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Top 5 “Deserted Island” Albums

You’re stranded on a deserted island, pick 5 albums you’d want with you for this probably not so long or prosperous life of solitude. Johnny Beauford recently gave his response to this classic scenario while promoting his new EP and the latest St. Cait release, A Pig Eating Past Love. In the end, he took a very narrow approach but came up with some solid answers.

Here’s his response:

Bravo! Max 7-001

To help narrow the scope of this thing, I’ll have to choose a theme to work from. The number one band on my short list at the moment is called The Greenhornes. My cousin Ben Gastright gave me their album Four Stars as a gift sometime in 2011, and I have been in love with the record ever since. Since my cousin, with his exceptional musical taste, and the band in question are both from Cincinatti, OH I’ll go with Ohio as the theme for my top 5 records.

The Greenhornes, Four Stars

The Greenhornes have put out 4 studio albums since forming in the mid-90’s. The latest of these albums, Four Stars, was released in 2010 on Jack White’s label Third Man. The record is phenomenal and I am on a huge garage rock / 60’s rock n’ roll kick of late, so this album is an absolute dream to imagine spending eternity with. (My favorite track: “Underestimator”)

The Black Keys, Attack & Release

Another Ohio born creation, they began putting albums out in 2001 or 2002 with their debut full length The Big Come Up and initially their music was recorded in basements and self-produced. That said, early albums like Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory were outstanding and ultimately the one’s that got me into the band initially. Yes I know, nowadays The Black Keys are massive rock stars and it’s not “cool” to like famous bands, but fuck that, they are outstanding and although they are not reinventing the wheel that’s been turning since the days of Blues gods like Robert Johnson and Junior Kimbrough they are in fact paying legitimate respect to the blues and old school rock n roll that openly influences their music just the same. I love Attack & Release because it is a clear step in maturity from their first few albums. The maturity in part surely came from the band’s choice to work with an outside producer for the first time, the final result is a bit more varied stylistically than the early albums, and the added flourishes of big studio production create a very well rounded and confident piece of work. (My favorite track: “Remember When”)

The National, Alligator

The National is more of a New York band really, and has been based in Brooklyn ever since their early days of recording, however the members are all from Ohio as far as I know, and the founding members met and began collaborating on tunes while attending the University of Cincinatti. They are one of those bands that I cannot imagine losing now that I have spent so much time with their wonderful music. There’s not much to dislike really. Among their biggest strengths is the lead vocalist, a baritone named Matt who writes strange, sad, and sometimes fragmented lyrics that are both conversational and so personal they must be born from true feelings and experience. The music is orchestral and somehow instantly feels cinematic. The songs on Alligator are just a healthy snippet of their overwhelmingly beautiful catalog. They have released 6 albums to date, and all but their first two could easily make my top 50 favorites of all time. (My favorite track: “Abel”)

Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

Guided By Voices are admittedly not a band I know everything there is to know about. I know they had a huge influence on all things Lo-Fi at least in their heydays of the early and mid-90’s. I know the bands founder and lead singer Robert Pollard is the kind of artist that writes more for his own enjoyment than for the listeners, and although that’s something most assume is a general commonality of most artists, it is something that Pollard has built a career out of, and it ultimately makes him more authentic than most of his peers. Bee Thousand is a perfect pick for this top 5, seeing as how it is filled with brief and numerous pieces of spontaneity that make it a deeply intriguing album in a long term sense. This record would be the one I’d have on while my ration of cheap beer and cigarettes was still in full supply. After they run out it might be set aside until much later when my mind starts slipping into isolated oblivion. Here is a good line that may help sum up why this album is a smart choice to bring along. (Taken from the band’s bio on Wikipedia:) “The music of Bee Thousand is influenced by British Invasion rock music, as well as what Pollard calls the “four P’s” of rock: pop, punk rock, progressive rock, and psychedelia.”

Rascall Flatts, Unstoppable

The strategy here is to have one album on hand in case I find myself suddenly surrounded by rabid wild island beavers, I’d surely be a dead man otherwise, but everyone know beavers love the shittiest music imaginable. So just in the nick of time, I’d throw on this ultimate failure of an album, and while the beavers calm down, I’d pray to the music gods for their forgiveness and I’d hope to Christ that an unsuspecting rescue team was not close enough to shore to hear Rascall Flats and mistake it as one of my actual top 5 deserted island records. Wait, maybe I should use another animal for this? Oh, the Rascall Flats are from Columbus, Ohio by the way… poor Columbus.