EDIT: Adding a few comments, as the thread actually requested. I am not good at writing about music. I deleted a few too, because I didn’t wanna write about them right now.
Elliott Smith - either/or, XO
Choosing a favorite Elliott Smith album is pretty hard, but these are the two I listen to most often, and I love that these two, released sequentially, bridge his move into a more lush pop soundscape. Smith’s music is very connected to a very intense and difficult time in my life and I feel like I keep rediscovering his music and discovering new things in it whenever I come back to it.
Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue
One of my most-played albums. A little long, but I feel like this album takes me on a real journey. It’s also the ELO sound I like best, the culmination of what had been happening in previous albums. Jeff Lynne’s lyrics here are some of his best.
Andrew WK - I Get Wet
I sometimes think I like the weirder, more specific songs in his later career (Mother of Mankind, Close Calls with Brick Walls), but the energy and tightness of this first album is really phenomenal.
Janelle Monae - Electric Lady
This one’s odd in that I often start it in different places, listen to five or six songs, and am good for a bit, but it doesn’t matter what track I start with. Monae’s retro-future funk/R&B vision is marvelously realized.
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
The hyperliterary songwriting of the Decemberists either reaches its most beautiful or ridiculous climax, depending on your view of what The Decemberists do. The themes of loss and war are variably and excellently explored throughout the album.
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run, Born in the USA
I know real Springsteen fans like these albums, but find Born in the USA, especially, to be a little too flashy, and I think Springsteen himself feels a bit like that, but goddamn do I love the energy of these two. The sadness and darkness of the situations the lyrics describe are enriched by the arena-like explosiveness of Born in the USA, and positively exhilarating with the pulsing heartbeat of Born to Run.
Various - Gundam Unplugged
Gundam music on acoustic guitars in really pretty arrangements. Perfect background music.
Kadomatsu Toshiki - Sea Is a Lady
I like Kadomatsu’s vocal stuff as well, but this instrumental album is full of chill, the promise of leisure adulthood I envisioned in the 80s and 90s, have never experienced, never really want to, but have an unkillable, somewhat problematic fondness for.
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
Jones’s first and still my favorite. This album somehow still feels like the most confident and cohesive she’s put out, and I like all of them to one extent or another.
Velvet Underground /& Nico, Loaded
The album with Nico is so wide-ranging with so many catchy rock tunes, bursting with impassioned, feverish ideas. Loaded is like the more refined version of the former.
The Coup - Party Music, Pick a Bigger Weapon
Both funky as hell and gets me wanting to work toward a better world. I’ve seen The Coup in person, mostly performing songs from these two albums, and it’s the only music that can get me to dance in public without being drunk.
Hawaiian Style Band - Rhythm of the Ocean
Look, I know this album might be a bit corny. But these syrupy 90s pop tunes seeking to express a specifically Hawaiian identity speaks to me in a deep place that brings me absurd joy.
Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack
I adore Guaraldi’s piano playing, so expressive and emotive.
Yoshida Minako - Monochrome
So goddamn chill and funky. One of the few vocal albums I can listen to while doing homework. Yoshida’s voice is so rich and expressive.
Yoshida Takuro - Ningen Nante
Not the most recent album on the list, but the one I was most recently introduced to. Excellent folk tunes with really beautiful lyrics.