Not a single miss
August 19, 2018 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about bands where every single song is amazing.

Specifically here, I am not looking for bands that have undeniable hits along with a few bombs. Instead, imagine the goal is that I will load the entire library of these bands on to my phone and never once even have to hit skip, not even for a one-off comedy song or a beat poetry interlude.

I was originally going to include the terms "ambient electronica" in my post, but I realized that I might be interested in the example regardless of the genre. So, while ambient-beats-to-chil-and-study-to are especially welcome, please don't limit yourselves
posted by 256 to Media & Arts (83 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
So, the basic premise of this question is wildly biased, and thus I will therefore be equally biased:

Slint
Seam
Palace Brothers
Opal
Magnetic Fields
Galaxie 500
Luna

If you disagree with me, it is because you are insane.
posted by aramaic at 7:36 PM on August 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


See, I don't think that it is especially biased and, using your own examples, I think that "Spiderman" by Slint really fails the test. I like it and I would listen to it the first time. But it is not very "listenable." You would never put it on a playlist that was just for listening in the background.
posted by 256 at 7:42 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Acoustic bluesy-folk: Greg Brown sings straight to my dirty sad mountain soul, 1, 2, 3, etc.
posted by scrubjay at 7:43 PM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ludicrous question of course but adding to the etc of scrubjay:
Our Little Town
posted by falsedmitri at 7:50 PM on August 19, 2018


Ratatat, Blockhead, Kuiters.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 8:03 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I really don't know how anybody's perspective on this question will be the same. It's your musical tastes, how can anyone but you answer for you?

The best try I can give you is to tell you what qualifies for me: I think I could put the entire Godspeed You! Black Emperor discography on and enjoy every moment unquestionably.
posted by traveler_ at 8:04 PM on August 19, 2018 [21 favorites]


Childish Gambino, Awaken My Love
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:07 PM on August 19, 2018


Brian Eno, both for his rock stuff - Here Come the Warm Jets is the perfect rock album - and his ambient recordings.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:09 PM on August 19, 2018 [11 favorites]


I vote the tragically hip. Totally different genre, but I love every song.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 8:11 PM on August 19, 2018 [7 favorites]


If youre super serious about this then I'm thinking you'll want to look to artists that only released one album. life without buildings would be my immediate example as "any other city" is perfect.
posted by noloveforned at 8:27 PM on August 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


The only one I could honestly offer is Lloyd Cole. Everyone one is a gem. Solo work, not with the Commotions.
I think I could almost recommend the entire discography of Charlatans UK, but I'm not 100% positive, so I'll rescind that recommendation :-)
posted by drinkmaildave at 8:55 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Tullycraft. Literally any album. The downside is that if you hate twee every song will be skippable but if you like tullycraft all tullycraft is perfect.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:00 PM on August 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


The answer to this question is The Pixies.
posted by jbenben at 9:01 PM on August 19, 2018 [17 favorites]


For me, this is a question about John Hiatt.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 9:02 PM on August 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


In the ambient electronica genre I suggest Deepchord Presents Echospace. It's a little difficult to figure out exactly what the extent of their catalog is given many collaborations, but the core albums The Coldest Season, Liumin, and Silent World approach perfection on every track.
posted by googly at 9:04 PM on August 19, 2018


(Also, I had to double check that aramaic’s Opal was this Opal. Nothing else came up via a google search. Opal is also an acceptable answer.)
posted by jbenben at 9:07 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


No, the Pixies are close, but the objective answer is The Velvet Underground. Name one not amazing song.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:19 PM on August 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm hard pressed to think of a Penguin Cafe Orchestra piece that I didn't like
posted by dws at 9:23 PM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


Must hang out a flag for Bjork.
posted by outfielder at 9:30 PM on August 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


On top of John Hiatt, let me add The The and Saint Etienne.
posted by Calvin and the Duplicators at 9:59 PM on August 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Hear me out: Jimmy Sturr. Yes, it’s polka. But he’s sooooo good at it.
posted by kerf at 9:59 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Prince
posted by chrchr at 10:09 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I genuinely mean this, Beyoncé.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:17 PM on August 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


The Wrens, Aereogramme, Gram Parsons, Ian Dury, The Shoes, Jesu, Yo La Tengo, Global Communication, Pilot, Ryoji Ikeda, Aki Tsuyuko. Hell, I'll throw the Ramones in, too.

This is leaving out short-timers like Operation Ivy, Pickettywitch and the like.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 PM on August 19, 2018


Yo La Tengo is remarkably consistent over the course of ridiculously many years.
posted by Smearcase at 10:24 PM on August 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've not listened to every single song they've put out (it's quite a library), but I've never disliked a Calexico song.
posted by Candleman at 10:31 PM on August 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Postal Service.
posted by panic at 10:47 PM on August 19, 2018 [6 favorites]


If you only count the non-posthumous album, Jeff Buckley.

