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. Les Savy Fav, Let’s Stay Friends (2007)
“The biggest band in the world, whilst still keeping the day jobs,” is how Tim Harrington, Les Savy Fav’s ginger-bearded, charismatic front man described the band’s ambitions. Keeping to their promise, all members continue to work as Brooklyn based graphic designers, and whilst household – name status may not have come knocking yet, 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends set the band’s ambitions high, with twelve timeless indie punk gems. From the apocalyptic party anthem of ‘The Year Before the Year 2000’ to the crooning of ‘What Would Wolves Do’, Let’s Stay Friendsis unparalleled postmodern punk perfection, each track wrought with emotion, filled with charged drums and beautifully orchestrated guitar riffs. Making for an album truly deserving of its cult classic status.
2. Justice, Cross (2007)
Picture the scene. August Bank Holiday, 2008, Reading Festival. Putting myself together after a hectic, frenetic Foals set. Suddenly an ominous gold cross lights up the tent as two hairy French men stand behind stacks of Marshall amplifiers. It’s an intense almost religious experience, as I’m witness to a cacophony of French electro. Cross, as I’m sure was the case for many other lost indie kids, was the album to launch me headfirst into dance music. Through it’s accessible mix of club ready anthems like ‘D.A.N.C.E’ and ‘DVNO’ to the electro experimentalism of sigh-sampling ‘Waters of Nazareth’, Cross never skips a beat. Truly an album with a song for every stage of the night, whether it’s Uffie’s seductive vocals on ‘The Party’ or the high- intensity, distorted disco strings of ‘Stress’, Cross set a new standard for dance music.
3. Lightspeed Champion, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge (2008)
Devonté Hynes is a multi- faceted, talented man. Before his Blood Orange days came a foray into dance punk with the ill fated but brilliantly named Test Icicles, then came an unlikely indie folk reinvention. The latter of these personas, Lightspeed Champion burst onto the scene with his debut album in 2008. Produced by Bright Eyes’ producer Mike Mogis, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge is an interesting, introspective album, combining American country elements with the trials and tribulations of modern London life. An almost operatic work, there’s extended guitar solos in the form of twelve minute long ‘Midnight Surprise’ then there’s the scathing outlook on London’s scenesters in ‘Galaxy of The Lost’, the soundtrack for when the comedown’s over and the hedonism’s lost its glamour. Such themes combined with Hynes’ musical genius make for a hugely underrated album.
4. SBTRKT, SBTRKT (2011)
Following a prolific series of remixes for the likes of M.I.A and Basement Jaxx, the masked producer Aaron Jerome released his eponymous debut in the form of SBTRKT in 2011. An album that wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve, SBTRKT jumps effortlessly from club anthems like the Little Dragon featuring ‘Wildfire’ to the emotional reality and rawness of Sampha’s vocals on ‘Hold On’ and ‘Something Goes Right’. With it’s often abstract mix of synths and effects, SBTRKT marked a unique sound, one that looked to the past of UK bass culture and created something stylistically new: call it post dubstep, call it new bass it’s hard to define. An album that’s intrinsically British in its sound yet undeniably exploratory and modern SBTRKT’s debut is a bastion of alternative UK urban culture.
5. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
It’s 2009 and Kanye West is one of the most hated men in America. Having interrupted the nation’s sweetheart’s acceptance speech at the VMAs, West faces an onslaught of criticism. From losing tour opportunities with Lady Gaga to President Obama infamously labeling the Chicago rapper a “jackass”. For most this PR nightmare is the stuff of career deaths, but not Yeezy. Fleeing mainland America, Kanye holed up in Hawaii to work on his new material importing the crème de la crème of Hip Hop talent, think Jay Z, Pusha T, Nicki Minaj and Kid Cudi. Adopting a near-Brian Wilson-esque approach to his album, West only slept for a few hours at a time and had sound engineers in the studio on a 24/7 basis. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy marked a departure from his earlier classic Hip Hop sampling style into something altogether more orchestrated and cinematic in its vision. With hits such as ‘All of The Lights’ and ‘Power’, the experimentalism of ‘Runaway’ and its accompanying 35 minute film, to the lyrical controversy of ‘Gorgeous’, MBDTF is one of the most ambitious, Hip Hop albums of all time… of all time.
Tyler the Creator, Treehome95 feat. Coco O & Erykah Badu (2013)
Taken from Odd Future’s front man and courter of controversy Tyler the Creator’s latest album, Wolf, ‘Treehome95’ is an altogether different side of the rap collective. Featuring the little known Coco O with Tyler and Erykah Badu over a Bossa Nova-esque riff. It’s a track representative of the sheer genius of Tyler, an artist whose true talents often lie shrouded in controversy. A playful almost innocent track, Tyler and Coco muse over each other with lines such as, “You’re my favourite crayon in the box… let’s think outside the lines.” It’s sleek, surprisingly mature and a clever addition to the chapters of Tyler’s various album personas.
Words: Charlie Jaco