Five of the Best: #4: Nick Mitchell

Nick Mitchell is the Editor of the excellent blog Under the Radar, which presents the cream of new Scottish music, daily. He works for The Scotsman and writes about all things musical for The Skinny, Clash and The Line of Best Fit. Hats off to Nick for selecting perhaps one of the most underrated albums of the past ten years, Midlake’s excellent Trials of Van Occupanther in part 4 of Five of the Best.

Radiohead – Amnesiac (2001)


When I first heard it

On its release in 2001 I reckon.

Why I love it

Close call between this and Kid A, and most people would have gone for Kid A, but it’s the second cut from those sessions that shades it for me. At the time everyone was trying to get their head around where Thom Yorke was going, and this album contains some of his weirdest experimentations, so it took some getting used to. But once you did get over that you found the same spine-tingling songwriting underneath. It’s far from uniformly excellent, but Pyramid Song still stands out as one of my favourite Radiohead tracks.

What it reminds me of

Strangely, considering it coincides with the time when I was finishing school and about to leave home for uni, it doesn’t really have any memories attached to it for me. Odd that.

Standout track

Pyramid Song
Anything else?

It came out of a difficult time for the band, the how-do-you-follow-OK-Computer era, and you can really hear the creative energies of the band members being pushed to the limit.

OutKast – Speakerboxx/The Love Below (2003)

When I first heard it

Christmas time, 2003

Why I love it

Speakerboxx is a forward thinking rap album, which is fine for rap fans, but for everyone else, The Love Below is just a brilliant collection of pop songs that flows from start to finish. Sure, there’s Hey Ya, which has been touted as the hit of the decade, but the whole thing is the Andre 3000 show, the grandest, most ridiculously overblown LP of the decade, full of superlative songwriting, rapping and production. And the skits are actually listenable, for once.

What it reminds me of

I took it with me on a working holiday to the Basque Country the following summer, so it reminds me of lying on a beach in San Sebastian.

Standout track

Hey Ya for everyone, Spread for me.

Anything else?

OutKast purists would probably go for Stankonia, but to be honest I only heard the singles at the time, so it doesn’t hold the same retrospective appeal.

Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006)

When I first heard it

Autumn of 2006 I think.

Why I love it

This is a strange one, and even as I write this I’m questioning its inclusion in the top five albums of the last ten years. I doubt it would actually make any magazines’ top 100. But when you listen to music it’s a linear thing: it either makes a connection with you or it doesn’t, and what other people think shouldn’t come into it. This album really caught my attention at the time as it seemed to have come out of a past era of woodcutters and log cabins. But timeless in another sense. I listened to it a lot then, and I can still enjoy it now. And that’s what matters.

What it reminds me of

Going for a solitary walk through the woods near the sea at my parent’s home on a very cold winter day. Perfect hangover remedy.

Standout track

Roscoe

Anything else?

Their new album is due out in February.

The Strokes – Is This It

When I first heard it

Back in the halcyon days of the early noughties.

Why I love it

OK, so it’s the NME’s album of the decade, but that shouldn’t detract from just how important this album was at the time. Not that it was trying to be anything, and that’s what’s so good about it: it’s effortless. It’s also innocent, the soundtrack to being young and carefree and getting drunk and having fun. It’s also just two guitars, a bass and drums. And so it heralded a new wave of garage rock bands after all the self-consciously epic dross that accompanied the turn of the millenium.

Standout track

Someday. Yes, I prefer it to Last Nite.

What it reminds me of

A thousand student nights out. And the massive poster of the cover I had on my wall at the time. And generally just being young. Sigh.

The Knife – Silent Shout (2006)

When I first heard it

Some time in 2006.

Why I love it

I got into The Knife through the huge success of Heartbeats when it was covered by Jose Gonzalez and then re-released in 2004. I love electronic music, I think I have a kind of attraction towards anything cool and inhuman and synthetic, and this was The Knife in a nutshell. But you’ve got to remember that synths have been around for over 30 years, and somehow the Swedish duo make electronic music that sounds utterly unlike anything you’ve ever heard. They’re more than musicians, they’re arti sts, and when Silent Shout came out it was their masterpiece.

Standout track

We Share Our Mother’s Health

What it reminds me of

Walking around Edinburgh and feeling cooler than everyone on the street just by listening to it.

Choice Cut Video: Midlake – Roscoe

http://www.youtube.com/v/JDL9bXlwbM4&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: