Hundred Reasons – ‘Idea’s Above Our Station’
This is probably the first band that I really became attached to, and the first I saw live. I was really attracted to how punchy their songs were, but with really strong melodies that felt like anthems. Although at the time I didn’t really understand why, the sound of the record was really fresh. They had an incredible energy live and it was captured perfectly on the album – it sounded huge but also like they did in real life. This is probably one of the blueprints for how I imagine bands should sound on records I make for them. Looking back, I think this down to everything being very dry and up front, especially the vocals and drums. There was something about the way Larry’s backing vocals came across that was really endearing. This album was definitely the soundtrack to a lot of my youth!
Standout track – I’ll Find You
Pink Floyd – ‘The Division Bell’
I came to Pink Floyd backwards – I discovered them through this album, their most recent at the time. It was a CD my Dad owned that I found in the house, and I recognised the band as one my Mum told me I’d like. It’s a very ambitious album and is definitely rooted in eightie’s style production with a very lush, crystalline sound. It was the total opposite of the music I was listening to at the time, being beautiful and cinematic. I really liked how it painted such a vivid picture of the songs in a hyper-realistic and very windscreen sound. Gilmours’ guitar work still sounds stunning today. A lot of the slick, shimmering production on that album has crept into my production style over the years.
Standout track – Marooned
The Foo Fighters – ‘The Colour And The Shape’
Who couldn’t like this record?! It is literally a catalogue of hits, and captures a songwriter full of resolve. It manages to sound both huge and personal at the same time, and has some beautiful moments of emotion with Walking After You and February Stars. I still love how refined it sounds – it has just the right amount of finesse without sounding sterile. Special note goes to the sequence of the album, which flows brilliantly and never allows you to skip. I think the mix is particularly good, and is a great example of what an analogue mixing console can do in the hands of a fantastic mixer. I’d say this is almost a perfect rock record.
Standout track – My Hero
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
I hadn’t heard of Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) when this album came out, but there was a lot of press about the making of it. Quoting Wikipedia ‘The album was recorded at Vernon’s father’s remote hunting cabin over late 2006 to early 2007. He abandoned his old songwriting methods and instead focused on wordless melodies that he later set to words, which he felt evoked a more subconscious meaning. He hunted his own food and spent much of his time isolated.’ As marketing goes that’s about as potent as it gets!
It’s a truly beautiful album that is a modern classic. The production is wonderfully delicate and conveys incredible intimacy from the performances. At the time it was amazing to hear such a well crafted album made with barely any equipment and in a log cabin rather than a recording studio. I think it was this album that started me on a mission to remove as many of the technical hurdles from my studio as possible, and to prioritise capturing performances over anything else.
Standout track – Lump Sum
[spotify http://open.spotify.com/track/0QxCLD4xJlE8vv0Cvrb8TO ]
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – ‘Stranger Things Original Series Soundtrack’
This is a bit of a wildcard. I’m a big fan of the TV show that it accompanies, but on it’s own its just a fantastic body of music. It’s all eighties synths and programming, at times bright and positive yet at others very dark and sombre. It uses some beautiful arrangements to convey really contrasting emotions that tie in to the storyline of the show. There’s no vocals at all which leaves room for the wonderful textures of the music to shine through. This record has given me a lot of inspiration for programming and creating soundscapes in my work; you can hear a lot of that influence in the Paris Youth Foundation records I’ve been making.
Standout track – Kids