Tag Archives: Roman Ruins

Tracks Of My Teens: #10 – Roman Ruins

27 Aug

Tracks Of My Teens

It’s been a while since we delved deep into the dark recesses of a musician’s mind and memory to find out what tracks impacted them the most in their youth. We do like a bit of a delve though, so we thought it was about time we brought back Tracks of my Teens.

We’re delighted that on its return we get to hear from an artist who was responsible for one of our favourite albums of 2012, Graham Hill, aka Roman Ruins. His debut album, Homebuilding, is a thing of rare beauty, dealing with his experience of growing a family and home. Delicate ambient sounds blend into soft 80s electro beats while the vocals gently rock you as if a babe in arms. It is simply gorgeous and well worth picking up.

Now though, let’s find out what inspired the man that made that gem of an album.

Roman Ruins TomT

Neil Young – “Alabama”

My Dad is from Alabama, and I spent some good times there as a kid visiting relatives. I didn’t come to understand the political context of the song until much later, but it didn’t matter; I really just liked hearing Neil sing about a place that I knew. In the weeks leading up to getting my driver’s license in high school, I spent hours at the stereo console readying car mix tapes pieced together from my parents’ albums. The morning after I got my license, my sister and I were driving to school for the first time in our Dad’s 86 Toyota Tercel wagon, jamming to one of those tapes. It was a foggy, humid September morning and we were enjoying the freedom of driving on our own. As we made the soothing transition from our long gravel road to the blacktop, Neil was singing “Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch, and a wheel on the track.” Just then, a school bus came barrelling toward us at a clip, wheels straddling the double yellow line, and in a panic I ran the car off the road, through a ditch and ploughed into a wooden fence. When we came to a stop, the song was still playing.


Randy Newman – “Red Bandana”

When our family drove to North Carolina for a beach trip every August, I remember listening to this song in the back of our Toyota Previa and getting so pumped. The voice is so saucy and the phrasing so effortless, it made visions of our breezy, warm Atlantic destination easy to conjure. As a result, the 8 hours in the car passed like minutes; I even felt like driving for a few more days so we might end up in “Hollywood USA.” This song employs many stylistic clichés of the 80s – gated drums, fretless bass, synth horns…but somehow it still doesn’t sound dated. The 2.5 minute length also encourages repeat listens.


The Beatles – “Across the Universe”

This is definitely my favourite Beatles song and maybe my favourite song of all. I still like practicing singing harmony whenever I hear it. The “nothings gonna change my world” refrain captures much of how I felt when I was a teenager living in West Virginia. It seemed like everything important in the world happened outside that place, and so it would never change. It still feels that way when I go home for Thanksgiving each year.



Homebuilding by Roman Ruins is out now and available to buy here. You should get it, it’s sublime. You can also pick up other Roman Ruins releases from the wonderful Gold Robot Records.


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2012 Albums of the Year: Part Two #10 – #6

14 Dec

2012 Albums of the Year 10 to 6

Here we are again, on an album countdown extravaganza. It’s part two of our three-part look at our 15 favourite albums of the year. Today we will be revealing who took the number 10 – 6 spots (numbers 15 – 11 are here).

As we mentioned before, this is a list of favourites and reflects our somewhat eclectic tastes only. No science or voting was used to determine the order, just simple listening and enjoying.

Let’s crack on with numbers 10 – 6.

10. Conveyor – Conveyor

Conveyor

It’s clear thatConveyor love sound and they love to take and manipulate it; bending, shaping and twisting it until it feels just right. On first listen of their eponymous debut album it may appear that some are quickly discarded so they may play with another, veering off on a sonic tangent heading for who knows where. Listen again and you’ll not only wonder how they could have gone anywhere else, but you’ll hear the bubbling undercurrent of that which they left behind, echoing through the hills and valleys of this new soundscape. On Conveyor, sound begets sound. This is not a difficult album to enjoy; loving it is easy to do. Choruses are as catchy as a childhood virus and just as difficult to shake; “Short Hair” in particular is immune to vaccination and will live within your head for weeks. As will “Mom Talk”; we never thought we would be singing along with lyrics like “Hey Mom,/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/Hey Mom/What do you want to talk about today?” but we do each and every time the album is on. Conveyor is an album full of intricate and complex sounds that feel so simple and inviting, playful yet intense.


Buy it from: Conveyor

9. She Makes War – Little Battles

Little Battles

On her second album, Little Battles (and technically her second album on this list after her appearance as part of The Penelopes) Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War deals with the struggles and turmoils faced across life’s turbulent journey. Her beguiling, almost choral vocals are often looped to create light harmonies that sit atop layers and layers of sound. Her dark around the edges pop music is complemented with smooth, almost a cappella ballads which nestle amongst the solemn and the upbeat. Warm melodic harp sounds give way to cold and forceful staccato drum beats. Tonally the record flits from steel like assurance to crystal fragility, raw and edgy to tender and soft. It is an album we have come back to time and time again this year and one that never fails to capture and entice us.


Buy it from: She Makes War

8. 2:54 – 2:54

2.54

It has to be said, nostalgia has played a pretty big part in our adulation for the debut album by 2:54. The two Thurlow sisters, Hannah and Colette, have managed to reach deep inside us and flick the switch marked ‘early teens, getting properly excited by music for the first time’. Growing up in the early nineties with indie in the middle of a peak period makes us instantly predisposed to loving an album that is full of reminisces, not least Collette’s Toni Halliday-esque vocals that swoop over the dark and stormy guitar lines. That is not to say that nostalgia is the only reason we love the album, not at all. It’s just a great record, full of songs that swell into darkness and break into light, though mostly it’s about the dark. The neo-gothic sound that is growing in popularity is given additional beauty here by the sense of space and serenity contained within. It would be worthy of a place on our end of year list even if it didn’t remind us of our youth, but it does so it gets to go even higher.


Buy it from: iTunes

7. Toy – Toy

toy

Toy is an album that quickens the heart with excitement. The psychedelic proggy guitars are all hazy wavy wonderful, lifting you up on a swirling mass of krautrock indie. It’s a kaleidoscope of sound that cascades into your ears from all angles. The seven minutes-plus “Dead and Gone” is a prime example of how the sound builds and drops, swirls, spins, discombobulates and puts you back together again. Evidently Toy recorded their self-titled debut in a studio besieged with smoke machines and lasers to recreate the magic of their live shows, perhaps more bands should do the same if the results are always as exciting as this.


Buy it from: Toy

6. Roman Ruins – Homebuilding

roman ruins

If someone had told you that the guy who drums for Beach House on tour would release an album of his own, that it would be brilliant and even better than the Beach House album released that same year, you would probably have told them to get some sleep as they were obviously overworked and talking crazy. That is exactly what has happened though with Graham Hill’s (aka Roman Ruins) debut album, Homebuilding. It was largely written while Hill was on tour with his pregnant girlfriend left behind and the result is an album of rare beauty about growing a family and home. Delicate ambient sounds blend into soft 80s electro beats while the vocals gently rock you as if a babe in arms. More than any other, Homebuilding is designed to be experienced as an album in its entirety rather than as a collection of tracks. The narrative thread is woven throughout and the vinyl (which is stunning) has even been cut with no gaps so you can listen to it as one continuous piece of music. It is simply gorgeous.


Buy it from: Roman Ruins

We’ve hit number 6 in our countdown, come back tomorrow to find out which albums made it into our Top 5.