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100 Albums: "Feel Something" by The History Of Apple Pie

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The History Of Apple Pie
Title:Feel Something
Released: 2014
Genre: indie dreamwave alt-rock



The History Of Apple Pie are an English rock duet who started throwing songs together and posting them on the internet. They got major label attention from this, came up with a band name by Googling random things, formed a touring band, put out two albums, and then silently disbanded a year later.

What a time to be alive.

Feel Something is guitar-forward dream-pop that is built around two main ingredients: singer Steph Min's etherial vocals and guitarist Jerome Watson's swirly leads that sound like they're barely holding on to the correct tuning. The songwriting is top-notch. The standouts are Tame, Jamais Vu, and Puzzles, but even the weakest song on this album is pretty good. The whole thing is energetic and positive. It doesn't really stick with you--it's an album you can completel…

100 Albums: "The Good Times" by Afroman

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Afroman
Title:The Good Times
Released: 2001
Genre: alt hip-hop dirty rap


It's easy to disregard Afroman as a one-hit wonder for his gimmicky slow jam Because I Got High. It might surprise you, then, to know that he's put out thirty-two albums since 1998. These are a mix of live, compilation, and studio records with titles like My Fro-losophy, Waiting To Inhale, Marijuana Music, and One Hit Wonder EP--a self-deprecating joke that's even funnier if you know what a one-hitter is. Pothead stereotypes to the contrary, this man is a workaholic. He started recording and selling mixtapes in eighth grade. He put out four albums in 2004 alone. The Good Times was his major label debut, and is basically a greatest hits album of his prior work, some of which had already been released independently.

This is some grade-A trashy party music. It's fun, it's laid-back, it's hilarious, and…

100 Albums: "Today" by The New Christy Minstrels

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The New Christy Minstrels
Title:Today
Released: 1964
Genre: ensemble folk



This was an album I listened to over and over again on car trips growing up. It was fifteen hours in the van from our house to my grandparents', so we had a lot of time to burn. This was one of a number of records that my dad had on vinyl and had put on tape, and this was on a tape of folk songs alongside the Kingston Trio. The New Christy Minstrels were part of the early 60's folk revival that would be obliterated when Bob Dylan hit the scene. They took their name from Christy's Minstrels, an old literally-a-minstrel act that performed in blackface (that's just Christy's Minstrels--NCM didn't do that, although taking a name from a group that did is a little... icky). The racial undercurrents of the album are interesting. It was released the same year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation,…

100 Albums: "Fantastic Planet" by Failure

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Failure
Title:Fantastic Planet
Released: 1996
Genre: space rock


In the late 90s rock was being eclipsed by the bubblegum pop explosion. Grunge was fading from radio to make room for nu-metal and power pop acts like Blink-182. But there were a handful of weirder songs that slipped through into mainstream rock radio that felt like harbingers of an experimental direction that grunge might have explored if it only had a little more time. Stuff like Incubus' Make Yourself or Elwood's rap-rock reworking of Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown. Another one of these what-the-hell-did-I-just-hear gems was Failure's Stuck On You, from their sci-fi epic Fantastic Planet. It was nerd-voice crooning angst over guitars that alternately crunched and keened. It was like Weezer, but less polished and less immediately accessible. This was an act that aspired to be Pink Floyd, not Buddy Holly. It sounded li…

100 Albums: "Researching The Blues" by Redd Kross

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Redd Kross
Title:Researching The Blues
Released: 2012
Genre: power pop


Redd Kross started out in 1980 as Red Cross, a punk band whose first gig was opening for Black Flag. They remained active for seventeen years, putting five albums and three EPs, swapping out members, and changing the spelling of their name. 2012's Researching The Blues was their reunion record, and they've remained active since, although in a low-key kind of way. I mean... it's not like you knew who they were before this post.

Title notwithstanding, Researching The Blues is not in any obvious way influenced by the blues. It's straight up power-pop. High-tempo, fun, guitar-driven, danceable, and catchy. It's got an English garage rock vibe with some extraneous lead-guitar noodling. The best songs are the title track (embedded above), four-on-the-floor stomper Uglier, New-Wave aping The Nu Temptations, and …

100 Albums: "Is This It" by The Strokes

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Strokes
Title:Is This It (US Version)
Released: 2001
Genre: lo-fi garage rock


The early aughts were a confused time for rock. Grunge had died out, and while nu-metal was everywhere, it wasn't for everyone. There was a pop-rock-shaped hole in the musical discourse for people who liked rock, missed the fun side of alternative, and felt alienated by thrash-rap. Enter New York City's own The Strokes, the band that ushered in the garage rock revival that brought to prominence a whole host of acts name The [plural noun]. Their debut, Is This It was an immediate hit in the UK on its late summer release. It was scheduled to come out in October in the US with different cover art and a last-minute song swap following the September 11 attacks. The song New York City Cops was dropped and replaced with When It's Started.

