The Most NYC Albums That Didn't Make Our Most NYC Albums List

Categories: Best of NYC


A couple weeks ago, for our cover story, we attempted the impossible task of ranking the 50 Most NYC Albums Ever. It was a monumental job, much harder than, say, the math problem Matt Damon solves on that MIT chalkboard in Good Will Hunting. But we did it. Though some of you disagreed with our choices, we got it done and -- no exaggeration here -- the city is a better place for it.

But we had to leave a lot of worthy albums off the list. (That's how lists work.) So consider the following numbers 51 through whatever. See if your favorite that didn't make the cut is here. We didn't try to rank them this time. We learned our lesson.

See also: The 50 Most NYC Albums Ever

Listen to selected songs from most of these 50 albums with our Spotify playlist

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Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold (2013)
After Light Up Gold came out early last year, it was hard for those who knew about Parquet Courts to hear the words "Ridgewood, Queens" without cueing up "Stoned
and Starving" in their heads ("I was walking through Ridgewood, Queens/ I was so stoned and starving"). For a few guys from Denton, Texas, Parquet Courts thrash fast and loose with punk tropes straight out of the L.E.S. circa 1977, except they crowd-surf at Death by Audio instead of CBGB's. Like true New Yorkers, they call it like they see it, flatly deadpanning lyrics about the shitty economy, "adults" that don't know any better, and even those ever-present piles of trash, driving the
point home with wiry, eviscerating guitars. -- Harley Oliver Brown

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Talking Heads - Remain in Light (1980)
In 1975, James Wolcott wrote in our pages that Talking Heads were "one of the most intriguingly off-the-wall bands in New York.'" Five years later, with Remain in Light, they proved committed to spontaneity, moving from their "neo-Velvet" beginnings to an afro-beat disco record, an early fusion of dance and rock music that formed the roots of what we still think of as cosmopolitan sound. Though Remain in Light was ostensibly David Byrne's attempt to step away from the spotlight, the album revealed his greatest talent: a preference for inclusion, the ability to collect and curate the contributions of disparate artists and to reveal the thin lines between cultures and genres that the city's density has always helped make irrelevant. -- Jonah Bromwich


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Frank Sinatra - Only the Lonely (1958)
Old Blue Eyes was 43 and deep into his second act when he and arranger Nelson Riddle recorded Only the Lonely, the best and most somber of his 1950s "concept albums" for Capitol Records. Nicholas Volpe's painted cover showed a Sinatra in tear-stained clown makeup, which might've seemed mawkish if not for the way it cut against his insouciant image, or if the LP hadn't arrived so hard on the heels of his divorce from Ava Gardner. Come Fly with Me, released only eight months earlier, felt a lifetime removed from this set of closing-time torch songs -- "Angel Eyes," "It's a Lonesome Old Town" -- featuring the most schtick-free, most expressive singing of Sinatra's career. In later years, he'd cite this album as his favorite. -- Chris Klimek


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Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain (1984)
The eleven songs on 1984's Victim in Pain, arguably the best New York hardcore album, are Agnostic Front's greatest. Picking up where the band's United Blood EP left off, the lyrics on Victim in Pain by Roger Miret reflect the rather sleazy, transient and dangerous life on the Lower East Side in the early '80s. The band formed around the A7 Club in the East Village and quickly attracted critics who labeled them fascists and skinheads, lead by punk zine Maximumrocknroll -- all claims the band denied. But A-F also fostered the punk scene at clubs like CBGB's after bands like Blondie had moved on, mentoring new bands and musicians, who cite Victim in Pain as one of the blueprints for the New York hardcore sound. - Nick Lucchesi


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Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City (2013)
"The wisdom teeth are out," Ezra Koenig coos on the third track of Modern Vampires of City, and the words carry weight because Modern Vampires of the City is the last installment in a trilogy. It constitutes a milestone so significant in the lifecycle of the band that they announced its arrival in the "Notices" section of the New York Times. They shed their madras shorts and polo shirts for this album, and instead of campus flings, Koenig and company are concerned with loss ("Hannah Hunt"), death ("Diane Young"), and God ("Ya Hey"). It is a tribute to the city, sure (look no further than the haunting Neal Boenzi photograph on the cover for proof of that), but more so it's a tribute to the stamp that the city leaves on those lucky enough to spend their formative years here. -- Tessa Stuart


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Jay Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Jay-Z's debut album could have very well been ripped from the minds of Scorsese or De Palma with its gangster bravado and illicit chaos. As much a protégé of Biggie as he was his contemporary, Jay-Z had an uncanny ability to breathe dimension into gritty rhymes with his quick wit and lyrical dexterity. But real Gs move in silence and unlike his peers, Jay was markedly the quiet hustler, never quite removing the veil even on introspective tracks like "Regrets" and "Can I Live" ("It gets tedious / So I keep one eye open like, C-B-S/ Ya see me stressed right? Can I live?"). Amid a remarkably prolific career that has spanned nearly two decades, Reasonable Doubt is still considered Jay-Z's magnum opus (and not even bringing the Nets to Brooklyn can top that). -- Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Listen to selected songs from most of these 50 albums with our Spotify playlist



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15 comments
John DeBaun
John DeBaun

Now that I see what was left off the list, like David Johansen and Mink Deville, that list really was Bullshit !

Paw1
Paw1

far better than the first list

allearsrecords
allearsrecords

So there's no 'native' New Yorker compiling and/or editing this list who's never heard of Hector Lavoe?

Stevart
Stevart

Thanks for the Ghost Writer.  I suggested it as it is VERY NY state of mind.
Let's hope that it will be reissued on CD.

norcal
norcal

Where's David Peal(?) and the Lower East Side, Exuma? Up Against theWall MOTHER F**ker!

Ivan Obregon
Ivan Obregon

salsa classics r seriously missing from this list and there ain't no nyc without willie colon no matter what the other half of the represented population thinks...is only nyc.

Mark Amore
Mark Amore

And still no Joe Jackson's Night and Day o.O

Aurel Savin
Aurel Savin

I like this list better than the actual Top 50 ... although this list is more "it came FROM NYC" rather than "ABOUT NYC" ... still some real gems here.

Morgwn Hyde
Morgwn Hyde

It's basically a better list than the first list.

mgagl
mgagl

Really, still no clash?   The only played at the Bond theater, lyrics that contained new york city and some of the streets.  Punk scene in the 70"s.  really?  you suck!

David Wallace
David Wallace

What about David Peel? He should have come in 1st!

Drew Martin
Drew Martin

Really no BOC? What a shame you missed the beginnings.

Kelly Plumber
Kelly Plumber

STILL no BOC, STILL no On The Corner. Props for getting Willy DeVille, Run DMC, and Garland Jeffreys in there. Springsteen? No. Tom Waits? No. Stevie Wonder? No. Those are not NYC artists, or albums.

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