Let's do this one at a time. William Cashion first:
Logical Sound Discovery, Air Waves
I first saw this band on public access in Raleigh, NC back in 1999 or 2000 – the singer was a glammed-out alien, popping bubbles with his fingers during an interview. I bought “Air Waves” soon afterward and I've been a fan ever since. It's filled with loungey new wave tunes about disco aliens, positive vibrations, and smokin', homegrown. At the time, I think they were the weirdest band from Raleigh, if not just for their over-the-top live shows, for the fact that no other bands in NC were making music like them.
I saw them twice: the first was at the infamous Railto Theater in Raleigh (where Rocky Horror is shown every Friday at midnight) and the second time at the much-missed Kings, at an 18+ cops/robbers/hookers dance party (costume required – I was a robber – and we were underage). I loved how their shows were something special – it was more than just some dudes on stage playing songs – there were fancy lights, makeup, go-go dancers, glow sticks, stage extensions (runways/platforms), the works. This is something that definitely inspired me early on, to make shows special, something a little extra, really put on a show (usually that just meant covering the walls of a house with aluminum foil — it looks really cool!). And although Logical Sound Discovery (LSD) has released several albums prior to and since, “Air Waves” is (to me at least) the classic LSD sound. There's a subtext in your mind…
The Texas Governor, Self-titled
The first solo album by Dave Goolkasian, frontman of the great Elevator Drops. I had been a big fan of the E-Drops for some time and was floored to learn that their singer had recorded a solo album. It's country new wave pop and is still one of my favorite albums. Future Islands actually formed because we had booked a tour with the Texas Governor down in NC with our old band Art Lord & the Self-Portraits. By the time the tour was supposed to happen, Art Lord had broken up, and so we formed Future Islands, did a few shows in Greenville and then went off on tour with Texas Governor.
Honorable Mention: Cry Baby soundtrack
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Ballads, Banjo Tunes, and Sacred Songs of Western North Carolina
I found this a couple months ago and it's been ruling my world. Bascom Lamar Lunsford was born in South Turkey Creek, Leicester, North Carolina, March of 1882. He was a teacher, an exotic fruit salesman, a lawyer, and a collector of songs (or as he says, the “old ballads”). Most of this collection comes from a session he did at the Library of Congress in 1949. They requested that he come up to DC and record his “personal memory collection” of songs, for posterity and cultural preservation. In a week, he recorded some 330 songs, without notes or a songbook of any kind, usually prefacing each song with the story of where he first heard the song or who taught him the tune. His uncanny memory is only a piece of this album's beauty. There's a great amount of feeling in his voice, something lost in many translations of these songs that have been passed down. Maybe that's because he was living when these songs were still relevant. For me, it's the purity of the songs, just the truth shining through (or right on top), that gets me. A lot of heartbreak, death and tall tales. And the fact that he's from North Carolina holds a special place. It's kinda like my great-grandfather singing me songs, something I never got to experience. Find this, read his story, it's beautiful. True pioneer.
The Rachels, Music for Egon Schiele
The Rachels, along with Yo La Tengo, Xiu Xiu, and Morphine, are one of my, “heart bands.” You know, one of those bands that when you see their album “used” at a record store, you have to buy it even though you already own a copy or two.This particular album was my introduction to the Rachels. My good friend, Adam Beeby, let me borrow it my freshman year of college, and I still have it (sorry buddy). The grooves are getting worn down it's seen so many spins. I always characterized this as “modern classical.” Beautiful strokes, ebbs and flows, heartbreaking stuff. They do so much here with just piano, cello, and viola. It was originally written as a score for a film about the life of German Expressionist Egon Schiele, so it's inherent that it works as the score for a person's life, moving through creation and growth and great tragedy. I can't put into words what this album has meant to me over the years. It's something I will always turn to when I'm feeling out of sorts, because it brings me back to Earth, and reminds me of the beauty that's all around. And if The Rachels happen to read this. I love ya'll. Let's hang out.
Slayer, Decade of Aggression
Slayer rules. I am pretty out of touch with metal as of late but I will listen to this collection of live recordings forever. I was lucky enough to have someone let me borrow it in high school and immediately copied it to tape. I have been blaring that same tape ever since. Nothing captures Slayers energy like Slayer live.
John Frusciante, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt
You either love it or you hate it. I love it. I probably wouldn't have started recording music on a 4-track if it wasn't for this album. This is his first solo release. Apparently he was still in the Red Hot Chili Peppers when these songs were recorded (on a 4-track) but existing in some weird, dark zone. The songs are very bare, full of confusion and pain with a taste of “I am actually a very talented musician.” Hopefully I never visit this dark place but I enjoy listening to its score.