Is This It has a raw energy to it. It bounces, grooves, and bops along f…

100 Albums: "Fallen" by Evanescence

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Evanescence
Title:Fallen
Released: 2003
Genre: nu-metal


Evanescence was a nu-metal band from Arkansas founded by guitarist Ben Moody and singer/pianist Amy Lee that blended abrasive guitars with soft, sweet piano and vocal melodies. It was a pleasant variation on the formula that had been established by Korn and then embellished by Papa Roach and Saliva (and it was absolute catnip to a Nine Inch Nails fan like myself). Their first two singles originally appeared as the most memorable things from a mortifyingly bad Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. The soundtrack exposure lead to an album and was immediately greeted by some kerfuffle about whether or not Evanescence was a "Christian" band or not. Bring Me To Life, the debut single, had guest vocals from the singer for the Christian metal band 12 Stones. Since the album didn't have any cursing on it and a few…

100 Albums: "Weezer (The Blue Album)" by Weezer

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Weezer
Title:Weezer (The Blue Album)
Released: 1994
Genre: garage pop rock


Weezer was formed by singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo in 1992 in LA and signed with Geffen the next year. Their debut, the first of many self-titled albums that would be referred to by the the dominant color of the CD cover, came out a year later, accompanied by a bizarre music video that was also the directorial debut of Spike Jonze. The video for that first single, Undone--The Sweater Song, became an instant hit and Weezer were propelled to instant stardom. They were at the vanguard of a poppier era of alt-rock. The Blue Album, which came out almost exactly a month after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's death, helped define the sound of second-wave grunge. Whereas the initial grunge explosion was angsty, ironic, and hard-rocking, Weezer played bubblegum songs with distorted guitars. Their rock-can-be-fun-too movement wo…

100 Albums: "Mezmerize" by System Of A Down

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: System Of A Down
Title:Mezmerize
Released: 2005
Genre: Armenian speed-metal



When you absolutely need some Armenian speed-metal, accept no substitute. System Of A Down blends thrashing guitars with rich vocal harmonies from singer Serj Tankian and singer/guitarist Daron Malakian (who also does a lot of the writing). Add in Middle-Eastern melodic scales and a healthy dose of progressive politicking and you've got something unique, aggressive and at times oddly beautiful. Mezmerize was the first half of a double-album released in two parts--the second half, Hypnotize, came out six months later. Mezmerize is an album that is tightly tied to a specific time and place for me. It came out when I was living in L.A., which is also where the band members live and grew up, so it was littered with references that felt literally close to home. The first time I listened to the song Lost In Hollywood, I w…

100 Albums: "Art Angels" by Grimes

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Grimes
Title:Art Angels
Released: 2015
Genre: twee Canadian dream-pop




Born Claire Boucher in Vancouver, Grimes began putting music on MySpace in 2007. She's completely self-taught, produces all of her music, and might be the teensiest bit crazy. Her early work is rough, but by 2015, she'd perfected her blood-soaked dream-pop aesthetic--and if you want to see that aesthetic turned all the way up, go check out the video for Kill V. Maim. It gets weird. These days she's dated and broken up with Elon Musk and talked about changing her name to a mathematical constant, so... artists, amiright?

