“Avalon Emerson is from the desert”. So reads the biography on the website of the recent Whities signee, and it illustrates how integral this vast expanse of sparsely inhabited land is integral to her musical identity – these cold widescreen interpretations of techno. Her latest release on Tasker’s label follows this formula, with track names like ‘2000 Species of Cacti’ overtly reference her Arizona home. Although she now resides in Europe, her South Western roots are not forgotten, as she explains in the below playlist.
“Spending my childhood with the oppressive summers and fabricated rural sprawl that was part of the American desert stirred in me an urgency to leave. It wasn’t until I really started to make Europe my home that I began to almost longingly look back on the alien red rocks, dust, and low orange sunsets. Here’s some music that remind me of growing up in Arizona.”
Flaming Lips – ‘UFO Story’
Mentioning the American Southwest in Europe, people either respond with mentioning the Grand Canyon, Breaking Bad, or the old Western movies, but my favorite so far has been “Whoah, is that where the Aliens landed?”
Magnetic Fields – ‘Sunset City’
MF has always been really important to me, and it was hard to just put one MF song on this playlist, but this whole album, The Charm of the Highway Strip to me is a perfect mirror of the lonesome rural American West.
Stephen Steinbrink – ‘Animate Dust’
This is my Phoenix friends Stephen and Chase’s band. They’re fucking rad.
The Orb – ‘Little Fluffy Clouds (Cumulonimbus Mix)’
“They went on forever. We lived in Arizona, and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in ’em, and, uh… they were long… and clear and… there were lots of stars at night.”
Arthur Russell – ‘Oh Fernanda Why’
These lyrics will always give me chills, like the relationships we maintain in our little hometowns and how things change in flash freeze-frames when we go back to visit.
Eels – ‘Dusk: A Peach In The Orchard’
My favorite happy Eels songs, reminds me of a classic orange red sunset.
Mountain Goats – ‘Color in Your Cheeks’
I love the way John Darnielle weaves words about the desolate american west in this slightly conceptual cassette tape All Hail West Texas: “fourteen songs about seven people, two houses, a motorcycle, and a locked treatment facility for adolescent boys.”
Joni Mitchell – ‘Dreamland’
It’s not obvious where Joni’s ‘Dreamland’ is that she’s singing about, but it reminds me of my similarly close-and-distant old hot summers at home.
Yo La Tengo – ‘Little Honda’
Nothing is better than a desert ride in a little Honda.
Violent Femmes – ‘Country Death Song’
Stevie Nicks – ‘Stand Back’
The matron saint of Arizona babes.