Weekly List: Best Debut Albums

It is 11-11-11 and there just aren’t many records that go all the way to 11 like this one does.  This Is Spinal Tap looks back at the career of its namesake from their earliest recordings at The Thamesmen (“Gimme Some Money”), through their flower-power era (“Listen to the Flower People”), into their heavy metal heyday with their epic “Stonehenge.” It may have been the “first release” from the Tap, but it was hardly the first time this set of talent came together. Look all the way back to the 70s when David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) teamed up for the National Lampoon masterpiece Lemmings.  Of course they were joined by other comedic and musical talents including John Belushi and Chevy Chase well before their SNL careers.  Not familiar with it?  Then get thee to Netflix and watch the stage production documenting Woodshuck: Three Days of Peace, Love and Death.  http://bit.ly/teLBZc McKean & Guest surfaced outside of National Lampoon again in 1979 with the album Lenny & Squiggy Present Lenny and the Squigtones, a spinoff property from the hit TV show Laverne & Shirley.  More than a comedic vehicle for Lenny & Squiggy, the Squigtones included luminaries such as Murphe Dunn (also known in comedy circles from the SNL and Blues Brothers bands), drummer Don Poncher and someone who may or may not have been Harry Shearer. Spinal Tap went on to tour the US multiple times following their American tour debut documented in the film This Is Spinal Tap. They’ve toured as recently as last year, losing countless drummers to spontaneous human combustion in their wake.



The Clientele- Suburban Light (2000)

The Clientele are a band who are about aesthetic over all else. Their songs are nearly uniformly clouded in warm reverb, a dreamy haze of nostalgia, whispers of desire.  They released three of the last decade’s best albums: 2005’s Strange Geometry, 2003’s The Violet Hour, and their 2000 debut Suburban Light. It’s undeniable that over the last 12 years the band has moved towards better production, crisper drums, strings and horns, but Suburban Light still stands as the purest crystallization of the band’s sound. It’s almost as if they did it so well on tracks like “I Had to Say This”, “We Could Walk Together” and “What Goes Up” that everything that followed merely had to touch upon a certain musical aspect, a certain chord or harmony in order to evoke everything that came before it. This obsession with memory is something explicitly in the band’s music, notably in the stunning “Reflections After Jane”, but the way the band built a catalog that is so tight, so self-referential but always fresh originates in the strength and perfect beauty of Suburban Light.

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