Swans, "Stay Here"
Filth is maybe the best named album ever made. Belching forth from the no-wave scene in New York City, it's just 36 minutes of pure punishment. Grinding, scraping, the nihilism is palpable on every part of the record. From Roli Mossimann's relentless pounding on the drums, to Norman Westberg's doom-laden guitar work, and especially Michael Gira's howling vocals, the Swans are operating in a primal mode here that would inspire countless other noise bands. They would tune their attack, add in a lot more variation and complexity, and would end up as one of the most majestic bands ever. But when they started? They were the avatars of everything murky and gross.
De La Soul, "Eye Know"
The singles on 3 Feet High And Rising are great enough to overshadow the rest of the album, but there are so many bangers on the rest of the record, "Eye Know" being a great example. Pos in particular tears it up on the first verse, and Prince Paul's production is on point.
A Tribe Called Quest, "Electric Relaxation"
Speaking of tearing it up! Native Tongues in the house tonight! Phife's first lines on this song go through my head all the time, just part of that constant internal dialogue.
The Fiery Furnaces, "South Is Only A Home"
Sister/brother duo the Fiery Furnaces were one of the more consciously arty rock bands of their time, with this track from their first album being a great example. It's not a complicated song in structure or anything, but it's ornamented and arranged in a way that is often unexpected and surprising. It's off-kilter, in a good way.
Big Daddy Kane, "I Get The Job Done"
Here's a thing that kind of blows my mind: that De La Soul track up there is OLDER than this song from Big Daddy Kane. Prince Paul was so far out ahead of what everybody else was doing that it kind of sounds like another genre, almost.