Hello, dear Offbeaters!
As you may have presumed, our eccentric tastes in literature tend to reflect our tastes in all facets of arts and culture—especially music. Here, we’ve listed some of our favorite albums. All zany, all far outside the mainstream, and all offbeat (sometimes literally so). Happy listening!
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
The release of Highway 61 Revisited coincided with the advent of Bob Dylan’s electric period: he ditched the Woody Guthrie-inspired folk anthems that made him a social icon, littered his studio with electric guitars, and drew upon literary inspirations to add a surrealist twinge to his lyrics. Highway 61 Revisited is rich in vivid, puzzling scenes, related through Dylan’s signature snarl. Witness an interaction between Mr. Jones and a sword-swallower in high heels in “Ballad of a Thin Man,” or pass by Einstein disguised as Robin Hood as you venture down “Desolation Row.”
White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground
Fuzz and feedback abound in White Light/White Heat, a harsh journey of sheer hedonism. See if you can stomach the tales of a present delivery that turns deadly (“The Gift”), a lobotomy gone awry (“Lady Godiva’s Operation”), and a depraved drug bust (“Sister Ray”).
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
At a White House dinner in the ’80s, Miles Davis famously remarked to an anonymous politician’s wife that he had changed the course of music “five or six times.” Indeed, few artists can claim Davis’ sheer sonic audacity—not only did he expand jazz forms, he combined them with rock music in innovative fashions. Bitches Brew is an exemplar of this, consisting of lengthy jazz-rock hybrids dotted with complex rhythms and zany improvisational solos. The album inspired a large following of jazz-rock and fusion jazz artists; still, to this day, Bitches Brew sounds cooler and weirder than any of its disciples.
Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome – Parliament
When the Placebo Syndrome is around, you can’t let your guard down. You’ve got to call on the funk, let you end up like Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk, who, true to his name, has always been devoid of funk, and always will be devoid of funk. Or so he claims. Feel lost yet? Sounds like you need a heavy dosage of funkentelechy. Don’t worry, this album will have you covered.
Sheik Yerbouti – Frank Zappa
Any Frank Zappa album could justify inclusion in this list, but Sheik Yerbouti is an especially bizarre musical odyssey. Over frenetic guitar riffs and solos, Zappa loudly proclaims that “Broken Hearts Are for Assholes” and sings from the perspective of a fourteen year-old boy who desperately, uh, wishes to grow a chin. Also, yes, the title is pronounced exactly like you think it is.
Odelay – Beck
Beck has always had a knack for attaching nonsensical lyrics to catchy melodies; Odelay provides the definitive example. His goofiness is endearing in its confidence and sheer musical pull. It’s okay, Beck—no one knows my name at the recreation center either.
Your offbeat music tastes sated for now, Offbeaters? We hope so, because we’re ready to pop off to listen to these albums ASAP. See you next time!
Get album exploring, listen to rad music, and stay weird.