Critically-Acclaimed Albums that are Unlistenable

I suppose Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed might take top prize for the most “unlistenable album.” But I’d like opinions on such albums that have at least a semblance of serious musicianship, and are deemed “critically-acclaimed” by the powers-to-be.

Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band was ranked #58 in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. I’m a big Zappa fan, so I bought TMR (CD format) in the early 1990s. About once a year I play it in its entirety, hoping I will finally “get it” this time. But I *always *shake my head when listening to it. I’ve *tried *to like it. I’ve *tried *to appreciate it. But I just don’t get it. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy weird/avant-garde music. (In addition to Zappa, I love The Residents and The Velvet Underground.) But I find TMR to be utterly unlistenable. :frowning:

What critically-acclaimed albums do you deem unlistenable?

Bitches Brew–Miles Davis. I have tried and tried but can’t get through it–and I love jazz and his other stuff.

**Hot Rats–Frank Zappa. ** It took me about 10 years to listen through it all, especially Willie the Pimp. Now it is one of my favorite albums.

And a big shout out to the Residents! I saw them in Berlin in '87. Strangest concert I had ever been to. We could never figure out–even years later-- if we actually enjoyed it.

Radiohead-Kid A. I know they’re the critic’s darlings but I disliked it.

Tom Waits-Swordfishtrombones. Except for “Johnsburg, Illinois”, I never listen to anything else off of this album. I love me some Tom Waits though, just that album is on the opposite side of enjoyment for me.

Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” is a real mess, and that’s coming from a real Floyd fan

I was going to mention Zappa.

I guess the question is whether it really fits the criterion of “critically-acclaimed”… most critics might agree with your assessment.

I might go with Carla Bley’s Escalator Over the Hill. I want to like it, but I can’t get into any of it except Side 5.

There’s some great stuff on White Light/White Heat, but I’m not likely to play it because, to me, “Sister Ray” is like hitting myself in the head with a hammer for 17 minutes.

There are a lot of critically-acclaimed albums that I don’t exactly find unlistenable but that leave me cold… like pretty much any Steely Dan after Countdown to Ecstasy (which I absolutely love).

Crafter_Man - I saw the title and wandered in to cite Trout Mask Replica. You’ve already written the post I would have written, right down to trying it again every year or so. I’m going to give up trying, though. I cannot listen without thinking, “this is so stupid”.

Just about every other Neil Young album.

With regard to Trout Mask Replica, I honestly wonder if the critics at Rolling Stone are pulling a big *woosh *on us. I can hear them now: “Hey guys, have I got a crazy idea! As a joke, let’s list Trout Mask Replica as one of the greatest albums of all time, and see how many people fall for it.”

I may be alone in this, but the album “Merriweather Post Pavilion” by Animal Collective (Metacritic score of 89; made many critics’ 10-best lists of 2009) induces mild nausea in me whenever I try to listen to it all the way through. And I’m not saying this in a metaphorical “this stuff is so bad it makes me sick” way – I experience actual physical nausea. Which pretty much makes it unlistenable to me.

That’s what I love about it! I actually enjoy Trout Mask Replica as well, when I’m in the mood.

The album that’s unlistenable to me is Dark Side of the Moon. I find it so dreadfully boring I can’t make it through the first side. To me, it sounds more mechanical by far than Metal Machine Music.

MMM (that’s Metal Machine Music, not our own Mean Mr. Mustard) and Trout Mask are the legendary ones that come to mind.

W/r/t Neil Young - yep, another album that came to mind was NY’s **Trans **- his futuristic experiment. Bless 'im for trying.

Kid A also comes to mind - but I kinda dig it, so I guess I would call it “surprisingly popular and critically noticed for being such an inaccessible CD”

Oh - another one that comes to mind is the CD by The Breeders - the Pixies’ Kim Deal’s side band with her non-playing twin sister on lead guitar ;). It had a big hit on it - Cannonball - but a lot of that CD is out there…

I find the vast majority of Sonic Youth’s output nigh unlistenable, most especially Daydream Nation.

Also, whenever I hear Colin Meloy’s tortured artist bleating, I wanna snatch the nerd specs off the nearest hipster I see and stab 'em in the throat with 'em, even though I totally dig on the actual music of The Decemberists.

I concur. Every once in a while I give it another shot, thinking I must be missing SOMETHING. It never works–*Bitches Brew *never ceases to annoy me. Genealogically, it’s weird, since I do love *In a Silent Way *(BB’s predecessor) and many of the albums that came after like Heavy Weather. *Bitches Brew *may be the best-selling jazz record of all time (I understand it’s in a dead heat with Kind of Blue, which is one of the great musical achievements of all time) but it’s never appealed to me.

Arthur Lee and Love put out a lot of highly acclaimed but not very good albums.

Their ***Forever Changes ***used to show up in most critics’ Ten Greatest Albums of All Time lists, and I never understood why.

Oh… and while Van Morrison HAS done some great stuff in his day, I find his most critically acclaimed album, ***Astral Weeks, ***a self-indulgent mess, a real bore of an album.

I’ve had the same reaction to Trout Mask Replica, but I think I just generally don’t like Captain Beefheart. The only songs of his I enjoy are “Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles” and “White Jam,” because the chords are neat.

I love this description ; I can’t stand his voice either. He sounds like he’s trying to emulate the kooky vocal style of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, but Jeff is a genuinely and unself-consciously strange guy, and Colin Meloy sounds anything but genuine and unself-conscious.

I kind of like Trans, personally.

Do agree about Ummagumma. ‘A bit of a mess’ is quite accurate.

Ah, but this redeems it for me. But de gustibus non est disputandum and all that.

Sonic Youth meanwhile does definitely seem to be a love it or hate it proposition. I love Daydream Nation, but I find it unsurprising and understandable that many wouldn’t.

The Milk-Eyed Mender, by Joanna Newsom.

By all rights, I should love this album. I really, really don’t.