Buena Vista Social Club.
posted by Candleman at 11:21 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm confused - what do you mean band? Is a single musician out of the way? A vocalist backed by a team? A boy band or girl group who doesn't compose their own stuff? Could you please clarify?
posted by yueliang at 11:41 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Superorganism's self-titled debut, their sole outing to date, is 💯, and mostly pretty chill.
posted by mumkin at 12:06 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nirvana
posted by sunflower16 at 1:04 AM on August 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Your question is not answerable - every artist has some variance in their output. Even if someone cranked out the most amazing string of hits, the weaker ones would sound like duds in comparison.
posted by each day we work at 1:31 AM on August 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Morphine, provided of course that you like Morphine.
posted by koolkat at 1:35 AM on August 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Julien Baker!! Oh Julien Baker.
posted by elephantsvanish at 5:24 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love everything by: DJ Krush, Front Line Assembly, The Dining Rooms, Force of Nature, Jega

Only one or two albums but they're perfect:
Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination, Terminator X, Emergency Broadcast Network, Pretz, The Sound Defects, Lemon Jelly, Fun Boy Three, Hive

(Thanks for this question. It made me notice that I have incomplete collections for quite a few bands that I adore.)
posted by heatvision at 5:35 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Elvis Costello
posted by bricoleur at 5:50 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Dntel
posted by gyusan at 6:15 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


At the risk of sounding like the middle-aged dad that I am, every Led Zeppelin song is great, even the ones that they shamelessly stole from other people and the ones that have been played to death.
posted by bondcliff at 6:31 AM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


My background playlist is often Moby. Just endless Moby.
posted by VioletU at 6:35 AM on August 20, 2018


Massive Attack might fit the bill, especially the Mezzanine album.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:44 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


For me, Sigur Rós and Neutral Milk Hotel, definitely. Jens Lekman, perhaps.
posted by a good beginning at 6:44 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


The only band I can think of that's had that sort of consistency is Clinton, the dance-y side project of Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres of Cornershop. But they only released one album.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:55 AM on August 20, 2018


C418 C418 C418!!! I put it on when I put my kids to bed because it is so consistent and pleasant.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:12 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Explosions in the Sky. Really most post-rock can apply here, as you can just throw on an entire album to fit a mood.
posted by dobi at 7:26 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'd say pinback, because they created their own musical vocabulary and then proceed to inhabit it.
posted by umbú at 7:39 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties; Sleater-Kinney; There Will be Fireworks
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 8:00 AM on August 20, 2018


tom petty and the heartbreakers
posted by sabh at 8:38 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wild Beasts.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:51 AM on August 20, 2018


This is tough, because even some of the best bands put out a few duds. The Beatles had "Revolution No. 9," for example. The Police had "Mother," which is just unlistenable IMO.

I'm going to assume for the purpose of answering this that you're not including stuff like outtakes, demos, etc. that are published as part of retrospectives or deluxe editions meant to reap a few additional dollars from completists like myself.

- The Smiths (I'm not aware of a single bad Smiths tune. Morrissey's post-Smiths career? Yeah, loads. The Smiths? Nah.)
- Jukebox the Ghost - five studio albums, one live album. Not a single miss.
- Frou Frou - one album. Boom.
- Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler - only including rock albums here, not Knopfler's soundtrack work which I think would be exempt from the spirit of the question.
- The Comet is Coming - they call themselves "apocalyptic space funk." One LP and a few EPs/singles, but all good. I find them to be very good background music for writing as they occupy the beat/rhythm part of my brain but don't engage w/lyrics.

Thinking about it, damn few of my favorite bands managed to put out a catalog with no clunkers.
posted by jzb at 8:59 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think the Jayhawks would fit the bill, if you like the Jayhawks.
posted by Bron at 9:00 AM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sturgill Simpson. Janelle Monae.
posted by gnutron at 9:04 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Can't believe no one has mentioned The Weakerthans yet.
posted by toby_ann at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


For the genre you were going to ask about, I'd say that

Boards of Canada,
Four Tet, and
Caribou

are all ambient electronica-ish and very, very, very consistent. Even across bpm and overall ~vibes~, every track is a winner.
posted by witchen at 9:12 AM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


My musical tastes will become immediately evident, but:

The Dears
The Killers
Stromae
Tom Petty
The traveling wilburys
The Beatles
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:21 AM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Teenage Fanclub.

And Stone Roses, but only because I refuse to acknowledge that there's a second album.

Oh, and The Feelies.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:34 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


D'Angelo.
posted by elmer benson at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, The Pixies, Violent Femmes, Belle & Sebastian.
posted by gaspode at 10:05 AM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Police had "Mother," which is just unlistenable IMO.

Ooo. The Police is a good one, because you are very extremely wrong about “Mother.”

I went to college in the 80s and one guy on my dorm floor had a profoundly overbearing mother and whenever she called, whoever was in the lounge would break into this song
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:54 AM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


For me, Steely Dan
posted by KateViolet at 10:57 AM on August 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Radio Dept. is very consistent delightful dream pop. I would also put Ivy in this category.

