Note: This is a continuation of ‘The Island Five: Part I.’ You can find part I here.
This one was the only album that is still on my list from eight years ago. HOLY SHIT I’VE BEEN OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL FOR EIGHT YEARS. Gahd damn I’m old. Anyway…
The Clash are one of those bands that you just can’t ignore. I don’t think they made a bad album. Why? Each album is completely different from the last. You can actually tell that they evolved musically, and that’s why I love London Calling so much. It’s punk. It’s ska. It’s metal. It’s rock. I think the only thing that this album isn’t is disco, and that’s not a bad thing. I have a lot of memories attached to this album, too, and that probably has something to do with why I like it so much.
I don’t listen to it in full too often anymore, but it’s one that I could never get tired of. Whether it’s skanking to ‘Rudie Can’t Fail,’ getting thug with ‘Guns of Brixton,’ or singing terrible broken Spanish to ‘Spanish Bombs,’ this album makes you feel everything that was happening in music in 1979.
It’s sad that Strummer had to leave. I mean, I get it. Bands break up and people drift apart, but I wish they would’ve gotten together sooner rather than when they did. There could’ve been big things for them, but they are what they are because they stopped, I think. At least they didn’t try to keep going through the pain and anger just to make money off of shitty music that nobody, including the band, liked.
The Arctic Monkeys
The more observant readers of this will notice that every album on this list comes from the decade between 1969 and 1979 (London Calling was released in 1980 in the US, so what), so you might assume that I’m not a big fan of modern music.
This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m just a little more judgmental of modern music because there’s so much of it. Since there’s been an exponential explosion of music in the last decade, when I find a good band, a band that really knows how to make music, I stick with them. That’s why I love The Arctic Monkeys. They’re kind of like The Clash to me. They haven’t made a bad album, and each one has been completely different than the last.
Humbug was made during a weird period for them. They’d just had two massively successful albums (well, massively successful everywhere but the US), Whatever People Say I Am and Favourite Worst Nightmare, both with completely different musical stylings. The first was dance-punk-rock, the second was… I really can’t think of a better way to describe Favourite Worst Nightmare than horror. It’s just a scary album. The b-sides of the singles were even scarier.
With Humbug, they wanted to do something completely different. So they called up Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age fame, went out to Joshua Tree, and hit ‘Record’. It has its scary moments, that’s for sure. The entire a-side very similar to Favourite Worst Nightmare, scary, terrifying, and heavy, and then you get to ‘Fire and the Thud’. This is when Alex Turner’s vocals and songwriting ability is really put front and center.
‘Cornerstone’ is such a sexy fucking song. It’s so sad. It’s so sexy. Please listen to it. Here, I’ll wait. (And yes, this is the official video.)
‘Dance Little Liar,’ ‘Crying Lightning,’ ‘Potion Approaching,’ ‘Pretty Visitors’. Shit. This album is amazing. This band is amazing. When this album first came out, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Well, yeah I was. It was my least favorite album by The Arctic Monkeys. A few months ago I picked it up on vinyl. When I sat down and listened to it, I thought “Jesus H. Christ what was I thinking???”
I think I have more of an attachment to The Arctic Monkeys than the other bands on this list. It’s my music. It means something to me that I’ve been alive for the span of their career, that I’ve been able to follow them from the start. I imagine this is how people who heard London Calling in 1979 felt, or The Beatles in 1968.
Remember when I said I wasn’t going to put these in any particular order? I lied. This is my number one. I guess you can tell by me writing an entire book about it.
What’s you island five? Should I be listening to something that I’m not? Let me know in the comments.