Five of the Best: #6: Milo McLaughlin

Milo is the author of the excellent Products of a Gaseous Brain, a blog that combines music, technology and general musings on life. It’s well worth checking out. He also contributes regularly to The Skinny and various technology websites. So, I’m chuffed that he’s taken the time to share his favourite five albums of the 2000s.

The Fall – The Real New Fall LP (formerly Country On The Click) (2003)








When I first heard it

This was the first Fall album I really got into. I was in a weird kind of comedy band at the time called Swivel Chair and we’d been described as a cross between The Fall and Kraftwerk but I’d never really listened to either band with my full attention. A girl at work gave me a cassette with some of their older stuff on and I liked it. But it was this album that persuaded me of the genius of Mark E Smith.

Why I love it

I was converted from the very first second that Green Eyed Loco Man snarls into existence. Sparta FC is the best football song ever (not that there’s much competition). Smith apparently recruited the band who play on this album from hanging around youth clubs or something, so they’re all about half his age and not even proper musicians. And then there’s his surprisingly attractive (and presumably extremely patient) wife on keyboards. Anyway due to the younger influence this is a pretty energetic and straight down the line punk rock album in many ways, so is probably their most accessible album. Of course there is still the requisite rambling stream of consciousness from MES that makes it uniquely ‘The Fall’. I’ve listened to most of their studio albums now and I reckon this one still stands up as one of their best.

What it reminds me of

Has to be the gig they played at Edinburgh’s much-missed shithole The Venue in February 2004. It was mainly this album they played, and me and my pal got ridiculously drunk and dived into the mosh-pit (I’m too old for that kind of thing these days). MES even looked like he was having a good time and didn’t storm off early or anything, which I’ve seen him do since. Just one of those gigs that always makes you smile when you think about it.

Standout track

For me, Contraflow because it makes for a brilliantly cathartic singalong for somebody who spent his teenager years going slightly insane in a thatched cottage in the middle of rural Ireland (the chorus goes “I hate the countryside so much, I hate the countryfolk so much”). I don’t really mean it of course but Mark E Smith can get away with saying that kind of thing.

James Yorkston – The Year of The Leopard (2006)








When I first heard it

This choice won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, God knows I banged on enough about it at the time. I was given a copy to review for The Skinny and was immediately bewitched by Yorkston’s dulcet tones.

Why I love it

It’s produced by Paul Webb who did the Beth Orton solo album, and he seems to be amazing at creating a really warm and intimate atmosphere, and of course Yorkston’s songs are beautifully crafted, with great lyrics. Put this on and you just instantly feel more relaxed. Like the audio equivalent of a roaring open fire and a bottle of red wine. In fact, it has such a dramatic effect on me I think it actually makes me more of a gentle, kind person. If everyone in the world appreciated this album, it would probably bring about world peace.

What it reminds me of

Basically just spending time with my girlfriend, chilling out, plus going to see him playing live in numerous intimate venues. In fact we saw him play to a half empty field (he was on very early in the day) at the first Connect Festival at Inveraray Castle near Loch Fyne, so it reminds me of that beautiful setting, a lot of mud, and seeing Bjork later on in the day. Good times.

Standout track

Wow. This is hard, because Woozy With Cider, which is an amazingly personal spoken word piece accompanied by a subtle electro backing, is probably the one that grabbed me first, and drew me into the album – but I have to vote for I Awoke because it’s the most heartbreaking and beautiful song ever written about infidelity and relationships. I’m welling up now just thinking about it.

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2005)








When I first heard it

I met Sean Michaels from saidthegramophone.com at a meeting for the short-lived Scottish magazine Noise (a precursor to The Skinny) and he told me about The Arcade Fire, a band he loved from back home in Montreal. A short while later they appeared on Jools Holland and I was blown away. I got the album as soon as I could.

Why I love it

Others will no doubt have written more eloquent descriptions of just why this album is so good, but for me it’s just a powerful, positive, onslaught of passion, drama and energy. I didn’t get into their follow-up as much but this still stands alone as an amazing debut.

What it reminds me of

My friend Sean, and going to gigs in Glasgow a lot. Seeing them live in Princes St Gardens where they supported Franz Ferdinand and blew them away.

Standout track

This is one of those records which for me stands up as an entire album, and it’s a beast. I don’t want to pick a single track that I prefer.

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005)








When I first heard it

I can’t exactly remember, but I heard the track For the Widows in Paradise; For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti from his Greetings From Michigan album on a Rough Trade compilation and I was instantly smitten. Then this album came out and I had to admit the guy was sickeningly talented.

Why I love it

I was reluctant to choose this because it’s so obvious, but when it comes down to musicianship, it’s head and shoulders above almost everything else I’ve heard. In fact, I should hate it, because it almost put me off making music myself as there was no way I would ever be able to create anything this gorgeous musically in a million years.

Okay so I admit it, I just love the banjo.

What it reminds me of

Christmas. Even though he also did a Christmas album, this has the same kind of feel about it. You know, cheerful and colourful and all that kind of stuff that you’re only allowed to be once a year.

Standout track

Chicago

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (2003)








When I first heard it

I’m pretty sure I bought it when it first came out. I remember making up a compilation for a bunch of folk and including about 5 tracks from the album on it. I also included some tracks by the band Electric Six on that compilation but I probably shouldn’t admit that as the YYYs have aged considerably better.

Why I love it

It’s hedonistic, ridiculous, sexy, and it oozes belligerent, youthful, energy from every pore, and it barely lets up, with one track after another slamming the message home. And Karen O is clearly a superstar.

What it reminds me of

Seeing them at Glasgow Barrowlands. The songs from this album had the entire place jumping, from the first row to the back row – one of the best gigs I’ve been to.

Standout track

Has to be Maps really doesn’t it – though it is the least representative, its a gloriously unique and heartfelt ballad that still completely retains the unique YYYs sound. It might just be perfect.


Choice Cut Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps, Acoustic

http://www.youtube.com/v/VJf2FQDl8Ig&hl=en_US&fs=1&

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