My Top 50 Albums of All Time - 2024

My Top 50 Albums of All Time - 2024

Published Date
March 28, 2024

Last year, I decided to tackle the task of ranking my 50 favorite albums of all time. At the time, I said it was “something I’d like to do every 5 years, as I think it would be interesting to see how my tastes change…” Well, either I’m masochistic or just have a compulsion to rank things in lists, but here I am just one year later to do it again.

Why I’m doing it again so soon really boils down to a few reasons:

  1. My favorite albums are still fairly volatile as I discover new music, especially at the lower rankings, so there is enough change to make an annual list interesting.
  2. The data over time is more interesting if it is more granular, seeing how albums move year-over-year instead of between larger intervals.
  3. I actually enjoy doing it! I have found that spending the start of the year really actively listening to my favorite albums, while I take a bit of a break from new music discovery, is an enjoyable process.

So below you will find my results for this year. I intentionally did not reference last year’s list, as I wanted to reduce my bias and really go based on my experiences listening. There is definitely a strong recency bias in play, but rather than artificially combat it, I just tried to be honest to how I feel right now and let the data year after year speak to whether albums really had staying power.

All of this is really for myself more than anything, but hopefully you find it interesting and maybe find some new music to check out!

Dropped Off the List

These are albums that made the Top 50 last year, but fell off (and outside my honorable mentions) this year. Most of these are still albums I enjoy and are in my rotation, but have fallen due to a combination of cooling on them and new albums rising up the list.

  • Father of the Bride - Vampire Weekend (#50 in 2023)
  • OK Human - Weezer (#49 in 2023)
  • A Beginner’s Mind - Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine (#48 in 2023)
  • ZABA - Glass Animals (#47 in 2023)
  • The Queen is Dead - The Smiths (#46 in 2023)
  • This is All Yours - alt-J (#43 in 2023)
  • Magical Mystery Tour - The Beatles (#41 in 2023)
  • Contra - Vampire Weekend (#40 in 2023)
  • Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers (#39 in 2023)
  • Continuum - John Mayer (#28 in 2023)
  • Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (#17 in 2023)

Honorable Mentions

Before I jump into the top 50, here are the albums that just missed the list. These would have been #51-60, but they are unranked here — simply listed alphabetically:

  • America, Location 12 - Dispatch (#36 in 2023)
  • Either / Or - Elliott Smith (NEW)
  • Fetch the Bolt Cutters - Fiona Apple (#35 in 2023)
  • Music for People in Trouble - Susanne Sundfør (NEW)
  • Peter Gabriel 3: (Melt) - Peter Gabriel (NEW)
  • Revolver - The Beatles (#31 in 2023)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles (#32 in 2023)
  • Smiling With No Teeth - Genesis Owusu (#23 in 2023)
  • Talking Book - Stevie Wonder (#42 in 2023)
  • Year of the Newt - Bobbing (NEW)

Onward to the list, which, as of right now, represents the top ~7% of all albums I have rated!

#50 - (I Am) Origami Pt. 2: Every Power Wide Awake (NEW) John Van Deusen


Release Year: 2017 Genres: Christian Rock, Indie Folk

There tends to be a bit of a chasm between worshipful Christian music and music that hits my general listening preferences in a way that I want to keep coming back to it. (I Am) Origami Pt. 2: Every Power Wide Awake manages to be an exception to the rule and, for my tastes, really balances spiritual lyricism with compelling musical arrangements.

#49 - Live at Bush Hall (NEW) Black Country, New Road


Release Year: 2023 Genres: Progressive Pop, Art Rock

Black Country, New Road found itself in the strange position of releasing an album to very high praise, and having their lead singer leave the band at the same moment. Their follow-up album goes in a different direction with various band members taking up the singing role and recording it as a live album — but count me surprised as this collection just continued to grow on me with repeated listens.

#48 - A Boat on the Sea (NEW) Moron Police


Release Year: 2019 Genres: Progressive Rock, Pop Rock

My first reaction to A Boat on the Sea was, “this is cool, but just a little too over-the-top cheesy for me to want to come back to.” And I still do think it is over-the-top, but it has slowly become more of a feature than a bug. As I’ve embraced it as just a fun album with impressive musicianship funneled through a bit of a goofy lens, I’ve found myself coming back again and again.