Cannot argue with The Wrens or Yo La Tengo.
posted by *s at 11:14 AM on August 20, 2018


I don't understand the question. I have thousands of CDs and I've never not played any of them from start to finish, I mean for personal listening. That said, Pink Floyd w/Roger Waters?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 11:35 AM on August 20, 2018


Oh, this is super tough. There are many albums that I can listen to from start to finish, relishing every track, but I don't know that there are many artists whose entire ouvre is a non-stop cavalcade of yes for me.

Having said that, I think Miles Davis is on pretty solid ground in this rarified category.
posted by freya_lamb at 11:53 AM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


@Slarty

I went to college in the 80s and one guy on my dorm floor had a profoundly overbearing mother and whenever she called, whoever was in the lounge would break into this song.

I'm not saying it doesn't have... applications... But it's an atonal mess that clashes with everything before and after it on Synchronicity. I explicitly skipped it when ripping Synchronicity for my iPod, but I used to make sure I had my remote nearby any time I listened to the CD so I could jab FF the second "O My God" was finished.
posted by jzb at 11:55 AM on August 20, 2018


Ooh - just thought of a few others that do this for me: Beck, Kate Bush, White Denim, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom.

Caveat: Some albums arrest me more than others but the specific 'voice' and quality of musicianship doesn't ever drop - every song is up there.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:02 PM on August 20, 2018


The Clash.
posted by repoman at 12:11 PM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't in good conscience recommend the full output of an artist, but Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a perfect album.
posted by Billiken at 12:20 PM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


A vote for The Both, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo's fantastic collaboration. Agree with folks above who mention Calexico and The Jayhawks. There, I have revealed my affinity for soaring vocal harmonies.
posted by missmobtown at 1:01 PM on August 20, 2018


How about the folk/roots sounds of Birds of Chicago? To get you started:

Alright Alright
Hold Steady, Rock Slow
American Flowers
posted by hangashore at 1:03 PM on August 20, 2018


Janelle Monae.

This is becoming my default answer to all things.

Why is the sky blue?

Janelle Monae.

Is god a woman?

Yes, and her name is Janelle Monae. (sorry, Ariana)

posted by Hermione Granger at 1:18 PM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was going to recommend Boards of Canada and Four Tet as well.

Emancipator and Tycho also fit this description. If you like one of their tracks, chances are good you'll feel the same about all their others.
posted by subocoyne at 3:48 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


R.E.M.
Whiskeytown
The Gaslight Anthem
Duncan Sheik
Janelle Monáe
Jason Isbell
posted by epj at 5:20 PM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nick Drake
posted by to recite so charmingly at 5:34 PM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Sonic Youth
posted by Munching Langolier at 5:46 PM on August 20, 2018


T. Rex? I can't think of a bad T. Rex track.
posted by mumkin at 7:11 PM on August 20, 2018


I’m noticing two different types of answers here: artists that are preternaturally consistent in sound (within and/or across albums), and artists whose work may change styles drastically from one album to the next but no matter what they do it’s captivating.

For type number one, I’d add the Bats, Luna, Lucinda Williams, Low, Galaxie 500, Mates of State, and arguably the dBs and the Connells.

For type number two, Richard Thompson, Game Theory / the Loud Family, and the Decemberists. And Talking Heads, who pretty much define this category.
posted by sesquipedalia at 7:48 PM on August 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Superchunk is it for me. There are other bands that I like more, reaching higher highs, but Superchunk (Mac) is just consistently great. Every few years I'll go through a spell where I'll listen to all their albums, in order, and each one is like "oh my god, THIS is their best album! No, wait, this one."
posted by intermod at 9:33 PM on August 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Minutemen.
posted by holborne at 9:59 PM on August 20, 2018


Rage Against the Machine
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy
Pink Floyd
The Sugarcubes
Bjork
Greg Brown
Sage Francis
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Dire Straits
posted by el io at 11:52 PM on August 20, 2018


@el io, I thought about Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, but wasn't sure Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales or "INS Greencard A-19 191 500" would pass muster.

Sad that they disbanded, I like some of Michael Franti's other work, but I would have liked to see them go further in the industrial hip hop direction.
posted by jzb at 4:30 AM on August 21, 2018


As others have said, it depends. A key issue: it depends on whether you're into a band's entire sound, or just their hits.

So if you're into their sound and whimsical outlook, The Presidents of the United States of America. Every song by the Presidents is a great Presidents song.
posted by Tehhund at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2018


Royksopp
posted by 4ster at 8:31 PM on August 21, 2018


No-one mentioned The Books? Happy to correct that grievous oversight.
posted by the sobsister at 10:54 AM on August 24, 2018


Tough one! Genre matters a lot and I've never heard of many of the artists above. A lightbulb came on for me when I began considering this from the angle of true masters of their instrument(s) and you could listen to them play "Happy Birthday" and it would remain interesting.

Jimi Hendrix
BB King
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Miles Davis
Louis Armstrong


Bob Marley

Sarah Maclachlan

Simon and Garfunkel

Eagles come pretty close...
posted by raider at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2018


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