1. Nirvana | On A Plain
This song reminds me of being 16 years old and listening to this crazy band with the nastiest, most catchiest tracks I’d ever heard. I first heard Nirvana on cassette in the summer of 1992 at North Arm Cove. My friend got the tape off his older sister and I can remember listening to it on the floor of a bedroom on a shitty cassette machine, really, really close to the speakers. I was instantly taken with it. This started an ongoing Love affair with the band that continues to this day. Nevermind remains both my proud and guilty pleasure. Of course, In Utero is a far more challenging and, in many ways, caustic and clever piece of Songwriting and Engineering. However, notwithstanding the slick and thin Andy Wallace sheen on this album that makes it immediately playable and recognisable on any radio or Stereo system, this album still packs a mighty punch and is a mean machine. I love myself better than you, I know it’s wrong but what should I do?... That about sums it up really.
2. Sonic Youth | 100%
There are so many songs off this record that I would have included in this list, however this one reminds me of my first band, Spitalfields. We used to cover this song in 1993/1994 when we played house parties and School dances. It’s really heavy and simple and laden with the Punk politics of the era. From what I understand, around this time Sonic Youth were hanging out with Nirvana and were really inspired by their brevity and melody. I love the way Sonic Youth delved into some of their more Pop inspired licks on this record. Of course, Sonic Youth enthusiasts will point to other earlier examples, however this record was where I met Sonic Youth head on. I remember seeing them in 1995 at the Summersault Festival, where the Beastie Boys and Beck were also playing. I think it was the Washing Machine tour then, but they also played loads of this album.
3. Pixies | Gigantic
This track reminds me of watching Skating videos when I was in late High School. I used to try to skate. My friends were heaps better at it than me, but I always used to keep practicing and trying to get better at it. To get in the mood for a street skating session, we used to watch Skating videos. I vividly remember this song being on the soundtrack of one of my favourite vids. Like Nirvana, or Nirvana like Pixies (more accurately), I loved the melodic, loud/Soft Punk dynamics of this track. I’ve gone on with Pixies, they’ve never really left me. I think there’s something so late 80s Punk about the fact that a band of complete mis-matched misfits could evoke such a passionate following. The formula was simple. Melodic Punk and an absolutely killer live show. I still reflect on this in my own Music practice now.
4. You Am I | Cathy’s Clown
This is the first Australian Rock band I really fell in love with in the most complete way. This record came out in 1994 and every track is ace for different reasons. What I loved about You Am I in this era is how they were Punk but really Classic as well. This record is where You Am I showed a healthy respect for the mid to late 60s Rock/Pop of The Beatles, The Byrds, etc., etc. This track reminds me of playing with my band at a High School dance and feeling like we were the best band in town. The next album by You Am I was a concept record called Hourly Daily. It was a homage to suburban life in Australia at the time. It more intentionally drips with 60s Jangle. Hi Fi Way is where the raw power of earlier You Am I directly intersects with their 1960s inspired Poptastic sensibilities.
5. Radiohead | All I Need
This track heralded the ethereal return of Radiohead to their sparkling best. This song really typifies the period of time I was working in Firekites. This record smashed us all and informed much of the later period of our writing adventures. I’ll never forget getting rather pissed with my writing buddy one night and putting this record on full blast. During this track, in particular, we each held a speaker to the top of our heads, to thoroughly drink in the lush soundscapes. It’s an extraordinary body of work that calls back the best of Radiohead from The Bends and OK Computer, however with a taipan like kink or twist in the tail.
6. Blur | The Universal
This track blew me away when I first saw its film clip on TV late one Friday night. In Australia, we have a video clip show on our national broadcaster (the ABC) called, Rage. It’s pretty much the only clip show you want to watch in Australia, simply because of the fact that it has an incredible archive of material to draw from, has the best guest programmers and compiles sweet special features. To be played on Rage is a massive milestone for any Aussie musician. I just loved how Blur reconnect a new generation with the wonky aesthetic of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. These felt so fresh for me at that time even though they arguably haven’t quite survived the test. Around this time, I also loved the Retro debonair of Pulp, who released Common People around the same time. I think both bands were equally inspired by Kubrick aesthetics, although Pulp were a little more Disco about it.
7. The Chemical Brothers | Song To The Siren (Exit Planet Dust Version)
I could name any track on side A of this record as vividly memorable. This song typifies the type of killer grooves that got me straight into Turntabling and Electronic Music for quite a while in 1996/7. I do recall receiving a mix tape with this on it and it just blew my head off. It was equal parts hard-edged, Analogue, kinda spooky and really, really tripped out. I hands down loved this record when I finally heard it. The next track after this (as the first side is completely mixed together), Three Little Birdies Down Beats, is equally incredible. Really Acid House, Detroit, fuck it, off the hook, man. The EDM of today can’t top this stuff. Not by a long shot!
8. The Beatles | Tomorrow Never Knows
When I first heard this song, I fully understood how important and omnipotent The Beatles are to Modern Music. This song was released in 1966. I mean, eat that! Around the time I discovered this track, I was listening to Dig Your Own Hole by The Chemical Brothers, so (of course) the beat reference was immediately there. Via this record, I immersed myself in The Beatles, especially Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper…, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album and Abbey Road. I can recall intently traveling from to my hometown of Newcastle (2 hours North of Sydney) down to Liverpool (a suburb of Sydney), where coincidentally (maybe not?) there was a Beatles specialty vinyl store. My first vinyl purchase was an original UK Parlophone pressing of Revolver on 180gram. I recently had it framed.
9. Wilco | Jesus, Etc.
This track is a highlight of a sonically very special LP. It vividly reminds me of the moment I got back into American Music after a long stint listening to the Brits. It also reminds me of visiting Chicago in 1993 and seeing the corn cob car park towers (appearing on the cover of this record) for myself and thinking, damn.... This record has an interesting history. It was completed in 2001, but Reprise Records, a Warner label, refused to release it. Wilco acquired the rights to it when they left Warner and streamed the entire record for free on their website. They then signed with Nonesuch Records (another Warner label) for big bucks and the record sold over 500,000 copies sold in the US. Double triple damn! So, you have to respect the balls of the band and their commitment to the Vision. This song is just a beautiful statement on Melancholy. The dark/warm production presents such a smooth and emotionally resolved space, that blissfully has you grooving while at the same time letting go of anything and everything.
10. DJ Shadow | Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt
This whole record is just divine and has left such a pervading legacy. In fact, Jonny Greenwood has admitted that the choppiness of this record really influenced some of the material on OK Computer (released a year after, in 1997). For me, this record reminds me of a time when I was at University and almost completely cut off from my Music peers in Newcastle. At Uni, I used to play a heap of basketball with a friend of mine that was deeply into the Wu-Tang Clan and Nas among other Hip Hop artists. He was encouraging me to give it Hip Hop another chance after I had given it a bit of a break after spinning Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys to death. We really bonded over this record because it was a true crossover of high brow Musical Artistry and straight up turntablism. Ever since I heard this record, I’ve always wanted to own an Akai MPC, however I haven’t got there yet. From the first to the last track, this album feels real, even though it’s a collection of samples from various places. For me, it’s evocative of a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon sitting on a stoop somewhere in Brooklyn, Harlem or The Bronx circa 1979-1984.