Tuesday, May 24, 2011

High Places

Drifting, tropical, shape-shifting, and dreamy, High Places make some of my favorite sounds. High Places is Rob Barker and Mary Pearson, originially from Brooklyn, but now based here in L.A. Their records are always a go-to for me when I'm feeling something refreshing, gorgeously jarring, elusively far-off, and tranquil. To date, they've released a compilation and two full-lengths on Thrill Jockey, and are currently at work on their third album. Definitely check out From Stardust To Sentience, Late Bloomer, Namer, On Giving Up, and Can't Feel Nothing- all classics in my book.

Below are the lists they sent me of their favorite albums along with their comments on each.

Find out more about High Places on their blog or at Thrill Jockey.


Strange Days - THE DOORS

Ever since I first visited LA, and especially when I moved here, I always LOVED records that made me feel really connected to LA. This record really makes a great soundtrack for it, maybe a bit obvious, but perfect nonetheless. You drive around with the windows down, blasting this... and you almost want to walk into Barney's Beanery and pee on the bar. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/music_blog/2008/11/barneys-beanery.html
Perfect record for being a dark druggy teenager growing up in Philadelphia. Production sounds deleriously under water, or more specifically dusted (as in PCP, it's a Philly thing trust me) . Supposedly there was definitely dust present in the studio. Which explains the reverb on P.S.K. and Gucci Time.
Space Ritual - HAWKWIND
Mary already nailed Burial, which is a perfect soundtrack for London. But I will add in this insane live record that i jammed on while camping and hiking along country roads in the UK back in the late 90's. Seeking out these areas long enough, you might just find the Hawkwind commune. Heavy trip of a record. Incredible String Band is good for this as well, although much less heavy...
Moment Of Truth - GANG STARR
When this came out I was living in Bed Stuy and this record was THE soundtrack.
Age Of Quarrel - CRO-MAGS
Such a good and intense soundtrack to teenage years running around NYC. Totally knucklehead, but pretty darn honest in a way… these dudes were honestly pretty "street", for better or for worse… They basically lived what they talked about in the lyrics, which not all of which i am a fan of. But that is reality, I guess.

Surrealistic Pillow - JEFFERSON AIRPLANE
San Francisco. I love SF's vibe. I know it has changed a lot since this record came out, but this makes me feel really connected to the city's history.
Paid In Full - ERIC B & RAKIM
Another good NYC growing up record… the Marley Marl production reminds me of the feel of the subway tunnel acoustics. Like something about the reverbs on the scratches and how crunchy the drums are…
Suicidal Tendencies - SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
WAY before I lived in LA, or even visited LA, I sorta fantasized what it would be like to be in the world these dudes occupied.. seemed so foreign from NYC and Philadelphia… I pictured surfboards with like razor blades taped to them… I don't know… I was like 12….
DJ Too Tuff's Lost Archives - TUFF CREW
More Philly rap that just defines Philadelphia. This record is actually a comp of unused tracks from the late 80's, and it blows me away there were the outages!! This is a seriously dense pile of jams. The first 3 TUff Crew records are some of the best rap records PERIOD, and this collection is mind blowing.
The Crew - 7 SECONDS
Doesn't really define a place, but definitely a time. Jr High, this record was such a breath of positivity, which i definitely needed at the time.


Let England Shake - PJ HARVEY
I'm usually hesitant to declare a brand new album an all-time favorite, but with Let England Shake, Harvey really hit the nail on the head for me. The album is simultaneously timely and timeless. Listening to Polly sing, "What if I take my problem to the United Nations?" the day the UN resolved to intervene in Libya, was an eerie experience. I love Mick Harvey and John Parish's contributions to the record, and Polly's lyrics and vocals are some of her best.
Beggars Banquet - THE ROLLING STONES
This album is so classic to me. I find it to be the most "jangly" Rolling Stones album, and let's be honest, the toy drum kit kind of sounds like a hot mess. But there's a charm and creativity to this album that makes it my favorite of the Stones' output.
Joni will always be my ultimate songwriting hero. Blue is one of those albums where every track is a great song. I always sing "California" during sound checks. High Places has covered "River" for a benefit compilation, and "My Old Man" is the ringtone that plays when my boyfriend calls me.
Untrue - BURIAL
This album conveys such a strong mood. It is the best late-night driving music.
Really any Biggie album is great, but Ready to Die introduced the world to the greatest rapper it had ever heard and perhaps ever will hear. I wish we still had him around.
The Goldberg Variations (Bach BWV 988, 1981 recording) - GLENN GOULD
I never tire of Glenn Gould's interpretations of Bach. The 1981 recording has a contemplative character that wasn't heard in his 1955 rendition. Gould was a true artist who left his mark on every piece he performed.

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