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20 Countries, 20 Albums

Certain music has the ability to remove us from wherever we may be stuck and transport us rto the places where we fell in love with it. It's a wonderful thing when a song, riff, phrase, or ralbum reminds you of something (or somewhere) special, and this list is in honour of that. rThis is inspired partially by Sea's recent "Where?" list and partially inspired by one of my rfavourite Christmas presents: a bracelet with the flags of each country I've been to making rthe links. I have 20 links and I'm hoping it will soon be too loose to continue being a bracelet rand will become an anklet or even a necklace haha.
1David Gilmour
On An Island

First, and most obvious, is Canada. I was born and raised on the West Coast of BC and I can honestly
say I couldn't have picked a better place if I tried. I love to travel and it's always sad when a backpacking
adventure comes to an end, but I can't help but smile like an idiot whenever my plane pulls into YVR. Of
course I'm quite biased, but there's really nothing quite like BC in the entire world. You can surf and
snowboard in the same day, it's got a really underrated wine sector, and of course, the best weed in the
world. Also, Victoria's indie music scene is really starting to take off and Vancouver has been a hub for
House music (and other types of electronica, but none as prominent as the House scene) for the better
part of a decade. Besides the fact that our (provincial) government is a fucking joke, BC has it
I wanted to pick The Weakerthans for Canada because they're Canadian, but I'm picking albums based
off specific memories. I've picked David Gilmour's album On an Island because it reminds me of trying to
catch some sleep on the bus from UBC to Whistler/Blackcomb on the weekends, watching the indescribable
beauty of the Sea-to-Sky highway pass me by.
2My Morning Jacket

The United States of America:
My first journey to uncharted lands was, obviously, USA. I've been to Washington, Idaho (don't ask me
why), Oregon, California, New York, New Jersey (though this doesn't really count, I flew into Newark on my
way to The Big Apple), and Hawaii. My most recent trip to the states was in May for the Sasquatch Music
Festival at The Gorge Ampitheatre (a couple hours south of Seattle). Needless to say, Sasquatch was
arguably the most fun I've ever had and I'm going back this year.
It's for this reason that I pick My Morning Jacket to represent my musical relationship with the USA. I was
not expecting them to stake a claim for the best act of the festival, but they sure as shit did.
3Caleb McAlpine
Science Fiction

Mexico is pretty much the standard destination for cheap family holidays if you live in Canada (and the
US, or so I imagine) and my family has been here an embarrassing three times (only twice with me). All-
inclusive fam jams for the win! (I was 21 last time so I was finally allowed to drink the all-inclusive alcohol
and let me tell you, I got my money's worth).
For Mexico, I pick Caleb McAlpine, a true legend of the underground Mexican
folk scene.
4Iron Maiden
The Number Of The Beast

Costa Rica:
Some of my friends and I went here on a trip to celebrate the end of high school. We spent most of the
time bumming around and surfing. I know I said Sasquatch was the most fun I've ever had, but I forgot
about the day I went ATV-ing in Costa Rica. We rode right into the middle of a thunderstorm, and warm
rain is my favourite type of weather. We got to climb a mountain in our ATVs and we could see a beautiful
rainbow and the striking Costa Rican landscape for miles around. On the way back to the ATV shop, I got
mine to over 80 km/h (not wearing a helmet because Costa Rica has no safety standards). Good times.
For Costa Rica, I pick The Number of The Beast because my best friend at the time, Kevin, was beginning
his obsession with Maiden near the right before the start of this trip and I'm pretty sure his Maiden shirt
was one of only two or three t-shirts he brought with him. I literally cannot picture Costa Rica without
picturing that shirt.
A Rush of Blood to The Head

This was the beginning of my first European backpacking adventure. I only saw London, but I hope I will
be back some day to see the rest of their beautiful country and reap the benefits of probably the most
vibrant music scene in the world.
For England, I pick Coldplay, because I love them and all the hate they get is stupid. I was also just
getting into them around the time I went to London.
6Broken Social Scene
You Forgot It In People

