Two albums to listen to: One much-needed refresh and one concept album

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Editor’s note: In this recurring column, music writer Chris Duncan suggests two albums you should listen to this week. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @chr_dunc, and your pick might appear in next week’s Two Albums To Listen To.

Fleetwood Mac — Fleetwood Mac

It would be unfair to say Fleetwood Mac had no pop influence before 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, but the release of its self-titled second album did mark an about-face in style. The addition of the band’s two most influential members — Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks — helped the band settle on a polished pop-country feel, replacing the worn-out blues style of previous projects. Driving the album is Buckingham’s guitar skill, but soothing vocals from Nicks and Christine McVie help bring the band’s pop sound to a new level. With over 5 million records sold, Fleetwood Mac came back from the brink of failure to become an international sensation.

Tracks to listen to: “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me” and “Landslide”

 

Songs for the Deaf — Queens of the Stone Age

The success of Queens of the Stone Age’s second album, Rated R, didn’t adversely impact or limit Josh Homme and his fellow band members as they sought inspiration for their next project. The group’s third album, Songs for the Deaf, released in 2003, seeks to please no one but themselves; they aimed to write music they would want to discover at a record store. Framed as a drive through the Californian desert, Songs for the Deaf tunes into different radio stations in the trip through the desert from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park in California, incorporating contributions from satirical DJs along the way. Dynamically compressed sounds create a radio feel, but each song opens up as it goes, letting the band run wild with relentless imagination and power throughout the entire record.

Tracks to listen to: “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire,” “No One Knows” and “A Song for the Dead”