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Photo: Tracey Lee Hayes

Fave Five: Alpine

Australian sextet Alpine's newest album is a fantastic expansion of their joyous pop sound, but two members give us five records apiece that helped define their unique musical identities.
Alpine
Yuck
Ivy League
2015-06-23

Alpine aren’t a mere pop group, no. This Australian sextet is comprised of people who are thoroughly obsessed with pop music, just as much fans as they are creators, and they have managed to synthesize those influences into one hell of a journey, one which has taken them all over the world.

Although formed in 2009, the group’s sparse full-length, A is for Alpine, didn’t come out until 2012, after which the six friends — consisting of singers Pheobe Baker and Lou James, guitarist Christian O’Brien, bassist Ryan Lamb, keyboardist Tim Royall, and drummer Phil Tucker — slowly began their ascent into pop prominence. Although still biggest in their homeland, their appearances on high-profile platforms like NPR’s famed Tiny Desk Concert series helped people get wrapped into the group’s lush sound, spare but pointed, James and Baker’s cooing harmonies helping give warmth to the group’s accessible, tranquil pop pleasures.

However, when it came to recording a follow-up, the band decided to one-up themselves and move into a much warmer, more expansive sound, adding a lot more synths to their palette and cranking up the dance vibes just a bit. The resulting disc, Yuck, is an incredible step in a new direction for the band, and to help celebrate the occasion, bassist Ryan Lamb and drummer Phil Tucker give us their Fave Five: a quintet of albums that have helped shape their life in one way or another. It’s a rather incredible journey to go on, going all the way from the Postal Service back to forgotten Australian rock legends, but in truth, their enthusiasm may very well be the biggest selling point, as not only do they love these records profusely, their love is so intense you can see why they were so compelled to be part of a celebrated pop group like Alpine …

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Ryan Lamb’s Fave Five

Minor Threat – Complete Discography (1988)

When I was a kid, I loved anything that was loud and fast, but I hadn’t heard of punk rock. At least not outside of seeing that clip of the Sex Pistols swearing on TV. I listened to a lot of Rage Against the Machine, Deftones, that kind of thing. My uncle started making tapes for me of the music he listened to when he was a punk, and it was mind blowing stuff. There’d be Discharge and 7 Seconds, SNFU and Big Boys, all on the same tape. Loads of awesome stuff. When he gave me the Minor Threat tape, it completely changed everything. The DIY ethos, the idealism, music-as-change, music-as-community, etc. Music as a positive force, a way of life, instead of just escapism. I started putting on shows, trading zines, and sold records out of my parents spare room. Music just completely took over my life, and all because of this one record.

Jorge Ben – Jorge Ben (1969)

I was always a collector-nerd with music, but when I heard Jorge Ben for the first time it was so incredibly different to anything I’d ever heard, but still totally familiar. It’s so loose and cool. We listened to a lot of this stuff when we started touring: this, Milton Nascimento, Caetono Veloso, Marcos Valle, Novos Baianos; all very cool dudes. I have a desire to open a record store called “Brother Charlies” and the logo will be the toucan from the cover of this LP.

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On The Edge Of Town (1978)

I just think this is the greatest rock record ever made. Born To Run is great, but Bruce’s vocals are so much more immediate, so passionate, it feels like he just needed to get it out. When he played at Hanging Rock last year, the front section was just full of Australian bands, and everyone knew they had to raise their game. I can’t imagine how he puts on shows that good night after night, but it’s inspiring stuff.

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty (1977)

It’s not the best Jackson Browne record, I guess. There’s a couple of shockers, in fact. But it got me through a pretty intense couple of tours, because it’s so specifically about a feeling you get from touring that I just couldn’t put my finger on, this kind of stasis. Some songs just find you at the right time. There was a time when our van broke down in Osseo, MN just as I was playing that Hold Steady song about being stuck up in Osseo. It was hilarious and depressing all at once. Oh, this album also has “Rosie”, which is my favorite song about masturbation.

Triffids – Born Sandy Devotional (1986)

Maybe the best Australian record of all time. It’s criminally overlooked, especially by Australians. It’s widescreen and intimate simultaneously. I got my copy in a tiny record store in Edinburgh when I had just left Melbourne about seven years ago, and Triffids is misspelt on the spine. I played the hell out of it. “Seabirds” has the greatest opening line I could possibly imagine: “No foreign pair of dark sunglasses will ever shield you from the light that pierces your eyelids.” And “Wide Open Road” captures the landscape here so vividly, it should be the national anthem.

Phil Tucker’s Fave Five

The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)

Give Up literally changed my life. When I was 18 living in my home town, I felt super depressed and was looking for a way to change my situation. Music is what I found. This record definitely got me through some hard times and helped me adjust to moving to a new city. If I’d stayed on Phillip Island, I would never have been in Alpine. I have this record to thank.

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

I actually got into this record through producer Bullion, who took a whole bunch of Pet Sounds stems, Beach Boys interviews, and sound bites and remixed them with some J Dilla beats. The record is called Pet Sounds: in the Key of D. It’s incredible. I have Pet Sounds on beautiful 180g wax!

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights (2002)

I was first introduced to Interpol in high school, watching Rage on a Saturday morning. I still remember seeing the music video for “Obstacle 1” for the first time. I went out bought the CD that week.

I actually have a tattoo of the drum notation of “NYC”, where the album title Turn on the Brights comes from. I’m a very big fan!

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)

Funeral was the record that just came along at the right time. Everyone has that one record that epitomizes a particular time of their lives. For me, this is it. I remember listening to it with a girl, thinking we’d listen to it together forever. Life went by, and don’t even if know if she remembers this record. I still listen to it from most weeks however, on my record player.

Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (1983)

What can I say about Speaking in Tongues? This record is simply one of the best pop records ever made. From “Burning Down the House” to “This Must Be the Place” to “I Get Wild”. Not a crazy synth note out of place. David Byrne is, in my opinion, one of the best song writers of modern times. I listen to this record a lot when we’re on the road. I have quite a lot of music tattoos, and Talking Heads is another one. I have “Did I find you, or you find me?” on my chest, lyrics from “This Must Be the Place”.