Painted Girl - Familiar Trees of the North West
Familiar Trees of the North West
May 22, 2022
Oh damn, that's a good question… I remember the first *single* I bought was a fairly awful Suggs one called Camden Town, with an actually-very-decent cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Cecilia on the B-side, but what was the first album?
I was gifted the Pixies discography on wax at a very tender age and I'm still obsessed with them, but I think the first album I actually bought myself was Aquarium by Danish-Norwegian pop sensation, Aqua. Of Barbie Girl fame.
And, you know what? It's still brilliant. Wall to wall bangers with biting satire, actual romance and Indiana Jones. What's not to love?
It's so hard to pick. But you better believe when anything by Andrew WK comes on, I'm losing my shit.
Another person I was obsessed with in school and I still think he rules. Not to be a big name-dropping asshole but we've hung out a few times and that dude is not only a party distilled into human form, but a real life-improver of a person.
I just got out of the car and I had Citylights Dandy by Toshiki Kadomatsu going on CD, but it was a short journey so I only got a couple of tracks in. It's great though, sophisticated, elegant, piano-led city pop from 2010… I think a lot of more recent Japanese jazz fusion and city pop records get overlooked and it's a real pity, there's so much gold being made, continually.
But, I digress. The last album I listened to 'properly' was Ray Charles' True to Life, which I had spinning while I was cooking yesterday.
It's an oft-overlooked one too I reckon, late '70s Ray, with lots of covers on it. But it's really rock solid too, I mean, when is he not?
Aw there are so many! For a while as an experiment, any time I was feeling particularly great, I wrote down what I was doing at the time. Like, just stuck it into a doc on my phone.
And every single one of those times, I was doing something while I listened to music. One of the nicest ones was just walking by a river with Sky Cruisin' by Horii Katsume Project in my headphones.
It's an album that I usually stick on when I'm in a good mood anyway, but that moment in time, sun in my eyes, glinting through the trees, the faint sound of the river babbling underneath, with this soaring, summery, hi-gain fusion going on… man, it just felt perfect.
Woah, I've never been asked anything like that before, how awesome. I'm a fickle dude and I change up and smoosh together the sort of music I make constantly, but it always makes me so happy when people say it still sounds like "me" no matter what. That's cool! So to put that stamp on something I already love would be fun haha…
Ehhh let's go with Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waits. I adore that record so much; it's just full of yearning, desperation and slivers of hope hidden between city lights and smoky pool halls.
That's all very human, relatable stuff no matter the style, and something I'd love to skew, so it's sort of viewed through an ACYish lens. Not that I could improve on perfection!
It's a tough one to call because, as I mentioned, I'm a fickle dude. Then again, when I find a record I love, that's pretty much always me set on it for life. Another early record I was obsessed with, and that had a real formative influence on me, is Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith.
It came out in '87, but definitely typifies the Aerosmith sound right through to the late '90s (which is when I discovered it) and beyond. And, honestly, that glam era of Aerosmith is my favourite. It's big and bombastic, and hugely sexual… I think along with that Zappa sampler Cheap Thrills, those were my first experiences of music that was straight up raunchy, and that's something I love exploring in my own music. In the words of Nigel Tufnel, what's wrong with being sexy?
So yeah, Permanent Vacation. I've loved it for a long time and I thrill every time it comes on my stereo. If there's a chance I'll be an old man swaggering about to, like, Rag Doll or something, that would make me very happy.
I don't believe in guilty pleasures or listening to music 'ironically' or anything like that; if you like something, you like it!
So with that in mind, I guess there are some records I'll play that people think I might be sort of sneering at or something, but I'm most certainly not. Screw sneering, it never did anybody any good.
Maybe a good example is Neil Diamond. Man, I love Neil Diamond. My parents told me that, when I was a baby, I wouldn't go to sleep without this lovely best-of record they have playing, isn't that sweet!
It's called 20 Golden Greats of Neil Diamond, or something like that. It popped into my head the other day 'cos my wife and I were watching that Midnight Mass show and it's riddled with Neil tracks. Which I obviously cranked up loud! And then, I instantly went online and hunted down a copy of that same best-off from when I was small. As an aside, I don't get snobby about best ofs either. Like, I prefer honest to goodness albums, as that feels like a curated experience from the artist, married with a moment in time chosen by the listener, and that is irreplaceable to me. But best ofs can be amazing too - take, say, Galore by The Cure. Honestly if I'm listening to The Cure, there's a 50% chance it's Galore (and a 20% chance it's Bloodflowers). But yeah, sorry, I'm going way off topic here. 20 Golden Greats by Neil Diamond - maybe you wouldn't expect me to like it because of the artist, or because it's a best of, but I adore it.
And guess what? It literally just arrived in the post. Seriously. How magic is that?
So I'm gonna go out it on right now. I suggest anyone reading does the same thing! You'll have a blast.