I love EPs! I miss rooting around in record stores and coming across them, because they were often a surprise. It doesn't happen very much any more, or at least, I don't come across them very often. Probably just means I'm out of touch. I'm very old!
Anyway, this is from the Kernel EP, but this song is just an alternate take of a song from Headsparks, so this EP is pretty inessential. Buuut, I do miss EPs.
Dr. Octagon, "3000"
The first full song on Dr. Octagonecologyst, it really let the listener know what they were in for. It also really exploded the entire scene. Suddently, underground hip-hop had a face, a hit album, an aesthetic that set it off against the dominant paradigm of the day (which was mostly gangster rap). The left-field, free-association rapping of Kool Kieth, combined with the cinematic production of Dan the Automator, were just totally different from what most people were listening to. It really paved the way for so many following acts to take hip-hop to other places.
I don't know how to measure influence, not really. I think a lot of folks just use their own tastes as a proxy for influence, combining it with the release date of things, and then call it a day. So, given that declaring the influence of albums is probably bullshit, this has got to be one of the most influential hip-hop albums ever.
Mono, "Death in Rebith"
"Death in Rebirth" seems like the sort of post-rock title that would be genreated by an AI. And it comes from an album called Requiem for Hell. Oooooh, a mention of hell. DANGEROUS. But no, this is just post-rock. Pretty standard stuff, basically eight minutes of crescendo. I think Mono are pretty good, I like listening to them, but this is pretty nondescript.
Booker T. and the MG's, "Blue on Green"
Beyond all the fantastic songs they played on by virtue of being the Stax house band, they also cranked out a ton of really solid albums in the late 60s of their own stuff. This is from Doin' Our Thing, which is a solid set, one of many you could try out from them.
Sturgill Simpson, "Brace For Impact (Live A Little)"
If you were not interested in mainstream country, the notable alternative (literally called "alt country") was very much rooted in simplicity. With leaders like Will Oldham, alt country was confessional and stripped down. More Gram Parsons than anything else. While there's nothing wrong with that, and I adore a lot of alt-country, it's limiting to have basically only one model to choose from. That's why Sturgill Simpson was so refreshing when I discovered him. Here's someone playing country, recognizably so, but drawing instead from outlaw country as an inspiration. And with A Sailor's Guide To Earth, he expanded even further from there to include influences from all over rock while still remaining a country artist. I mean, there's recognizable bits of prog rock in here. Neat! It's a lot of fun, and I'm glad he's making records.