Art Angels took a few listens to really get under my skin, aside from Kill V. Maim which is just a flat-out earworm. The album goes hard on contrasting dark broody lyrics against a super-bright unironic bubblegum pop sheen. But you mostly get that sheen on a first listen. So a song like California co…

100 Albums: "Vs." by Pearl Jam

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Pearl Jam
Title:Vs.
Released: 1993
Genre: alt-rock post-glam grunge



In 1990, singer Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose a few days before the scheduled debut release from his band Mother Love Bone. Wood's roommate, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, approached MLB's bassist and rhythm guitarist, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, about putting together a tribute album. They agreed, and brought on board Soundgarden's drummer Matt Cameron and couple of newcomers that Gossard and Ament had been jamming with, lead guitarist Mike McCready and singer Eddie Vedder. The tribute album was called Temple Of The Dog and it spawned two hit singles in Hunger Strike and Say Hello 2 Heaven. Afterwards, Cornell and Cameron returned to Soundgarden and the other four became Pearl Jam. (And, because the world is teeny-tiny, Cameron is now Pearl Jam's drummer, although he didn't join until 2002). Pearl …

100 Albums: "Our Newest Album Ever!" by Five Iron Frenzy

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Title:Our Newest Album Ever!
Released: 1997
Genre: Christian ska-punk


In the mid-to-late 90s, ska became briefly relevant, mostly in the underground and college scene. A few ska bands broke into the mainstream and then disappeared like Reel Big Fish or The Mighty Mighty BossTones, but the most notable remnant of that movement was some ska-adjacent acts like No Doubt, Madness, and Sublime. As I mentioned in the my Christian rock supplemental and the entry for Pspazz, the 90s saw a huge emergent Christian rock movement that generated some actually-pretty-incredible music. Part of this included a ska scene, with a number of bands gaining traction like The O.C. Supertones, Insyderz, and--my personal favorite--Five Iron Frenzy. FIF formed in Denver as a side project by members of a thrash metal band called Exhumator who realized they didn't actually like thrash metal all that mu…

100 Albums: "A Place In The Sun" by Lit

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Lit
Title:A Place In The Sun
Released: 1999
Genre: power-pop


In the early 90s, a rock act called Stain started getting traction in the LA area. They put out a demo and then an EP, signed to the label, got sued by a guy in Texas who was also using the band named "Stain" and changed their name to Lit. (Aaron Lewis's band Staind also got sued, but apparently that extra "d" was all the change it needed.) Lit's first album was called Tripping The Light Fantastic, and it was released by Malicious Vinyl, after which the label promptly folded. Lit then signed to RCA and in 1999 put out their most successful album, A Place In The Sun, which found success for the band as a slightly-less-juvenile alternative to Blink 182. It's not deep, it's not sophisticated, but it's solid, well-executed, and tons of fun.

The song everyone remembers from APitS is My Own Worst Enem…

100 Albums: "Lost Highway"

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Various
Title:Lost Highway
Released: 1997
Genre: industrial death-jazz


Before Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross started winning Oscars for their movie scores, Reznor cut his teeth producing soundtracks for what passed for "artsy" mainstream films in the 90's. The most successful of these was Lost Highway, the soundtrack to the batshit crazy David Lynch film of the same name, in which Bill Pullman is stalked, convicted of murder, transforms into Balthazar Getty... something with Robert Blake... Giovanni Ribisi's in it... look, it stops making any sense at all after about forty-five minutes. Watch it while on drugs, I guess.

The album is anchored by the Nine Inch Nails song The Perfect Drug which is one of my favorites of theirs (and one of Reznor's least-favorite, oddly enough). The disc is bookended by David Bowie singing different renditions of a song called I'm Deranged.…

"Writing Lots 2: Submitting Lots" by Dawn Vogel

Hi, I'm Dawn, and I'm back to talk about submitting stories and poems, and how I have such high numbers of submissions.


First off, as I talked about previously, I write a lot, which means I have a lot of stories that can be submitted at any given time. A lot of what I do to keep my submissions numbers high is juggle the stories, so they go to the right markets in the right order. Obviously, I'd love to have all my stories sell at pro-paying markets. Failing that, there are excellent semi-pro markets that would also be great homes for my stories.

The trick for me is to make sure to keep current on sending out stories to markets, and not let a huge backlog accumulate. In my world, that means that in the morning, I go through my inbox to see what stories have been rejected while I slept. If there are any there, I try to find a new market to send them to in the morning, before my workday starts. There are some days when either I can't find a good market to send a specific …

100 Albums: "Cowboy Bebop Blue" by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts
Title:Cowboy Bebop Blue
Released: 1999
Genre: various, but mostly jazz and rock fusion


Cowboy Bebop was a sci-fi-meets-spaghetti-Western anime that ran for twenty-six episodes from 1998 to 1999 in Japan. It was localized to America in 2001 as part of Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" block on Sunday evenings, and it helped popularize that programming block, as well as being an introduction to the more mature version of the art form to Western audiences. For a more thorough tribute to the show and its influences, I recommend Beyond Ghibli's video essay A Fistful Of Woolongs. The key part of the show was the score, written by Yoko Kanno to evoke jazz, funk, and rock. Blue is the third full-length soundtrack album released for the series.