After a couple days of London, the ex and I flew to Ibiza for some island scenery. Later, it was Barcelona
(that entire city smells like urine).
I pick You Forgot It In People because that album reminds me of a nap I
tried to take on a scorching summer day in Barcelona. Needless to say, the
nap was not a success.
7Regina Spektor

My ex girlfriend was born in Ireland and has family in and around Dublin. I have been to Ireland on two
occasions. The first time was so full of stereotype, I was honestly shocked to learn that I wasn't being
strung along (read: trolled). It was a two week visit, and the first week was spent with one side of my ex's
family: these were the super over-the-top, in-your-face-about-Jesus, convulsing-on-the-church-floor, mega
mega MEGA Christians. The second week was spent in Schull, a little sailing village on the beautiful
southern coast, drunk off my ass with the biggest drunken Irish stereotypes ever. It was the other side of
her family (and quite clearly, the better side).
Another thing that's pretty cool about Ireland is that Grafton St. in Dublin is the best place for watching all
sorts of amateur musicians busk. You can't walk for more than a few seconds along Grafton St. without
being tempted to stop and watch someone's set.
For Ireland, I pick one of my all time favourites: Songs by Regina Spektor. The first time I heard this
album was on the drive to Schull from Dublin. It was the middle of the night, and I was trying in vain to
catch some Zs in the back seat. Whenever I was just about to nod off, I was woken by "is 32 still a god
damn number?" or "a man destined to drown can never hang, now that we've got that straight can't I just
be left alone, I want to take a fucking bath" and other weird vocal lines from Spektor. I was so tired, I felt
like I was on crack and Regina's cracked out lyrics definitely added to the effect. When the trip was over, I
asked my ex's cousin (who had been driving that night) who the artist was, and the rest is history.
8The Smashing Pumpkins
Siamese Dream

No trip to Europe would be complete without a stop over in Paris, right? Although the weather was pretty
shitty for most of the time, I really liked the city. In fact, I liked it much more than I had expected.
Everything that I thought would be lame (read: mainstream, haha) was actually genuinely interesting and
really fun to see.
I wish I could have been super elite and chosen a French screamo album but unfortunately, I didn't start
liking that shit until long after I had left France behind. For France, I pick Siamese Dream because Cherub
Rock reminds me of walking down the Champs-Elysees.
9The Mars Volta
Frances The Mute

Italy is quite the awesome little country. There's so much variety in their landscape. While in Italy I
visited Venice, Cinque Terre (my highlight from my first Europe trip), Pisa, Florence, Anghiari (a small
Tuscan city), Rome, Sorrento and Amalfi (the drive along the Amalfi Coast is stunning).
I pick Frances The Mute because I remember lying in my bed one night in Sorrento trying really, really
hard to like this album. It was somewhat of a success, I still like De-Loused more though.
10Jimmy Eat World
Bleed American

Vatican City:
Yes, this counts; it's technically separate from Italy. It was pretty cool, I did so much blaspheming inside
the city walls though; I'm surprised God didn't strike me down right then and there.
I don't know why I decided to listen to Jimmy Eat World while in The Vatican but it was probably because
the tour of the church was full of information that was either obvious or completely unnecessary.
11United Nations
United Nations

The United Nations (in New York City):
And yes, haha this counts too. This is kind of a stretch but, again, technically, this is a separate nation.
Also, 19 is a really stupid number for a list. I was a fan of the UN from pretty much the first time I heard
about what they were and what they aim to do. Then, I turned six. Later, I took some PoliSci at University
and realized that the UN is so ineffective in solving global issues that it's not even worth the money it costs
the member nations to run it.
I didn't listen to any music while at the UN building but I mean how can I not pick United Nations?
12Stars Of The Lid
And Their Refinement Of The Decline

