Today’s Life Is Like A Box Of Records is scribed by Kenny Leckie from the band Carnivores.
You can listen to their excellent music here: www.smalltownamerica.co.uk/artists/carnivores
The Blue Nile – ‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’
This is probably one of the first albums I ever heard, it’s one of the few records that both my parents had at their respective houses. I distinctly remember hearing the opening electronic ‘boooooom….tick….boooooom….tick’ of the album fading in on late nights through the walls when I was trying to get to sleep as a kid. It wasn’t until years later I found other people who liked The Blue Nile too and it was generally people my age who’s parents did exactly the same thing to them! It’s become a classic of late night listening, it really makes me think of rainy walks through Glasgow at night going for the last train. I think that’s probably what they were going for when they made it.
Oasis – ‘Bring It On Down’
No matter your thoughts on Oasis, the first record is a real perfect rock record. This was I think the first tape I bought with my own money, maybe Christmas 1994? I had seen them on Top of the Pops and was instantly enamoured. Think back to the early nineties and all you had were buffed up boy bands, Phil Collins and Annie Lennox on near-constant rotation. Oasis were the first band I had seen that looked like people in my town, wee bams basically. I used to listen to the first record every day walking to and from school on my mum’s Walkman. ‘Bring it on Down’ started side 2 of the album and really made me want to play guitar and to create something that made me as pumped up that song did.
Pantera – ‘Strength Beyond Strength’
Paisley is a tough town to say the least and it was a very tough town for those of an ‘alternative’ disposition so you quickly became friends with the few people you knew who liked rock. Luckily for us there was a youth club called ‘The Firehouse’, an abandoned fire station that was loosely renovated to include a makeshift venue, rehearsal room and general empty space to hang about in. I only found out the week after she died that my Gran had helped set it up with money from her Church fund raising, inadvertently starting the musical careers of then local heroes Julia Thirteen (featuring a young Dok Chvrches) and Mince Fratelli! Anyway, I remember being in there one day and someone putting this record on and I was actually scared. I had never heard anything as fast, aggressive and downright violent sounding before in my life. I got my mate Serg to make me a tape of it and Slayer’s ‘Reign In Blood’ and that was my introduction to metal, moshing, circle pits, whammy pedal guitar solos and air drumming. I’ve not looked back!
Jeff Buckley – ‘Mojo Pin’
When I started playing in bands, I played guitar or bass but I always wanted to be the singer, the problem was I was painfully shy and singers by rights were cock-sure Freddy Mercury/Bruce Dickinson warriors, full of bravado. My first ever girlfriend gave me a copy of this record when I was 14 and it was the first time I had heard a singer be so powerful yet delicate, using the voice as an instrument rather than just a bolted-on afterthought. It took me a further four or five years to build up the confidence to start singing but this was the start of it for me. Now, if only I could sing 10% as good as JB. I’m a better swimmer for sure…
Biffy Clyro – ‘Bodies In Flight’
It almost seems unfashionable to admit liking Biffy because success=death to most music fans but BC have been a huge part of my musical upbringing. I first heard them NYE 2001 on a Kerrang! CD at a party and saw them support Weezer a few months later. It’s been amazing watching a small-town band become legitimately one of the biggest bands on earth, it showed me it could be done and that it was possible to escape the Scottish indie ghetto. The first three albums remind me of a golden era of UK rock where bands seemed to be permanently on tour. BC, Reuben, Million Dead, Hell Is For Heroes, Jetplane Landing, Hundred Reasons all made absolute classics while playing the Barfly four times a year. It was an era where every local band started growing beards, taking their shirts off and wore Fender Stratocasters up at their teeth. I can’t grow a beard so I was safe from the Simon Clone era but it’s obvious how much they’ve influenced my band.
Frightened Rabbit – ‘The Modern Leper’
Have you ever had a moment where you’ve heard the first 30 seconds of an album and it immediately becomes one of your favourite albums ever? The Midnight Organ Fight, late night 2008, had been recommended it by a friend, downloaded it (legally, I must add!), stuck it on without really paying attention and for the next 45 minutes or so, I didn’t move. It was stone-cold perfect. The lyrics were so jarring and open, saying all those things we all think but are too scared to say, the music was a great mix of indie, folk and alt rock. It’s one of those records that popped up from nowhere at exactly the time I needed it and hasn’t gone away since. A big, sad belter of a record.
Battles – ‘Atlas’
For someone who plays guitar all the time, I must admit that guitars bore the shit out of me some times. It’s very predictable. I hate going to see bands where I can predict what the next chord will be or what the next riff could do and when Battles came out it was like wiping the slate clean again and showing me that guitars could be awesome and fun and danceable. I bought ‘Mirrored’ mainly because John Stainer from Helmet was involved and he is a drum god to me. This album took all the things I loved about electronic music and translated it on to guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. It was all glitchy, glam fun riffola. I remember being in a state of impurity in the big room at ABC one night when Atlas came on and going absolutely mental, proper sweaty 1am mental with about 30 other hipstery guys who know this band. This song builds perfectly, such a great lolloping rhythm. I was gutted when the second album was a shanner.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘Good Neighbour’
Where do you start with Dillinger? Right, best live band on the planet No contest. Most inventive rock band possibly ever? Debatable. I’ve seen them live too many times to count, including the gig where the singer shat in a cup and threw it at the crowd. This band made me rethink how to play music, I learned so much at school from playing jazz but it had never occurred to me to apply the same principles to rock music, the non-bluesy notes, non-linear structures, timings that make you want to vomit. I love uncomfortable music and these guys have made a career from taking some of the most full-on, unlistenable songs into the mainstream. Which is quality. Plus, I listen to Dillinger when I run. Try running slow when listening to Dillinger, it’s physically impossible, Greg is like a personal trainer screaming in your ears to not be such a pussy and work harder. Thanks for getting me fit, Dillinger!
Wilco – ‘At Least That’s What She Said’
The whole ‘A Ghost Is Born’ album is said to be a musical manifestation of how Jeff Tweedy felt while suffering from intense migraines, panic attacks and addiction to painkillers and as someone who’s had pretty brutal migraines from a young age, i’d have to agree! This album is so violent and beautiful, full of static and clarity, waves of white noise juxtaposed with moments of clear, pure sound. I love this record a bit too much for many, many reasons, it soundtracked a very rough time for me and a time where I spent a lot of it on very strong painkillers due to a shoulder injury. This record is like walking around in a daze but for some reason it always reminds me of taking my driving lessons.
Los Campesinos – ‘By Your Hand’
I’m a latecomer to LC, it didn’t really connect before I heard them earlier this year after breaking up a girl and all I wanted to listen to was really bitter, heartbroken music every day. They definitely fitted the bill. I’m sure there was a day where I listened to this song on repeat about 16 times. I think there’s a real voyeuristic side to music fans; we all love peering into the failures of others in songs, Gareth’s songs are so open, sad yet at some points fucking hilarious. You’d think by now girls would be so worried about dating him in case they end up coming out badly in a song. Maybe some people like that. I remember when I was a teenager overhearing a girl saying ‘I’ve had SO MANY love songs written about me’. I thought to myself, ‘You’ve only heard the good ones, it’s the bad ones you should worry about!’.