All of the songs listed below were personally chosen by the artist or blogger above. I got in touch with a lot of artists and bloggers who were all kind enough to get back to me and take part in Desert Island Discs. If you’re unaware of the concept behind Desert Island Discs, check out the basic pitch I gave the artists and bloggers I got in touch with. If you’re an artist or blogger and want to take part, just send your submission with the eight pieces of music (not the actual mp3s) and some words about each one to admin (@) listenbeforeyoubuy (dot) net.
Today’s Desert Island Discs is by Houses. The Chicagoan is gearing up to release his debut album “All Night” on Lefse and his only publicly available song was on Pitchfork’s Forcast back in May. Give his tune “Endless Spring” a listen below and then get stuck into his detailed DiD below.
0. Houses – “Endless Spring”
1. Clem Snide – “When We Become” (live at KEXP)
When most artists write summer songs they end up these little candied gems – saccharine sweet and nauseating if you eat too many in one sitting. “When We Become” is an honestly beautiful song that lays on a soft bed of nostalgia (which literally translates to “A painful yearning to return home”). I’ve spent many days and nights driving aimlessly by myself with this song on repeat, and after a few hours/days/years, I always return home.
2. Eluvium – “New Animals From The Air”
There are a few albums that I don’t listen to casually. That I can’t just throw on to fill space. That I prefer to listen to alone. “Talk Amongst the Trees” is at the top of that list. I remember the first time I shared this album with someone else. My girlfriend and I had only been dating a short amount of time, (but it was the kind of time that made days seem like minutes, and months seem like years) and I asked her to come watch a meteor shower with me. I believe it was the Perseids. I put on this album and we laid on the hood of my car feeling the warm rumble of bass through the windshield and watching stars fall. It was one of the more memorable days of my life.
3. Stars of the Lid – “A Meaningful Moment through a Meaning(less) Process”
Stars of the Lid is the kind of music that (depending on the amount of people in the room) will bring two people very close together, or force a group of people into deep introspection. I’ve never experienced the latter, I can just picture it happening very easily. I played a show in Iowa in the absolute middle of nowhere after finding out that a lost friend of mine had died several years prior to me finding out. I emailed his mother and she responded by asking us to play a benefit show in his home town. We arrived to find the whole town a mess. Everyone was drunk and depressed, the cars were all covered in dust, and everyone we met were on the edge of breaking down. His family was no exception to this rule. The night before the show, me and my girlfriend were put up in a room in their home – his old bedroom covered in photos of him. I laid awake for several hours before turning on this album. We turned all the lights out and imagined it was our home. It was extremely cathartic and this album is now a necessity for me. I may not listen to it on a daily basis, but I wouldn’t know what to do without it.
4. Neutral Milk Hotel – “Oh Comely”
There is too much to say about this tall and swaying masterpiece of music. Too many times I’ve seen people try to put their experience with these songs into words. There are no words that I know for this album. What I can say is that every time I hear the first chords of “King of Carrot Flowers”, I can remember the exact moment I heard it for the first time. I was 15 and laying on the floor of a friends room after eating a handful of blotter acid and doing a large amount of highly cut cocaine. My nose was bleeding and I was all alone in the room, completely unprepared for what was about to happen. A girl who I hardly knew came into the room for only a minute, just in time to see my situation and decide to do me one of the biggest favors of my life. She put a burnt copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea into the cd player, pressed play, then assured me that I could keep the album when I was done. I let it play and repeat for several hours until getting up, sneaking the keys out of the nearest coat and stealing someones white Jeep while they were passed out drunk in the next room. I drove as far as I could to watch the sun come up and laid outside on the asphalt in some state of complete awe. I kept the disc and still have it to this day.
5. Madeleine Peyroux – “A Prayer”
“A Prayer” is possibly one of the most beautifully sad songs I have ever heard. Madeleine Peyroux’s music is vastly different than this one song, and I’m not actually too fond of it, but this song makes me want to lay down in the middle of the street whenever I hear it. It’s power is overcoming.
6. The Tallest Man on Earth – “The Gardner”
There is something so familiar about this album that I can’t put my finger on. The talent and creativity of Kristian Matsson is truly amazing to me. His songs immediately feel like something you’ve always wanted but never had. I have no great story behind this choice. “Shallow Grave” is a simple and breathtaking collection of songs that have complimented so many moments of my life since I came to own it. This album has the ability to quell my nerves like none other.
7. The Smiths – “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore”
My mother bought me this album for my 16th birthday. I remember immediately connecting with it. It was my first exposure to the whole ‘these songs sound happy, but really aren’t’ (i.e. the 1980′s). I was amazed. I made instant favorites of “Asleep” and “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” – of course I did, I was 16, it took a while to get into some of the less obvious tracks. It’s a huge album, and not all those songs are mind blowing, but enough of them are to make it on this list. It was also the catalyst for my love of bands like Joy Division and The Psychedelic Furs, and I am forever grateful for that.
8. Sparklehorse – “More Yellow Birds”
From the opening title track to it’s very last, this album is as gut wrenching and stunning as they get. Mark Linkous provided some of the most bittersweet arrangements and gorgeous harmonies I’ve had the pleasure to hear*. It is a sincere shame that he chose to end his life the way he did, but he left a treasure chest of heartbreakingly genius work behind, and in his death his songs gain new meaning. This record especially. What wonderful days and nights these songs have given to me.
*If I had the chance to work with Tom Waits, I’d let him call the shots too, but “Dog Door” is an awfully dissonant speed bump on this otherwise lush and sleepy record.