A certain blog asked me to throw a list of ten songs together this summer. I was happy to oblige, but it was never published and all attempts at communication since submitting have gone unanswered. I guess they weren't very into my selections. But I am happy to share them with you.
John Coltrane : My Favorite Things
I am by no means a jazz fanatic, but there are a select few artists I hold in the highest esteem. The way Coltrane flips this showtune on its head floored me from the first time I heard it and sent me on a mad hunt for as many versions as I could find during the early days of online file-sharing.
Harry Pussy : I Started A Band
I bought “Ride A Dove” sometime in the late 90’s with a vague idea of what this band was all about, but was unprepared for the life-altering catharsis that is “I Started A Band” to come kicking and screaming out of my speakers. Harry Pussy redefined everything I considered noise rock at the time and continues to be the stick against which all others are measured. [Sorry I couldn't find any audio online.]
Party of Helicopters : Mt. Forever
I was lucky to have Kent, OH, a college town with it’s own internationally-known scene and sound close by when I was teenager. Harriet the Spy and POH defined an era for me and Mt. Forever, with its soaring guitar and chorus of “Handsome is a tall boy … like way”, was a personal (if misguided) anthem for a few years.
Autistic Daughters : Uneasy Flower
Autistic Daughters opened doors I didn’t know existed. Using their backgrounds in minimalist improvisation as a starting point for their spectacularly produced songs, they bridged a gap between two very specific and different genres that I loved and made me reconsider ways of structuring diverse and seemingly conflicting sounds.
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie “Prince” Billy : One Glad Day
Brian is a fellow Columbus musician who’s made a name for himself by cherry picking some of the finest archival Appalachian recordings and layering them with his own unique compositions. His collaboration with Will Oldham is a thing of beauty and if it had come out on Palace or Drag City would likely have gotten more of the attention it truly deserves.
Sonic Youth : Diamond Sea
If it weren’t for Sonic Youth, I would probably be playing generic rock and making top ten lists of Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer songs. Their controlled chaos steered me into the inferno of the noise scene, guided me through a decade in its murky depths and walked me out a changed man.
Beth Orton : Conceived
I sought out “Comfort of Strangers” primarily to hear how Jim O’Rourke and Tim Barnes complimented Ms. Orton. I didn’t have high expectations, but the album blew me away and quickly became a favorite. It was released while I was living in rural Japan and became such a fixture that even now I can picture the mountain ranges and rice fields I would walk by while listening to this. Once, early after returning to the States, I even broke down because it made me miss Japan so much.
Oren Ambarchi : Remidios The Beauty
The only people who play guitar like Oren Ambarchi are people blatantly ripping off Oren Ambarchi. The five-minute intro to “Remidios”, with its looping clicks and glitchy riff, is unique in his mostly tonal and abstract discography and I often find myself craving its distinct blend of melodic abstraction.
David Sylvian : Snow White in Appalachia
I first encountered Sylvian on Fennesz’s “Venice” and was not into his vocal style at all. But I didn’t stop listening and little by little it slowly grew on me to the point that I eventually bought some of his solo work in the last year have become completely, unabashedly obsessed.
Eddie Marcon : Sayonara
I figured the bulk of my time in Japan would be spent hanging out with the members of the noise and improvisation communities. That did happen to a certain some, but the artists who became my best friends and took my wife and I in like family were the members of the avant folk band Eddie Marcon and the psych rock trio LSD March. Eddie (actually a female, who was also in the band Coa) has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard and the rest of the band knows how to perfectly accompany her.