Sometimes the albums we discuss are deemed classic by the masses; sometimes they are deemed classic by a Matt (singular). Sometimes those albums are classic …question mark? In the case of Arrested Development’s debut album, “3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of …” (so-called because that was how long it took the group to land a recording contract), the question is not really whether it’s a classic album or not. It’s not. But it is an important album. When it was released in 1992, it was unleashed on a world that was coming to grips with gangsta rap. White America, in particular, wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Arrested Development came along and offered up pro-African and pro-family beats and rhymes that came across as a more positive (if, in the long run, a milquetoast) version of hip-hop that still hit on uncomfortable topics like America’s racist past, homelessness, the hypocrisies of faith, and so much more. They just did it with far fewer curse words. “Tennessee,” “Mr. Wendal” and (the now cringe-worthy) “People Everyday” were some of the biggest hits of their era, landing the group millions in record sales and even a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Rap Group (“Tennessee”). Oddly enough, they are seemingly forgotten these days … unless you are a middle-aged white person.

You can listen to Arrested Development on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Released on the exact same day as both Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory,” the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” took radio and MTV by storm thanks to massive hits like “Give It Away” and especially “Under the Bridge.” The Rick Rubin produced album was a crossover hit for a band largely known for funk, punk, and wild on-stage antics. The antics continued, but now to much larger, mainstream audiences. And while the album is full of things that long-time Peppers fans had grown to love, it also gave a glimpse of a more melodic and stronger songwriting ability to come. But there’s still a ton of songs about sex.

You can listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


It’s an amazing story, really. A well-born son of New England (and thus AMERICAN) heraldry battles drugs and romances only to find solace in songwriting. On a whim, the young man heads oversees and finds himself auditioning for Beatles. Not only do they love his music, they end up signing him to their label, playing on his debut album, and – in the case of George Harrison – being “inspired” by one of the young man’s songs enough to write arguably HIS greatest ever song. This is the story of James Taylor. Massachusetts born. Carolina bred. Some would argue one of America’s most important (and lasting) singer-songwriters. And his “Greatest Hits” is the stuff of legends. Even if in this case the legend speaks softy and plucks an acoustic guitar

You can listen to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


If ever there was a band that has come close to “out-U2ing” U2, it is Coldplay. Think about it: four good friends from their school days form a band – led by a charismatic lead singer – and create atmospheric, emotional, sing-along stadium anthems. And with “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” Chris Martin & Co. culled together the quintessential Coldplay “sound”: chiming piano, uncluttered (and occasionally ringing) guitar, driving bass and drum parts that fill the space and complement the mood. The album starts with “Politik,” a 9/11-inspired song that hints that this isn’t the same band that JUST used to fill English pubs. “In My Place,” “The Scientist” and “Clocks” all catapulted the band into the stratosphere, whether you wanted them to or not.

You can listen to A Rush of Blood to the Head on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


“Not too hard and not too soft.” That phrase personifies, in many ways, the music AND appeal of R&B hitmakers Boyz II Men. They could sing the harmonious, emotional acapella high points with songs like “End of the Road” and “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” but they could also bring the heat. (See “Uhh Ahh.”) However, there was nothing soft about their success. When their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, hit in 1991, it hit HARD. Fueled by the Michael Bivins-produced “origin story” “Motownphilly,” Boyz II Men were on a path of mega superstardom that would show them ruling the airwaves for much of the 1990s – sometimes even beating themselves at the top of the charts.

You can listen to Cooleyhighharmony on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


It’s been … one year since the last Finest Worksongs Christmas epipod. But Matt & Matt are back to offer up a couple of Yuletide faves ….and both are quirky and fun – in their own special ways. Barenaked Ladies’ “Barenaked for the Holidays” is quintessential BNL: moments of musical brilliance combined with moments of inane levity. “A Very Special Christmas 3” once again brought music’s top heavy hitters together to put their own, uh, unique spins on holiday classics — and a couple (then) new ones. Giggle your way into the season with our season-ending epipod. And Merry Christmas from Marshmallow and the Duke!

You can listen to Barenaked Ladies as well as A Very Special Christmas, volume 3 on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


This Listener’s Choice epipod stays “in the family” as the boys discuss Taylor Swift’s 2020 album folklore, which was chosen by Matt Stevens’ daughter MC. The adoration and sheer respect for Swift shines through in the discussion – from hosts and guest alike. After all, this was not just a career-defining album for T. Swift, but also a life-changing musical experience for many. The stripped-down and introspective songs were the perfect sounds to arrive during quarantine. And with assistance from the likes of Jack Antonoff, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), and The National’s Aaron Dessner, Swift created a masterpiece that showed her continued growth and self-confidence, particularly through tracks like “Cardigan,” “Exile” and “My Tears Richochet.” But don’t fret, Swifties: there’s still plenty of love triangles, incriminating themes, and self-reflective tracks to keep fans cheering her on and analyzing her love life – and lyrics.

