If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Recess Monkey, whose latest LP, In Tents!, is out now. You can preview a video from the album below — after reading their Desert Island picks, of course!
Jellyfish, Spilt Milk
Just two records from this amazing Bay Area band. I feel robbed. This collection encapsulates so many different influences and emotions. Like many records, this one is the soundtrack for a certain point in my life. There are layers upon layers, melodically and lyrically. I could listen to “Russian Hill” on repeat forever. Never thought I’d fall so hard for a harmonica solo.
I was first introduced to XTC by a cassette tape my brother got from a friend. It was a copy of Skylarking. This friend had even reproduced the album art on loose leaf binder paper and cut it to size to fit in the plastic tray. From the opening notes of “Summer’s Cauldron” I was hooked. I wish I could crawl inside this record and live there.
And I might just sneak Pet Sounds and Kid A in my pack back while no one is looking. And I could probably fit Summerteeth in my toiletries bag — can I bring one of those?
Pixies, Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim
This is one of my favorite albums from one of my favorite bands — a UK release of the Pixies’ first LP and EP combined. You feel like you’re in the studio with the band…full of energy and saucy banter.
Sigur Ros, Ágætis Byrjun
When I first got this album I listened to it for about a week straight. It is so full of textures and layers that I’m still discovering nuances. Sigur Ros continues to create amazing soundscapes, but I’ll never forget the first time I heard them.
Elliott Smith, Figure 8
It’s really a toss-up between Figure 8 and xo, but Eliott Smith is definitely at the top of my desert island list. Where to begin? I think he had an exceptional ear for harmony, and I love how he reinforced melodies with several instruments playing in unison. The guy was a downright prodigy — he played nearly all of the instruments on his albums — and manages to channel the Beatles without simply emulating them. He even recorded a lot of his later work at Abbey Road! He had some real problems in his non-musical life, but musically speaking he’s the musician I most wish I were.
John Vanderslice, Pixel Revolt
It’s no secret to Recess Monkey devotees that we¹re die-hard John Vanderslice fans. He manages to keep cranking out amazing albums that represent real growth each time — what an inspiration to see another artist who never stops growing! Pixel Revolt isn’t his newest album, but it’s the one that sticks with me the most — such a unique blend of acoustic guitar, synth pop and manufactured beats. To top it off, he’s a really nice guy AND runs a great all-analog studio in SF. We keep talking about how we can figure out a way to record there.
A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
Jazz rap. Such a great album — this is one of the ones that instantly transports me back in time, but it is still remarkably fresh to my ears. I remember seeing the video for “Scenario” on MTV for the first time thinking “what IS this!?” It totally changed hip hop for me. Q-Tip is such a powerful MC! This is my favorite hip hop album of all time.
Steely Dan, Gaucho
This is another real toss-up. I LOVE Steely Dan, and each of their records has a special place in my brain. One would definitely be on the list, and this minute it’d be Gaucho. The utter smoothness of “Babylon Sisters” is what’s ringing in my ears as I type this… But if I think about it too long, I’ll probably change my mind to Can’t Buy a Thrill, and then Aja… It never ends. Such an impressive body of work!