File-sharing has made the quest for finding new music an effortless, mindless and sometimes overwhelming task. You buy an iPod, your bestie dumps all "their" music on it and your current music taste forms around that cyclical process.
Elis & Tom (Elis Regina and Tom Jobim) is one album that you might not score through a friend file-swap (or if you're lucky enough, you already did). Recorded in 1974, Elis & Tom is considered the most vital Bossa Nova ("New Trend" in the Brazilian jazz genre lexicon) album of all time. It's a furry-sounding tropical-jazz recording that evokes feelings of love, loss, isolation, hip-swaying and palm trees.
Jobim's silky jazz numbers, coupled with Regina's glum-but-gorgeous vocal tone, represented a landmark shift in the '70s jazz scene; now, it's a timeless classic that could've been made just yesterday. Regina OD'd on a vicious cocktail of blow, booze, pills and depression in 1982, but her contribution to the contemporary Bossa Nova scene remains ever-relevant.
For fans of: Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Dinah Washington
Standout tracks: "Só Tinha de Ser com Você," "Águas de Março"
Goes well with: Coitus, red wine, red wine-induced coitus
Leading up to the release date of their flagship masterpiece, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, Wilco was suddenly dropped from their major label (the label claimed the album was an unmarketable flop). In a game-changing industry move, Wilco promptly posted the album for free on their website, and a tidal wave of critical buzz ensued. The band was subsequently re-signed, and Yankee Foxtrot Hotel landed the number-two spot on Rolling Stone's "Best Albums of 2002" list.
Front man Jeff Tweedy got hooked on pills during that period, but cleaned up-and the band released a few lackluster albums (with the exception of Ghost is Born) that unfortunately strayed too far from their psych-tinged Americana roots. Luckily, The Whole Love is a back-to-form endeavor littered with catchy-as-hell melodies sheathed in weirdness, electronic spazz-outs, spider-webbed guitars and Tweedy's penchant for "this song is pretty-sounding, but I'm deathly unhappy" lyrical stylings.
If they wanted to, Wilco could sell out a three-night stint at Madison Square Garden, all while never having a proper radio hit. But that immense fan base didn't come easy-it was earned through great songwriting and hardship.
For fans of: The Rolling Stones, Radiohead,
Standout tracks: "Whole Love," "I Might"
Goes well with: Denim, airport layovers, marine layer