Guest writer Eric Laderman and Chronicle editor Miranda Simes got together to discuss their favorite music from the last four years of high school, from the best music to dance alone to, to the greatest sad song ever.
What is your favorite album to listen to while studying?
EL: “I have two. “Quixotisms” by Oren Ambarchi and “Cascade” by William Basinksi. They’re both pretty ambient and repetitive. That’s something I look for when I’m trying to find music to study to.
MS: For me, it would be Rodrigo y Gabriela. Last year I would take one of those Bio coloring sheets and put on a really fast song. They also have nice, quiet songs too, for those nap breaks in between coloring pages. Bio last year was all about timed napping.
EL: I think I would just get too distracted though, listening to flamenco music. I would just want to move with it, you know? So I think I look for ambient music. But not like falling asleep ambient music. It’s gotta be kind of driving.
MS: I agree, It has to hold your attention, but not in a way that distracts you.
Favorite album when you want to dance by yourself?
EL: It’s gotta be “Product” by Sophie. I mean my dancing style is mostly just me clowning around in time, and that album is just so perfect for that, it’s PC Music, it’s pretty goofy, it’s kinda rhythmic, it’s got some cool little syncopations, it’s just a lot of fun.
MS: Sylvan Esso, always a good beat, a good on the way to school jamming out in the car. I got to know Sylvan Esso through the song “Coffee,” and listening from there I realized the rest of the album is equally as good.
Favorite album to listen to when you’re sad?
EL: There’s different types of sad. There’s the kind of sad where you just want to listen to something and be like, ‘Wow, at least my life doesn’t suck as much as this guy’s.’ That’s gotta be “Benji” by Sun Kil Moon.
EL: For the kind of sad where I just want to feel better, then I gotta put on some James Brown. I don’t really have a specific album. You just put it on, snaps, you just feel it. He’s so happy all the time.
MS: For me, there’s sad, self-indulgent sad, as in I’m going to listen to some music because I’m sad and I want to be sad for a little while longer: Ludovico Einaudi. He’s an Italian composer my sister showed me. He’s classical–contemporary classical.
MS: Angry sad is Glen Hansard, because I feel like he’s always being broken up with, have you seen the movie Once? … It starts out slow, and sentimental, and then the drums come in *MOVIE SPOILER* and he’s angry sad.
EL: Yeah, it all depends on what kind of sad you are.
Favorite album to listen to you you’re trying to fall asleep?
EL: I don’t really do this that much, it’s more like I’m in bed.. what am I going to do, I’m going to listen to an album and then I kind of accidentally fall asleep. The obvious one for me is “Music for Airports” by Brian Eno. It’s super ambient, it’s just a piano.
MS: I think falling asleep, I want something I’m really familiar with, like a Beatles song, something I’ve listened to over and over. I don’t have to think about it, I can kind of tune it out. It’s just on in the background, and then I fall asleep.
Favorite album to listen to while running?
EL: This is hypothetical, because I don’t run, I hate running. It’s more of like if I were to run, based on my infrequent running experiences, and what I imagine would make it better. I don’t know, I just don’t run. I feel like it would have to be something dancey, maybe something by Clark.
MS: I run, but I don’t listen to music while I run. I get too fussy. Where do you put your phone or iPod? And your headphones get all sweaty, and some biker is going to crash into me on the trail. I don’t know, I might get run over.
So I would go with “Currents” by Tame Impala. When I listen to them, I find myself listening to the whole album. Just the psychedelic, spacey kind of ‘I can forget that I’m running’ and it’s intense. That’s what I would want to listen to if I were running with music.
Best guilty pleasure album?
EL: “Stars Dance” by Selena Gomez. I don’t know why I like it, but I think I’m still struck by the novelty of it. She was on Disney Channel on that show I never watched, Wizards of Waverley Place. She started doing music but it was basically like Disney Channel [music]. And then on this album, the first song is called “Birthday” I think, and she just goes on and on about how she’s at this rager… It’s like, ‘woah!’ So I think part of it’s the novelty, and part of it’s just because it still had that sort of Disney Channel quality of being kinda happy but in a fake way.
MS: It’s a ‘this is my life, you should want to be like me.’ That’s the vibe I always got.
EL: It’s super fake. But for some reason, I like that. Not that many child stars do that well. And it’s pretty catchy, it’s catchy enough.. and again, it’s the novelty is what gets me.
MS: So it’s more the novelty, the concept of it–who she is?
EL: Right, yeah, it would be much less funny if it was Joe Shmoe from Arkansas who got famous.
Best four albums of high school?
EL: For me right now, “LP1” by FKA Twigs. That was just so good. It was summer after sophomore year. At the time, it was super impressive because I had never heard anything like that. It was so weird but also so poppy.
EL: “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Always a classic.
EL: “Xen” by Arca. He’s FKA Twig’s producer and he’s pretty wonky. He has three albums that I really like, but I think this one is the best. I like to hear things I haven’t heard and I like them to have a solid foundation and he definitely has all that.
“[Arca’s] first big break was “Yeezus.” If you produce for a Kanye West album, you’re gonna be big, that’s just how it works. After that, he started doing his own thing. And then he got FKA Twigs, and he did “Xen,” and then he actually did Bjork’s new album. So he’s pretty big now. But his own stuff is pretty weird, it’s pretty dark.
MS: The Whitest Boy Alive, who is Erlend Øye and also in Kings of Convenience. I’ve like him for a while, he’s so good. He did a couple songs with Feist as Kings of Convenience and I know Feist pretty well from when I was younger. I actually think I discovered the Whitest Boy Alive when McBlair played him in class once.
MS: Hmm, ‘Easiest to Listen to’ should also be a question. I discovered Cotton Jones Basket Ride/Cotton Jones recently, he’s pretty good.
Also “Issues” by Shoos Off. Another album that’s really easy to listen to.
Favorite album of each year?
EL: The albums I liked most freshman year I don’t like that much now.
Freshman year: “Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin. I was still in my rock & roll phase, rebellious.
Sophomore year: “Psychic” by Darkside, phenomenal album. I love Nico Jaar. And that’s when I started getting into weirder music.
Junior year: probably “Xen” by Arca.
This year, probably “Garden of Delete” by Oneohtrix Point Never.
Best album to listen to on a long car ride?
EL: “John Fahey” because when he twangs on that guitar, I feel like I’m in the Old West rolling across the plain. It’s so bluesy.. and you feel like you’re going down the plains even though you’re going down 101.
MS: “These Changing Skies” by Elephant Revival. It’s a great album. They’re folk but not just folk–they aren’t one-dimensional. I just really like their sound, it’s whimsical and beautiful.