#47 - Another Green World (NEW) Brian Eno


Release Year: 1975 Genres: Art Rock, Ambient

Another Green World was a big surprise for me, because usually an album with lots of ambient instrumentals does not capture my attention. But something just works here, especially when listening to it as a complete album, where the interesting soundscapes transition into the “singles,” combining into a satisfying listening experience.

#46 - Hail to the Thief (-8) Radiohead


Release Year: 2003 Genres: Art Rock, Alternative Rock

I seem to be in the minority of Radiohead fans that actually prefers Hail to the Thief to their more popular Kid A (which doesn’t make my list, though I enjoy a handful of tracks off of it). It has slid some for me, but still brings a lot of what I like about Radiohead to the table.

#45 - Javelin (NEW) Sufjan Stevens


Release Year: 2023 Genres: Indie Folk, Singer-Songwriter

Sufjan’s newest release jumps onto my list, though it is new enough that I really don’t know where it will settle. It has him leaning more into his acoustic style (which also produced my favorite album of his, to appear later), and it really comes together well here.

#44 - The Suburbs (NEW) Arcade Fire


Release Year: 2010 Genres: Indie Rock

As Arcade’s Fire debut album continued to rise in my rankings, I figured it was time I start exploring the rest of their catalogue. Much like Funeral, it has taken some time for The Suburbs to grow on me, but there are just a lot of catchy tracks here that seem to reward repeated listens.

#43 - Who Are We Living For? (-23) Dispatch


Release Year: 2000 Genres: Alternative Rock, Jam Band

Dispatch is a band that was one of my favorites before I really started exploring new music intentionally in recent years, so it has been interesting to see how they have fared among a ton of new favorites. Who Are We Living For? drops quite a bit from last year, but still a great collection of music and jams that highlight Dispatch’s strengths.

#42 - Flight of the Conchords (-12) Flight of the Conchords


Release Year: 2008 Genres: Comedy Rock, Musical Parody

Slipping some, but Flight of the Conchords remains one of the only “comedy” albums that remains in my listening rotation. For me, it strikes the balance between music I genuinely enjoy and humor that I genuinely find funny — which is not an easy thing to achieve.

#41 - Ahora o nunca (NEW) Candelabro


Release Year: 2023 Genres: Indie Rock, Art Rock

Already, just weeks after finalizing this list, I feel like this is probably too high for this new Spanish-only indie rock album, but I can’t deny that I have really enjoyed my time with it so far. Last year kind of opened me up to a lot more non-English music, and Ahora o nunca hits on a lot of what I tend to enjoy in the art rock genre.

#40 - Marquee Moon (NEW) Television


Release Year: 1977 Genres: Art Punk, Art Rock, Post-Punk

Another new entry, Marquee Moon is an older one that I listened to due to its high regard, and I immediately was drawn to the guitar work and interesting rock arrangements here. I warmed up to the vocals over time, and it has a lot of character that powered it up my rankings.

#39 - Hounds of Love (NEW) Kate Bush


Release Year: 1985 Genres: Art Pop, Progressive Pop

This is another one that I have no idea about the staying power long term, but is an album that has moved up in my estimation on each subsequent listen. Very 80s in its instrumentation, but the creative arrangements and hooks just seem to be working for me.

#38 - Remain In Light (-5) Talking Heads


Release Year: 1980 Genres: New Wave, Post-Punk, Funk

Always a hard one to rank, Remain in Light starts with four heavy-hitters and then really loses steam on the back half. Still enough to keep it on the list though, as it is such a unique and groovy collection of songs that has separated as my favorite Talking Heads record.

#37 - Signed, Sealed & Delivered (NEW) Stevie Wonder


Release Year: 1970 Genres: Motown Sound, Funk

As I moved backwards in Stevie Wonder’s discography, I was expecting the music to get a little more cliché to the Motown era. And while that is certainly true, man is this album full of songs that are just high-energy, groovy, funky, and just fun to listen to. Ended up ranking higher than some later Stevie albums that I would have expected to enjoy more.

#36 - Hatful of Hollow (-20) The Smiths


Release Year: 1984 Genres: Jangle Pop, Indie Pop

The Smiths definitely saw a big drop in my rankings this year, but Hatful of Hollow remains a compilation that I enjoy from start to finish. The vocals took about as much warming up to as any band I’ve listened to, but the strength of the instrumentation kept it in rotation and continues to keep it as a favorite.

