In this list I’ve attempted to pick a song from every genre and era I found inspirational. There was of course a countless load of stuff I couldn’t choose and it was extremely hard just picking ten, but I feel what I ended up with was pretty decent:
The Beatles - A Day in the Life - the 60’s was an incredible decade for music throughout, the amount of truly amazing bands and songs that came out of it is kinda unbelievable, (Bob Dylan, Beach Boys, The Stooges. Spenser Davis Group to name a few) but there’s a reason The Beatles consistently stand out as the greatest band of all time and for me it’s because they had the gall to end their most popular album at their creative peaks with this untouchable song. ‘A Day in the Life’ always stands out because its the first song I was really truly fascinated by, as my parents used to play The Beatles’ Greatest Hits (Blue Album) a lot in the car on long journeys and it blew my, then tiny, mind that a song could shift about so much in 4 minutes and still be so catchy and memorable.
One of the best examples being of course, Sonic Youth. While SY were much more artier than their peers being very much a “New York band” their sheer output of channelling punk music into a place that really could go anywhere, and no better do they do this than on the lead track off, for my money their best album, Sister. "Schizophrenia" is a deceptively simple song, starting with only a drum-beat, but it grows into a wondrous, narrative-voice shifting 4 minute opus. It’s a song that would inspire and launch countless young art students upon their guitars and lead to the explosion of popularity of the genre in the 90’s. Sonic Youth along with the (at that point) far more popular R.E.M and Pixies lead the way to the point where Nirvana could briefly (and tragically) become the biggest band in the world but also lead an incredible underground scene to flourish, especially in Northwestern America, where bands like Unwound and Beat Happening and Bikini Kill (and later Modest Mouse and Trail of Dead) could create the rrriot girl/K Records movement or in the Southeastern "College Rock" lands where bands like Pavement and Archers of Loaf would benefit. I realise I’m covering a lot of ground here, and can make a playlist just based on this amazing era alone, but for me, Sonic Youth stand up as the most important and influential.
The one that started it all though is San Francisco’s Jawbreaker. While I was quite late to fully appreciating Jawbreaker, this I think largely is because they’re such a mature, world-weary band that you have to see a few things to really get Blake Schwarzenbach’s pained, insightful lyrics and gruff voice. Jawbreaker quietly influenced a whole generation, most importantly giving Green Day their edge when it came to writing/producing ‘Dookie’ and were using the spirit of Bruce Springsteen’s storytelling technique long before many other punk acts were caught doing it. ‘Kiss the Bottle’ is the band at their most fragile; coming after their best album but days before Schwarzenbach’s throat operation which would change the band’s sound significantly on their, unfairly panned, major label début ‘Dear You’. But it invokes such a strong image of the Mission district of their home (the song was written for a compilation celebrating the area) and remains the band’s crowning achievement.
Madvillain - Monkey Suite - Hip-hop and Rap has been important to me since religiously listening to Tim Westwood’s show on Saturday nights in my earlier years, I always felt there was an amazing energy to listening to particularly well executed rap, something that still comes across from Wu Tang Clan’s now 20 year old début. For me though nothing comes close to Daniel Dumile, better known as DOOM, and specifically, his incredible work with Madlib on the album Madvillainy. Funnily enough, my favourite track of that project, Monkey Suite, isn’t actually on that album but on a Stones Throw compilation/collaboration wtih Adult Swim Chrome Children. I love how the limits are potentially endless with hip-hop, something particularly displayed by Anticon Records roster, especially cLOUDDEAD and Why?, and more recently with Shabazz Palaces and Young Fathers. Madvillainy stands as the crowning achievement however because of it’s seamless energy. Songs are short sketches but between Madlib’s brilliant sampling and DOOM’s endlessly witty, clever word-play it remains an incredible work, and only shows their strength that they could leave of their best off the album and save it for a great compilation by an excellent label.
Converge - First Light/Last Light - In my teens when I was bored and frustrated and living in a small city, punk was for a while at least pretty much everything. This is partly because to it’s credit, my home-town of Norwich has/had an excellent DIY punk scene for such a small city. Most of my weekends were spent at The Ferryboat (RIP) or Marquee (now Owl Sanctuary after a hiatus) and just about any space who would have us. Due to a few passionate individuals, Norwich had a fairly healthy and productive scene through a shared appreciation of hardcore punk in bands such as American Nightmare and Swing Kids, with my peers, which was highly inspirational as an adolescent, and is where starting my first (proper) band Maths comes from. Though I moved on to more mellower sounds as I aged, I’ve never forgotten the energy and passion punk runs on to bring its music to life, a spirit that can be applied to any genre.
Joanna Newsom - Sawdust & Diamonds - While it may seem everything I listen to in pure bombast, there are times (winter, usually) where I tend to go to more delicate intricacies. There are so much incredible (mostly solo) singer-songwriter/folk music that I go to when I want to be transported to another place going all the way back to Bob Dylan. More recently, artists such as Bon Iver, Elliot Smith, The Microphones and Sun Kil Moon all at their peak have this amazing ability to create atmospheres and stories in their world-views.
