation before moving to Gary, Ind., and later to Chicago., his very existence was a blues song. His take on the blues has a fullness and power to it that I love.


Arcade Fire: Full-disclosure, I’m currently drafting an essay that’s bordering on a manifesto about how much better a certain other seven-piece band is than Arcade Fire, but that doesn’t meant they haven’t been consistently outstanding. Earlier this year Arcade Fire’s debut, Funeral, turned 10, and the sheer number of think-pieces that prompted cement Arcade Fire as a band of stature. Whether I agree with the fact they’ve become shorthand for an era of indie music or not is sort of a moot point, this band has never released a bad album, and has created some truly anthemic music along the way.


Arctic Monkeys: I have absolutely loved this band since their raucous debut. Not only was it a collection of high-energy rock’n’roll songs, it was also cerebral in a way that hinted at later Alex Turner-penned acerbic couplets. It also served as my doorway toward Britpop and subsequently Madchester. Before The Arctic Monkeys, I think my knowledge of British music ended with The Sex Pistols.

The way this band exploded onto the scene they could have been the British version of The Strokes or just a second coming of The Libertines(which many dismissed them as), but almost 10 years later, and their audience is still growing, as is their sonic pallete, and they still haven’t released a truly bad album.


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