Lou Barlow’s playlist: “I love hipsters, follow trends and hate the concept of credibility”

Dinosaur Jr/Sebadoh legend Lou Barlow will return to Australia for a solo tour this April. Apparently, he just can’t get enough of us.

Last here with slackers 90s Sebadoh in September, Barlow won us over us with a preview of his stripped back one-man show at a number of in-stores as well: “The gracious frontman has everyone within the shop charmed as he takes requests and banters throughout. Delving into songs he hasn’t played in years, he occasionally forgets his lyrics as he gently strums his guitar. Playing well over his scheduled time slot, no one is upset.”

With the tour set to kick off this weekend we caught up with Lou to find out which modern psychedelic classic makes him gush like a fanboy; which ‘guilty’ pleasure he rates as highly as Big Star’s September Gurls; and which album he’s most proud of (hint: it’s not a Dinosaur Jr or Sebadoh album).

First Album You Bought: The Beatles – Rubber Soul

I was in 6th grade, 11 years old, I was able to take a guitar class instead of P.E., (not sure why looking back on it ) so I was spared the humiliation of undressing with my peers and would attend a class with 8 or 9 other budding guitarists. The teacher taught us Girl day by day, note by note till we each could play it. Regardless of our natural inabilities. On the lead section two guitar lines intertwined, one half of the class played one, the other half the other. When he played the Beatles version I took the money my parents had given me for doing chores (cleaning my room, yardwork) and purchased Rubber Soul -and the Beatles’ Greatest immediately. He taught us Stairway to Heaven too but I didn’t buy Led Zeppelin IV till I was in my 30’s.

First Album Handed Down To You: Harry Belafonte – At Carnegie Hall.

If by ‘handed down’ you mean the shit my parents had lying around the house then this record would be the one. Harry Belafonte was one of the first Afro-American celebrities to break down the colour barrier in a decisive way. He sang Caribbean favoured standards, Day O , Hava Nagila. My favourite was Mama Look A Boo Boo about a man so ugly that his children taunted him continuously. It’s all ‘room sound’ too.just the natural reverb of a beautiful concert hall. Soon after, and today, most ‘live’ records were recorded as if in a studio microphones jammed into the speaker cones, on top of the percussion and directly from the singers mouth. This sounds the way it sounded, I assume, from someone sitting in the centre of the hall; not too far back, not too close. Joyously epic.

First Break-up Album: Nirvana – Nevermind

This record wormed it’s way into everyone’s head. Its lyrics, its sounds: everything. It was kinda sexy too. I made the mistake of not calling my girlfriend for over a week after I left on a tour in ‘91, shortly after Nevermind was released. She was empowered by this record to finally dump my soul sucking, money sponging ass. It swaggers, it addresses sexual politics, it’s heavy metal for non-metalheads. It created a ‘now moment’ in which one might follow exactly what they were feeling -in the moment.

Guilty Pleasure Album: Gin Blossoms – New Miserable Experience

This band was huge in the US circa 1992.. jangly REM-esque, a small degree cooler than Hootie and The Blowfish. Though I really have no guilty pleasures (I listen to pop music, love hipsters, follow trends and hate the concept of credibility) for some reason this record furrows the brow of anyone I mention it to not sure why. The singer has a beautiful voice, Found Out About About You is one of the great American pop songs, up there with Big Star’s September Gurls or the Left Banke’s Walk Away Renee it’s not that I feel guilty about liking this but I just don’t talk about it anymore.

Favourite Australian Album: Birthday Party – Junkyard

This record is so malevolent sounding that it makes speed metal, death metal (or anything other than possibly SPK or Throbbing Gristle) seem tame (which it is, there’s no physicality to it). It’s shrill and heavy; catchy without a hint of pop. Stylistically it is the equivalent of The Ramones or The Stooges, there was nothing that sounded like it before it happened. It’s post-post punk. I’m not sure that its true impact has been fully felt or realized.

Most Obscure Album in Your Collection: Various – Keats Rides A Harley

I have lots of small pressing punk LPs; compilations in particular. One called Keats Rides A Harley on a long defunct label from LA. I love that one, it has ‘punk’ side and an ‘experimental/new wave’ side. The best recordings of the Gun Club and the Meatpuppets I’ve ever heard are on that record and not many people seem to know about it.

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