Life Is Like A Box Of Records today is with Paul Carlin formerly of Dananananaykroyd and producer over at BBC Scotland/BBC Introducing and more, he is now in the excellent band Jutland Songs.
You can listen to their music here: soundcloud.com/jutland-songs
Big Country – Wonderland
This is the story of how I learned to play drums: In the late 1980s, I decided I really liked the idea of being a drummer; it was around the time Big Country’s album Peace In Our Time came out. I found two knitting needles in the house (no-one knitted in my house), took all the pillows from the beds, set them up on my own bed and bashed them along to that Big Country album. Goodness knows how I got into Big Country but I definitely thought they were cool guys. It must have been on The Chart Show or something. Anyway, a few years later, my family moved to Italy for my dad’s work. We used to go on car journeys to various towns and cities around the country on the weekend. One of our favourite places to go was Bergamo, in the north. Bergamo had a brilliant music shop. I remember buying a Big Country Best Of and a Jimmy Somerville Best Of (do not mess with Jimmy) on the same day. Since then, Wonderland has been my favourite Big Country track, and because it was a non-album single, it’s the COOL MUSIC DORK GUY CHOICE.
Sonic Youth – Drunken Butterfly
Like every other human my age who likes indie rock, Nirvana was the gateway drug for me. I’m so grateful I was a teenager in the ’90s. Anyway, the BBC showed this fantastic episode of The Late Show in 1992 called No Nirvana which featured live performances from the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Sugar, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction and Sonic Youth, among others. I taped it and must have watched it 100 times. I absolutely LOVED SY – this track was my first exposure to them and the very next day, I remember modifying my drumkit to have it set up the exact same was as Steve Shelley. (Of course, no sane drummer nowadays would use two rack toms, but whatever.) I bought Dirty on cassette in Our Price somewhere in England in the subsequent months and went nuts for it.
Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song)
My first proper gig was in February 1995 at King Tut’s. Weezer had played this song on The Word (one of the weirdest and best shows Channel 4 ever made) and I was knocked out by it. This was the band for me. A pal’s big brother bought us tickets, we made fake ID (I was a very young looking 16-year-old, gawd knows how the hell I got in) and went to see Weezer. A fantastic first gig, as you can imagine. I can just remember being as happy as I’d ever felt during that show. Weezer made one more great record, two more decent records and a bunch of rubbish ones. The Blue Album is untouchable though.
The Delgados – Under Canvas Under Wraps
When I left school and started uni, I went to sooooo many gigs with my pals. Glasgow’s music scene at the time was dynamite. Every other week, you’d probably be able to see one of The Delgados, Urusei Yatsura, Eska, El Hombre Trajeado, Life Without Buildings, Mogwai or Arab Strap. They were always on the radio on the Evening Session or the John Peel Show. You’d go to Missing Records on Oswald street to buy the split 7″ singles. This was the first Delgados track I heard. Sometimes I think they were probably the best Glasgow band ever (or Lanarkshire, whatever.) They evolved with every album but they were always still The Delgados. A band I go back to regularly.
Marlena Shaw – California Soul
The late ’90s and early 2000s were a lot of fun. Out of uni, working, spending all my cash on albums, gigs and going out. The most fun to be had was at Divine, a club night at the Art School (and now at the Admiral, I think…) It’s no fun dancing to Sebadoh and My Bloody Valentine, so guys like me needed a night like Divine to stop being so bloody musically parochial. Whenever California Soul dropped, that was the time to get up and dance. What a tune. My mate Steve used to put this on every single mixtape he made for people. It’s timeless and is at the perfect bpm for white guy dancing.
Broken Social Scene – Fire Eye’d Boy
In 2005, absolutely miserable and stressed out in my job, I took a career break and moved to Toronto for a year. That year not only saved my brain from a sure-fire implosion, but allowed me to delve so deeeeeeep into Canadian music. I was already a massive Canadaphile and had worshipped bands like Sloan, Eric’s Trip, Elevator To Hell, Superfriendz, Death From Above and Jale from afar, picking up as much of their music as I could afford anytime I was there on holiday. In 2005, Arcade Fire were blowing up and Broken Social Scene released their (best) s/t album. We played this in the restaurant I worked in pretty much every day (along with Jeepster by T.Rex and the first three Springsteen albums, among other things) and it pretty much soundtracked my year. Through BSS (and my pal Andrew), I got into Apostle Of Hustle, Jason Collett, Metric, Feist, etc. I hardly ever play tunes in public now (I’m not calling it DJing) but, whenever I do, this will definitely get played. (The old guy with the beard in this video owns, or used to own, Toronto’s best record shop, Rotate This.)
Sparks – Beat The Clock
From 2006-2008, I worked on a drivetime radio request show for the BBC. Despite having to live in Aberdeen, it was a really fun job and it filled in a lot of the gaps in my musical knowledge. In those two years, I expanded my love of Roxy Music, T.Rex, Devo, The Go-Betweens, Talking Heads and, most of all, Sparks. Anyone who knows me knows about my deep love for Ron and Russell Mael. Continually inventive (have you heard the FFS album yet?), musically sophisticated, lyrically devastating and amazing live, I fell hook, like and sinker for them during this period. Beat The Clock was the tune that made me go out and buy everything I could find. I’ve seen Sparks twice now. They’re my musical heroes. I hope they live forever.
Fugazi – Arpeggiator
Joining Dananananaykroyd was a thing that happened out of the blue and led to the most fun 3.5 years ever. Everyone in the band had pretty varied taste in music but I think we all agreed on Fugazi (the ‘old guard’ – me, David and Duncan certainly did!) We covered this. The only time we ever played a cover at a show. There’s very little I can say about Fugazi that hasn’t already been said by someone else. Hugely influential, amazing songs, one of my favourite drummers and a body of work that you can take to the bank. I only ever saw Fugazi once (with Eska supporting) – on the Argument tour. They insisted on the lights being on at the Barras. And they were brilliant.
Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
I met Frankie in January 2011 and he was the final piece of the jigsaw. If and when we ever get married, I will probably insist that this is the first dance. We’ll stand on a giant stage and point at our junk or something. I want RuPaul to be there and Lou Barlow too. And Henrik Larsson. Every time I go to a wedding, I show the DJ a photo of this single’s cover (which is permanently on my phone) and demand he or she plays it. A fairly high success rate so far. In terms of musicality, I think it’s perfection. I think some people reckon this song is novelty or some shit. What nonsense. It’s sophisticated disco and Sylvester was a pioneer.
Superchunk – Hyper Enough
I joined my new band Jutland Songs last year which led to a massive Superchunk binge. They were a band I’d sorta liked in the ’90s but just never had enough room in my brain for. I dug out the albums I already had and am in the process of buying all the other ones. Here’s Where The Strings Come In is my favourite and a really good starting point for newcomers. I love the way Superchunk have operated over the years – this is what I aspire to now! Sometimes it takes a few years or a few albums to really understand just how good a band is. Peace! (p.s. I can’t believe I haven’t got a Sebadoh song in this list.)