July/August 2014 winner Peter Rowe talks about his winning choices for last issue’s Deathbed Contest. Be sure to enter the September/October 2014 contest for your chance to win a Martin 000-18E Retro Guitar.
Abbey Road, The Beatles
Abbey Road is a classic. I remember the first time listening to it on my dad’s vinyl player and being blown away. From start to finish, the songwriting is incredible. “Something” would have to be my favorite love song of all time. While every song on the album is well crafted, the way that the songs in the second half continually play through and link into each other blows me away, especially how the textures and dynamics evolve. An absolute masterpiece, in my opinion, the best band of all time.
For me, music is very tied to locations. I remember listening to Nevermind on the bus to my high school on my friend’s iPod and being amazed at how brilliantly simple the songwriting was, a couple of power chords with killer hooks and melodies. I went to the record store and bought the album the next week. I think the reason I enjoy this album so much is because it opened my eyes to how amazing music can be written with the simplest chords. R.I.P Kurt Cobain.
OK Computer, Radiohead
Radiohead is just one of the great bands, constantly innovating and redefining their direction. Whenever my friends ask me what would be the best Radiohead album to start listening to, I always answer OK Computer. The songs are refined and heartfelt with a melancholy vibe. “Paranoid Android” is an incredible track with a rocking riff and cascading vocals. “Karma Police” has a certain desperation and sadness about it which makes it so interesting to listen to. The guitar playing is also immaculate.
A Night At The Opera, Queen
I’ve always loved Queen, especially Freddie’s vocals and that distinctive Brian May guitar sound. I can remember listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the age of eleven and repeatedly adjusting the needle on the record to learn the lyrics. The harmonies and thought behind the crafting of that song is incredible, and I think it would be rare to ever hear a song as groundbreaking. Everyone should hear it! The vocals on this album are delivered with such passion and conviction. This is an album where every song is of an exceptionally high quality.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, The Smashing Pumpkins
I remember hearing “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and going out to the record shop to buy whatever album had that song on it. I was amazed by the creativity behind the album, especially because the songs were all written by one person. For me, it’s almost like a modern equivalent of The White Album by The Beatles, every track emotive and different. The album has beautiful love songs, “To Forgive” and “Thru the Eyes of Ruby,” with killer riffs in songs like “Porcelina of the Oceans.” This was my go-to album when I was sixteen. Very musically captivating.
Turn On the Bright Lights, Interpol
This album took a while for me to start enjoying, but now that I have, it is one of my favorites. I love guitar-based rock bands, so any band with two guitars is going to be enjoyable. Interpol is one of those bands. Paul Banks’ vocals are low, but very effective in the genre they play. “Obstacle 1” is one of my favorite tracks. I love how the song continuously builds to the falsetto line and quick ending. The album is rhythmic with a lot of textures, which I love. “Hands Away” is really captivating with synth lines throughout, building the song up. The album is cleverly thought out, and I really like the ambiguity in the lyrics.
Hot Fuss, The Killers
The Killers are just fun, over-the-top pop rock. I love the arpeggio guitar line and catchy vocal lines in “Mr Brightside.” It reminds me of that feeling of being upset because some girl didn’t like you during high school. For me, this album is great because of the first five tracks, which are amazing quality radio singles. There is a cool sense of positivity on this record. “Smile Like You Mean It” is a cool song with interesting lyrics and minimalistic guitar lines that makes me feel like looking out a train window and pondering life with a slight smile on my face.
System of a Down, System of a Down
When I first started listening to music, I got really into metal because it was heavy. While I haven’t bought a metal record many years, I have a soft spot for System of a Down. This album was unlike anything I had ever heard with brutally heavy riffs, wild drums and humorous lyrics. I love the riff from “Sugar” and the vibe in “Darts.”
Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
In my opinion, Bob Dylan is the most talented lyricist in the world. The way he pinpoints societal topics and represents them perfectly throughout a song is incredible. This was my first real encounter with Dylan. I was immediately drawn to the clever poetry of “Like a Rolling Stone.” I remember listening to this album on a plane trip to Asia, and I was hit with his incredible lyrical ability. “Ballad of a Thinman: was really intriguing, in a way where I had to listen to the song multiple times to understand the cleverness behind his rhymes. What Dylan lacks in musical interest, he makes up for in poetic lyrics.
High Violet, The National
High Violet is a solid record. Every song is intriguing and interesting. I really like the heartfelt emotions that the singer conveys. This album is melancholy, but in a beautiful way. “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is a great track. I love the driving drumbeat on top of the slow moving chords and vocals. “England” is the standout for me, with simple piano triads melding and captivating, strong trumpet lines. The song is beautiful, simple and touching. I think it takes serious skill to write a great sad song, and this band knows how to do it in an enjoyable way.