I got given an olive green record player. It’s miniature and retro and I came to want it because everyone on the Internet has one, and I’m a sucker for anything you can carry around in a briefcase.*
In terms of sound quality, you’d be better playing an album out of a baked bean tin than the built in speakers; so I bought some new speakers, so that I could listen to my newly acquired (albeit humble) record collection, without my eardrums crying.
Disclaimer* Since writing this – this piece of shit record player obviously broke – so Dad’s given me his on long term loan. Shout out to MJ for hookin’ me up.
I’ve never really bought vinyl until recently, not to listen to anyway. I went through a phase of buying random 12-inch singles from the charity shops of North Wales when I was a teenager, but didn’t really appreciate them for what they were.
After unwrapping my new gift I came to the depressing realisation that I didn’t really have much to play on it. Joe bought me two records to start me off; Bowie – Blackstar and Glass Animals – How To Be a Human Being.
I’d mentioned I really wanted to buy Blackstar earlier in the year. Obviously, everyone was pretty shook when DB died, I sat and watched ‘The Last Five Years’ doc shortly after, and was legit just sat crying into a pack of digestives. From then on it I know I had to own it.
How To Be a Human Being also has a special place in my heart. When I was training for my recent half marathon and it was cold and dark, I’d stick it on in my headphones and instantly feel happier. There’s something about Dave Bailey’s wobbly voice and limbs that remind me not to take life too seriously.
Turns out that collecting records is an expensive hobby. Swings and roundabouts though, because to my consumer driven brain, expensive means valuable, and it’s this that has made me really appreciate the value of music once again.
Anyway, I decided to compile a shopping list of my favourite albums. Every time I think of one/Rad Mac remind me of one, I add it to my notes. It’s currently 32 strong, but for the sake of this post here are drumroll please: the ten albums I intend to buy first (or summin to that effect.)
In no particular order…
1. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular.
OK people – close your eyes and picture this: It’s late May, it’s a warm sunny day, there’s a light breeze, you’re lay on grass. It’s 2008. When I read that Oracular Spectacular turned 10 earlier this year I listened to it walking home from work. It was -2 and I walked the long way on a whim because the nostalgia made me enjoy the stroll so much.
2. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
When Motel started putting suns and moons on dresses a few years back I was suitably pleased. My love for all things celestial stems from my love of Billy Corgan, and his gloomy goth voice and lovely bald head. I can’t listen to ‘Disarm’ without my arm hairs standing up.
3. Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
This is a bold claim but…Speaking in Tongues is home to probs my fave song of all time. David Byrne said that when he wrote Naïve Melody he wanted to write a non-corny love song. The intro and bass synth fill me with joy and make me wanna drink a pina colada even when it’s 10 AM on a Tuesday.
4. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Another one on the list that turned 10 recently (I seem to have a thing for 2008.) Ezra’s voice makes me feel like I’m a college student, in California, in the 90s, in a Wes Anderson film. Dunno why, just does. Couldn’t love it more if I tried.
5. Ludovici Einaudi – Islands
One Christmas my friend Ratheram bought me Islands on CD. I was like ‘what’s this? this is not gonna be my bag.’ My dad stuck it in on loud in his shed on Christmas morning, and we sat with baileys and listened to it back to back. Now we both love him and send each other You Tube links to his vids (cause we’re both totes emosh). Big up to Joe Ratheram because this album literally got me through my dissertation.
6. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
James Murphy is both wise and vulnerable in equal measure. LCDS are unique on this list because I love their new stuff just as much as their old (American Dream is GOLD). Whenever I hear the opening of ‘all my friends’ I just wanna partay like I’ve just arrived at Glastonbury. They inadvertently manage to capture the feels of a nation, and for this will have my eternal appreciation.
7. Moby – Play
I always used to listen to Play when I was like 17, I think probably because The Beach introduced me to it and well, HELLO LEO. The first book I borrowed when I got my library card for The Storyhouse was Moby – Porcelain: A memoir. It’s about him as a young vegan trying to make it as a DJ and musician on the New York club scene in the 90s. It definitely re-affirmed how much I like him.
8. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Where do I start? Skies, clouds, earth, fog, trees, lakes, rain, if Hounds of Love doesn’t make you wanna be at one with nature then I don’t know what will. This album is a work of art and if ‘Naive Melody’ takes the first spot for my favourite banger of all time, then ‘Cloudbusting’ 100% comes in at a close 2nd.
9. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the aeroplane over the sea
NMH paved the way for so many of my faves. Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists cited them as a huge influence. Jeff Mangum’s magical vocals make my heart hurt in a good way – especially in Two Headed Boy.
10. The Cribs – Men’s Needs, Women’s needs, whatever.
I’m not sure if it’s a Leeds thing, but I’ve seen The Cribs more times than I’ve had hot dinners. Our friend has seen them like 439434634834 times and has two goldfish called Ryan and Gary. I’m yet to meet anyone with an LS postcode that isn’t a die-hard fan. This album reminds me of good times.
There we have it. On the off chance that this ramble has inspired you to listen to some sweet tunes, I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist of some of the above which you can listen to here.