For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio show that asks celebrities about what music they would choose if they were castaway on a desert island. It’s an interesting question that requires a lot of thought and one that I’ve had plenty of time to think about myself. I’ve always wanted to write about this topic since starting my blog in April 2013 and therefore the idea seems quite fitting for a week in which RockAtlantic celebrates its second birthday!
Sticking with the format of the radio show, I shall give my favourite eight albums in no particular order, except for the album which I regard most highly, which shall feature at the end of part 2 next Monday.
Coheed & Cambria – Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow
With a title as short and snappy as that, you know the album is going to be a lengthy piece of concept-heavy, progressive music. Sure enough, No World For Tomorrow (as it’s generally known) is a brilliant slab of neo-prog rock from the sci-fi indulgent four-piece, which takes the pop accessibility from their earlier records and marries it with the more complex compositions that began to expose themselves in Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. The record has a good balance between immediate sing-along favourites (Feathers, The Running Free), heavier tracks (No World For Tomorrow, Gravemakers & Gunslingers) and progressive exertions (Mother Superior and The End Complete suite), so that the album maintains a freshness and doesn’t get bogged down beneath concepts and extended musical passages. Whilst not generally considered their best work, I feel it’s certainly their most complete effort and one that never fails to improve my mood.
Reuben – In Nothing We Trust
Perhaps it’s because they’re the biggest band to emerge from my home town, but Reuben are a band who have always seemed to be effortlessly pleasing to my ears. They combined elements of old school punk and hardcore into a hard rock sound that doesn’t speak of booze and sex, but rather relatable, real-world pressures and pleasures. In Nothing We Trust is their masterpiece, mixing the faster, heavier elements of their early sound into mature compositions that occasionally flirt with progressive ideas, all beneath an honest review of the world around them. Reuben were essentially a band of three mates having a great time and their records show that – it’s just a shame the music industry finally broke the band apart.
Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
Mercury Prize winners Alt-J seem an unlikely choice for a guy who generally prefers obscurity over commercial success. However, Alt-J have succeeded in making weird cool and their debut An Awesome Wave remains one of the most intriguing albums I’ve ever heard. Filled with electronic chirps, diverse instrumentation, unusual vocals that float like those from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, this record is proof that modern music can still be complex and challenging, whilst winning over critics that normally prefer the musical equivalent of a plain Rich Tea biscuit. Biscuit analogies aside, Alt-J manage to be inventive without over-saturating their sound, making An Awesome Wave an enjoyable and thought-provoking listening experience.
Steven Wilson – Insurgenetes
Dark, atmospheric, experimental and at some points plain scary, Insurgentes is not an album to be listened to on a Sunday morning drive. This is the first solo outing from the once Porcupine Tree front man and he doesn’t waste time delving into his more unusual musical tastes, including drone-inspired music, such as that featured in one of his many sideprojects, Bass Communion. For many, Insurgentes was a step too far, but after years of listening, it has worked its way up to the very highest echelon in my mind. At first glance the more accessible Harmony Korine and Insurgentes seem to be the best of the bunch, but after closer inspection it’s the atmospheric expanses that permeate the rest of the record that come to the fore. Such a left-field attempt has to be admired from a man who could have so easily made an album of Harmony Korine‘s and with time I have come to really appreciate the depth and beauty of the music within.
I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who reads RockAtlantic and for keeping me motivated over the last two years! Join the RockAtlantic mailing list by clicking on follow and as always press like if you enjoyed this blog and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Part 2 will be out next Monday.