As we know all too well, as lovable and quaint as St Andrews is, there come moments where not even the sight of the never-ending North Sea can alleviate the feeling that we’re being held hostage within the town’s three streets.
Here’s a thought: imagine if you were stranded on the sands of St Andrews..?
Taking inspiration from BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, every week our resident writers will deliver their choice of five albums and one track, to be their one and only soundtrack, if they were ever forever stranded on the beaches of St Andrews…
1. James Blake, [Self Titled] (2011)
A fantastic pianist, twinned with a beautifully fragile voice, and a master of production, James Blake blew up seemingly overnight with the release of this debut album. Despite the seeming pretension that comes with his music, Blake’s lyrics are often playful. There is no one else who does what he can do at his best, mastering both the most simple and complex aspects of his music to create truly original compositions which other artists couldn’t recreate if they tried. I’ve never seen a debut which felt so much like a master at work, and Blake’s recent forays into hip hop production, in collaborations with Chance and RZA, are genuinely exciting.
2. Submotion Orchestra, Finest Hour (2011)
Both of this Leeds based band’s albums could have made this list, as their unique approach to music really resonates with me. As much a jazz band as a trip hop act, and, with early dubstep producer Ruckspin as a member, their songs echo the production of that scene. Twinning virtuoso musicians with modern production and decent song writing, they might well be the best British band playing live today. Their songs are of real beauty, with an almost tangibly sumptuous quality, and have a real complexity and maturity, which ensures that you love them more on every replay.
3. Descendents, Milo Goes to College (1982)
I suppose the defining characteristic of the album is its sheer likeability. Simply written short songs that succinctly capture universal feelings, both the lyrics and instrumentation have a playful quality that belies the band’s intelligence and subtlety. It’s probably the most accessible of all Hardcore Punk albums, incorporating humour and love songs. And it’s an album which makes you want to make your own music, which is maybe the biggest compliment one can pay a band.
4. Lone Wolf, The Devil and I (2010)
Paul Marshall was just another singer songwriter until he got in a telephone box somewhere, and emerged as Lone Wolf. Incorporating a backing band comprising of some of Leeds’ finest musicians from Napoleon III to the cellist from Grammatics, Paul added much more varied instrumentation to his songs of death and destruction and released this début on the renowned Bella Union record label. The album just feels of winter, permeated by a melancholy and filled with lyrical images as striking as the album’s ‘manipulated neoclassical’ (thanks to the Art History school) cover.
5. Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
Converge are the band I’ve always seen as bringing punk to a new level. Conceptually, lyrically, and in their overall aesthetic they brought an intellectual edge to a scene often proud of its simplicity. Their lyricism is superb, and despite this intellectual approach, they never lose any of the force of fantastic punk. The album steams through about 5 songs before you’ve noticed, and with this speed they keep the content level high; there is always innovation going on with Converge. And their riffs are to fucking die for.
Maybeshewill, Not for Want of Trying (2008)
Take an iconic speech, make it better with music: winning formula.
Words: Ed Martin