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12 Album Titles That Describe The Music: R.E.M., Tom Waits, And More

By Joey DeGroot j.degroot@musictimes.com | Jul 13, 2014 06:21 PM EDT

A good album title should always suit or complement the music that it represents, but some artists create album titles by literally describing the music itself. Here are twelve album titles that describe the music.

1. The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

One of the earliest uses of the word "psychedelic" to describe music was the title of the 13th Floor Elevators' 1966 debut, which pioneered both psychedelic music and garage rock.

2. Leonard Cohen - Songs of Leonard Cohen (1968)

Perhaps in an attempt to clarify that all of the songs on the album are original and not covers, Leonard Cohen titled his debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen. He would follow this template for his next two albums, Songs from a Room and Songs of Love and Hate.

3. The Band - Music from Big Pink (1968)

Though most people at the time probably didn't know what "Big Pink" was, The Band chose to title its debut album Music from Big Pink, in reference to the pink house in upstate New York where the band lived and rehearsed.

4. Brian Eno - Discreet Music (1975)

With his ambient work, Brian Eno created music that's intended to be played in the background and not actively listened to, which he hints at with the title of his first ambient album Discreet Music, which is also the name of the thirty-minute piece on the album's first side.

5. Bad Religion - Back to the Known (1985)

Though the title of this EP may not mean anything to people unfamiliar with Bad Religion, for fans it meant that the band was returning to its punk roots, as its previous album Into The Unknown was a venture into progressive rock.

6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads (1996)

An album made up entirely of murder ballads is such a simple yet brilliant idea, and nobody was better suited for the task than Nick Cave.

7. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F A ∞ (1997)

The "F#" and "A#" in the title of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's debut album refer to the keys that each side of the album starts with, while the "∞," which of course means "infinity," refers to a locked groove at the end of the album's second side, which results in the album's last few seconds looping forever, or until you take the needle off.

8. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs (1999)

The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt has said that 69 Love Songs isn't actually about love, but rather, "It's an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love." There are 69 songs on the album, of course, so this title is very literal.

9. Animal Collective - Campfire Songs (2003)

Though there wasn't a literal campfire, Animal Collective recorded the five songs for its Campfire Songs album in one continuous take on acoustic guitars while sitting around outdoors, so it definitely has a "campfire" feeling to it.

10. Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards (2006)

For this 2006 compilation of rarities, Tom Waits divided the album into three sections and arranged the songs based on their genre: Brawlers, which were blues and rock songs, Bawlers, which were ballads, and Bastards, which were experimental songs.

11. R.E.M. - Accelerate (2008)

For its penultimate album Accelerate, R.E.M. recorded its shortest, leanest, and punkiest LP ever, "accelerating" its music after the dismal failure of 2004's Around the Sun.

12. Japandroids - Celebration Rock (2012)

Both of Japandroids album titles could be seen as names for made-up genres: Post-Nothing is a play on the common "post" label in music (post-punk, post-rock, etc.), while Celebration Rock could actually be a legitimate way to describe the upbeat, celebratory nature of Japandroid's music.

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