If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Johnny Beauford, whose latest album, A Pig Eating Past Love, is out now. Visit his official site and watch the video for the new record’s title track below — and then read his Desert Island picks, of course!
To help narrow the scope of this scenario, 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 Cincinnati, 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-’90s. 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 / ’60s rock n’ roll kick of late, so this album is an absolute dream to imagine spending eternity with.
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.
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 Cincinnati. 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 and a poet 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 six albums to date, and all but their first two could easily make my top 50 favorites of all time.
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 heyday of the early and mid-’90s. I know the band’s founder and lead singer, Robert Pollard, is the kind of artist that writes more for his own enjoyment than for the listener’s, and although that’s something most assume is a general commonality between 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.
Rascal 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 Rascal Flats and mistake it for one of my actual top 5 desert island records. Oh — Rascal Flats are from Columbus, Ohio, by the way…poor Columbus.