Everything Music Survey: Colton’s Picks

This is part of the Everything Music Survey series

AllMusic Questions


The Usual Suspects — Boring Desert Island Discs I Still Love:

  • 65daysofstatic – The Destruction of Small Ideas
  • The American Analog Set – Know By Heart
  • Battles – Mirrored
  • Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
  • Dragonforce – Sonic Firestorm
  • Dream Theater – Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
  • Flickerstick – Welcoming Home the Astronauts
  • Frameshift – Absence of Empathy
  • Hammerfall – Steel Meets Steel: Ten Years of Glory
  • Liquid Tension Experiment – s/t
  • Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs
  • Porcupine Tree – In Absentia
  • Red Sparowes – Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun
  • Straylight Run – s/t
  • The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving

Grant: Nice to see you pick Death Cab’s only truly essential album.


The Real Desert Island List — Albums I Listen to More Than the Previous List:

  • The Appleseed Cast – Low Level Owl, Vol. I and II
  • Ben Folds – University A Cappella!
  • The Cardigans – First Band on the Moon
  • Division Day – Beartrap Island
  • Eve 6 – Horrorscope
  • Gatsbys American Dream – Volcano
  • Guster – Lost and Gone Forever
  • Idlewild – The Remote Part
  • Junction 18 – This Vicious Cycle
  • Mae – The Everglow
  • The Mercury Program – Chez Viking
  • Pelican – Australasia
  • The Rocket Summer – Hello, Good Friend
  • Rx Bandits – …And the Battle Begun
  • Spock’s Beard – Snow

Dan: A few thoughts: 1) The a capella intro to “Not the Same” gives me chills every time. 2) I’m surprised to see Horrorscope ahead of It’s All In Your Head given our discussion a few months ago. 3) Always glad to see ska-influenced albums repped (Rx Bandits).

Colton: Writing this made me realize that, since our discussion, I’ve listened to more Horrorscope. The truth is revealed in behavior! Also: after finishing the survey, I was shocked at how little ska I’d included. Part of the problem is that ska is so much better live than recorded, which doesn’t land it in a lot of categories here. Anyone not having fun at a ska show is dead inside.

Greatest Single Ever Made:

Depends on how you interpret “single.”  And “greatest.”

  • Any recorded track, for intrinsic value: Spock’s Beard – At the End of the Day
  • Any recorded track, in context: Jimi Hendrix – The Star-Spangled Banner
  • Released as a single, for intrinsic value: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Released as a single, in context: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

Runners Up:

Four is probably enough.

Other Desert Island Singles:

  • Ben Lee – Catch My Disease
  • Cursive – Art is Hard
  • Dispatch – Walk with You
  • Division Day – Ricky
  • Fuel – Shimmer
  • Less Than Jake – Gainseville Rock City
  • Mad Caddies – Last Breath
  • Minus the Bear – Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse
  • Napalm Death – You Suffer
  • OutKast – Hey Ya!
  • Riddlin’ Kids – I Feel Fine
  • Rush – Spirit of Radio
  • Semisonic – Closing Time
  • Tool – Ænema
  • The Wallflowers – Three Marlenas

Dan: Closing Time is pure high school for me. I hadn’t heard all of these before I read this, so I took a listen; my new favorites are Catch My Disease, Three Marlenas, and especially I Feel Fine. I also recommend anyone not familiar with You Suffer to look it up.

Colton: I take “desert island” to mean the songs you’d want to be stuck listening to forever. The one’s you point out aren’t songs I’d defend as great works of art, but they’re good, and I love them, and they make me happy, which describes many of these.

Grant: Is that your favorite Cursive song? I definitely think it’s solid, but they can beat it.

Colton: All I’ve heard is Ugly Organ and Domestica, but yeah, for me, this one stands out. The orchestration is super-effective (I’m a trombonist and a sucker for trombones), and the lyrics are a compelling statement on an issue that seems to inspire a lot of my favorite songs. I saw Cursive on your survey, anything else I should check out?

Grant: Those two albums are pretty much it.

Favorite Box Sets:

Not something I collect… but I saw Pelican release their oeuvre as 10 LPs in a literal handmade wooden box and wish I’d sprung for it.  

First Record Bought:

The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour and Glenn Miller – The Definitive Collection on a single trip to (shudder) Best Buy.  These were added to my collection built out of gifts, which at that point consisted entirely of Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless, Reel Big Fish – Cheer Up!, and Weird Al Yankovic – Running with Scissors.

Dan: So? Did you like Magical Mystery Tour?

Colton: I bought it because of the song Fool on the Hill, which I still adore.


