Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.
The Preatures’ Jack Moffitt: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – ‘Before Today’
Ah, now that sounds right… the songs that say, “I like that!”
If you’re the kind to baulk at first impressions, this might be the record you skip at a garage sale. Indulge the vanity tropes… Before Today plays out like a Bollywood about Hollywood. A straight-to-DVD diner diva, a white trouser-stained writer, a never-was-gonna-be actor and their dismal attempts at denting the universe. All living in perfect misery until they trip on a habit, get a disease. All this told through song.
Follywood. Glitz, glam, the glitterati of victims and those who dared escape its gravity.
The clash is sexy and awkward: to wit — you humour. Musicianship, to Ariel, is hilarious. Despite being possessed of effortlessly musical touch (the kind teenagers obsess over), it’s obviously a humour. I mean, how is anyone supposed to hear through the greasy-tee lampshade of this record? The sound is crusty, gnarly, sketchy even (to use the Mac vernacular), tones as grey as a dealer at a house party — unassuming deathly clown, you shill out the shekels with abandon, but don’t walk under ladders anymore.
I fantasise about your ridiculous riffing, piss-taking in the post-purpose age, meh meh meh, how can anyone give a flying fuck for these mad-scientist froyo flavours? Truthfully, I’ve rested on this record more than anything I’ve carried into my adult life (my what?!). My voice still quiet, but my thoughts loud. These melodies I’ve memorised to the marrow, phrases turning over and over like a lighter that won’t spark.
Sometimes when writing you need to reset, I reset with you — I stoned rode my rented bicycle down row upon endless row of Austin’s streets in 2013: hissing summer lawns, shrieking meat on barbecues — mad madams street crawling at 3pm, the stank of skunk. Giddy, hanging off my handlebars, I had one of those moments.
I waited ’till morning and turned the volume down. You hypnagogic wizard of magickal sound! Completely bonkers sideline characters nattily narrating the life of Little Wig, reminiscing in strange time signatures, gender bending all over the place.
The world ripples with disturbances of Ariel Pink — you feel his perineum-tickle on Tame Impala records, Mac Demarco, Connan Mockasin, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I definitely clinched some ‘tude writing for songs on Blue Planet Eyes and Girlhood.
We get deeper, and everything becomes a strange aggressive rock of sex noises and slander. Riffs the kind that cock-rockers covet. You may call me a thief, but you can only try to stop me. Can you hear that weird enveloped sound? It’s the spring-trap in my mind, catching the weird.
Recently someone hailing ‘Weirdo Music Forever’ started following me on Instagram. Feed full of pictures of Ariel, John Maus and someone called R. Stevie Moore. The unifier — bonafide lone weirdo cred. A loner at a party said to me “you’re judged by the company you keep, you know?” I told him I didn’t care he didn’t have any friends. It was you, I know it.
Rarely you hear a record that puts you in the hands of the musicians. There are so many moments on Before Today I get close to that — there’s no other reason to make sounds so ridiculous, but they get you closer to the maker. Pop is part art form, part joke, and part sexual athletics. You are my cross-dressing friend, sharing cheap cigs, overbite, shoes stubbing sidewalk — the one who never laughs, the one with all the jokes.
You never become academic, you’ll always be pulled out of the bargain bin. I’ll always be laughing, mostly uncertain, somewhat with you, somewhat at myself…