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Baker's Dozen

Oh Yes! Jamie Stewart Of Xiu Xiu's Favourite Music
Hannah Pezzack , April 7th, 2021 09:03

As Xiu Xiu release latest album Oh No, Jamie Stewart guides us through his 13 toppermost records – including three compilations! I only want the best ice cream, he tells Hannah Pezzack


Nico – Desertshore
Of course, I had heard the music Nico had made with the Velvet Underground in my younger years, but I’d never explored her solo career. Until 2003, when I did this low budget, completely terrible minivan tour with Devendra Banhart and he was playing Desertshore on repeat. As one might expect, it blew fucking my brains out. There’s nothing quite like it. Medieval, proto-goth, artistic, modern, heart-breaking songs. The lyrics and orchestration are sublime. What the hell else is like ‘Janitor of Lunacy’? I’m not sure if its an organ or maybe a harmonium? Some kind of unusual reed instrument. Everything that works in that record feels so intentional and striking. Nico, for me, is a guiding light. Even Chelsea Girl, which is essentially an album of cute pop songs... there’s something special there. You feel that in her presence in the Velvet Underground – her role was to make their experimental noise more palatable. Her solo records are very much about a kind of mystical or black-hearted self-annihilation. Whether that was conscious or not, it’s there. I have such respect for her fearlessness. She had the potential to become a huge star, but instead she decided to do something much more strange and beguiling. I know Throbbing Gristle (minus Genesis P-Orridge) did a cover of this album in 2012 that I’m curious about. However I can’t quite bring myself to listen to it. Even though I’m a huge fan of that band... I think because I know Desertshore so well and it’s so important to me.