First Concert:

Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright (co-headliners) w/ Ben Lee at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, August 3, 2005.  To beat traffic, we left before the final act, Wainwright, took the stage.

Favorite Concerts:

Rx Bandits w/ As Tall As Lions and Dredg at Bottom Lounge in Chicago, IL, August 6, 2009, and it’s not close.  There have been many other great ones, but I’ll name just one for sentimental reasons: Mae w/ Tokyo at UC Chesapeake in Williamsburg, VA, February 9, 2008.

Dan: I am curious what was so special about that concert.

Colton: Most of that concert is on youtube, actually, but it doesn’t give you the full experience. The shoes I wore that night got ripped open so bad in the pit that I couldn’t wear them again, but I still have them as a momento. The key moments from RXB’s set were “In Her Drawer” and the part where every band member played drums. It was wild and cathartic on a level beyond any other show, at a time when I didn’t even need catharsis. I went alone but by the end I knew everybody there.

Concert You Wish You’d Seen:

Spock’s Beard played Jaxx in Springfield, VA while I was in high school and I was a tragic fool to miss it.  Would’ve been nice to catch one of Dispatch’s recent reunion shows, but history suggests they’ll be back again.  Based on stories, I wish I could’ve seen any performance by Butthole Surfers in their prime.

Favorite Music Movies:

The Newsies

Best Use of Music in a TV Series:

Family Guy


Favorite Music Books:

  • Our Band Could Be Your Life, by Michael Azerrad
  • The Manual, by Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond

Dan: I take it you prefer The Manual to ScoreAHit.com

Grant: Man, I’ve been dying to read Our Band Could Be Your Life. It looks amazing–so many of those groups defined my college days.

Colton: The author is a journalist, not a novelist, so the writing style is wonky at times but the interviews and details are incredible.

Favorite Songwriters:

  • Anders Peter Svensson (The Cardigans)
  • Bryce Avary (The Rocket Summer)
  • Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco
  • Matt Embree (Rx Bandits et al.)
  • Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard et al.)
  • Nick Thomas (The Spill Canvas)
  • Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree et al.)

Favorite Record Label:

  • Count Your Lucky Stars
  • Fearless Records
  • Sargent House
  • Tooth & Nail


Favorite Album Covers:

  • Cynic – Traced in Air
  • This Town Needs Guns – Animals
  • Vanessa Carlton – Rabbits on the Run

Least Favorite Album Cover:

Less Than Jake – Losing Streak

Favorite Music DVDs:

I’ve got none.

Artist You Will Always Believe In:

  • Dave Elkins (Mae, Schematic)
  • Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater et al.)


Artist You Will Always Defend:

  • Avril Lavigne
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Ke$ha
  • Linkin Park

Grant: I’ll stand by that Avril Lavigne defense. I probably wouldn’t initiate that defense, but I’ll stand by it.

Dan: Do you like “Gold Trans Am” by Ke$ha as much as I do?

Colton: Probably. When haters arise, I point them here (for both text and video):http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/amnesty-international-unveils-bob-dylan-tribute-in-honor-of-its-50th-anniversary-20111210

Dan: I had forgotten about that cover — it’s a great reinterpretation and shows her expressive talent. Love the lyric change of “you wasted my precious time” to “you wasted my precious life.”

Albums That You Will Always Defend:

  • Cartel – Chroma
  • KOMPRESSOR – Discipline
  • Low Millions – Ex-Girlfriends
  • The Used – s/t


Album You Own That No One Else Does:

  • Best album I own in this category: Junction 18 – This Vicious Cycle
  • Album I own that most literally falls into this category: Anchorage – Everything in Ruins
  • Honorable mention, vinyl category: Hot Butter – Popcorn with Hot Butter

Singers Who Make Your Skin Crawl:

Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes et al.)

Grant: Sigh. I imagine that no one who dislikes him/his voice could ever be persuaded differently, and same for those who like him.

Singers Who Make You Swoon:

  • Eliza Doolittle
  • Julie Christmas (Made out of Babies et al.)
  • Nina Persson (The Cardigans et al.)
  • Vanessa Carlton

Dan: I just want to share the story of the time I went to a Vanessa Carlton concert for Colton and recorded her saying “hi” to him after concert. I’m sure his fiancee loves that story.

Artists You’re Supposed to Like but Don’t:

  • Isis
  • Mogwai
  • Radiohead
  • Slint

Song You Can’t Stand by an Artist You Like:

  • Eve 6 – Sunset Strip Bitch
  • Switchfoot – Stars


Favorite Teen Idol:

Christina Aguilera

Dan: Genie in a Bottle was on an early version of my Desert Island Singles list.

