Editor’s note: In this recurring column, music writer Chris Duncan suggests two albums to 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.
The Bends – Radiohead
After finding a mainstream hit with “Creep,” Radiohead diverged from their alternative rock roots, taking a dive into experimental music and surfacing with The Bends.
For an album full of what critic Chuck Eddy called “nodded-out nonsense,” The Bends makes a huge impact with its innovative anthemic sound by blending acoustic and electric instruments. Thom Yorke’s angst comes across in every song with force, and Jonny Greenwood’s piano and synthesizer work push Yorke’s emotions to a breaking point.
The Bends marks an important shift in Radiohead’s career, leading to further experimentation with OK Computer and Kid A and securing their reputation as one of the most creative bands of their time.
Tracks to listen to: “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Just,” “My Iron Lung”
For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver
After a difficult breakup, Justin Vernon (more commonly known as Bon Iver) retreated to a cabin in Wisconsin for four months, hoping to find solitude in the woods. Instead, he poured his emotions out, forming his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago.
The details of Bon Iver’s emotions on each song are excruciatingly deep. The love, loss and guilt from his six-year relationship culminates in an explosive 37 minutes. For its simple origins, the record is surprisingly complex, with Vernon performing nine instruments himself.
The album jump-started Vernon’s career, garnering acclaim and Grammy-winning follow-up album. He hasn’t released any music since 2011, but his impact on listeners is so immense that it’s hard to forget his fragile voice and enchanting words.
Tracks to listen to: “Skinny Love,” “For Emma,” “Re: Stacks”