The Stories Behind 10 of the Strangest Modern Concept Albums


By Dee Lockett

Pink Floyd's The Wall, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers—all iconic names that have become definitive works of the concept album genre. Taking one or more grandiose narrative and shaping an entire album around it as a lyrical technique became wildly popular in the early '40s and '50s, particularly in jazz and country with legends like Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash. Until then, the idea of storytelling in music had been confined to the individual song. Now, even at the height of the singles culture where one-click downloads are the norm, there's an expectation to put out a cohesive album. It's why fans gravitate toward albums that feel like full projects, a work of art you can sense took time significant time to create. We see that in the success and instant-classic status of Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city, also one of the most recent concept albums.

That idea of writing stories with albums has seen a resurgence in the past decade or so. And while some take the more predictable route of telling straightforward love stories, tales of death, and other common themes, others stray the way of the strange. Here, we spotlight the stories and inspiration behind some of the strangest concept albums of our time.

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  • Charlie

    No Coheed and Cambria? Too hard to explain?

  • Taztip

    Tyler Kills Jasper and Taco at the end of “Bitch, Suck Dick” & Sam kills Earl at the end of “Rusty” – Listen to the albums, please…

  • Dee Lockett

    Close contender. But honestly that would require an entire individual feature to really dive into The Amory Wars the right way.

  • Dee Lockett

    You may be right. I went over every album once again while writing this, and definitely see what you’re saying about “Bitch, Suck Dick.” Though Jasper and Taco could’ve just sustained gunshot wounds and been hospitalized, therefore, unable to attend the intervention in “Window.”

    But of course all these songs are open to everyone’s subjective interpretation since there’s no encyclopedia for the trilogy. As a point of reference though, I did follow some of Ryan Bassil’s Noisey theory which I say in the piece.

  • Chase

    Jim Jame’s solo album is a very interesting concept album as well. The album pulls influence from Lynd Ward’s 1929 novel that was composed of no words, but picture carved into wood.

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