The one that stands out for me though is Joanna Newsom. I feel a large reason for this is having seen her perform live a couple years ago at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (an incredible venue if you ever get to go) because at that time she was still fairly new to me. There was something about seeing her expressions, really feeling, her songs come to life. While it is truly inspiring to see such a crafter of songs as well as an exceptional harpist and pianist, her songs took a whole new life seeing her bring them together either solo or with her accompanying band. Of that set, this song was simply put, utterly breathtaking and heartbreaking. There is an existential quality to most music which is primarily a lone voice and instrument and here Newsom questions the very fibre of our being while equally advising that there’s no point in getting upset when life is precious. While it’s tough to choose a single one of her songs to highlight, such is the strength of her back catalogue, there is something about this song that touches an entirely different astral plane both as a composed piece of music and with its stunning lyricism and for me sums up the genre as a whole.
TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me - For my final choice, there were so many songs I wanted to choose. In the mid-to-late Noughties, American indie was in such an unbelievable bill of health that so many bands were coming over and showing us how it was done. If this were an albums list it would look rather different, for instance Interpol’s debut ‘Turn on the Bight Lights’ would be up top. However, there while I love that album dearly, there isn’t a single song I could choose that quite summarises this pocket of music. Similarly The National, Arcade Fire and Deerhunter have all released some of my favourite records of the last few years and certain songs by more underrated bands Meneguar, Constantines and The Walkmen came so close to being my final choice.
Ultimately though, the song I chose to represent for this final set was TV on the Radio’s ‘Wolf Like Me’ purely because no other song from this time pushes me further or higher. TV on the Radio were such an exciting act when they first emerged with the wondrous ‘Young Liars’ and later ‘Staring at the Sun’ singles, but nothing they did could quite touch this one. I think what ‘Wolf Like Me’ encapsulates so well, both of the band and the genre’s flexibility, is that for the most part, it is a punk song (which let’s not forget, is where indie’s roots truly come from) with those thunderous drums, but in Tunde Adebimpe & Kyp Malone’s soulful vocals recall blues melodies and even hip-hop and funk during the half-time middle 8, meanwhile Dave Sitek’s guitars soar very much like David Bowie (who would collaborate with the band on the very same record) and Brian Eno’s aforementioned timeless, classic song. While it’s too early to say whether any of these bands will have a “legacy” but songs like these will go down as not just genre but as a defining song of it’s time.
POST LOUIS: https://soundcloud.com/postlouis
Scotland, if I may throw my hat into an already crowded ring, the next two days are the biggest in the countries history for a very long time and I’m incredibly nervous and excited watching it from far too far away. The amount of activism and interest I’ve witnessed even from all the way down here has been truly amazing to see pretty much the entire country engaged with it’s political and constitutional future and the register count speaks for itself.
From a personal point of view it’s an incredibly exciting time and I hope that, whatever result we end up with on Friday, these past few weeks have made me felt incredibly moved and very much homesick knowing that I can call you “home” because no where all my life has ever made me feel more welcome all those years ago. While I have found the entire debate fascinating, I have tried to not wade in to debates too much, seeing as I gave up my right to vote when I moved away just over one year ago, so my opinion is unfortunately irrelevant, but rest assured I made my personal preference more or less immediately when the referendum was announced and my that opinion has only grown stronger since.
While it’s an already well worn point that should really be obvious by now, the vote tomorrow is to do with self-determination, not nationalism, not political party conflict; it is the right to decide for yourselves your future. While that could sound patronising from a sassenach, I assure you it’s purely because I’m so desperately gutted that I’m not getting to vote in what is easily the most important and valid vote I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, so I encourage all of you, no matter which way you are voting, to please go out and vote because there may not be another time that the democratic process is more relevant than it will be tomorrow in the UK. While both camps have made potentially infeasible claims the important this is that you participate.
The next couple days are going to be amazing and terrifying all at once, I just hope and pray that whatever the result, we as a nation can focus on the countless positives that makes our country an incredible place to call home.
band I’m playing in now’s new track
Here’s a list of albums I’ve enjoyed between 2010-2014, and it’s better than p4k’s list. it’s in a vague but not complete order.
shabazz palaces - black up
swans - the seer
title fight - floral green
fucked up - david comes to life
the war on drugs - slave ambient
titus andronicus - the monitor
joanna newsom - have one on me
flying lotus - cosmogramma
pantha du prince - black noise
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, m.A.A.d City
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
deerhunter - halcyon digest
deafheaven - sunbather
jon hopkins - immunity
crash of rhinos - knots
mac demarco - 2
the national - high violet/trouble will find me
hookworms - pearl mystic
mount kimbie - crooks and lovers
the antlers - burst apart
cloud nothings - attack on memory
Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die but You Will
Mazes - Ores & Minerals
Touche Amore - Just Exist
Eagulls - s/t
Young Fathers - DEAD
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
Real Estate – Days
Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
Beach House – Teen Dream
PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
Darkside – Psychic
Arcade Fire - Reflektor/The Suburbs
Welcome to the first weekly Montague Arms newsletter.
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I hope everyone’s well and you’re excited about all the new posters that have been going up in the pub.
What’s coming up this week!?!?!?!?!
Tonight we have…
Vegan hardcore’s finest. Carnist featuring members of Lightbearer. It’s going to be so loud and so righteous. Check out the
guess who played with Mogwai last night eh
Last night was full of magical moments, but opening with this was pure