Nostalgia - I love it and grumble about it in equal measures (click for examples!). I think humans have a great skill in forgetting, but also a great skill in preserving artefacts/stories/cultures over time so I think that nostalgia and remembering the past are super important. I am one of those more forgetful humans when it comes to long-term stuff - for example I’ve got no recollection of a wedding I was at when I was 18 (wasn’t drunk), no recollection of an entire Tim Minchin + orchestra gig in April 2011 (baby sleep-depped, also wasn’t drunk) and no recollection of almost any of my time at primary school with any kind of detail. Sometimes that all serves me well, other times (the Tim Minchin gig) it would be nice to remember. I’ve found that music is a generally a good trigger for me to remember events of my past and, in terms of nostalgia, there’s no time that I am more nostalgic for than around the time of being age 16-18. In so many ways life was sweet. I had good friends, a good relationship, the days were always sunny, it was pre-9/11, everything was new, I learned to drive (an essential in the Borders and seriously made getting to Newcastleton and Denholm easier), I was in a band, my grandparents were still alive, I had my first job in WH Smith, I was looking forward to going to uni… and there were loads of great TV shows, movies, video games and albums/artists to enjoy. Here’s what was on the CD player:

  • Empire Records soundtrack
    This movie (and album) defined the era - our friends watched this film so many times over (on VHS). It was such a fun film (not without its problems which, of course, are worse when you rewatch) and the soundtrack was on point!

  • Coyote Shivers - Coyote Shivers
    Bought off the back of Sugarhigh I actually had an email exchange and AOL messenger chat with him at one point around the age of 17. He gave me the chords to Sugarhigh (in a time before there were awesome sites filled with chords). Subsequently I’ve seen that he wasn’t a great role model, but at 17…

  • Greenday - Dookie, Insomniac and Nimrod
    Ruth and I spent hours listening to Greenday - big thanks for that night that Ruth’s friends taught me Good Riddance as I wouldn’t be who I am today without that.

  • The Offspring - Americana & Smash
    Pretty Fly was on non-stop!. Our friend group loved it. It was played the night someone fell off a bed during illicit smooching resulting in an earthquake-like shock which killed a hamster. (There was a copy of Ixnay on the Hombre shipping about but I don’t remember who had it or ever listening to it much).

  • Kerrang magazine - Super Summer Swinging Sounds
    Remember free CDs on magazines? So much great music was discovered in this way. This mix in particular was pretty amazing. Check it out! Lit - Miserable is a personal favourite.

  • Cruel Intentions soundtrack
    The film was probably a hit with our friends because it was good for the guys and girls and was sexy/forbidden. Without it I’m not sure I’d have been such a huge Counting Crows fan. Also, possibly for similar reasons, the Buffy Theme was a hit too!

  • Blink-182 - Enema of the State
    There were two pubs/”clubs” which frequently had really solid indy/rock/alt playlists and many’s a night were spent with hanging out with friends, underage, dancing and loving bands like Blink.

  • Black Sabbath - Paranoid
    What an album. Good times listening to this with Chris and Miffy. And also watching lots of MTV together.

  • Matchbox Twenty - Yourself Or Someone Like You
    I’m really not sure who introduced me/us to this band. Maybe by way of Dawson’s Creek? Matters not, this album is absolute gold.

  • Limp Bizkit - Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water
    One of the bands that was so controversial (in a small town in the Borders in the late ’90s) we were banned outright from ever playing it in WH Smith… but it did sometimes get put on after hours!\

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
    An MTV constant. It’s mad to think the band had been around and making amazing music as long as we’d been alive yet still somehow we thought they were new! (When By The Way came out when I was at uni I listened to it non-stop at Pret with Freddie in the kitchens!)

  • The Presidents of the United States of America - The Presidents of the United States of America
    One of those bands that only needed to have a couple of tracks on repeat for them to still be listened to a lot.

  • Pixies - Surfer Rosa
    As with the Chili’s - this album still felt new to us!

  • Romeo & Juliet soundtrack
    Oooft - what a film! What a soundtrack! We watched loads of films, plenty of horrors, thrillers and loads of other stuff, but this one stands out as a classic.

  • Fugees - The Score
    Again, no airplay in WH Smith but lots of love.

  • R.E.M. - Out Of Time
    For years I thought that Michael Stipe was dying of something - I think I’d read something or been told something and totally got the wrong end of the stick. Anyway - this album seemed to cross nicely into the acceptable for the parents playlist!

  • Korn - Follow the Leader
    The cover artwork and something interactive on a CD-ROM single sucked me in (details long forgotten) but I do remember this being played at a camping trip which almost certainly could have moved from “japes” to A&E… all the worse considering we were well over an hour from any hospitals!

  • Radiohead
    At one point around the age of 20 I owned a recording of what I thought to be every Radiohead recording (including several bootlegs). That all kicked off in high school and I have to say that whilst The Bends had defined the French Exchange bus journey a few years earlier, it was OK Computer that was the masterwork and was the inspiration for our band.

  • Suburbia, Ambient Days and other Borders bands
    I was in a band but we weren’t in the same league as Suburbia. Listening to whatever we could get a hold of of local bands was always great - even if their EPs were 2, 3 or 4 tracks long!

June 2022 Update

These lists have been kicking about since I tried to clear out my monstrous list of playlists in Spotify. Here are important albums… in no particular order:

Focus albums:

  • Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 

  • Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network

  • Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - Soul soundtrack

  • Rammstein - Mutter

  • Fear Factory - Mechanize

  • Einaudi - any

  • Jónsi  - Riceboy Sleeps

  • Hackers soundtrack

  • Max Cooper - Emergence

  • Big Giant Circles - Road Quest

  • Jon Hopkins - Singularity

  • Ólafur Arnalds - re:member

  • Philip Glass, ​​Bruce Brubaker & Max Cooper - Glassforms

  • Daft Punk - Tron:Legacy

  • Four Tet - New Energy

  • Grandbrothers - Open

  • Gattobus - Shards

  • Gattobus - Trails

  • Ryanosaurus - Tesseract Interface

University-times Albums:

  • Rammstein - Mutter

  • Me First & The Gimmie Gimmie’s - Are A Drag

  • Sigur Rós - Takk…

  • The Strokes - Is This It

  • Boards of Canada - Geogaddi

  • Postal Service - Give Up

  • Soundtracks

  • Hackers

  • The Matrix

  • xXx

  • Bedlam mixes - especially Matt’s Extreme Get-ins

Family Roadtrip Albums:

  • Bob Marley - Legend

  • Stables - Reverie

  • Paul Simon - Graceland

  • Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

  • Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Preludes, Airs and Yodels

  • TideLines - Dreams We Never Lost

  • Belle And Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap

  • God Help The Girl - God Help The Girl 

  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

  • The Proclaimers - Sunshine On Leith and This Is The Story

  • Kings Of Convenience - Versus

  • Barenaked Ladies - Silverball AND Grinning Streak AND Stunt