If you’re feeling the February slump, here’s Getintothis’ Matthew Wood with records to clear the cobwebs and supercharge the spirits .
There comes a time when we all need a boost; the classic morning coffee to get the cogs turning, or a pre-workout banana, perhaps. For those partial to fortified wine, a blast of Bucky before darting off on the next pub jaunt will suffice. Or when you need a helping hand travelling from one spiritual dimension to another, getting your mates to fire your ashes out of a cannon.
Whatever your poison, sometimes the capitalist trait of consume, consume, consume just isn’t enough, there’s only so many Beroccas you can chug down before you’re full of a shed load of vitamins you’ll never make use of, another 5 quid out of pocket, and pissing what can only be described as the inside of an orange glow stick, on the reg.
What comes to our aid, then? Personally, if there’s one thing that’ll get me out of bed and into the shower, it’s a good old sing song and, well, you may find that your bathroom offers some quite flattering acoustics.
In this piece I hope to bring you some of my favourite, and most successful motivational records. I say successful as in their ability to get my arse in gear, not how well they did in the charts.
So you’re stood staring down at your phone and you reluctantly type ‘motivational playlist’ into Google, you’ve hit rock bottom, you’re one of THEM, is it all downhill from here?
To add insult to injury, you’re met with playlist after playlist of mindless drivel that fills the void of silence but little more; monotonous, robotic and cringe-worthy, a real delight. Among these delights you’ll find the ubiquitous Skrillex, or perhaps Macklemore, and maybe a Jay-Z feat. Demi Lovato feat. The Chainsmokers feat. Little Mix. The fun never ends.
On the other hand you’ve got the likes of Journey, Survivor and U2, whose songs have been so overplayed they’ve lost any sort of relevance to our day to day life, they went the distance and now they’re on their arses, forcing us all to lose the will to survive…
Now I’m not about to toss all songs of this ilk aside, there’s a very human urge to jerk and move to a great deal of them, or to feel genuinely uplifted by Bono telling you it’s a ‘beautiful day’ as you wipe the condensation from the bus window wondering whether you’ve missed your stop. But let’s face it, often your day requires something beyond a void-filling beat at high speed with a predictable trumpet hook, or an overly optimistic pleb yelling in your ear. And, as always, you deserve better.
I’ve tried to source a wide range of tracks I’d consider ‘motivational’ for different reasons, suited to some occasions better than others of course. But even if one of them gets you out of bed, or urges you to get a march on to some place new, or to finish that last 50 pages then surely we can consider it motivational.
Let’s start with some killer guitar tracks that will fire those neurotransmitters into life:
Sonic Youth – Kool Thing
Without doubt one of the most iconic rock and roll records to date, Sonic Youth harnessed energy quite unlike any other. Kool Thing roars chaotically with a thick, raging bass line, unbounded and ferocious and perfect for blowing away the cobwebs.
Another master of the strings, J Mascis comes across as one of the mellowest guys on earth, perhaps too laid back, but put a guitar in his hands and his pick will reach explosive speeds as seen in Freak Scene. Planning on travelling at high speed to work and transforming a 10 minute journey into a 3 minute one? This number wouldn’t go amiss, but unlike Mascis, it may stick to the speed limit.
Let us briefly hop over to North West America where we’ll find two treasures in Built To Spill and
Modest Mouse; two bands that became such an obsession that myself and three pals effectively started a cover band of strictly these two bands and every jam we tried to conjure would descend into a raucous rendition of one song or another.
Definitely personally motivating bands, but two songs particularly I believe are universally motivating. MM’s Dashboard is a stomping world-beater of a track opening with Isaac Brock announcing that it ‘would’ve been, could’ve been worse than you would ever know/The dashboard melted but we still had the radio‘, flying the the face of adversity, it’s perhaps one of my favourite motivational lyrics.
Now Built To Spill’s Carry The Zero might not offer as potent lyrical motivation but if there’s anyone who can make a jangling guitar sound like pure sunshine, it’s Doug Martsch.
These next two are prime picks for when you feel like filling the boring black outlines of your day with some colour. Haruomi Hosono & Friends’ Passion Flower- whether you’re shooting for the stars, or just putting your pants on, few can make you wanna embrace the day quite like Haruomi Hosono, and Passion Flower is the pick of the bunch. Let those pipes send you floating across the Pacific Ocean, blissful, yet extraordinarily groovy.
Devendra Banhart’s – Carmensita opens with a sleepy, moping guitar which soon transforms into a characteristically whacky and saucy effort from the Venezuelan-American. Lavishly coloured with a vast array of instrumentation, a seductive groove and Banhart’s Spanish lyrics, not to mention the video; a Bollywood spoof featuring Queen Carmensita (Natalie Portman). Get movin’!
Perhaps one for the night owls among us, the soaring sonic compositions of early-Toy are marvelous marching in the moonlight numbers, Motoring is aptly named, motorik and kraut-esque, nodding to psych pioneers, Neu! whose Hallogallo is my next pick. Those squelchy rhythmic strikes of guitar, making way for the unprecedented wobbles of sound and that quintessential beat make this one a truly tremendous track for burning just about anything: calories, brain cells or the perhaps the midnight oil.
If this next section had a director, it’d probably be Christopher Nolan, or maybe Spielberg, not because they’ve featured in their films, or are ever even likely to, but because they’re epics. Spine-tingling efforts that are beautiful in their own unique way. Take Titus Andronicus, particularly A More Perfect Union, but the whole album, Monitor catapults you through the brief yet rich tapestry of American history with some of the most triumphant and uplifting riffs you’ll hear, choruses of spirit-lifting chants and a raw aggression to get you pumped as you ride the bus/your valiant steed into work/battle.
So from the mud of the battlefield to the man on the moon, this following trio of tracks would be more than enough if you were about to enter hyper space, never mind about to enter the lift to your floor, but don’t forget space cadets, if NASA has taught us anything, it’s that it’s all relative. The Tornados’ Telstar, The Comet Is Coming‘s Space Carnival and Public Service Broadcasting‘s Go are charged with enough fuel to reach Saturn but if they charge you with enough fuel to reach for the kettle then that’s plenty good enough too, it’s those little victories.
This final track, deserved of a section of its own, The Beach Boys‘ Don’t Worry Baby. A heaven sent number, equally equipped to make you want to bawl your eyes out or scream to the heavens with joy, the harmonies and melodies provide a somewhat ‘all over’ sensory experience, a skill The Beach Boys mastered and remains unparalleled to this day. And even if you’ve heard this one a billion times like I have, this is one well that will never run dry.
Below you’ll find a playlist of all of the above tracks, plus a few others I couldn’t help including. Apologies to those of you who will quite possibly hate every track on here, maybe your anger will motivate you..