We all have a history of music, some long, some short. Some of us only listen to one style of music or one era. We all have starting points and different ears for music. I have listened to music for a long time and it has been a comfort and pure joy for most of my life. I thought I would indulge myself and write a post about my 20 favourite records of all time. Of course this is almost an impossible task. I found it was also dictated by what I currently listen to in my musical journey. In other words if my humble abode was on fire and I only had time to grab 20 CD's which ones would I reach for first. Which ones are dear to my heart and mind. Of course one doesn't reach that point in life without meeting various cornerstones along the way. So before I reach the gold mine that fills my ears, here are some records that shaped, influenced, informed my musical tastes. They are all obviously important tracts of music that helped my development-
Highway 61 Revisited-Bob Dylan
Beggars Banquet-The Rolling Stones
The Band-The Band
All Mod Cons-The Jam
Remain in Light-Talking Heads
Let It Be-The Replacements
Daydream Nation-Sonic Youth
Warehouse: Songs and Stories-Husker Du
Meat is Murder-The Smiths
Just a few more observations-
I didn't include any 2006 releases, I think more time is needed to make full judgments, although Sunset Rubdown is odds on to make any future list.
I decided not to give any sort of full critical analysis, just instead convey a more personal, emotional reaction to each one selected.
Also I decided not to double up on an artist, otherwise Built to Spill could have made this list twice.
Before you ask why there are no Australian selections, I am the least parochial person you would meet and I am not concerned where it was made, just how much it moved me. However a few classics I love but had to leave out are-
Sound As Ever-You Am I
Horse Stories-Dirty Three
Before Hollywood-The Go Betweens
Since I Left You-The Avalanches
Born Sandy Devotional-The Triffids
So I welcome any comments, do any of these hold a firm place in your heart?
In no particular order (except NMH, its perfect)In The Aeroplane Over The Sea-Neutral Milk Hotel
Not only is every song perfect but every second on every song is perfect. No wonder this was their last recorded output. No amount of words can do justice I believe. Except to say it has everything I want from music. Emotional power that would flatten tall buildings, lyrical depth of extraordinary reach and sweeping, moving, music that is not defined by any era. By Two Headed Boy Part 2 I am just trying to regain my breath.
In my dreams you're alive and you're crying, as your mouth moves in mine soft and sweet, rings of flowers around your eyes and I'll love you for the rest of your life...The Glow Pt. 2-The Microphones
Whatever you do, you must listen to this aural masterpiece with headphones. The time and care taken with this dense, complex record is to be admired. There is so much going on I still get goosebumps when I listen to it. The tonal effects do something to my inner being and Phil Elvrum's emotional peaks make me feel like crying. Totally and utterly insanely original.
I could not get through september without a battle
I faced death
I went in with my arms swinging
but I heard my own breath
I had to face that I'm still livingThe Tennessee Fire-My Morning Jacket
Ahhhh, My Morning Jacket, THIS is the greatest rock band on earth. I love all their stuff and they have changed and progressed over time. But I always come back to this record when I just want to feel serene, happy and have a warm inner glow. This is music at its apex of authenticity, stacks of reverb, dollops of heart breaking moments and that voice, oh that voice. Jim James hugs the mountain of greatness and doesn't let go. You can play Nashville to Kentucky any time of day and I will hug you as well.
There will be bigotry and there will be open minds
There will be days of peace you'll never have the time
As long as you keep a straight face,
I will be there when you diePerfect From Now On-Built to Spill
This should be renamed Perfect till the end of Time, my favourite record (a very hard choice) by my favourite band. A perfect concoction of Indie Rock. Guitars riffs that some how weep and Doug's voice floats across at such a pitch that it socks me in the guts every time I listen to him. Each song is an epic construction that builds it own drama. If you don't like this in some way then perhaps our friendship has come to an end.
