Matt Forney
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Music Reviews: The Ten Albums You WOULDN’T Want to Be Legally Prohibited from Owning

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I always hated those “deserted island” questions. You know what I mean: “If you were stranded on a deserted island, what albums/video games/pointless media distractions would you bring with you?” Bitch, if I knew I was going to be stranded on a deserted island, my number one priority would be bringing things that would help me a) survive and b) get off the island as quickly as possible. Things like a tarp, a poncho, rope, a water purification system, tent stakes, a hammock, a GPS, a buck knife, a toolbox, and matches.

A copy of Planescape: Torment would be pretty far down the fucking list.

Yeah yeah, I get the point of these questions: it’s about what albums/movies/et cetera have had a profound effect on you. But I just found the scenario dumb. Here’s a better way of framing the question:

The RIAA is suing you for wiping your ass with American copyright law, and the po-po have seized your hard drive and every gigabyte of music you’ve illegally downloaded save for ten albums of your choice. Which albums are those?

I’m not sure what the typical manospherian listens to, only to say that it’s probably not Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga. People who are drawn to alternative ways of living and thinking probably like alternative media as well. So without ado, my ten favorite albums of all time, in no particular order.

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Damaged, Black Flag (1981)

It may have been Brit bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash who invented punk rock, but it was American acts like Husker Du and Black Flag who perfected it. And you can’t get more perfect than Damaged, a paean to alienation and non-conformity like no other. Its lead-off track, “Rise Above,” really ought to be the manosphere’s anthem.

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L.A. Woman, The Doors (1971)

I hate hippies. Everyone hates hippies. They’re smug, pious, preachy, and smelly. All of the best music from the sixties—screw that, the only good music from the sixties—comes from non-hippies. The Doors are the anti-hippie band, spitting in the face of all that peace, love and rainbows mumbo-jumbo. L.A. Woman is by far the best album Jim Morrison recorded before he choked; I challenge you to throw this on when you’re in the car and not end up in a good mood.

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Queen of the Meadow, Elysian Fields (2000)

I forgot where I found out about this obscure art rock duo, but I’m pretty sure it was from a manosphere blog. What a trip. Elysian Fields is noir to the core: sparse acoustic instrumentation, bleak lyrics, and sultry vocals courtesy of Jennifer Charles, the band’s singer. Of their half-dozen albums, this is the most affecting, a trip through darkness ending with a glimmer of hope.

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Blue, Joni Mitchell (1971)

According to dorks who play make-believe “alpha males” on the Internet, liking Joni Mitchell makes me a beta. “Dudebro, Nickelback is alpha!” Yeah well, I’m not a paint-huffing redneck, so pardon me if I enjoy music that necessitates a triple-digit IQ. Joni Mitchell is the best, both lyrically and in her crazy, experimental guitar playing. Blue actually comes from before Joni went nuts with the experimentation, but it’s some of the most touching music ever recorded.

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Death of a Ladies’ Man, Leonard Cohen (1977)

This album of Cohen’s gets a bum rap because it was produced by Phil Spector, and thus sounds way different than his usual stuff. But Cohen’s strength has always been his songwriting: he’s not a great singer, and his music is standard folk. The title track on this album alone nearly made me shed a tear when I first heard it.

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Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen (1967)

Of course, I can’t leave this classic, Cohen’s first album, off the list.

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Evol, Sonic Youth (1986)

Picking out a good Sonic Youth album is actually difficult because all of their records (at least up to Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star) are awesome. I settled on Evol because it’s the first record of theirs I connected with. It’s their transitional album, recorded midway during their transformation from anti-everything No Wave nihilists to more conventional alt-rock pioneers. The critics may love SisterDaydream Nation and Goo, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Evol.

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Marry Me, St. Vincent (2007)

Like most of Annie Clark’s fans, I got into her via Actor, her breakout hit, but I maintain that her first record is her best so far (though Strange Mercy is a close second). Marry Me lacks a lot of St. Vincent’s trademarks, namely her abrasive guitar riffs and weird arrangements, but it’s an endearing record because it has soulActor is a good listen, but it comes off as artificial and fake; in Marry Me and Strange Mercy, Clark is singing from the heart and it shows.

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The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground (1967)

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who appreciate VU, and morons… and morons aren’t really people. Considering that every halfway decent musician in the past forty years has ripped off the Velvets to some degree, either sound-wise or lyrically, you owe it to yourself to check out their first and best record. It took me a long time to really appreciate the Velvets, but they grow on you.

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The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground (1969)

The Velvets’ third album, it eschewed the noisy, fuzzy sound of the banana album and White Light/White Heat in favor of a softer folk feel. I absolutely love the second song, “What Goes On.”

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