Thursday, June 25, 2009

2008-10-07 - Nylon

Kevin Barnes puts together a playlist of songs you won't find on your friend's iPod.

His last album may have been one of the best of 2007 and his live shows may have gained a cultish following, but of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes doesn’t care what success looks like.

“Writing songs is like my form of meditation, it legitimizes my existence in a way,” he explains. “During the lean years when we weren’t selling records, I never thought of throwing in the towel, because there’s nothing else I’d rather do.”

Except put together a playlist for NYLON, that is. Check out Barnes’s 15 favorite tracks—“all these deep cuts that weren’t necessarily singles, that aren’t that popular, and you can’t find on anyone’s iPod playlist”—while you wait for the new of Montreal album to come out later this month.

Prince - "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker"
I feel like it’s one of the most overlooked pop gems in the history of pop music. It’s so surprising and different from anything Prince has ever done—it’s almost like a different person wrote it.

Joni Mitchell - "Car on a Hill"
I really love what she does with her voice—these vibrato harmonies where it’s layering the harmonies herself. That’s something I do all the time.

David Bowie - "Panic in Detroit"
It seems like it would be a real muscular rock song or whatever, but it sounds more Latin, with percussion and a rock drum behind it, which makes it cooler.

Iggy Pop - "Turn Blue"
He’s fantastic because he’s the best combination of masculinity and sexual ambiguity. It’s kind of silly, but I fantasize about that era with Pop and Lou Reed and Bowie hanging out together, and the freedom they had in terms of experimenting musically and trying the taboos that they saw all around them.

Neil Young - "Expecting to Fly"
This is just a beautiful love song. It’s so heartbreaking. I mean, there are so many love songs and most of them have no impact at all. This is one of the few exceptions.

Television - "Venus De Milo"
I’ve never heard anyone else write guitar melodies lines like Television. All you can hope for [as a musician] is to create a personal stamp that no one else uses.

Sly & the Family Stone - "Family Affair"
Sly is definitely one of my all time favorites. It was really influential to me because there’s a friskiness that you don’t get in a lot of indie rock and mainstream music.

Curtis Mayfield - "Move On Up"
If you’re facing a really difficult personal situation, a lot of people feel like, “Okay, I’m just going to make something that revels in the darkness.” But he turned to something more powerful, and was able to create something more uplifting and positive. It really struck a chord with me, and was the same sort of thing I tried to do with Hissing Fauna.

The Beatles - "Happiness is a Warm Gun"
I was a huge Beatles fanatic for a long time. The great thing about them is you can see the progression: They started as really simplistic and sweet, but eventually they became more experimental.

The Kinks - "Autumn Almanac"
I also went through a huge Kinks phase about 10 years ago. The great thing was that even though the Kinks were a huge band, Ray Davies always wrote his songs as an outsider, and that comes across in the music.

The Velvet Underground - "Sister Ray"
The Velvet Underground took so many chances, it’s amazing that they even existed and persevered through all that.

Stevie Wonder - "Boogie on Reggae Woman"
Every time this song goes on, you’re like, “Hell yeah, this is the song! This is what I want to hear!” You can’t sit still.

Motley Crue - "Live Wire"
I was super obsessed with Motley Crue in 8th grade and I really didn’t listen to them for another 15 years. But recently I was thinking about them and realized that I still like them. That’s a sign of something, that I can listen all these years later and still like it.

Neutral Milk Hotel- "Song Against Sex"
Even though the lyrics were sort of ambiguous and abstract, I’ve actually cried at Neutral Milk Hotel shows, which I’ve never done before. My whole body reacting to the music—it’s so beautiful and strange and exceptional and the only thing I can do is cry.

Roxy Music - "Virginia Plain"
We have a lot in common with the whole ‘70s glam scene, where they injected playfulness into the scene that was bogged down by the intellectualism of prog rock.

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