Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: Portland, Ore., duo Talkdemonic and Stones Throw signee Vex Ruffin.
Listed: Talkdemonic + Vex Ruffin
Talkdemonic is the Portland duo of Kevin OíConnor (drums/analog sound/former Dusted scribe) and Lisa Molinero on Viola and Cello. Their instrumentals are a lush and haunting post-rock blend featuring live drums, synths, acoustic guitar and processed strings. Their new release Ruins is out now on Isaac Brockís Glacial Pace Recordings.
1. Duster - Stratosphere
This band entered my mind via dream last night. In it, they placed keys to a crystalline white Dodge Duster (what theyíre named after) in my left hand. As I drove away their "hidden LP" (as Valium Aggelein) spun on the carís turntable (ha, only in dreams), the ghost of my father appeared, and their incredibly warm basement-psych music lifted us into a conversation we should have had when he was still around. I canít fully put into words what this band means to me, even a full decade past their demise. I like to think that this band will influence folks for years to come...
2. Timber Timbre - Keep on Creepiní on
I first heard this band on a Breaking Bad episode. Being a big fan of the last record, anticipation was high for me on this one. At first listen I was disappointed; but happy he made a "weird" record. Where some bands make their ultimate pop fantasy right at the height of their fame (Deerhunter), he chose to get further off the beaten path. But thatís what makes this album so great. This album kills...oscillating from do-wop to odd dusty soundtrack moments that are broken up by slap-back vocals that sound like they are floating up through a scattered bubble in a pool. Live they kill too. One of the best string players Iíve ever seen. This record rules...itís equally compelling, as it is scary and surprisingly pop heavy.
3. Jay Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne
I fucking love this album. Granted thereís some filler, the highs help you forget. Luxury rap! Two legendary emcees sitting on golden thrones, high on cocaine, showering the people with what made them kings, "laying raps on tracks." "Niggas in Paris," "Gotta Have It," "Why I love You" and "Primetime" are instant classics in my mind. Excess on a new level, royalty rap, along with soul samples from the greats. If one man can take 5 seconds of James Brown or Otis Redding and turn it into a total fucking jam, itís Mr. West. Yeís lyrics aside, his production is ridiculously rich on this one. Using samples to make music isnít easy, and making them sound this breezy and futuristic? Rapping about Caesar and Michael Jackson in the same song. Damn.
4. Elliott Smith - XO
Admittedly I dismissed this record when it first came out, panning it as too hi-fi and clean, the beginning of the post-Portland era for Elliott. Man was I wrong, as this record has been stuck in my head all summer. Iíve always felt like heís written songs that apply so directly to things Iím going through (as Iím sure we all do); painful lingering breakups, saying goodbye to best friends, and so on. In hindsight, I think this album could be his opus...but they all are. The one time I saw him play as a bright-eyed kid in Ď97, I told him how much his music meant to me in the alley behind the Capitol Theater in Olympia, WA. In his gracious yet afflicted way, he thanked me back.
5. Eric Bachmann - To the Races
How desperate can an album recorded in a van and/or hotel room sound? This is it. When youíve been dumped or even worse, broken up with someone you love? Lyrically this album blows away the songwriter/folk genre contemporaries, but thatís just the lyrics. Billed at times as the indie-iconís Nebraska, the musicsí honesty and depth takes you right to the back of the van, or the mirror in the hotel room, where its harsh fluorescent light cannot lie, where the mistakes of your life sing, where the scars of your mistakes sting. Every truly great album closes strong, as does this one with "So Long Savannah." You donít want it to end, but you know it has to.
6. Point Juncture WA - Handsome Orders
Probably the most overlooked record of the year. Amanda Spring has never sounded so immediate and so beautiful, wrapping herself completely around this new batch of songs. PJWA are a bandís band...the happy couple (Victor Nash and Amanda) built their own studio out of a former flophouse, and live a vegan commune-like life with their friends in a house on the same property. And they are happy. And they are wonderful people. You can hear this in their music. Equally generous and equally genuine, their voices glide through straight-forward indie rock song structures, that impress as much with their catchiness as their simplicity.
7. Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle
Critics donít understand this band. They never get it right. Last year they (Blonde Redhead) basically re-wrote the rules with this coldly crafted electronic piece of genius. When a song should explode, it restrains and takes an icier route. Ridiculously rich with million dollar studio sound, drum machines recently polished, and synthesizers gleaming out of their original late Ď70ís packaging; Alan Moulderís production gives it the Depeche Mode treatment you never thought youíd hear out of this band. At this point, theyíre timeless; playing music in and out of any world they imagine themselves in.
8. Iggy Pop - The Idiot
The album Ian Curtis hung himself to, or at least listened to before he died. That was our generations introduction to this record. When it came out, it was David Bowie reviving his friends career in Berlin, but also revamping his own. Half of the songs were co-written with Bowie and his crack team of musicians at the time (think Low, Heroes, Station to Station). But what makes this album so great is Iggyís subdued howl. Imagining him alongside Bowie in a Berlin club collectively thinking up "Nightclubbing," sleeping with his friends girlfriend the "China Girl" while recording in a French chateau...how he must have been wallowing in his self-doubt, but making a totally weird album way outside of himself that was mostly dismissed at the time.
9. Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital
Have you ever read Alexei Perry from Handsome Fursí tumblr? If you do you can fully understand where this record is coming from. Imagine you are on the road with the love of your life as your musical partner. Youíre touring the world (and I mean the world); every random country from Macedonia to China. Your playing festivals in Baltic countries on tiny sound systems in random locales where no one else would dare tour. This album comes from the love that this band brings to the stage (in energy and purity) and ultimately gets back from its audience. A worldly dance record that is all about the pure voice of Dan Boeckner, singing about what it feels like to be out there doing what you love. Itís truly inspiring as a musician, and as a human for that matter.
10. Nurses - Dracula
I saw them live at their album release show and they played their new record from start to finish, no old songs from their last totally awesome record Appleís Acre till the encore. That takes guts. And it tells you that they love their new record. This one is the sound of them stretching out a bit, getting more comfortable in their own skin. Living up to their billing as one of Portlandís great exports.
As a straight up punker heavily influenced by early 80s bands like the Cure and the Jesus and Mary Chain, Vex Ruffin, on the surface, may not seem a likely fit for the Stones Throw roster. Dig a little deeper however and it makes perfect sense. His Crash Course EP with a heavy dose of sampled drum breaks owes a deep debt to sample heavy hip hop, and especially Madlib, who inspired Ruffinís purchase of the SP303 used to make the beats on the album.
1 The Sisters of Mercy - Some Girls Wander By Mistake
I listen to this in my 2006 Scion XB at night while driving 45mph. This is influencing my new 2011 sound.
2. Television Personalities - And Donít The Kids Just Love It
I know where Syd Barret lives.
3. R. Stevie Moore - Clack
I once wore his jacket.
4. Kleenex/LiLiPUT - Kleenex/LiLiPUT (The Complete Recordings)
This might be my favorite all girl band of all-time. Its great, fun, simple and theyíre Swiss!
5. Madvillain - Madvillainy
Need I say more? I remember me and my best friend Delan had the rough, leaked, Internet copy a year before it came out; I thought I was cool. This album changed my life and has a major influence on how I go about making musicÖ the loops, the samples, the drums. This album and Jaylib are forever in me.
6. PiL - Metal Box
(Peanut Butter) Wolf got me into Public Image. This was his soundtrack in his high school years. This will be my soundtrack when Iím in my 30ís. I was trying to sound like them on my song "Iím creative."
7. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Darklands
This album is my favorite and itís depressing but puts me in a good mood every time! I enjoy singing along to it. One word, classico.
8. Various Artists - Back From The Grave compilations
9. The Cure - Staring At The Sea Singles
I dubbed my uncleís copy on cassette when I was fifteen and I use to listen to it all the time on my karaoke tape player machine while I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling.
10. The Breeders - Last Splash
I was gonna put the Pixies Surfer RosaÖbut ill just put down the Breeders. I remember as a kid I would watch MTV and ďcannonballĒ would always play in the background, and I remember feeling really weird.
By Dusted Magazine