Every thousand years this metal sphere ten times the size of Jupiter floats just a few yards past the earth you climb on your roof and take a swipe at it with a single featherThe Lonesome Crowded West-Modest Mouse
Built to Spill's bastard child, this record is perfect driving music. Expansive, angry, ambitious. Music stripped of all artifice, pure, unambivalent, gut wrenching. This epic ain't stopping for no one. Some of the best guitar playing you will ever hear, put this one on and I just need to start moving. Also has sublime moments of introspection, Isaac won't ever top this.
And it took a long time, but I came clean with myself
I come clean out of love with my lover
I still love her, loved her more when she used to be sober and I was kinderMeadowlands-The Wrens
Can one record ever have been this well sequenced? It starts with a whisper, then builds and builds with intelligent, blissful pop rock gems. I think blissful is the right word, it can only put you in some sunny sort of mood. Fierecly intelligent, more hooks then is humanly possible. The very defintion of a grower, The Wrens just know how to deliver epic build ups.
You don't know what you got into
Until you know when it's all gone wrong
And I don't feel the need to try and explainFuneral-The Arcade Fire
Has there ever been a better debut? Anthems for the modern age, this uplifts everything. Your soul, your mind, your heart, your body. Play Wake Up once and it becomes your song. Hard to add anymore to what has already been said, other then to say if you feel jaded this will restore your faith in music and human endeavour.
Alice died in the night,
I've been learning to drive.
My whole life, I've been learning.Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain-Pavement
At some point during every year, I give thanks that Pavement came into my life. They had a profound effect on me. I always felt they were my personal band, so smart, so original, so wonderfully perfect. Some of my treasured moments were seeing them live. This record encapsulated my musical taste and it sounds as vibrant today as when it was released. My antidote to thoughtless corporate rock.
Well your greed for tokens and stamps
Underneath the fake oil burning lamps
In the city we forgot to name
The concourse is a four wheel shame
And the courthouse is double breastSurfer Rosa-Pixies
Pixies were my companion piece to Pavement, their angry cousins if you like. The band that influenced thousands of others, who sung what they were singing about? Every song was a dynamo in itself, thunderous drumming, throbbing bass lines, soaring guitars. Makes you feel dirty and guilty, harmonies to die for. Truly a seminal band.
Sitting here wishing on a cement floor
Just wishing that I had just something you woreGimme Fiction-Spoon
This was a very hard choice, Spoon just do it for me. There is nothing massively complex about their music and yet it is very hard to do what they do. That is write insanely catchy rock tunes. I finally settled on Gimme Fiction because the first 8 songs are as good as rock music is entitled to be. Britt Daniel's husky voice always pierces my heart and he has the knack for writing tunes that just float by while always containing a perfect climax.
I was sold for suspect drawings
Underneath a makeshift awning
Now I'm yours Know I'm here
Read it all front and back
But I can't relax
With my knees on the ground and a stick in my backBee Thousand-Guided by Voices
Can you write 20 perfect pop songs where a 3 minute song seems like an epic?
Most bands would kill to write any songs as good as these and I think Robert Pollard threw away five a day. Lo-fi but not in composition, no wonder they garnered a cult following, cryptic titles and lyrics just added to the mystique.
Men of wisdom
And men of compromise
Men of weak flesh in an armored disguise
All fall downThose Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever-Explosions in the Sky
Take me to Austin, eat breakfast at Whole Foods, shop for music in Waterloo Records, take in a Longhorns game and go to Zilker Park as the sun is setting. I lie down and put this record on. My life is complete.
The 4.48 moment of "A Poor Man's Memory" always melts my mind.
Sorry nothing to report hereThis Night-Destroyer
A late discovery for me, I am now totally immersed in the musical genius of Dan Bejar. This is his most rewarding, complex work. His use of lyrics always impresses me, they are intelligent with out being cynical, cryptic without being wilfully obscure. And his guitar work just adds to the pleasure, intricate, pulsating it often doesn't get the credit it deserves.
