To celebrate the release of his new album The Svelteness of Boogietude (out now on Thrill Jockey), we caught up with Brother JT to discuss the albums that mean a lot to him.

Just a note about the selections: I noticed that the ones that came to mind were not necessarily directly influential on the music I have made. They seem to be more about groundbreaking and 'giving permission' to do things that might have been unthinkable before.



Flipper - Generic (1982)

This record sounded sort of like if you played a normal hardcore punk album with the speed turned down to 78rpm. I played it a lot. Atonal, feedback guitar, dual bass riffs, careening drums, guys shouting, "Life, life, life is the only thing worth living for," relentlessness - what more do you want? Reduction to the simplest of elements and then running the result into the ground until it seems brilliant is what this seems to be about, I think. Saw them at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. (though I never actually 'saw' the guitarist - just sneakers propped up behind some amps). Band members would exit stage mid-song to get beer - definitely an influence.



Chrome - Alien Soundtracks (1978)

Well, something went terribly wrong with the mission to Venus, the astronauts brought back a space virus, and now everyone has new organs growing out of their chests that take in air and turn it into chocolate fudge in your lungs. Or at least that's what the early music of Chrome sounds like to me. Lo-fi Hawkwind on animal tranquilizers, creating a wonderful sci-fi nightmare out of only mud and phasers. I don't think it got too much more psychedelic than this in 1978. But maybe 'mind-expanding' is a less apt term than 'mind-compressing'. Either way you're gonna feel weird for a while.



Bob Dylan - The Genuine Basement Tapes (1992)

A friend gave it to me on cassettes in San Francisco and I listened to it intensively all the way through the Southwest. I couldn't believe the guy who had pretty much invented modern songwriting was letting it all hang out like this, loose to the point of falling apart, and often as rudely fun as a hit of nitrous. The tracks, whether woozy originals or heartfelt versions of traditional material, got to be like beat-up old friends to me, always willing to comisserate from a deep well of loss and redemption. Excellent after a bad break-up. Also, probably the only recorded instance of an echoplex on a Bob Dylan record ('Allen Ginsburg').



R. Stevie Moore - Phonography (1976)

On a purely aural level I relate Phonography to Alien Soundtracks because they're both obsessively D.I.Y. and crude sounding. But Moore created a gauzy super-8 daydream to Creed & Edge's grey alien autopsy snuff film. Giddily morose (or morosely giddy) pop gems (usually about unrequited love--go figure) sung in a knowing faux-anglo croon bump into comic intervals and sonic experimentation. The guy is a master melodist and endlessly inventive, but I'm not sure I'd like this as much if he'd gotten a band and done it up in the slick fashion of the times. Kind of like if Andy Partridge had never left his flat (but a couple years early).



Miles Davis - Get Up With It (1974)

It begins with 'He Loved Him Madly', a 30-minute elegy for Duke Ellington that reminds me of early Pink Floyd with it's lurching pace and sepulchral organ. But even on that track the funk looms darkly in langorous guitar licks, and thereafter it never lets up. The rhythms are so compelling it almost doesn't matter what he put on top of them--maniacal organ stabs, fuzz-wah horn blasts, or his trademark plaintive mute-work - but what Davis did put on top of them ultimately was his genius balancing act of pure id fury and high intellect, riding the funk like cosmic log-roller.