When you’re an influential musician, people tend to ask you what you’ve been listening to lately. Here at 5 for 20, we’re just as keen to find out what records loom large in our favourite artists’ memory banks.
This week we hear from Montreal’s Barr Brothers, who released the wonderfully calming self-titled debut on Secret City Records late last year. Their songs are so soothing that when they performed “Beggar in the Morning” on David Letterman earlier this year, his simple reaction was, “Beautiful … gosh that was nice.” In contrast to the music the brothers create, Brad Barr’s list of seven albums (yes, we know the feature is called 5 for 20 but you can’t deny passion) that have stuck with him over the past 20 years is really quite rockin’.
http://music.cbc.ca/play/artist/The-Barr-Brothers/Old-Mythologies [listen to "Old Mythologies" by Barr Brothers]
The Runners Four, Deerhoof, 2005
Never a cliché, always interesting sounds, baffling way of composing and arranging songs. Their template is so wide, every record is an amazing surprise but always sounds like Deerhoof. This one has some of their catchiest and most charming riffs, conceived with such weirdness and noise, its like being viotaled by a teddy bear.
Mule Variations, Tom Waits, 1999
Really dirty, really sweet, a great example of taking traditional song forms and making them brand new. You almost feel like the instruments are in your own hands, so natural and creaky. Marc Ribot plays lyrically and intuitively, in the zone from note one.
Harvest Moon, Neil Young, 1992
As the grunge scene was hailing Neil king, he grabbed his acoustic guitar and took us on a nostalgic trip to the prairies on this great record. Full of light strumming, rusty stories of motorcycles, Pocahontas, diner waitresses and the pedal steel work of Ben Keith (who helped convince Neil to reunite the original Harvest band for this record), this is one of the great timeless records of the last 20 years. If you find yourself driving late into the night, put this on your car stereo. It will get you there.
Parc Avenue, Plants and Animals, 2008
[listen to "Feedback in the Field" by Plants and Animals]
Made in the neighborhood we call home, these guys were so dialed in when they made this (and still are, their newest will definitely be in our top five for the next 20 years). Reminds us of Neil Young and David Bowie taking a vacation together to Zaire.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the Flaming Lips, 2002
It was pretty much the most modern sounding thing we had ever heard when it came out in 2002. Absolute sublime blending of modern technology with acoustic instruments. Fearless, like a band who had, through years of experiments and hard work, discovered the secret to having a really good time while you make really good art.
Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, 2007
T-Bone Burnett took a collection of wonderfully longing and hopeful songs, which would do well on their own in a stripped-down setting, and made them so wide, with so much space and breath, careful and perfect instrumentation. The vocals never lose their focus and their lilt. Marc Ribot appears on this album as well, a testament to what an important player he is in modern music.
De Stijl, the White Stripes, 2000
Chuck Klosterman said something like, "It's the job of any good rock band to reinterpret the blues." This album is a wistful and whimsical romp through the blues and punk-folk, so charming and dark at the same time. It's a great example of using your limitations to transcend the situation.
Cloak and Cipher, Land of Talk, 2010
You Forgot it in People, Broken Social Scene, 2002
Kid A, Radiohead, 2000
5 for 20: Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three
5 for 20: Plants and Animals
on Mar 08, 2012