I haven’t been around much lately, I know. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to music anymore. Because that’s just silly. I was thinking, as I drove home from Ancaster, that I should start a taxi service. That got me thinking about what music I’d play in my taxi. Which of course led me to the “If I were trapped on a deserted island with only a CD player, an everlasting battery, and ten CDs, what would I play?” Which led inevitably to this post. Let me begin:
1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven”.
Although not widely regarded as their best album, it certainly is their most symphonic, and I really appreciate that sense of reaching into the past and modernizing the sounds while keeping the forms. Of course, where Beethoven would have used an orchestra, Godspeed uses overdriven, screwdrivered, bowed, and detuned guitars; strings; static; found sound, and field recordings; and no vocals whatsoever. I’ve listened to this album at least a hundred times. I kid you not.
2. Caedmon’s Call, “Long Line of Leavers”.
There’s only one weak song on this album, but it’s offset by Derek Webb’s scintillating tragic loves and losses, and of course the wonderfully different horns on track one. Beautiful, wonderful album.
3. Jars of Clay, Self-Titled.
If there ever was a disc that could be played over and over and over again, this is it. Not only that, but it has the sort of staying power that makes its siblings look dated in comparison. Every time I hear these songs they seem fresh, and original.
4. Chasing Furies, “With Abandon”.
Again, if there were ever an album that has exsquisite listenability, this is it. Simply amazing stuff that has no precursor or follower in the Christian music market, period. Sadly, it’s CF’s only album, though it’s probably better that way.
5. Radiohead, “Amnesiac”.
Another disc not widely regarded as the best of the twin albums (Amnesiac and Kid A), there’s something about the unintentional brokenness and inherant instability of the meandering stylistic influences and subject matter that speaks just as well to Radiohead’s latent paranoia as do the songs themselves.
6. Earthsuit, “Kalaidoscope Superior”.
Although I think I’ve botched the spelling on that big time, this is probably the only rap/rock hybrid I’ve actually enjoyed as long as I’ve owned it. Still sounds amazing after all this time.
7. Sarah Masen, “Carry Us Through”.
I’ve liked a lot of the stuff Charlie Peacock has produced, but this disc just rises above the rest. It’s pretty much a shining example of everything you can do right for a coffeeshop artist. 75 Grains of Sand in particular. If you ever want a great, great pop album, buy this one.
8. Switchfoot, “New Way to be Human”.
I loved their recent song “Meant to Live”, though the album “The Beautiful Letdown” wasn’t all that exciting. Probably because it hearkened back to a time where Switchfoot’s glistening melodies surfaced from under crunching distortion or swooning guitars. This is also on my “Purchase Again” list.
9. The Shins, “Chutes Too Narrow”.
Indie music as a whole is a collective of parts disparate and diverse, but one thread that runs through its framework of wierdness and wariness is the bright pop melodies and rough production of bands like The Shins. Combine that ear for melody with insightful lyrics and the marvelous lead vocalist, you’ve got a winner.
10. Deepspace5, “The Night We Called it a Day”.
Lo-fi to the point of seeming scratched onto vinyl by hand, this is the first hip-hop collective that struck me as really funny. In fact, these boys, when they get together, really are one of a kind. Maybe not so much funny as just deeply playful, their wordplay on the song “Elementary” is enough to carry most of the album. But then, it never has to.
dan (music fan extraordinaire)