January's Desert Island picks are brought to you by my friend, Stephen... a proud Austinite by way of the Olympia burbs. We met when we were both living in Seattle and bonded over our love of music and our dislike of most everything else. He has impeccable taste in music, and I love the list he came up with.
1) Cold, Cold Water by Mirah... This was the song that pushed me down the rabbit hole. Until I heard this, I hadn't bothered to investigate anything that wasn't in heavy rotation on the local alt-rock radio station. I went to my first "indie" show to see Mirah. It was at some sort of dance studio in Olympia, and The Microphones and Calvin Johnson were both on the bill. I was blown away, and life hasn't quite been the same since.
2) Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits... This is perhaps the one song my dad and I will always agree on.
3) Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone by Neutral Milk Hotel... It wouldn't be a stretch to include any and all NMH songs on a list like this. Listening to any of them is about as close as I'm going to get to calling something a spiritual experience. I particularly like the horns in this one. And the imagery. And... everything, really.
4) Snookered by Dan Deacon... This song got me through a particularly tough part of my life. The lyrics are such a lovely expression of the existential misery that can come along with really crappy happenings, while the music batters all your sad-sack neurons into complete submission; it's the perfect "things are gonna be okay" song. When I saw him perform this live during SXSW 2011, it was the most connecting, giddy concert experience I'd ever had, and it completely reshaped my notion of what the live music experience can be like.
5) Bad Religion by Frank Ocean.. This just came out this year, and holy crap, it's amazing. The whole album is brilliant, but this track sticks out. It's beautiful. It's important. I love it.
6) Graceland by Paul Simon.. I grew up listening to this song, and I've never gotten tired of it. As a bass player, I'm constantly in awe of the bass work on most of the Graceland album.
7) The Scientists by Hum.. It's a rock song about two scientists leaving the dying Earth behind on a spaceship. What's not to love?
8) Meet Me in the City by Junior Kimbrough.. To me, this is what the blues are supposed to sound like. Simple, soulful, and haunting. You can't fake this.
Have Spotify and want to listen to the whole playlist? Click here.
(PS… remember that if you’re viewing this in a feed reader you’ll need to click over to the blog to see the Spotify tracks.)