The last time Ontario, Canada’s The Rest played at the Casbah, we missed it. But we won’t make that mistake again. After all, according to their MySpace page, The Rest like all the things that we like: doing push-ups, shooting each other with water guns, howling at the moon, and delicious Thai food. (More details below.) We have other reasons, too. For one, their new album, Everything All At Once, is amazing. For another, they graciously agreed to write the latest installment of Poetic Memory. Also, they use the word “rascal” in their lyrics.
We’ve featured The Rest on our podcast a few times, but in case you missed it, here are a couple of MP3s. The wondrously haunting “Drinking Again” is definitely one of our favorite songs of 2009. Also, be sure to check out “Everything All At Once“, the epic titular track from their new album.
Poetic Memory is a regular Owl and Bear feature in which musicians disclose their influences—whether it’s albums, songs, artists, or something random. If you’re interested in being featured here, send us an email.
Jordan Mitchell (acoustic & electric piano, electric guitar, synths, trumpet, Kaoss pad, percussion, voice)
1. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds: Probably my go-to record of all go-to records. It’s just perfect. And on play 2,391,823,021 I’m sure it will still sound perfect to me.
2. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: This record is the one I discover something new from every time I listen to it. Some glimmer of a sound, or some combination of sounds that my ear finally decodes. Everything about it, the amazing song writing, the recording process, Jay Bennett’s death, America post-911, Jim O’Rourke. The interest for me always keeps growing with Yankee.
3. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: When I was in elementary school I didn’t read The Diary of Anne Frank. But something happened in my twenties that compelled me to read it. It wasn’t because I was curious about the Holocaust or even because I became a big literature buff; it was because I wanted to get more insight into why I love this album, which Jeff Mangum composed after being inspired by Anne Frank’s story. I felt like if Mangum could make a record of such enormous beauty all because of this book, I had to read it. And I’m really glad I did. Now I find the songs so powerful that there are times listening to it where I genuinely have to fight back tears.
4. Talk Talk – Laughing Stock: Laughing Stock has some of the most amazing payoff moments on any recording I’ve ever heard. The arrangements give you everything you need at exactly the time you need them, but at the same time never giving you more than what you need. This album is life-affirming—I feel better after listening to it. (Spirit of Eden does that too, but Laughing Stock doesn’t have that one song with the cowbell that is way too loud, so it wins.)
5. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: I love the sound of this album; it’s sweet yet so menacing. It is the picture on the front cover. The song structures are so simple, yet everything that is contained within them is so unconventional that it creates this amazing dynamic of an album that is accessible in a totally inaccessible way.
6. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation: I fucking love Daydream Nation. I bought this album in high school and played the shit out of it. Now my CD can barely play anything off of it without skipping. I hate CDs.
7. Fennesz – Endless Summer: After nine years, Endless Summer still sounds more advanced than any other album in its genre. I think the reason I like Fennesz more than his contemporaries is his sense of focus. Many experimentalists lack this sense, probably because it’s contrary to the whole idea of experimentation. But when it comes to making music I feel like you really need both, which this album has. There is no other album to date, that I know of, that accomplishes what this one does.
8. Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks: This album always felt to me like Dylan without the sense of agenda. It’s cooler-headed, and at times quite sweet. Dylan has a lot of go-to records, but for me this is the one I find I enjoy the most top to bottom.
9. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On: This record is like Pet Sounds to me; it’s just perfect. Every hit, every chord, every soulful wail just sounds right. It’s politically poignant. It’s musically sophisticated. It makes you want to love God the way Marvin does.
10. Radiohead – Kid A: I had a tough time choosing between this album and OK Computer. But I went through this phase a few months back where I listened to OK Computer too much, so maybe that’s why this is here. I love them both though. Kid A just kind of appeals to me more on a sonic level, I think.
Matty Buzanko (electric bass)
There’s no order to this list, it’s just the ten that came to my mind as I was writing this. Ask me tomorrow and it could be different—depends on how many pints I’ve had.
1. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs: It’s confusing, inspiring, beautiful, and makes me wanna get drunk and play the oboe. It’s everything I want out of a record, and life for that matter.
2. Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites: Every song is a gem, and I had the opportunity to pick it up at that inspirational age in life when you first discover girls will kiss you for a quarter.
3. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On? The hooks on this record blow my mind. The thought that loving God and saving the children could inspired this album makes me wanna get up early every morning to teach Sunday school to inner city youth.
4. The Beatles – Abbey Road: It’s probably the safest answer to favorite album, and there’s a reason for it.
5. The Besnard Lakes – Are the Dark Horse: The song structure and bass hooks make this one of the best albums I’ve heard in the last couple of years.
6. The Odds – Good Weird Feeling: Catchy tunes and great tongue-in-cheek lyrics, everything a grand power-pop album should be.
7. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Every second of this album is mind-shattering. Then I watched the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, and I fell head-over-heels all over again, like finding out your awesome next door neighbor has a daughter that is a gymnast.
8. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds: There is a reason why most of our generation was conceived while this album was playing. Your dad knew what he was doing.
9. Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News: Try to listen to this album and stay in a bad mood. Its next to impossible; every hook is infectious. Kinda morbid, too, but I like ’em that way.
