I have always been fascinated by what music musicians listen to when they aren’t creating their own music. What music inspires them, what albums do they return to again and again—their “desert island” discs. With this in mind I decided to ask some of my favorite New Jersey musicians to name their top 10 favorite albums of all time. Not the albums that they think are “important,” or that have influenced many other artists or ones of technical merit. I wanted to know their very favorite albums that they love just because the records mean the most to them.
Monmouth Beach based singer/songwriter Colton Kayser has been impressing listeners and gaining fans ever since he released his self-titled debut album, which was nominated for Record of the Year at the 2014 Asbury Music Awards. As with many young artists there was almost constant touring but that just secured even more devotees. Now Colton is about to release his second album, Place to Settle, and based on the first singles “Save My Soul” and “Love of My Life” there will be no sophomore slump. He perfectly blends pop with touches of country and soul. The album sounds amazing. It was recorded at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park and mixed by Erik Kase Romero and mastered by Tim Panella.
“There were a lot of variables to my life, and I was just trying to figure out how to find some peace somewhere,” shares Kayser on the themes of the new record. “I started finding my way, and the last song on the record (‘As Kids’) is an affirmation that I’ve been right where I belong from the beginning, and I’m doing what is right for me.”
You can preorder Place to Settle here. The new record has a release show at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on Saturday July 30th. Joining Kayser to celebrate is Lowlight, We’re Ghosts Now, Cranston Dean and Cold Weather Company.
And you read it here first. Colton is hitting the road for a tour with Cranston Dean.
Without further ado here is Colton’s list;
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
A friend of mine gave me a list of bands to listen to about ten years ago, and the name Wilco struck me for some reason. This record had just come out, so I picked it up. Wilco has since become one of my favorite bands. I love Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting. I love the musicianship. Nels Cline has such a unique take on how to play the guitar. Their arrangements are always interesting, and I find new parts in the songs with every listen. Personal favorites from this record include “Impossible Germany” and “Please Be Patient with Me.” There’s also a single from that era called “The Thanks I Get” that I love.
Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline
This might be my all-time favorite Dylan record. I was in a record store in Virginia, and I knew I had to buy it as soon as I saw the cover art. I love how the album feels like it was thrown together. It grooves pretty hard too. “Country Pie” and “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” are personal favorites. There’s a killer version of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” on the live album, The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue.
Weezer – The Blue Album
Weezer defined my existence when I was younger, and I still come back to this record all the time. I don’t think there’s a bad song on the album. I love the quirkiness of their music, and I’m still trying to figure out how they get their guitar sounds. Rivers is like the anti-frontman, and I love that. Personal favorites off of this record include “My Names is Jonas,” “Surf Wax America,” and “No One Else.” I’m seeing them for the first time next week, and I can’t be more excited. Also, for the record, Maladroit is way underrated.
Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
I honestly could put every Dawes record on this list, but I’ll pick Nothing is Wrong because I think it sounds the best from a recording standpoint. Taylor Goldsmith is one of my favorite songwriters, and their songs are a study in playing an instrument only when necessary. Each instrument has it’s own space which really creates a wonderful overall sound. The parts are absolutely beautiful too. The breakdown in “Fire Away” gives me chills everytime I hear it. I saw them at the Ryman in April, and you could tell they were excited to be there. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Personal favorites include “The Way You Laugh,” “Time Spent in Los Angeles,” “How Far We’ve Come,” and “My Way Back Home.”
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
This record is wild. It has so many different sounds going on. I bought it on a whim, and I’m really glad I did. You can hear so many influences in their music. I also love the personality in their songs. Some of the songs on this album are especially wacky, and “Highly Suspicious” always makes me smile. I saw MMJ on New Year’s Eve in 2008 at the Garden, and they came out in white tuxedos, and played “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang at midnight. So good. Personal favorites include “I’m Amazed,” “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 1,” “Sec Walkin,” “Thank You Too,” and “Smokin from Shootin.”
The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
I happened to walk by these guys while they were playing a small club sized stage at Bonnaroo in 2011, and they blew me away. The songs were incredible, and I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Turns out they had already played one of the much larger stages that day, and this was a second set. I bought this record as soon as I got home, and I’ve had “Rivers and Roads” stuck in my head since. Personal favorites include “Ghosts,” “Down in the Valley,” and “Heaven Go Easy on Me.”
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
This record has been in my car’s stereo since the day it came out. Ryan Adams has written a lot of great songs, and his stage banter might be just as good. This is my favorite record of his. It has a certain overall mood to it that just feels right. It’s a little darker feeling, and it separates itself from the rest of his catalog for that reason. The guitar sounds play a large factor in that. He’s such a prolific writer that a lot of his records are a mixed bag content-wise, but this record is great throughout. If you’re a fan of sad music, or cats, I highly recommend checking him out. Personal favorites from this record are “Kim,” “Tired of Giving Up,”and “Trouble.”
Elvis Costello – My Aim is True
The first two Elvis Costello records are essential listening for me. I’ll pick My Aim is True because I’m huge fan of the session band he used on it. They’re amazing players, and the parts are so good. I love how Costello has the ability to stuff a lot of lyrics into verses, and how he always makes it work rhythmically. There’s a deluxe version of this record where he has the band from this record play some songs from the 2nd record, This Year’s Model, and they countrify them quite a bit. Favorite songs from this record include “Welcome to the Working Week,” “Blame It on Cain,” and “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes.” One of my favorites from the deluxe version is “Radio Sweetheart.”
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
I love Michael Kiwanuka’s voice. It fits perfectly over his songwriting too. The production on this record is absolutely stunning as well. Kudos to whoever did the arrangements. There’s a certain easiness to this record that really makes it special. I’m really looking forward to his new record, Love and Hate. Favorites from this record include “I’ll Get Along,” “I’m Getting Ready,” “Rest,” and “Always Waiting.”
Fionn Regan – The End of History
I bought this record because I thought the cover was cool. I definitely scored with this one. Fionn Regan is an incredible songwriter from Ireland, and his finger picking is unmatched. His singing has a certain talking element to it that really makes the music feel personal. His wordplay is incredible and full of imagery. There’s a lot to dive into on this record. Personal favorites include “Be Good or Be Gone,” “Snowy Atlas Mountains,” “Put a Penny in the Slot,” “Hey Rabbit,” “The Underwood Typewriter,” and “Hey Rabbit.’
Every other Wilco record, Pinkerton – Weezer, Maladroit – Weezer, Ram – Paul McCartney, All Things Must Pass – George Harrison, Abbey Road – Beatles, every other Dawes record, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge – Lightspeed Champion, Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd, The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth, Americana – The Offspring, O – Damien Rice, By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Middle Brother – Middle Brother
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