Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Glasgow’s greatest Richard Youngs and former Rex frontman Curtis Harvey.
Listed: Richard Youngs + Curtis Harvey
Simply put, Richard Youngs is one of Dusted’s favorite living artists. The Englishman from Glasgow has been making strange and awe-inspiring music almost constantly since 1990. On top of his many excellent proper albums for labels like VHF and Jagjaguwar, he’s released literally dozens of limited edition LPs, cassettes and CD-Rs, often pairing with friends like Simon Wickham-Smith, Alex Neilson, Matthew Bower (Skullflower), Andrew Paine and Neil Campbell (Vibracathedral Orchestra). He also helped manifest the first run of Jandek concerts, playing bass during his shows in Glasgow and Newcastle in 2004. Youngs doesn’t fit easily into any one category of music: he’s a guitar player, but plays several other exotic instruments; he thrives as both an electronics-based improviser and folk songwriter; he values traditional ideas of beauty and spectral noise. In short, he’s as unique as it gets these days. His latest album, Under Stellar Stream (Jagjaguwar), was reviewed last month on this site.
1. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
Sometime before she made this, Kate Bush was my first crush. When Hounds of Love was released, I’d moved on. I was a fool. I care deeply about this album now – it’s a hugely rich and moving work that transcends the ‘80s technology with which it is awash. I hear it as a record of two halves that works as a whole.
2. The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and tra-la-la Band - Horses In The Sky
One of the greatest musical privileges of my life was seeing them play live two-nights-running in Montreal at a former left-wing Jewish hall built in the 1930s. The perfect venue in which to hear that circular refrain: "When the world is sick can no one be well, but I dreamt we was all beautiful and strong." This record can give me shivers.
3. Reiko Kudo - Rice Field Silently Riping In The Night
In a world full of overly loud and long records, this very quiet and short record I find tremendously refreshing. Though on one level it is incredibly simple music, after several years I’m still left puzzling how it all works. I have a half-Japanese godson and this record captures for me so well what I understand of Japan.
4. Pink Floyd - Meddle
I have an irrational love of all things Floyd up to and including Meddle. It’s the sound of four middle class young men making music with no message to impart. I don’t care for what they became after committing to tape this perfectly meandering set of songs and instrumental passages completely lacking in hyperbole. Being from Cambridge myself – and having spent some of my childhood in the Fens, a landscape as undramatic as it comes – they feel like my band.
5. Gaelic Psalms From Lewis
I first heard this stuff when I was a teenager. It would’ve been at about 6 a.m. on an Open University television program. It is extraordinary that such a disciplined faith can produce such free-sounding song. The two full-congregation recordings on Side 2 are the pinnacles of religious music as far as I’m concerned. Living in Scotland, I now know people who grew up with this tradition, and part of me is almost jealous.
6. Peter Hammill - Fool’s Mate
I love just about all Peter Hammill. His music has a reputation for being difficult, but this to my ears is an easy album to like. “Vision” is possibly one of the greatest love songs of all time. Neil Campbell introduced me to Hammill. Neil recently told me that he believed Nadir’s Big Chance to be the greatest record ever made.
7. Mike Waterson - Mike Waterson
The most extraordinary voice – I particularly enjoy the way he almost hiccups between phrases. This is his one and only solo album, and it is little more than his voice unaccompanied in all its hardcore glory. I hear him as a forerunner to Mark E. Smith.
8. Starving Weirdos - Shrine of the Post-Hypnotic
Great name for a band. There is so much faceless drone-based improvisation around and it’s rare and exciting to hear a group with identifiable personality operating in that genre. I first heard this record with my friend Steve Todd. We’d been talking about an imaginary genre called woodcore. A little drunk, the Starving Weirdos fueled our fantasy; they struck us as the godfathers of the genre.
9. Steve Reich - Different Trains
While this is incredibly clever – just listen how the musical phrases are carved out of the speech patterns from the taped interviews – it is also a massively poignant piece of music. When late in the day I got a CD player, this was one of the few albums I had in that format. Living in a bedsit with thin walls, I played it incessantly, probably to my neighbor’s annoyance.
10. Monastic Choir of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes - Gregorian Anthology
Yes, it is a compilation, but where do you start when it comes to Gregorian Chant? This disc covers all bases of the ecclesiastical year. Before I started listening to chant I thought it was all pretty similar. But, there is much variation in style and sound. These monks strike a middle way: they strictly deliver a not overly slick performance. Just what you need when you’re trying to get a 6 month old to sleep.
Curtis Harvey has always had a penchant for the traditional whether in the slowed, skewed folk textures of Rex or the Americana-grounded soundscapes of Pullman. He was, tellingly, the only contributor to the 2005 Black Sabbath tribute Everything Comes and Goes to put the banjo up front. His first solo album, Box of Stones, out now on FatCat, continues to play with porch blues idioms, updating and mildly subverting sepia-toned sounds. Tobias Carroll, reviewing the record for Dusted, noted that, “while the banjo and guitar melodies at the heart of these songs could just as easily be 20 or 40 years old, [Harvey’s] use of vocals is subtly modern and memorably dissonant.”
1. Neil Young - Harvest
I was raised on heavy doses of Zeppelin and Pink Floyd by my older brother and friends. It was the sound track of our youthful days back in Ohio. Then we went on vacation to a rented cottage on the shore, and someone had left behind a copy of Harvest. It completely ruined me to this day. It still freaks me out.
2. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
As a kid, there were bands, and there was Pink Floyd. I thought they were from some other plain. This stuff got in our blood, into our heads! Gilmore could put more feeling in one note than most bands could in their career. By the time they got to The Wall, however, they lost me. "Wish You Were Here" was the last song Rex ever played live.
3. Led Zeppelin
What can I say ? I listened to so much Zeppelin. I still listen to Zeppelin. As a rule, don’t trust a person who doesn’t wholeheartedly love Led Zeppelin. Just don’t. It means there’s something wrong with them. Just calmly walk away.
4. X - Los Angeles / Wild Gift / Under the Big Black Sun
X was the first band to pull me from the stadium rock and into small clubs. Wacked out harmonies, great hooks and lyrics. A superb quartet. Get it all!
5. The Minutemen
Every 2-minute song, every note. Boon, Watt, Hurley. Saints in some parts I reckon...
6. Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets 2
This record bridged the gap in my skull. Kurt Kirkwood’s playing reminded me of the bluegrass songs I heard when I was a little person, mixed with some of my folks’ Chet Atkins records and put in a blender with some acid, dumped in the desert and left to fester. Unlike most anything else, I still remember where I was the first time I heard it. I once met Kurt Cobain. The majority of the conversation was about the Meat Puppets. Bless you, Kurt.
7 .The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
MacGowan’s masterpiece. Every track is a well-crafted story that pulls you into the drunk tank with Shane. "Old main Drag,” "A pair of Brown Eyes" … geez. Check out poguetry.com for an amazing dissection of the lyrics. A classic record unto its own.
8. Gillian Welch - Hell Amoung the Yearlings (and every other record!)
From the opener "Caleb Meyer"... well, you get it. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings deliver the goods in a traditional way that brought me back to my senses.
9. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
I have listened the shit out of this record. Thanks you, Scottish guys, for putting this one together.
10. The Felice Brothers - Through These Reins and Gone
The murky troubadours of the Catskills come to tell us some stories. Sorry for you, Bob and Robbie, but these boys just beat you at dice.
By Dusted Magazine