I had to take some real time to think about these songs because they all mean so much to me in many different ways. Getting it down to just 20 songs was very difficult!!
1. Angelo Badalamenti | Twin Peaks Theme (Twin Peaks Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The strange thing about this song is that the first time I heard it was not from watching the TV show. I was quite young, maybe 11 or so, I was staying over at my best friend's house. It was late at night and I was trying to get to sleep and I heard this beautiful & haunting sound coming through the walls from next door. I think his next door neighbor must have come home from the pub and put the song on repeat as he drifted off to sleep. Anyway, it just kept repeating for nearly an hour or so and I was just mesmerized by the sound of it. There’s just something infinitely intriguing about it as a piece of Music. It conjures up so many contrasting emotions for me every time I hear it. I later made the connection with it being the theme tune to the TV Show. Which I eventually grew to love also. But that came later on in my teens. I was too shit scared of Bob when I was 11. He still gives me nightmares!
2. Fleetwood Mac | Little Lies
I can remember when my Dad first got a CD player and Tango In The Night was one of the first records I heard on CD. The sound seemed so much clearer and sharper than cassette and vinyl at the time. I still think of this record as the ultimate Pop record for the 80’s and Little Lies as Fleetwood Mac’s masterpiece Pop hit. It’s the one track where the three singers in the band blend together in the most amazing way. Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham all have such unique voices that compliment each other perfectly on Little Lies.
3. Guided By Voices | Gold Star For Robot Boy
This song is just such a beautiful mess and I mean that in the best possible way. The production is Lo-Fi as hell but it couldn’t sound any other way. The guitars are just buzz sawing away in the background in this frantic way. Bob Pollard’s vocal is just perfect. The lyrics are completely abstract but whatever the hell he is singing about he completely means it. I just totally connect with it. Maybe it’s just the raw exuberance of the song that really moves me. It’s just a genius Pop song to me.
4. Pixies | Velouria
The first record I heard by the Pixies was Bossanova and I think they became my favourite band almost instantly. People always tend to talk about Doolittle as the best Pixies record and maybe they’re right overall, but there is something about Bossanova (and particularly Velouria) that I always come back to. It has this weird 50’s Sci-Fi feel about it and one of the best opening Rock riffs of all time.
5. The Notwist | Chemicals
The Notwist were the first band that made me think that I really needed to start experimenting with Electronic Music. This just seemed so different to what was around at the time and it still sounds modern to me. It’s so understated yet heart felt and melancholic in a cool unassuming way. I always love hearing the guitar solo because it reminds me of a modem dialing up for some reason. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not but it sounds really cool to me!
6. The Replacements | Unsatisfied
I can’t confess to being The Replacements biggest fan overall but this song always gets me. Similar to Gold Star For Robot Boy it has this ragged beauty about it, but the stand out feature has to be Paul Westerberg’s voice. It’s just so passionate. He’s just giving it absolutely everything. He sounds like he’s been up for days drinking and smoking yet still manages to deliver this amazing performance.
7. Beach House | Norway
I guess there's something about Norway that echoes back to the same feelings I have for Little Lies and Tango In The Night. Which isn’t to imply that Beach House are simply Fleetwood Mac soundalikes. You hear the influence of that record but Beach House take it to a new place altogether and give it a different dimension. I think it’s possibly my favourite Pop song of the last 5 years.
8. Kate Bush | Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
This is just perfect Dream Pop. She just seemed out there on her own making this completely unique sound that you could tell was intensely personal to her yet somehow seemed to translate into Mainstream success. I’m not sure a song as good as this would even make it into the charts these days. God knows why.
9. Mazzy Star | Fade Into You
This is the sound of falling in Love. Need I say more...
10. The National | All The Wine
My old band Western Suburbs were lucky to play a few shows with The National just as Alligator came out. It was amazing time to to see them as they were just on the cusp of becoming a huge band. We had this amazing lost weekend with them in Perpignan, France and a lot of wine was consumed, so this song seems quite fitting!
+11. Idaho | Just Might Run
The piano melody throughout this song is just so beautiful it’s untrue. It just hovers perfectly in Time and Space over Jeff Martin’s narcoleptic vocals. It just sounds so effortlessly gorgeous and majestically balanced and understated. I come back to this song time and time again and always feel the same way.
+12. Morrissey | Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself
In times of trouble Morrissey is always there. I get infuriated by people who talk about his lyrics being depressing, but even I would have to concede that these lyrics are quite downbeat by his standards. But there’s also something hauntingly uplifting about this song that I connect with. I also love the ghostly background vocals running throughout the track.
+13. Smog | Ex-Con
Bill Callahan has been out there on his own making some of the most amazing and unique records for the past 20 years. The lyrics in Ex-Con are so smart and darkly humorous at the same time. When I go to your house I feel like I’m casing the joint... Alone in my room I feel like such a part of the community. But out on the streets I feel like a robot by a river, looking for a drink.
+14. Neil Young | Heart Of Gold
I guess it’s probably one of the most obvious Neil Young songs, but it’s still an absolute classic. Long may he run!
+15. Sparklehorse | Saturday
I remember going to see Sparklehorse in Sheffield on a Saturday night and he came on with Saturday and it was even better than the album version. Mark Linkous was such an intriguingly complex genius of an artist who is sadly missed.
+16. Scud Mountain Boys | In A Ditch
I was completely obsessed with Massachusetts by Scud Mountain Boys when I was about 19. It’s a criminally overlooked record. Joe Pernice’s lyric writing is impeccable on this record. The songs are all like dark little tales from a small town, or at least that’s how I seemed to relate to it at the time. In A Ditch has this gently delivered tragic narrative that reels you in and gets under your skin.
+17. New Order | Temptation
The thing I like the most about New Order’s songs is that they are Pop masterpieces delivered in such an unassuming way. Temptation has this underlying melancholic quality to it but it’s also an Indie dance floor classic. Kind of makes me want to go out and get drunk and have a good time in the best possible way.
+18. Small Black | Despicable Dogs
I love this song because it got me back into experimenting with Electronic sounds again. It kind of reminds me of early New Order in a way because it has this kind of slightly naive Electronic production. Which is totally cool because it sounds like a band trying to work out how to use Technology for the first time and simultaneously producing this amazing Lo-Fi Pop gem.
+19. Wild Nothing | Golden Haze
Following on from Small Black I have a similar appreciation for Wild Nothing and especially Golden Haze. It’s just a really beautiful Lo-Fi Dream Pop song which is similarly melancholic yet uplifting at the same time.
+20. Washed Out | Soft
This is probably the perfect Chillwave song for me. It almost sounds like Balearic House Music, but it’s coming from a completely different place. I like to think of it as a song for people who like elements of House Music but don’t want to take copious amounts of drugs and wave their hands in the air.