Monday, September 10, 2012

Cody's Albums

In deliberate, but not descending order:

Muse: Black Holes & Revelations, 2006
David said it first: "Muse is Cody's soul music." But, I didn't know it was true until we saw them in Seattle. After that, I drove across the country to work on the East Coast. On the drive, I listed to Muse almost exclusively.

It's my soul music because it's the sort of music that inspires the overthrow of something like a government or an academic administration.

The Killers: Day & Age, 2008
This was my first concert. In my memory, all the members of the Estate made that trip to Seattle. I know that wasn't the way it went down, but I can see all of us clustered together on the floor waiting for Wild Light to hurry up.

The most important thing about this album is how it probes into the most pressing philosophical questions. "Are we human? Or are we dancer?" Prior to this album, I had not known those were mutually exclusive.

Nonetheless, there's nothing like five guys on the way to Seattle signing Day & Age.

Coldplay: X&Y, 2005
Coldplay's forgotten album. What I mean is that when I think "I'll listen to Coldplay," I don't think of this album. But, after a few songs from other albums, I invariably resort to X&Y. Perhaps more than any other, I consistently listen to this album from end to end.

Simon & Garfunkel: Bookends, 1968
Nothing makes me feel more mature, sophisticated, and altruistic than listening to Simon and Garfunkel. You can't deny the legacy and timeliness of their anti-war sentiments and raw talent. What's great about this album is that it has several unknown gems in addition to the famous "Mrs. Robinson." "America" is actually my favorite S&G song of all time, but "A Hazy Shade of Winter" makes a particular effort to be sung with much gusto. Do it.

Belle & Sebastian: ...Write about Love, 2010
This is the newest addition to my listening habits. I trust the sincerity of the music and their earnest melodies do much to enhance the message behind their poetry in songs like "I Want the World to Stop." 

In terms of philosophical tenor, I see them as a gentler Muse. They don't care about the typical worldly measures of success. This is an album about love and love changes the bottom line. 

Sigur Rós: Takk, 2005
I liked Takk right away, but I fell in love when I saw this video:

Kent State was one of the darkest moments in American history. It was the moment we realized it wasn't only foreign fascists who would kill when their people challenged them. Moments like Kent State make me determined to live for something worth dying for. Nothing sums up my feelings about Kent State better than "Glósóli."

Throughout, the album encourages contemplation and cultivates patience.

The Carpenters: Carpenters, 1971
These artists are concertedly artistic. "Sing" graciously supplies an optimistic and radical philosophy that I'd like to teach to every child (which is probably why it was created for Sesame Street). Also, "Sing" isn't on this album (it's on Now & Then).

There's something about music from this era that suggests a sort of emotional sincerity (see also: John Denver in the Honorable Mentions) compared to the seemingly less convincing artists of today (except for B&S above). Sing along with these ballads while you're reading your casebook. I do.

Stars: The Five Ghosts, 2010
Driving to and from Metallak, Alban and I agreed that the latter half of this album is lacking. The first half makes up for it though. Alban introduced me to The Five Ghosts and The Suburbs on that trip; it was an important trip. I'm not sure why it was so late when we were driving, but I remember stopping in the middle of the night to, I don't know what, get gas or something. It was the sort of helter skelter, seat-of-our-pants, raw adventure that really gets seared into your memory and makes you think of Fight Club. It was real.

Beach House: Teen Dream, 2010
I suppose Beach House could lend itself to memories of our Oregon Coast trip (an almost perfect time except for our lack of Phil), but it rarely makes me think of that. I listen to this album when I'm cleaning. And the reason I do is because it makes me think of two specific things about our time at the Estate.

First, I think of Alban, in the midst of one of his cleaning fits, cleaning junk off of the coffee table. Remember how he used to fan out our magazines (mostly The New Yorker) and stack our newspapers (exclusively The Collegian)?

Second, I think of Phil in the kitchen during family dinner. In the scene, David has already completed the salad and Phil is making his last magical gestures over the pan on the stove (it's Texas Enchilada night). Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros was more our Family Dinner fair, but somehow Beach House is connected for me too. Over the next two hours, we stuff ourselves with TE topped with Phil's magic sauce and relax contentedly knowing there's no place we'd rather be.

Honorable Mentions: 

Jónsi: Go, 2010 (Good music for driving around Berkeley. Also reminds me of Tommy dancing.)

John Denver: Rocky Mountain High, 1972 (If Edward Abbey and Wendell Berry can't make you love our Earth, John Denver should do the trick.)

Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand, 2004 (We saw them at Outside Lands. They are the next generation of Euro band that appeal with their traditional stage presence and evident style.)


  1. Boom. I too enjoy the Carpenters and John Denver. Similar childhoods my friend.

  2. Yay Cody!! These are great! X&Y is probably on my short list as well. And I have always loved John Denver! My very first official "favorite" song was his "Dreamland Express." Silly, I know. But he was an important artist in my childhood and contributed greatly to my development of appreciating music. I also love Jonsi! And Stars is probably the band that has the highest per capita number of songs that I truly love. Fun choices!

  3. Franz Ferdinand would have made the list for the albums that shaped my musical tastes the most. Also, I'm glad to see Teen Dream made the list. It was a tough choice between that and Bloom.

    I still like my magazines to be appropriately fanned.

  4. Also, who said you could have 9 albums? Ha ha.

  5. The Muse/Belle & Sebastian comparison has brilliant potential when applied more generally: "Are you familiar with Belle & Sebastian? Basically Muse but MUCH gentler."

  6. It is somewhat comforting to me that cleaning fits run in the family. My flatmates complain about it, too.