Every week, a different FADER editor compiles a playlist of songs by an artist or group of artists they’ve had on repeat lately. These Staff Selects live in our Spotify app, alongside GEN Fs from our archives and playlists for each issue. This week, it’s Emilie Friedlander on the dusty psych-rock jams from the ’60s and ’70s she’s kept close since her adolescent crate-digging days.
All the chatter surrounding the new My Bloody Valentine record over the past few weeks has got a lot of us thinking about how people consume albums these days, and how far we seem to be from the time when being a fan of an artist meant going to a record store, picking up a physical object, bringing it home and then listening to the thing cold. When I was in my early teens, I used to go to Sounds on St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan every Friday after school and spend my allowance money on a $5 grab-bag of five “mystery” CDs; in reality, they were dollar CDs that nobody wanted, but I think I developed a lotto-like addiction to the possibility that if I kept on buying them, I’d one day hit the jackpot and discover a really beautiful album that nobody had ever bothered to listen to.
It never happened, but the compulsive purchasing persisted and around the time I started college, when LP reissues of obscure late ‘60s and early ‘70s psychedelic artists started having their indie record store nerd heyday, I started routinely spending about four times that amount on a single CD or slab of wax—preferably one I’d never heard of, that maybe had some really cool bubble lettering on the cover, or had earned an “employee pick” sticker from a clerk that was ten years my senior and seemed “deep” but inveterately depressed. Sometimes these records were amazing all the way through (sometimes they weren’t), but if they had at least one truly engrossing song, it was enough to give me that rush of uncovering something mysterious and weird and exquisitely melodic that history at large had completely overlooked. I guess it was kind of a rooting for the underdog mentality. And once I uncovered one of those songs, I would be compelled to keep company with it whenever I was alone in my room, especially during the solitary doldrums of winter, which is why it feels right to return to some of those songs now. A few of the tracks in this playlist are ones I discovered by way of friends, but they’re all tied to that eureka moment, discovering something great where nobody else was looking. It’s something I don’t experience all that often anymore. This one’s dedicated to Soft Machine frontman Kevin Ayers, who passed away this week.