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Baker's Dozen

Future Islands Discs: Samuel T. Herring's Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , October 14th, 2020 08:40

From teenage years spent amassing an arsenal of underground hip hop CDs to his first forays into jazz, post-rock and indie, Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring picks thirteen records that soundtracked his coming of age


Freestyle Fellowship - Innercity Griots

I would have been 15 years old going on 16. My buddy Bryce, who told me about The Magnetic Fields, had just got his first car. We had a day off from school and we drove to Greenville, North Carolina because there was a really good record store there. I bought Freestyle Fellowship in the used bin, it was a tragedy it was there. I was so excited to find this record because I’d been hearing so much about this group through all of the shoutouts in other albums, and I had finally tracked down this CD. I went home and listened to it and I was like ‘Er, I don’t get it’. There were only two songs I liked, this song ‘Shammy’s’, which is talking about swap meets in LA and talking to girls, and the song ‘Mary’ which is just about smoking weed.

It was a couple of years later that I would relisten to this record and completely have my brain exploded. It’s just like this textbook of styles, so many voices, so many styles of expression. There are crazy styles, there’s ‘Cornbread’ which is kind of funny, then ‘Heavyweights’ which is battering you over the head. ‘Six Tray’ I love, ‘Inner City Boundaries’ is beautiful, ‘Park Bench People’ is like a jazz cut. It’s very playful but also deeply political. It’s sad that it still speaks to now and this moment, because you realise nothing has changed.