30 Years of Music

Posted: May 25, 2012 in Alternative, Indie, Rock
Tags: , , , ,
I know it has to come eventually, I know I can’t avoid it, I know it’s all part of life: I’m turning 30 this week and have no idea how to feel about it. People keep saying 30s are the new 20s, you’re only as old as you feel and age is just a number. To them I say, yeah right. Getting older only makes me think of the years gone by and I can’t help but reflect. If I’ve learned anything in the last 30 years, it’s that being yourself is more important than blending in. I tend to live in my head most of the time and have always found that music is capable of doing all the talking for me. What I listen to is a reflection of who I am and how I feel, and the five following albums have all been instrumental in reminding me of that.

1. Achtung Baby. U2. 1991

U2 was my very first favourite band. Most would argue that 1987’s The Joshua Tree was their best album and though it had better individual singles, as a whole, Achtung Baby came out on top. It was my first real glance into rock music and I haven’t looked back since – you can’t compete with  powerful vocals, backed by a killer electric guitar, intense bass and bewildering drums. My exposure to U2 has opened my mind to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M. and pretty well any other rock band I know.
Favourite Track: ‘One’
Honourable Mention: ‘Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World’

2. Welcome to the Cruel World. Ben Harper. 1994.

This was the first Ben Harper album I ever bought and thank goodness I did. Throughout the album, his voice is incredibly soft and effortless, yet also strong; his lyrics are simple but meaningful, like he’s inside my head and able to express exactly what’s going on in there. Some of his tracks are just him and his guitar – a combination also adopted by City and Colour, Jack Johnson and Damien Rice, that never fails to give me chills. But most importantly, Ben Harper is why I fell in love with the acoustic guitar.
Favourite Track: ‘Walk Away’
Honourable Mention: ‘Forever’

3. Live at Luther College. Dave Matthews Band. 1996.

I’ll admit that it took more time than it should have to become a fan of DMB, but after listening to this two-disc album there was no way I could avoid it. Dave tells stories of how some of their tracks came to fruition, and performs them with only Tim Reynolds accompanying him on acoustic guitar. He sings his profoundly beautiful lyrics with so much conviction, and gets so overwhelmingly involved in his music, that every feeling gets translated through his guitar. Music to my ears.
Favourite Track: ‘Lover Lay Down’
Honourable Mention: ‘Seek Up’

4. Boxer. The National. 2007.

What can I say? My gateway album into Indie music and everything it has to offer. It’s emotional, deep, sometimes dark but always delivered so eloquently. The National have this infinite ability to capture a sentiment and build an entire song around it – their way with words is such a focal point of their music, a refreshing quality in today’s day and age. Since them I have discovered Bon Iver, The Civil Wars and so many other bands who understand the impact of expressing themselves as honestly and meticulously as they do.
Favourite Track: ‘Slow Show’
Honourable Mention: ‘Brainy’

5. Intimacy. Bloc Party. 2008.
The first time I heard Bloc Party, was on the television in a hotel room in Nice. I couldn’t help but be captivated by what I was hearing: my first insight into rock music blended with electronic sounds coming together in perfect harmony. Thematically, the album mostly deals with loss, but somehow the music masks the heaviness of it all, without taking away its significance. My admiration for Bloc Party led me to Metric, The xx and other bands who concentrate just as much on the sounds they create and the music they make, as what they say and how they say it.
Favourite Track: ‘Signs’
Honourable Mention: ‘Biko’

These albums have stood out to me most in the last 30 years because I had to do a double take, I had to listen to them once and then once again. I couldn’t have imagined my last 30 years without this music and I don’t foresee myself not needing them in the next 30. It’s what I relate to, what I feel most comfortable around. These albums have opened my mind to so many other possibilities and that’s what being yourself does – people respect you and appreciate your honesty, even if they’re not on the same page. My advice to those also on their way to 30: surround yourself with what makes you feel most like you, because the best thing you’ll ever be at is yourself.

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