Monday, 30 April 2012


Every since I've started to firm up my itinerary (as seen here), it's kind of dawned on me that if I get to go to America I'm going to be spending a lot of time on the road/plane/train.  I like the journey almost as much as the arrival, so I'm not too bothered about that, but it's going to be critical that I have music with me to get me through what could be a 48 hour train journey.  Music's really important to me and I'm one of the few people who still buys CDs rather than downloading.  In fact I still enjoy buying and listening to music on vinyl too. 

Essentially, this post is an excuse for me to list some of the albums that I'm into at the moment - some more or less obscure than the others.  And some that are old favourites when travelling long distances.  

'First Days of Spring' by Noah and Whale.  I've owned this since it came out.  Saw them at Latitude Festival two or 3 years ago and was absolutely captivated.  Started listening to this seriously probably about a year or so ago - I love it, particularly the title track and 'Blue Skies'.  

'Allo Darlin'' by Allo Darlin'.  Love this - the slightly dream-like qualities are perfect for a long train journey. 

'Fear Is On Our Side' by I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness. I originally bought this just because of the preposterous band name.  But I now love it - great rhythm and lyrics. 

'For Emma, Forever Ago' by Bon Iver.  I could listen to this forever - particularly 'Skinny Love': "I told you to be patient / I told you to be fine / I told you to be balanced / I told you to be kind / Now all your love is wasted? / Then who the hell was I?"

'Plans' by Death Cab For Cutie.  Standout tracks are 'Marching Bands of Manhattan' and 'Brothers On a Hotel Bed'. 

'All Mod Cons' by The Jam.  Still one of my favourite albums of all time. Still a ways off being able to memorise all the lyrics to 'Going Underground' but not giving up yet.  "You want more money - of course I don't mind / To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes / And the public gets what the public wants / But I want nothing this society's got -"

'We Love The City' by Hefner.  Saw these guys at the Reading Festival in 2000 (the same day as The Strokes played most of 'Is This It' live before the album came out - it felt like the whole crowd know all the songs already - magical) and I still remember the reaction in the tent when they struck up with 'The Day Thatcher Dies'.  This album has some of the best lyrics about cities I've ever heard. 

'Holes In The Wall' by The Electric Soft Parade.  I saw ESP play live in the summer of 2002 at Fibbers in York - the final three songs were a wall of noise that I'm not sure that my hearing has ever recovered from. 

'The Sash My Father Wore And Other Stories' by Ballboy.   Hard to pick a favourite album from Ballboy but this just edges it because of the inclusion of the cover of 'Born in the USA'. 

'Rehearsals for Departure' by Damien Jurado.   I can still remember reading a review of this album in the Sunday Times Culture supplement when I was probably 16 or so and going to the HMV in Croydon hoping to find a copy.  Standout track is 'Ohio'. 

'Our Shadows Will Remain' by Joseph Arthur.  I vividly recall being introduced to Joseph Arthur one very hungover New Year's Day in the mid 2000s by a good friend from university.  'Can't Exist' is totally heartbreaking - but go see him live if you ever get the chance - a totally mesmerising show of looped vocals, live painting and performance. 

'On Your Side' by Magnet.  The album that I most readily associate with summer 2003 when I made the decision to live in York for another year.  Cycling over the Ouse Bridge one late August morning listening to 'Last Day Of Summer' I felt really at home for the first time in a long time. 

'When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog' by Jens Lekman.  A tricky artist to pick a good album for as so much of his good stuff was released on some early EPs.  But this is a brilliant collection none-the-less, esp 'Tram #7 to Heaven'. 

'Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters' by The Twilight Sad.  Not my usual thing - saw them live upstairs at The Social (when it was still just The Social) and could barely make out the lyrics over the bass and the shouted delivery.  But on record it's a different matter with some lovely touches. 

'Boxer' by The National.  'Squalor Victoria' is simply brilliant - the whole album deserves repeated listening. 

'Axxess and Ace' by Songs: Ohia.  Another Secretly Canadian discovery (see: Damien Jurado, Jens Lekman).  Their whole output is worth exploring. 

'Messenger In The Camp' by Seafood.  I remember the first time I heard 'Scorch Comfort' on Steve Lamacq's old show on Radio 1.  I've still got that vinyl 7" somewhere but this album is much more easily available.  "This house is lost without your smile beside me / Stepping up the pace / We'll scorch the inner city"

'Gold' by Ryan Adams.  Mainly included because I want to walk through New York to the sounds of 'New York, New York' and down La Cienega Boulevard to the soundtrack of 'La Cienega Just Smiled': "La Cienega just smiles as it waves goodbye / "Ah the it comes again" / It's off with the jeans, the jacket and the shirt"

'Give Up' by The Postal Service.  From the heartbreak of the opening track, 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight': "The district sleeps alone tonight after the bars turn out their lights / And send the autos swerving into the loneliest evening / And I am finally seeing  / Why I was the one worth leaving" to the redemption of 'Brand New Colony': "Start a brand new colony / Where everything will change / We'll give ourselves new names (identities erased) / The sun will heat the grounds" it's hard to believe that this was put together with the two collaborating musicians trading tapes via the post. 

'This Is Hardcore' by Pulp.  I was in London the other month on a longish tube journey and I hadn't listened to this album for years.  I put it on and was blown away.  I think that the last seven tracks are some of the best writing that Jarvis has ever put to record.  It got somewhat mixed reviews when released - in the classic case of British music journalism giving bands the reviews their last album deserved.  (See Oasis, passim). 

'The Bends' by Radiohead.  One of my all-time favourite travelling albums, mainly for the lyric, "Alone on an aeroplane / Fall asleep on against the window pane / My blood will thicken". 

You can see from a lot of the references music has a very direct correlation to place and time for me.  I hoping that I can discover some new bands and musical culture in America or at the least create some more special memories that link to my favourite bands and albums. 

Phew, that ended up as a monster post!  Hope you found something of interest.  You can also check out my profile to see what else I'm into.

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