Although I did listen to ‘Check Your Head’ in its entirety on Saturday night I didn’t feel like I’d properly paid my respects to MCA and the overwhelming influence that the Beastie Boys had on both me and pretty much everyone I called a friend in the 90’s. Heading out of the door for work this morning I resolved that I’d try to make up for that a little and jam some of my favourite Beasties songs on route. It’s tragic that it often takes the death of someone we admire to make us evaluate their importance to us personally and to be honest, before this weekend I hadn’t listened to the Beastie Boys in years. If you had asked me last week to name the 10 bands that have influenced my listening most over the years I would have reeled off 10 (probably pretentious) names with ease without giving them a passing thought, which is pretty ludicrous and quite shameful. Skipping through my favourite cuts from ‘Check Your Head’, ‘Ill Communication’ and ‘Pauls Boutique’ this morning I felt elevated and amazed by just how brilliant, thoughtful, funny and groundbreaking the Beasties were in their prime. The sad news of MCA’s untimely passing on Friday and the unanimous outpouring of tributes that followed on twitter and message boards was testament enough of the lasting impact the Beasties had on recent popular culture. It was with deep regret that I took my headphones off upon arriving work, I’d have happily walked all morning long and listened to their entire back catalogue from front to back.
Beastie Boys Playlist (Spotify) – Headphones
Pass the Mic, Gratitude, Lighten Up, In 3’s – Check Your Head
Root Down, Sabotage, Get It Together,Bodhisattva Vow – Ill Communication
Shake Your Rump, Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun – Paul’s Boutique
After the buzz of the Beasties I was then subjected to a couple of hours in the office with our station select, Radio 2, on in the background. Much as I try to drown out the musical content of Radio 2 I find that I’m just too impulsively drawn towards music to ever truly switch off and completely ignore it. Worst of all I’m particularly prone to ear worms and often find myself mentally traumatised for hours upon hours by some of the pop trite on mainstream radio. This morning we had Bananarama, ‘Manic’ by Michael Sembello and Spandu Ballet. Painful stuff.
A break in the weather and a little bit of sunshine and I grasped the opportunity to walk home rather than take the bus and finish off my Beastie Boy’s listening with a spin of ‘Paul’s Boutique’ in full. No need to extol the greatness of that album here, it’s almost a sui generis social fact by now and with good reason.
Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique (Spotify) – Headphones
Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour / Golden Mile (Vinyl) – Hi-Fi
I noticed this in Fopp the other day after having no idea that it existed. I am familiar with Rossen’s side project of Department of Eagles whom I have a couple of LP’s by. Anyway, I’ve only listened to the EP a couple of times and it sounds too much like Grizzly Bear’s ‘Veckatimest’ for me not to like it. Final track ‘Golden Mile’ is a standout.
Upon settling myself down in front of the stereo I pick out a couple of tracks at random to listen to while I figured out which LP to play. I hadn’t heard Dif Juz’s ‘No Motion’, a compilation exclusive song and probably the finest example of their potential, for a while and Burial and Four Tet’s recent collaboration ‘Nova’ has been a regular listen of mines since its March release and is easily one of the most beautiful and captivating things I’ve heard this year.
Dif Juz – No Motion (lossless) – Hi-Fi
Burial/Four Tet – Nova (lossless) – Hi-Fi
I’ve been on a big Deerhunter trip recently. I felt like I’d never given their last LP ‘Halycyon Digest’ enough time and it’s been on regular rotation over the past few weeks, during which I’ve become obsessed with its final track ‘He Would Have Laughed’ and in particular a live radio session version of it which is just massive and epic in scope. Although Deerhunter have shown remarkable progression with each release since ‘Cryptograms’, to the point where they’ve probably now assumed the role of my favourite current band, I still love the Ambient-Kraut-Punk of their Kranky debut. The bass lines on the album are great and propel most tracks rhythmically and melodically allowing the reverb drenched guitars to drone away blissfully above. ‘Strange Lights’ and ’ Heatherwood’ are probably most typical of the sound Deerhunter have evolved into with their following releases but its the almost formless drone tracks, like ‘White Ink’ and ‘Providence’, that I find most appealing now. At this point it just made so much sense that Deerhunter would find themselves on Kranky records and I really felt that they took a lot of what I love about the label’s house sound and integrated it into a ‘rock band’ setting.
Deerhunter – Cryptograms (Vinyl) – Hi-Fi
I always listen to music in bed while I drift off to sleep, usually something ambient/modern classical/downtempo electronica. Last night it was Biosphere’s seminal ‘Substrata’ an album that’s eased me into sleep many times. I’ve heard a lot of people make some pretty massive claims about ‘Substrata’ calling it the “greatest ambient LP ever” and “beyond Eno’s vision”. ‘Substrata’ is an album that conjures up images of glacial open spaces and whistling wind. Essential ambient.
Biosphere – Substrata (Lossless) – Sonos