Andy Wilson-Taylor is the man behind Midgar, a solo project back from the dead after an 7+ year wait. Teaming up on new music with the likes of InMe’s Greg McPherson, we asked Taylor-Wilson to give us his top 10 albums in no particular order that got him where he is today. Tuck yourself in for this one.
Silverchair – Neon Ballroom
So much more than a rock album, this record is rich with orchestral arrangements and classical piano. ‘Emotion Sickness’ defines the sound of the record; the angular strings alongside Daniel Johns’ breathy vocal, and the dramatic, dissonant interjections of the piano played by legendary David Helfgott (recovering still from his own mental health crisis, as documented in the movie ‘Shine’ – yes, that guy). It’s bewitchingly, dangerously depressing but deeply comforting and reassuring all at the same time.
Imogen Heap – Speak For Yourself
It’s only when seeing this performed live that I truly fell for Imogen Heap as an artist. It’s a masterclass in technological gymnastics to see her one-woman show, hiding trigger pads under rugs, side-chained vocoders in real time, live looping a cappella ‘Just For Now’, and a piano that doubles up as her musical magician’s hat. Her approach to music is truly genre and boundary defying, like a mad inventor building a space rocket in their attic and successfully taking it on a solo mission to Mars.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
I feel like everyone remembers the first time they heard ’Tear Drop’ by Massive Attack, like some sort of historic world event. I was 11, sat in front of my PC listening to it on Winamp in my bedroom. It’s as if I was seeing the world in colour for the first time. Soon I’d listened to that song hundreds of times, before I even realised there were 10 more tracks on that album. ‘Angel’ had me next. It’s amazing to me that I can revisit that album decades later and there’s still magic in it, and different songs jump out at me and connect with me in a totally new way, but every time I hear the opening drum loop of ‘Tear Drop’ I’m taken right back to my computer in my room, staring blankly at the screen in silent wonderment while my ears were bathed in Liz Frazer’s voice.
Reuben – In Nothing We Trust
It’s hard to choose between Reuben’s three albums as they all mean a lot to me, but this one particularly feels like the ‘gloves were off’ and Jamie Lenman finally got around to saying what he’d been trying to say with the previous two. It’s a much more cynical album – more jaded – but I think more truthful as a result. The songs are more progressive, much more of a journey and no longer try to fit into radio-ready 3 minute morsels. The whole record feels like an ‘anti-music-industry’ protest album and it’s no surprise to me this was their last full length. They went out in flames.
Queen’s Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
I bought this album from HMV as a US import, it cost over £20 at the time and I remember it felt so indulgent. I’d only heard one QOTSA song before then on a 2001 Kerrang! compilation CD, ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’. I was so entranced by their spooky, retro, truck-stop rock sound, with the pawn shop guitar cabs, super dry drum sounds, and Josh Homme’s ultra-cool no frills vocal delivery. I loved the world they created with this album, almost like you were listening to a haunted car radio that has a mind of its own. There were so many rough edges to the production, like leaving in Dave Grohl’s grunts and call outs between drum fills. It feels like you are sat on the floor of a rehearsal room listening to the best band nobody has ever heard of.
Daughter – If You Leave
If you love sad songs, this album is for you. I particularly enjoy Elena Tonra’s vocal delivery and how in the most intimate moments, it’s almost as if she is whispering her deepest confessions into your ear. Dark, fragile and tender, it’s a beautiful sob-fest.
Aerosmith – Get A Grip
This is absolutely down to my parents and their choice to raise me on bands like Aerosmith, Extreme and Queen. Though it doesn’t have my favourite Aerosmith songs on it (‘What it Takes’ and ‘Pink’), this album is full of huge hits, it’s a definitive collection of Aerosmith songs pre-Armageddon soundtrack era. I don’t think they get enough credit for the interesting harmony and melody that makes up their sound. It’s actually really dense, complicated and clever but you don’t even realise it because the songs are so catchy. Just try and sit down with a guitar or piano and figure out how to play through one of their songs; I promise you’ll discover they’re more complicated than you think.
Fightstar – Grand Unification
I saw Fightstar playing at Give It A Name festival at Alexandra Palace in 2005. It was MySpace kid Mecca, and I know this because I was one of them. Fightstar weren’t cool then – at all – owing to Charlie’s awkward musical heritage, and he’d stepped into hostile territory that day. With the likes of Alexisonfire, mewithoutyou, Finch, Coheed and Cambria and Funeral For A Friend, this bill had all the bone-fidé teen-angst credibility it needed. Fightstar were about as welcome as Daphne & Celeste at Download Festival and were on the receiving end of a similar amount of bottles when they started their set. A few minutes in though, the mood changed. During ‘Mono’, a solitary bottle was launched at the stage and just at the right moment, Charlie kicked it back into the audience directly back at the person who threw it at them. Right there, the audience realised Fightstar could give as good as they got, and they could stand up there with the pillars of post-hardcore they shared the stage with that day. ‘Grand Unification’ is like that moment for me, but neatly laid out into an album. The best tracks are the album tracks, like ‘Sleep Well Tonight’, and ‘Build An Army’.
System Of A Down – Toxicity
‘Chop Suey’ was such a generation defining smash hit, that the rest of this album can sometimes feel overlooked. ‘Forest’ and ‘Aerials’ stand out as my favourites. I love writing interesting vocal harmony and I have no doubt that this album is entirely to thank for that. Similar to the QOTSA album I’ve already talked about, this has a really natural ‘live’ production and you know you’re listening to the band playing together as if they were stood in front of you. This album made me try tuning my guitar to drop D for the first time, and if you’re a guitarist you’ll know just how significant that moment is.
Jeff Buckley – Grace
I left writing about this album until last, hoping that by writing about the others first I’d have the words to say when I got around to it. Truthfully, I really don’t know how to describe how I feel about this album and the impact it’s had on me. Just listen to ‘Dream Brother’ or ‘Lover, You Should Have Come Over’. It’s transcendent, it’s essential, like air and blood, it’s everything.