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. Vampire Weekend, Contra (2010)
When Vampire Weekend first came onto the scene, their name certainly put forward an “interesting” image. Deceptively, these vampires offer uplifting, cheerful, and enticing sounds that resonate for days. Although their self-titled debut carried their music to my ears on a silver platter, Contra left me with an insatiable appetite for more. When they debuted Horchata on their website as a preview to the album, I played the song on loop for days getting excited for the release that was still months away. With the intellectual foundation from Columbia University (where they met/formed), these gentleman possess more talents than a “simple mastery” of music; this aspect of their prowess as musicians alongside their allusive lyricism garnered much of my respect.
“My ears are blown to bits from all those rifle hits, but still I crave that sound.”
2. Seryn, This Is Where We Are (2011)
Harmony, instrumentation, and the songs’ textures define my love for this band. “Rainy day” music that compels, uplifts, and inspires. The simple aspects of their music paradoxically illuminate the complex artistry behind their work. Offering their listeners something other than the standard drum, bass, guitar, and vocal paradigm, Seryn incorporates an eclectic mix of instruments into their songs such as banjo, ukulele, accordion, and various percussion. Built on a mountain of folk influence, their songs evolve into something much more as they progress; every member of their six-piece group brings something different and inseparable to the band that provides them with their transcendental sound.
“Distance will always grow, but I’ll always know.”
3. All Time Low, So Wrong, It’s Right (2007)
In my books, these guys fell alongside such bands as Motion City Soundtrack, Cute Is What We Aim For, and hellogoodbye during the days of MTV’s musical relevance. Warped Tour 2007 was my first ever festival, and the first time I saw All Time Low perform – haven’t stopped singing along since that fateful, muddy day. With the winy, angsty vocals reminiscent of the punk rock trend, this album has heard its fair share of plays. At the very least, I could entertain myself with manic song and dance as I sing along on the distant St Andrews sands.
“Dedication takes a lifetime
But dreams only last for a night”
4. Freelance Whales, Weathervanes (2009)
Somewhat similar to Seryn in their ethereal sounds, Freelance Whales benefit more from their lyrics. A determining difference stems from Freelance Whales’ incorporation of the synth. An all-encompassing instrument not only empowers Weathervanes, but its dynamic capabilities represent my own eclectic fondness of different music – especially those where the synth earns its place. Immersion into Weathervanes meticulous compositions offers an escape; Freelance Whales tap into the heart of music with their ability to invoke tranquility amidst the chaos of everyday life.
“Don’t fix my smile, life is long enough
We will put this flesh into the ground again.”
5. Brand New, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me(2006)
Despite Leo having already put this album on his list, I would be lying to exclude it. Brand New was the first band I ever really got into. I remember hearing their stuff all the way back in sixth grade (I was eleven), and it struck some melodramatic chord within me that has resonated throughout the years. The poignant lyricism and raw musicality of the band represent a safe haven for many of their listeners. Although TDGRIM definitely showcases Brand New at their peak, their song “Play Crack the Sky” represents everything I love about them. The band also introduced others such as Saosin, Senses Fail, and Chiodos to me during the heaviest times of ones life… the tweens.
“Your tongue is a rudder
It steers the whole ship
Sends your words past your lips
Keeps them safe behind your teeth.”
Terrence Parker, Your Love (Terrence Parker Unreleased Extended Mix) (2008)
Despite my contemporary lust for all things dance-floor, the catalysts for my musical passions certainly contrast what most people assume I listen to on a regular basis. My biggest first world problem is not having enough time in a day to listen to everything that I would like to, and the incessant organization of a music library with a life of its own. This song by Terrence Parker takes it back basics; a steady bass-line, minimal changes, and well-layered production make this a dance-floor track for the ages. It’s the little details that matter most, and this track showcases that.
Words: Austin Bell