Friday, February 14, 2014

Albums from Sarah

It's Valentine's Day, and in the spirit of love and romance and deep, meaningful connections, I've decided that today's blog post will be a list of albums that I'd never have heard if it hadn't been for Sarah, my girlfriend of nearly four years. Well, I might have heard them eventually, but it would have taken a lot longer and they wouldn't have been nearly as meaningful anyway.

Harvest by Neil Young
Some people use OkCupid or to find their twoo wuv. I used Sad and nerdy though it sounds, Sarah's outstanding taste in music was a big part of why I found her so attractive in the first place - her 'Top Artists' bit was packed with great bands that none of my friends liked, including British Sea Power, The Decemberists, Interpol, Brakes...I could go on. Her #1 artist, however, was a man whose music I'd never really listened to: Neil Young.

I'd heard of Neil Young, naturally, but I'd never really bothered to investigate his albums. Then Sarah came along and, eager to interact with this pretty girl and her A+ music knowledge, I asked her which of his CDs I ought to start with. She recommended Harvest, I purchased it for £5 from Rise Music in Bristol, and - sure enough - it turned out to be a good recommendation. I especially liked A Man Needs a Maid, with its big orchestral flourishes, and Words (Between the Lines of Age), with its funny time signature that eventually resolves into a hard-rocking chorus.

Want Two by Rufus Wainwright
One of my favourite things about music is that two people can have completely different experiences of the same artist. For example, Sarah and I both liked Rufus Wainwright, but where I knew him for Poses - Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk, The Consort, and so on - she knew him for Want Two. To Sarah, Rufus Wainwright meant songs like The Art Teacher, Little Sister, and several other songs I'd never heard until we met.

We both still insist that 'our' album is the better one, but even if I do still prefer Poses, I will concede that Want Two is a great, great album. Especially The One You Love, a jagged little stomper that sounds great on the CD and even better when you see it live (as we did in Portugal a couple of years ago).

Comfort Eagle by Cake
This was only last year. We were in Barnado's, I was flicking through the CDs, and I came across a Cake album called Comfort Eagle. The only Cake songs I knew at that point were Italian Leather Sofa and their cover of I Will Survive; since Comfort Eagle contained neither, I was happy to leave it on the rack. But Sarah, who already owned their fifth album Pressure Chief, assured me that this was one purchase worth making.

She was right, as she often is.

Comfort Eagle is a cracking album, packed with catchy tunes and fun characters (the opera singer, the Austrian nobleman, the couple in World of Two). It's a great driving album, as I've mentioned previously, but more importantly, it's a fantastically enjoyable album - an album of trumpets and funky guitars and brilliance.

A Present for Everyone by Busted
I know I mentioned Busted several times in the One Direction blog, but they bear mentioning once more today. I'd obviously heard quite few of these songs back in the day, but some years later, it was Sarah once again who advised me to get the album. Writing about her now, she seems like my personal music advisor as much as my girlfriend.

A Present for Everyone is one of Sarah's favourites from when she was younger, alongside Pink's Missundaztood and the eponymous All Saints album. She insists that it is superior to Busted's self-titled debut, and I think she's probably right - that album does boast such classics as Without You and Psycho Girl, not to mention its clutch of stellar singles, but Present... still edges it out. The likes of She Wants to Be Me, 3AM, Crashed the Wedding and so forth make me wish I still went to school, so that I could listen to those songs on the way home.

Datarock Datarock by Datarock
Y'know that pre-relationship period? When you haven't kissed or been on a date or anything like that yet, but when you're already talking to each other as much as most proper couples? That was a fruitful period for me, music-wise. Sarah and I used to chat on MSN, swapping song recommendations and, by and large, enjoying everything we heard (well, I enjoyed everything - only Sarah knows if she truly liked the stuff I sent her way). One of the many, many songs I discovered during those conversations was Computer Camp Love by Datarock.

The synth-heavy music and the deadpan, Grease-referencing vocals made this one of the most memorable tracks from those MSN days, and we recently came across this album in Rise (again) for only a few pounds. I bought it, of course, and I'm happy to report that the rest of the album is just as good. Fa Fa Fa is my favourite - it's an elongated dance workout that actually manages to hold a candle to LCD Soundsystem, who of course are everyone's #1 dance band.

Sarah likes LCD Soundsystem, too, as if we needed any further proof that she knows her stuff. Here's another great song she introduced me to - Here Comes a Special Boy by Freezepop, which itself introduced me to an outstanding webcomic called Achewood.

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!

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