Thursday, 27 November 2008


I do believe that any music is successful as long as at least one person likes it, and that people should listen to anything they enjoy and that no one person has better taste in music than another. Having said that reading Alex's top five albums made me want to cry.

So to recover I'm writing mine.

But not really. Because I just couldn't pick five albums and say they were my favourites, if you asked me on two separate days you may well find yourself with 10 different albums. So I'm going to go for it, but you aren't allowed to quote me on it or tell me what I missed.

I'll also leave out Grace by Jeff Buckley because I just told you about that last week.

Ok then, no more stalling... In no particular order:

1) Bright Eyes - Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

For me the easiest band to decide upon, but the hardest to choose one album from because (1) there are many albums to pick from, (2) all of the albums are very different and (3) all of the albums are fantastic. But I've gone with this one because I think it's what made Bright Eyes my favourite band.

It was released at the same time as I'm Wide Awake It's Morning but I only bought that one at first, it was my first Bright Eyes purchase and was based solely on the song First Day of My Life. Then based on that album I bought every other album released they had released. Digital Ash... was the one that took me the longest to get into, probably because it's the most unique stylistically. It's less reliant on guitars and pianos and involves far more electronic sounds and synths, but Oberst's lyrics are what sets the band apart and they are as strong on this album as any other. This album made me realise the potential that can be held within a single person. I've always been in love with many different genres of music, but it wasn't until I heard this that I thought I could make them all. I have a lot to learn (and a lot of equipment to acquire) before I make my own Digital Ash... but I know I will.

2) The Libertines - Up the Bracket

The Libertines were the last British band that I would put in The List. You know The List? The one people reel off when they try to show they are serious about words like 'great' and 'genius'. The List usually starts with The Beatles, involves The Who, Hendrix, Dylan, Led Zep, The Clash, The Smiths, Radiohead... See Scroobius Pip for a more complete List (though he was kind of using it in reverse - saying they were/are all just bands but yeh, it's still The List.)

The Libertines had that excitement that I don't think anyone has had since. The Arctic Monkeys came close with their gigs selling out before they'd release a thing, and every kid knowing every word to every song, they were pretty special times. But The Libertines... Every fan felt like more than a fan - they felt like they were a part of the band. They told people that to be a Libertine all you had to do was announce it; 'I am a Libertine' and it was so. This first album captures that incredible time and though it only lasted a year or two, the spirit of The Libertines was so entrenched in their fans and the influence is so clear in the bands that followed that their mark has been left, and all of us who announced it, we are all still Libertines.

3) Sigur Ros - Takk

Lie down, close your eyes and listen to this album from start to finish. You will fall in love.

4) Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position

You know when people say there's nothing original anymore, everyone is just rehashing older bands, make them listen to Patrick Wolf. I mean obviously everyone has their influences - nobody can pull music out of thin air we hear it pretty much every day of our lives and everything we hear affects us in some way... But I've never heard anything like this before. It's that mixing up of genres that makes me love Conor Oberst, but a bit more crazy and a bit more British.

He's a fascinating person and an incredible artist. I could swap this for Lycanthropy, his first album (this being his third) as that is similarly wonderful, I just went with this one as it's more recognisable what with the title track being released as a single. His second album Wind in the Wires I haven't spent enough time with yet, but I do like it a lot.

I think what makes him special is that a lot of people who make music that is 'different' are not pleasant to listen to, but this is just beautiful.

5) Radiohead - OK Computer

You may remember them from the abridged List earlier, well this is the album that got them on it. After The Bends they were certainly one of the best bands in the country, it was around the time of the big Blur vs Oasis thing... the media couldn't get enough of those two and their 'rivalry' yet in honesty, though I'm a fan of both, musically Radiohead blew them out of the water. As for the albums to follow, Oasis's Be Here Now (which I do think was underrated) effectively ended the Britpop phenomenon, and Blur went fairly quiet too, Radiohead however, released this little masterpiece!

I realise that I haven't chosen any albums released before my birth. There are many that I love and that I came close to including, but I think living through something makes it more special than going back and finding out about bands. I love to do that as well, looking back at The Clash and seeing what a huge impact they made and how incredible it must have been to be a part of that scene. But I wasn't. I was a Libertine. I watched Conor Oberst on stage and I was one of those kids that knew all the words to every Arctic Monkeys song before they had sold a single album. I'll remember those things forever, and as amazing as it is to listen to the ground breaking things The Beatles did, I will never be able to remember them. So that's why they didn't make my top five.

I thought about writing a list of albums that nearly made the list, but I'd still need a cut off point, and I am not writing a list of albums that nearly made the list of albums that nearly made the list! So I'll leave it at five.


Vutarie said...

love love love patrick wolf

Kevin said...

Patrick Wolf makes me swoon.

And that's before I even open my eyes.

Tal said...

Sigur Ros, no need for words really.
I am writing an article about a festival I've been to this summer, and I couldn't help but writing a huge paragraph just about seeing them live.
And of course I am a Libertine!

I wouldn't even dare to make a list.

Tiger Lily said...

Aw.. I think 'Lycanthropy' was his first and 'Wind in the Wires' was his second, but no matter x

Dave said...

Right you are! I just put them that way in my head because of the order I heard them. I shall edit, thank you. =)

Anonymous said...

thanks for writing this, i love finding new music, so i went and checked them all out on itunes and downloaded a bunch. =D

-random person who watches your youtube videos

Rosianna said...

Oh gosh, thinking of The Libertines reminds me of the days when I wanted nothing more than to write for NME or better yet, start my own music mag up. They were something seriously special and I still get nostalgic chills when any of their music shuffles, particularly What Katy Did and Time for Heroes.

And Sigur Ros... ahh they could cure disease.

And Patrick Wolf. I love all of these artists so much. I think Lycanthropy is my favourite album of his.

Jocy said...

Have you ever seen Patrick Wolf live? I saw him summer 07 when he supported Mika, and even though I'd never heard any of his stuff before, I reckon he was better than Mika. xo

D is for Dangerous said...

I agree so much with how you listen to music that were in 'your' time. People around me try so hard to convince that the older bands (e.g. The Clash, The Smiths) were the real deal and that new bands are just copycats, but I just can't understand music that wasn't made in present time.
that said; GREAT list.

Michael Markman said...

Thanks for sharing the list. Keep listening. I recently read a fascinating book, This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitan. He has a chapter on why (and when) we like certain music. Turns out the teen years are the optimal time for musical discovery and emotional bonding to certain musicians and records. You may find that not only is music before your time behind a veil, but also music made ten years from now will interest you less intensely. Hmmm. BTW, the author was a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer before turning to science. Double Hmmm.

Dale Kemp said...

Ok, you got 2 out of 5 for bands in common with me (Bright Eyes and Radiohead) but only 1 out of 5 for albums (OK Computer, even if it doesn't include the song "Fake Plastic Trees") but that's only because I don't have ONE favorite Bright Eyes album.

I actually came across your youtube page because you covered a Ben Kweller song. He would be in my top 5.

But then I also tend to lean more folk sometimes because I would also put the Indigo Girls up there with their live double album "10,000 Curfews".

There used to be a time when I would put Jakob Dylan's band The Wallflowers up there but then all his songs started to sound the same. He's good but doesn't have the talent for poetry his father had even if he's a better singer.

So that leaves me with an interesting quandary. I only have 4 in my top 5.

I listen to your songs so often you just might be #5.

I am however thinking of bumping you in favor of The Pretenders.

Sorry about that but Chrissie Hynde is hard to compete with. ;-)

Dave said...

Thanks for all your thoughts guys!

Joey - I haven't seen Patrick live but I really want to.

Michael - that book sounds good, I think it's really interesting the power music has over us, how it's different for everyone and like you were saying, for people at different ages.

Dale - I'll have to check some of those out =)
And I'm going to see Ben in a few days =D
Sha Sha was very close to making the list.

Michael Markman said...

FYI Dave, Just saw that Daniel Levitin has a new book The World in Six Songs: How he Musical Brain Created Human Nature. He argues that music has shaped human evolution in ways that haven't been examined before.