Staff Picks, Volume 1

Friday, November 16, 2012
Staff Picks, Volume 1

This Month's Picks...By Lauren G.
Stay tuned for more!

The Brit Box
Various Artists

If we are being honest here, it all started with Damon Albarn - the floppy hair, the bright blue eyes, the glimmering hope that maybe we could fall in love some day (based solely on the fact that his then girlfriend, like me, was Jewish. Ridiculous. I am.) At the risk of generalizing, I suspect that's how most girls are first drawn to music. We image these handsome devils are singing their songs about us, to us, for us. So like the ladies who came before me, their walls plastered with posters of The Beatles and The Stones, what began with a harmless crush blossomed into a full on obsession. Everything simply had to be English from my Doc Martins up. To me, the Brit Box reads like a scene out of "This is Your Life." It starts at the days when I'd hold my brother's Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Cure imports hostage and moves swiftly into the nights when I danced along with the common people to Supergrass, Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order at San Francisco's Popscene. From there it was off to London where I weaseled my way into internship at Wiiija Records (home of Cornershop) and one at Melody Maker (the now defunct kid sister of NME) and finally squeaked in a temp position at the illustrious Alan McGee's Creation Records (hello shoegaze heaven...Ride, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Swervedriver. Lest we forget to mention the big bread winner Oasis!) just before the doors were closing. It covers the evolution of Spaceman 3 to Spiritualized, the passing of kindred sounds from The Stone Roses to The Charlatans, from Happy Mondays to Primal Scream, and brings it all home with a smattering of long forgotten indier-than-thou gems (Felt, Teenage Fanclub, Pale Saints). Great memories for me, even greater music for you.

"Enjoy The Silence"
Depeche Mode

Every summer at Hendersonville, North Carolina's Camp Pinewood we had a "Song Competition" night where we would write our own camp-related lyrics to whatever Madonna, Michael Jackson, or Bell Biv DeVoe song was topping the charts. In 1990, I probably/most likely/totally inappropriately wanted to write our cabin song to Depeche Mode's wholly infectious "Enjoy The Silence." My cabin mates thought I was weird. My counselors thought I was cool. And that was alright by me. I couldn't get enough.

Giant Steps
John Coltrane

Once upon a time I thought all jazz was my parent's jazz (ignorant right?). You know, the kind they pipe in just before your root canal or at 3am when you're standing at the check out counter behind an old blue hair who's paying for a 6-pack of Ensure and box of kitty litter with a roll of nickels. It's 95.7 The Wavvvvvve, Love 94, The Breeze. It's the Muzak version of Whitney's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" or Lionel's "Easy Like Sunday Morning." Well, I wasn't havin' any of it. Nope, no jazz for me. Then one day a boyfriend of mine said "That's not jazz! THIS is jazz!" and loaded up my iPod with Benny Goodman, Art Blakely, Mingus, Monk, Basie – the whole lot. And while I very much enjoyed all 9 variations of "Georgia On My Mind," the songs I keep coming back to time and time again, are those of Mr. John Coltrane. To me, much like his name, the sounds of 'Trane equate to fluidity, movement, progression. The frenetic blasts of sax on "Giant Steps" and "Countdown" and the busy-body beats of "Cousin Mary" and "Mr.PC" make me feel on unstoppable, on the verge of something exciting and new. This is my go-to record when flying across country or cruising around the neighborhood on a beautiful day, and believe it or not a few of the tracks have even made on to my "Lord-Help-Me-Make-It-Through-These-Next- 8-Miles-Running" playlist.

Crystal Visions – The Very Best Of Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks

I was busted at the corner of Cahuenga and Mulholland going 55 in 35 while belting out "Silver Springs." I've been caught twirling around to "Stand Back" and the extended remix of "Edge of Seventeen" with a goblet of wine, swathed in what can only be described as "cloak" dress. I'm even willing to admit I half enjoyed that god-awful-mess-of-a-Sara-Rue movie about "The Night Of 1,000 Stevies." I've fantasized about a karaoke duet of "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" (my all time favorite duet) with that mischievous bastard who had me under his thumb. Hell, I'd even settle for exchanging leather and lace with Don Henley (yea, I know Don Henley, but take refuge in the fact that Waylon Jennings actually wrote the song). Because I love Stevie that much.

Hatful Of Hollow
The Smiths

To choose one Smiths album over another is like betraying one's lover with their brother. Yes, I'm being dramatic. I believe The Smiths would want me to be. It's a common misconception that you must be sad to listen to The Smiths. I, on the other hand, find that listening to The Smiths makes me happier. In fact, the misery to happiness ratio on this superb BBC Radio 1 compilation makes it one of my all time favorite listens when I'm feeling down. This one's got something for everyone from the spiteful ("why do I smile at people who I'd much rather kick in the eye") to the brow-beaten ("now you make me feel so ashamed because I've only got two hands") to the desolate ("so you go and you stand on your own and you leave on your own and you go home and you cry and you want to die"). Now does your life really seem so bad? I don't think so.

Lauren G. has 13 nicknames, a cat who thinks he is a dog, and a serious addiction to Diet Coke.