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November 29, 2014 / bloggenstatt

D is for Dinosaur Jr., Daft Punk and De La Soul. D is not for Dizzee Rascal.

The letter D was tough to sort through. I had to weigh bizarre personal favorites (the short-lived, but excellent, DOM) against legendary ’80s bands (Devo and Depeche Mode) against critical darlings (Deer Hunter, Drive-by Truckers, Destroyer) and David Bowie loomed over everything.

I opted to leave Bowie out of the mix, because the man is a living legend and some adulation from my crappy blog is wildly inconsequential to that legacy.

Without further rambling, here is the reasoning behind my choices:

Dinosaur Jr. :  The best Dinosaur Jr. songs boast incredible melodies and intricate guitar work. Jay Mascis, the band’s lead singer and guitar savant, is one of the most impressive guitarists of Alternative Rock’s heyday. The music strikes a balance between heavy and sweet, which inspired the tile of Ear Bleeding County, Dinosaur Jr.’s greatest hits collection. Although there’s been lineup shifts throughout the years, virtually every album is worth at least picking up. They continue to put out excellent albums, with 2012’s I Bet on Sky being the most recent release.

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Daft Punk: Since the release of Homework in 1997, Daft Punk have possessed an unassailable cool. A couple of faceless robots created to convert elitist, rockist music fans to the pleasures of dance music. Daft Punk’s live shows are legendary, and their 2007 release, Alive 2007, captures that energy perfectly. It also displays the duo’s insane ability to remix and re-engineer their own work. Discovery remains Daft Punk’s best album, but their body of work possesses few week spots.

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De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising and De La Soul Is Dead are two perfect examples of excellent, early Hip-Hop’s sample-heavy production.They are also De La Soul’s first two full-length releases. Bass lines, drum breaks and hooks were borrowed and re-used to amazing effect. The subject matter of the music is as interesting as the production. De La Soul’s first album is filled with Afrocentric odes to individuality and goofy wordplay, which pigeonholed the group as hippies. In reaction, De La Soul is dead contained more pointed critiques of the violent, misogynistic and ignorant direction rap was moving toward. Recently, De La Soul released their discography for free to skirt copyright issues caused by sampling, so it is a prime time for the uninitiated to enter the D.A.I.S.Y Age.

Dizzee Rascal won the Mercury Prize for best album from the U.K. and Ireland in 2003. His album Boy in da Corner was a critical and commercial hit, and it was considered an excellent example of Grime, a popular subgenre of Hip-Hop, which was popular at the time.

However, it sort of sucked.

The biggest single from his most revered album, “Fix Up, Look Sharp” is still in my iTunes, and it’s only become more shrill and annoying as the years have passed.

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