The Power OutPicking 20 albums from the past 20 years ended up being surprisingly easy for me. Knowing it was impossible to list all the great ones or all the ones I love, I realized I was going to have to choose not just the great albums I love, but the ones that also hit me like a load of bricks the first time I heard them and still sound revolutionary and awesome years later. That same force of impact, that prickly feeling that I was hearing something different and strange, remains just as strong now as it did in the past with all of these records. If there's anything else that unites them (and that's a big if), it's the qualities I prize most in music -- a sound that's futuristic or against-the-grain, wedded to age-old concepts of melody and harmony and counterpoint, along with the simple intangible messages conveyed by an artist, any artist, who just wants to connect with their audience.

Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
Björk - Homogenic
Black Dog Productions - Bytes
Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children
Broadcast - Tender Buttons
The Cardigans - Life
Daft Punk - Homework
Deerhoof - The Runners Four
Electrelane - The Power Out
Jurassic 5 - Jurassic 5
Robbie Williams - Life Thru a Lens
The Orb - U.F.Orb
Orbital - Orbital 2
Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
The Streets - Original Pirate Material
Tiger Trap - Tiger Trap
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
Walt Mink - Miss Happiness
The xx - The xx