10 Albums You Should Know Before Going to Coachella

Posted by Billy Gil, April 7, 2015 03:08pm | Post a Comment

Like Tame Impala? Nuts for Drake? Sure, they're great. But a big part of Coachella also has been the chance to see legendary bands reunite and take the stage, as well as long-established artists alongside the newcomers. Here are 10 great albums by reunited or established artists you should know before heading to the desert next weekend.

AC/DC Back in Black

The album that started the Brian Johnson era of AC/DC (following the death of lead singer Bon Scott) is their biggest and has many of their best-loved hits, including “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the title track. It’s good to know the rest of the songs, even if you’re not especially sober by the time AC/DC goes on (which is probably how they’re best heard anyway).


Ryan Adams Heartbreaker

Though prolific as ever, having released his self-titled 14th album last year, Ryan Adams’ first post-Whiskeytown album is the one to hear for his classics, like his sweet duet with Emmylou Harris (“Oh My Sweet Carolina”) or his electric cowboy scuff-up tale with Gillian Welch (“Shakedown on 9th Street”). 


Built to Spill Keep It Like a Secret

If you’ve ever used the term “indie rock” to describe anything, you should probably have heard Built to Spill’s best albums. 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret is endlessly catchy, as Doug Martsch weaves inventive guitarwork into perfect introverted pop songs. Before bands like The Shins and Band of Horses stole sensitive hearts with their high-flying vocals and intricate melodies, Built to Spill forged the path. It’s been six years since the last BTS album, making the upcoming Untethered Moon (out Record Store Day, April 18) one of the year’s most anticipated albums.


Desaparecidos Read Music/Speak Spanish

The emo tag that dogged Coner Oberst was never more appropriate than on his one-off album as Desaparecidos. But it’s not a dirty word here; Read Music/Speak Spanish is as melodic and as anything Oberst has done, yet just as emotionally intense. After years of digging further into Americana, Oberst is probably having a ball plugging in and playing catchy early 00s gems like “Manana.” Desaparecidos just yesterday announced a new album, Payola, due June 23 on Epitaph, and new single “City on the Hill” is pretty shockingly radio-friendly.


Drive Like Jehu Drive Like Jehu

Another great band who’ve reunited around Coachella are Drive Like Jehu, whose two albums are among those that influenced the transition from hardcore to emo. Their first album bristles with splintered guitars and odd time signatures, packed into punk-fueled bursts like “Caress” and layered epics like “O Pencil Sharp.” Fans of …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Metz and scores of other post-hardcore bands should start here.


Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…

Besides being one of the best rap albums ever, with Raekwon playing Mafioso kingpin in gritty, cinematic tales, it’s also where his partnership with fellow Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah really flourished. Since it’s been announced that the two are making a documentary about the 1995 album (The Purple Tape Files, footage of which was shown at Sundance), they’ll likely heavily reference the album in their joint performance.


Ride Nowhere

Ride is one of those bands where it’s really about one album, but man, what an album. Next to Loveless, Nowhere is really the definitive statement of the shoegaze movement, full of huge guitars that swell and burst amid titanic drums and undead harmonies, only opening up for the sunlit noise pop of “Vapour Trail.” If you want some more Ride in your life, check out their recently re-released best-of compilation (LP out Record Store Day, April 18), their first EP and second album, Going Blank Again.


Sloan One Chord to Another

The long-running Canadian power-pop band never really got their due; in fact, they just released a fine new album last year, Commonwealth. Check that out, and if you want to dig into their 11-album catalog, 1996’s One Chord to Another stands as a high point of British Invasion melodies and nuanced guitarwork that feels worlds removed from the alt-rock of its time. Fans of Fountains of Wayne, New Pornographers and Supergrass will find lots to feast on here.


Steely Dan Aja

Once derided as “dad rock,” Steely Dan’s lethal grooves have come back into fashion since hipsters and hip-hop producers realized how sick “Black Cow” and “Deacon Blues” sound. Twist your mustache to this shit.


Swans Children of God

Swans have put out two amazing albums of monolithic post-rock that sound like the soundtrack for an ancient apocalypse in the past couple of years, so you’d be forgiven for not having heard their earlier work. There’s a lot to dig into; start with 1987’s Children of God, which best combines Michael Gira and co.’s penchant for art-rock ugliness with sexual energy and religious iconography on songs like the pounding “Sex, God, Sex” and strikingly beautiful Jarboe-led “In My Garden.”



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Ride (11), Ghostface Killah (12), Raekwon (10), Drive Like Jehu (3), Desaparecidos (2), Built To Spill (6), Ryan Adams (15), Ac/dc (9), Coachella (41), Lists (63), Sloan (2), Steely Dan (9), Swans (18)