Ah, Ecuador. My favourite place in the world (outside of BC). I began my solo trip to South America by
doing some volunteer work on the Galapagos Islands. We got to sleep in the middle of the jungle,
interact with legit (that;s right, legit) Ecuadorians, and plus we were helping the environment so that's a
plus. I met some of the most awesome people I ever have during my time in Ecuador. What I may have
liked the most though, was the total lack of light pollution. I could see thousands of stars every night.
I've got goosebumps just thinking about it. Not enough can be said about my experience on The
Galapagos Islands, it was truly magical.
After my volunteering stint was done on the Galapagos, I enjoyed some of mainland Ecuador, notably
Banos de Agua Sante (probably the most underrated travel destination ever) and Quito, the capital.
Picking an album for Ecuador is quite difficult, there are so many choices. I was all by myself, scared and
lonely in a hostel in unfriendly Quito when In The Aeroplane Over The Sea finally hit me (I got on the
hostel's sloooooooow internet connection to go on sputnik and 5 it; I clearly have my priorities straight).
Songs for the Deaf was the album I would put on for all the volunteers while we got drunk on a certain
nasty-ass homemade alcohol (the name eludes me). It was made from cane sugar (can you say
hangover?) and the percentage of alcohol changed with each bottle. The locals told us to expect anything
from 25% to 70%. We definitely had a bottle of the strong stuff on my last night; the morning plane off
the island was brutal. The Glow Part 2 kept me company on my intimidating bus ride to Banos.
But in the end, when I think of Ecuador, no album comes to mind more clearly than And Their
Refinement of the Decline. While volunteering on the islands, work was from 8-12, then there was a two
hour break for lunch and "siesta," then work from 2-4 again. After lunch, I would lie down in a hammock,
put on my headphones and just daydream away to this album. I will never forget the view from our
balcony (although calling it a balcony makes it seem much more stable than it was) on San Cristobal
island, with the wind blowing softly through my hair and the pure blue Pacific ocean stretching out in to the
13Jaga Jazzist
What We Must

Some words of warning: if you ever go to Cusco make sure you've already bought your ticket home
because that city will burn time and money like nobody's business. I left Peru over 18 months ago and I
have a friend who I met there that still can't afford to leave because he spends all his money partying.
Seriously, he's been working at the hostel I stayed at for over a year now and tells me he's about half way
to being able to afford a ticket back to Australia. And I can kind of understand. While in Cusco, I was
drunk for more than 24 hours straight and I don't even enjoy drinking that much. I also did cocaine,
something I would only do down there because it's pure (not laced with bullshit like the coke we have up
here), cheap (again, unlike here), and I mean come on, it's part of the South American experience haha.
Of course, I tore myself away from the booze and coke fueled mayhem of Cusco to visit the famous
Machu Picchu and it was so much more awesome than I expected. I took some time to find a nice
secluded patch of grass and put on some tunes while soaking in the truly magnificent view. I listened to
What We Must, the Slow Riot EP by Godspeed, and all parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. It was so
14Massive Attack

Due to time constraints, I was only able to spend about five or six days in Bolivia (and by "time
constraints", I mean I was too drunk to remember which direction Bolivia was relative to Cusco, let alone
plan a fifteen hour bus journey). It's really a shame because Bolivia is the most unique place I've ever
been. La Paz acts as the De Facto capital and has the highest elevation of any capital city in the world.
There's an area called "The Witches Market" where you can buy a whole bunch of really bizarre stuff, most
notable were the llama fetuses (fetii?). And don't even ask me why they sell them, I tried to ask but I
think you can understand that my Spanish didn't go a great job with that one. Oh here's something kind
of cool, I watched Barca beat Man-U in the 2009 Championship game at my hostel in La Paz. It was
basically all the spanish speaking people cheering for Barca and all the Brits and Aussies cheering for Man-
U. Idiots, Barca rules.
My music experience does not come from La Paz though, it comes from the salt flats of Uyuni (the worlds
largest). I did a three-day tour of the massive terrain which has somehow managed to escape any
destruction by human technology. The other backpackers on the trip with me were all from either France or
the French-speaking area of Switzerland. I had started working on organizing every album I liked into an
ordered list. (The resulting Top 50 can be found here:, much has changed.) While I was
rearranging some albums, one of my
fellow travelers noticed my list and asked in French to see it. I answered (in French, kind of haha) and
began to develop an awesome relationship with all of them. They were shocked that I had not heard
Massive Attack because he's supposedly huge in France. I swapped music players with my new friend and
a wonderful musical memory was born.
Blackwater Park

