In this weekly series of articles you will discover what are the business insider’s favorite albums and tracks. We have contacted a broad selection of industry experts and each Wednesday you can discover one of those guy’s favorite albums and why this is so.
This week’s honor goes to Marcus Downey, manager and owner of Headfonics.com. Headfonics very much like Headfonia is a review website and while they’re competitors we in reality get along very well.
Who am I:
I am the owner and founder of Headfonics.com, which has been running since 2011 focusing on headphone, earphone, portable media and 2.1 product reviews, features and articles. I manage a rag tag of freelance audiophile writers who enjoy using and abusing gear and telling us what they like and do not like about it. Bit like a crèche for music lovers.
The Band :
That’s an incredibly hard question given I started out in 1988 reviewing albums and concerts and to do this day have something like 6000 albums hanging around the house. The one band that I think has been amazingly consistent and enjoyable to listen to over the last 20 odd years has been California’s finest punk band, Rancid. I just love the way they can switch from ska punk to traditional punk and reggae beats all in one album and churn out so many memorable songs without ever sounding like they sold out (cough Green Day Cough).
The Album: “…And Out Come The Wolves”
In the wake of the Offspring’s success, Rancid became a hot band, earning a dedicated cult and sparking a major-label bidding war. After flirting with a handful of major labels, the band decided to stick with Epitaph and returned with And Out Come the Wolves. While the title is a veiled reference to the attention the band gained, the album doesn’t mark an isolationist retreat into didactic, defiantly underground punk rock. Instead, Rancid develop their own identity on the record, which ironically makes them more accessible. Although they continue to draw heavily from the Clash and the Specials — and their roots in the ska-punk band Operation Ivy are quite clear throughout the record — the band plays with such energy and conviction, it’s easy to forgive their derivativeness. On the whole, And Out Come the Wolves is a little too long to make a major impact, but individual tracks are classic moments of revivalist punk, including the skittering 2-Tone tribute “Time Bomb.” ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine ~ TIDAL
For me this was their break out album, the strongest line up of songs and one where Tim Armstrong really started to show off his song writing talents to the max. You also had an amazing blend of musical influences from roots reggae, rockabilly, punk and even some aspects of funk music from the 70’s era. There is hardly a filler song on this album from the ska punk tons of Time Bomb to the revivalist punk sounds of Ruby Soho. Possible one of the most complete collection of songs for this genre in the last 20 years.
Ironically it’s not Rancid but in actual fact Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia
Why this choice?
Two reasons. The first was the fantastic video that accompanied the actual song with Bruce simply walking through Philadelphia singing live without any mixing over a bleak background of poverty, street slums and kids making the best of what they can in the surroundings. I thought that was very poignant. The second reason is simply the song itself is so simple, yet Bruce’s husky tones just give it so much character and emotion. If you have watched the movie when that song kicks in combined with Tom Hanks unbelievable acting its pure emotive chemistry.
A bit of everything but if I have the time and I am not referencing I do love an open back headphone with as much tubes in the signal as possible connected to a turntable. My vinyl collection is much smaller than say 10 years ago but I still have a few albums that allow me to relax and enjoy things. Something like ALO Audio’s Studio 6/CDM combo with a Rega turntable and either the HE1000 or LCD-2 rev 2 works out quite well. If I am on the go then its hi-res DAP with long battery life (ZX2) with a set of customs. I would normally pick up the FiiO X7/AM3 combo if the journey is 6 hours or less. Recently I would have avoided universals during travel but the whole universal scene has improved so much now with Campfire Audio’s stellar Lyra and Andromeda as well as Obravo’s EAMT range that its becoming a difficult choice on what to put in my bag.
If you want to check out Marcus’ favorite album and song, you can do so here:
Thank you Marcus for being on the series and for giving us a little insight in what you like to listen to. If you have suggestions of who we should feature in this article series, let us know in the comments!
Up to next week…