The highlight of the album is Mushroom Hunting, a delightful little jazz number arranged like a dance track. In terms o…

100 Albums: "Thing-A-Week Two" by Jonathan Coulton

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Jonathan Coulton
Title:Thing-A-Week Two
Released: 2006 (sort of)
Genre: indie comedy geek-folk



Jonathan Coulton is an indie folk rocker from New York who works very much in the spirit of (and has, in fact, toured with) They Might Be Giants. He's probably best known for contributing the song Still Alive to the monstrously successful PC game Portal, but before that he spent a year from September 2005 to 2006 building a catalog and a following by releasing a new song every week. The project, which was subtly titled Thing A Week, was an attempt to push himself creatively and prove to himself that he could produce content on a deadline. Unsurprisingly, it starts out rough and it kind of peters out towards the end, but in the middle there is all kinds of amazing music.

Thing-A-Week Two is the second installment of that project, released one song at a time in the winter of 2005 and 2006 and then co…

100 Albums: "Hotel California" by The Eagles

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Eagles
Title:Hotel California
Released: 1976
Genre: Southern rock




Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift is a scathing allegorical political satire of 18th Century Europe, but it remains a beloved story that has been adapted multiple times to the screen because even though most people don't pick up on the underlying meaning, it tells a compelling adventure story. This is basically what's going on with Hotel California. Written at a time when the band was trying to move away from their country rock origins. They lost founding member Bernie Leadon and replaced him with slide guitar virtuoso Joe Walsh. Lyrically, the album is a collection of singer Don Henley's musings about materialism, consumerism, and drugs. But he spins a great yarn with it.

The title track, famous for its extended guitar coda and its apparent depiction of what appears to be a literal hotel that you can litera…

Stray Thoughts: You Seem A Decent Fellow, I Hate To Remake You

So the other day Tony Vinciquerra, CEO of Sony Pictures, made an off-hand comment in a Variety profile of Norman Lear, saying that people--you know, famous people--have been talking about maybe sorta remaking The Princess Bride. The internet promptly exploded, and everyone from leading-man Cary Elwes to sapient-bag-of-fetid-waste-wearing-a-skin-suit Ted Cruz voiced their outrage on Twitter. It's abundantly clear that no one in the world outside Sony Pictures wants this remake to happen, and that can only mean one thing.

It's definitely going to happen.

Some background. People grouse endlessly about the lack of original ideas in Hollywood, and how everything is a remake, a sequel, a prequel, a spin-off, or tied to a pre-existing franchise. We get the occasional Inception, but mostly these days we get superhero movies and live-action remakes of the Disney cartoons we loved in the 90s. And yeah, this is true, and there's a very good reason for this.

Movies, you see, are incre…

100 Albums: "Everybody Got Their Something" by Nikka Costa

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Nikka Costa
Title:Everybody Got Their Something
Released: 2001
Genre: soul pop


Japanese-born Australian-American Domenica "Nikka" Costa started recording at age five. At nine, she performed on the White House lawn. Her father was a record producer, so she basically grew up around musicians. She achieved some success in Europe as a child star and then moved to Australia in the 90s to get married and form a handful of funk projects before going back to releasing albums under her own name.

Everybody Got Their Something is Costa's US debut and the most successful album of her career, mostly on the strength of the lead single and opening track Like A Feather, which was featured prominently in Tommy Hilfiger ads and found its way into MTV rotation. And... it's pretty great song. The title track showed up in Muzak mixes, usually in the afternoons when the songs were a bit dancier. Tho…

"Writing Lots!" by Dawn Vogel

Hi, I'm Dawn, and I'm doing guest post here on Kurt's blog. I write fantasy, steampunk, YA, and pretty much anything else that looks shiny for a moment. You can learn more about me here! Today, I'm talking about how I write as much as I do.

I've been writing since I knew how to do so, but I've been writing with an eye toward publication for about eleven years. As I've gotten more comfortable with the craft of writing, my productivity has increased dramatically. In the first six years I was writing seriously, I wrote fewer than twenty short stories, all told. Over the next three years, I increased my output and wrote about a dozen stories a year (with an occasional poem mixed in). Last year, I wrote 38 short stories/flash and 6 poems. This year, I've already surpassed that, and it's only September.