OK, and for a start there was a craft sale of the heart
Where things are made and things are sold
And returned into the gold from whence they came
And I said I would come And you said you'd come too
Hey, rock n roll's not through yet. I'm sewing wings on this thingYou Forgot It In People-Broken Social Scene
A bolt from the blue, joyous vibrant music, as good a use of the musical collective as is possible. Huge range on display here, from rocking out moments to chamber pop to complex instrumentals. Satisfies in always possible. Oh and if you haven't seen them live, write it down as a must in your life time.
Take me down, down through this
Kill the white within the bliss
Here is a waiting room
That wants to save your lifeApologies To The Queen Mary-Wolf Parade
I knew Indie rock could one day come to this. Thank you Canada, an amazing blend of heart pounding anthems and emotion charged singalongs. I feel myself gasping for breath when I listen to a lot of this. As hugely enjoyable as it is emotionally satisfying. Just containing "I'll Believe in Anything" is enough.
Give me your eyes
I need sunshine
Give me your eyes
I need sunshine
Your blood, your bones
Your voice, and your ghostBlueberry Boat-The Fiery Furnaces
See, this is what the Friedbergers are capable of, a towering achievement of
sounds, lyrics and ideas out of control. Pulling sounds from all genres, it manages to grab them all together in some sort of magical soup. You won't get this after one listen, or twenty, but it will hit you eventually.
Catamaran Man, you’re my cousin, you’re my blood, you’re ten feet tallF# A# (Infinity)- Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Please play this at my funeral. Epic is an understatement for this music.
Simply this is music at its most devastating, jaw droppingly good, its as far
away from background music as you could find.
Key Lyric: (a cheat here)
The Car's on fire and there is no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides and a dark wind blows
The Government is corrupt and we're all so many drugs with the radio on and the curtains drawn
We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine and the machine is bleeding to death
The sun has fallen down and the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles
It went like this
The buildings toppled in on themselves, mothers clutching babies, pick through the rubble
and pulled out their hair
The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metals stretching upwards, everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said 'kiss me you're beautiful'
These are truly the last days
You grabbed my hand and we fell into it like a daydream or a feverI See A Darkness-Bonnie "Prince" Billy
My voyage into Gothic folk. Will Oldham is a blessed genius, he reaches deep into your heart and makes dark, sombre music that makes you feel better. If you like his music you will know what I mean. This could never, ever be manufactured in the corporate music world. To say this touches a nerve, quite an understatement.
And did you know how much I love you
is a hope that somehow you
can save me from this darknessReckoning-REM
I grew up with a poster of this on my wall and every day I would look
at it and try to imagine the world where music this beautiful was created. There was just this feeling of mystery. What the hell was Michael Stipe singing about? How did they manage to create a perfect bridge in every song? For many years So. Central Rain was my favourite song.
Eastern to Mountain, third party call, the lines are down
The wise man built his words upon the rocks
But I'm not bound to follow suit
The trees will bend, the conversation's dimmed
Go build yourself another home, this choice isn't mineYankee Hotel Foxtrot-Wilco
We all know the story of how their record company couldn't see the marketing
angle behind this monumental record, which says something about the
corporate music industry. Well this is a band in full stride, combining all elements of the musical spectrum. Jeff Tweedy's plaintive voice just weeps and the band never sounded better. It would be hard to find to find a more complete album, has all the elements of pathos, joy and pure heart.
I'm down on my hands and knees every time the doorbell rings
I shake like a toothache when I hear myself sing
All my lies are always wishes
I know I would die if I could come back new
A few choice cuts from some of these albums-MP3
: In The Aeroplane Over the Sea (live)-Neutral Milk Hotel MP3: The Bear-My Morning JacketMP3: I Would Hurt A Fly-Built to SpillMP3: Sister Jack-SpoonMP3: Almost Crimes (live)-Broken Social SceneMP3: Shine a Light-Wolf ParadeMP3: Quay Cur-The Fiery FurnacesMP3: Trembling Peacock-Destroyer