I’ve never been one for shuffle. If I enjoy a song, I immediately want to listen to the album. I love the depth of imagery and meaning that an artist can paint over the course of an album and the ebb and flow of the narrative. Someone borrowed my phone to provide music for a party and the result was pretty weird and embarrassing – Dragonforce, followed by Porgy and Bess, followed by Lorde … So, in honour of a wonderful thing that is a good album, here’s what I’m listening to right now.
Anika Moa, Stolen Hill (2005)
I’ve listened to this album in fits and bursts since its release a decade ago, and always find it incredibly moving. Moa’s style of smart, thoughtful pop lets her explore some deep subject matter (abortion, colonisation, love, anger) and you can hear her growing with each song. It’s not a perfect album, at times it feels a little disjointed and a naive, but it’s such an insightful and poignant album that I hope I’m still listening to it in another ten years.
Ella Fitzgerald, Ella in Japan (1964)
An Ella Fitzgerald compilation was the first album I ever bought for myself, with her rendition of Paper Moon getting me through many a bout of teenage angst. You can listen to pretty much any of her albums and be transported to a happy, swinging place, but this has the distinction of being the only album in which Ella says “Ohayou Gozaimasu”. I promise you, it’s the cutest thing you’ll hear all day.
The Mountain Goats, Tallahassee (2002)
Feeling miserable? Good, so is John Darnielle. This is the album I put on when I need to process something. It’s been with me through just about every miss-step, heartbreak or punch in the guts since I discovered the Mountain Goats at university – so much so that it now seems to carry me through the good times as well as the bad. No Children is probably my favourite song ever – the tongue-in-cheek exaggeration of misery is so over the top that it puts just about any problem in perspective: “I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow / I hope it bleeds all day long / Our friends say it’s darkest before the sun rises / We’re pretty sure they’re all wrong”.