In analyzing how I've increased my output so dramatically, I've found three main keys to my prolific writing: 1) planning, 2) stolen moments, and 3)…

100 Albums Supplemental: Anticipointments

So every now and then you have an album you really and truly love from an artist who's really impressed you. You were looking forward to the follow-up so much, and then you get let down hard. You know the feeling. It was the feeling you got after watching Star Wars, Episode I or The Matrix: Reloaded. It's especially pervasive in music because of a phenomenon called the "sophomore slump" in which an artist has spent years on the underground circuit cultivating a playlist and their debut album is essentially a greatest hits of their pre-contract work. Then they go into the studio to record a follow up and what they put together is... Sam's Town.

So here's a list of albums that I was really looking forward to and then hated.

Hospitality - Trouble

Hospitality's eponymous debut is a little indie-pop gem with a fantastic single in Friends Of Friends. They're a little twee, sure, but it was a fun bite-sized nugget of a record and I was anxious to see what the…

100 Albums: "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" by of Montreal

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: of Montreal
Title:Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Released: 2007
Genre: indie glam dance-pop


of Montreal is one of my favorite bands to see live. Every time I've seen them it's just been a giant over-the-top dance party that was as weird as it was fun. The band is primarily the project of singer/composer Kevin Barnes and came out of the mid-90s Athens, Georgia pop scene--keeping in mind that this is the same college town that produced REM and The B-52's over a decade prior (both of whom have already been featured in this list!). of Montreal borrows a lot from psychedelic rock and glam, but their sound is pretty uniquely their own. of Montreal songs don't have chord progressions so much as they have sequences that modulate around. Barnes doesn't so much sing as strut around with lyrics. The music is infectiously danceable but resists sticking in your head. It's anot…

100 Albums: "Missile Toe" by Pspazz

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Pspazz
Title:Missile Toe
Released: 1995
Genre: sophomoric christian surf-punk



This one is obscure enough that I can't even find a video for it. You're just going to have to take my word (or listen to some extremely low quality samples here) (or just do the minimal amount of googling required to download the thing for free). The 90s saw a surge in the Christian rock movement spearheaded by dc Talk's Jesus Freak and crossover success from Christian bands like Jars of Clay and Christian-influenced bands like Collective Soul. Riding this wave, a lot of Christian bands were marketed to parents of teens as wholesome alternatives to mainstream rock. Youth pastors would get promo CDs to share and one-sheets of an entire record label's catalog saying "if your teen likes Stone Temple Pilots, you should get them an album from Third Day." In 1995, my youth pastor heard this oddbal…

100 Albums: "The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill" by Lauryn Hill

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Lauryn Hill
Title:The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Released: 1998
Genre: neo-soul hip-hop r&b reggae


Hill broke in the mainstream as a member of the Fugees, alongside Pras and Wyclef Jean. She was the featured vocalist on the group's most successful hit, a cover of Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly that blended the original soulful melody with hip-hop and reggae influences. After the group rocketed to stardom on the success of their album The Score, they immediately split up to pursue solo projects. Miseducation is Hill's only solo studio album, and is something of a minor masterpiece--a deeply personal record that features commentary on motherhood, race, and culture (while she is dedicated to equality, Hill's personal politics are, not to put to fine a point on it, reactionary). The ostensible main theme of the record is capital-L Love. As was trendy in late 90s hip-hop, the…

100 Albums: "Broken Bells" by Broken Bells

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Broken Bells
Title:Broken Bells
Released: 2010
Genre: retro indie alt-funk... or, you know, whatever it is Danger Mouse does


Indie hip-hop producer/Wunderkind Danger Mouse has collaborated with a number of artists in this list. In addition to producing albums like Beck's Modern Guilt or Portugal. The Man's Evil Friends, he's also worked on collab projects like Danger Doom with MF Doom and Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo Green. One gets the impression that people just walk up to Danger Mouse and say "Hey, I loved The Gray Album, wanna work on something together?" and he keeps saying yes. Which, if that's the case, good for him! Broken Bells is another one of these projects, this time working with James Mercer of The Shins after the two met at a music festival. The combination is not as flashy as Gnarls Barkley, but Danger Mouse's retro-spaghetti-western sample libraries …