WARMER MIXTAPES #125 | by Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy
1. The Smiths | Shoplifters Of The World Unite
When I was 11 I had a paper route in my hometown of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, Canada, and had been given a record shop gift certificate as a holiday bonus that year. I had just seen a picture of The Smiths in a music magazine, and fell in love with Morrissey's haircut without hearing a note of their music. I bought the tape of Louder Than Bombs with my gift certificate and took it home to listen to. I had a little ghetto blaster in my room and must have listened to the tape 30 times that day. At that point I had never heard anything like The Smiths ever. It was without precident, musically. I recall that I didn't even like it at first, but around the the 3rd listen, it was Shoplifters that first grabbed me. The lyrics were so intense and personal - each song different than the last. I thought it was crazy that a band could affect me so intensely, yet be from halfway around the world. The truth is that there are many similarities between the west coast of Canada and Manchester, England where they were from. They were both industrial towns, always rainy and apparently without much opportunity. There I was, 11 years old, having my mind blown open by The Smiths, who I felt were speaking directly to ME. My love affair continues to this day.
2. Depeche Mode | Everything Counts
I've always had an unusually intense relationship with music - it was around the time of 9 years old where I began to spend all my time obsessing about it. It was the exoticism of indie and electronic music from the UK, specifically, that really got me going. Nanaimo was a place where the only things that were listened to were things like AC/DC, Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin. Luckily I had a cousin in Scotland who used to send me tapes of the UK chart countdowns - so I was introduced to a wealth of music I would never have heard in Canada. Depeche Mode was the first electronic act I heard, and I thought Everything Counts was so cool. It was that arpeggiated bassline, and the middle eastern tinge. I also saw a picture of the band not long after and was taken with how unusual they looked. My 9 year old brain didn't see it as bondage gear or anything, just some futuristic look from the far side of the world. I remember getting some blank looks from my mother when I told her I wanted a haircut like Dave Gahan's.
3. David Bowie | Queen Bitch
My parents owned a copy of Hunky Dory - they were cool parents. My Dad always came home on his payday with a stack of records. No wonder I was crazy about music. They weren't huge Bowie fans but loved this record. We all still love it to this day. Queen Bitch is so catchy and kinetic. Ronson's guitar tone is just... Sublime. It meant something much different to me as a kid than it does now, obviously. It's funny to think of my nice little family singing along to this song in our living room when the song's so clearly about a transvestite's cocaine psychosis. Haha. Isn't music a wonderful thing?
4. Fleetwood Mac | Dreams
This song is my Desperado. If it's playing, I'm gone somewhere else...I think my parents played Rumours more than any other record in my upbringing, so I have some deep, deep nostalgia for this band. What a perfect little song. So restrained and melancholic. I can literally time travel back to that era when I hear it. It's imprinted on my brain.
5. Kate Bush | Wuthering Heights
Same as above. This was an album that was played a lot in my family household. It was a sign that my parents were in a good mood. It often preceded their going to bed early... Haha. Again, great nostalgic feelings are invoked when I hear it. Plus it is the dictionary definition of soaring. I tried to duplicate that effect on YG's first two records, to varying degrees of success. I think it's a song that men like to unleash their latent femininity to...I have enjoyed watching dudes sing along at the top of their lungs to it. They can't resist.
6. The Stone Roses | I Wanna Be Adored
At around 14 there was a little record store in my town that was finally doing special imports, so once I got wind of this I would go down there and order the latest hotness I was reading about in the NME or Rolling Stone. I remember reading about this band, Mary My Hope, who had been compared to some other bands that I can't remember but had made me want to hear them. Anyway, I went into the store, picked up their record and the guy who owned the store suggested I check out this other band who was on the same label as them called The Stone Roses...I remember being instantly taken with the Pollack-esque cover art, and the fact that Peter Hook from New Order was associated with them on one of the songs' production credits. I took it home, put it on, and had a similar reaction to them as I had had with The Smiths initially - I didn't really get it at first, but eventually it clicked... It was probably through staring at the images on the inside sleeve of the band - they looked unlike any band I'd ever seen, so cool and iconic. They had their own style, which meant a lot to me then...Anyhow, once it clicked I was blown away... The Stone Roses debut remains the most influential record of my life, in terms of the sound, the timing, everything. It marked a sea change in how I viewed the world. They were a gang, aloof, cocky, inseparable...From then on, all I wanted to do was make music. Unfortunately their second record made me want to quit. Haha. Oh well.
7. My Bloody Valentine | To Hear Knows When
Like everyone else, it took me forever to figure this one out. I think I played it 241 times before it started to reveal itself to me, luckily it was so weird I couldn't stop listening to it. I love the stories of how people would buy this record and then return it complaining that it was broken. At first glance, it's just noise, but in actuality it is such an enduring, beautiful, sophisticated record. Anyone who tries to emulate their sound instantly sounds lame, because it is so inherently impossible to capture the controlled chaos of it. It's the musical equivalent of one of those brain teasing images that look scrambled, but if you 'unfocus' on them they reveal a 3D image. Brilliant.
8. Jeff Buckley | Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen Cover)
I'm not a huge fan of Jeff Buckley - I never thought his songs were that great and the production on his records sucked, quite frankly. But here he combines his beautiful voice with the SINGLE GREATEST LYRICS EVER WRITTEN by Leonard Cohen to create THE SADDEST SONG OF ALL TIME. Seriously. Absolutely mind melting. The first time I heard this was around a campfire at my family's cabin with friends. I had been drinking absinthe. I wept for a very long time afterwards. In fact, this song is so beautiful it's not even worth writing about...
9. Public Enemy | Miuzi Weighs A Ton
I was a huge hip hop fan when it first came out...I was too young for punk, so it felt like this was my punk rock - hostile, alien, and threatening. I lived in a very white, middle class part of the world so this was my way of separating from the pack...Public Enemy were the most threatening of the bunch, along with Schooly D and B.D.P. I love how sinister this record is - it's dripping with violence in a funky way! I felt pretty dangerous with both the Sex Pistols and Public Enemy in my record collection. In many respects, they shared a lot in common. I even formed a hip hop group in my early teens, called Conflict Of Interest - I had a satin baseball jacket with C.O.I. Posse embroidered on the back along with the Def Jam needle.. Oh man, I wish I still had that jacket!
10. Studio | Life's A Beach
This list is the sum of my influences primarily, so it's nice to have something current in here...I feel like if you took all the music from my list and put it in a blender, you might end up with Sweden's Studio. This record is so timeless and groovy and layered...I go into a trance when I hear it. It's very rare these days to hear something so well crafted that seems to come from nowhere. I love the whole package of this band, they have a brilliant aesthetic and are reclusive and mysterious in an age where most musicians are like little puppies clamoring all over themselves to get noticed. These dudes have found their pocket, and appear to genuinely not care what anyone else thinks of them. Amen to that... We are making our third record currently with Dan Lissvik.