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the tracks that changed albert hammond jr.’s life

Having started out playing guitar in The Strokes, the handsome prince of indie rock went on to win even more hearts with solo albums Yours To Keep and ¿Cómo Te Llama?. As his work shaped our lives, on the release of his super impressive third solo LP...

by Francesca Dunn
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Jul 31 2015, 1:00pm

Today Albert Hammond, Jr. has plans to his ride his "very, very beautiful Ducatti G2100" through New York to collect things from his house upstate. Before he does, we play desert island discs with the man who soundtracked our teens as he strolls back to his apartment with his morning coffee. "Music is the one thing that has made me who I am and shaped how I think," he tells us. "I started out with Buddy Holly really early on, but things didn't really click until I was like 15 when I started seeing certain movies and learning certain songs. I got stoned for the first time and my whole idea of what I wanted to do in life just started to exist." And thus the majority of his selection springs from the tender age when you find your feet in the darkness and life starts to make sense. "It's so hard though because these kinds of lists are constantly changing and growing, but there'll always be certain life-changing ones…" As he prepares to release his brilliant solo album, Momentary Masters, here are his…

Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata
"I feel like there was a time when I already wanted to play music but it was something I rebelled against. Then I saw a documentary and movie about Beethoven and I started understanding that to know it like a craft doesn't take away the romantic side of music or the gut feeling you get, but quite the opposite. So that was big and it changed my whole concept of how and what I wanted to do." 

Guided By Voices, Liar's Tale
"One night I discovered everything that I was hearing in my head. You know, I was fooling around with a four track and trying to do songs but they sounded crappy. Then when I heard Guided By Voices, I heard everything I wanted to hear... just melody and soul. I discovered this song later on a boxset and it was almost like when you think you've heard all the Beatles songs and then you hear Hey Bulldog and you're like, what the fuck?! Why didn't somebody play this to me earlier?!"

John Lennon, God
"When I was 18 I worked in a record store, well two actually, but you had to know people to work at Kim's… so that took a while. First I worked Footlight Records, which was amazing because they had so much vinyl. They were actually famous for their musicals but they had a lot of rock and jazz and classical. One of the guys there gave me John Lennon's first solo album, Plastic Ono Band, and that changed a lot. From the very first song, Mother, right through to the very end. It ends with God and then there's like a minute song, which I think is called My Mommy's Dead… pretty intense. That whole record is amazing. I had already joined The Strokes at this point but I don't think we called ourselves The Strokes yet… we were just starting out, just trying to come up with songs."

Elliot Smith, Elliot Smith
"I got his self-titled record from Other Music when I was like 18, and I moved my speakers so they were like headphones and I just put on this record and the way it's recorded, it just feels like he's recording it in his living room while his parents are asleep or something. It felt very personal and it was very inspiring to wanna be in the same world as someone like that." 

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Boatman's Call
"I used to love People They Ain't No Good… I was in a place where I'd play that song loud in my room and everyone would be like, 'Are you okay Albert?!'"

The Strokes, The Modern Age
"I remember Julian demoing Last Nite, Modern Age, Soma and Alone, Together on my 8-track and we'd hear them in the car in L.A. when we went to go visit my parents. Modern Age was the beginning of all that. It felt very new. Julian had been in Long Island and he came back and showed everyone and he was super excited. Also, I think Modern Age is the song where we were discovering our sounds too. When I played a chord, I'd never sounded like I did on that song before. So that was where a lot of our tone came from… trying to mimic Guided By Voices. I think when you look back, even the bad memories are good memories. Life's so short that you'd kinda wanna relive all of it." 

Lou Reed, Street Hassle
"This has inspired much of what I've done. The ability to make a long song that is so clear, strong and entertaining, and yet doesn't feel indulgent… sure, if you're out of it a long song is amazing and you're in this whole other world. But usually it just feels indulgent. So that guy was a very special guy."

Wire, Champs
"Next we'll jump ahead to something way more recent. In the past year or so I don't know how many times I've listened to this song… if you could wear away an mp3, I'd have done it to this. I would go for a run sometimes and just listen to this song on repeat for 20 minutes straight. I feel like the energy of this song really filtered into my new record."

Bob Dylan, Don't Think Twice It's Alright
"My friends do these fests… PettyFest, DylanFest, StonesFest, etc. They've been doing it for years now it's just getting bigger and they get artists to cover songs. So I tried to figure out which Dylan song I could sing in my own way and put different melodies and rhythms to it and this one just fell into place! I figured I'd just put it out between touring last year but it turned out perfect for my new record… so… BOOM! I love how Dylan as a writer can always be so biting but it doesn't push you away… I can find the word I'm looking for in my vocabulary to describe that, but I love him."

Albert Hammond, Jr, Momentary Masters
"The chorus of Coming To Getcha on Momentary Masters was a peak for me. And then I was really excited when I recorded Side Boob, and just by having a riff song like Caught By My Shadow. But it's really part of them all that pushes you towards something new. Power Hungry was the last song we recorded from the album and it felt like something was beginning to be different. It gets me excited to see what I can do with the next one. I'm always most proud of what hasn't come yet."