#35 - Swordfishtrombones (-14) Tom Waits


Release Year: 1983 Genres: Singer-Songwriter, Experimental Rock

Tom Waits has easily been the biggest surprise discovery in recent years. What started as a somewhat negative first impression slowly evolved into him claiming several spots in my rankings and being one of my most listened to artists. Hard to explain, but the songwriting is really strong and he really paints vivid auditory pictures with his charismatic performances, with Swordfishtrombones really being the origin of the unique style of the latter half of his career.

#34 - Innervisions (-5) Stevie Wonder


Release Year: 1973 Genres: Soul, Funk

Innervisions is just a really strong album that exemplifies a lot of what is best about Stevie Wonder. A number of favorites are found here, and there just isn’t anything quite like Wonder’s combination of soaring soul-filled vocals and funky instrumentation.

#33 - A Moon Shaped Pool (-8) Radiohead


Release Year: 2016 Genres: Art Pop, Art Rock, Chamber Pop

A Moon Shaped Pool is an album that I forget how good it is until I get the chance to listen to it all the way through on good headphones. It is very atmospheric and has emerged as one of my favorite offerings from Radiohead.

#32 - Musas Vol. 1 (NEW) Natalia Lafourcade


Release Year: 2017 Genres: Mexican Folk Music

I mentioned that the past year opened me a lot more to non-English music, and Natalia Lafourcade is the most unexpected discovery on that front. While Musas Vol 1. isn’t the album that initially caught my attention, it has just continued to get played as it fills a unique niche in my collection and manages to be comfortable and soothing while still very musically interesting.

#31 - Is This It (-4) The Strokes


Release Year: 2001 Genres: Garage Rock Revival, Indie Rock

The Strokes have quietly turned into one of my favorite bands, and their debut Is This It holds strong as one of my favorites. I think, for a while, some of the simplicity of the arrangements made me overlook the strength of the catchiness here — sometimes less is more, and I’ve slowly realized just how strong and consistent this album is.

#30 - Keep It Like a Secret (NEW) Built to Spill


Release Year: 1999 Genres: Indie Rock

Built to Spill was a new find this year, and while I enjoyed their highly regarded Perfect From Now On, it has actually been Keep It Like a Secret that has emerged as my favorite. A unique combination of indie rock vocals with more intricate layered guitar arrangements complementing the pop-rock catchiness… it’s a grower that I am intrigued to see where it lands in the future.

#29 - Close to the Edge (NEW) Yes


Release Year: 1972 Genres: Symphonic Prog, Progressive Rock

While I had already listened to Close to the Edge before making my list last year, it really took a number of spins to acclimate to the uniqueness this epic prog rock classic. Some of the inaccessibility gave way to appreciation and increased enjoyment with each listen, and there really is nothing else like it in my rotation.

#28 - In Rainbows (-4) Radiohead


Release Year: 2007 Genres: Art Rock, Alternative Rock

One of Radiohead’s biggest strengths is combining rocking catchiness with interesting soundscapes and creative arrangements, and In Rainbows is one of the best examples of it. Anything here I used to find boring has grown into being a strength of the album.

#27 - Blómi (NEW) Susanne Sundfør


Release Year: 2023 Genres: Singer-Songwriter, Contemporary Folk

Blómi really came out of left field for me, and is an example of why it is so hard for me to nail down why some singer-songwriter albums appeal to me so much more than others. But the unique arrangements and lush vocals here really hit the spot for me, and I found myself coming back again and again when looking for something more laid back while still very full.

#26 - Bang Bang (-16) Dispatch


Release Year: 1997 Genres: Alternative Rock, Jam Band, Folk Rock

My favorite Dispatch album remains the same, and one powered by a history of listening to it. It is just a catchy and fun collection of tunes, and it is like comfort food to come back to and sing along. A decent drop from last year, but honestly impressive that it holds this high given all the new music I’ve consumed since Bang Bang originally became a favorite.

#25 - High Visceral {Part 1} (+20) Psychedelic Porn Crumpets


Release Year: 2016 Genres: Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Psych

Big riser for the band with the dumbest name on the list, the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. Was probably ranked a little lower than it should have been last year, but it continues to solidify itself as some of my favorite heavier rock that has a playful edge.