You can listen to folklore by Taylor Swift on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


In 1983, Def Leppard emerged from the burgeoning British hard rock/metal landscape as, arguably, the biggest cats around. On the strength of mega hits (and fantastically “1980s-esque” videos) like “Photograph,” Rock of Ages,” “Foolin'” and “Too Late For Love,” the boys from Sheffield were able to become MTV darlings while still leaning into the spike bracelets and fist-pumping ethos. Their third album, “Pyromania,” was a break-out success. Their ascension hit a slight bump when drummer Rick Allen was significantly injured in a car accident (and thus lost an arm), but they would reach even greater heights with 1987’s “Hysteria.” But with ’83’s “Pyromania,” Def Leppard was HOT. And who could forget this classic lyric:
Gunter gleiben glauchen globen

You can listen to Pyromania by Def Leppard on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


1985 was a big year in pop music. The list of Billboard-topping albums is like a “who’s who” of 80s powerhouses: “Born in the USA” … “Purple Rain” … “No Jacket Required” …. “We Are the World” … “Like a Virgin” … and so on. But one album that made a splash that summer was Tears For Fears‘ “Songs from the Big Chair.” All of a sudden, with hits like “Shout,” “Head Over Heels” and “Everybody Wants to Rule The World,” Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal were punching above their class with the likes of Bruce, Prince and Madonna. It didn’t hurt that the songs undeniably catchy, and the videos were compelling. Almost four decades later, many of us are still singing — or shouting — along to these songs.

You can listen to Songs from the Big Chair by Tears for Fears on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Twenty-five years ago, a hip-hop album hit the scene so hard – and so somewhat unexpectedly – that it is still amazing to reflect on the remarkable impact that it had. In a time where gangster rap was shouting the loudest, “The Score,” the second album by Fugees, resonated with virtually everyone, scoring Grammys, selling millions of copies, and being the soundtrack to dance clubs for years to come – while underscoring many of the same issues that their more bombastic contemporaries were also rapping about. Of course, it never hurts to have Lauryn Hill’s wordplay and sensual voice; however, the musicality and vision of Wyclef Jean and the skills of Pras Michel made the Fugees a tour de force. With hits like “Ready Or Not, “Killing Me Softly” and “Fu-Gee La,” Fugees’ “The Score” remains one of the most beloved hip-hop and rap albums of all time. 

You can listen to The Score by Fugees on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


When most people turn 21, they celebrate by going out drinking with their friends. Adele used her life experiences as a 21-year-old to create one of the best-selling (and critically acclaimed) albums of all time. It’s an album that shares the kind of heartbreak and loss that many young women have dealt with. However, the difference is Adele was able to channel that emotion and turmoil into a complete, beautiful — and sometimes cleverly vicious — album. “21” spurred three No. 1 songs: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire to the Rain” — and “Rumour Has It” was a top 20 hit worldwide as well. And she really did do it her way, by writing songs from her heart that captured the essence of a women going through intense life mileposts. The ex-lover who spurned her allegedly told Adele that she would be “boring and lonely” without him. Today, the world knows Adele and could not give a crap about him. So cheers to you, Adele, for “21!”

You can listen to 21 by Adele on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Almost out of nowhere, Alabama Shakes’ 2015 album “Sound & Color” took the music world by storm. Fueled by Brittany Howard’s Janice-meets-Aretha soulful treatise on love, loss and longing, “Sound & Color” brings together blues, rock, soul, R&B, Southern rock — and so much more. And the world was here for it all. Fueled by the gritty and thumping “Don’t Wanna Fight,” the album was loved by music fans and music critics at the same time — a novelty, for sure. It would go on to be nominated for six Grammys, including Album of the Year. “Don’t Wanna Fight” would take home the Grammy for both Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song. But like the rest of the album, it’s SO much more than “rock.”

You can listen to Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Air drummers of the world, UNITE! This seminal album by the classic Canadian prog rock band Rush has been a long time coming for one Matt and a bitter pill to swallow for the other Matt. Clocking in at a concise (for them) 40 minutes, “Moving Pictures” was the album that took the trio from the world of mystical, dystopian rock operas to certified radio stars — while retaining street cred to the nerds. “Tom Sawyer” is an undeniable classic rock titan. “Limelight” tells the story of a superstar who doesn’t want to be a superstar — all the while ironically leading to said star becoming a superstar. And while “Moving Pictures” is a “pop” hit by Rush standards, it still retains elements of their earlier days with technically-sound instrumentals (“YYZ”), multi-movement sagas (“The Camera Eye”) and even paranoia/Big Brother elements (“Witch Hunt”). It also has a kick-ass car song (“Red Barchetta”).

