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. So, we’re asking folks for their top five records of the last 20 years.
This week we hear from Kingston, Ontario’s fantastically face-melting rock duo, PS I Love You, whose latest album, Death Dreams is on the long list for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize.
“I turned nine years old, 20 years ago,” says band founder, Paul Saulnier. “That was the age I mega got into metal, which led to me taking music very seriously.
“The thing I love most about the past 20 years is how there's so much good music from all over the world in every genre imaginable that we now have a generation of people who have access to and who, hopefully, love all music. I am a metal-head, a grungey dude, a hip-hop fan and DJ, a techno raver, a country bumpkin, a pop rocker, a fusion-y-jazz-post-rock aficionado, a slacker rocker, a noisician, a folkie and all kinds of other shit. Diversity! The internet! Etc.! Also, this list only represents a small slice of all my favourites."
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan (1993)
I got this tape when I was 12 going on 13. At that age, two of my most favourite things were rap music and ultra-violent movies, so the Wu was perfect for me and my intense Mortal Kombat habit. Now that I'm kind of a real adult, I can appreciate the soul that Wu-Tang brought to the rap world at this time. It was a dark, menacing soul, but soul nonetheless.
This album was something more than beats and rhymes. It was like a scary world that overwhelmed me and made me forget my safe reality sometimes. It was just as appealing as it was unsettling. Music that can do this sort of thing is extremely powerful ... in any genre. I would compare Enter the Wu-Tang to the most extreme, church-burningest black metal and the most out there free jazz or groundbreaking avant-garde classical work, you know? (Also, I still listen to this album and play Mortal Kombat on my SNES cuz I'm not really an adult.)
Washing Machine by Sonic Youth (1995)
Washing Machine was the first Sonic Youth tape I owned. I love how neatly it displays a lot of SY's different modes. Weird pop ("Little Trouble Girl"); frantic noise poetry ("Skip Tracer"); Kim Gordon-talking-about-something-I-don't-understand-but-it-must-be-the-coolest-thing-that's-ever-happened-and-the-beat-and-guitars-are-so-f--king-amazing! (“Washing Machine”); and a nice song that turns into a super long, noisy drone jam ('The Diamond Sea" and "Part 2").
I used to lie in bed at night listening to “The Diamond Sea” over and over again on headphones. Another great thing about this album is that, while showcasing everything they are good at, it did not give away the epic-ness and the no wave-ness of their earlier material, nor did it really let you know where they were going. It was a great introduction to probably my all-time favourite band.
Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennae to Heaven by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2000)
Experiencing GY!BE two nights in a row in Montreal in the dead of winter in early 2002 was severely life-altering. Severely life-altering. It's kind of hard to elaborate on that. See above for a current live video of album opener “Gathering Storm,” but no video can truly capture the intensity of this band's live show. I think when I first saw them I forgot to breathe for like, three minutes.
The Hot Rock by Sleater-Kinney (1999)
It's hard to pick a favourite Sleater-Kinney album. I change my mind on this topic all the time. For the past few years, their last album, The Woods, was my favourite. I chose The Hot Rock for this list because it's the one I've been listening to the most recently, and it rules. There's not a bad song on here. Sleater-Kinney were the greatest guitar rock band of the last 20 years. I'm obsessed with electric guitar playing, and I play it all the time and I listen to it all the time and I love rock ‘n’ roll and shit but it's all the same, pretty much, except for Sleater-Kinney. Listen to the guitars, like f--k, how did they come up with that style? See above for the video for "Get Up," directed by Miranda July.
The Constantines (2001)
My first Cons show was at a shitty bar in Kingston that no longer exists. There was maybe 15 people there. It was so awesome. I mean that they were truly awe-inspiring. I was 18. This show helped me realize that rock ‘n’ roll was real and it seemed Canadian and attainable. I had the same manly feelings they were belting out. I played guitar with a passion and a volume that reflected that passion. I wanted to jump up on tables while rocking out so hard that I break two bass strings. Who breaks bass strings? The Constantines broke bass strings. They broke hearts and minds and pint glasses all across Canada for 10 glorious years. This hand-packaged CD came with a "strike anywhere" match so that I could burn all the other albums I owned at the time. I'm not joking.
Keep an eye on this page for news about PS I Love You.
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on Jun 27, 2012