10. Van Morrison – Moondance: Try to say something bad about this album. Van has people to break your legs.
Anna Jarvis (cello, banjo, clarinet, voice)
I try to avoid playing the favorites game, but here’s a list of ten albums I’m awfully fond of. Listed alphabetically by group or last name of composer, they are:
J. S. Bach – Suites for Unaccompanied Violoncello; performed by Pierre Fournier: Over the years I have acquired half a dozen versions of the Bach suites. All of the interpretations are quite different, and I have no hard-and-fast favorite recording. Today I think I’ll go with Fournier, but who knows, tomorrow I might find myself craving Bylsma or Cassals.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Complete String Quartets, performed by the Guarneri Quartet: The Guarneri quartet was founded in 1964 and maintained its original line-up for nearly 40 years. The tens (or perhaps hundreds) of thousands of hours these world-class musicians spent on what the Guarneri’s first violinist Arnold Steinhardt once described as “the technical problems of intonation, ensemble, and the critical shadings of four like-sounding instruments… the unchartered process in which four people let their individual personalities shine while finding a unified quartet voice… endless musings, discussions, criticisms, that… end up as an interpretation” made possible these exquisite recordings of some the most well-known pieces in the quartet repertoire. If you’ve ever thought to yourself “Gosh, I’d really like to immerse myself in some really excellent and occasionally sublime string quartet music,” then this is the album I most heartily recommend. It also works pretty well as background music for Sunday morning pancake cook-ups.
Cake – Fashion Nugget: For me, Cake is second only to Hendrix when it comes to driving music (see below).
The Cat Empire – Self Titled: The Cat Empire is a very fun and tight ensemble. They also do a great live show.
The Rostropovich Edition – Dvorak, Brahms, Haydn, et al.; performed by Mstislav Rostropovich and various orchestras: This three-disc compilation of fabulously virtuosic cello music would be worth it for the Dvorak alone, but the other pieces in the collection are also pretty great. If you want to hear heroic cello-playing at its finest, this is the album I would most strongly recommend.
Edward Elgar – Cello Concerto / Sea Pictures / Overture ‘Cockaigne’; performed by Jacqueline du Pré, Janet Baker, John Barbirolli and the London Symphony Orchestra: Every single du Pré recording I’ve heard makes me go pleasantly weak at the knees – her performances were consistently uplifting and passionate – so picking a favourite du Pré album just wasn’t possible. Although I really wanted to choose the Barenboim and du Pré recordings of the Brahms cello sonatas because the opening of the E minor sonata sounds like the darkest of chocolate, in the end I chose the Elgar concerto because it’s an iconic recording that I (and probably most other cellists) grew up with. It is THE recording of the Elgar. All other interpretations of the Elgar are considered in relation to this one.
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland: A little while back, for the better part of a year I listened to nothing but Hendrix while driving. In retrospect, this may have annoyed my more frequent passengers, but they (very politely) never complained.
Unplugged: Mozart and Rypdal – performed by Terje Rypdal, Hans Petter Bonden, Stig Nilsson, Pauls Ezergailis, Rainer Moog, Aage Kvalbein, Christian Eggen, and the Oslo Sinfonietta: This is an album which showcases two very different sides of the clarinet. I love the juxtaposition of these two very different yet complementary works. Where the Mozart is clear and joyous, the Rypdal is murky and tortured. Rumor has it that Bonden (the clarinetist) actually foamed at the mouth like a thing possessed during the live concert recording of the Rypdal.
The Tiger Lillies – The Gorey End: Edward Gorey + The Tiger Lillies + Kronos Quartet = wonderfully bleak comic madness.
Peteris Vasks – String Quartet No. 4, performed by Kronos Quartet: This album/piece of music sounds like Shostakovich for the new millennium. I find this piece especially gripping when listened to an hour before dawn, on a rainy day, or shortly after nightfall.
Adam Bentley (voice, acoustic & electric guitar, electric piano)
I was going to write a detailed analysis for each record, but I found that whatever I wrote didn’t seem to do these albums justice, or at least didn’t do my feelings towards them justice. Much like Jordan already said, each of these records are bound to change order, or be replaced by future obsessions. However, I know for one reason or another they’ve all left an undeniable imprint on me, and that’s something that can’t change. So I’ve instead written one or two lines about each.
1. Talk Talk – Laughing Stock: A religion will start around this music one day. Just wait.
2. Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea: Never before has someone’s subconscious world been illustrated so clearly through music.
3. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: On first listen I thought it was “pretty good.” On fifth listen it became “great.” After thousands of listens it stands as a moment of genius.
4. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds: I place of a real comment I will say “jnasjofNASn” harmonized.
5. The Replacements- Let It Be: Lost this record after only one month of owning it. In that one month I played “Let It Be” every morning, and every evening. This is the superior “Let It Be.”
6. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde: Funny that I’ll have Blonde on Blonde on here and Jordan will have Blood On the Tracks since we debated the opposite just recently. I guess we convinced each other.
7. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: Beauty in Violence.
8. Radiohead – Kid A: There should be less written about Radiohead and more listening to Radiohead.
9. Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance: I’ve scared children professing how incredible this album is while driving in my car with the windows down.
10. Neil Young – Harvest: I wanted Neil on here, I needed Neil on here, but this was an almost impossible decision for me, but I’ll go with the album that first introduced me to him.