#24 - Paranoid (+20) Black Sabbath


Release Year: 1970 Genres: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock

And another big riser, moving in lockstep with High Visceral {Part 1}, is the classic Paranoid by Black Sabbath. This has gone from, “hey this is actually pretty good for how old and overplayed some of the songs like War Pigs and Iron Man are” to “okay, this is just one of my favorite albums, it has a tight clean mix and simply rocks hard.”

#23 - Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern (NEW) Lil Ugly Mane


Release Year: 2021 Genres: Neo-Psychedelia, Indietronica

What a strange album this one is. From an artist that mostly raps (I haven’t listened to any of his other albums yet) comes this very experimental collection of music sketches that are interesting, catchy, and don’t outstay their welcome. It feels like this will have to settle down on the list a bit, but for now I’ve really been enjoying it.

#22 - California (+15) Mr. Bungle


Release Year: 1999 Genres: Experimental Rock, Art Rock

California by Mr. Bungle remains one of the strangest albums to make my list, but it is proving to be no flash in the pan as it moves up 15 spots. It smashes unexpected genres together, but the more I listen, the more I find myself enjoying the contrast and how it balances weirdness with genuinely good songwriting.

#21 - Quebec (NEW) Ween


Release Year: 2003 Genres: Art Rock, Neo-Psychedelia

Another new album to rocket up the list, from the eclectic rock band Ween. Quebec leans less goofy than some of their other offerings, and spans styles to deliver a really solid collection of tracks with several memorable highlights. A really high debut, but it is one of my favorite finds in the past year.

#20 - An Awesome Wave (-7) alt-J


Release Year: 2012 Genres: Art Pop, Indie Pop

Another favorite that predates my transition into really heavily exploring new music, An Awesome Wave continues to hold on and is easily my favorite alt-J album. They have a unique style, but I really enjoy it and everything here flows really well as an album.

#19 - Modern Vampires of the City (-10) Vampire Weekend


Release Year: 2013 Genres: Indie Pop, Chamber Pop

Vampire Weekend saw a huge drop on my list this year, with three of their four albums dropping off of my list. I still enjoy them, they have just cooled a bit. However, Modern Vampires of the City remains their strongest album by a large margin, and the catchy indie-rock-pop still finds itself inside my top 20.

#18 - High Visceral {Part 2} (+8) Psychedelic Porn Crumpets


Release Year: 2017 Genres: Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Psych

High Visceral {Part 1} saw a jump of 20 spots, and now {Part 2} sees a jump of its own. Maybe they will settle somewhere in between next year, but I keep coming back to these albums and reminding myself that they are just fun, hard-rocking records.

#17 - Ants From Up There (-2) Black Country, New Road


Release Year: 2022 Genres: Art Rock, Post-Rock, Chamber Pop

It is weird to have two Black Country, New Road albums on my list that are so different, mainly because of the departure of the lead singer after Ants From Up There was released. But while I enjoy each in their own ways, Ants From Up There remains my favorite.

#16 - Funeral (+2) Arcade Fire


Release Year: 2004 Genres: Indie Rock, Chamber Pop

A slow burn that I have listened to on and off for over a decade now, Funeral has really started to solidify itself in my top tier of favorite albums. It will be interesting to see if The Suburbs grows on me in the same way, or if it ends up having a lower ceiling.

#15 - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (+4) Wilco


Release Year: 2002 Genres: Indie Rock, Art Rock

Another long-time grower, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has had a resurgence in recent years. I have started listening to a couple other Wilco albums, but it really feels like this is their finest work.

#14 - How to Be a Human Being (-6) Glass Animals


Release Year: 2016 Genres: Indietronica, Alt-Pop

While not a popular genre on my top list, I can be a sucker for electronica fused with other generes if done right, and How to Be a Human Being nails that for me. Groovy arrangements that are the sweet spot between their jungly debut ZABA and their less inspired mainstream efforts that came later.

#13 - Red (+21) King Crimson


Release Year: 1974 Genres: Progressive Rock, Art Rock

The winner of “biggest riser since last year’s list” is Red by King Crimson! A rocking album that is really what I am looking for in progressive rock. The more avant-garde instrumental Providence holds this one back a bit, but even that has grown on me as it climbs its way towards my top 10.

#12 - Illinois (+2) Sufjan Stevens


Release Year: 2005 Genres: Chamber Pop, Singer-Songwriter

Illinois is probably still the definitive Sufjan Stevens album, exemplifying his strong acoustic songwriting as well as his tendency to throw in the kitchen sink when it comes to arrangements. Really an impressive, long set of songs, especially when you consider that the B-side album The Avalanche is also quite good in its own right.