Artist Who Broke Your Heart:

  • Chris Daughtry, by turning down an offer to front Fuel so that he could go be generic
  • Dragonforce, by kicking out ZP Theart
  • Eve 6, by coming back and sucking
  • Graham Colton, by taking my name and selling out
  • Rob Thomas, by thinking he could go it alone
  • Stephan Jenkins, by being a dick

Dan: As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one true Colton, and his first name isn’t Graham. Also, fuck Speak in Code.

Colton: NB: Graham is my middle name.

Band That Should Break Up:

  • Green Day
  • Guster


Band That Should Re-form:

Fall Out Boy finally did re-form, and Tool has purportedly been in studio, so I’m just gonna be greedy at a personal level and say Gatsbys American Dream and Rx Bandits.

Guilty Pleasure:

Text pieces, aleatoric music, and other nontraditional composition techniques

Our Questions

Song You Like By An Artist You Don’t:

Coldplay – Clocks

Grant: Anyone else think a lot of people don’t like Coldplay but do like a prominent song or two?

Dan: I’m definitely in that camp

Grant: Yep, mine’s ‘Fix You,’ buttressed by memories of dancing to it in a girl’s basement in HS, like we were in a movie or something. Damn, talking about music gets therapeutic fast. (I still think Chris Martin has no idea how to sing, though.)


Favorite Live Album

  • Recorded live: Rx Bandits – …And the Battle Begun
  • Recorded live in front of an audience, but only because I saw the tour: The Rocket Summer – Bryce Avary, His Instruments and Your Voices

Genre You Will Always Defend


Best Live Discovery

Dirty Dishes

Favorite Compilation

  • Anything from Fearless’s “Punk Goes…” series
  • Kevin & Bean’s “The Real Slim Santa”

Dan: For some reason, Upon This Dawning’s version of Call Me Maybe makes me just as sentimental for Summer 2012 as the original


Favorite Winter Albums

  • Dead Soul Tribe – The January Tree
  • Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2 — Scenes from a Memory
  • Eisley – Room Noises
  • Elessar – Sun We Rise
  • Vanessa Carlton – Rabbits on the Run

Summer Albums

  • Audiostrobelight – The Whole Shebang
  • Big D & the Kids Table – How It Goes
  • Dispatch – Bang Bang
  • Guster – Goldfly
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Favorite Album Titles

  • Five Iron Frenzy – Our Newest Album Ever!
  • KOMPRESSOR – Sex Fuck Party
  • Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis
  • Supernal – Rhymes with Eternal
  • The Urge – Receiving the Gift of Flavor

Dan: That’s my favorite type of fuck party.

Grant: Seconded.


Favorite Song Titles

  • American Analog Set – Punk As Fuck
  • Hey Mercedes – The Frowning of a Lifetime
  • Jupiter Sunrise – Steal Me
  • Minus the Bear – Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!
  • The Spill Canvas – The Night Will Go As Follows
  • Straylight Run – Existentialism on Prom Night
  • Red Sparowes – And by Our Own Hand Did Every Last Bird Lie Silent in Their Puddles, the Air Barren of Song as the Clouds Drifted Away. For Killing Their Greatest Enemy, the Locusts Noisily Thanked Us and Turned Their Jaws Toward Our Crops, Swallowing Our Greed Whole.

Dan: Overlong titles are definitely a thing, and that Red Sparowes song is the best one I’ve seen.

Colton: It’s off an instrumental concept album—they tell the story through the track titles.

Grant: Just like Explosions in the Sky.

Favorite Lyrics

Ben Gibbard – Carolina

“The taste of blood, the claim of love, these two will hereon cease to be / Sprouting from your fists and tongue, ‘cause Carolina waits for me”

Common Rider – Longshot

“Flatline blue and the taste of loss / Call on me, I’ll wade the tides with you, boss / We will take this flood apart / And drag this lake for its watery heart”

Eve 6 – On the Roof Again

“Your heinous highness broke her hymen hey man try to quit your cryin’ / I know she broke your heart but try to come, try to come down”

Guster – Happy Frappy

“I try to let the river flow in and out of me / And pray I float the way I think I want / And pray I float at all”

Rush – Spirit of Radio

“And the magic music makes your morning mood”

The Weakerthans – Pamphleteer

“How I don’t know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you / How you don’t know where you should look, so you look at my hands”

Dan: I really love these selections. It showcases a bunch of different ways lyrics can be great. Thanks for sharing.

Grant: Agreed, I like these selections as well.


Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

The Goods: Film Reviews

The Goods: A Film Podcast

Available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

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