Monday, May 07, 2007

Desert Island- Five Albums.

Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica (2000 Epic)

The 2nd life changing album of my life behind Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. The scope of this album is massive. Isaac Brock has always had a love affair with nature and chemicals. Brock’s chemicals and nature themes are nothing new. Lonesome Crowded West set the stage of a masterful album but more focus on a central theme tied The Moon and Antarctica together. Higher production values on the album let the unique arrangement of instruments. The album’s has a theme of everything being there for a reason, almost as if Brock has finally stopped yelling at the world as accepted things for what they really are. It’s almost religious how he ties it together along with the frustrations of people, life and environment that can really affect people. The variety of songs from pop gems like Gravity Rides Everything to the epic The Stars are Projectors this album’s flow is perfect. Side D of the record has two songs that really pin down what life is about and then ends with blasting What People Are Made of, a stark social commentary. While my first listen of this album was the CD format, after hearing the re-mastered and original print vinyl I expect this Island has a sweet turntable cause I’m bringing my first pressing LP.

The Album Leaf – In A Safe Place (2004 Subpop)

Jimmy LaValle’s personal project the Album Leaf has always been a favorite of mine over the more pslychedelic nature of Tristeza. This album features help from Iceland’s Sigur Ros and the help shows. The album’s mostly instrumenta nature is swooping and peaceful. The arrangements never become too overwhelming and hold a sense of calm and peace from track to track. To say that an album can put you to sleep often times is a curse but in this case it’s perfect. It’s the kind of album that generates a overwhelming calm and relaxation. The title really puts it perfectly it’s an album that will take you to a safe place where nothing can touch you. A perfect escape.

Wilco – Kicking Television Live in Chicago (Nonesuch 2005)

Wilco is one of the best bands ever. Choosing one album is near impossible for me. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot might be the pinnacle of their career, but Summer Teeth was amazing as well. Not to forget A Ghost is Born that changed the direction while keeping the folk mentality and pushing forward in pushing more noise and chaos in the songs. Kicking Television takes some of the best Wilco songs ever and records them with the vigor and intensity that the band rarely shows on studio albums.
The tracks and the live addition is what really makes this album shine. The two tracks off Summer Teeth (A Shot in the Arm and Via Chicago) add some amazing drum and guitar noise that really make the tracks into something new. Listening to them off the album often times now I am about to rock out hard when the songs don’t. (not to say the studio versions are bad, but the album had much better tracks)
What else is there to say about Wilco? They might be one of the greatest bands of all time. This recording is pristine and the instrumentation is perfect. Even the flaws just make it better. It’s like a best of without the familiarity fully there. I only wish some of the newer tracks were replaced with classics but never the less it’s brilliant. Besides it’s nice to know that others are enjoying their life while I’m stuck on this damn island.

Sunny Day Real Estate – How It Feels to Be Something On (Sub Pop 1998)
Coming in about the third tier of the “emo” chronology SDRE was one of the best things that could have come out of a post grunge/hardcore early emo state. Maybe that’s just putting names on things but SDRE came out as a strong force in early 1990s with their release of Diary. After mental breakdowns and finding his religion Jeremy Enigk was able to get things back on track and release what became one of the most swirling emotional albums ever. While maintaining a dark and hard edge on the songs they rocked a little less then before but made up for it in the artistic construction and genius guitar work.

This album came to me right when I stumbled into the world of college and will always be a perfect fit to my emotions going into something new and trying to find my own place. It’s an album that shows confusion, frustration and deep longing for things that seem to be so out of reach for whatever reasons it is from personal emotional troubles or the fickle nature of humans. The band has seen it’s share of interesting problems and success stories but this album is untouched in the lure of it all. Very personal and well constructed this is a stable that hold a dear part to me and my career in college.

The Velvet Underground ­– Loaded (Cotillon 1970)

The last album always brings about the hardest question. Classic or something that I’ve experienced in my time? Obviously I went with a classic. VU has put out so many great albums choosing one became really hard. It came down to Loaded and The Velvet Underground & Nico, but Loaded came in as the winner because it really was the first that I ever heard of Lou Reed and his band. Songs like Sweet Jane and Oh! Sweet Nothin’, were mainstays on my favorite songs early in my high school career.
It also put me in a hard place picking VU over Sonic Youth, but I find myself going back to VU more then SY on a daily basic. This album is chill, edgy and full of a sound that helped change the world and inspire so many of the bands that I love today. Having I found A Reason on it also helps knock it up to a mainstay. If the Underground was ever going to draw a tear to my eye, Loaded, is the album that would do so.


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