It’s that tired question asked in nearly every interview with a musician. But it carries so much weight. The saying goes “we are what we eat,” but what about what we listen to? It certainly affects how we think and feel and create.
In a new series, Record Store Picks, Noise and Color is on a mission to pick the brains of our favorite local artists, to find out what music is influencing the musicians. Meeting up at their favorite record store, we ask individuals to select five of their favorite albums in the shop, explaining some of the personal significance for each pick.
To kick the series off we met up with Bud Wilson, singer/guitarist/songwriter of Portland’s Aan, at Music Millennium on E Burnside. Aan plays a haunting blend of experimental pop, with unique high-range vocal melodies and instrumentation that sweeps through heavy grooves to completely delicate ambience from one moment to the next.
Can – Soundtracks
“This record is compositions for different German movies, but it’s also the first record with Damo Suzuki. He was a street musician singing and one of the main dudes [of Can] was walking down the street and was like, “Oh, this guy is rad and weird as hell.” So they brought him in, and I think the first song he sings on is “Tango Whiskeyman,” and it’s so rad. When you listen to it you hear so much modern music, but this was recorded in 1971. But they are so far ahead of their time, this song “Tango Whiskeyman” sounds like a Blonde Redhead song – it has all these cool keyboards and deep grooves. The drummer is like a machine, and he has this style of stepping on the high hats on quarter notes no matter what he’s doing.” (listen)
Grandaddy – Sumday
“The production on this record is perfect. Everything sounds like it has a soft pillowy thing going on, there are no harsh tones, definitely recorded to a tape machine. But the songs are so good. His vocals – he [Jason Lytle] doesn’t sing loud ever, he’s got a really soft delivery, and the lyrics are pretty clever. The guitars are huge and distorted and overdriven, but however they recorded to tape it’s just so soft. It’s a great record to sit down and just chill out to. This song “Saddest Vacant Lot in All the World,” it’s just a fucking bummer, but it’s so pretty. It’s about this couple, the husband is wasted passed out in his car in the parking lot, and his wife is at home like, ‘Where is my dude?'” (listen)
Madlib – Shades of Blue
“Madlib is a producer from the LA area, and he does a ton of stuff. Quasimodo is another project that he does. But for this record he got access to all the old Blue Note Records archives, so he went in and cut stuff up, so there are old classics in here. This came out in 2003, and I didn’t know who he was before that. And then that record Madvillain came out right after this, the collaboration with MF Doom, and I just had to go back and listen to all the stuff he’s done.” (listen)
Oneohtrix Point Never – The Fall Into Time
“This record is selections from a larger collection called Rifts, so these are a bit older. It has my favorite song that he has done, “The Trouble with Being Born,” which is just an amazing title for a song anyway. It’s kind of melancholy and slow, but it’s really pretty, and at the end there’s this huge payoff because you’ve just been in this cycling drone for like six or seven minutes, and then there’s just this one little keyboard line that happens two times, then you have to start the whole song over again just to get back to it.” (listen)
Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea
“This came out at the end of last year, and it’s incredible. It’s basically just modern life observations. I like the band mostly because of the lyrics. And they work really fast in the studio, like they know their limits and they don’t really push too far, but the lyrical content is very much like modern poetry. The song “Content Nausea” is just listing off the distractions of modern life, like you carry a phone in your pocket and check Instagram every twenty minutes, and just how terrible that is but everybody is locked into it. But these guys don’t even have social media. They don’t have a website. I mean they put their mailing address on the back of the records – who does that anymore?” (listen)