Chile I really didn't have time for at all, which is too bad because I liked what I saw. I had to catch a
plane from Santiago less than two days after I arrived in Northern Chile from the Bolivian border. For
those less geographically inclined than me, I'll just say that Santiago is nowhere near Northern Chile. I
had to catch a bus down, and it was a 26 hour ride.
What I remember the most about the bus ride, besides watching episodes of House dubbed in Spanish
(hilarious), is falling asleep to Blackwater Park by Opeth. I know this seems like a really strange choice for
sleeping, but at the time it was just perfect. The opening riff of the album instantly transports me to that
stinky bus.
16The Decemberists
The Crane Wife

Of all the places I've been too, Greece has the nicest locals by a mile. In Athens, unlike other popular
European cities (Paris, Rome, etc.), the locals were genuinely pleased that I was there to observe their
culture and enjoy what their land had to offer. Instead of rolling their eyes when I butchered their
beautiful language (like the snobby Italians did) they would smile from ear to ear and laugh at my
mistakes in a friendly, inclusive way (they would always explain my mistake and why it was particularly
funny in Greek, if it was). The country itself was a little underwhelming but it's worth going to Greece just
for the lovely people.
During my time in Greece, I had just recently discovered The Decemberists. I did an ATV voyage around
the island of Agia Marina (not as fun as Costa Rica) and can remember humming songs from The Crane
Wife the entire time.
17The Flaming Lips
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

I am in love with this country; I think I want to live here one day. Berlin was arguably the most important
city in terms of world politics of the 20th century and its streets are overflowing with history and culture.
Munich was compact and pedestrian friendly (which I love in a city) and its legendary beer halls lived up to
their reputation. The only downside was the terrible hostel in Munich. If you go, DO NOT stay at
Jagermeister Hostel (or something like that). The name should have been a dead giveaway but it was
cheap (and a free shot of Jager was included upon check-in, imagine that!).
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is my favourite album by the always awesome Flaming Lips and my love
affair for it goes back to my room in Berlin (which, ironically was almost as good as my room in Munich was
Watch Out!

Austria was fantastic. We went to Innsburck, which is nested in the foothills of the alps, Salzburg, home
of Mozart's birthplace and The Sound of Music (we even went on a Sound Of Music tour which was
admittedly pretty lame, but it was mainly for the gf and the scenery was spectacular), and Vienna, one of
the most confusing cities I have even set foot in. We spent hours trying to figure out the streets before
we just said "fuck it," rented bikes and dicked around.
It was while in Salzburg that I realized that Watch Out! is a 5 and I spent most of my music listening
time in Austria with this on repeat.
19Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes

Rock Werchter 2009: four of the greatest days of my life. I've already said way too much about this
festival in another list of mine that's over a year old (for those interested: so I'll just say that it was so
incredible, I have yet to cut off the festival wristband. I have a wristband tan on my arm because I refuse
to remove it haha. Sasquatch will have a wristband in 2011 too, so the collection looks to be growing.
Fleet Foxes were one of the highlights of the festival and the fact that they were on Day 1 helped to get
the songs stuck in my head if they weren't already. I spent the time between sets on the following days
humming Fleet Foxes tunes. I was way too drunk for their set concert and was being obnoxious but they
were super cool about it and even humoured a couple of my drunken remarks with witty retorts. Coldplay
was the highlight of the festival, no question, but I already did them so...
20King Crimson
In The Court Of The Crimson King

The Netherlands:
And finally, the last country I have visited, Holland. What can I say about this place? Sure, it's known for
its relaxed attitude towards marijuana and prostitution, but Amsterdam is so much more than that. Don't
get me wrong, I got as stoned as is humanly possible in Amsterdam, but I was shocked by its gorgeous
architecture and unique personality. Some people call it "The Venice of the North" because it has bridges
and canals similar to Venice, but I'd say Venice is "The Amsterdam of the South." Amsterdam was just
that awesome.
Anyone who has been vinyl shopping in Amsterdam probably knows exactly why I picked the album I did,
but for those who haven't been, there's a great little record shop who's sign out front is a picture of this
album. I had already heard the album, but I bought the vinyl from that store because 1) how could I not
and 2) it's one of the best albums ever.
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