You can listen to Moving Pictures by Rush on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


On our first “Underrated Albums” epipod, we’re sharing two albums that are scandalously under-appreciated. This is the opposite of the pretentious indie rocker touting an album no one would understand even if they could find it. These are albums we’re  dying for the world to hear. For whatever reason, these gems didn’t make it into everyone’s CD catalog or playlist, but it’s never too late. 

References in this Epipod:

You can buy Oh Tall Tree In The Ear by Roman candle online at Bandcamp, or listen to Queen Sarah Saturday on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. You can listen to Roman Candle on those platforms as well, but just go buy it. 


“We all wanna be Bob Dylan.”  In the midst of grunge and new punk, Adam Duritz and Co. were a throwback, not just to folk/pop music, but to the singer-songwriter era. Duritz’s poetic narratives offered a deep look into his soul and psyche, to his desire for belonging and fame. He would get at least the latter thanks to beautiful, pop hits like “Round Here,” “Rain King” and, of course, “Mr. Jones, which remains a radio staple. But the album, “August and Everything After” is a complete piece, often overlooked as a whole due to the momentous success of radio hits. “We all wanna be big stars, yeah, but we got different reasons for that.”

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream August and Everything After by Counting Crows online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Prince was already an enigmatic superstar before the movie (and soundtrack) for “Purple Rain” was released in 1984. But this outing catapulted him into superstardom — where he orbited the likes of Michael and Madonna (and often surpassed them). “Purple Rain” is Prince at his creative, clever and naughty best. Standard classics like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry” are teased with gems like “Darling Nikki” and “I Would Die 4 U.” And the anthemic title track is the type of masterpiece by which other songs are measured. The album “Purple Rain” is a bonafide classic. And Prince was just getting started.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Purple Rain by Prince online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


How on earth does a group of high school buddies from Bowling Green, Kentucky win multiple Grammy awards for internationally popular rock music? For this listener’s choice epipod, Matt and Matt dig in to find out what makes this band so beloved. While Cage The Elephant wear their influences on their sleeves, you’ll see that these talented boys from the Bluegrass State are much more than the sum of the bands that came before them. 

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Melophobia by Cage the Elephant online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


Easily one of the most versatile and collaborative performers in music these days, Anderson .Paak’s 2019 album “Ventura” is perhaps the one that feels the most true to who he is. “Ventura” includes all the elements that the artist himself  embraces: old-school soul, hip-hop, R&B and even rap from some of the world’s greatest. Paak’s gravitas as a drummer, producer and collaborator shines through with contributions from the likes of Andre 3000 (“Come Home”), Smokey Robinson (“Make It Better”), Lalah Hathaway (“Reachin’ 2 Much”), Brandy (“Jet Black”) and the late Nate Dogg (“What Can We Do?”). In every case, the collaborations work … and in every case, Paak is the star.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Ventura by Anderson .Paak online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


The alchemy that was the original Van Halen lineup would be almost impossible to replicate. On one end of the spectrum was the late, great Edward Van Halen, an introverted, virtuoso Guitar God who redefined the instrument and never seemed to put it down. On the other side was front man David Lee Roth, The Ultimate Entertainer who never seemed to slow down. The group was balanced out with steady bassist (and underrated backing vocalist) Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen. These four toured relentlessly in the 1970s and early ’80s, opening for — and more often than not blowing off the stage — the rock stalwarts of the day. By the time their fifth album, “1984,” was released, they were ready to take their place at the top of the rock ‘n roll food chain. And this album cemented Van Halen’s place among the greatest rock bands of all time thanks to hits like “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher.” Oh, and the videos didn’t hurt, either. The polar opposites of EVH and DLR would result in a fracture after this album, but like most alchemy reactions, it was magical while it worked.

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream 1984 by Van Halen online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon. 


In a time where pop music was dominated by dance-fueled R&B, slick hard rock, and a burgeoning alternative scene, Matthew Sweet’s 1991 major label breakthrough album “Girlfriend” was a refreshing throwback to Beatles-esque recording techniques and guitar-jangle melodies inspired by the Byrds. And, boy, did it resonate. Sweet’s songs about heartache and longing, combined with an all-star backing band led by Television’s Richard Lloyd, resulted in songs like “Girlfriend” and “I’ve Been Waiting” undoubtedly finding their way on to a ton of mix tapes. Throw in some faith-questioning tunes like “Divine Intervention” and  “Evangeline,” and you had an album that was gut-punch to American teenagers everywhere. 

References in this Epipod:

You can buy or stream Girlfriend by Matthew Sweet online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon.