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.
Alex Wall, Bleeding Knees Club – The Modern Lovers by The Modern Lovers
Dear Modern Lovers,
Thank you for making my favourite album of all time. I first heard this record when I went to New York for the first time by myself. I knew this guy called Yata – a crazy surfer who was always high, and lived in the Hamptons with his mum. I stayed at his house for a week and just hung out, listening to music and surfing the whole time. Yata put on “I’m Straight” one day and I instantly had to know who it was. I guess being from New York they grew up with the Modern Lovers on all the bars’ playlists, but my mind was blown. It’s funny because I also heard Descendents for the first time on that trip too, who became another one of my all-time favourite bands.
I was/am really into The Velvet Underground, and after listening to Modern Lovers it was pretty obvious Jonathan Richman was a fan of them as well. They have that super loose and sloppy guitar playing, and real scratchy-sounding guitar tones that I loved about the VU. Jonathan has that cool-guy classic voice that no one could ever imitate, a lot like Lou Reed. I later found out he pretty much moved from Boston to be closer to the Velvets in New York City, and formed the band because of them.
The Modern Lovers is a really straightforward rock album, which talks about very everyday topics but its lyrics are so poetic and the performances make up for the simplicity. I really feel like that’s influenced me and my approach to music with Bleeding Knees Club. Super simple songs and themes, but lots of energy.
I named my dog Pablo Picasso because of that song on this record. You can hear this track’s influence in the likes of Parquet Courts today, who I reckon are the best rock band in the world at the moment. They have those cool song themes with spoken-word vocal melodies, set to real loose guitars.
It’s so weird that this album was recorded in 1972, but then not released until 1976. Who would do that today? What was going through their minds those few years, knowing that they were sitting on this record? I get stressed having to wait a few months from finishing a record, until getting to release it. And only one album?
Anyway thanks guys.