#11 - Bone Machine (+11) Tom Waits


Release Year: 1992 Genres: Experimental Rock, Singer-Songwriter

This year, Bone Machine really separated itself as my second favorite Tom Waits album. A lot of my favorites are on here, with a great balance of experimental rock, ballads, and quirkiness — or as Waits put it in the title of his compilation of unreleased material: brawlers, bawlers, and bastards.

#10 - De todas las flores (NEW) Natalia Lafourcade


Release Year: 2022 Genres: Singer-Songwriter, Chamber Folk

Who would have thought that the highest new album to my list would be Spanish-only and in a genre that I really hadn’t listened to? But no denying that De todas las flores has become an all-time favorite. Perhaps boosted by the fact that I got to see her perform this album live, which was an outstanding concert, but this album just creates a relaxing mood that I keep wanting to come back to.

#9 - The New Abnormal (+3) The Strokes


Release Year: 2020 Genres: Indie Rock

Last year I was surprised to admit that The New Abnormal was, in fact, my favorite Strokes album. But now, it has only separated itself even more. Just great tracks from start to finish and it has seen a ton of play in the last couple of years.

#8 - Pet Sounds (+3) The Beach Boys


Release Year: 1966 Genres: Baroque Pop

Pet Sounds is a near-universally acknowledged classic, but there are plenty of albums in that category that don’t land for me at all. Definitely some nostalgia with the Beach Boys being a band I grew up listening to, but this album is far and away their masterpiece and one that I seem to only enjoy more and more with repeated listens.

#7 - Sylva (-1) Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest


Release Year: 2015 Genres: Progressive Big Band, Jazz Fusion

I enjoy a lot of Snarky Puppy’s music, but there are two of their albums that I absolutely love. Sylva is the first, and is a beautiful and groovy combination of Snarky Puppy’s strengths and an orchestra, and the result is special. I don’t listen to a ton of instrumental-only music, but Sylva is an example of what I find very compelling despite the lack of vocals.

#6 - Carrie & Lowell (+1) Sufjan Stevens


Release Year: 2015 Genres: Indie Folk, Singer-Songwriter

One of Sufjan’s Stevens biggest areas of strength is stripped back acoustic songwriting, and Carrie & Lowell is the best example of him embracing that strength and holding back from some of the more ambitious tendencies found on his other records. Nearly perfect for this style, and, in my opinion, Sufjan’s best.

#5 - OK Computer (+0) Radiohead


Release Year: 1997 Genres: Alternative Rock, Art Rock

There is a lot that I like about Radiohead, but OK Computer is the one album that takes everything I like the most and executes on it flawlessly. I like a lot of what they have done since this album, but none of it is particularly close to reaching the heights found here.

#4 - Songs in the Key of Life (-1) Stevie Wonder


Release Year: 1976 Genres: Soul, Funk

A massive double-album that manages to produce a bunch of my favorite Stevie Wonder tracks, with “filler” that is still better than most albums. The length, both overall and on some of the individual songs, is probably what keeps this from being even higher, but it is an absolute joy that this collection of music exists.

#3 - Rain Dogs (+1) Tom Waits


Release Year: 1985 Genres: Singer-Songwriter, Experimental Rock

It is hard for me to explain why Tom Waits has resonated with me so much in recent years, and Rain Dogs just seems to be on a steady climb up my rankings. For me, it’s Waits’s masterpiece and I always seem to be in the mood to listen to it. Maybe not likely to make the strongest first impression, but this one has been hugely rewarding over time and is probably my most listened to album in the past two years.

#2 - Abbey Road (+0) The Beatles


Release Year: 1969 Genres: Pop Rock

While other Beatles albums slid off the list (though another four would make my top 100), Abbey Road held on to the penultimate spot. It’s everything I like about the Beatles and I don’t see myself growing tired of all the classics here.

#1 - We Like It Here (+0) Snarky Puppy


Release Year: 2014 Genres: Jazz Fusion, Progressive Big Band

No change at #1, with Snarky Puppy rising to the top despite being purely instrumental. There is a piece of my soul that craves rocking, funky grooves, and We Like It Here continues to satisfy that longing more than any other music I’ve listened to.