Hello nerds. I haven’t written in awhile because I’ve been out living life, kicking butt and taking names. Today I wanted to talk about desert island albums. Everyone always plays the game like what books would you take with you which is cool and challenging for us book nerds (East of Eden, Franny and Zooey, The Sun Also Rises, Anna Karenina, The Princess Bride, BTW).
But what about Music Albums? We live in the days of fast accessible music. We like our easy to access singles that we can put together on a playlist. When was the last time you listened to an album? The WHOLE album without skipping anything. Yeah I know I got you there. I’m not immune to it either. I still buy whole CDs of bands or artists I care about and there are certain ones that I skip around on, but then there are those I love and listen to non-stop. Here they are in no particular order, my top deserted island Albums.
1. Modern Vampires of the City-Vampire Weekend.
Not only was this my favorite album of 2013, but it might just be my all-time favorite album ever. I love Vampire Weekend, but this is truly their greatest album. I’ve been a fan since the beginning and I feel like they’ve grown along with me. They were my number one in college, pretty sure everyone was listening to them back then because of “A-Punk,” and “Campus.” But the themes here of facing death, disillusionment, youth, young adulthood etc. speak to me now and I feel like they always will in a way. I just love Ezra Koenig’s voice on a lot of the tracks, even when he’s just talking like in “Finger Back.” There is something to be said about every track on this album but the best is by far “Unbelievers.” The beat, the signature ethnic instruments, everything. I just love it. Can’t get enough of it. Marry me Ezzy Koenig?
2. Helplessness Blues-Fleet Foxes
Oh the Foxes. I love their first album as well but there is just something about Helplessness Blues I can’t get enough of. It came out when I first graduated from undergrad, and I think that might have something to do with it. They really capture the ethos of the young, confused and newly cast into adulthood. They toured around this time too, and I remember being too poor to go see them. The titular song is probably the best, followed by Montezuma, and The Shrine/An Argument. SO much harmonies and loveliness.
3. For Emma, Forever Ago– Bon Iver
Can’t love you enough Justin Vernon. This album features the classic, perennial, favorite “Skinny Love,” which will always be the perfect song to make you happy and sad at the same time. But the whole album is a lovely classic as a whole. Vernon wrote it alone in a cabin after a bad break-up, therefore making it the ultimate hipster art piece.
4. Hunky Dory-David Bowie
Probably my favorite Bowie album. I have many. The Man wrote many, he’s just that great and timeless. But this album just gives me crazy chills because I love every minute of it. It was the one album I searched and searched to find so I finally caved and asked for it for Christmas. I wanted to own it physically, unlike many of my other Bowie albums which live on my phone and iTunes account. Hunky Dory also features some of my favorite Bowie songs (a lot of which are featured in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, one of my favorite films): Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, Life on Mars, and Queen Bitch. I will forever love Bowie, and this will forever be one of the greatest pieces of art I own.
5. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars-David Bowie.
Yes I know I have two Bowie albums in a row, what about it? If I’m being completely honest with myself, the album I listened to constantly other than Modern Vampires, was Ziggy. I just really love this album. It’s very glam-rocky and fun and delightful. And it just kind of describes my 2013 somehow. There was a song for everything. And Rock & Roll Suicide is just a comforting reminder that I’m “Not alone,” and that I’m “wonderful.” It was on repeat along with “Better Days,” by Edwarde Sharpe (Whom I love but none of their albums as a whole work for me) when my grandmother passed away. I have my methods of grieving.
6. Kiss Each Other Clean and Ghost On Ghost-Iron and Wine
I love Sam Beam. I love Iron and Wine. I love all their albums, and I loved seeing them live and probably will see them again this year. These two more recent albums just hold a special place for me. I love Beam’s other albums too, but I just tend to listen to both of these a lot over and over. I really like “Grace for Saints and Ramblers,” “Caught in the Briars,” “Winter Prayers,” “Tree by the River,” and “Walking Far From Home.” Sam Beam has that lovely southern gentleman quality to his singing that is just so great and calming but exciting at the same time. (Check out his cover of “Fairytale of New York” with Kathleen Edwards and Glen Hansard on Jimmy Fallon).
7. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea-Neutral Milk Hotel
Let’s just acknowledge that every hipster, 20-something, cool person, dudes I will date, what have you, owns this album because it is the greatest piece of art ever. Every song is great, there are no duds. I am psyched for their reunion tour even though they won’t be coming to Michigan but whatever. If you haven’t listened to them yet, please do, you are missing out.
8. 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged-10,000 Maniacs
Do you remember when Unplugged albums were a thing? Heck when MTV was about music? If you ask me what the 90s and my childhood sounds like I will not say Brittany Spears or Justin Timberlake. I will say Natalie Merchant. My mom listened to this album a lot when she was cleaning or making dinner so listening to it makes me want meatloaf and to smell Pine-Sol and dust furniture. It’s like I was incepted by this album as a child. But I still listen to it. Did I take it from my mom and copy it to my iTunes without really asking? Yes. Don’t we all wish we could look as fantastic as Natalie Merchant does perching atop a stool singing and wearing black nylons? I think everyone should listen to the 10,000 Maniacs, as a reminder of a time when life was simpler, and you could learn about Jack Kerouac before you were old enough to read stuff by the Beat Generation.
9. More Adventurous-Rilo Kiley
Jenny Lewis is the queen. She is like the red-headed sexier Zooey Deschanel. (Whom I love, but sometimes her adorkableness can go too far). I love me some girl rock. Even though there are dudes in the band, Rilo Kiley is kind of girly in the best possible way. I love the rock but also country/rockabilly sound. (The old good kind of country, not this red-neck stuff you hear now). “Portions for Foxes” and “I Never” are my favorites on this album. The Vintage dress shop I go to was playing this album one time I was there. So I associate it with trying on awesome vintage dresses which is always a good feeling.
10. Begin to Hope-Regina Spektor.
She really can do no wrong and I love all her albums but I especially love this one. So much beauty. “Samson” is one of my all time favorite songs by her (besides “Hero”) It’s just so beautiful and sensual and touching and musically brilliant. Keep making music, Spektor.